ISSN 2330-717X

IAEA Sees Safety Commitment At Spain’s Almaraz Nuclear Power Plant


An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts said the operator of Spain’s Almaraz Nuclear Power Plant demonstrated a commitment to the long-term safety of the plant and noted several good practices to share with the nuclear industry globally. The team also identified areas for further enhancement.

The Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) today concluded an 18-day mission to Almaraz, whose two 1,050-MWe pressurized-water reactors started commercial operation in 1983 and 1984, respectively. Centrales Nucleares Almaraz-Trillo (CNAT) operates the plant, located about 200 km southwest of Madrid.

OSART missions aim to improve operational safety by objectively assessing safety performance using the IAEA’s safety standards and proposing recommendations for improvement where appropriate. Nuclear power generates more than 21 per cent of electricity in Spain, whose seven operating power reactors all began operation in the 1980s.

“The team saw notable achievements made by Almaraz in recent years, such as implementing a comprehensive management system, as well as significant equipment renewal plans, to establish safety as the overriding priority at the plant,” said Team Leader Peter Tarren, Head of the IAEA’s Operational Safety Section. “We found that people at every level were willing to discuss their work and how they might learn from this OSART mission. They want to keep enhancing the safety and reliability of Almaraz.”

The 14-member team comprised experts from Brazil, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Mexico, the Russian Federation, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, as well as three IAEA officials.

The review was the 200th OSART mission conducted by the IAEA since the service was launched in 1982. It covered the areas of leadership and management for safety; training and qualification; operations; maintenance; technical support; operating experience; radiation protection; chemistry; emergency preparedness and response; accident management; human, technology and organizational interactions and long-term operation.

The team identified a number of good practices that will be shared with the nuclear industry globally, including:

  • The use of a film-forming amine compound to significantly reduce the transport of potential corrosive products to the steam generators.
  • The use of a cross-functional indicator to show the cumulative effect of equipment status and planned activities for daily operations.
  • The installation of a centralized vacuum system for cleaning, decontaminating and discharging liquid waste into the plant´s disposal system.

The mission made a number of recommendations to improve operational safety, including:

  • The plant should implement further actions related to management, staff and contractors to enforce standards and expectations related to industrial safety.
  • The plant should take measures to reinforce and implement standards to enhance the performance of reactivity manipulations in a deliberate and carefully-controlled manner.
  • The plant should improve the support, training and documented guidance for Severe Accident Management Guideline users in order to mitigate complex severe accident scenarios.

The team provided a draft report of the mission to the plant’s management. The plant management and the Nuclear Safety Council (CSN), which is responsible for nuclear safety oversight in Spain, will have the opportunity to make factual comments on the draft. These will be reviewed by the IAEA and the final report will be submitted to the Government of Spain within three months.

The plant management said it would address the areas identified for enhancement and requested a follow-up OSART mission in about 18 months.

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