IAEA Concludes Long-Term Operational Safety Review at Armenia’s Nuclear Power Plant


IAEA Concludes Long-Term Operational Safety Review at Armenia’s Nuclear Power Plant

6 December 2018

Yerevan, Armenia

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts today completed a review of long-term operational safety at the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant (ANPP).

The SALTO (Safety Aspects of Long Term Operation) review mission was requested by the ANPP. The 12-member team focused on aspects essential to the safe Long-Term Operation (LTO) of ANPP  Unit 2.

In 2011, the Armenian Nuclear Regulatory Authority granted the ANPP an extension of its operating license until 2021, subject to annual safety demonstrations since 2016. The ANPP is preparing to submit an application for a second license renewal with the regulator to extend the plant’s operating lifetime until 2026.

The SALTO team reviewed preparedness, organization and programmes related to LTO against IAEA safety standards, following preliminary SALTO reviews in 2013 and 2016.

The team observed that the operator has begun addressing the main findings of the previous missions, which included the need to complete the identification of components requiring a new safety demonstration for LTO and to recover missing safety updates for the extended operating period. The team also said the operator had made progress in managing ageing and other technical areas relevant to safe LTO, and found plant staff to be professional, open and receptive to suggestions for improvement.

  • “The LTO project for ANPP, supporting extension of operation until 2026, involves many regulatory and technical challenges which must be addressed to maintain safety of operation,” said Greg Rzentkowski, Director of the IAEA’s Division of Nuclear Installation Safety. “In particular, the operator is obliged to demonstrate to the regulator that implemented and planned safety measures are adequate, and that they will remain so until the end of the intended operating period.”
  • In preparation for continued LTO, ANPP assessed the condition of components and decided on an extensive safety upgrading and replacement programme. For example, reactor control rods and some safety related pumps and bolts on reactor head joints were replaced. Most safety related electrical and instrumentation and control systems will be replaced in 2019, and thermal annealing – a heat treatment that restores the toughness of the material of the reactor pressure vessel – ­is planned for 2020.
  • The team—comprising experts from Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Finland, Iran, Spain, Sweden and Ukraine as well as two IAEA staff members—identified several good practices and performances that will be shared with the nuclear industry globally, including:
  • Weekly training for plant managers that includes LTO areas for plant modernization.
  • A comprehensive chemistry monitoring process that provides information for an ageing management programme.
  • A crack detection monitoring programme to ensure the integrity of the dry spent fuel storage facility.

The team also provided several recommendations for further enhancing LTO safety.

The plant management said it was committed to implementing the recommendations and requested that the IAEA schedule a follow-up mission in 2020.

“The results of the SALTO mission are essential for us to make sure we are going in the right direction. We will need to analyze the team’s suggestions and take appropriate steps to further enhance our safety for LTO,” said Mr. Artur Grigoryan, the ANPP Chief Engineer. “The team comprised experienced experts from IAEA Member States and this helped us to become more familiar with best international practices in order to implement them our plant.”

The team provided a draft report to the plant management at the end of the mission. The plant management and the Armenian Nuclear Regulatory Authority will have an opportunity to make factual comments on the draft. A final report will be submitted to the plant management, the regulatory authority and the Armenian Government within three months.