Visit of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission delegation to the Armenian NPP


Visit of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission delegation to the Armenian NPP

On 19 July, 2018 the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) delegation headed by NRC Commissioner Stephen Gilbert Burns and accompanied by the US Embassy Economic Specialist Aleksey Hovakimyan visited the Armenian NPP.

At 11:00 the members of the delegation were already in the ANPP conference hall and they were welcomed by the General Director of the “HAEK” CJSC Movses Vardanyan. The ANPP executive staff and the managers of main departments participated in the meeting. The agenda was introduced to the visitors. Vardanyan briefly presented the plant history. He mentioned that both units were of Soviet design and there were similar units in other countries as well, namely, in Russia, Hungary, Slovakia, etc.. He also provided information on the progress of activities under the Unit 2 life extension program, as well as modernization and replacement activities performed in the Turbine Department.

The Chief of Staff to NRC Commissioner Jason Carl Zorn asked how the equipment delivery was made and who the supplier was. Vardanyan answered that they cooperated with the Ukrainian company «Turboatom», the company had been selected by tender and the deliveries were made via Georgia.

In his speech Vardanyan emphasized two key issues raised by the government: continuous improvement of the unit operational safety level and ensuring plant long-term operation.

Then there was a question related to the level of personnel qualification, ways of proper and effective organization of work and solution of problems encountered.

It was mentioned that all the activities aimed at personnel knowledge improvement and qualification upgrading were being adequately implemented, everything was being done to ensure the competence of the personnel. Business trips are organized for the purpose of exchange of experience and knowledge improvement. There was another question concerning the actions to ensure a safe succession of generations so that the senior employees could share their experience with the newcomers by means of training. Prior to answering the question M. Vardanyan told about the Training Centre constructed on the ANPP site under the US government support and highlighted the important role and significance of the centre. The members of the delegation were informed that the TC rooms were comfortable. Some options of purchasing new equipment were discussed. The Chief of Staff to NRC Commissioner asked various questions relating to deliveries and potential problems associated with purchase or storage of nuclear fuel. The ANPP management listened to the questions raised, answered them in detail, stating that in the past the ANPP was experiencing serious financial problems, there were accumulated debts. However, at present, thanks to a timely and adequate implementation of activities, the plant not only doesn’t have any debts, but also all the financial problems have been overcome.

Oleg Grigoryan, the head of the ANPP Nuclear Safety and Reliability Department stated that at the end of 1999 and at the beginning of 2000 the ANPP had some problems related the nuclear fuel supply, but currently there were no problems with regard to supply. The Nuclear Safety and Reliability Department organizes and regulates the whole working process, which involves nuclear fuel, by agreement with the State Committee for Nuclear Safety Regulation. During the meeting Grigoryan described the mechanisms of nuclear fuel accounting, and he mentioned that the calculations were performed in advance to ensure a fail-safe operation of the plant.

Grigoryan also provided information on the process of nuclear fuel purchasing, stating that after receiving the fresh fuel it is placed in the reactor and the spent fuel is transferred to the Unit 2 storage pond. After a certain period of time it is placed into the Unit 1 storage pond and then it is transferred to the Spent Nuclear Fuel Dry Storage Facility. The storage facilities comply with international standards. The whole process of nuclear fuel accounting and storage is controlled by the IAEA inspectors.

CCTV with direct transmission is used for the control, and no omissions have been recorded so far. The activities are performed at an adequate and high level.