National assessment report submitted on ageing management of nuclear power plants

Forsmark and Ringhals have comprehensive ageing management programmes that comply with the requirements of the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority and meet international expectations. Also, OKG has developed a programme that needs to be implemented by its organisation. These are conclusions drawn in a new national report from the Authority, which has reviewed and evaluated self-assessments of reactor owners in the area of ageing management of nuclear power plants.

A requirement is imposed by Article 8 of the Nuclear Safety Directive, 2014/87/Euratom, stipulating that Member States must perform coordinated national assessments based on a specific topic related to nuclear safety. This topic must be relevant for the nuclear installations on the respective Member States' territory. All other Member States, together with the Commission as an observer, are to be invited to peer review the national assessment. This gives the parties an opportunity to make comments and pose questions to the respective country about its national assessment report. Topical peer reviews are to take place at least every six years.

"Topical peer reviews may be viewed as a follow-up of the stress tests carried out following the nuclear power accident that took place at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan. The reviews are carried out in a similar way, with ENSREG and WENRA as the main coordinators, together with the national regulatory authorities," says Nina Persson, head of section at the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority.

Nuclear power reactors in Europe are ageing, for which reason there is an increased focus on issues relating to ageing management in the EU. The first topical peer review regards ageing management of nuclear power plants. The Swedish topical peer review started in 2017, with the reactor owners’ self-assessments and subsequent reporting on the part of their respective reactors in relation to set specifications.

"The Swedish national assessment report shows that Forsmarks Kraftgrupp AB and Ringhals AB have comprehensive ageing management programmes in place that fulfil our requirements and meet international expectations," says Ms Persson. "OKG has developed a comprehensive ageing management programme that needs to be implemented by its organisation."

Existing ageing management programmes for reactor vessels, electrical cables, concealed pipework and concrete constructions are adequate and largely fulfil their purposes. To varying extents, all the licensees have improvement potential, as explained by the report. For example, they should more frequently use well-defined acceptance criteria, and work more actively on prevention of faults related to ageing.

"We advise the licensees to work more systematically on quality assurance of their ageing management programmes, and measure quality, effectiveness and efficiency. In some areas, the licensees should also focus more on increasing their cooperation nationally and internationally in order to enhance their skills and learn more about aspects such as ageing mechanisms and tools for ageing management," concludes Nina Persson.

The Swedish national assessment report has been submitted to ENSREG. In May 2018, a concluding peer review meeting will convene in Brussels.

For more information, please contact: Nina Persson, Head of Section, Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, Tel.: +46 8 799 41 13, or the Authority’s press officer on +46 8 799 40 20.