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IAEA Safety Mission Sees Significant Progress at Romania’s Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant, Encourages Continued Improvement

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An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts said the operator of Romania’s Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) demonstrated strengthened operational safety by addressing the findings of an initial IAEA review in 2016. The team also encouraged the operator to pursue continuous improvement.

The Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) concluded a five-day follow-up mission on 8 March to Cernavoda NPP, whose two 706 MW(e) CANDU pressurized heavy water reactors came online in 1996 and 2007, respectively. The plant is located on the Danube-Black Sea Canal, about 160 km from Bucharest, the capital.

OSART missions aim to improve operational safety by objectively assessing safety performance using the IAEA’s safety standards and proposing recommendations and suggestions for improvement where appropriate. The follow-up missions are standard components of the OSART programme and are typically conducted within two years of the initial mission.

“We were pleased to observe that the plant management has paid serious attention to addressing the findings of the 2016 mission, demonstrating a strong commitment to safety,” said team leader Fuming Jiang, a Senior Nuclear Safety Officer at the IAEA. “We saw improvements in key areas, such as the procurement of important spare parts, the identification and reporting of some deficiencies, and some maintenance work practices, as evidenced by relevant performance indicators.”

The team observed that several findings from the 2016 review were fully addressed, including:

  • Enhanced operator crew performance during simulator training.
  • Better identification and reporting of deficiencies in the field.
  • Improvement in maintenance work practices.

The team noted that significant progress has been made on other issues. However, more time is required to fully implement some actions, including:

  • Further improvements in the procurement of important spare parts with relevance to safety.
  • Further enhancement in the revision and update of some operating procedures.
  • Control and labelling of some plant chemicals.

“We appreciate the insights and advice from the OSART mission in 2016 and have carefully analysed all the issues it identified and implemented a comprehensive action plan to address them over the past two years, and sometimes our actions went beyond the original scope of the issues,” said Dan Bigu, Site Vice President of Cernavoda NPP. “This has been proven to be very beneficial in our continued effort of performance improvement. The current follow-up mission will provide further catalyst support to our journey to nuclear excellence.”

The team provided a draft report of the mission to the plant’s management. The plant management and the Romanian Nuclear Safety Commission, which is responsible for nuclear safety oversight in Romania, 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 Romania within three months.

Background

General information about OSART missions can be found on the IAEA Website. An OSART mission is designed as a review of programmes and activities essential to operational safety. It is not a regulatory inspection, nor is it a design review or a substitute for an exhaustive assessment of the plant’s overall safety status.