IAEA Team Assesses Atucha NPP In Argentina

The U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced Thursday that its team of experts has completed a review of long-term operational safety of Unit 1 at Atucha Nuclear Power Plant in Argentina, arriving at the conclusion that the plant's safety status had good points and areas that could benefit from improvements.

Atucha NPPAs is a standing policy at the IAEA, the Pre-SALTO (Safety Aspects of Long Term Operation) review mission was conducted at the behest of the host country. In this case, the request came from the plant’s operator, Nucleoelectrica Argentina. 

The 11-member team, whose review ended on 31 October, focused on aspects essential to the safe Long-Term Operation (LTO) of Unit 1, which went into commercial operation in 1974. The operator is preparing a license renewal application to the Argentinian Nuclear Regulatory Authority to extend the operating lifetime of Unit 1.

The team's review also held the plant operator's preparedness against IAEA safety standards.

The team observed that the plant has made progress in the field of ageing management and preparedness for safe LTO. The team said the plant’s LTO project already addresses several topics recommended by IAEA safety standards, with some activities partially implemented and many others already begun. The team found plant staff to be professional, open and receptive to suggestions for improvement.

The report indicated positive aspects to the operator's short-term trending of preventive maintenance activities, which allows for information to be validated and short-term abnormalities to be identified. The team also praised the operators condition assessment reports in the mechanical area with specific regards to both traceability and completeness. In addition, the IAEA team approved of the revalidated Time Limited Ageing Analysis (TLAA) to confirm effective management of cumulative fatigue in certain areas.

The team also provided several recommendations for further enhancing LTO safety, including improvements for LTO organizational arrangements and processes to ensure timely implementation of all activities to demonstrate preparedness for safe LTO. In addition, the plant's operator should establish and consistently apply a clear and unambiguous scope setting methodology for LTO assessment and fully establish and implement a comprehensive equipment qualification programme.

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

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