Nucleoelectrica Argentina has been given feedback on its preparation of Atucha 1 for long-term operation by an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team. It is the third such mission at the request of the Argentinian government.
"With the support of the IAEA, we can further improve our preparedness for safe long-term operation and implement ageing management effectively," said Atucha site manager Alejandro Sanda. The Pre-SALTO (Safety Aspects of Long Term Operation) follow-up which has just been completed follows previous visits in 2016 and 2018.
Atucha 1 is a pressurised heavy water reactor that started up in 1974 and currently has a licence to operate until 2024. The plant's owner, Nucleoelectrica Argentina SA (NA-SA), plans to submit a request to the Argentinian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (ARN) to extend this by 20 years.
At the request of the Argentinian government, an IAEA team comprising experts from France, Pakistan and Sweden as well as one of its own staff members visited the plant from 23 to 26 November to follow up on the recommendations of previous missions.
The team found that NA-SA had completed the assessment of electrical, instrumentation and control systems for long-term operation. It had carried out a comprehensive condition assessment of the plant structures, systems and components. It had also identified all the components that need ageing assessment for long-term operation.
Further work was noted as required to improve organisational arrangements and processes to ensure timely implementation of all the activities required for long-term operation. NA-SA also needs to fully implement a proactive technological obsolescence programme and develop a long-term human resource plan for the entire period of extended operation.
"The results of this follow up mission show what remains to be done in order to fully align our LTO arrangements with the IAEA safety standards," Sanda said.
Sanda's team will be able to make factual comments on a draft version of the report before a final version is submitted to ARN and the Argentinian government.
Atucha unit 2, also a pressurised heavy water reactor, began commercial operation in 2016.