IAEA Team Show Concerns of Indian Nuclear Sites

The safety review of units 3 and 4 of the atomic power station at Rawatbhata in Rajasthan by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has ended with the inspection team identifying certain deficiencies in the operations of the units reflecting concerns of Indian Nuclear Safety.

The team has found problems in the maintenance of the fire doors and electrical cables and has flagged a need for improvements in certain aspects of the surveillance-testing programme and the system for root cause analyses.

In a statement on Wednesday, team leader Miroslav Lipar said a number of recommendations and suggestions were made.

“Examples [of areas requiring improvement] include the following: the plant should enhance actions to maintain electrical cable conditions to a high standard; the fire door inspection and maintenance programme should be enhanced to identify and correct fire door function; certain aspects of the plant’s surveillance testing programme should be further enhanced; and the plant should enhance root-cause analyses to systematically identify all learning opportunities,” he said.

He said the plant management expressed its determination to address all the areas identified for improvements and requested that the IAEA schedule a follow-up mission in about 15 months.

However, the team also identified several “good practices” which would be shared by the IAEA with the global nuclear industry for their benefit in due course.

Examples of good practice included the safety culture of the plant, which cultivated a constructive work environment and a sense of accountability among the personnel and gave the staff opportunity to expand skills and training.

In addition, the public awareness programme provided educational opportunities to the local community about nuclear and radiation safety; the plant had a system for effective management of training activities and it used testing facilities and mock-ups to improve the quality of maintenance work and reduce radiation dose.

The team, he said, had provided the plant management with a draft of its recommendations, suggestions and good practices in the form of technical notes for their comments. The notes would be reviewed by the IAEA headquarters including any comments received from the plant management on them. The final report will be submitted to the Central government, within the next three months.

This is the first safety review of an Indian nuclear power plant under the IAEA’s ‘Operational Safety Review Team [OSART]’ programme. The in-depth review, which began on October 29, covered the areas of management, organisation and administration, training, operations, maintenance, technical support, operating experience, radiation protection, chemistry, emergency planning and preparedness, and severe accident management.

The review was conducted at the request of the Central government. The team comprised experts from Canada, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden, apart from the IAEA itself.

The OSART programme was launched in 1982 and teams of international experts have already conducted 170 such reviews before coming to India and Rawatbhata.

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