Safety culture

Guarantee of Nuclear Safety

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The top priority in the activity of SE NNEGC “Energoatom” is compliance with highest nuclear and radiation safety standards. The Company recognizes its full responsibility for the operation of nuclear facilities that require specific personnel training, particular approach to production activity and very specific understanding of the safety culture by all involved in the operation of nuclear power plants. Safety improvement of nuclear facilities and ensuring safe working environment for the employees of SE NNEGC “Energoatom” are the Company’s number one priorities on its activity agenda.    

The highest attention of SE NNEGC “Energoatom” is focused on implementation of the Comprehensive (integrated) safety upgrade program at Ukrainian NPPs (CiSUP). Not only does the program implementation allow for the maximum safety improvement of the operating NPPs, but also for the extension of their operating life while providing confidence in their reliable operation.

On a yearly basis, Energoatom works to improve and develop its integrated management system in pursuit of ensuring safety. For the years of the Company’s existence, the operating nuclear power plants of Ukraine have not had a single accident or event above level 1 on the international INES scale. The levels of radioactive materials releases and emissions have not exceeded a tenth portion of the permitted percent value, while the personnel exposure has not exceeded 5% of the yearly dose limit.

Personnel and labor safety remain priority areas in the activity of SE NNEGC “Energoatom”, and safety culture displayed by the personnel of nuclear power plants is and will always be an essential precondition for the safe operation of NPP power units. The Company’s task is about foreseeing and preventing potential events as early as at the stage of adoption of technical decisions. Energoatom seeks to ensure that every Company employee recognizes that it is his/her safety culture the safe operation of an NPP depends on.

Reliability and efficiency of operating NPPs is being improved through the following prgrams:

  • “Comprehensive (integrated) safety upgrade program for nuclear power plants’ units” (CiSUP);
  • “Program for operational efficiency improvement of NPPs operated by SE NNEGC “Energoatom”;
  • “Power uprate program for operating NPPs”;
  • “Action plan for reliability improvement of steam generators and condensers of turbine installations of NPPs operated by SE NNEGC “Energoatom” for the period 2014-2019”.

The purpose of safety improvement activities at NPPs:

  • Implementation of recommendations made by IAEA and other international organizations regarding safety improvement of the Ukrainian NPPs;
  • Meeting the requirements of the effective national nuclear legislation and legislation in the field of civil protection regarding the Company’s preparedness to respond under a threat and actual occurrence of nuclear and radiation accidents and emergencies of man-induced and natural origin;
  • Implementation of activities designed to prevent accidents similar to the one at Fukushima NPP;
  • Replacement of safety important equipment with modern equipment.

Operating life extension of NPPs’ power units

Operating life extension of NPPs’ power units is one of strategic goals of SE NNEGC “Energoatom”. This is one of the most essential trends characteristic of the current development stage of the world nuclear power industry, and the most cost-effective investment of financial resources to preserve generating capacities. Long-term operation of nuclear power units is a common practice worldwide: out of the 448 operating reactors, 307 have been in operation for 30 years and more, with 110 reactors being in operation for 40 years and more. Practical experience in this activity has already been acquired by Great Britain, Canada, Russia, USA, France, Hungary and other countries.

SE NNEGC “Energoatom” has already extended the operating life of 11 nuclear power units. In pursuit of this goal, the Company has established corresponding structural units, developed the regulatory, methodological and technical documentation and had it approved by the Regulatory body.

Preparation for the long-term operation (operational life extension) is performed under specific Programs on preparation for long-term operation, such programs being developed separately for each specific nuclear power unit. To confirm the required safety level and obtain a license from the national Regulatory body for the beyond-design service life operation of a given nuclear power unit, the operating company completes a series of activities on safety improvement  and long-term operation involving replacement of obsolescent and physically aged equipment of a given power unit and performs safety reassessment accounting for the actual technical condition and completed modifications.

A mandatory precondition for the long-term operation of existing nuclear power units is completion of safety and reliability improvement activities. Among these are equipment modernization and refurbishment, elimination of any deviations from safety norms and rules, and improvement of nuclear power units’ safety and emergency preparedness.

Owing to safety improvement activities implemented as part of the long-term operation activities, the safety level of nuclear power units with extended design service life is even higher than that of other power units.   

Comprehensive (integrated) safety upgrade program of nuclear power plants’ units

Safety of nuclear installations [1], perseverance of the existing safety level of operating nuclear power units and its continuous increase are the top priorities in the activity of SE NNEGC “Energoatom”.

Safety improvement at Ukrainian NPPs is implemented on a systematic basis through completion of corresponding safety upgrade programs developed for specific timeframes. To ensure further rigorous improvement of nuclear safety, efficient and reliable functioning of the power sector, to bring the safety of Ukrainian NPPs to the level that meets internationally recognized requirements to nuclear safety and environmental protection, SE NNEGC “Energoatom” is implementing the Comprehensive (integrated) safety upgrade program at Ukrainian nuclear power plants (CiSUP). The Program covers the period until 2020. Among the most essential program components are post-Fukushima activities focused mainly on ensuring emergency power supply.  

CiSUP major objectives are:

  • Increase of the safety level of NPPs’ power units to the level corresponding to the present-day national safety norms;
  • Implementation of IAEA recommendations regarding safety improvement at Ukrainian NPPs;
  • Delivery on existing commitments to international financial institutions regarding implementation of safety upgrade activities;
  • Replacement of safety-important equipment close to expiration of the design service life with modern equipment;
  • Implementation of accident prevention measures focused specifically on accidents similar to that at Fukushima Daiichi (Japan, 2011).

Funding of the CiSUP comes from the Company’s own resources and from the loan funds of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and EORATOM. These funds are only available for the procurement of major equipment, which is only a part of the CiSUP activities, and only according to the procedures adopted by the European partners.

Implementation of post-Fukushima activities at NPPs

Following the accident at the Japanese Fukushima Daiichi NPP, NNEGC “Energoatom” performed a targeted extraordinary safety assessment of its nuclear power units (“stress tests”), which proved the sequence of events that had affected the Fukushima-Daiichi NPP was practically unfeasible at any Ukrainian NPP. Safety improvement activities, including “post-Fukushima” measures, are being implemented according to the CiSUP.

Based on the “stress tests”, there was a list of “severe” accident prevention activities identified, such activities being mandatory for completion as a precondition for the operational life extension of nuclear power units.

Such activities include the following:

  • Ensuring resistance to impacts of an earthquake magnitude 7 on MSK-64 scale;
  • Ensuring operability of safety-important equipment under “harsh” environmental conditions;
  • Introduction of forced containment filtered venting systems to vent steam-gas mixture from under the containment dome;
  • Implementation of activities to ensure emergency power supply to steam generators and spent fuel pools under long-term total black-out of an NPP and/or loss of the ultimate heat sink;
  • Introduction of severe accident management  guidelines.

There is a total of 231 activities aimed at prevention of “severe” accidents, and further 93 fire protection activities, to be implemented by SE NNEGC “Energoatom” under the Program at 15 nuclear power units. Out of these, 35 «post-Fukushima” activities were completed in 2017.

2017: development and introduction of severe accident management guidelines was completed at all nuclear  power units of NPPs; activities on replacement of self-contained air-conditioners were completed at ZNPP-3, RNPP-3, SU NPP-3; the system for emergency hydrogen removal from the containment was installed at ZNPP-3, and the early containment bypass system during core meltdown was installed at units ZNPP-1 and ZNPP-3; mobile pumping equipment was introduced at power units ZNPP-3, RNPP-1, RNPP-2 and mobile diesel generators – at power units ZNPP-1, ZNPP-3 etc.

Implementation of the Company’s Unified Technical Policy

Best in-house and international operating experience and modernization practices at NPPs  and power units is implemented according to the Unified Technical Policy of SE NNEGC “Energoatom”, which the Company follows in implementation of all programs.  

It means that all power units operating similar reactor installations are implementing the same set of safety and reliability improvement activities, use uniform technical decisions and methodologies, while equipment maintenance and operation are based on uniform approaches, and the same requirements apply to procedures for the development and approval of production documentation.

The fundamental principles of the Unified Technical Policy of SE NNEGC “Energoatom” are:

  • Responsibility for radiation protection and safety of nuclear installations according to the Ukrainian legislation in the field of use of nuclear power;
  • Implementation of proven technical decisions only, provided these are efficient and meet design and regulatory requirements;
  • Mandatory use of operational experience and safety analysis results in technical decisions.

The Unified Technical Policy of NNEGC “Energoatom” implies an individual approach to each specific nuclear power unit of an NPP to account for its specificity and a range of potential decisions while fully complying with the adopted overall philosophy of approach implementation.

Examples of compliance with the Company’s Unified Technical Policy:

  • The list of CiSUP activities is the same for each of the three reactor installation designs: VVER-1000/V-320, VVER-1000/V-302, 338, VVER-440/V-213.
  • Long-term operation of nuclear power units: ZNPP-4, RNPP-3 and subsequent power units are being prepared for operational life extension beyond the design service life in the same manner as earlier were RNPP-1, SU NPP-1,2 and ZNPP-1,2,3 units in their preparation for and authorization of the long-term operation.    
  • In the period 2015-2017 uniform technical requirements and procurement terms were applied to  30 types of equipment/products for safety-important systems, and are procured on a regular basis.
  • Unification of technical requirements to the CiSUP equipment to be procured for EBRD/EURATOM funds.

[1] Nuclear and radiation safety, radiation protection, labor safety, industrial and technology safety, environmental and fire protection, prevention of severe and industrial accidents, preparedness for emergency response and emergencies, physical protection of nuclear facilities, nuclear materials, radioactive waste and other ionizing radiation sources.