Contrôle review No. 186 - Inspection of pressurised nuclear reactor equipment

Published on 16/02/2010

All publics

As it is essential to reactor safety, the inspection of nuclear pressure equipment such as the reactor vessel or steam generators has always occupied an important and special place at ASN. This inspection is based, on the one hand, on detailed regulations, and requires, on the other hand, specific and specialized skills.

In 2005, France chose to use the European Pressure Equipment Directive1 as the foundation for developing its own nuclear pressure equipment regulations in order to align with conventional industry practices and to base nuclear equipment inspections on the new approach created in the directive. ASN strengthened and expanded some of the directive’s requirements, for instance to take into account radiation protection, and demanded thus a high level of equipment quality.

ASN believes a clear and precise regulation, that sets objectives without imposing specific methods, provides a basis for fostering quality technical dialogue that will increase the safety of nuclear facilities. Safety requirements must be considered at the time of the design and manufacture of nuclear pressure equipment, and also stipulate that the operator carry out regular checks during operation and appropriate checks throughout the service life of the equipment. Through its inspection activities, during the first stages of manufacturing and while the equipment is operating, ASN ensures that the high level of quality demanded in the design phase is permanently maintained.

When ASN made a ruling in July 2009 on EDF’s capacity to control the safety of their 900 MW reactors 40 years after the first divergence, it stated that continuing to operate reactors was only acceptable in nuclear plants that were properly maintained and operated in a responsible manner in order to anticipate possible anomalies. Since 2006, several new degradation mechanisms have have been detected on steam generators during regular inspections or because of accidents. They have shown all the vigilance necessary when faced with this type of phenomenon and must encourage their operators to maintain a frequency of inspection and maintenance that will prevent equipment failure.

A little more than ten years after the publication of Contrôle no. 122 covering “inspection of nuclear boiler construction”, I wanted to return to this still current topic, as much because of the ageing facilities as of the large-scale programme for building new facilities. It shows how ASN has adapted its inspection methods to deal with current issues.

Paris, January 20th, 2010

Content

Inspection of nuclear pressure equipment: principles, issues and perspectives

Closely monitored equipment: the reactor vessel

A major safety issue: ensure the integrity of steam generator pipes

Research on and development of materials used in components of the main circuit: experimental programmes and simulation to understand, model and plan for ageing

Non-destructive testing used for monitoring french nuclear power plants during operation (licensing, performance, simulation)

Pressurised nuclear equipment in research reactors

Inpection of pressurised equipment during operation

Inspection of pressurised nuclear equipment by certified organizations

Towards a strengthening of inspections carried out on pressurised equipment and pipework...

The inspection departments of EDF nuclear power plants

Skills of ASN inspectors responsible for inspecting pressurised equipment

What are the external consulting needs?

Experts outside of the official sphere consulted for the 10-years visits

AREVA group industrial issues

The specifics linked to production of large nuclear components: close-up on the company Valinox Nucléaire

French ESPN order, codes and nuclear industrie requirements

An American in the pressurised nuclear equipment department (ASN - DEP)

From Dijon to Washington — from the mustard capital to the capital of the United States

Multinational Design Evaluation Program

Date of last update : 18/01/2014