Neckarwestheim. The International Energy Agency (IAEA) today presented the results of its OSART Mission at Neckarwestheim Nuclear Power Plant (GKN). The independent experts came to the conclusion that GKN is a very good plant compare to international standards and shows many features of a strong safety culture. In addition, GKN has some examples of good practice worthy of imitation by other nuclear power plants around the world. The report also acknowledges that findings from the OSART Mission to Philippsburg have been implemented at Neckarwestheim plant.
Miroslav Lipar, Head of the Operational Safety Section at IAEA and in charge of the UN agency's OSART programme, detailed the results of the Mission: "Neckarwestheim is a very good plant by comparison with IAEA international standards. Our experts witnessed the good material condition of the plant. All safety-related equipment, systems and components are well maintained and regularly tested. Housekeeping standards are very high, and the plant is clean and tidy. The staff at Neckarwestheim impressed our experts with their technical competency and qualification. They were open and frank with the experts at all times. We also noted that there is a high level of teamwork at Neckarwestheim.”
Good practices in plant management
Commenting on individual results, Miroslav Lipar said, "We came across several good practices in plant management. One example is the cross-divisional safety management system, which measures, monitors and continuously improves performance in the major operational processes according to a standardised assessment method. We found more examples of good practice worthy of imitation, for instance in radiation protection, fuel handling, utilisation of operational experience, IT security and in training and qualification." Relatively few areas were found with potential for improvement. Miroslav Lipar gave some examples. "We recommend that GKN should further develop expectations regarding industrial safety and enforce them in practice. We also suggest that the plant should introduce a comprehensive system for the documentation and tracking of low-level events below the reporting threshold. Even if the probability of an emergency at GKN due to technical causes is extremely low, preventive measures could still be further improved beyond the standards required by German regulators. The management at Neckarwestheim has stated clearly that it intends to work closely on the recommendation and suggestions and take action for improvement."
Pioneering role for EnBW
Michael Wenk, Chairman of the Management Board at EnBW Kernkraft GmbH and board member at EnBW Kraftwerke AG, was pleased to hear the IAEA's assessment. "The results of the OSART Mission underscore the high quality of management and safety culture at Neckarwestheim. We wanted to see how we measure up to the IAEA's very high international standards and have carried off the challenge. EnBW is the only nuclear operator in Germany whose production sites have all been fully assessed by IAEA within a few years."
"These results are proof that the cross-divisional co-operation between our nuclear power plants is working," continued Wenk. "Neckarwestheim has learned from the experience of the OSART Mission to Philippsburg. Similarly, the IAEA's present suggestions will be discussed intensively not only at Neckarwestheim but at the Philippsburg plant, too. As a result of the OSART missions, we feel that our principle of continuous improvement has been proved right, and our determination to push ahead consistently is high. We will be able to demonstrate this in 2009 when the IAEA returns to Neckarwestheim for the scheduled follow-up visit“.
The most intensive and transparent form of power plant assessment
From October 8th to 24th, 2007 an Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) evaluated plant management at Neckarwestheim Nuclear Power Plant on the basis of international standards. The team was made up of 13 experts from outside Germany, all of whom have with many years of practical experience in the nuclear power industry. The main assessment areas were Management, Organisation and Administration; Training and Qualification; Operations; Maintenance; Technical Support; Operational Experience; Radiation Protection; Chemistry; Emergency Preparedness and Planning as well as Safety Culture.
OSART missions are a service offered by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and are considered to be the most intensive and transparent form of assessment for nuclear power plants. At the same time, they promote the principle of continuous improvement, which has always been practised by the nuclear power plants within EnBW. The IAEA is an autonomous scientific and technical organisation within the United Nations (UN). Member countries like Germany can apply to IAEA for an OSART mission. At the request of EnBW the German Federal Government made an application for a mission to Neckarwestheim.