Neckarwestheim. On the initiative of the EnBW, a so-called OSART mission will be carried out in the Neckarwestheim nuclear power plant between October 8 and October 24, 2007. OSART missions are a service provided by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and are considered to be the most intensive and transparent form of assessment of nuclear power plants. They also encourage the principle of continuous improvement which the nuclear power plants of the EnBW have always been practicing.
After the completion of the mission in Neckarwestheim, the EnBW will be the only operator of nuclear power plants in Germany whose production sites have been completely assessed by the IAEA within only a few years. During the OSART mission that was completed last year at the Philippsburg site, the IAEA already established that the EnBW is a reliable operator of nuclear power plants and that the EnBW gives the highest priority to nuclear safety and employs highly motivated staff.
EnBW is leading the way
„We actively face up to the challenge and have the IAEA assess us according to their high international standards“, says Michael Wenk, the technical manager of the nuclear power plant in Neckarwestheim and the EnBW Kernkraft GmbH. „Since the IAEA has already issued a very good report card for our Philippsburg site, we also want to provide the evidence for a high level of safety on our site in Neckarwestheim.“
The IAEA is autonomous, scientific-technical organization of the United Nations (UNO). Member states such as Germany can apply for IAEA OSART missions. The Federal Government did that for the Neckarwestheim site at the request of the EnBW. The objective of a mission is the comprehensive assessment of the management of a nuclear power plant in compliance with the international standards of the IAEA. In addition, there will be an objective assessment of the level of safety of the plant management.
Team of experts consists of experienced, international professionals
The Operational SAfety Review Team (OSART) in Neckarwestheim consists of 13 foreign experts with extensive professional experiences. They come from Great Britain, France, Belgium, Sweden, Romania, Czech Republic, Hungary, Brazil, China, Canada and the USA. Each expert carries out the assessment in his area of expertise . There is a focus on the areas of management, organization and administration; training and qualification; operation; maintenance; technical support; operational experience; radiation protection; chemistry; emergency planning and precaution as well as the safety culture.
The results of the assessment will be published by the IAEA in a public domain report a few months after the mission. Routinely, the IAEA will do a follow up one to two years after the three-week mission. It then inspects how the operator has handled the results from the main mission. The IAEA inspects the plant management again and will finally prepare its final report. The IAEA also follows the principle of continuous improvement: All results are used to further raise the IAEA standards for best international practice.
The focus is on the entire site and unit I in particular
Since Neckarwestheim is the site of two nuclear power plants, almost the entire plant management is organized across the units. For example, the departments for radiation protection, event analysis as well as machine and electrotechnology work for both units. Therefore, the OSART mission will assess some 90 percent of the plant management of the entire site and thus both units. In addition, OSART will especially assess the plant management of unit I. „In terms of safety, the operation of a double unit has a big advantage. Because the same staff is used in both of our units it leads to an accumulation, assurance and positive feedback of experience and know how. This way, we optimize our maintenance and plant management“, explains Michael Wenk. „Against this background, a successful completion of the mission will provide us with more, supporting arguments for our application to transfer residual electricity from GKN II to GKN I.“
Manyyears of intensive preparation has already shown improvements
„For about three years, we have been intensively preparing for the IAEA visit“, says Michael Wenk. „It was important to us to accurately evaluate the results of the OSART mission in Philippsburg and to also implement the experiences in Neckarwestheim. In addition, we and external specialists carried out a three-week simulation of an OSART mission and sent project members to missions abroad. Our preparation has accelerated our improvement processes in the run up of the mission and it has further intensified our participation in the international exchange of experiences.“