Oldest Czech nuclear plant ‘safe’: IAEA inspectors

Following 17-day site inspection, International Atomic Energy Agency says oldest Czech nuclear power plant is safe and well-managed

Tom Jones 23.6.2011

The Dukovany reactors, launched in the mid-1980s, are the oldest in the Czech Republic foto: © ČEZČeská pozice

The Dukovany reactors, launched in the mid-1980s, are the oldest in the Czech Republic

After an inspection lasting 17 days, an Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said the Dukovany nuclear power plant, the Czech Republic’s oldest, is safe and well-run. The inspectors say some processes at the plant could be improved, but at the same time they intend to recommend certain practices implemented at Dukovany to other nuclear plant operators.

“The mission concluded that the power plant is very well run and recommends three changes, and also proposes 11 areas where it’s possible to improve current processes,” plant spokesman Petr Spilka told the Mediafax agency.

The inspection was the third conducted by OSART since the plant began operation in 1985. Recommendations following the latest inspection include improving use of instruments for error prevention and implementing a more comprehensive emergency plan for evacuation and protection of workers in the event of a radiation leak.

On the other hand, the inspectors were satisfied with the power plant’s contingency plans and drills for simulating a blackout of the plant’s own power supply. “A whole range of external organizations are included in the scenario. The drill is aimed at improving reaction times for restoring the power supply and instructing external personnel about the fundamentals of nuclear safety,” Spilka said. ‘The results are neither good nor bad, they’re only results. What’s important is how we use them in practice.’

“The results are neither good nor bad, they’re only results. What’s important is how we use them in practice,” Dukovany director Tomáš Žák told Mediafax.

Despite Žák’s caution, the OSART team praised several aspects of the plant’s management, including recruitment and training processes which it says it will recommend to other nuclear plant operators. Dukovany employees have had a consistently high rate of success obtaining necessary licenses for performing specialist tasks and the plant’s management was praised for finding suitable candidates to train for specialized positions.

“The OSART mission has identified 10 good practices which it will recommend to other nuclear power plant operators on its international website,” Spilka said.

The Dukovany plant is owned and operated by the Czech state-owned energy major ČEZ.