IAEA assesses operational safety at Korean APR-1400 units

18 November 2022

A team of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts has completed a mission to Saeul units 1 and 2 (formerly Shin Kori 3 and 4) in South Korea, marking the IAEA's first operational safety inspection in the country for the APR-1400-type reactor.

Saeul units 1 and 2 (Image: KHNP)

Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) said a team of 13 experts from 11 countries conducted the Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) mission between 31 October and 17 November.

OSART missions aim to improve operational safety by objectively assessing safety performance using the IAEA's Safety Standards and proposing recommendations for improvement where appropriate. Follow up missions are standard components of the OSART programme and are typically conducted within two years of the initial mission.

The OSART mission to Saeul 1 and 2 focused on ten areas, including leadership, operation, maintenance, emergency response, and accident management in accordance with the international nuclear safety standards that were strengthened after the 2011 accident at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

"There are some things that can be improved, but we confirmed that the management and staff of the plant put safety first and continue to strengthen safety," said team leader Fuming Jiang, Head of the Operational Safety Section at the IAEA. "The plant manager showed a strong will and effort to strengthen the nuclear safety culture."

KHNP said that as a result of the inspection, the operation of portable environmental radiation monitoring equipment and the use of a mobile seawater purification system were identified as good practice, while strengthening supervision of power plant site operators' competency development was among some improvement suggestions.

The company plans to further strengthen the operational safety of nuclear power plants by establishing a follow-up plan within this year for the recommendations suggested by the IAEA.

"The IAEA safety inspection is a good opportunity to increase objectivity and transparency in the safety of nuclear power plants in Korea and gain the trust of the international community," KHNP said.

On 1 November, KHNP announced that units 3-6 of the Shin Kori plant in in Busan in southeastern South Korea would now be known as units 1-4 of the Saeul plant. The names of Shin Kori units 1 and 2 - two OPR-1000 reactors that began operating in 2011 and 2012, respectively - remain unchanged.

Saeul 1 and 2 are APR-1400 reactors that entered commercial operation in December 2016 and August 2019, respectively. Construction of two further APR-1400s as Shin Kori units 5 and 6 (now Saeul 3 and 4) began in April 2017 and September 2018. These are scheduled to be commissioned in March 2023 and June 2024.

"I am very glad that we could confirm the new names of the units through positive support from the local community and proactive cooperation of the related departments," said Lee Sang-min, Head of the Saeul nuclear power site. "The Saeul site will continue to do our best to operate and construct nuclear power plants by putting safety first and coexisting with the local community."

The APR-1400 is an evolutionary pressurised water reactor with its origins in the CE System 80+ model. Principally designed by Korea Engineering Company, it produces 1400 MWe and has a 60-year design life. It supersedes the standardised 995 MWe OPR-1000 design, of which South Korea built 12. The APR-1400 features improvements in operation, safety, maintenance and affordability based on accumulated experience as well as technological development.

Two APR-1400s have also been built at the Shin Hanul site in South Korea. Shin Hanul 1 entered commercial operation in September this year, with unit 2 to follow in September 2023.

Four APR-1400 units have been built at the Barakah nuclear power plant in the UAE, three of which are now in operation. All four units are due online by 2025. The IAEA conducted an OSART mission to the plant in September this year. That mission focused on unit 1 of the plant and aimed to evaluate progress in addressing the findings of the IAEA's Pre-OSART mission that took place in 2017, three years prior to the start of operations in 2020.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News