Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Hinkley Point B Power Station – Reactor 3 Outage - LC28 Compliance Inspection - Structural Integrity

Executive summary

Purpose of intervention

This report records the findings of an intervention visit to the Hinkley Point B Nuclear Power Station during the 2016 Reactor 3 periodic shutdown. The intervention was undertaken to confirm the adequacy of the work conducted by the licensee, EDF Energy Nuclear Generation Limited (NGL), to comply with the requirements of Licence Condition 28, examination, inspection, maintenance and testing.

Interventions Carried Out by ONR

I undertook on-site meetings and plant inspections with relevant staff from NGL to determine the adequacy of the work being undertaken on Reactor 3 in complying with the requirements of Licence Condition 28. I concentrated my intervention on items I judged important to nuclear safety, focussed on structural integrity.

I sampled aspects of the inspection programme undertaken during the periodic shutdown on the steam and feed systems and other safety related systems external to the reactor pressure vessel. I also sampled aspects of the inspection programme undertaken on the metallic components internal to the reactor pressure vessel. Vessel entry for inspection purposes has been deferred until the next periodic shutdown, planned for 2019.

Key Findings, Inspector's Opinions and Reasons for Judgements Made

I visited site approximately halfway through the periodic shutdown. The status of the inspections highlighted satisfactory progress on the reactor external inspection programme, with 150 out of the 312 inspections completed at the time of this inspection.

I sampled the inspection work that had been undertaken as part of the reactor external inspection programme, looking at both the inspection work itself and the categorising of the results, and was satisfied with what I found. 

I sampled the operation of the licensee’s outage assessment panel (OAP) during my visit, by observing OAP meeting 3. The OAP meets to review the inspection work undertaken during the periodic shutdown and sentences the inspection findings. I was satisfied that the OAP was following due process.

I undertook a plant walk down during my visit, escorted by the OAP Chair. NGL staff were able to provide satisfactory explanations of both the operation of the systems and the inspection/maintenance of the systems planned or already performed during the periodic shutdown.

I sampled video footage and digital images showing the circulator outlet gas duct and hot standpipe 3N39. I judged that due process was being followed satisfactorily. No significant issues that could affect the planned work were reported. No significant issues have been reported with the internal inspections to date.

I discussed progress on inspection, maintenance and testing activities associated with the cooling water systems. The work programme was said to be progressing according to plan.

I discussed progress on examinations and inspections undertaken by the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations (PSSR) Competent Person during the periodic shutdown. The work was progressing to plan and no significant issues had been found to date.

I discussed progress on steam pipework hanger survey. The pre-outage hot hanger survey was complete and reported; the cold survey was complete and was being audited by EASL at the time of visit. Final results will be reported through the OAP. Following the Return to Service (RTS), a post-outage hot survey will be performed.

Conclusion of Intervention

I judge that, at the time of my visit to the Hinkley Point B nuclear power station, personnel were conducting their inspections in line with the pre-outage intentions documentation and associated inspection specifications.  The inspections conducted so far have not raised any nuclear safety significant issues of concern and the Licensee appears to be adequately managing any defects or anomalies identified.

At the time of my visit, and from my sample inspections, I found nothing that in my opinion would prevent Reactor 3 returning to service following completion of the 2015 periodic shutdown.  I will use the minutes from the remaining OAPs to monitor for any emerging issues from the inspections that have yet to be completed and report on this in my structural integrity assessment report on the return to service of Hinkley Point B Reactor 3 following its 2016 periodic shutdown.

Based on my intervention to date, I conclude that the licensee has performed the work to an adequate standard. I propose that an IIS rating of 3 (adequate) is appropriate.