Office for Nuclear Regulation

Reactor 1 Periodic Shutdown 2020 - LC28 compliance inspection in support of Structural Integrity

Executive summary

Purpose of Intervention

This report records the findings of an intervention visit to Heysham 1 Nuclear Power Station during the 2020 Reactor 1 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 remote inspections, via the Skype videoconferencing application, with relevant staff from the licensee to determine the adequacy of the work being undertaken. I concentrated my intervention on items I judged important to nuclear safety, focussed on structural integrity. The remote nature of this inspection was due to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic.

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.

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

My inspection started 36 days through the periodic shutdown, according to the licensee’s programme. The status of the inspections highlighted satisfactory progress on the reactor external inspection programme, with 450 out of the 496 inspections completed at the time of my visit.

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 categorisation of the results, and was satisfied with what I found. Steel pipework weld and Flow Accelerated Corrosion (FAC) inspections were progressing to programme with no significant issues identified.

I sampled the operation of the licensee's outage assessment panel (OAP) during my visit, by observing OAP meeting on 28 October 2020. 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 and that the inspection items raised were sentenced appropriately.

No plant walk down was possible as part of this intervention due to the remote nature of the intervention in accordance with the ongoing covid-19 pandemic.

I sampled digital images and video footage from the inspections of the reactor internal components. I judged that due process was being followed satisfactorily. No significant issues that could affect the planned work were reported and no significant issues have been reported with the internal inspections to date.

I discussed progress on inspection, maintenance and testing activities associated with the across the key systems related to nuclear safety. The inspections were, generally, progressing according to programme with no significant issues identified.

I discussed progress on examinations and inspections undertaken during the periodic shutdown, as required by the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations (PSSR). At the time of my site visit the PSSR competent person was satisfied with the work progress.

I noted that the system engineer for Flow Assisted Corrosion system engineer is currently working remotely on a permanent basis.  I judge that the interaction that the SE is having on site, combined with the processes and staff on site, is adequate.  I am satisfied that this is a workable situation and I do not raise concerns.

During my intervention relating to the essential cooling water systems, I noted that the experience and knowledge of the system engineer was below my expectations.  I consider this not to reflect badly on the individual; they had only been in post for a matter of three months at the time of my inspection and had no handover with the outgoing SQEP.  To capture this, I have raised a level 4 issue, number 8425, to address this matter.  This will be shared within ONR and included in wider investigations, as appropriate.

Conclusion of Intervention

I judge that, at the time of my inspection of Reactor 1 of Heysham 1 nuclear power station, personnel were conducting their activities in line with the pre-outage intentions documentation and associated inspection specifications.

I have raised issue number 8425 to address the shortfalls in the training and SQEP of the system engineer for essential cooling water systems.  I consider this to be an issue with the processes and procedures for the induction of the engineer and not a reflection on individual competence.

Based on the information that I have sampled during my inspection I have not identified any further nuclear safety significant issues of concern. I am satisfied that the licensee is adequately managing any defects or anomalies identified. I will use the minutes from the remaining OAPs to monitor for any additional 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 Heysham 1 Reactor 1 following its 2020 periodic shutdown.

I judge that, from a structural integrity perspective, the licensee has performed the examination, inspection, maintenance and testing work to an adequate standard against the requirements of LC28. At the time of my intervention, the remediation work identified as part of these routine inspections is being progressed satisfactorily and will be subject to further inspections in accordance with the licensee’s internal arrangements before a request for consent to return to service is made. I consider that a GREEN rating is appropriate for this inspection, noting the level 4 regulatory issue 8425 above.