The history of Balakovo NPP dates back from the 1970s, when Soviet authorities began to look for a site that could provide sufficient energy supply for a growing industry in Saratov region on the river Volga. The plant site was first called Privolskhaya. A feasibility study was carried out by the Ural branch of Teploelektroproject Institute. Balakovo now belongs to the second biggest industrial centre of Saratov region. It is situated on the left bank of the Volga River on the border of the Middle and Lower Volga, 180 km from Saratov and 260 km from Samara.
Balakovo NPP consists of four units of the WWER-1000/320 standard model Soviet type reactor. Balakovo 1st reactor was commissioned in 1985, the 2nd and 3rd reactors were commissioned in 1987 and 1988, respectively. Although the construction of the 4th reactor started in 1983, it was put on hold for about 8 years, and eventually completed in 1993. Since 2000 Balakovo NPP has produced over 28bln KWh a year, which is one fifth of the output of all the Rosenergoatom operated NPP Units.
Since the beginning of 90's a comprehensive modernization programme has been implemented at all BNPP units that aimed at addressing some outstanding safety issues of WWER-1000/320 reactors; those were identified and documented in the IAEA Issue Books. Besides that, Rosenergoatom, the operating organization of BNPP introduced their own modernization programme that further aimed at improving the safety and reliability of the standard WWER 1000 reactor fleet.
During 2004-2005, a safety evaluation of BNPP was carried out in the frame of a separate TACIS project. For that purpose, a specialized assessment methodology was developed using the European Working Party on Nuclear Safety (WPNS) and IAEA criteria, with the objective to assess how the status of safety reached at the plant compared with the current international practice, in particular the practice adopted in European Community countries.
The On-site assistance (OSA) programme is implemented by EU utilities or consortia with experience of NPP operation in the EU that are contracted by the EC to work on site at a nuclear power plant of the Beneficiary country. The aim of OSA is to provide the Beneficiary nuclear power plant with support to different areas i.e. safety culture, quality assurance, maintenance, management and training, etc. and to upgrade the safety of the plant through the supply of equipment. The OSA team maintains a site presence and assists the plant management/operation in various safety aspects, such as the safety culture, safe operation and maintenance. In addition, the OSA Team assists the EC, End User and suppliers implementing the supply projects that deal with replacement of the old equipment which does not meet safety requirements or installation of new equipment based on its safety importance.
The aim of the On-Site Assistance programme at Balakovo NPP (BNPP) was to combine the experience of the OSA Consultant with the experience and needs of the Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) operator in order to:
improve the operational safety of BNPP through the transfer of know-how and operational best practice;
identify, prepare and implement safety related specific projects which include the tendering and procurement of equipment required to improve the safety of the power plant.
General OSA activities were implemented by the EC Consultant – a German Utility RWE Power from 25 July 2002 to 30 December 2008. An arrangement for implementation of the OSA activities involved two general areas:
General Operational (or On-Site) Assistance activities (GOSA)
Implementation of specific projects
1) General on-site assistance activities primarily focused on transfer of know-how and improvement of BNPP personnel knowledge and skills in the following areas, some of which were continuation of activities started in the previous OSA service contract for Balakovo NPP with the same EC Consultant:
• Non-Destructive Testing
• Radiation Monitoring
• Personnel Training
• Organization of Engineering Support Teams for Accident Conditions Management
• Continuation of activities on improvement of normal operating procedures. This task resulted in completion of Alarm sheets for most important Main Control Room alarms. Improvement of normal operating procedures also continued
• Operational Experience Exchange in the Area of New Informational Technologies:
a. Anti-Virus Protection
b. Man-Machine Interface (MMI)
c. Software Support Tools
d. I&C Equipment In-Service Checks
Personnel training courses were conducted at Balakovo site as well as in Biblis NPP, Germany. BNPP personnel had a chance to see how the work is organized at different plant departments. Besides that the Consultant conducted regular meetings with BNPP management during which they evaluated the on-site support as well as identified future needs.
Exchange of operating experience was another vital part of GOSA activities; the Consultant organized number of meetings, workshops and seminars that involved the following topics:
Audit/Peer Review on Training and Qualification of Licensed Operations Shift Personnel
Experience Exchange on Information Technologies, Information Protection.
Organization of the Engineering Support Teams for Accident Management
Equipment of Instrumentation and Control Systems
Engineering Support for Accident Management
“On the Job Training” on Simulator Upgrade and Testing at German Simulator Training Centre in Essen
2) Continuation on management of the implementation of specific equipment supply projects:
R1.02/01A Replacement of Computer Information System and Safety parameter display system (CIS/SPDS) at Unit 1 and 2
R1.02/95B Replacement of Steam dump valve to the atmosphere (BRU-A)
R1.02/95G+96A replacement of Condensate Booster Pumps
R1.02/96B Replacement of Pressurizer Safety Valves
R1.0296C+97A Replacement of the Containment Sump Strainers
R1.02/96D FLM I&C
R1.02/03 A Installation of the Leakage Monitoring System in reactor coolant system
Project management and co-ordination for implementation of the above projects dealt with some or all of the following main aspects (depending on the status of the project at the beginning of the contract, as some of them were started in the previous OSA service contract for Balakovo):
Equipment tendering process management and in particular proposal for the procedure to be followed for each procurement,
Preparation of Technical Specifications for equipment procurement and evaluation criteria,
Technical, commercial and financial evaluation of the bids,
Quality Assurance Program and the Quality Procedure for administrative management of the contract were issued and sent to EC with the Inception Report,
Licensing activities have been performed in parallel with the relevant projects implementation and according to specific steps of the “2+2” licensing approach defined for Russian Federation.
The impacts of international assistance implemented through TACIS Nuclear Safety programme are well visible. Many safety issues have been resolved either through general on-site assistance or equipment supply projects. An important part of the TACIS support consisted in deliveries of upgraded equipment, as in the case of the replacement of pressurizer safety valves, steam generator safety valves, BRU-A, BRU-K and BRU-SN valves, feedwater control valves, replacement of accumulator batteries for safety systems and computer Information and safety parameter display system.
Further help of the TACIS programme consisted in introducing European Union technological achievements, contributing to reliable and safe operation of the plant and facilitating the work of the operator who has to maintain parameters of safety related systems at a required level.
The review of the safety status actually achieved in Balakovo NPP evaluated from the standpoint of IAEA and WPNS criteria showed that the plant achieved a significant progress in comparison with WWER 1000/320 NPPs for which the IAEA Issue book was developed. Further work was under way to reach the safety level corresponding to the actual requirements of Russian standards and western safety practice. TACIS projects are contributing to this work.