Smolensk NPP, located in the Smolensk region of Russia, comprises 3 power units. The site lies 3 km away from the nearby town of Desnogorsk on the bank of an artificial lake situated on the river Desna. Unit 1 was commissioned in 1982, Unit 2 in 1985 and Unit 3 in 1990. All three units have reactors of the RBMK-1000 type and were still in operation at the time of this contract.
This project formed part of a co-ordinated programme of On Site Assistance to a number of Nuclear Power Plants located in Russia, Ukraine, Armenia and Kazakhstan funded through the TACIS Programme. The On-Site Assistance (OSA) programmes were a corner stone of the TACIS nuclear safety co-operation with these countries. Companies or consortia with experience of NPP operation in the European Union (EU) were contracted by the European Commission (EC) to work on site at nuclear power plants of the Beneficiary country. The aims were to provide the transfer of know-how and soft skills, in particular through soft assistance, which addresses the human element of safety (i.e. safety culture, quality assurance, maintenance, management and training,…), and to upgrade the safety of the plant through the supply of equipment ('hard' assistance). In many cases the soft assistance was directly related to the equipment being provided through the hardware supply projects. Through the TACIS programme, OSA projects were implemented at seven NPPs in Russia (Kola, Balakovo, Kalinin, Leningrad, Smolensk, Beloyarsk and Novovoronezh).
At Smolensk Nuclear Power Plant, the On Site Assistance activity had been active since 1994, the first project being programmed in the TACIS 1992 Nuclear Safety Programme. In this period a number of equipment projects had been undertaken and some activities associated with these were still ongoing. They had been managed under the TACIS 2000 OSA project at Smolensk NPP (Contract 34226) which had now reached completion.
This contract provided continuation of the On-Site Assistance to Smolensk NPP that had been started under contract 34226 (see contract 34226 for a description of the objectives). It provided a 'bridging' of the services for 12 months until the large-scale equipment project was ready to be launched. The contract objectives included briefly:
- Follow-up of the still ongoing equipment supply projects launched under previous OSA contracts at Smolensk NPP.
- Continuation of soft OSA activities (Introduction of Quality Assurance systems, Operator exchanges) as well as addition of new ones, including:
- Introduce a system of benchmarking for the NPP to measure the effectiveness of changes at the plant
- To introduce guidance and training to middle management within the maintenance department at Smolensk NPP
- Finalisation of the tender documentation for the large-scale project
- Design review of the building to house the super compactor
- Establish a Documentation Centre for the large-scale project implementation phase
- Train the staff in the operation of the Project QA systems and Documentation Centre.
Two exchanges of operators were achieved. The first exchange was achieved with a team of six operators travelling from the UK Heysham 2 NPP to Smolensk in January 2005. The reciprocal visit of Smolensk operators to Heysham was achieved in February 2005. The exchanges dealt with:
- human factors and specifically error prevention
- management of change in a nuclear power plant.
Smolensk NPP requested assistance for the implementation of a QA system within the Operations Department. This request resulted from the knowledge gained during the Operators’ Exchange at Heysham 2 NPP which was accomplished in a previous On Site Assistance programme.
A pilot project was established in which the following QA procedure documents were developed:
- Conduct of Operations
- Reactivity Control
- Temporary Modifications Control
- Verification Techniques
- Equipment Configuration Control
- Equipment Failure Response
- Procedures Use and Adherence
- Monitoring Performance
- Human Performance Guidance
Training materials were prepared and training courses were implemented for the Smolensk NPP Operator's QA Trainers.
The main conclusions of the benchmarking project were:
- SNPP have been provided with effective tools for self assessment and improvement of operations practices
- These tools may be used by Smolensk NPP to benchmark to international standards
- The training course which has been developed - Benchmarking Introduction Training - has been delivered to the Smolensk NPP experts during a dedicated training session
- An introduction to the practical application of benchmarking (provision of a vision) was provided through a Study Tour to Heysham 2 and the Consultant HQ in UK
- Introduction of Error Prevention Tools to Smolensk NPP would be a suitable Human Factors development for Smolensk NPP and could be considered for future soft assistance.
SuperCompactor Building Design Review
With regard to the design of the new building to be constructed to house the Supercompactor that would be supplied through the TACIS large-scale project, a comparison was made of the Western and Russian approaches to design substantiation and verification. Assistance was provided to Russian experts to prepare a western style design substantiation document. Through this process, it was considered that convergence with western design substantiation practice would be achieved.
Preparation of the large-scale project
The large scale project would comprise the provision of equipment for a Radwaste Treatment Facility to be constructed at Smolensk NPP. It was envisaged that the RWF would incorporate:
- A waste sorting facility
- A cementation based packaging plant (grouting facility)
- An incinerator
- A smelter
- A decontamination facility
- A radiochemical laboratory for analysis and monitoring of the wastes
- Control equipment for all of the above and the treatment process control
The scope of the TACIS supply is limited to:
- The Supercompactor facility
- The equipment for the radiochemical laboratory plus an on-line gas analyser for the incinerator off-gas duct
- The process control equipment for the grouting facility.
The purpose of the present project was to identify in detail the equipment to be provided, determine the functional and detailed technical requirements for the equipment and prepare the Technical Specifications and other documentation required to permit the tendering of the equipment to proceed. The implementation phase of the large-scale would then be covered by separate contracts for the procurement of the equipment as well as a separate contract for On-Site Assistance to cover the follow-up of the project tender/ supply/ installation process.
The Technical Specifications had been prepared in draft under the previous OSA contract (contract 34226). However, the subsequent review of the Technical Specifications by the EC Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Regulator produced a number of comments and several iterations were required, during the present contract, to achieve the final versions acceptable to all parties.
The tendering and follow-up of the supply and installation of the equipment of the large-scale project was performed under the follow-on contract for OSA at Smolensk NPP (see contract 76763).