As the Technical Safety Organization of the Belgian Nuclear Safety Authorities, Bel V has assessed and continues to assess all big nuclear projects in Belgium, including Long Term Operation (LTO), Periodic Safety Reviews (PSR), Power Uprating and Steam Generator Replacement, Reactor Pressure Head Replacement (RPVH replacement), the currently under development Dismantling & Decommissioning (D&D), the construction and commissioning of new nuclear installations in the framework of the waste management.
Bel V has a long experience in ageing related activities. Ageing Management activities carried out by the licensee (covering mechanical, EI&C and civil engineering aspects, but also obsolescence) are continuously assessed through regular follow-up meetings and on-site inspections, but also in the frame of PSR, LTO and ENSREG Topical Peer Review. E.g., Bel V reviewed the ageing management programs for the electrical cables and connections, specific SSCs, and structures.
Since early 90’s, Bel V participated to the technical and radiological assessments made within the Evaluation cell (CELEVAL) mobilised at the federal level, to advice the Federal Belgian decision makers, providing recommendations (sheltering, iodine thyroid blocking, evacuation, food restrictions ….). To achieve these goals, Bel V developed capabilities aiming to perform quick radiological consequence assessments based on limited amount of information and data resulting of the technical assessment.
As part of its periodic safety assessment of the severe accident management program established by the licensee, Bel V assesses and ensures that the international best practices and lessons learned are properly taken into account. Bel V has developed a capability for independent review of key severe accident phenomena. It participates in specific international research projects, such as THAI-3 and THEMIS: these projects are devoted to the hydrogen and fission product behaviour under specific containment conditions. Bel V has also assessed the development, continuous improvement and effective implementation of SAMG for the Belgian NPPs. Those assessments implied the analysis of the deterministic and probabilistic studies serving as input to the development and improvement of those SAMG.
Concerning radioactive waste and spent fuel management, during the last years Bel V was particularly involved in safety evaluation related to spent fuel dual purpose casks, the license application for a storage facility specific to waste drums affected by an Alkali Silica Reaction, the license application for a near-surface disposal facility, and the geological disposal of radioactive waste.
Bel V is involved in H2020-Euratom European R&D projects co-funded by the European Commission. It is e.g. responsible for the technical coordination of the UMAN project, a strategic study performed in the framework of the EURAD joint programme on radioactive waste management, and the formulation of recommendations for future EURAD activities. More specifically, Bel V is involved in the studies regarding the management of uncertainties related to the spent fuel (inventory, storage in dry (casks) and wet conditions…) and waste inventory. Bel V contributes also to the work package “The Waste Management routes in Europe from cradle to grave (ROUTES)”.
Bel V developed a model (implemented internally) intending to assess the safety culture maturity level of a regulatory body or TSO through group discussions. The aim of this model is to guide regulatory bodies or TSOs in understanding their own safety culture through a “Safety Culture Maturity Matrix”. This method is also completed by a quantitative survey.
Bel V’s experts are familiar with different codes used for deterministic and probabilistic safety analysis. Bel V participates also regularly to different users’ groups in order to maintain a high level of expertise.
Following codes are used in Bel V (not exhaustive list!) : MCNPX, ORIGEN, VESTA, ABAQUS, FDS, FEFLOW, OpenFOAM, Mathematica, Ecolego, DOSIMEX, , HOTSPOT, CATHARE, RELAP5-3D, RiskSpectrum PSA, MELCOR, MACCS, TRANSURANUS…
Based on technical exchanges with the French TSO (IRSN), Bel V developed a simplified operational tool, called CURIE (Code Used for Radiological Impact Evaluation). This tool aims to quickly estimate the order of magnitude of the radiological consequences for a given scenario or source term in a PWR (Pressurized Water Reactor).
Besides this own developed tool, Bel V’s experts are familiar with various dispersion models/codes such as Hotspot (developed by the US Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory). More recently, Bel V took also part to the H2020 project FASTNET (Fast Nuclear Emergency Tools) aiming to a fast and reliable prediction of severe accident progression and anticipation of the source term of a nuclear accident.
Bel V is responsible for the inspections of the installations, the commissioning of nuclear installation and fuel cycle facilities, review and approval of the Safety Analysis Reports for those, operational experience feedback, emergency preparedness & response, the review of transport of radioactive materials, the technical management of project.
A 6-year integrated inspection strategy is developed jointly by the FANC and Bel V. An annual programme for inspections is derived from this strategy and is communicated yearly to the licensees. A revision of this strategy is possible each year, in order to take into account experience feedback from the previous years. This inspection strategy is the result of IRRS (IAEA review of regulatory body) recommendations, which stated: “The regulatory body should review the scope of its inspection programme to ensure that it is comprehensive and covers all areas relevant to safety and includes appropriate acceptance criteria”. The IRRS follow-up inspection stated: “The recommendation is closed as the new inspection policy and processes applying a graded approach are in use. The inspection programme covers all areas relevant to safety and the development of inspection guidelines is in progress.”
Concerning radioactive waste and spent fuel management, during the last years, Bel V was particularly involved in safety evaluation related to the inspection of licensee operations regarding waste management, spent fuel storage facilities, and spent fuel dual-purpose casks.
Bel V has developed and implemented a process of safety culture oversight through recording field observations provided by inspectors or safety analysts during any contact with a licensee and linking those observations to IAEA Safety Culture attributes. These safety culture observations are the basis for safety culture assessments. They also support the annually overall safety assessment performed by Bel V.
Since many years, Bel V has gained experience in providing training.
Most of the training courses were conducted under the auspices of European Commission contracts. The beneficiaries are mainly safety authorities and TSOs from many countries in Europe (Ukraine, Turkey…), Asia (Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia…), Africa (South Africa, Morocco…) and Latin America (Mexico, Brazil…). Topics cover technical, organizational, regulatory and other areas.
The courses are specifically designed to meet the expectations and needs of these beneficiaries. For example, training, including practical exercises and discussions, was provided in multi-day courses on IMS (Integrated Management System) and HOF (Human and Organisational Factors) to classes of about 15 trainees.
Punctual presentations were also given on other topics such as stress tests, fire safety, radioactive waste management…