The safety upgrading of the Phenix plant undertaken between 1994 and 1997 involved a vast inspection programme of the reactor, the external storage drum and the secondary sodium circuits in order to meet the requirements of the defence-in-depth safety approach. The three lines of defence were analysed for every safety related component: demonstration of the quality of design and construction, appropriate in-service inspection and controlling the consequences of an accident. The in-service reactor block inspection programme consisted in controlling the core support structures and the high-temperature elements. Despite the fact that limited consideration had been given to inspection constraints during the design stage of the reactor in the 1960’s, as compared to more recent reactor projects such as the European Fast Reactor (EFR), all the core support line elements were able to be inspected. The three following main operations are described: Ultrasonic inspection of the upper hangers of the main vessel, using small transducers able to withstand temperatures of 130 °C. Inspection of the conical shell supporting the core diagrid. A specific ultrasonic method and a special implementation technique were used to control the under sodium structure welds, located up to several meters away from the scan surface. Remote inspection of the hot pool structures, particularly the core cover plug after partial sodium drainage of the reactor vessel. Other inspections are also summarized: control of secondary sodium circuit piping, intermediate heat exchangers, primary sodium pumps, steam generator units and external storage drum. The pool type reactor concept, developed in France since the 1960’s, presents several favourable safety and operational features. The feedback from the Phenix plant also shows real potential for in-service inspection. The design of future generation IV sodium fast reactors will benefit from the experience acquired from the Phenix plant.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.