AFCEN’s international activities are strongly focused on the five key objectives below:
- Provide the nuclear industry with a working platform in each area where its codes are used, mainly Europe and China.
- Pursue AFCEN’s development around the world: Asia (China and India), the European Union (United Kingdom, Poland, Czech Republic, etc.), South Africa and the Middle East.
- Build on the industrial practice of international users (the United Kingdom and China in particular) and the technical instructions relating to the licensing of projects that have used AFCEN codes as a reference (GDA UK, for example).
- Be listening to the expectations of the international nuclear community.
- Continue the policy of comparing AFCEN codes with the other nuclear codes within MDEP (Multinational Design Evaluation Program) and CORDEL (Cooperation in Reactor Design, Evaluation and Licensing).
Relationship with France’s nuclear Safety Authority
With respect to AFCEN’s relationship with France’s nuclear Safety Authority, two points deserve a mention:
- A progress report on the program aimed at demonstrating conformity of the RCC-M and RSE-M codes in France with the French Nuclear Pressure Equipment Regulation (ESPN) is regularly presented to ASN under the responsibility of AFCEN’s Editorial Committee and attended by the relevant AFCEN members. This program is described in a frequently updated document that is shared with ASN (last revision: December 2016).
- AFCEN’s senior management meets the nuclear Safety Authority’s executives every two years.
For instance, on January 5, 2017, AFCEN’s Board of Directors was received by ASN’s Chairman, the Directorate-General, the Nuclear Pressure Equipment Department (DEP) and its supporting body the French Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN).
Discussions were organised on two key topics:
- a review of the significant achievements in 2014 – 2016,
- a sharing on AFCEN’s strategic directions for its publication activities and its international development.
The talks covered the progress of the ESPN program, the challenges of defining codes in France and Europe, and the value of comparing nuclear codes on a global scale.
In conclusion, ASN encouraged AFCEN to continue down the internationalization road and to continue to support the users of its codes. ASN measured the technical achievements and developments accomplished since 2014.
In 2015, the CSFN (Strategic Committee of the Nuclear Industry) compiled a list of all professional entities in France (associations, clusters, platforms, etc.) specializing in or involved in the nuclear industry.
The CSFN subsequently created its own working group entitled “International Codes, Norms and Standards” (CNSI), and AFCEN has been an active contributor since July 2015. The group’s operational agenda is clearly on the same page as AFCEN’s own strategic directions and objectives, namely:
- promote its nuclear industry rules of practice around the world,
- develop local platforms for producing codes in the high-potential countries represented by AFCEN members (e.g. China),
- effectively incorporate the needs of all its members, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises.
AFCEN biennial congress
AFCEN held its last congress in Paris on March 24, 25 and 26, 2015. The congress was attended by 230 participants from across Europe, the United States and Asia to address issues relating to the use of the different codes published by AFCEN and their development at both the national and international levels.
AFCEN’s next congress will be held in Lyon between February 28 and March 2, 2017.
In keeping with its international development strategy, AFCEN launched an exercise in “Europeanizing” a code in 2009 as part of a CEN workshop (WS 64).
The workshop used the case of RCC-MRx to prompt European partners to propose code modifications that would serve their projects. The workshop issued a stream of modification proposals, 20 of which were considered to have sufficient justification for inclusion into the code and constituted the workshop agreement. They were added to the 2012 edition of the code.
Based on what was considered a positive feedback by all partners, a continuation of the CEN Workshop was launched in 2014 to investigate the potential needs for creating a code for mechanical and civil engineering works for Gen II to Gen IV nuclear facilities. Workshop members submitted several proposed changes to the RCC-M, RCC-CW and RCC-MRx codes to AFCEN, which are currently being examined within the relevant Subcommittees.
This activity is in line with the general goal of harmonizing industry practices promoted by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy, which has lent its support accordingly. For more information, refer to Section 3.2.3.
AFCEN’s ties with China can be traced back to 1986 with the construction of the two Daya Bay 900 MW units in the Guangdong province of southern China. At that time, the power plant was based on the Gravelines 5/6 plant design.
AFCEN codes became increasingly widespread in China and gathered pace in 2007 when the Chinese Safety Authority (NNSA) imposed their use (via “Decision no. 28”) for Generation II+ nuclear projects. This requirement prompted the CGN Group to translate the available editions of the codes following authorization from AFCEN between 2008 and 2012, and this initiative was strongly supported by various governmental organizations (NEA, NNSA, CMIF etc.).
In 2008 and 2013, Chinese users adopted the codes: technical seminars were organized between AFCEN and the codes main users, with discussions to clarify and interpret several aspects of the codes (several hundreds of interpretation requests).
To provide a coordinated response to such a high demand, several agreements and MOUs (memoranda of understanding) were signed in 2014, especially with CGN and CNNC, the two largest nuclear operators, as well as with CNEA, the largest association in China’s nuclear industry (featuring operators, engineering firms, manufacturers, and so on). In 2014, these partnerships led to the creation of Chinese Users Groups and the first technical seminar between AFCEN and CNEA, which focused on regulations, codes and standards, qualification of equipment, I&C, etc.
Chinese experts strengthened their relationship with their French counterparts in 2015 by holding several technical sessions (Chinese Specialized Users Groups or CSUGs) to discuss the contents and interpretation of the codes, as well as a seminar with CNEA.
Activities in 2016
As of December 31, 2016, 30 plants in operation and 14 plants under construction were using or had used (during construction) AFCEN codes in China.
In 2016, AFCEN’s main actions relating to activities in China were as follows:
- During its General Meeting at the end of March in Paris, AFCEN received a Chinese delegation from NEA (National Energy Administration), CGN, CNNC and industrial groups. This delegation took part in AFCEN Subcommittee meetings and the welding workshop. Delegates visited the reprocessing plant in La Hague (France) and the Flamanville 3 EPR site (France).
- In April, May and subsequently in October 2016, further meetings were held between AFCEN’s experts and members of the Chinese Specialized Users Groups (CSUGs) in Wuhan, Chengdu and Beijing. AFCEN’s experts and their counterparts continued discussing the content and interpretation of all the codes, as well as their use in China.
The different meetings were attended by several dozens of Chinese experts from engineering firms (particularly CGN and CNNC), industry and China’s Safety Authority.
To coincide with the October sessions in Beijing, the CSUG Steering Committee held a meeting attended by NEA, NNSA (Chinese Safety Authorities) and AFCEN’s new President, Claudie Ancelin. The parties considered the outcome of the expert meetings to be positive. The NNSA representative underlined that the work accomplished helped improve safety.
Talks continued with NEA in 2016 to forge a long-term cooperative arrangement between AFCEN and China’s nuclear industry on nuclear codes and standards, following a joint statement released by the Chinese and French governments in June 2015 in Paris:
“China and France encourage cooperation in terms of harmonizing nuclear codes and standards, and wish to step up the cooperative ties between AFCEN, ISNI [ Institute for Standardization of Nuclear Industry, CNNC Group] and SNPI [Suzhou Nuclear Power Research Institute, CNG Group], which will be conducive to reinforcing the good lessons learned on an international level from the experience acquired in the French and Chinese nuclear industries. The uptake, consultation and use of the respective standards by both parties will be supported to improve reciprocal recognition of French and Chinese standards.”
- The Chinese-language course on the RCC-M standard, which was subject to an agreement between SNPI and AFCEN, was approved in 2016. This is the first Chinese-language course officially approved by AFCEN’s bodies.
- AFCEN participated in the seminars organized by APAVE in Beijing and Shanghai on the opportunity of using codes to qualify equipment and more specifically for the Hinkley Point C project in the United Kingdom.
Outlook for AFCEN in China in 2017
In 2017, AFCEN will pursue its policy of developing cooperation on codes and standards, and will continue honouring its commitments towards its Chinese partners. The main milestones and prospects are as follows:
- Following the ratification of the first Chinese-language course on the RCC-M code, AFCEN and its partners will investigate the prospect of extending the approach to encompass other AFCEN codes.
- Participation of AFCEN’s Chinese members in the 2017 Congress, including the Subcommittee meetings and technical breakout sessions.
- Organize meetings of the Chinese Specialized Users Groups to promote dialog on the use of AFCEN’s codes in China, while encouraging technical discussions with particular emphasis on clarifying and interpreting specific aspects of the codes.
- Hold a third CNEA-AFCEN Chinese-French seminar on feedback from the nuclear industry, spurred on by the rich discussions and success of the first two events.
- Continue fostering cooperative ties with NEA in a bid to lay the foundations for a long-term cooperative arrangement.
- Promote the use of the new editions of the AFCEN codes.
Background and general objectives
AFCEN codes are being used in the United Kingdom as a reference for the design, construction and in-service inspection of the following PWR reactor projects:
- Hinkley Point C (HPC): two EPR units (for the detailed design and construction phases),
- Sizewell C: two EPR units (for the project design phase - identical design to HPC),
- Bradwell B: two HPR-1000 units (“UK Hualong”, undergoing GDA).
The EPR design passed the GDA in the United Kingdom in 2013, and the AFCEN codes were approved by the British Safety Authority (ONR – Office for Nuclear Regulation). The final investment decision (FID) for the HPC project was taken in September 2016, paving the way for engineering and construction of the power plant. There are plans to build two reactors at the Sizewell C site based on the same design as the two HPC units.
The reactors’ future operator (NNB – Nuclear New Build) is liaising with the Safety Authority. Outstanding issues are being examined according to AFCEN codes for mechanical components (RCC-M 2007 edition + 2008-2010 addenda), electrical equipment (RCC-E 2005 edition), civil engineering works (ETC-C 2010 edition) and fire protection (ETC-F 2013 edition). NNB has decided to use the RSE-M code for monitoring in-service mechanical components, while adapting certain rules to meet the context and operational requirements specific to the United Kingdom. The group of independent experts, which NNB commissioned to address ONR’s concerns about the code, endorsed the methods for analyzing the impacts of defects detected during operation (Appendix 5.4, also used during the design phase) against current practices in the United Kingdom (R6 Rules).
The project to build a reactor featuring Chinese technology (UK HUALONG) is undergoing the GDA process in the UK (Bradwell B). The blueprint for this project is mainly based on AFCEN codes. The GDA for this reactor will take advantage of the lessons learned from the EPR project using AFCEN codes.
Furthermore, dissemination of AFCEN’s code culture within British industry is essential for simplifying understanding and use of the codes in projects and potentially aligning them with local regulations and industry practices.
With this aim in mind, the AFCEN code Users Groups (UK Users Groups) comprise the companies concerned and representatives from NNB and AFCEN, with a Steering Committee responsible for overseeing all groups and led by NNB. They provide industry with a working platform and have the following missions:
- facilitate uptake of AFCEN codes among industry and partners (designers, manufacturers, contractors, suppliers and consultants) by minimizing discrepancies caused by poor interpretation of the codes early into the project,
- determine training needs and facilitate appropriate solutions,
- establish effective communication channels with AFCEN’s Subcommittees,
- collect users’ requests and proposals (interpreting and modifying codes, drafting guides or appendices specific to the local context if necessary), building on industrial practices and making AFCEN codes even more robust.
Activities in 2016
The RCC-M Users Group has been coordinated by TWI (The Welding Institute) since 2013. This group currently has approximately 20 members representing manufacturers, engineering firms, consultants, inspection and training organizations, institutes, and so on. The group held sessions in 2013, 2014 (three times), 2015 (once) and 2016 (twice). During each session, AFCEN’s experts and the group’s corporate members share their views on a technical issue mainly concerning materials and fabrication, while also discussing quality and technical requirements (such as for pressure equipment). The group also aims to carry out an in-depth analysis of the code, particularly in relation to British regulations and practices, by organizing training initiatives, running workshops on specific topics and producing guides.
Plans to create an RCC-CW Users Group were confirmed in 2016. The inaugural session was attended by a dozen members in November 2016. The group is led by AMEC Foster Wheeler. An AFCEN-AMEC FW cooperation agreement will be formalized in February 2017.
The creation of an RCC-E Users Group is still under study.
The RCC-F code already has a UK-specific appendix to incorporate British fire protection regulations, but there are no plans to create a Users Group for this code.
On September 27 and 28, 2016, AFCEN organized the sixth code briefing session and forum at the French Embassy in Warsaw. The RCC-E and ETC-F codes were the focus of this new session.
During this sixth session, which was attended by approximately 20 participants, experts from AFCEN’s members (including NUVIA, Effectis, ITB Poland, EDF and AREVA) shared their experiences with Polish representatives from the Ministry of Energy, the nuclear Safety Authority (PAA), the National Center for Nuclear Research (NCBJ), UDT (Office of Technical Inspection) and several industrial firms who had enrolled their engineers and technicians.
AFCEN travelled to the India Nuclear Energy show in Bombay on October 20 and 21, 2016 and met with companies operating in India’s nuclear industry.
AFCEN has already forged ties with India’s nuclear industry, especially through the use of the RCC-MR code (predecessor of the RCC-MRx code) during the design of the PFBR (Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor), which is currently undergoing construction in Kalpakkam.
In 2017, AFCEN is determined to pursue its policy of developing cooperation with India.
Harmonization and cooperation initiatives
AFCEN codes are based on standards. When drafting codes, ISO international standards are the first port of call when available, otherwise European EN standards are used.
If there are no existing ISO and/or EN standards for a given field, other standards are called by the codes.
The standards used by a code are specified in one of the code’s chapters.
The Subcommittees occasionally analyze the standards to determine whether any revisions have been made in order to ensure that codes are up-to-date.
The two diagrams in Figure below illustrate AFCEN’s approach for prioritizing the use of international or European standards in the RCC-M 2012 and RCC-CW 2015 codes.
Empowered by its long tradition as a major force in the nuclear codes sector in several countries, and as part of its determination to continually incorporate industry best practice and local regulations for its code users, AFCEN is naturally involved in the harmonization programs either set up by international organizations or created at its own initiative.
For example, AFCEN contributes to the objectives of harmonizing mechanical codes as set forth in the multinational design evaluation program (MDEP) implemented by the Safety Authorities in the main countries using nuclear energy.
Similarly, AFCEN is represented in the “Codes & Standards” task force of the working group (formed by the World Nuclear Association WNA, which includes industry’s main players) on cooperation in reactor design evaluation and licensing (CORDEL).
Furthermore, at the European level, AFCEN has undertaken a workshop within the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) to bring the various European stakeholders together and thereby anticipate needs for codes.
In the same spirit, AFCEN’s members are active in various standardization bodies at European (CEN / CENELEC) and international level (ISO / IEC).
AFCEN has taken part in the group of Standards Development Organizations (SDO) ever since it was created by the MDEP (Multinational Design Evaluation Program) Mechanical Codes and Standards Working Group (CSWG) in 2006. With this aim in mind, the “Convergence Board [for nuclear mechanical codes]” was created in 2010 to identify and facilitate the introduction of compatible rules in each of the mechanical codes. Just like ASME, JSME, KEPIC, CSA and NIKIET, AFCEN is a member of the Convergence Board, which is led by ASME ST LLC. The board holds three meetings a year in addition to the ASME Code Week and reports on its work once a year to MDEP/CSWG (November 10, 2016).
The SDO group published a report entitled “Code Comparison Report for Class 1 Nuclear Power Plant Components” in 2011 and a comparison of welding practices in 2016. Proposals have been submitted to compare codes covering the following subject areas: fatigue curves and environmental effects, pipe design rules, and the use of finite element analyses for classifying stresses. These comparative studies are widely based on the work carried out within CORDEL. AFCEN invited the other members to direct their attention towards Fabrication and Quality Control & Assurance, but the topics have yet to be confirmed.
The SDO group has reported the difficulty in “reconciling” the codes due to the fact that different approaches are used to specify requirements (additional requirements expressed outside the remit of the codes, especially for ASME) and due to the specific nature of the nuclear industry compared to conventional sectors (materials and welding). MDEP/CSWG has confirmed its desire to maintain the “Convergence Board” and lend its support to the work headed by CORDEL (see 1.4.2), but points out that it will not impose any position on the Safety Authorities with respect to the work produced by the SDO group.
WNA (World Nuclear Association) created the CORDEL working group (Cooperation in Reactor Design, Evaluation and Licensing) in 2007 to stimulate dialog between the international nuclear industry and Safety Authorities.
AFCEN’s RCC-M Subcommittee is an active participant in the work of the Mechanical Codes & Standards Task Force (CORDEL/MCSTF). In 2015, AFCEN endorsed the publication of a document comparing the qualification of non-destructive testing personnel (Qualifications for NDE Personnel, Harmonization of International Code Requirements). In 2016, WNA/CORDEL published a comparative study on welding practices commissioned by the SDO Convergence Board featuring input from AFCEN’s members, who also contributed to the code comparison report on non-linear analysis methodologies while benchmarking based on real cases. A project to compare different design codes on fatigue analysis was launched under AMEC’s leadership (meeting on September 8, 2016), and AFCEN will check the elements presented in the RCC-M and RCC-MRx codes.
CORDEL is a useful platform for AFCEN and its members to harmonize coded best practices at the international level.
CEN WORKSHOP 64
AFCEN’s determination to rally Europe’s nuclear industry to a set of codes geared towards the needs of future nuclear projects in Europe has found a conducive framework for the development of its action with the 2007 creation of the Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform (SNETP).
A proposal was initially made within CEN to set up a workshop to encourage the different organizations and stakeholders in the ESNII (European Sustainable Nuclear Industrial Initiative affiliated with SNETP and covering Generation IV fast neutron reactors) to help with enhancing the RCC-MRx code draft.
The European Commission has been associated with AFCEN’s initiative since day one and has lent its support ever since.
This proposal was accepted by CEN and joined by 14 European organizations.
Workshop 64, named “Design and Construction Code for mechanical components of innovative nuclear installations”, was created on February 3, 2011. Its terms of reference were compared to those in force within AFCEN’s Subcommittees.
Workshop 64 ran until October 2012 and produced 33 modification proposals for the RCC-MRx code, 20 of which were incorporated into the published edition. Furthermore, 8 of the 13 other proposals, which could not be converted into modification files due to a lack of technical justification, highlighted the need for mid-term changes to the code.
Feedback on the first initiative was considered to be highly satisfactory and rewarding by all stakeholders. Spurred on by these results, AFCEN took the initiative of continuing this action by fine-tuning objectives according to two focus areas:
- invite short-term project leaders to come and work directly in the Subcommittee in order to enhance the code with the driving force adapted to their requirements,
- prepare the future codes within external prospective groups, where parties potentially using codes for medium and long-term projects can express their technical requirements, discuss which supporting evidence is required, any R&D actions needed and the installations where such actions can be carried out.
As part of the first focus area, AFCEN gained three new European members.
The second focus area prompted AFCEN to propose a second phase for Workshop 64 with a broader scope than for Phase 1; in other words, in addition to mechanical engineering for Gen IV nuclear facilities, Phase 2 includes mechanical components for current reactors (based on the RCC-M code) and civil engineering works (based on the RCC-CW code).
This proposal was again accepted by CEN and has currently been joined by 15 organizations.
Workshop 64 - Phase 2, entitled “Design and Construction Code for mechanical and civil engineering for Gen II to IV nuclear facilities (pilot case for process for evolution of AFCEN codes)”, was created on June 6, 2014 for a three-year term, which may be renewed if necessary according to the participants’ needs and interests.
The workshop comprises three “prospective groups”, each of which covering one of the aforementioned fields (Gen II-III mechanical engineering, Gen IV mechanical engineering and civil engineering works) and led by renowned experts from organizations that are not AFCEN members.
In each group, AFCEN has delegated a representative from the relevant Subcommittee to guide the group’s work and provide information on the codes and the methods for updating the codes.
In 2016, recommendations were issued for each code concerned by the Workshop.
AFCEN has started, but not completely finished, examining the recommendations within its relevant Subcommittees, since the recommendations were submitted later than expected. AFCEN’s feedback on these recommendations will be released early 2017. In addition, the Workshop’s prospective groups are formulating other recommendations, which will require an extension to the timeline stipulated in the initial business plan in order to be addressed by AFCEN. Consequently, during its general meeting in June 2016, the Workshop decided to extend the process by one year.
Based on the performance of this first stage, AFCEN will propose the terms for continuing this initiative.