AFCEN’s international activities are strongly focused on the five key objectives below:
- Continue developing working platforms for the nuclear industry in each area where its codes are used, mainly the UK 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 by supporting projects in France’s nuclear industry.
- Build on the industrial practice of international users (the United Kingdom and China in particular) and the technical instructions relating for certifing to the licensing of projects that have used AFCEN codes as a reference (UK, for example).
- Listen 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).
AFCEN pursues an extensive range of rewarding initiatives in France. AFCEN's editorial activities are described in Chapter 2, while training activities are detailed in Chapter 3.
Relationship with France’s nuclear Safety Authority
- Regular meetings between senior executives at AFCEN and ASN:
AFCEN's senior management meets the Nuclear Safety Authority's executives every two years. The last meeting was held on January 5, 2017. AFCEN's Board of Directors met with ASN's Chairman, the Directorate-General, the Nuclear Pressure Equipment Department (DEP) and its technical support orrganization, the French Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN).
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 carry on supporting the users of its codes. ASN measured the technical achievements and developments accomplished over the last three years.
- Incorporation of the ESPN nuclear pressure equipment regulation into the codes:
AFCEN has defined a three-year program (2016-2018) for incorporating the ESPN regulation into the codes in response to a request from the French Nuclear Safety Authority, which subsequently approved the program. The aim of the three-year program is to produce a professional technical standard to address the essential safety requirements of the ESPN regulation of December 30, 2015, which governs the construction, manufacture and installation of nuclear pressure components in France. This standard is based on RCC-M and RSE-M addenda and on a set of guides (AFCEN technical publications) covering the topics addressed by the ESPN Regulation. The program is progressing at a satisfactory pace. The 2018 editions of the RCC-M and RSE-M codes will include all work to date.
ASN has already formally endorsed three topics for N1 equipment (risk analysis, instructions manual and dimensional reference standard). ASN has responded positively to the prospect of granting its full endorsement: "by the end of the three-year program and provided that the program has been carried out correctly, formal endorsement for all the topics covered will be granted when ASN can no longer identify any areas within RCC-M 2018 that fail to comply with regulatory requirements" (Nuclear Valley conference in November 2017).
In 2018, GSEN (Group for Nuclear Equipment Safety) will analyse the extent to which RCC-M 2018 meets the requirements of the ESPN Regulation for N2/N3 equipment.
In addition to the three-year program, AFCEN is also looking into the prospect of:
- creating an oversight group to update the standard following changes to the regulation over time and thereby maintain official endorsement,
- ensuring that the standard is sufficiently stable for implementation in projects. The next step in the ESPN Regulation may involve the possibility of submitting a safety options dossier for N1 equipment to ASN for review and subsequent advisory. The same objective is being pursued for N2/N3 equipment while taking account of the specific challenges involved (especially relating to the amount of equipment involved).
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.
CNSI is drafting a standardization strategy for the French nuclear industry that focuses on "new nuclear" facilities, the operation of existing plants, the fuel lifecycle and dismantling.
AFCEN biennial congress
In February 2017, AFCEN's International Conference attracted over 200 participants from different countries (China, South Korea, United Kingdom, United States, Belgium, Sweden, Canada, European Union, Germany, Russia, France and Poland). The highlights of the conference included the participation of the French Safety Authority (ASN, Mr. Julien Collet) and the British Safety Authority (ONR, Mr. Shane Turner) during the plenary session, as well as the inauguration of the RCC-CW UK Users Group in the presence of NNB (overall leader of the UK Users Groups) and AMEC (leader of the RCC-CW Users Group). The address by Mr. Steve Vaslet, representing NNB, on the application of the ETC-C code in the HPC project sparked great interest. The conference also gave AFCEN the ideal opportunity to ascertain the views and needs of its members, stakeholders, authorities, customers and projects. During the plenary session and round-table discussion, representatives of the code's main users (FA3 EPR, HPC EPR, Sizewell C EPR, NM EPR, EDF Development Division, ASTRID and ITER) discussed AFCEN's involvement in supporting the various projects. The Subcommittee sessions focused on current developments, the incorporation of feedback and changes to AFCEN's codes to address innovations, safety issues and more generally the needs of the nuclear industry.
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 has responded positively about the prospect of incorporating the majority of proposals into the codes.
Preparations are currently being made to launch Phase 3 of the workshop. The aim of this phase is to invite proposals for code changes from the operators, the authorities' technical support teams and industry players who could ultimately be involved in evaluating and taking part in nuclear projects using AFCEN codes.
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. Furthermore, AFCEN highlighted the value of this approach when developing the implementation programs during the 2018-2025 period of the European Union's Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan). A collaborative process for defining and creating the codes would appear to be a key enabling condition for identifying the potential gains in competitive advantage for European industry and for driving research, innovation and demonstration efforts across the EU.
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, and interpretation of the codes. There are currently eight CSUGs covering all of AFCEN's technical fields. By September 2017, 29 CSUG meetings had been held in China, during which experts presented and discussed 337 technical topics.
Activities in 2017
As of December 31, 2017, 32 plants in operation and 12 plants under construction were using or had used (during construction) AFCEN codes in China.
In 2017, AFCEN’s main actions relating to activities in China were as follows:
- AFCEN signed a long-term cooperation agreement relating to nuclear standards and codes with NEA (National Energy Administration – Chinese Ministry of Energy) on November 30, 2017, in Beijing. This agreement builds on the 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, CGN 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 agreement signed on November 30, 2017, marks a milestone in AFCEN's development in China. It gives Chinese standardization bodies official permission to use AFCEN codes as a reference for drafting the country's future nuclear standards, while allowing for their translation into Chinese. The agreement also encourages regular technical discussions between China and France with a view to working together in enhancing the nuclear codes and standards by incorporating the highly dynamic feedback from the nuclear industries in both countries.
- During its conference at the end of February 2017 in Lyon, AFCEN played host to a major Chinese delegation from NEA (National Energy Administration), CGN, CNNC and industrial groups (23 participants). This delegation took part in AFCEN Subcommittee meetings and technical workshops. During the General Meeting, an AFCEN award was bestowed on Mr. Xiaozhen Wu, Director of the CGN Standards Development Office, in recognition of his significant contribution towards AFCEN's development in China, especially in his role as Secretary-General of AFCEN-CUG (China Users Group).
- In May, June and subsequently in October 2017, further meetings were held between AFCEN's experts and members of the Chinese Specialized Users Groups (CSUGs) in Suzhou, Shanghai 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.
- Zhejiang JIULI High-tech Metals Co. Ltd joined AFCEN in 2017 and became the third Chinese corporate member within AFCEN (after CGN and CNNC in 2011 and 2014 respectively).
- After AFCEN had formally certified the Chinese-language RCC-M course in 2016, which was subject to an agreement between SNPI and AFCEN, two new RCC-M training sessions were held in Suzhou in 2017. AFCEN training completion certificates were issued to the trainees who passed the final exam.
- AFCEN and ISNI (CNNC) renewed their cooperative ties in 2017 for a further three years until 2020. This new MOU effectively guarantees the necessary resources to support AFCEN's activities in China in the years ahead.
Speech by Mr. Xiaozhen Wu (CGN-SNPI) during the AFCEN Conference in 2017 in Lyon
Signing of the renewed MOU with CNNC-ISNI
Outlook for AFCEN in China in 2018
In 2018, 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:
- In the wake of the MOU with NEA, set up a committee to oversee all cooperation actions, define the governance rules and terms of operation for the expert working group, and organize a first steering committee meeting.
- Participation of AFCEN’s Chinese members in the AFCEN Day in Paris in 2018, including the Subcommittee meetings and technical breakout sessions.
- Organize new 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.
- Extend the agreement with SNPI concerning AFCEN-certified Chinese-language training courses and develop a course for a new code in addition to RCC-M.
- As part of the CUGs, launch an International Working Group with Chinese and French experts collaborating on a technical topic of joint interest before future-proofing the organization to allow for Chinese best practices to be introduced into AFCEN's codes.
- Adapt AFCEN's IT tools and systems to suit the local context in China.
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 units (for the detailed design and construction phases),
- Sizewell C: two units (for the project design phase - identical design to HPC),
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.
The dissemination of AFCEN's code culture within British industry is essential for facilitating the understanding and use of the codes in projects and aligning them with local regulations and industry practices. With this aim in mind, the AFCEN code Users Groups (UK Users Groups) comprise companies concerned by the use of AFCEN codes, and representatives from NNB and AFCEN. These Users Groups 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 as early as possible during 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 2017
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.
AFCEN's experts and the member companies have addressed the following key technical issues: materials sourcing and manufacture, quality requirements, and requirements for nuclear pressure components. In addition, work has started on producing guidelines for applying RCC-M, which is mainly focused on the use of RCC-M for the HPC project. In December 2016, the RCC-M UK Users Group was invited by Doosan Babcock to attend a meeting in Glasgow.
Following the kick-off meeting in November 2016, the Users Group on civil engineering codes held two meetings in 2017 (June and December). Led by WOOD PLC (formerly AMEC-FW), the group includes the main companies involved in the HPC project. The Users Group was officially launched during the AFCEN Conference in February 2017.
The creation of an RCC-E Users Group will be examined in 2018.
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.
After participating in the international India Nuclear Energy show in Mumbai in 2016, AFCEN has continued its policy of developing cooperative ties with India.
On November 10, 2017, AFCEN participated in the supply chain event organized by the JNPP project.
A seminar on AFCEN's codes was held in New Delhi for the first time on December 12, 2017. The event was organized in partnership with EDF, the French Embassy in New Delhi and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI). The focus for this inaugural seminar was to present the RCC-M (mechanical components) and RCC-CW codes (civil engineering). During the event, experts from AFCEN's members (including AREVA NP, EDF and WOOD PLC (AMEC FW)) shared their experiences with Indian companies.
Over the next two days in Mumbai, AFCEN, EDF and the French Embassy staged three bilateral meetings with NPCIL (Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd), Larsen & Toubro and Reliance Infrastructure.
These sessions were aimed at reinforcing collaborative ties between France and India ahead of the JNPP project (Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project).
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 2018, AFCEN is determined to pursue its policy of developing cooperation with India.
Harmonization and cooperation initiatives
A major force in the nuclear codes sector around the world, 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 an observer 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).
In the same spirit, AFCEN's members are active in various standardization bodies at the European (CEN / CENELEC) and international level (ISO / IEC).
In addition, AFCEN has launched a strategy to examine the needs for Gen II to IV reactors at the European level through Workshop 64 of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN).
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. AFCEN is a member of the Convergence Board similarly as ASME, JSME, KEPIC, CSA and NIKIET. The SDO board holds three meetings a year in addition to the ASME Code Week and reports on its work once a year to MDEP/CSWG.
The different organizations share their views about the technical subject areas that deserve to be compared and potentially made similar or equivalent across the codes: fatigue curves and environmental effects, piping design rules, and the use of finite element analyses for classifying stresses. SDOs take an in-depth look at the work that has already been performed on comparing codes. ASME ST-LLC published a report entitled "Code Comparison Report for Class 1 Nuclear Power Plant Components" in 2012 that identifies the different subject areas for which a code comparison could be beneficial, as well as a comparison of welding practices in 2016. SDOs also draw inspiration from the work performed by WNA/CORDEL.
In 2017, AFCEN took part in the SDO Board meetings, as well as the fourth MDEP Conference in September. Attendees reported on the difficulty involved in strictly harmonizing the codes, and the issue of reconciling or creating equivalent codes remains open. Representatives from the SDO Convergence Board met the Nuclear Safety Authorities during a joint meeting with the MDEP Codes & Standards Task Force (CSWG-MDEP) in November in Phoenix, which was also attended by the CORDEL/WNA Codes & Standards 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 invited to voice its opinion about 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. In 2017, WNA/CORDEL published a code comparison report on non-linear analysis design rules and is continuing to work on a set of benchmarks based on test cases featuring contributions from AFCEN code users. The project aimed at comparing different fatigue analysis practices was submitted to AFCEN, which 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
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 draft version of the RCC-MRx code.
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 (WS 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. Since the workshop's participants experienced difficulties in assimilating the codes, which in turn put the workshop's production phase behind schedule, members formally agreed during the plenary meeting on June 8, 2017 to extend Phase 2 by one year. This extension will enable participants to fully implement the process for ensuring continuous coordination with AFCEN, such as stipulated in the business plan.
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.
Early 2017, AFCEN sent its response to the workshop concerning the 13 proposals issued in 2016. AFCEN agreed to incorporate ten of the proposals without any changes, while agreeing in principle to two other proposals subject to having the necessary time to give the proposals due consideration. However, AFCEN saw no merit in accepting the workshop's proposal of supplementing the codes with requirements relating to independent inspection organizations and explained its reasons accordingly.
Based on the performance of this first stage, AFCEN has proposed continuing this initiative with Phase 3. Phase 3 is aimed at inviting proposals for code changes from the operators, the authorities' technical support teams and industry players who could ultimately be involved in evaluating and taking part in nuclear projects using AFCEN codes.
Based on the performance of this first stage, AFCEN will propose the terms for continuing this initiative.