French experience and practice of seismically isolated nuclear facilities
S.DIAZ ** NUVIA Travaux SpéciauxGeneral considerationsSeismic isolation (SI) has been widely used to protect civil structure mainly bridges but alsobuildings. The lesson learnt after decades of design and practice in bridge applications - wherethe environmental solicitations are dramatically severe in comparison to nuclear facilities –has demonstrated that it is a very robust technology.Although SI is not so common in the state-of-the-art of the nuclear facilities mainly due to thelack of specific standards and to the resources needed to test the isolators full-scale.This technology has been “
in the hot seat
” the last five years for the new built in highseismicity site due to the significant advantage of reducing costs construction by the creationof equivalent seismic load case that allows a standardisation of the design and the equipments.The recent combined extreme natural events in Japan have highlighted that relevantprotections and mitigations need to be found. SI has appeared as an appropriated and reliablesolution to improve margin in regard to such event even in moderate seismicity sites.Nowadays, benefit is also taken from this system for the demonstration of the robustness of installations to beyond design earthquake.France is a unique example of such moderate seismicity area where seismic isolationtechnologies were used for nuclear facilities including several power plants, experimentalreactors, laboratories, enrichment facilities and spent fuel pools. The use of SI has been drivenby different main causes such as cost reduction in the design, standardization purpose,investment protection and other.Experience and practiceElastomeric bearing systems have been used for supporting the concrete pressure vessels of gas-graphite reactors. In year 1964, about 300 laminated bearing pads located at the top of concrete pedestals were installed on Saint-Laurent and Bugey sites. This type of support wasselected for the purpose of accommodating post-tensioning effects as well as thermal effectsin normal operation. Nowadays, these nuclear reactors are under decommissioning and thepads are now considered as isolators which give extra margin to justify the decommissioningscenario.This type of supporting system offers a great advantage in case of a seismic. The first use forprotecting a nuclear installation against earthquakes was at Cruas-Meysse NPP. Theconstruction of which started in 1978. The four 900 MW units are isolated by 3600 squarebearings (500 x 500 x 66.5 mm) composed of synthetic rubber (chloropen rubber - CR). Theisolation design has been chosen by engineers to standardize as much as possible the Cruas-Meysse NPP and the EDF 900 MW standard fleet.