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French experience and practice of seismically isolated nuclear facilities

French experience and practice of seismically isolated nuclear facilities

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Published by IAEAInformation
S.DIAZ ** NUVIA Travaux Spéciaux
S.DIAZ ** NUVIA Travaux Spéciaux

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Published by: IAEAInformation on Sep 10, 2012
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French experience and practice of seismically isolated nuclear facilities

S.DIAZ * * NUVIA Travaux Spéciaux General considerations Seismic isolation (SI) has been widely used to protect civil structure mainly bridges but also buildings. The lesson learnt after decades of design and practice in bridge applications - where the 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 the lack 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 high seismicity site due to the significant advantage of reducing costs construction by the creation of 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 relevant protections and mitigations need to be found. SI has appeared as an appropriated and reliable solution 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 isolation technologies were used for nuclear facilities including several power plants, experimental reactors, laboratories, enrichment facilities and spent fuel pools. The use of SI has been driven by different main causes such as cost reduction in the design, standardization purpose, investment protection and other. Experience and practice Elastomeric 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 was selected for the purpose of accommodating post-tensioning effects as well as thermal effects in normal operation. Nowadays, these nuclear reactors are under decommissioning and the pads are now considered as isolators which give extra margin to justify the decommissioning scenario. This type of supporting system offers a great advantage in case of a seismic. The first use for protecting a nuclear installation against earthquakes was at Cruas-Meysse NPP. The construction of which started in 1978. The four 900 MW units are isolated by 3600 square bearings (500 x 500 x 66.5 mm) composed of synthetic rubber (chloropen rubber - CR). The isolation design has been chosen by engineers to standardize as much as possible the CruasMeysse NPP and the EDF 900 MW standard fleet.


Figure 1. Cruas NPP isolation concept – with the courtesy of EDF French companies, including EDF as architect-engineer, were involved in the design of the Koeberg NPP (South-Africa), which was also erected on a seismic isolation system. The Koeberg isolation system is similar to the Cruas-Meysse system, supplemented by a sliding plate at the top. Later, the capacity of the fuel storage pools of La Hague reprocessing plant has to be increased by AREVA. A laminated bearing system, similar to Cruas-Meysse, was implemented. The square bearing pads (700 x 700 x 150 mm) were manufactured under the same specification as for the Cruas-Meysse pads and implemented with the same procedure. At the moment the Jules Horowitz research Reactor (JHR) and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) are under construction. Both use same design for the base isolation with low damping CR laminated bearings (900 x 900 x 181 mm) as mean of seismic protection. This choice was mainly driven by building cost reduction issues and protection of the investment (experimental reactors).

Figure 2. JHR isolation concept – with the courtesy of CEA Conclusions: Since the sixties, a continuous activity has been maintained in France on the subject of base isolation of nuclear facilities, particularly for the purpose of SI. An industrial know how from design to manufacture and on-site installation has be developed. The lesson learned and the satisfactory feed back on the previous project confirmed have demonstrated that SI using laminated bearing composed of synthetic rubber is a reliable and robust technology. It is expected that in the future seismic base isolation will play an increasing and key role in the design of nuclear facilities. 101

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