I have spent my entire professional life in the nuclear power industry. In 1979, I graduated from Moscow Power Institute from the faculty of Nuclear Power Plants and Facilities. Right after graduation, I got a job in the construction of Paks nuclear power plant (NPP) in Hungary which is where I worked, in various positions, until my retirement in 2011.
Paks is still the only NPP in Hungary, and it has four units in operation with VVER-440 reactors; the commissioning of the first unit took place in 1982, and the last in 1987. As Hungary had no experience in construction or operation of NPPs, many experts from Russia supported in construction, commissioning and operation activities.
In the 1970s and '80s, other countries also started operating NPPs with VVER-440 reactors, including Dukovany (Czech), Bohunice (Slovakia), Kozloduy (Bulgaria), Loviisa (Finland), Rivne (Ukraine), Kola and Novovoronezh (Russia). Paks had close cooperation with all these plants, exchanged experience and organised expert meetings.
In the years following the Chernobyl accident, Lord Marshall was crucial to the founding of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO). He visited Paks NPP and I attended his presentation, where he very clearly and intelligibly expressed his opinion on the importance of cooperation between NPPs all over the world. Paks has always tried to establish communication with other plants and supported the idea of the creation of WANO from the very beginning, actively participating in this process and even hosting the very first WANO Peer Review in 1992.
Since then, I personally took part in many WANO activities and always encouraged our experts to participate. One can learn much from WANO programmes. Learning from experience and practices at other plants is essential for development of safe operation, and careful investigation of events will help us to avoid repeating errors.
One of the most important advantages of WANO is that it establishes personal relations; being able to pick up your phone and call the necessary people, worldwide, because you know them from a WANO programme and you know that they can help you. These relations are priceless. Not only official, but also friendly relations often develop thanks to WANO.
Although it was an extremely difficult time for the nuclear industry following the accident at Fukushima Daiichi in 2011, I am firmly convinced that WANO chose the correct path to improvement, and that the existence of WANO will help to reduce the probability of such events happening again in the future.