As of December 2015, there are currently 70 nuclear power plants under construction across the world, with almost 500 being planned. WANO pre-startup reviews (PSURs) have shown that not all new nuclear units are as prepared as they should be for safe and reliable operation. As a result, WANO will now be involved earlier in the new build process to instil high standards of safety before a new unit starts up.
In April 2014 the WANO Technical Support Mission (TSM) working group (read here) to find out more about TSMs) realised that WANO needs to adapt to meet challenges related to new nuclear plants and new entrants in nuclear industry. As a result, the New Unit Assistance (NUA) working group was set up to develop stronger WANO support for new nuclear units, under focus area 4 of Compass, WANO's long-term plan.
The NUA working group includes representatives of each WANO programme responsible for the arrangement of PSURs. The working group held six meetings between May 2014 and October 2015 and developed NUA modules, the process description and the implementation plan. The WANO Executive Leadership Team discussed the process and the implementation plan, working with regional centres until the final NUA procedure was published in August 2015.
In a nutshell, NUA ensures that members are supported before a PSUR and helps new units prepare for safe and reliable operation. It helps members and new organisations during the transition from a project phase to an operating phase.
Each regional centre is developing an assistance plan for initial engagement with new unit operators; they will be responsible for the planning and conduct of technical support missions and other visits at new units. The London Office will coordinate, oversee and communicate the project, while the NUA working group remains responsible for developing and maintaining the modules with the relevant reference documents.
Modules of the NUA matrix cover areas like nuclear safety culture, operational fundamentals and organisational effectiveness. WANO carried out a pilot NUA mission for Fennovoima in Finland back in May 2015, and Atlanta Centre currently provides assistance to the Barakah plant in the United Arabic Emirates. Other WANO regional centres have also conducted a few missions at new sites.
Regional NUA plans are being finalised before the formal implementation of the NUA process begins in January 2016. Once
the process is up and running, the working group and the WANO regional centres will
support new nuclear entrants to be ready for safe and reliable operations.