The nuclear industry is taking on an increasingly global perspective as we use the vast amount of information at our fingertips to foster relationships that break down geographic boundaries. The relationships made possible through WANO membership and today's technological advancements are proving especially important in the work to build over 100 new nuclear power plants worldwide, 19 of which are members of the WANO Atlanta Centre (AC). Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) is one of these new nuclear operators.Through technical support missions and other interactions, WANO has become increasingly aware of the need to provide specialised assistance and support to members beginning new nuclear programmes and starting up reactors. The result has been a model for assistance called the New Unit Assistance programme that is part of WANO Compass Focus Area 4, about instilling "superior standards among new entrants".
Many of these new entrants are facing unique challenges; for example, ENEC is comprised of more than 20 different cultures including expatriate industry experts.
One way that ENEC is tackling this challenge is through development of their employees' experience by sending them to WANO AC with the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO); preparing key staff and their organisation as a whole for operating a nuclear facility for the first time.
"We want to be an excellent company. We don't want to be a marginal company," explains Hasan Al Shemeili, a liaison engineer currently on assignment at WANO AC with INPO. His passion and enthusiasm for getting it right from the ground up are palpable.
Al Shemeili is in his early 30s with formal training and expertise in aerospace engineering, and his dedication to prepare himself and his colleagues before the nuclear unit becomes operational is admirable. He has found the evaluation experience, the opportunities for personal leadership development and the ability to form face-to-face relationships with subject matter experts invaluable.
Exposing new unit staff to WANO AC and INPO is a new horizon for the global nuclear community. These personnel are exposed to the highest standards of excellence and safety before the fuel is ever loaded. In addition, an international presence is helping identify how US members of AC can improve in the process of sharing experience and lessons learned across the global industry like never before.
Al Shemeili says because the experience of working with WANO AC and INPO has been so positive for him and his colleague, ENEC has decided to send two more staff once they return. "One of my goals when I go home is to promote the importance of contributing in WANO or INPO seminars and courses. They have been valuable for me personally and this training will only serve to benefit ENEC as people bring their learnings back home."