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New Unit Assistance at WANO Atlanta Centre

Instilling superior standards among new units and new industry entrants is one of the four focus areas in WANO’s long term plan, Compass. WANO Atlanta Centre (WANO AC) staff have embraced this and are working closely with their new unit members, Barakah NPP (UAE), Vogtle Unit 3 & 4 (USA), State Nuclear Power Demonstration Plant (China) and Huaneng Shandong Nuclear Power Company (China) to ensure that they demonstrate the superior standards required to safely and reliably operate their new units.

At WANO AC, new units are introduced to the continuous monitoring process during their construction phase. This includes WANO representative visits and the development of new unit INPO performance summary reports (IPSRs). WANO representative visits are conducted quarterly and include a briefing on the findings that examine leadership fundamentals and worker behaviours to the site vice president. Support such as benchmarking, sharing of procedures, guidelines and best practices, and member support missions (MSMs) are often delivered to close any gaps. WANO AC has also introduced new unit IPSRs to its new units. The new unit IPSRs focuses on observations made during WANO Representative visits, data received from the new unit, and events at the site. They are used to inform senior leaders at the new units where there are gaps to excellence.

MSMs are another important element of the New Unit Assistance (NUA) programme. They are conducted at the request of the site and can include one or more of WANO’s 18 NUA modules. They can focus on a particular gap to excellence that the new unit has identified, or be used strategically to prepare staff for an evolution. For example, WANO AC conducted an MSM at Vogtle 3 & 4 to discuss and prepare staff for their upcoming system turnover to operations activities. Turnover processes and experience from other new units were shared with the leaders at Vogtle 3 & 4 to support their preparation for system turnover.

Operational readiness assistance (ORAs) missions are encouraged for all new units. The ORA for the first unit is focused on a broad spectrum of areas including operations, maintenance, engineering, emergency preparedness, fire protection, and others. ORAs are also encouraged on their subsequent units to focus on areas where they received an area for improvement (AFI) during their first pre-startup review (PSUR), or where the PSUR team identified weaknesses just below the level of an AFI. For new units, the key benefit of an ORA is that any gaps identified are unlikely to become an AFI at the subsequent PSUR. Close cooperation between the new unit and the WANO Representative ensures that corrective actions are comprehensive, timely and executed as planned.

INPO delivered leadership courses at the new unit sites in China and the UAE in 2019. Delivery of the course in the host country helped maximise participation from new units that typically have many new nuclear leaders. In preparation for delivery in China, course materials were translated into Chinese and interpreters were engaged to allow simultaneous translation of course delivery.

Some new units are being constructed by corporations that are new to the nuclear industry. This is the case with Barakah, the State Nuclear Power Demonstration Plant and Huaneng. They are also being supported with visits at the corporate level.

Haiyang Nuclear Power Plant Units 1 and 2 have now moved from new unit assistance to the continuous monitoring programme. As part of this transition, WANO conducted a PSUR follow-up visit to establish the status of the corrective actions for Areas for Improvement (AFIs) outlined in the previous PSUR.  The team provided a status for each AFI: satisfactorily addressed, actions being taken would satisfactorily address the AFI, or the actions being taken would not address the AFI. This feedback was provided to allow the plant staff to take corrective actions where needed by the review team. 

New unit assistance is recognised by WANO AC members as an important element of their operational readiness. With such strong involvement and engagement from its members, these new units are now in a strong position to achieve a safe and reliable operational start up. 

Ralph Kothe
Management Consultant at WANO AC