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My experience as a secondee at WANO

Azza Al Hassani worked for WANO London Office as a secondee for three years. She has now returned to Barakah nuclear power plant to help with its commercial start-up. Here she talks about her experience of working at WANO.

What was your role at ENEC?
I was the Nuclear Steam Supply Systems (NSSS) manager and joined ENEC in 2011, having graduated as a mechanical engineer in the UAE. My remit at ENEC was to oversee engineering activities of the prime contractor in the design and construction of Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, which has a PWR Korean design - APR1400. This included conducting technical reviews of mechanical equipment and systems, inspection and testing of material, and equipment and design changes assessments.

Why did you come to WANO on a secondment?
ENEC agreed to send secondees to WANO and encouraged staff to apply for the secondment positions. I wanted to work with an international organisation in the nuclear industry, so decided to apply! It was an opportunity to work with different members, technologies and reactor designs and to visit different plants. It was also a chance to broaden my experience and understand different approaches taken around the world.

On a personal level, it was a great opportunity to live in a different country and experience a different culture. I have really enjoyed living in London. It is easy to live here. I’ve enjoyed visiting London’s fantastic parks and museums as well as interesting places in the rest of the UK!

What has your role been at WANO?
I worked in the Member Support programme. I developed the procedure for oversight process for WANO Rep coordinator and member performance improvement, and also worked on the development of WANO’s New Unit Assistance modules.

I participated in member support missions in China and Finland and Pre Start up Peer Reviews (PSURs) in China and UAE. I also worked in an industry Working Group on NUA and Independent Nuclear Oversight. The PSURs enabled me to see what to look for in a plant before start-up, to see what is required to observe before operational readiness. The insights I gain from this unique experience will be invaluable learning to take back to my home plant at Barakah. It is also beneficial to visit plants with different designs in different parts of the world. In this way, I can see different practices than I’d would have not been able to by being at my home plant. So if there is something good, a good practice that I observe, then I can take it back to Barakah.

What will you do next?
I will move to Nawah from ENEC, as they will be the operating company running the Barakah plant. I will be working in a nuclear oversight role.

What have you learnt in your role at WANO that will help you in your new job, any key benefits for you and your company?
Working with WANO was a great development opportunity in working with nuclear experts and gaining worldwide knowledge about nuclear energy and safety. This helped me gain different perspectives that would be useful when starting operations at a plant. This will help me to effectively perform independent assessment, identify any performance gaps and areas for improvements to nuclear safety and operational excellence. WANO working groups supports us assessing how the standards at Barakah relate to the international best practices at other nuclear plants

Do you have any other advice or observations from your time at WANO?
I recommend that having worked at WANO, that members should try and get younger generation nuclear professionals to gain more practical experience. This has been the key benefit of my secondment – the experience I gained in the field visiting plants on MSMs and peer reviews has been invaluable. Young professionals should be encouraged and supported in accompanying WANO on these visits as observers, as this will help them more than any classroom training. Alternatively young or mid-generational professionals should join WANO as a secondee – the knowledge and experience I’ve gained has been key for my career.