The World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO), the world's leading safety organisation for commercial nuclear power plants, has today called on new entrants to the nuclear industry to engage with it earlier in the construction and commissioning process.
By working closely with the WANO from an early stage in a new nuclear construction project, new entrants will benefit from the maximum support to enable them to achieve an on-time, safe and reliable start-up of their new unit(s).
In its new white paper, 'The State of New Build', WANO examines the changing face of the world nuclear energy industry with a focus on new build programmes - both from the perspective of new entrants and existing nuclear power plant or utility operators.
WANO asserts that it continues to be a dynamic time for the global nuclear industry. New units are being built or planned in some traditionally non-nuclear countries; including Bangladesh, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
China is continuing with its ambitious nuclear unit expansion project, and other countries such as Belarus, Finland, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the USA all have new nuclear units under construction.
In 2017, WANO completed five pre-startup reviews (PSURs) for new build units just prior to their first fuel load. Each new unit at a site receives a PSUR, regardless of how many new units are being built. The first PSUR focuses entirely on the readiness of the plant organisation to safely and reliably start and operate the new unit. Each subsequent PSUR focusses on the early operation of the new units, as well as reviewing the readiness of the plant organisation to start operation of the next unit.
Peter Prozesky, Chief Executive Officer at WANO, commented: "It is certainly a time of change for the global nuclear industry in terms of new build. There will continue to be a shift from the traditional commercial nuclear power generation in the West to the East over the next few decades. It is important that these new units - whether they are built in countries with existing nuclear capability or entirely new nations - ensure they transition from a construction to an operation mindset several years before initial criticality. Our PSURs show that new units and entrants must engage with WANO and join us earlier than they have done previously - as soon as the contract for main works is signed. This will ensure that there is enough time to ensure their operations are ready. It will ensure their staff are fully trained and their systems and processes are ready from the day they first load fuel into the core."
WANO, through its New Unit Assistance (NUA) programme, assists these new entrants and new build projects to ensure that they are prepared for safe and reliable operation. WANO support includes Member Support Missions (MSM), seminars, training, workshops, benchmarking and WANO leadership courses. In 2017, WANO's four regional centres conducted 68 MSMs and seminars for new entrant and new build members.
The NUA programme promotes early engagement with new units and new entrants through collaboration with other like-minded organisations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This early engagement means that WANO is able to start providing support before the new unit or new entrant is affiliated to a WANO Regional Centre.
The call for action comes as WANO prepares to launch its 18 NUA modules in the coming months, which were developed in response to Operating Experience and Performance Analysis data, issues identified during Pre-Startup Peer Reviews and members' requests.
The World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) is a not-for-profit international organisation that helps its members maximise the safety and reliability of nuclear power plants worldwide. WANO was established in 1989 by the world's nuclear power operators to exchange safety knowledge and operating experience amongst organisations operating commercial nuclear power reactors.
WANO's members operate some 460 nuclear units in over 30 countries and areas worldwide. WANO works with its membership to assess, benchmark and improve performance through mutual support, exchange of information and emulation of best practices.