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Duke Examines 6,500 Oconee Reactor Parts in One Refueling Outage

NEI’s Top Industry Practice Awards recognize innovation in the nuclear energy industry. Presented at NEI’s annual conference, the awards honor accomplishments that help the industry improve safety, streamline processes and increase efficiency.

In a special series of articles this week, our publication Nuclear Energy Overview highlights the challenges and successes of five winners.

Rachel Doss’ team at Duke Energy’s Oconee nuclear energy facility in South Carolina earned the 2013 AREVA Vendor Award, but its project—developing and implementing guidelines for inspecting and evaluating pressurized water reactor internals—was many years in the making.

Rather than scheduling reactor internal inspections over multiple refueling outages, Duke’s winning team performed one of the industry’s largest-ever reactor vessel inspections, examining more than 6,500 reactor components during one outage at the Oconee 1 reactor.

Its scope required planning with vendors, performing numerous risk assessments and developing contingency plans.

“The engineering work contract was in place three years in advance of the project. The inspection service to get all of the tooling developed, that was in place two and a half years in advance. We started our biweekly calls one and a half to two years in advance of the inspections,” said Doss, a fleet programs engineer with Duke Energy.

“Because we started planning so far in advance, we were able to come up with a list of unknowns prior to the outage,” Doss said. The team was then able to gather reactor vessel measurements and develop new tools that allowed inspections to be performed remotely and in parallel with other work, helping the company avoid the high costs of completing the work over the course of multiple outages.


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There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
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Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
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Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.


The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.

What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…