Skip to main content

How WANO & INPO Measure Excellence in Nuclear Operations

Anthony R. Pietrangelo
The following is a guest post from Anthony R. Pietrangelo, NEI's Chief Nuclear Officer.

Achieving one great year of performance for an industry or an individual is noteworthy. Sustaining exemplary performance over a decade or more is the true measure of excellence. The U.S. nuclear energy industry’s long-term performance is documented by the performance indicators monitored by the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) and the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO).

Why are these indicators so important? They are used as a management tool by nuclear operators to monitor their performance and progress against their peers, to set ambitious goals for improvement, and to benchmark the best practices of operators worldwide.

According to the 2014 industry performance indicators, U.S. nuclear energy facilities set or approached record levels of performance in many categories. Nuclear power plants have multiple safety systems which, if ever needed, can be used to safely shut down the plant. A key indicator of their performance is availability, which is known as “safety system performance,” This indicator tracks the time period the systems are able to perform their safety functions. In 2014 these systems were available 96 percent of the time, the second-highest level since 2005. Demonstrating the consistency of performance in this area, the annual availability of safety systems has always been 93 percent or more since 1999.

Safety and reliability of electricity production go hand-in-hand. The median capability factor of U.S. nuclear plants in 2014, a measurement of the amount of time a plant is on line and producing electricity, was 91.7 percent. A high capability factor means a plant is successful in reducing unplanned outages and completing scheduled work efficiently during planned maintenance and refueling outages. This is the 15h straight year the industry’s median capability factor has topped 91 percent—the best capability of any electricity generating source.

Nuclear plants schedule planned shut downs for refueling and maintenance in the spring and fall when electricity demand dips. Thus, they are generating power when it is needed most during the sweltering summer and frigid winter months. The industry works diligently to avoid “unplanned” reactor shutdowns, and in 2014 the industry set a record for the fewest unintentional interruptions in electricity production dating back to 2003 (link).

What does this mean for residential and commercial customers? It’s an assurance that their homes and businesses will have electricity when they most need it.

It is no surprise that this commitment to safe operations also breeds one of the safest working environments, with a record-setting 0.03 industrial safety accidents per 200,000 worker-hours in 2014. This record is well below the industry’s 2015 goal of 0.1 accidents per 200,000 worker hours. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that it’s safer to work at a nuclear power plant than in the manufacturing sector, leisure and hospitality industries, and the financial sector.

Congratulations to the nearly 100,000 dedicated men and women who work at U.S. nuclear energy facilities or with industry suppliers. Together they demonstrate an extraordinary and lasting commitment to safe, reliable operation.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…