Skip to main content

Getting Smarter About Plant Maintenance at Palo Verde

Bob Bement
The following is a guest post by Bob Bement, Senior Vice President of Site Operations at Palo Verde.

Palo Verde has taken the lead for a number of industry initiatives, including the implementation of the Diverse and Flexible Coping Strategies (FLEX), which improves a licensee’s defenses against some of the most extreme external events that a plant could face. Continuing in our lead efforts, we will be among the first plants to adopt Technical Specifications Task Force Traveler 505-A, Risk-informed Completion Times. Implementation of this initiative will allow us to use plant-specific safety analyses to manage equipment outages supporting safe and efficient generation of electricity for a substantial portion of the population in the Southwestern U.S.

From the onset of operation of commercial nuclear reactors in the U.S., technical specifications were developed for plants to govern key operational constraints. These constraints include the amount of time that equipment may be taken out of service for maintenance while keeping the plant producing electricity. While these technical specifications were developed based on robust qualitative insights of plant operations and safety systems, more recent and more detailed quantitative evaluations have revealed that some of this equipment could be out of service longer without compromising plant safety.

Engineers Doug Hansen, left and Edward Peterson perform phased array
ultrasonic testing on plant piping.
These quantitative safety assessments have demonstrated that, in some cases, technical specification allowed out-of-service times can be extended to provide plant personnel additional time to perform important maintenance activities, if needed. Using quantitative insights to manage equipment outage time also affords the plant a way to better plan, schedule and execute emergent work necessary to return a critical piece of equipment to service without having to maneuver the plant unnecessarily, thereby improving operational risk.

This voluntary initiative is being undertaken by over half the nuclear operating fleet, and will result in operational safety benefits and efficiency improvements. Palo Verde looks forward to being one of the first to implement this initiative in the near future.


Popular posts from this blog

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

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…