Wednesday, October 21, 2015

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.

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