From Daya Bay to Ling Ao28 September 2001
Construction of the two 990MWe PWRs of Ling Ao – the second nuclear power project of China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation – has reached its final stages.
Initial fuel loading at Ling Ao 1 should take place by the end of this year, and commercial operation is scheduled in July 2002. Since the operations preparation began in 1998, the operations departments have developed a dynamic performance-based safety management system. This system has proved to be an effective tool, especially given the constant changes and progress of the construction and operations preparation activities.
Ling Ao is modeled on, and located about 1.5km north-east of, its sister plant Daya Bay. The project construction was started in 1997 and the cold functional test of unit 1 primary loop successfully completed in May this year. The hot functional test, which will make the reactor vessel and the primary loop operate under the same nominal conditions without nuclear fuel, is currently taking place. As for unit 2, the cold functional test will be carried out by the end of this year and commercial operation is planned in the spring of 2003.
Preparations for the operation of Ling Ao commenced in 1997. In June 1998 the operations organisation was set up and began operating separately from the project department, which controls construction activities such as engineering, supply, civil work, erection and commissioning. The operations organisation mainly consists of the operations department, maintenance and technical support, the latter two also providing their services to the Daya Bay plant.
The operations preparation activities are completely managed and performed by the Chinese staff, whereas during the operations preparation of Daya Bay several dozen French advisors were directly involved in the process. From the very beginning, the general management of the company set up a general goal for the operations preparation: the performance of Ling Ao shall be better than Daya Bay. In response to this expectation, which emphasises the end goals of the project, the operations department took the lead in formulating a dynamic performance-based safety management system as a tool to control and regulate all the processes of operations preparation. This system lays out a clear set of performance indicators and has been so far applied effectively.
A complete set of performance indicators was proposed by the operations preparation organisation and approved by the general management near the end of 1998. Its major contents include the following.
Premises and pre-conditions
This part stipulates the basic conditions to be handed over to the operations preparation organisation by the project department – resources and natural disasters permitting – and defines the interfaces with the up-stream organisations.
This is simply a statement to the effect that the operation of Ling Ao shall be conducted safely, economically and stably with the ambition of joining the first quartile of the worldwide best PWR units in 2008.
Performance indicator tree
This part is actually a tree-type diagram of the indicator categories as a result of process mapping. All the operations preparation activities are categorised into five major groups, with a total of 26 sub-groups. The five major categories are:
• Safety. This covers nuclear safety, occupational safety, fire protection, radiation protection, security, environment protection and emergency planning.
• Production with the planned capacity, unplanned capacity and the scheduled days of outages.
• Technical support. This concerns maintenance, equipment reliability, fuel management, in-service inspection, documentation and modification.
• Human resources, including recruiting, training, operator licensing, authorisation and performance appraisal.
• Administrative support with logistic and office services.
For these five major areas a total of 21 committed objectives are indicated in a time span up to 2005. Moreover, for the purpose of process control, altogether 88 critical activity processes are identified and their performance indicators listed.
The outstanding characteristic of this performance indicator system is its encouragement of creativity. The original version of the approved indicator document listed 25 creative projects. By the standards stated in the document, these creative projects have been applied or invented within the China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation (CGNPC) for the first time. Some examples include comprehensive fire hazard analysis, five-star building-oriented safety management, take-over computer system, and technical support function to operation shifts.
Along with the progress of the project and handing over processes, some new creative projects have been taken into the revision of the performance indicator system, such as the commissioning follow-up top ten reliability items, the computer consultation system of occupational hazards and risks (fire and radiation included), and the work site industrial hazard analysis.
The key process of the operations preparation is taking over the systems of the project. This process starts with the end of equipment erection by the contractors. Once the handing-over requests are made, the project department notifies operations to perform joint acceptance inspections.
The second phase of the take-over process is based upon the request issued from the start-up team of the project department for setting up commissioning boundaries. This is a critical phase for the accuracy of tests, and the operations personnel perform the inspections, prepare and execute the system isolations (locking and tagging) and issue work permits. Once the tests are completed, the start-up team will issue requests for handing over the systems to the operations organisation for temporary operation. A comprehensive review and inspection will then be performed by the operations not only on the equipment but also on the test results and engineering documentation such as system design manuals and equipment operation and maintenance manuals.
As for the maintenance and preservation of the equipment and the systems, the project department will issue temporary maintenance requests to the maintenance department of the operations, and the latter provides the relevant services. The technical support department of the operations has been involved in the engineering modifications resulting from the construction and commissioning activities.
The last take-over process is building-oriented – when all the major systems inside a particular building have been handed over and there are no major problems with the building itself, the operations will take over the full responsibility of managing that building.
Throughout all these step-by-step handing-over processes all disciplines of the operations, in addition to the operations personnel, such as mechanical, electrical, I&C, health physics, industrial safety and fire protection, take part in and follow the acceptance standards which are set up according to the professional codes and guidelines, as well as strengthened by experience at Daya Bay. This is followed by the project and the operations, ensuring that deviations relating to safety and production availability are treated satisfactorily before signing the hand-over certificates.
Follow up and assessment
For the follow up and assessment of the performance of all activities, the dynamic performance-based safety management system relies on the centralised planning control function monitoring and assessment of the monthly reports of various branches of the operations organisation. In addition, a self-assessment programme has been available since 1999. This programme includes guidelines written by the operations management team in accordance with international standards including those from IAEA, WANO and INPO. Since then a number of comprehensive self-assessments have been performed efficiently.
Professional assessments are also given particular importance in the operations preparation processes. These assessments are based upon rolling dynamic surveillance programmes. A typical example is the occupational safety assessment of the current situation. At present, the occupational hazards and risks are the major safety concerns on site. The Figure below is from the mid-year occupational safety assessment of 2001 by the health physics branch of the operations.
Coordination with the project department
The performance-based safety management system emphasises coordination with the project department. From the perspective of safety, the project department has directly entrusted certain safety-related programmes to the operations. These programmes include the preparation of the final safety assessment report, environmental impact assessment report, in-service inspection programme, Level 1 PRA, fire hazard analysis, periodic test requirements reviews and the fuel delivery and handling programme.
Regarding the safety-related findings resulting from the take-over processes, the two departments often organise joint investigations and analyses. In case of disagreement, the issue is submitted to the general management for a decision.
Another important aspect of coordination between the project department and the operations is the participation of the operations staff in commissioning activities. Take radiation monitoring systems as an example, the engineers of the health physics branch have been serving as assistants to the test supervisors. As for the daily safety performance on site, the health physics branch of the operations assists the project safety organisation and contractors in terms of risk analysis, safety patrols, training, promotion of safety culture and other professional technical support.
Apart from the cost-effective benefits from the project point of view, all this strong coordination has two significant advantages for the operations. One is that the old operations staff could apply their six-to-ten-year experience accumulated in the model plant Daya Bay, which has resulted in a few hundred modifications. The other is that the young people could have the most efficient on-job training in those activities.
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