Sharing expertise with newcomer countries8 February 2016
After over 50 years developing training programmes for the Russian nuclear industry, Rosatom’s Central Institute for Continuing Education & Training is ready to share its experience with countries embarking on nuclear power programmes.
The Rosatom Central Institute for Continuing Education and Training (CICE&T) was first established in 1967 as a corporate training organisation for the nuclear industry of the USSR. It is based in Obninsk - the city where the world's first nuclear power plant began operation in June 1954 at the Institute for Physics and Power Engineering, which had been the focus of the fast breeder reactor programme. Rosatom-CICE&T also has branches in St Petersburg (project management for nuclear plants under construction), Yekaterinburg (fuel cycle technologies), Moscow (to organise training activities for the Rosatom headquarters) as well as representative offices at Russian nuclear plants.
Professor Vladimir Artisiuk, vice-rector of Rosatom Central Institute for Continuing Education and Training (CICE&T) talks to NEI about theorganisation's work.
NEI: Can you describe the institute's activities?
VA: Rosatom-CICE&T belongs to state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom, which has more than 350,000 employees involved in various nuclear related activities from uranium mining to waste management. The focus of Rosatom-CICE&T is to build up and maintain technical competence to ensure safe operation of nuclear facilities. The institute has four centres: Centre of Technical Competencies (operational and support processes), Centre of Safety Competencies (development of industry regulations and organisational documents), Centre of Special Competencies (topical issues of national security), and the International Training Centre, which I have the honour to represent. In addition, the institute has a special section providing methodological support to psycho-physiological laboratories at Russian nuclear plants, which deal with selection and monitoring of operating personnel.
For example, in 2014 we trained about 13,000 representatives of various Rosatom enterprises - about 50% from nuclear utility Rosenergoatom, which owns all Russian nuclear plants, operating and under construction.
In September 2011, Rosatom-CICE&T and Rosenergoatom signed practical arrangements with the International Atomic Energy Agency on cooperation to train nuclear infrastructure specialists for newcomer countries. Soon after that, the International Training Centre was established at Rosatom-CICE&T to focus on training specialists from embarking states. This is currently the main strategic line of Rosatom-CICE&T's development.
NEI: What can Rosatom-CICE&T offer newcomer countries?
VA: Russia welcomes cooperation in nuclear power development for peaceful purposes and Rosatom is ready to share its experience to develop nuclear infrastructure in countries embarking on nuclear power programmes. Russia, as a technological donor, recognises its responsibility to support new entrants. Based on the IAEA Milestone approach, comprising 19 issues related to infrastructure development - from shaping the national position (issue 1) to industrial involvement (issue 19) - Rosatom-CICE&T concentrates its efforts on human resource development issues, which cut across all other nuclear infrastructure issues. We develop specialised training programmes and implement training courses to support building of technical competence for the nuclear energy programme implementing organisations (NEPIOs), regulatory bodies and operating organisations of various newcomer countries. Most courses are organised in cooperation with the IAEA.
Our courses are based on a systematic approach to training and their modular form allows potential customers to develop their own training trajectory. They could be useful also for technical universities which are about to start nuclear engineering programmes. Rosatom-CICE&T regularly organises workshops and training courses for NEPIOs oriented to VVER technology and offers a platform to exchange ideas between Russian experts and NEPIO managers from newcomer countries about their needs and priorities to support global nuclear infrastructure development. Since 2011 we have provided more than 540 trainee-weeks, mainly for senior and middle level managers of national nuclear power programmes. These courses were in English.
NEI: What are the challenges?
VA: Training in a multicultural environment is a challenge in itself. In fact, Russia's nuclear industry developed based on Russian engineering and educational culture. Nuclear education in Russia relies upon Russian nuclear technology and Russian textbooks. For previous generations of nuclear specialists, there was no need to learn a foreign language to become a nuclear engineer. So currently we have a challenge of the language barrier in dealing with managers of national nuclear power programmes from embarking states. To meet this challenge, at Rosatom-CICE&T we created a group of young technical specialists with MSc and PhD degrees from nuclear universities with fluent English who help experts to develop training materials in English and to deliver courses.
NEI: Could you give any recent examples of such courses?
VA: On 30 November, CICE&T hosted a training course on security and safeguards for NEPIOs from newcomer states focusing on VVER technology. It was organised for specialists from Jordan, Belarus, Nigeria, and Vietnam, and is a part of a series of special training courses developed to support partner countries in capacity building to establish good management and regulation of their nuclear power programmes. This is also part of Rosatom's integrated package to facilitate nuclear power plant programme development in emerging states.
This workshop was the third in a series. The first was held in December 2012 to build up a group of Russian experts who could provide assistance to newcomer states. The second was held in December 2014 to provide senior NEPIO managers with the information on Rosatom's integrated proposal and services in the area of nuclear infrastructure development. This third course involved a practical approach to the specific issues of safeguards and security. As a result of this training, participants planned future activities in their countries intended to build the necessary competence.
On 24 November, Rosatom-CICE&T organised a Forum meeting of the ENEN-RU II project, which was launched in 2014. The meeting was attended by representatives of the European Nuclear Education Network (ENEN) from organisations in the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Germany, Spain and Italy. The project includes several work packages and this was an informal meeting to discuss one of them - short-term and long-term development projects and cooperation. Because VVER technology is operated in Eastern Europe and Finland, cooperation between European organisations and Russian training centres is an essential part of the global nuclear safety environment.
NEI: Could you give more details?
VA: In the area of nuclear education both ENEN and Russia (represented by the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute - MEPhI and Rosatom-CICE&T) are developing a joint European-Russian certificate of Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering based on ENEN's experience in creating the European Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering. As part of this cooperation, four ENEN graduate students will visit MEPhI for two months in 2016 and participate in the Summer School on engineering computer simulation in July. The possibility of developing joint online training courses on nuclear engineering is also being considered.
Four training courses are planned for 2016: a two-week course for young professionals and students from countries with VVER technology on analysing the safety of VVER reactor fuel based on reprocessed uranium; two courses organised by Tecnatom (Spain) on operation of an nuclear power plant with a full-scale simulator and development of skills for line managers; and a joint ENEN/CICE&T course on nuclear safety culture.
From 23 to 27 November, Rosatom-CICE&T also ran a training course for ENEN on the engineering aspects of nuclear fuel manufacturing. This was a part of a series of special training courses developed to support partner countries in capacity building for management and regulation. European students and young specialists attended from the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Germany, Spain and Italy. They also visited Russian fuel manufacturer MSZ (part of fuel company TVEL) in Electrostal, which is a major manufacturer and supplier of nuclear fuel to the international market.
NEI: What about activities in Asia?
VA: We are providing training and other support on various levels to Indonesia, Vietnam and Bangladesh.
Last year, during a visit to Indonesia in June, Rosatom-CICE&T and Indonesia's National Nuclear Energy Agency (BATAN) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on cooperation in research, education and training in nuclear science and technology to support nuclear infrastructure and sustainable nuclear energy system development. Also, in October 2015, CICE&T ran a five-day training course for senior managers at BATAN on "the assessment of advanced pressurised water reactor utilisation in newcomer countries." The course also covered small modular reactors (SMRs), which are of special interest to Indonesia.
At the end of October, BATAN invited me to an international symposium on 'The Application of Nuclear technology to Support National Sustainable Development: Health, Agriculture, Energy, Industry and Environment' in Salatiga, in Central Java. After hearing lectures on the strategic approaches of Russia to personnel training in the field of nuclear energy for newcomer countries, the heads of local authorities in Gorantalo, Utara and Landak, West Kalimantan Province, and the University in Salatiga, offered to sign a MOU with CICE&T on cooperation in personnel training for nuclear energy development in these regions.
NEI: What about Vietnam?
VA: Our links with Vietnam go back a number of years. A MOU was signed in June 2010 on potential cooperation in preparation of training courses for the Vietnam Agency for Radiation and Nuclear Safety (VARANS). That same year an agreement was signed with Rosatom for construction of a two-unit nuclear power plant in Vietnam.
In May/June 2015, CICE&T organised a scientific visit for a high-ranking Vietnamese delegation to Russia, which included a number of nuclear facility visits. Then in October, CICE&T organised a five-day scientific visit for senior managers from the Vietnam Atomic Energy Institute (VARANS) and the Office of the Government under an IAEA technical cooperation project. This provided general approaches to waste management policies, nuclear power plant construction (including SMRs) and the use of radiation technologies for non-power applications (isotope production and nuclear medicine).
NEI: And Bangladesh?
VA: In April, CICE&T hosted training for IAEA fellows on VVER design and severe accident analysis, site selection and qualification, human resource development modelling, and national planning for the development of the power grid. The trainees included seven from the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) and seven from the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission.
CICE&T in May/June hosted training for two BAEC specialists on fuel cycle and waste management, organised under an IAEA technical cooperation programme in agreement with Rosatom. The aim was to learn about the main stages of the nuclear fuel cycle and the isotopic composition of fresh and used nuclear fuel; to understand the layout of a nuclear power plant and analyse severe and beyond-design accidents at plants with VVERs; and to describe the technology issues of used fuel handling and nuclear waste management. The course included lectures and practical advice from experts and technical facility visits.
In June/July, CICE&T hosted training for two more BAEC specialists (IAEA trainees) on quality management and assurance, covering non-destructive analysis methods and tools applied for testing and monitoring nuclear power plant structural materials. It included a technical tour to the experimental facilities of the Institute of Introscopy Spectrum and Moscow Power and Energy Institute as well as a visit to the St Petersburg Izhora Plant (reactor vessel manufacturing facility).
NEI: What assistance do you offer the Middle East?
VA: We have organised programmes for Jordan, Egypt and Turkey. In February 2015, a Rosatom delegation visited Jordan for the first meeting of the joint working group on nuclear infrastructure held at the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission. The Russian group included representative from Rosatom headquarters, Rosenergoatom, Rusatom Overseas, fuel company TVEL, VNIIAES and I attended for Rosatom-CICE&T.
Then in October, CICE&T announced a three-month IAEA fellowship programme on cooling systems for nuclear power plants with VVER reactors for Jordanian specialist Ahmad Al-Adhileh, who graduated from MePHI and has an excellent Russian language background enabling him to discuss directly with Russian experts the specifics of Russian computer codes. This was the start of practical human resource development cooperation for the Jordanian nuclear power programme.
As to Egypt, a joint working group on education and training, supporting the El-Daaba project, met in Cairo in July. There I presented CICE&T's training programmes designed to support capacity building for national nuclear infrastructure in newcomer countries and for the faculty staff of national universities developing courses in nuclear engineering. CICE&T previously provided training for specialists from the Egyptian Nuclear Power Plant Authority in 2010 (two sessions in August and December) and in 2012.
I also visited Ankara in July at the invitation of Turkey's Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (MENR) to present to the Ankara Chamber of Industry CICE&T's activities associated with training programmes to support the localisation of nuclear plant construction and commissioning in newcomer countries.
NEI: Do you have any programmes in Africa?
VA: Russia and Nigeria in June 2009 signed a nuclear cooperation agreement, which includes nuclear power infrastructure as an area of bilateral cooperation. Further meetings were held in 2013 and following this, CICET&T organised two events in 2014 - a scientific visit for national nuclear power programme top managers in April 2014 and a fellowship focusing the Russian computer codes for safety assessment.
In March 2015, the first meeting of the joint working group on nuclear infrastructure was held in Abuja attended by 16 Nigerian representatives and three representatives of Russian organisations, including myself. The meeting agreed on a draft joint plan of cooperation to provide Russian assistance to improve Nigeria's nuclear power programme, and to support construction of nuclear power plants and research reactors of Russian design.
NEI: What about training the trainers?
VA: Given that Rosatom is planning the construction of more than 20 power units outside Russia, the need for a Russian training system to meet these challenges has become an important issue. In September, a strategic session on integrated training of Russian and foreign personnel in support of global expansion of Russian nuclear technologies was held at CICE&T's Obninsk facility at Rosatom's request. Issues related to the training of three categories of foreign personnel were discussed: personnel to build a national nuclear infrastructure; building and installation personnel working for local contractors; and nuclear power plant operating personnel.
Earlier in the year (January 2015), a similar strategic session was held at CICE&T's St Petersburg branch on developing a common approach to nuclear power plant construction abroad. More than 50 managers and specialists took part including construction company TITAN-2, Atomproekt, Atomenergoproekt, Akkuyu Nuclear, Rusatom Overseas, Rosenergoatom's Facilities Construction Authority, VNIPIpromtechnologii, Zarubezhatomenergostroy, Rusburmash, VNIIAES, the Institute of Business Studies at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Atomstroyexport, JSC B.E. Vedeneev VNIIG, A Universal Consulting LLC, Rosatom Human Resources Department and AnCordia (Finland).
The objective was to shape a common approach to human resource development for the construction phase of nuclear power plant development in recipient countries. Discussion centred on the Hanhikivi 1 project in Finland. This project was used to test key aspects of training for Russian engineering and construction staff, as well as personnel of key Finnish stakeholders, from managers of the owner/operator to craftsmen of local contractors. The importance of competencies for work in a multi-cultural environment was emphasised. This could be accomplished through Russian, English and Finnish language courses and international team-building activities.
This was the first event that gave priority to communication between the client, contractors and subcontractors. Underestimation of the impact of safety culture, as well as the difficulties of intercultural communication, project management deficiencies and others, can all lead to misunderstandings between the customer, contractors and the regulator, which has in the past directly affected construction time. To avoid such errors, it is necessary to work together to develop a training programme for Russian engineering companies engaged in the construction of nuclear plants abroad, and foreign companies which Rosatom partners.