With centres around the world – including Atlanta, Hong Kong, London and Moscow among others – The World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) aims to help improve safety standards through collaboration. Established in the aftermath of the Chernobyl the organisation has grown significantly. Members are so on a voluntary basis but that membership means they commit to particular standards and other obligations.

Its vision is for it and its members to ‘be world leaders in pursuing excellence in operational nuclear safety’ in the hope
of maximising ‘safety and reliability of nuclear power plants worldwide by working together to assess, benchmark and improve performance…’.

NEI: WANO was set up after the Chernobyl accident with a mission to improve safety. What have been WANO’s main achievements?

Peter Prozesky (PP): One of the WANO’s most significant achievement is all commercial nuclear reactors are members. Peer pressure and collective responsibility is a huge part of what makes WANO work as an organisation. The fact membership is voluntary, and yet all commercial operators are members, speaks volumes.

We have built an incredibly strong and robust body of practice. Our performance objectives and criteria represent the best practice and standards of excellence achieved across the industry.

As an organisation we have also learned that our credibility relies on a high level of consistency in our standards and activities

All member stations have had at least one peer review within the time frame required by the member obligations. All member utilities are on schedule to receive a corporate peer review [by] the end of 2017. Industry performance against key performance indicators has shown steady improvement since WANO’s inception. The majority of industry performance is at goal levels.

We have also seen a dramatic increase in levels of transparency amongst the membership, particularly in the area reporting of operating experience. Members are reporting more events for the benefit and collective knowledge and understanding of the worldwide nuclear community.

NEI: What are the main lessons learned in that time?

PP: We are stronger together. An accident in one part of the world means there will be knock-on effects in others. We have both an individual and collective responsibility for nuclear safety, and it is up to every operator to share their operating experience, best practices and be open to learning what are sometimes difficult lessons.

WANO is also an incredibly complex organisation in terms of our governance structure, our global reach and the different languages and cultures involved. We have not always been appreciative of the challenges these complexities bring, but by working more closely together as ‘one WANO’, we are beginning to gain a greater understanding of the different perspectives we bring.

As an organisation we have also learned that our credibility relies on a high level of consistency in our standards and activities… The one WANO approach is evidence of our collective push towards increasing consistency and achieving high standards globally.

Finally, a hugely important lesson learned for WANO is it requires the top level, dedicated commitment of our member CEOs for us to be truly effective.

NEI: How do you assess WANO’s response to the Fukushima accident?

PP: WANO set up a Post-Fukushima Commission, which set out a series of recommendations after doing a thorough analysis of any gaps in the organisation’s overall performance and specifically in response to the accident. The resultant recommendations were converted into 12 discrete projects. [In 2015] WANO announced it had significantly progressed ten of the 12 projects, permitting closure of project activities, and implementation was underway on the final two.

One of the potential gaps identified by the Commission and its work was that a plant’s design basis and any issues that might
arise from beyond design basis events was outside WANO’s scope. WANO has started to undertake design-informed peer reviews which will not recommend, endorse or make specific requirements in the area of design, but will take into account aspects of the design basis and how it is managed during a peer review. WANO’s capabilities in the area of beyond design basis incident response have been significantly increased.

Finally, the oversight role of the London Office over WANO programme activities has been considerably strengthened.

NEI: How will this shape future activities?

PP: Our new strategic plan, Compass, which runs from 2015-2019 has four areas:

1. Continue to support and set the standards of high performance of the world’s existing nuclear fleet.
2. Build and maintain a highly trained, professional workforce in WANO.
3. Forge a stronger WANO through more consistent, credible products and programmes, including providing nuclear leadership training.
4. Instil superior standards among new industry entrants and maintain them for plants approaching end-of-life, life extensions and decommissioning.

NEI: How has the nuclear landscape changed since WANO was set up in 1989?

PP: Pre-Chernobyl, the nuclear world was split along Cold War lines. Since the development of WANO, the global industry has embraced its collective responsibility to strive for excellence in nuclear safety. This has led to the development over the past 26 years of a robust body of practice. Since Fukushima, there has been a stronger focus on accountability. … The WANO Assessment gives member CEOs a number ranking their performance following a peer review. This is a hard measure of performance relative to the rest of the industry, and is a significant step in WANO’s ability to bring that accountability to our members as well as to ourselves.

In addition, new entrants to the industry are now changing the landscape of nuclear power worldwide.

NEI: How has this affected WANO’s work?

PP: WANO has made changes and adaptations to its programmes and activities. These include:

■ Increasing the frequency of peer reviews from every six years to every four years, with a follow-up at the two-year mark.
■ Introducing corporate peer reviews for all members – the goal of delivering a corporate peer review to all members will be reached by the end of 2017.
■ Introducing the assessment process.
■ Opening a Hong Kong branch of the London Office, at which a team of specialist pre- startup peer reviewers are based, to carry out pre-startup reviews throughout the world but predominantly in China.

NEI: Does dealing with newcomer countries require a different approach?

PP: We are working with the IAEA to determine how our approaches to companies considering nuclear for the first time can be complementary and most beneficial to prospective new members. Early engagement is very important and to this end we have already established the New Unit Assistance (NUA) initiative, which delivers key modules on various topics to members who are yet to have their pre-startup peer review. We established NUA because we recognised there was a need to get in and engage with new entrants earlier that we had been doing previously, to help them with the transition from a construction mindset to an operations mindset in time for first criticality and connection to the grid.

It’s important to realise too there are three categories of ‘new entrant’, and each of these will require different support and engagement from WANO. The first is the current operator building a new unit in a country with an existing fleet – such as the Hinkley Point C project. EDF Energy is an experienced operator and needs different support compared with a company in the second category – such as Horizon, which is looking to build a new unit in an established regulatory framework such as the UK, but without an existing fleet of its own. The final category is the one in need of particular consideration and support, and that is… one with no previous experience of nuclear power as part of the generation mix, such as Poland.

NEI: Would your new organisation and ‘products’ have picked up the problems at Fukushima before the event?

PP: WANO would have a better chance now of picking up on any potential issues such as those at Fukushima. We are now undertaking design-informed reviews, which would give us a greater understanding of the potential impact of beyond design basis events. In addition to this, our severe accident management guidelines give us a better chance, as an organisation, to respond more effectively in the event of a beyond design basis incident.

We have certainly strengthened our ‘preventative’ steps in our existing processes and also now examine emergency preparedness as part of peer reviews, so our capability in these areas has undoubtedly increased.

Confidentiality is seen as essential to the WANO mission, yet it is generally assumed that openness and transparency are a key part of nuclear safety culture and gaining public trust. How do you reconcile this?

Confidentiality is absolutely essential to the work of WANO. Our reports are intentionally hard-hitting as they focus on gaps to excellence, not simply areas where a station is performing well. In order to be effective there has to be trust between our members and the peer review teams coming into their stations and speaking to their staff. If the reports were to be made public, this confidentiality and trust would be at an end, and it would not be possible to truly get a picture of how things work at a station and what needs to be improved.

Because what we do is focused on gaps to excellence and not on minimum regulatory standards, we are comfortable that this confidentiality is appropriate. National regulators are responsible for ensuring that minimum safety standards are met. WANO goes above and beyond this, and in order to do so effectively, we cannot compromise on the relationship of trust and confidence between us working for WANO and our members by making our reports public.

NEI: How will your experience in the nuclear industry contribute to your new role as WANO CEO?

PP: I hope to bring a strong operational focus to the role. I have spent 38 years in the industry running or supporting daily nuclear operations at power stations. During this time I have worked in a variety of line roles, including operations, maintenance and work management. I therefore have strong empathy for our colleagues who are at the ‘sharp-end’ on a day-to-day basis who are striving to deliver the output from their plants, safely and in an ever-tougher business climate.

I have been fortunate enough during my career to have worked in companies that placed a strong emphasis on the ability to benchmark and learn from others. Consequently I have been able to work internationally and travel extensively to see how others are able to run their plants. This has shown me that there is always merit in seeking out best practice and to value a culture of continuous improvement; this is at the heart of what WANO is all about.

My most recent role in EDF Energy, as the Continuous Improvement Director, is in many ways analogous to that of the WANO CEO. In EDF Energy I was responsible for deploying the governance and oversight of the operational processes such as operations, maintenance, engineering and outage and work management at the company’s fleet of fifteen reactors. The WANO London office role is essentially about deployment of the four core processes on a somewhat larger fleet, via our four regions.

What is important… is that we need to strive for consistently high standards of deployment of daily activities at all plants. It is vital is that our WANO staff appreciate that uniformity in deployment of process is not the aim, but the guarantee of consistently strong outcomes from the activities of people who work on the plants.

For us to be able to achieve our goals we require a high degree of trust and transparency within the industry; these are attributes that can only be earned through the creation of strong and personal relationships. Process alone will not suffice.


WANO: a history of collaboration


April – Chernobyl accident

July 1986-1989 – Nuclear agencies and bodies discussed the impact of Chernobyl and potential strategies for sharing safety information so it would not happen again.


October – International Nuclear Utility Executive Meeting took place in Paris. A steering and implementation committee was formed to plan for a worldwide association of nuclear operators. The purpose of the association will be the exchange of operating experience within the international nuclear community.

December – The steering committee met for the first time in London, under the Chairmanship of Lord Marshall, and agreed the name the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO).


A charter for WANO was drafted, which emphasised the collective and individual responsibilities of all utilities and a commitment that each utility must provide as well as receive information when joining WANO.


The WANO Charter was signed by 144 companies, committing them to work in support of the WANO mission. In the same year WANO centres were opened in Atlanta, Tokyo, Moscow, London and Paris.

May – WANO is registered as a Limited company in the UK.

June – London was recommended as the coordinating centre for WANO.


April – WANO Governors approved the plant performance indicator programme at the governing board meeting in London.


April – Shoh Nasu was elected as the President of WANO at the first Biennial General Meeting (BGM) in Atlanta.

September – IAEA staff and all five directors from the WANO regional centres meet for the first time in Vienna. The subjects discussed are plant performance indicators, exchange visits and peer reviews, IAEA assessment programmes, training programmes and public information.


February – The first of eight pilot peer reviews were hosted by the Paks nuclear power plant in Hungary.


April – The second WANO BGM was held in Tokyo at which Dr Ian McRae was elected President, Remy Carle Chairman and Lord Marshall was granted the position of Special Ambassador.

November – The first edition of Inside WANO was published.


Eric Pozdyshev was elected as President.


May – Allan Kupcis is elected as President and Dr Zack Pate Chairman.

July – The new WANO network website is launched and replaces the Nuclear Network.


A new version of Inside WANO was published and distributed in six languages.


A new Memorandum of Understanding was signed between WANO and the IAEA with regard to cooperation and exchange of information between them.

September – Soo-byung Choi was elected as President.


February – First in series of Just-in-Time (JIT) briefing documents was developed and posted on the WANO member website.

March – WANO launches its first public website.

October – At the 42nd Governing Board meeting, governors unanimously approve a revision to the WANO Membership Policy that alters the definition of a nuclear plant operator to ‘An organisation with at least one nuclear reactor that generates power for peaceful purposes’.


March – Pierre Carlier was elected President.

July – Zack Pate is appointed Chairman Emeritus and Jajimu Maeda new Chairman. The Nuclear Excellence Awards are established to recognise individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to excellence in the operation of nuclear power plants, or the infrastructure that supports the nuclear power enterprise.


October – At the 7th BGM in Berlin, Chairman Hajimu Maeda discusses the need for openness and transparency in WANO and the industry. Oleg Saraev was elected President.


April – William Cavanaugh III is elected as the Chairman.

May – WANO marks its 15th anniversary.


September – At the ninth BGM Chairman William Cavanaugh III notes in his opening address: "Our business today and the future development of nuclear power depend to a large extent on public acceptance. If something important happens on the other side of the world it will influence your business and others. The nuclear safety risk to your business not only depends on the safety of your own fleet, but also on that of your colleagues."

Dr Shreyans Kumar Jain is elected President.


May – WANO marks its 20th anniversary. July – A working group was formed to review membership and organisational structures.


February – At the 10th BGM, attendees are informed that every commercial nuclear plant in the world has now received a WANO peer review.

The role of the WANO Managing Director was defined and the Coordinating Centre was renamed the London Office to clarify its role in governance. In the following months, all operating companies reapply for membership under the restructured organisation.

July – HE Yu of CGNPC was elected President of WANO.


March – A 9.0 magnitude earthquake strikes off the coast of eastern Japan. The resulting tsunamis engulf Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The event is classified as a level 7. WANO regional Centre’s commence communicating event information to members and marshalling resources to support TEPCO.

A Significant Operating Experience Report (SOER) is issued to members.

WANO establishes a Post-Fukushima Commission to determine lessons for the organisation following the accident.

September – The Post-Fukushima Commission issues its final report for consideration by the WANO Governing Board.

October – At the 11th BGM in Shenzhen, China, Vladimir Asmolov is elected President.

At an Extraordinary General Meeting, members unanimously support the recommendations of the Post-Fukushima Commission, approved the previous day by the Governing Board. The recommendations include expanding the scope of WANO activities; developing a worldwide integrated event response strategy, improving WANO’s credibility, including changes to WANO’s peer reviews and corporate peer reviews; improving visibility; and improving the quality and consistency of WANO’s products and services worldwide.


January – The Governing Board authorises the formation of the Post-Fukushima Commission Oversight Committee for the purpose of monitoring and providing advice and challenge to the ELT during implementation of the Post-Fukushima Commission recommendations. Asmolov is named Chairman of the committee.

October – Jacques Regaldo, Electricité de France, is elected Chairman, succeeding Laurent Stricker. Vissarion Kim was elected to the WANO Governing Board.


March – Jacques Regaldo, Electricité de France, becomes Chairman, succeeding Laurent Stricker.

April – Ken Ellis from Bruce Power succeeds George Felgate as Managing Director.

May – The 12th BGM was held in Moscow. An Extraordinary General Meeting was held during the BGM in order for members to vote to approve the election of a new President – a position with a nominal two-year term – and two changes to the organisation’s Articles of Association were approved. As a result of the EGM, Duncan Hawthorne was voted to succeed Professor Vladimir Asmolov as President and Ken Ellis, Managing Director of WANO, joined the WANO Governing Board.


May – The 25th anniversary of the creation of WANO is celebrated.


June – WANO publishes Compass, its long-term plan for the period 2015-19.

October – At its 13th BGM members came together under the theme of ‘Shaping the future of the nuclear industry’ to discuss the issues and challenges facing the industry in the years ahead, and to close off the Post-Fukushima actions.


Peter Prozesky succeeds Ken Ellis as Chief Executive Officer.

Source: WANO (www.wano.info)

*Peter Prozesky became WANO CEO on 1st January 2016 after working in power generation for 38 years. In 1979 he joined Eskom at South Africa’s Koeberg Power Station before taking a sabbatical at the nuclear division of Taiwan Power Company, studying management techniques and plant operations, later returning to Eskom and moving to EDF Energy in 2005. He has a Bachelor of Science degree (with Honours) in Electrical Engineering from the University of Cape Town; a Master of Science degree in Nuclear Reactor Science and Engineering from the University of London; a Business Management Diploma from the University of Stellenbosch; and a Senior Reactor Operator’s Licence.