Fuel route training at EDF Energy’s Sizewell B8 January 2014
EDF Energy’s Duly Authorized Person–Fuel Route, Sizewell B, has been chosen as the industry skills programme of the year by an expert panel of judges in the NEI Nuclear Training Awards 2013
The main fuel route activities in a refuelling outage are reactor disassembly, core offload, shuffling of RCCAs (Rod Cluster Control Assembly) between fuel assemblies in the fuel storage pond, core reload (one-third new fuel, two-thirds partly-used fuel) and reactor re-assembly. The Duly Authorized Person-Fuel Route is responsible for nuclear safety in all fuel route activities; they are the link between the Main Control Room and the fuel / reactor buildings.
Staff at EDF Energy's Sizewell B PWR in the UK wanted to improve the fuel route, and came up with a new training programme to achieve this. Judge James Varley praised the course for its unambiguous focus on a particular task: 'It was designed to address a particular problem, and then successfully addressed it."
Previously fuel-route Duly Authorized Persons performed two roles. First, they were subject-matter experts, supervising activities and solving any issues, focusing on the details of each task. Second, they were also DAPs, so had overall responsibility of the process. To do this, they needed to stay away from the details in order to maintain situational awareness.
Recently, procedural and organizational improvements were made, and the role of Duly Authorised Person - Fuel Route was transferred from fuel route engineers to reactor operators. A new training course was devised. The two-week training course for new DAPs consisted of a first week at Sizewell B, primarily classroom training. In the second week, students went to CETIC (an EDF SA/AREVA shared facility in France). Experienced instructors give students awareness on fuel route activities-related risks by studying events and practising as a team both normal and abnormal operations on a full-scope refuelling machine simulator. The trainees also benefited from the large operating experience gathered by the EDF SA fleet.
Seeing real results
In refuelling outage 12, conducted April-May 2013, reactor works and refuelling operations, were conducted safely without challenge to nuclear, industrial or environmental safety in compliance with procedures, technical specifications and fuel movement sequence, and to schedule. This unblemished record is a significant milestone for the station following a more challenging refuelling outage in 2011, and demonstrates how improvements in nuclear safety are achieved through training.
"An impressive correction of serious/costly refuelling problems," said judge Ronald Knief, Sandia National Laboratories TA-V Nuclear Facility training coordinator & nuclear criticality safety engineer.
In July 2013, an accreditation team made up of training and operations experts from EDF Energy, as well as peers from other countries (USA and South Africa) visited Sizewell B reviewed the station operations training programmes. It submitted its findings to the Training Standards Accreditation Board (TSAB). As a result, it identified the Duly Authorised Person-Fuel Route programme as a team strength.
Other shortlisted programmes
- Canadian Nuclear Industry Leadership Programme (Carson Centre for Nuclear and Uranium Training Inc).
- Technical Specialist Trainee Scheme (Sellafield)
- Fit for Nuclear (University of Sheffield)
- Triple Bar Existing Sites (National Skills Academy for Nuclear)
The UK nuclear training programmes Fit for Nuclear and Triple Bar Existing Sites also share a special award.