NRC Prepares for Final Inspection Phase of New Nuclear Deployment
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission prepares for work escalation as four new reactors are nearing completion and anticipate coming online it the next few years, including two new Westinghouse AP1000 units at VC Summer Nuclear Station. Considerable effort is under way in keeping up with plant construction, as well as, an abundance of vendor activities. A key to the increased activity is the verification process that the four new reactors have been built in accordance with their respective licenses. It was announced at a meeting on July 7, 2015 by agency commissioners that the NRC is ready to handle all expected additional work.
It was the first briefing for the commissioners since 2011 on the status of the inspections, tests, analyses and acceptance criteria, or “ITAAC,” that are integral to licensing new reactors under the agency’s combined construction and operating license rules (10 CFR Part 52). Four of the five reactors under construction in the United States—Southern Co.’s Vogtle 3 and 4 in Georgia and SCANA’s V.C. Summer 2 and 3 in South Carolina—have combined licenses under Part 52 and are subject to ITAAC requirements. VC Summer has used CHAMPS Software, Inc.’s CAP web-based software to enter and track all ITAAC related issues in support of the NRC requirement since 2012. The first reactor at each site is projected to start up in 2019, with the second one following in 2020.
Representatives from Southern Co., SCANA and the NRC staff provided an update on ITAAC for their projects. This is the first time the ITAAC process has been used in licensing new reactors, with significant lessons both for the industry and the NRC. CHAMPS Software, Inc. is the first software development firm that has added an ITAAC module as a fully integrated component for a Nuclear reactor construction and startup Enterprise Asset Management software solution.
“I do believe that we are forging the future of our industry and the opportunity for somebody else to go behind us and build an AP1000,” said Alan Torres, general manager of nuclear construction at South Carolina Electric & Gas Co., part of the consortium that is building Summer 2 and 3. “Once these units are completed, the [next applicants] will find the process significantly more streamlined and easier, since we will have worked most of the kinks out by then.”
In the Part 52 process, the applicant receives a combined license to build and operate a new reactor, rather than a construction permit followed by a separate operating license that the Part 50 licensing process uses. However, before fuel loading can be authorized, the NRC uses a pre-established set of ITAAC to determine whether the plant has been built in accordance with its design and license. Having deployed a fully integrated ITAAC software solution into the Work Control functionality of Enterprise Asset Management software in use during construction will pay massive dividends providing complete transparency and detail of all ITAAC related issues throughout the construction and turnover processes preceding startup.
Each reactor has more than 800 individual ITAAC that must be met and verified. Because they are standard Westinghouse AP1000 reactors, most of the ITAAC are identical; only a small percentage addresses site-specific differences. Based on data provided by SCANA, about one-third of the standard ITAAC pertain to pre-operational and component testing that occurs late in the construction process. The two other major categories are engineering and construction, each of which account for about one-quarter of the standard ITAAC. The remaining items deal with licensing matters, vendors and security. “We expect a surge of ITAAC closure activities beginning in 2017,” NRC Director of Construction Inspection and Operational Programs Michael Cheok said. “The NRC has adequate resources, processes and procedures in place to support the inspection and verification of ITAAC completion and to support timely staff decisions related to the authorization of fuel load”.
Cheok said the NRC has fully implemented its construction inspection program. “Programs and processes are in place, and we have been inspecting the activities at the Vogtle and Summer sites and also at vendor locations to ensure that ITAAC are being properly completed by the licensees and suppliers”. NRC Commissioner Jeffrey Baran expressed confidence in the staff’s ability to deal with a surge of work toward the end of the process. “I think that is a function of how and when ITAAC-related work gets completed during construction. So to a certain extent that shape of work, the ITAAC closure notices coming in, peaking late, is inherent to the part 52 process.”
SCANA is a multi-billion dollar energy provider based in Cayce, South Carolina. SCANA is leveraging multiple CHAMPS modules to handle processes like maintenance and corrective action. To learn more about how CHAMPS is solving real-world problems, click here.