Nuclear industry challenged to ensure its people skills match up to technologies

26 September 2016

The nuclear industry must ensure workmanship of technicians keeps pace with technology if it is to continue its drive for greater safety, risk reduction and plant efficiency, a power generation products expert has said.

Gavin Coopey, Global Powergen and Nuclear Market Leader at nuclear products company Hydratight, explained tensioning times during outages at nuclear power stations should always be sub-90 minutes to lower technicians’ potential exposure to radiation and minimize reactor downtime.

“Technology exists to create efficiencies that were not possible even five years ago,” said Mr Coopey.  “Self-contained tensioner (SCT) technologies have been significantly enhanced to improve safety and reduce risk. 

“Critical path project times are faster as the bolting technology advances and reliability increases .  Reduced installation time means lower potential RAD exposure time for technicians and reactor downtime reduced by up to 73%.” 

These efficiencies were highlighted at the 2016 Westinghouse & Master-Lee Refueling Workshop.  The award for the fastest tensioning time went to North Anna Unit 2, Virginia, with 65 minutes.  The runner-up was Point Beach Unit 1, Wisconsin, with 70 minutes.  Both generating plants use Hydratight bolt tensioning technology on their reactor pressure vessels (RPVs).   

“Training and constant review of work processes is required to guarantee technicians have the skills for their varied roles in power generation maintenance and upgrades.  We have developed our SCTs so they bring greater safety and efficiencies.  They are now smaller and lighter than previous generations, so they take less manpower and can be installed faster, reducing crucial downtime.”

Prolonged nuclear plant outages have resulted in multi-million dollar fines in the US, and have negative reputational impact on the wider industry.

The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) is working with energy suppliers on its Delivering the Nuclear Promise strategic plan, which sets out the need to maintain operational focus, increase value and improve efficiency.

Jon Slocum, PowerGen Business Manager at Hydratight, said:  “We have a sense of duty towards our industry to make it safer and reduce costs.  Our aim is to deliver the Nuclear Promise through the efficiencies and reliability of our products.

“The likes of the Westinghouse & Master-Lee Refueling Workshop is an ideal opportunity to meet industry regulators and our peers to discuss progress and objectives.”

About Hydratight:

Hydratight provides world-class bolted joint solutions and machining services, plus innovative mechanical weldless connectors, to power generation, oil and gas, nuclear, wind and aerospace industries. Over the last 20 years Hydratight has pioneered systems for complete joint integrity assurance that are now incorporated in industry-wide safe-working guidelines around the world.

Hydratight is wholly owned by Actuant Corporation, a diversified industrial company serving customers from operations in more than 30 countries and headquartered in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. Actuant trades on the NYSE under the symbol ATU. For further information on Actuant and its businesses, visit the Company’s website at actuant.com.