A.C. Tollison Jr. Summary
Executive Vice President
Institute of Nuclear Power Operations
U.S. House of Representatives
Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality Hearing
March 27, 2001
Testimony for the Record
The Institute of Nuclear Power Operations was formed by the U.S. nuclear utility industry in late 1979 in response to the accident at Three Mile Island Nuclear Station. INPO’s mission is to promote the highest levels of safety and reliability — to promote excellence — in the operation of nuclear electric generating plants.
In part through participation in INPO’s cornerstone programs, much progress has been achieved by the U.S. nuclear industry in the past 20 years. This may be best exemplified by a set of performance indicators showing U.S. nuclear industry performance is at historically high levels of safety and reliability.
Plant owners are vigorously pursuing license renewal. Also, with the advent of deregulation, the industry is consolidating rapidly to further improve efficiency. All this indicates a foundation is being put in place for a renaissance in nuclear power.
This foundation requires absolutely that we remain accident-free. This requires vigilance and commitment, not just to the higher standards we have today, but to continuous improvement. Written Testimony
Good afternoon. My name is Alfred C. Tollison, Jr., executive vice president of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations in Atlanta, Georgia. I have been asked to discuss the safety and performance of the commercial nuclear power industry today and the trends we see for the future. I will begin my remarks with a brief explanation of INPO’s structure and activities and what INPO’s role is in the nuclear industry. The Institute of Nuclear Power Operations
The Institute was formed by the U.S. nuclear utility industry in late 1979 in response to the accident at Three Mile Island Nuclear Station. INPO’s mission is to promote the highest levels of safety and reliability — to promote excellence — in the operation of nuclear electric generating plants, including applying the lessons learned from the President’s Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island (the Kemeny Commission). The nuclear utility industry leaders established INPO as an independent organization – independent from governmental agencies and independent from any individual member.
INPO is a nonprofit, independent technical organization with a staff of about 350 and a 2001 budget of $59 million. The bulk of this budget is dedicated to travel and employee compensation. Each of the 34 utilities in the United States with operational nuclear plants is a member of the Institute. To augment its professional staff, INPO utilizes the expertise of loaned employees from members and participants. This program is designed to provide a continuing source of personnel with recent nuclear plant experience to supplement the INPO staff. It also provides loaned personnel with an opportunity to gain broader experience in the industry.
The Institute’s organization is similar in many ways to a typical U.S. corporation. A Board of Directors, elected by INPO’s members, oversees the operations and activities of the Institute.
The president and chief executive officer of the Institute is elected by and reports to the Board of Directors. The current president and CEO is Dr. James T. Rhodes. He also serves as Chairman of the Board.
In addition to the Board of Directors, an Advisory Council of professionals from outside the industry reviews Institute activities and provides advice on broad objectives and methods to the Board of Directors. The Advisory Council is composed of distinguished professionals including prominent educators, scientists, industrialists and health specialists.
To ensure that INPO programs benefit from the best technical advice the industry has to offer, an Executive Review Group reviews INPO programs and products in the various technical areas on a continuing basis. The members of the Executive Review Group are experienced executives — typically the chief nuclear officers — who are currently active in nuclear plant operations or management. An Academy Council provides advice in the areas of training and accreditation, and an Industry Communications Council provides advice on effective communication of INPO programs and activities.
Non-U.S. nuclear utility organizations from 13 countries participate in the Institute’s International Program. Ten nuclear steam system suppliers and architect-engineering and construction firms worldwide involved in nuclear work also participate in INPO through the Supplier Program.
The key technical activities of the Institute can be divided into four cornerstone programs, which I will address in more detail later. They are:
- Evaluations – Periodic evaluations are conducted of each operating nuclear electric plant in this country.
- Training and Accreditation – Training programs for key personnel at each plant are accredited by the independent National Nuclear Accrediting Board.
- Events Analysis and Information Exchange – INPO analyzes operating experience and feeds back lessons learned to the industry.
- Assistance – This includes plant visits, courses, seminars, and workshops.
In addition, there is a detailed infrastructure to carry out each of these cornerstone programs. The Institutional Plan for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, updated last year, and our 2000 Annual Report provide additional details about the Institute’s programs and are attached to this testimony (attachments A and B).
All interactions between INPO and its members are held strictly confidential. This is vital to the success of INPO’s mission. Utilities are voluntary members of INPO and are under no regulatory obligation to provide information to INPO – or to be members. Experience shows that utilities are more willing to set challenging goals and to strive for excellence if they know they will not be criticized publicly if they fall somewhat short of these challenging goals. Over the years, U.S. courts and administrative agencies have consistently upheld this position. INPO Cornerstone Programs
We believe the Institute’s cornerstone programs have directly contributed to the industry’s progress. Evaluations
The evaluation program cornerstone is a direct response to a recommendation of the Kemeny Commission that “… the industry must … set and police its own standards of excellence to ensure the effective management and safe operation of nuclear electric generating plants.”
A comprehensive program has been established for conducting, on a periodic basis, independent evaluations of the operating nuclear plants and supporting corporate organizations of all U.S. nuclear utilities. These evaluations are performance-based and are designed to ensure that each utility is striving to meet the industry’s high standards in key areas.
Teams of qualified and experienced personnel conduct these evaluations, focusing on plant safety and reliability. The evaluation teams are augmented by senior reactor operators, other peer evaluators from operating units similar to those at the station being evaluated, and host utility peer evaluators. The scope of the evaluation includes traditional functional categories such as operations, maintenance, and engineering that generally correspond to the nuclear station organization. The areas evaluated include organizational effectiveness, operations, maintenance, engineering, radiological protection, chemistry, and training.
In addition, the teams evaluate cross-functional performance areas — processes and behaviors that cross organizational boundaries and that address organizational integration and interfaces. The cross-functional evaluation includes areas such as safety culture, self-assessment and corrective action (learning organization), operating experience, human performance, and training.
The performance of operations and training personnel during simulator exercises is included as part of each evaluation. Also included, where practicable, are observations of plant startups, shutdowns, and major planned evolutions. Evaluations of each operating nuclear station are conducted at an average interval of 21 months.
Results from more than 875 plant evaluations INPO has conducted to date show substantial improvements in the conduct of plant operations, enhanced maintenance practices and improvements in equipment and human performance. Training and Accreditation
Another excellent example of the industry’s response to the Kemeny Commission is in its commitment to improved training through INPO. This commitment has resulted in considerable improvements in both the safety and reliability of the nation’s nuclear power plants.
Under the training and accreditation cornerstone, the Institute assists its member utilities in developing, implementing and maintaining high quality, comprehensive training in a wide range of areas. INPO also evaluates the results of utility training programs through the ongoing operating plant evaluation program and analyzes industry events to identify needed training improvements.
INPO manages an industrywide accreditation program for utility training programs through the National Academy for Nuclear Training. Established in 1985, the National Academy for Nuclear Training provides a framework for the following three essential elements in the industry’s program to strengthen nuclear utility training:
- training activities, resources and facilities at nuclear utilities
- the National Nuclear Accrediting Board
- INPO’s training-related activities
The National Nuclear Accrediting Board is an independent body established to ensure that nuclear utility training programs meet the standards of the National Academy for Nuclear Training. The Board is composed of eminent American scholars and executives from the following four groups:
- industrial training experts from fields outside the nuclear industry
- members of the postsecondary education community
- individuals nominated by the NRC
- senior utility executives
As an example of the National Nuclear Accrediting Board’s independence, the Board’s charter requires that the majority of each panel be from outside the utility industry when considering each accreditation action.
The need for the work INPO is doing in training was recognized by the Kemeny Commission when it recommended the establishment of “agency-accredited training institutions” for nuclear plant operators. As a condition of membership, each of INPO’s 34 member utilities has committed to achieve and maintain accreditation for 12 key positions involved in nuclear power operations. These positions include shift managers; licensed and nonlicensed operators; maintenance supervisors, craftsmen, and technicians; chemistry and radiological protection technicians; and engineers.
By the end of 1990, all U.S. nuclear power stations had achieved initial accreditation of all applicable training programs. Accreditation is maintained on an ongoing basis and is formally renewed for each training program every four years.
INPO conducts courses and seminars in support of the National Academy for Nuclear Training. These courses and seminars help personnel better manage nuclear technology, more effectively address leadership challenges, and improve their personal performance. Examples of courses conducted include the Chief Executive Officer Seminar, Reactor Technology Course for Utility Executives, Senior Nuclear Plant Management Course, Control Room Teamwork Development Course, and professional development seminars for shift managers, maintenance supervisors, engineering supervisors, radiation protection and chemistry supervisors, and training supervisors. Events Analysis and Information Exchange
The exchange of industry operating experience is another direct result of a Kemeny Commission recommendation which called for a “systematic gathering, review and analysis of operating experience at all nuclear power plants.” Through this cornerstone program, each nuclear station provides data on events to the Institute’s technical staff. At INPO, these industry events are reviewed for significance. Following this analysis, the Institute disseminates applicable lessons learned throughout the industry. As a follow-up, INPO evaluation teams check to see that nuclear stations have implemented all the applicable recommendations.
The Institute has reviewed more than 100,000 events since its inception and provided 482 recommendations to member utilities and international participants through 85 Significant Operating Experience Reports. More than 99 percent of the 482 recommendations (lessons learned) issued to date have been implemented industrywide.
Nuclear Network® is an Internet-based electronic communications system available to all U.S. members and international participants. The system allows rapid transmittal, storage and retrieval of nuclear plant information, and it provides a means for questioning other members and participants about their experiences in solving nuclear operations problems.
The Institute collects and analyzes data and information related to nuclear plant performance. Members provide data on quantitative performance indicators on a quarterly basis. This plant data is then consolidated for trending and analysis purposes. Industrywide data, plus trends developed from the data, is provided to member and participant utilities for a number of key operating plant performance indicators. These include the performance indicators used by the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) for worldwide nuclear plant performance comparisons. Members use this data in setting specific performance goals and in monitoring and assessing performance of their nuclear plants. INPO uses performance goals from individual utilities to help establish industrywide performance goals for plants in the United States. Assistance
The assistance cornerstone has also contributed to the industry’s improvements by fostering comparison and the exchange of performance information and successful methods. Visits to member utilities by INPO personnel in response to requests by the utilities are one of the most important modes of assistance. To date, INPO has conducted more than 3,500 assistance visits.
Several categories of documents (such as guidelines and good practices) are designed and developed to assist member utilities in their efforts to achieve excellence in operation, maintenance, training, and support of nuclear plants. These documents are now in widespread use at every U.S. nuclear station and at many utilities worldwide.
Another element of the assistance cornerstone is workshops. INPO sponsors workshops that afford the Institute, international participants and U.S. member utilities an opportunity for face-to-face information exchange. Typically, all U.S. nuclear utilities are represented at these workshops that routinely address topics such as operations, operating experience and maintenance. International speakers are featured at most INPO workshops to promote the worldwide sharing of information. INPO has sponsored 178 workshops with a cumulative attendance of more than 20,000 personnel. In addition, INPO has sponsored more than 330 working meetings and seminars with a cumulative attendance of more than 5,300 personnel. INPO's International Program, WANO-AC
As INPO developed and expanded its activities, an International Participant Program was formed in 1981 to promote the widespread application of INPO standards of excellence and ensure that INPO programs benefit from good practices and lessons learned worldwide. To accomplish this, the International Participant Program, which is observing its twentieth anniversary this year, facilitates the exchange of operating experience and technical information with participating international nuclear utilities and utility organizations in other countries.
There are currently 13 countries participating in the program. These include Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.
It is important to note that following the Chernobyl accident, the International Participant Program was instrumental in the formation of WANO. The mission of WANO is to maximize the safety and reliability of the operation of nuclear power plants by exchanging information and encouraging communication, comparison, and emulation among its members.
WANO is organized through regional centers and includes every operating nuclear electric plant in the world. INPO represents all U.S. utilities as a member of the WANO-Atlanta Center. INPO's Relationship with U.S. Government Agencies
INPO coordinates its activities with federal government agencies as appropriate. The Institute maintains a formal Memorandum of Agreement with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and with the Department of Energy (DOE). These agreements reflect the desire of both organizations for a continuing, cooperative relationship in the exchange of experience, information and data related to the safety of nuclear power plants.
Although nuclear plant safety and protection of the public are fundamental goals of both INPO and the NRC, their roles, while complementary, are different. INPO was not created to supplant the regulatory role of the NRC, but to provide the means whereby the industry itself could, acting collectively, make its nuclear operations safer. It was recognized that in establishing and meeting its goals and objectives, INPO would have to work closely with the NRC, while at the same time not becoming or appearing to become an extension of or an advisor to the NRC or an advocacy agent for the utilities.
INPO provides assistance to DOE to support improvement of operational safety at DOE nuclear facilities. INPO conducts a limited number of assistance visits to DOE nuclear facilities, provides DOE with copies of selected INPO documents and domestic operating experience reports, and allows DOE personnel to attend industrywide workshops and conferences. A limited number of DOE personnel are given access to Nuclear Network and selected information available on INPO’s member Web site.
Additionally, certain aspects of INPO’s international program are coordinated with the Department of State. Performance Improvements
In part through participation in INPO’s cornerstone programs, a great deal of progress has been achieved by the U.S. nuclear industry. This progress may be best exemplified by a set of performance indicators that reflect the considerable progress in the areas of operations, training and maintenance.
In the mid-1980s, INPO began an initiative to develop additional methods for measuring and comparing the performance of nuclear plants. A series of 10 nuclear plant performance indicators was selected, and utilities have been reporting their performance. These indicators have been adopted by WANO and are now used worldwide. Aggressive goals are established at five-year intervals. The year 2000 marks the end of the third five-year period.
The basic principle inherent in the performance indicator program is that nuclear plants with good performance, as measured by the overall set of performance indicators, are generally recognized as well-managed plants. Such plants are generally more reliable and can be expected to have higher margins of safety.
Year 2000 was successful overall for the U.S. nuclear industry – the best ever in terms of safety and reliability. For the first time, the industry met or exceeded the five-year goals in all categories. Additionally, performance in every indicator was as good as or better than the previous year’s performance. The 2000 results continue the remarkable record of progress that was started in 1980.
I won’t discuss each performance indicator in detail today. Instead, I will illustrate the industry’s progress using a few selected indicators, which are included in the INPO 2000 Annual Report I mentioned earlier.
Unit Capability Factor is a measure of the plant’s ability to stay on line and produce electricity. A high unit capability factor indicates effective plant programs and practices to minimize unplanned outages and to optimize planned outages. In 1980, the industry median was 62.7 percent. In 2000, the median was 91.1 percent. This represents the best performance ever for this indicator; and for the second year in a row, it exceeds the 2000 goal.
Unplanned Automatic Scrams shows the number of automatic shutdowns for approximately one year of operation. A low number indicates care in operations, good maintenance, and good training. The median number has been reduced from 7.3 percent in 1980 to zero in 2000. In fact, the median value has been zero for three straight years and continues to exceed the 2000 goal.
Safety System Performance monitors the availability of three important standby redundant safety systems to mitigate off-normal events. The industry’s goal is to encourage a high state of readiness, with at least 85 percent of these systems meeting specific 2000 goals for availability in excess of 97 percent. The 85 percent target allows for normal year-to-year variations in individual system performance. The 2000 performance of 96 percent is an increase over 1999 and continues to exceed the 2000 goal.
Collective Radiation Exposure examines the effectiveness of personnel radiation exposure controls for boiling water reactors and pressurized water reactors. Low exposure indicates strong management attention to radiological protection. Worker exposure has been reduced significantly over the past 20 years. The 2000 median value of 150 man-rem per unit for boiling water reactors is the best performance ever and exceeds the 2000 goal for the fourth straight year. This is a striking improvement over the 1980 figure of 859 man-rem per unit. Likewise, the pressurized water reactor value of 82 man-rem per unit exceeds the 2000 goal for the third straight year, also a significant improvement over the 1980 figure of 417 man-rem.
Not shown in the material provided, the INPO Performance Indicator Index is an excellent illustration of the industry’s overall progress since 1985. This Index is a weighted composite of the individual indicators on a scale of 0-100. In 1985, the aggregate Index value for the industry was 43. In 2000, the value was 94 – an all-time high. Trends in the Industry
In short, the industry has made excellent overall progress in safety and reliability since 1980 and is committed to seeing these improvements continue.
U.S. nuclear plants are performing at historically high levels from a safety and reliability standpoint. Owners are vigorously pursuing license renewal. Also, with the advent of deregulation, the industry is consolidating rapidly to further improve efficiency. All this indicates that nuclear power is being recognized as a valuable, reliable source of energy for the future. The business community is now recognizing what the nuclear industry has spent 20 years demonstrating: These plants can be operated safely and efficiently; and, if properly maintained, there is no reason they can’t continue this performance well beyond their original 40-year licenses.
Unquestionably, the industry will face – and is already facing – new challenges as it deals with deregulation and life extension issues. Long-term industry success will require vigilance and commitment, not just to the higher standards we have today, but to continuous improvement. INPO is helping the industry focus on the key issues that will be important in the near future – issues like human performance, equipment performance, and self-assessment and corrective action. New training needs will also emerge as we prepare a new generation of nuclear professionals to operate and maintain our nuclear fleet.
The U.S. industry will continue to set challenging goals for itself. Already, new 2005 goals have been established for the performance indicator program. Taking into account the dramatic improvement of the industry as a whole during the past two decades, these new goals focus more on plants that are performing below the industry median. In concert with these changes, INPO is also adapting its programs to further help these outlier plants improve their performance. Conclusion
In conclusion, nuclear energy is a God-given resource; and its proper management is vitally important, not only today, but for future generations. I don’t believe it’s an overstatement to say that a foundation is being put in place for a renaissance in nuclear power.
But this foundation requires absolutely that we remain accident-free. This requires vigilance and commitment, not just to the higher standards we have today, but to continuous improvement. With vigilance and with commitment to safety by the industry, supported by INPO, and with oversight by a strong and fair regulator, I believe nuclear power has a bright future in helping fulfill our nation’s energy needs.
At the 1989 INPO CEO Conference, on the observance of INPO’s tenth anniversary, then-U.S. Secretary of Energy Admiral James D. Watkins said, and I quote:
In the past 10 years, INPO has done an outstanding job in helping the nuclear industry improve its performance. Ten years from now, on the twentieth anniversary of INPO, I sincerely hope that we can all celebrate the absence, during the 1990s, of a single significant incident at a nuclear reactor. If we do, we will be well on our way to reestablishing nuclear power as a safe and viable source of energy, not only for America, but for the world.
Thanks to the nuclear industry’s continued pursuit of excellence in plant safety and reliability, I believe we are seeing the realization of Admiral Watkins’ vision just as he predicted.
Thank you for the opportunity to share INPO’s perspective. Subject to your questions, this concludes my testimony.