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Employees at Tennessee Valley Authority Earn Top Industry Practice 'Best of Best'

Teams at Other Companies Also Win Top Industry Practice Awards

SANTA MONICA—Employees of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) have been awarded the Nuclear Energy Institute’s B. Ralph Sylvia TIP Best of the Best Award for strategic planning programs and processes at the Browns Ferry, Sequoyah and Watts Bar nuclear power plants.

The Top Industry Practice (TIP) awards recognize industry employees in 13 categories for their innovation in safety, economics and plant performance. The award was announced at the Nuclear Energy Institute’s (NEI) annual conference being held here.

The Best of the Best Award was renamed this year in honor of the late B. Ralph Sylvia, an industry leader who was instrumental in starting the TIP awards 10 years ago. Retired from Niagara Mohawk Power, where he served as executive vice president and chief nuclear officer, Sylvia died last January in a plane crash in Charlotte, N.C.

Other employees receiving awards represent Dominion Energy’s Millstone power station, Entergy Nuclear South, Exelon Generation Co., FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co.’s Beaver Valley power station, Arizona Public Service’s Palo Verde nuclear plant, PPL Susquehanna, South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Co. and Energy Northwest.

TVA employees were honored for using systematic long-term assessment and management action to bring about continuous company-wide improvement. The approach is fostering the development of new leaders, and the program has resulted in a new process of measuring and retaining knowledge within the company.

“TVA’s achievement demonstrates a proactive approach for identifying and successfully managing workforce knowledge and succession issues,” said Joe Colvin, NEI’s president and chief executive officer. “Every company is dealing with the looming attrition challenge and the development of new leadership. TVA’s programs and processes will help the company, and industry as a whole, prepare for the next generation of nuclear power professionals.”

The TIP awards recognize industry professionals who have taken the initiative to develop better practices that have positioned the nuclear energy industry as one of the safest, most efficient and most productive in the world. Their contributions and commitment to excellence have helped lead to growing recognition by the public and policymakers of the value of nuclear energy as a component of America’s energy supply, Colvin said.

Framatome ANP, GE Nuclear Energy, Westinghouse and Westinghouse-CE Nuclear presented TIP awards recognizing achievement at plants designed by their respective companies. NEI also presented awards in each of the following process categories: plant operations; equipment reliability; management processes and support services; work management configuration control; loss prevention; administrative support and training; and materials, fuel and support services.

Employees at Dominion Energy received the Framatome ANP Vendor Award for its testing process that searches for possible leaks in the reactor control rod drive mechanisms at the Millstone plant in Connecticut. Responding to a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recommendation that nuclear plants perform an inspection of their reactor vessel head penetrations, Dominion Energy developed an ultrasonic inspection technique that assesses the relevant surface area of both the penetration nozzle and vessel head. With this technique, the team can detect leaks, verify the integrity of the carbon steel vessel head, and perform a full volumetric testing of the nozzle base material.

Exelon Generation Co . was recognized with the GE Nuclear Energy Vendor Award for its boiling water reactor (BWR) chemistry optimizer. This on-line method for optimizing water chemistry provides real-time assessments of corrosion based on current and projected water chemistry conditions at all of the company’s BWRs. The application allows a single plant’s water chemistry to be benchmarked against the entire industry. In addition, the database is accessible on-line for all of Exelon’s nuclear power plants.

The Westinghouse CE Vendor Award was awarded to Entergy Nuclear South for a mechanical nozzle seal assembly developed by a team from Arkansas Nuclear One, Waterford 3 in Louisiana and Echelon Engineering. The winning team created a quick and cost-effective solution to small-bore reactor coolant system leakage problems at pressurized water reactors (PWRs). To the benefit of consumers, the team averted a possible 12-day extension of one of the company’s refueling outages last spring. The devices are being used to mechanically seal leaking nozzles or prevent potential leakage at susceptible nozzle sites.

The Westinghouse Vendor Award was presented to FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co. for the integrated containment management system developed at its Beaver Valley plant in western Pennsylvania. The winning team applied an organizational and management system to its planned maintenance outages that had proven successful in other industries. It patterned an outage management system on the processes used by airport control towers to monitor and control activities. The change contributed to shorter outages and reduced radiation exposure to outage workers—well below limits set by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The program is the first of its kind in the nuclear power industry and is transferable to other nuclear plants.

The eight TIP Process Award winners include:

Arizona Public Service , Operate Plant Process Award, for development of a computer code to predict the levels in the reactor core of xenon, a gas that absorbs neutrons. The code supports more accurate reactivity management and resource coordination. This new code is user-friendly, allowing plant operators to easily calculate transient reactivity conditions and safe shutdown margins. It allows them to estimate critical conditions to ensure reactor restarts are timely and safe.

Dominion Energy , Training Process Award, for its troubleshooting renaissance process developed at the Surry power station in Virginia. The winning team created computer simulations of critical electronic systems for “table top” troubleshooting. Benefits include better trainee understanding, a low-cost alternative to equipment mockups, reduced safety risks, and labor and equipment savings. This eases the difficulty for technicians and systems engineers, who must become familiar with the systems they troubleshoot without compromising reactor safety.

Exelon Generation Co ., Work Management Process Award, for its in-vessel underwater robotic inspection system developed at the Quad Cities, Dresden, LaSalle, Clinton, Peach Bottom, Limerick and Oyster Creek plants and deployed throughout the industry. This underwater inspection system was developed for installation in the reactor cavity and vessel to create a total work surveillance envelope. This allows a variety of inspections and other tasks to be performed simultaneously.

Exelon Generation Co. , Materials and Services Process Award, for its successful streamlining of the core reload design and licensing schedule. Working in collaboration with the fuel supplier, employees set out to enhance efficiency in fuel design and management while maintaining product quality. Process changes by Exelon employees reduced staffing levels, minimized fuel costs, met cycle energy requirements and provided optimal fuel design without sacrificing safety.

PPL Susquehanna LLC , Fuel Process Award, for defect-free fuel performance at the Susquehanna plant in eastern Pennsylvania. The PPL Susquehanna team has demonstrated that top fuel performance can be achieved over many years. Neither of the two reactors at the Susquehanna plant has had a fuel failure since 1992.

PPL Susquehanna LLC and Energy Northwest , co-winners of the Equipment Reliability Process Award, for the development of the Solid Value – An Asset Based Preventive Maintenance Process program at the Susquehanna (Pa.) and Columbia (Wash.) plants. The winners developed a new approach for equipment reliability improvement programs related to preventive maintenance. Information from other electric utilities continuously improves the basic program. This approach costs about one-half to two-thirds of traditional approaches and can be completed in half the time.

STP Nuclear Operating Co. , Loss Prevention Process Award, for its exemption from NRC’s “special treatment” requirements developed at South Texas Project. The winner pioneered a technological and regulatory breakthrough that greatly improves safety, produces major cost savings or avoided costs, and significantly reduces worker radiation exposure. STP successfully completed a three-year pilot program with the NRC and became the first nuclear power plant to be broadly exempted from the federal regulations on plant parts and equipment that have little or no safety significance.

Tennessee Valley Authority Nuclear , Configuration Management Process Award, for the permanent drywall shielding installed at its Brown Ferry plant in northern Alabama. During refueling outages, TVA Nuclear routinely installed temporary lead shielding (lead wool blankets) on a portion of the drywell piping. Taking this protective step even further, the team installed permanent shielding, made up of blankets covered with a silicon-impregnated fiberglass fabric and stainless steel mesh. This development reduced radiation exposure to workers during installation and removal of the temporary lead shielding and for all other workers in the drywell.


The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry’s policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available on NEI’s Internet site at