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Nuclear Energy Institute
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 21, 2009
Contact: media@nei.org, 202.739.8000 or 703.644.8805 (after hours and weekends)

OPPD Earns 'Best of the Best' Award

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Employees of Omaha Public Power District at Fort Calhoun nuclear energy station have been honored with the nuclear energy industry’s B. Ralph Sylvia Best of the Best Award for developing a method to accurately assess the susceptibility of stainless steel and other alloys to stress corrosion cracking.

Untreated, stress corrosion cracking can weaken piping and other components. But the onset of stress corrosion cracking has been difficult to predict given that it can take 20 years or more to develop. Through extensive research, the OPPD team determined that eddy current testing, an electromagnetic process that can detect tiny flaws in metals, can accurately measure subtle changes on the inner surface of a metal component to determine if so-called “incubation” of this phenomenon is occurring at a microscopic level and, therefore, if the onset of stress corrosion cracking is imminent. 

The initial area of concern at Fort Calhoun was in the housings that enclose the control rod drives within the reactor coolant system. Some housings were unnecessarily replaced because stress corrosion cracking was suspected, but was not actually present. By creatively using eddy current testing to accurately project the start of stress corrosion cracking, the Fort Calhoun team has helped avoid the unnecessary replacement of expensive plant components, saving money and significantly reducing radiation exposure to project teams. Since its inception in 1999, the eddy current testing program has saved nearly $7 million and 10 to 50 person-rem of combined radiation exposure to workers at Fort Calhoun. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s limit for radiation exposure to an industry worker is five rem per year.

“The team at Fort Calhoun developed a very important diagnostic tool that will improve safety and efficiency across the entire nuclear energy industry,” said Tony Pietrangelo, NEI senior vice president and chief nuclear officer. “Their ingenuity and extraordinary effort in researching this important breakthrough deserves this recognition.”

The Best of the Best Top Industry Practice (TIP) award was presented at NEI’s annual meeting. The TIP awards recognize industry employees in 14 categories – four vendor awards, nine process awards for innovation to improve safety, efficiency and nuclear plant performance, and one award for vision and leadership. The Best of the Best Award honors the late B. Ralph Sylvia, an industry leader who was instrumental in starting the TIP awards in 1993. NEI this year received 134 entries for awards.

Other companies with employees who received awards are: Duke Energy, Entergy Nuclear, Exelon Generation Co., Exelon Nuclear, Public Service Electric &Gas Co. (PSE&G), and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

TIP VENDOR AWARD WINNERS:

•  Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) employees collaborated with AREVA NP to win the AREVA Vendor Award for developing a reactor vessel flange repair platform at the Browns Ferry nuclear plant in northern Alabama.
 
•  Exelon Nuclear employees at Pennsylvania’s Peach Bottom power station collaborated with Global Nuclear Fuel (GNF) to earn the GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Vendor Award for their use of the Defender Debris Filter to prevent debris from entering and potentially damaging fuel assemblies.

•  PSEG Nuclear LLC employees at the Salem nuclear power plant were recognized with the Westinghouse Design Vendor Award for their Mechanical Stress Improvement Program (MSIP) that mitigated cracking of metal welds on reactor vessel nozzles.

•  Omaha Public Power District employees at Fort Calhoun were honored with the Westinghouse Combustion Engineering Design Vendor Award and the nuclear energy industry’s B. Ralph Sylvia Best of the Best Award for the use of eddy current testing to assess the susceptibility of stainless steel and inconel alloys to stress corrosion cracking (as described above).

TIP PROCESS AWARD WINNERS:

•  Duke Energy employees won the Community Relations Process Award for implementing a public outreach program at all of its nuclear energy stations, including the proposed William Lee nuclear plant near Gaffney, S.C.

•  Exelon Nuclear employees collaborated with Plastocor Inc. to earn the Equipment Reliability Process Award for managing condenser tube aging with internal epoxy coating.

•  Entergy Nuclear employees at the Vermont Yankee nuclear energy plant are recipients of the Maintenance Process Award for developing innovative tooling for the inspection of a boiling water reactor steam dryer.
 
•  Exelon Nuclear employees earned the Nuclear Fuel Process Award for their Next Generation Core Design strategy for boiling water reactors.

•  Duke Energy employees at the Catawba nuclear station and AmerenUE employees at the Callaway nuclear plant shared the Materials and Services Process Award for the use of high-density polyethylene piping for plant service water systems.

•  Exelon Nuclear team members earned the Operate Plant Process Award through their development of a modification to the handles of ball valves.

•  Exelon Nuclear employees won the Plant Support Process Award for their initiative to improve the performance of its supplemental workforce.

•  Entergy Nuclear corporate employees were honored with the Management Processes and Support Services Process Award for their formation of the Innovations Group.
 
•  Exelon Nuclear employees were recognized with a Nuclear Training Process Award for their Web Qual Tools that allows workers and their supervisors to easily check the status of their qualification data and facilitate requalification training as needed.

TIP VISION & LEADERSHIP AWARD:

•  Exelon Nuclear employees are recipients of a special combined Vision & Leadership Award for its international technical exchange program and industry group leadership and industry participation plan.

For more details on the winners view the longer version of this news release.