Southern Nuclear wins numerous honors for innovative developments for the nuclear industry

Earlier this week, three teams from Southern Nuclear were each honored with a Top Innovative Practice (TIP) award at a ceremony in Miami in conjunction with the Nuclear Energy Institute’s 63rd Annual Industry Conference and Supplier Expo: Nuclear Energy Assembly. TIP awards are the nuclear industry’s highest honor.

Entries from across the industry were selected for four vendor awards and eight process awards. Southern Nuclear’s development of equipment for evaluating shroud cracking in boiler water reactors at Plant Hatch won the GE Hitachi vendor award. In partnership with colleagues across the industry, the entry for response to post-Fukushima seismic safety won a process award for Plant Support. Finally, Southern Nuclear’s National SAFER Response Center solution received a special recognition for its impact on the entire industry.

“I was excited to see our teams receive awards for their innovative work in achieving excellence in performance by utilizing researched-based solutions,” said Steve Kuczynski, President and CEO of Southern Nuclear. “Our teams demonstrated leadership by considering impacts, benefits and results to strategically solve problems, and these awards are a testament to our commitment in delivering nuclear’s promise of clean, safe, affordable and reliable energy.”

Following are descriptions of the award-winning innovations by Southern Nuclear employees.

Hatch Shroud
Denver Atwood, Alliance Vendor Manager; DeLisa Pournaras, Materials Principle Engineer; Eric Stinnett, Site Project Lead; Andrew Gordon, BWRVIP Engineer; Kevin White, Senior Nuclear Technical Specialist

The nuclear units at Plant Hatch are boiling water reactors, and operators of BWRs throughout the industry have observed indications of cracking of the core shroud from intergranular stress corrosion. Indications of cracking have been observed primarily on the inside diameter of the core shroud and in orientations that standard ultrasonic inspection techniques and equipment were not designed to detect.

A qualified technique to interrogate indications outside the heat-affected zone (HAZ) and at off-axis angles did not exist in the industry.

Southern Nuclear worked in collaboration with the Boiling Water Reactor Vessel Internals Project and GE Hitachi to develop and demonstrate a new phased array ultrasonic tool and technique that “followed” indications outside the HAZ and at angles that were not perpendicular or parallel to welds.  The equipment also has the ability to physically scribe a location on the material at a site of interest. Plant Hatch used this tool and technique to verify there were no issues with the core shroud of units 1 and 2, and the tool and technique have benefitted the industry in maintaining the highest level of safety and integrity of the core shroud in BWRs.

Post-Fukushima Seismic
Melanie Brown, Fleet Design Engineer, in partnership with colleagues across the industry

As a result of the Seismic Special Operations Team’s steadfast efforts and determination, the nuclear industry has made extensive progress in reaffirming and enhancing seismic safety following the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The team proposed and built a compelling coordination, cost control and quality of end result charter to take the entire U.S. nuclear energy industry lock-step through resolution of the post-Fukushima seismic requirements. This provided clarity in path, lessons learned, teamwork and compounding benefits for an approach where all utilities implemented a consistent resolution for their company/station. This led to significant shared accomplishment, progress, innovation and continuous learning.

The U.S. nuclear energy industry has a simple, yet effective, approach to seismic safety: expect the unexpected and prepare for it. Nuclear plants are designed and built with layer upon layer of protection against earthquakes. The FLEX approach – developed based on lessons learned from the Fukushima accident – builds on existing safety approaches to provide another layer of backup safety equipment in multiple locations, both at plant sites and at national response centers in Phoenix and Memphis.

SAFER
David Crawley, PIM SAFER Project Manager; John Giddens, Licensing Project Manager; and Jim Ripple, Supply Chain Director

Pooled Equipment Inventory Co. partnered with AREVA Inc. to develop the National SAFER Response Center (NSRC) strategy as the industry’s offsite response to Beyond Design Basis External Event preparedness. The NSRC strategy consists of two emergency response centers, one in Memphis and one in Phoenix. Each of these secure, 80,000-square-foot facilities has five sets of equipment that can be transported by truck or air to a plant site anywhere in the United States in 24 hours.

The equipment at the centers is the same as the equipment at the plant sites. It would only be sent if something happened to the existing onsite equipment and onsite backup equipment during an extreme and unexpected event. The backup equipment – both at the plant sites and the emergency response centers – ensures that plant operators can maintain key safety functions even if offsite power sources are curtailed. It will be used to maintain reactor core cooling, used fuel pool cooling and containment integrity.

This TIP Award represents the success of a special first-of-a-kind project through creative solutions.