Feature Article

Ratliff and Harris: Innovation for safety and reliability

Ratliff

Harris

When Floyd Harris began working at Duke Energy’s Brunswick nuclear plant about 24 years ago as a radiation protection technician, robotics and remote monitoring were considered tools for radiation protection and nothing more. Now, teams from across the site, including engineering, maintenance, and operations, rely on the system of robots and cameras Harris is responsible for. “If you want to put those technologies under one umbrella,” says Harris, who now holds the title of nuclear station scientist, “it would be monitoring plant conditions.”

That monitoring is critical to effective plant maintenance. As Plant Manager Jay Ratliff explains, the goal is to “find a problem before it finds us” and ensure safety and reliability. Nuclear News Staff Writer Susan Gallier talked with Ratliff and Harris about how robotics and remote systems are deployed to meet those goals.

At Brunswick, which hosts GE-designed boiling water reactors in Southport, N.C., ingenuity and hard work have produced a novel remote dosimetry turnstile to control access to high-radiation areas, an extensive network to handle data from monitoring cameras, rapid fleetwide access to camera feeds to support collaboration, and new applications for robots and drones.

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Feature Article

HPS's Eric Goldin: On health physics

Eric Goldin, president of the Health Physics Society, is a radiation safety specialist with 40 years of experience in power reactor health physics, supporting worker and public radiation safety programs. A certified health physicist since 1984, he has served on the American Board of Health Physics, and since 2004, he has been a member of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements’ Program Area Committee 2, which provides guidance for radiation safety in occupational settings for a variety of industries and activities. He was awarded HPS Fellow status in 2012 and was elected to the NCRP in 2014.

Goldin’s radiological engineering experience includes ALARA programs, instrumentation, radioactive waste management, emergency planning, dosimetry, decommissioning, licensing, effluents, and environmental monitoring.

The HPS, headquartered in Herndon, Va., is the largest radiation safety society in the world. Its membership includes scientists, safety professionals, physicists, engineers, attorneys, and other professionals from academia, industry, medical institutions, state and federal government, the national laboratories, the military, and other organizations.

The HPS’s activities include encouraging research in radiation science, developing standards, and disseminating radiation safety information. Its members are involved in understanding, evaluating, and controlling the potential risks from radiation relative to the benefits.

Goldin talked about the HPS and health physics activities with Rick Michal, editor-in-chief of Nuclear News.

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The Nuclear News Interview

Penfield and Enos: Outage planning in the COVID-19 era

Penfield

Enos

Energy Harbor’s Beaver Valley plant, located about 34 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, Pa., was one of many nuclear sites preparing for a scheduled outage as the coronavirus pandemic intensified in March. The baseline objective of any planned outage—to complete refueling on time and get back to producing power—was complicated by the need to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

While over 200 of the plant’s 850 staff members worked from home to support the outage, about 800 contractors were brought in for jobs that could only be done on-site. Nuclear News Staff Writer Susan Gallier talked with Beaver Valley Site Vice President Rod Penfield and General Plant Manager Matt Enos about the planning and communication required.

Beaver Valley can look forward to several more outages in the future, now that plans to shut down the two Westinghouse pressurized water reactors, each rated at about 960 MWe, were reversed in March. “The deactivation announcement happened in the middle of all our planning,” Enos said. “It’s a shame we haven’t had a chance to get together as a large group and celebrate that yet.”

While the focus remains on safe pandemic operations, the site now has two causes for celebration: an outage success and a long future ahead.

The Nuclear News Interview

VanTassell and Smith: On having spare parts available quickly, efficiently, and at good value

Smith: “We look at these changes as very positive for our business and the industry, as tapping into these technologies will drive down costs and improve efficiencies.”.

VanTassell: “Why should the experience of buying nuclear parts be any different from the online experience of buying household items? We all want to get what we need quickly, efficiently, and at a good value.”.

In February of this year, Paragon acquired Nuclear Logistics LLC to form a third-party supplier of equipment solely focused on the nuclear industry. Engineering, design, manufacturing, testing, and qualification are performed in Paragon’s three facilities, located in Fort Worth, Texas, Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Schenectady, N.Y.

Paragon provides critical and safety-related equipment, including electrical, mechanical, instrumentation and control (I&C), HVAC, and specialty one-of-a-kind items; equipment maintenance; equipment qualification; and engineering services that include thermal aging, radiation testing, electromagnetic interference/radio-frequency interference testing, loss-of-coolant-accident testing, seismic testing, and software verification and validation.

Doug VanTassell is Paragon’s president and chief executive officer and has more than 31 years of experience in the power generation industry. He received his master of business administration (MBA) degree from Queens University in Charlotte, N.C. Prior to joining Paragon, VanTassell spent 25 years at AP Services, becoming owner and CEO in 2009. In 2012, Curtiss-Wright purchased AP Services, and VanTassell became the general manager for Nova and AP Services. In 2014, he joined ATC as president of its Nuclear Division. On August 30, 2017, VanTassell and Argosy Capital purchased ATC Nuclear and renamed it Paragon.

Tighe Smith is chief operating officer at Paragon. Smith has spent the past 17 years working in various roles in the commercial nuclear power industry. His experience includes nuclear business management, product development, and safety-related system sales and service. He has a bachelor of science degree in nuclear engineering and is a graduate of the University of Tennessee’s MBA program. Smith served in the United States Army National Guard from 2001 to 2007.

VanTassell and Smith recently talked about supply chain issues with Nuclear News Editor-in-Chief Rick Michal.

The Nuclear News Interview

Scott Dempsey: Casks and containers for the nuclear industry

Scott Dempsey is the senior vice president of waste management business development for EnergySolutions, a nuclear services company headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Dempsey has 29 years of experience in nuclear power plant waste operations, as well as in commercial waste processing, packaging, transportation, and disposition. He has received all relevant Department of Transportation, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, radiological, and other industry certifications required for handling and disposition of wastes. Dempsey holds a bachelor’s degree in finance, and his previous experience includes management positions at F.W. Hake Associates, Duratek Inc., and MHF Services.

EnergySolutions has operations across the United States, Canada, and Japan. The company provides services to commercial utilities and U.S. and Canadian governments and laboratories. Its work includes decommissioning nuclear power plants and safely containing, transporting, recycling, processing, and disposing of nuclear material.

Dempsey talked about the company’s cask and container activities with Nuclear News Editor-in-Chief Rick Michal.

The Nuclear News Interview

David Gandy: Cutting costs and fabrication time for components

David Gandy, the senior technical executive for nuclear materials at the Electric Power Research Institute, is charged with leading a project to lower the costs and manufacturing time for small modular reactors and advanced reactors. The Department of Energy–funded project is led by EPRI, and its collaborators include the United Kingdom–based Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Center and Oregon-based reactor developer NuScale Power. The testing has focused on producing the upper and lower pressure vessel assemblies for NuScale’s 60-megawatt SMR.

Gandy said that the project team has already produced a 3,650-pound reactor upper head at 44 percent scale and has made other components as heavy as 7,000 pounds. Over the next two years, if the tests still to be conducted are successful, EPRI plans to transfer the technologies to other reactor manufacturers. Gandy expects these new technologies to be available in about five to seven years, once the testing is completed and the necessary approvals are obtained from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and ASME.

Gandy talked about the project with Nuclear News Editor-in-Chief Rick Michal.