Outage time at a nuclear power plant comes with a unique set of challenges for licensed personnel. A primary responsibility for control room supervisors in any mode of operation is to maintain control of the plant configuration, which during an outage requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. Considering what is involved in taking the plant apart, upgrading plant equipment, performing once-per-cycle inspections and preventative maintenance, testing safety system functionality, and loading the next core, it’s clear why so much emphasis is placed on outage performance.
December 1, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News
October 15, 2021, 3:26PMNuclear News
The nuclear industry has historically relied on intermittent ultrasonic test and visual inspections of pressurized water reactor components to identify and manage degradation. While this reactive approach has proven to be effective, imagine a scenario in which the degradation could propagate throughout the reactor internals, making a more proactive measure necessary to avoid a major enterprise risk to the plant. Could a utility identify the onset of degradation within the reactor internals during plant operation? If so, could a repair be developed prior to the next refueling outage to prevent additional, cascading degradation? That is exactly the situation that Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) and Westinghouse engineers were able to navigate over the course of the 2019–2020 operating cycle at Salem Unit 1, resulting in a tremendous success for the plant and a historic landmark in the nuclear industry, while earning the team a 2021 Nuclear Energy Institute Top Innovative Practice (TIP) award.
October 8, 2021, 3:42PMNuclear News
Michelle Zietlow-Miller, outage manager at Exelon’s Quad Cities plant, had no particular interest in nuclear while growing up in the (very) small town of Great Bend, N.D. She was, however, good at math and science, and taking her mother’s advice to pursue a career in engineering, she earned a degree in chemical engineering from Iowa State University in December 2004.
At the time, one of her dream jobs was to work as a chemical engineer for Budweiser. (“Making beer is a chemical process that involves fermentation,” Zietlow-Miller explains. “Chemical engineers are hired as process engineers to oversee the fermentation and bottling processes.”) Alas, the King of Beers was not in her future. Instead, Exelon came calling, and in January 2005, she began a career in the nuclear industry as a systems engineer at Quad Cities, located in northwestern Illinois. She’s been at the two-unit boiling water reactor facility ever since, but in a variety of roles.
Zietlow-Miller recently spoke about her career and outage management strategies and challenges with Nuclear News staff writer Michael McQueen.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S.-based experts from Dominion Engineering led European workers remotely in the execution of ultrasonic fuel cleaning.
July 17, 2020, 3:43PMNuclear News
Around the world in the mid-March time frame, conditions were changing rapidly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as was everyone’s understanding of it. For nuclear power plants, the pandemic meant dealing with new government regulations and restrictions that were put in place. “U.S.-based support of international clients was especially challenging,” said Mike Little, president and principal officer of Reston, Va.–based Dominion Engineering Inc. (DEI). “With border closures going into effect, we were not only focusing on the health and safety of our workers abroad, but also making sure they would be able to return home. Providing remote subject matter expertise from the U.S. through our international service partners was critical to successful job execution during this time.”