[ RadSafe ] Kudos to INPO

Miller, Mark L mmiller at sandia.gov
Wed Mar 21 12:23:16 CDT 2012

I concur with Dewey.  I was at the Monticello NP from 1982-1987.  During that time, we "endured" several INPO audits (and our plant supplied several "reverse loanees" for similar audits at other U.S. plants).  I groused about some of their recommended "Good Practice Recommendations", but guess what?  Our operations improved (as did the industry at large from many of INPO's initiatives).  In retrospect, INPO was probably one of the best things that ever happened to nuclear power in the U.S.  The Oil Industry would do well to take a few pages from INPO's play book.  I doubt that the Deepwater Horizon disaster would have happened with a little self-policing and promoting operating excellence within the oil industry.

-----Original Message-----
From: Thompson, Dewey L [mailto:DThompson3 at ameren.com] 
Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 10:37 AM
To: The International Radiation Protection (Health Physics) Mailing List
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] RadSafe Digest, Vol 919, Issue 1

Hi Terry

Your comment (suggestion) for a periodic independent review causes me to wonder how much you know about the theory and practice of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO).

Following the TMI accident, the CEOs of a number of plants championed a "independent review entity" to "drive the industry to excellence".  The major player was Billy Lee, CEO of Duke Energy.

The objective was to increase safety in the industry.  The idea was "another TMI and this industry is finished".  The theory point is to provide "regulatory margin".  (If the NRC audits and holds to a "minimum standard", auditing and holding to a higher standard provides assurance of better operational history).  Again, the concept of INPO was (is) to "drive the industry to excellence".  This is accomplished in part with three main avenues:

            Operational Event database.  (The TMI accident precursors had happened earlier at ANO I believe)

            Plant evaluations.  Every two years for plant operations.  Every four years for training programs (split between operations and non operations, meaning training gets looked at every two years)

            Facilitated information flow and professional training (INPO offers a number of courses at a number of levels

The industry self funds this, providing money "on the barrelhead", and with people ("reverse loanees"). Whether or not this is actually working can be (and is) debated.  One example that can be used is capacity factors.  In the 1970s, nuclear plant capacity factors in the US were on the order of 55%.  Nowadays if you can not maintain well above 90% capacity factor, you are a really really crappy operator. Folks in the trenches (like me) rant and rave about INPO and their "excellence plans".  ALTHOUGH.  Every INPO audit that I have ever read actually had the gestalt "dead on".  I might not like some of their specifics, but on balance they get it right.  Others might point to rather major failings (for example INPO did not predict the Davis Besse head erosion event, AND you can point to their not seeing the precursors to the Fukushima accident.  INPO is transmogrifying into WANO, or World Association of Nuclear Operators).

Of course to graduating to a "World Influence", the problems are greater.  In the USA INPOs main lever is the insurance carrier.  World issues are bigger.

But again, from my view out of the mole hill, the theory seems to work


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