The nuclear industry has experienced growth worldwide as countries invest and take advantage of the opportunities it presents (Cheung & Qiang 1997). This industry and other related industries are faced with hazards due to the nature of the industry, materials used and its association with occurrences of accidents.
Various bodies have been set to ensure that safety standards are adhered to by the industries. The World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) is one such body whose aim is to promote higher degrees of safety and reliability in nuclear plants located around the world. Performance indicators provide evidence regarding the performance of a plant mainly in terms of its reliability and the upholding of personnel and plant safety.
There are initiatives worldwide to establish more indicators to guarantee future safe performance. This paper focuses on these initiatives with comparisons and contrast of their benefits and a review of the current WANO indicators. Further, it presents an annual audit plan.
Worldwide Initiatives to Add More Performance Indicators
There have been concerns of instituting indicators that have safety as the major objective (WANO, 2008). Several international bodies have also proposed the inclusion of additional performance indicators for WANO. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has made proposals for the inclusion of sustainable energy development indicators due to the concern for energy reliability and environmental effects from the nuclear industry (Nuclear Energy Agency, 2006).
This proposal is motivated by the need for energy planning and evaluation and concerns for building energy capacity. The IAEA has been working in cooperation with nations such as China, the United States and Italy, among others and organizations such as the European Commission for Europe and Centre for Energy Policy (Taylor, 2007).
The other aspects in this indicator include the land area taken up by nuclear facilities, contribution of the nuclear sector to the economy, the generation of waste, fatal accidents in nuclear sites, the pollution rate, expenses incurred in the nuclear sector and the intensity of energy. This proposal has been raised by the IAEA in various world summits and tested in fifteen countries, including Turkey, the US, China, Italy, Argentina, Pakistan and Mexico among others (Nuclear Energy Agency, 2006).
The IAEA has also proposed energy availability indicators due to the need to test the technical and economic performance of plants (Goble, 2008). This proposal is amidst concerns for ensuring that plants and reactor sites consider the availability of energy and this is incorporated in analysing the life span of the sites.
Additionally, this proposal acknowledges the increased investment in the nuclear sector, which requires the need for such an indicator to ensure reliability through enhanced economic and technical performance of plants and nuclear reactor sites. This will also boost accountability and provide entry restrictions in the sector.
The HSE acknowledges the need for occupational health and safety and to this end has proposed the inclusion of organizational indicators (Nikolov, 2008). The motivation for this is the need to and operational diversity for nuclear firms. It also enhances speed, efficiency and professionalism and the handling of safety issues raised by personnel.
The US-NRC has proposed the addition of safety culture indicators (Nuclear Safety Report, 2007). This is due to the need to ensure reliability of plants even as growth of the industry increases and the acknowledgement that the safety culture not only lowers the costs incurred in maintenance of safety and in accidents, repairs and operations, but it also makes the process of safety evaluation and monitoring for plant safety and reliability easier, measurable and standardized.
The IAEA has also had initiatives that include proactive indicators that are leading in order to focus on through reports and trend analysis. The IAEA asserts the need to include more clear indicators that work collaboratively with the performance indicators of WANO.
Tomic et al. (2009) present an initiative of using safety performance indicators by the regulators and nuclear operators for the member states of the European Union. The Nuclear Energy Agency (2007) argues that the IAEA has proposed mechanisms for the inclusion of performance indicators for safety standards of fuel cycle facilities such as waste treatment facilities, U conversion and enrichment facilities, MOX fuel fabrication facilities, U fuel fabrication facilities and reprocessing facilities among others.
The United States being a major nuclear country has embarked on enhancing safety culture indicators in its plants and proposed for it due to the costs incurred in nuclear plants that can be reduced through safety measures. These are measured through implementation-oriented and result-oriented indicators that focus on the contributions of the personnel and other compliance methods of application, fidelity and tasks approaches which I believe may be difficult to measure objectively, but if individualized would benefit the industry.
The measurement of this indicator in the US, China and Italy among other nations is based on evaluation of safety records of the organization, actual investigation by engaging personnel and the current safety performance of the organization. Other proposals include staffing indicators as a way of improving human performance together with indicators of essential operators and fuel reliability to curb the effects of oil prices and provide alternative energy sources as well as ensure plant reliability.
The US further proposes indicators for the design and construction of new plants and performance indicators to ensure emergency preparedness. This indicator is mainly applied in nuclear industries where it is measured in terms of security in place for prevention of theft, screening of workers and security of plant storage and physical plant.
Plant duration and certification indicators are measured in terms of period for which the plant is set and fulfilment of licensing requirements whereas waste management indicators are measured in terms of waste disposal requirements, mitigation of global warming and decommissioning evaluation.
According to the Nuclear Energy Agency (2006), Finland has proposed performance indicators in fire and investment safety, self-assessment, operating experience feedback and occupational safety due to the increased awareness of safety needs and the increased investment in the nuclear industry.
Korea has made proposals for the indicators in areas of , onsite radiation safety, operational safety, safety system and multiple barriers due to the plans underway for massive construction of nuclear power plants in the nation, which personally I perceive to be necessary for the nuclear growing nation.
The Nuclear Energy Agency (2006) further shows that Spain has proposed performance indicators to be applied and translated to the Spanish context in the areas of physical protection, occupational and public radiation safety and emergency preparedness so as to ensure personnel awareness and due to the national culture.
The need to apply to the culture of different nations has also been emphasized by the European Union, which proposes the incorporation of indicators that fit in the member states. This I perceive to be a good move due to the differences in nations and hence it lowers the challenges of interpretation and measurement of the indicators.
Operators in the industry have proposed for the preparation of performance indicators that are specific to the industry in relation to the conditions of specific industries, hazardous materials and the inclusion of health safety measures (Goble, 2008).
Comparison and Contrast of the Benefits of the Performance Indicators
Risktec (2010) suggests that due to the increased investment and interest in the nuclear industry with a nuclear renaissance, there is need for WANO to include leading indicators. Lillington (2004) argues that these are likely to provide objective monitoring and make the measurement and reporting of indicators easier.
The leading indicators, such as the near misses of personnel and process, the percentage of workers that act correctly during emergency drills and those attending meetings are crucial following pressures to establish more effective indicators and create a safety culture. This, however, would be faced by challenges of effective implementation with additional costs.
According to the Nuclear Safety Report (2007), the proposal by the US to include indicators for safety culture would be beneficial to WANO even as concerns for streamlining of safety in the plants increase. The quantitative measures in this indicator would include implementation oriented and result oriented indicators by focusing on the contributions of the personnel and other compliance methods of application, actions fidelity and tasks approaches.
This would ease the process of reporting of the already existing performance indicators of WANO some of which are difficult to measure and report (Pate, 2000). Further, the safety culture indicator would lower the duration taken for evaluation of plants. However, this would have the challenges of implementation to the global nuclear industry even with the subjective nature of what is safety from one country to another.
Personally, I believe the indicator would be beneficial to the extent that it was individually applied. The proposals by the IAEA to include sustainable energy development indicators would be beneficial to WANO and the nuclear industry in general. This is because of the concerns for energy availability globally and the need to ensure reliability of plants and environmental safety (Braithwaite & Drahos, 2000).
The concerns for improving health and occupational safety and specifying their application in reference to the hazards in each industry through human performance indicators would be beneficial for WANO.
The quantitative measures for this indicator would be training indicators measured in terms of frequency of training, expertise indicators measured in terms of the ability to use skills for safety maintenance and machine operation, personnel program indicators measured in terms of the concerns raised by personnel, claims and safety concerns and general organizational indicators measured in terms of and effectiveness of handling safety issues (Nuclear Engineering International, 2010).
The incorporation of performance indicators for new plants design and construction would be beneficial to WANO (Revuelta, 2004). This is for the establishment of prior safety measures and increasing operational experience for those concerned.
This indicator would encompass security indicators measured in terms of security in place for prevention of theft, screening of workers and security of plant storage and physical plant; plant duration and certification indicators measured in terms of period for which the plant is set and fulfilment of licensing requirements; waste management indicators measured in terms of waste disposal requirements, mitigation of global warming and decommissioning evaluation.
This would be beneficial for ensuring plant reliability and would make the review process much easier. However, the indicator would have the issues of high costs incurred to be able to start operation and the differences in licensing requirements from one country to another, such as from the requirements of the United States that differs from France (Nuclear Engineering International, 2010).
The radiation indicators suggested would include indicators in the areas of off-site radiation safety, onsite radiation safety, operational safety, safety system and multiple barriers. This would be beneficial due to the increased need for construction of power plants with the increased demand for nuclear energy.
This indicator would be quite beneficial in terms of lowered costs of plant evaluation and would enhance improved human performance as well as the creation of a good safety culture (Nuclear Engineering International, 2010). However, this indicator would be faced by issues of declines in reactor types following life extensions and power upgrades.
Further, they suggest that there would be issues of modifications and replacements and other requirements for piping specifications reference to minor defects.
Personally, I believe the most effective proposed indicators would be: the emergency preparedness indicators with specifications for each sector of the industry; human performance indicators for more safety and awareness of personnel; safety culture indicators to ensure consistency and reliability; sustainable energy development indicators since they would address issues of energy availability and ensure that the sector is not affected by major changes such as oil prices shocks; new plant indicators to ensure effective compliance and increase reliability and safety while health and occupational safety indicators and inclusion of leading indicators as suggested by Risktec (2010) would be effective in emphasizing the need for safety and improve measurement of other indicators.
WANO operates through several performance indicators that are useful in gauging the safety and reliability of the plants and sites in the nuclear industry. These indicators include: the unit capability factor; unplanned automatic scrams per 7,000 hours; unplanned capability loss factor; industrial safety accident rate; collective radiation exposure; fuel reliability; chemistry performance; ; system safety unavailability; and the forced loss rate, (Nuclear Engineering International, 2010, p. 67).
Additional indicators that would be beneficial include the human performance indicator due to the need for safety measures, the risks to human safety inherent in the industry, standards of safety required and the ability to improve the safety culture through the indicator. The new plant indicator would be beneficial to WANO because it would ensure regulation of the industry; improve the reliability of plants and ensure that quality standards are maintained.