Conduct of operations at a nuclear plant (M J Rhoades)
What is conduct of operations?
A general overview of what the "Conduct of Operations" (At a Nuclear power plant)
means can be generalized by the following: That management and operational staff must
recognize that personnel involved in operating the plant should be aware of the demands
of safety. (For both nuclear safety and for personnel safety). Also, that human
knowledge, performance, and understanding of how the plant operates can be variable.
As such, a Conduct of Operation shall be established using known good operating
principles, and a control system shall be incorporated, that encourages and supports a
culture of disciplined professionals.
Some of the bases for these Operating principles have been established and
documented through the years by review of plant operating history, incident reports,
personnel injury reports, accident reviews, equipment damage, and plant down time.
These are often called operation "good practices" and are supplied by the Department of
Energy (DOE) for the myriad of operation functions. This in no way means however, that
improvements in the conduct of operations are a static property, or, just a set of well
It is the responsibility of management and the operations manager to set goals to
continuously improve the performance of operations at the plant, and establish a control
system to meet these goals. Goals may include, but are not limited to:
* Minimizing the unavailability of safety systems and thereby reducing challenges to
* Minimizing personal errors by quality training initiatives and standards.
* Keeping personnel dose rates As -Low -As- Reasonably -Achievable (ALARA)
* Minimizing lost facility capability.
* Minimizing the number of unscheduled plant shutdowns per year.
* Personnel performing surveillances in a timely manner.
* Reducing the amount of overtime.
* Achieving and maintaining complete staffing and training of shift positions.
* Minimizing low level radioactive waste and waste in general.
* Minimizing annunciator challenges and lights.
Operational policies should specify the goals desired, and provide the means (resources)
to achieve them. Without this full management commitment from the top down, to the
operator on watch, to the training department, and all other plant staff, the policies will be
hard to implement and failure to make improvements are possible.
The tools that can be used for this challenging endeavor are varied, and many. It is an
in depth approach which involves, quality and consistency of; training, safety awareness
and policies, enhanced communications practices, access control to operator areas,
annunciator actions and activities associated with them, preplanning of jobs, plant
procedures, rounds / log sheet usage, tag out procedures, problem identification practices,
just to name a few.
To understand these tools better, let's discuss what is meant by "quality" and
"consistency" as it applies to the conduct of operations. Quality is a property or attribute
which implies a high standard of performance or construction, implied excellence of
execution and form, for example. If a procedure is a quality procedure, it is one that
meets all expectations during its implementation. It does not fail the operator when he is
using it during a plant maneuver or system operation. It is clear, precise, in proper order,
with all necessary cautions, and added information at the right time and place. Quality
training implies that it is of superior nature, complete, meets, or exceeds all its expected
goals. It results with a well trained operator at its conclusion. "Consistency" is the
agreement or logical coherence among parts or things. This means for example, that a
few quality procedures or training lessons are not sufficient, but that quality must be
injected throughout all the tools used to enhance the conduct of operations. This requires
the commitment and resources that were mentioned in the goals section and part of the
control system used for enhancement of operations. Two more important tools are:
Communication equipment and use are of particular importance in the conduct of
operations. Methods should be implemented to insure all facility personnel are promptly
alerted to plant emergencies. This notification should be able to occur regardless of noise
level or activity taking place. Personal hand held radios or head sets, vibration devices,
flashing lights, etc, should be used. Use of the PA system should be minimized and only
used for important plant operational needs. High quality communication systems should
be kept in good order for offsite notifications, management communications, and
instructions. Oral instructions should be clear and concise, the receiver of an order should
repeat back the order to insure that it was understood correctly, and if abbreviations are
used they should come from an approved list.
Safety awareness and implementation is paramount in the conduct of operations. It is
superior to facility production. By this I mean that personal, and personnel safety, are
more important than power output. All plant personnel must always have this in mind
when working on site. Operations and plant personnel should adhere to the requirements
of the plant industrial safety program. This includes but is not limited to hearing and eye
protection, hard hats in required areas, scaffolding, and rigging requirements, not
climbing on equipment and insulation, working in, on, or around energized equipment
and proper use of plant tagging procedures. Again, a consistent and quality approach
must be taken with plant safety.
All though this is by no means an inclusive list of all goals, principles, practices, or
tools. From this discussion, I believe that you can get a good feeling of what the conduct
of operation is, and how it creates an atmosphere for plant personnel to perform at high