Constellation Employees Win Top Nuclear Industry Award for Equipment Replacement Innovation

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WASHINGTON, May 15, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Employees at the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant in Maryland have been honored with the B. Ralph Sylvia "Best of the Best" Award for an innovative pressurizer component replacement. The employees were honored for their first-of-its-kind welding process that substantially improves the efficiency and safety of the equipment replacement at Calvert Cliffs and that is adaptable to nearly 70 U.S. reactors.

The Best of the Best Top Industry Practice (TIP) award was presented today at the Nuclear Energy Institute's annual meeting. The TIP awards recognize industry innovators in 14 categories—four reactor vendor awards and nine process awards for innovation to improve safety, efficiency and nuclear plant performance—as well as an award for vision and leadership.

Constellation Energy Nuclear Group employees earned the top innovation award for pioneering the welding process applied to dozens of nozzles on the multi-ton components that pressurize reactors. The advancement reduced the time to complete each weld by nearly 80 percent and reduced the volume of weld material by 90 percent. It also substantially enhanced worker safety because the technique permitted the nozzle replacements and other nearby maintenance activities to be conducted with enhanced radiation protection.

Because the operational efficiencies also yield cost savings, the innovation has the added potential of saving electric utilities—and their customers—hundreds of millions of dollars in future uses.

"Innovations like these spanning processes, training and operational improvements have helped America's nuclear energy facilities increase electricity production by 34 percent since 1990," said Anthony R. Pietrangelo, NEI's senior vice president and chief nuclear officer.

"The Nuclear Energy Institute is proud to acknowledge the dedicated industry professionals whose hard work and commitment to safety and excellence has yielded these excellent results. For each winning entry, there are scores of other innovations in the competition that can be adopted industrywide," Pietrangelo said.

The Best of the Best Award honors the late B. Ralph Sylvia, an industry leader who was instrumental in starting the Top Industry Practice awards 20 years ago.

Details on award-winning Top Industry Practice solutions are as follows:

TIP Vendor Awards

Duke Energy employees at the Oconee nuclear station in South Carolina are recipients of the AREVA Vendor Award for pioneering a new approach to reactor vessel inspections. They successfully implemented new industry guidelines to inspect and evaluate reactor vessel internals. The single, all-encompassing inspection process reduces the number of workers needed and reduces costs by avoiding the need for the preparations associated with multiple inspections that were previously used to achieve the same safety result.

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy
Employees of Exelon Generation at the Clinton power station in Illinois were recognized with the GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Vendor Award for their development of annual fuel cycles that improve fuel efficiency and cost-effectiveness of their reactor refuelings. Compared to the standard industry practice of refueling every 18 months or two years, Exelon's annual refueling outages at Clinton have saved approximately $20 million in fuel costs every two years while maintaining operational safety and efficiency.

Westinghouse Design
Dominion team members at Virginia's North Anna nuclear station won the Westinghouse Design Vendor Award for their "Emergent Fuel Assembly Capture Tool Project." The innovation enabled Dominion workers to safely move a fuel assembly that was determined to be out of position in the reactor during a refueling outage. Working with Westinghouse, the team developed tools and procedures that enabled workers to safely and precisely reposition the fuel assembly.

Westinghouse-Combustion Engineering Design
NextEra Energy employees at the Turkey Point, St. Lucie and Point Beach nuclear facilities earned the Westinghouse-Combustion Engineering Design Vendor Award for their power uprate program. The five-year uprate project, which safely and efficiently added more than 700 megawatts of additional generating capacity at six reactors, included 11 regulatory amendments, 300 design modifications and 27 million person-hours worked in collaboration with more than 100 different suppliers and vendors. The electric capacity gains at Florida's Turkey Point and St. Lucie facilities were completed as cost effectively as possible for consumers due to FPL's management of the project and Florida cost recovery law for such projects that the state Supreme Court earlier this month upheld in the face of a challenge by a regional anti-nuclear organization.

TIP Process Awards

Community Relations
The winners of this year's Community Relations Award are NextEra Energy employees at the St. Lucie and Turkey Point nuclear energy facilities for their program to demonstrate the value of nuclear energy through communications about the Florida Power & Light power uprate program (see Westinghouse-Combustion Engineering Design Vendor Award.) The comprehensive outreach program used traditional and social media, and a variety of communications activities and spokespersons to promote the massive uprates at FPL's four reactors in the state. The multi-year project garnered strong media coverage and extensive community support.

Operate Plant
Entergy team members at the Grand Gulf nuclear station in Mississippi earned the Operate Plant Award for their "Improved Liquid Radwaste Processing" water filtration innovation. A highly effective filtration membrane removes particles as small as one-millionth of a meter (one micron) from plant drain water without producing the byproducts of conventional filter systems. Using this filtration method, which can be applied widely throughout the industry, the system significantly increases the plant's overall water treatment effectiveness.

Equipment Reliability
Exelon Generation employees at Pennsylvania's Limerick nuclear energy facility won the Equipment Reliability Award for developing a more effective way to analyze the performance of steam relief valves. Use of ultrasonic detectors made it possible for the Limerick team to obtain a more accurate analysis of each valve's operability. As a result, the need for unscheduled maintenance to fix leaking relief valves is reduced. This improves plant safety, performance and saves at least $7 million over the next four years.

Constellation Energy Nuclear Group employees at Calvert Cliffs won the Maintenance Award and the B. Ralph Sylvia Best of the Best Award for the "Pressurizer Heater Sleeve Replacement Project." The first-of-a-kind welding process uses specially designed welding equipment, control systems and a field-proven methodology that is adaptable for other U.S. nuclear energy facilities.

Materials and Services
Entergy employees at the company's headquarters were awarded the Materials and Services Award for their fuel failure detection process that can accurately identify small fractures in fuel tubes of boiling water reactors. By detecting fuel tube fractures early, the process enables operators to protect affected tubes and minimize further damage. The process improves worker safety by reducing radiation exposure and avoids the potential costs associated with fuel repairs.

Management Process and Support Services
FirstEnergy employees at the Beaver Valley, Davis Besse and Perry nuclear energy facilities were honored with the Management Processes and Support Services Award for their initiative "Proactive Integrated Equipment Reliability and Strategic Sourcing." The initiative increases nuclear safety by improving equipment reliability through highly focused preventive maintenance activities, enhanced work planning and replacement component management. By increasing work efficiency, the initiative saves millions of dollars in maintenance costs each year.

Plant Support
An Exelon Generation employee at the Braidwood station in Illinois captured the Plant Support Award for his "Total Recall" X-ray machine innovation. By designing a swinging door that triggers a full X-ray scan of all items that enter their security scanning devices, this elegantly simple, low-cost innovation addressed an important security challenge. It will also save millions of dollars by replacing additional hands-on checks of materials by security personnel and shortening the time workers spend processing through security to access the facility.

American Electric Power employees at the Donald C. Cook nuclear plant were recognized with the Nuclear Training Award for developing virtual simulation technology to enhance training. The system features a large, state-of-the-art touch screen to support virtual simulation of control room panels and safety-related field equipment used in the chemistry training program. Capable of supporting 30 trainees, the new system enables realistic training on safety-related equipment without affecting plant operation. The system provides excellent training for employees and saves the cost of purchasing and adapting duplicate equipment for training purposes.

Nuclear Fuel
Employees of Exelon Generation at the LaSalle generating station were honored with the Fuel Award for their used fuel pool storage rack innovation. To solve a challenge associated with the degradation of material used to control radiation in the racks that hold used fuel assemblies in on-site storage pools, the team designed snap-in, thin metal sleeves that fit inside each fuel rack. The metal inserts improve fuel storage safety, are permanent, easy to install, cost-effective and can be adapted for use at many other U.S. nuclear energy facilities.


Employees of Constellation Energy Nuclear Group at the Calvert Cliffs power plant won the Vision & Leadership Award. The team developed an inspection process and tools to assess the integrity of nuclear fuel dry storage modules and the canisters inside them that that hold used fuel rods. The process increases safety industrywide by establishing the ability and tools needed to effectively monitor the condition of storage modules and canisters and extend the period of time that the dry storage containers can be used.

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Source:Nuclear Energy Institute