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Learning from recent nuclear construction projects

20 April 2011
Nuclear power plant

In May 2009, a steering group was formed under the pan-profession 'Engineering the Future' organisation to initiate a research project, funded by the Office for Nuclear Development (OND) and Institution of Civil Engineers, to examine what learning from recent civil nuclear construction projects could be applied to the proposed programme of new nuclear build in the UK. The steering group consists of senior figures from institutions in the nuclear and construction industries as well as OND.

The steering group commissioned Lancaster University to undertake the study, and interviews were conducted with key personnel involved in recent and current nuclear construction projects around the world, including Sizewell B in the UK. The objective of the research was to understand the main issues associated with these construction projects and identify issues that have the potential to significantly impact the delivery of the construction phase of the UK new build programme. In October 2010, the steering group published the project's report titled "Nuclear Lessons Learned". The high profile report, presented at the Nuclear Development Forum by the Rt Hon Charles Hendry MP, Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, received wide industry support and can be accessed from:

http://www.raeng.org.uk/news/publications/list/reports/Nuclear_Lessons_Learned_Oct10.pdf

This report includes lessons learned at three levels: High level for the government, lessons for developers (the power utilities) and for the construction supply chain. The steering group has high level backing from within the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to implement recommendations from this report. Consequently, an industry workshop in November 2010 identified value in producing a series of short reports on recurrent areas of learning that could be applied to the forthcoming UK new build programme. The first three subjects identified were concrete quality, nuclear quality & safety culture, and welding. In 2011, the steering group has set up three working groups to produce guidance on best practice in these areas and will report in July.

TWI, in addition to participation in the steering group, is chairing the sub-group on welding with participation from a utility (EDF Energy), a technology vendor (Westinghouse), the fabrication supply chain (Doosan Babcock, Rolls Royce Civil Nuclear and Shaw Group), Cogent Sector Skills Council, the Performance Review Institute and OND with the aim of producing a report to be presented at the Nuclear Institute/Nuclear Industry Association/IMechE Nuclear New Build 2011 Conference in London in July 2011.

For more information, contact sayee.raghunathan@twi-global.com or paul.jones@twi-global.com.