A 'programmized' approach to nuclear decommissioning covers safety, organizational
A ‘programmized’ approach to nuclear decommissioning covers safety, organizational transformation and integrated management as well as technical innovation
Credit: Magnox Ltd

The UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has awarded Cavendish Fluor Partnership a contract for the decommissioning of 12 UK nuclear sites. Kenny Douglas looks at how this joint venture proposes to meet the challenge to decommission the sites safely and to schedule

As parent body organization to the two site licence companies (SLCs) Magnox and RSRL, CFP has begun the process of implementing its approach to manage the decommissioning of 12 nuclear sites, and deliver each to an agreed and defined point – either interim end state or into care and maintenance – while providing savings anticipated to be over £1.5 billion ($2.4 billion) against the previous site lifetime plans.

It is no small undertaking, and in taking on this mission Cavendish Fluor Partnership, a joint venture between British company Cavendish Nuclear and US firm Fluor, will be drawing on its extensive UK and US decommissioning experience.

Indeed, this experience has already been applied, in the first instance, to conduct a successful five-month transition programme – a critical phase in advance of official contract award and implementation of the new programme – to ensure a seamless handover from two PBOs to the new one, with minimal impact on the existing teams and continuity of work taking place at the 12 sites.

The transition phase was an intensive period and a major project in itself. Cornerstones of this phase, which concluded on 31 August, included introduction of the new management team to the SLC management and workforce, and stakeholder engagement as well as completion of initial due diligence on the site’s lifetime plans.

The transition period also saw preparations for the necessary organizational transformation, as well as ensuring that all regulatory requirements were met and the highest level of safety standards implemented.

As part of the due diligence requirement, progress on all site plans was assessed by the new team against the information gained and assumptions made in the bidding process, to identify the additional work that will be required to be undertaken.

Equally importantly, the transition period also provided the opportunity for the Cavendish Fluor Partnership to gain a better understanding of the processes being worked to, the procurement activities, supplier contract status and existing site initiatives, while also getting to know the people and the 12 sites. This will feed into the changes required to implement CFP’s lifetime plans which will differ in a number of ways from the existing site plans.

Strategic approach

Following successful completion of the transition contract, implementation of the strategy for the 12 sites is now underway.

This approach is characterized by a number of key features covering safety, organizational transformation and integrated management – a ‘programmized’ approach – and technical innovation, ensuring that the work required is undertaken safely and at minimum possible cost.

Implementing an affordable schedule to undertake the work and taking a ‘programmized approach’ are vital facets of the strategy. The approach is based around ten core programmes and the organizational structure will progressively align to these programmes across all the sites.

Technical innovation is a further key element of the strategy, drawing and building on experience and proven techniques and technologies, both from within the nuclear industry and the partners’ own experience in the UK and US, while also potentially bringing best practice or technologies from other industries where this adds value.

Part of the approach will be to work with the SLC teams to ensure that the appropriate technical approach is undertaken for each site. These differing approaches are being developed between the CFP secondees and the SLC teams in order to optimize the solutions included within the bid.

One of the new programmes that will be introduced, for example, is asset management in order to standardize and right-size the maintenance programme at each of the sites at the differing stages of their decommissioning programme.

A central tenet of the strategy is to gain approval to have a single organization running the two site licence companies, with the option to re-licence into one site licence company being explored with the appropriate regulatory authorities.

CFP is seeking, from the early stages, to standardize the processes and approach taken across all 12 sites, and to maximize learning across all locations.

For instance, approval for a programme gained at one site will then be replicated across the other sites, while incorporating learning from experience at each – an approach known as ‘lead and learn’ – which effectively integrates the approach and programmes across all the sites, while delivering locally.

Another intended initiative and part of the standardizing of processes across the sites is the modularized safety and environmental case approach, with a safety case interface software tool.

This involves taking a generic approach wherever possible, with an overarching framework strategy, developing a safety and environmental case at one site and then checking for design differences and adapting it to the next site in line with site-specific requirements, retaining procedures as appropriate and sharing or transferring the learning and experience gained.

Additionally, long-term employment opportunities for the SLC workforce are a key facet of the CFP approach. Notably, following CFP’s appointment as PBO, Magnox and RSRL employees are now part of the largest nuclear Suitably Qualified and Experienced Personnel (SQEP) team in the UK. Cavendish Nuclear and Fluor recognize that their people are theirmost important asset, while both PBO partners are ambitious and growing companies with interest in the UK’s new-build programmes (four of which are due to take place adjacent to Magnox sites).

With this in mind, CFP will ultimately seek to manage, at the appropriate time in the future, the transition of the skilled workforce from decommissioning into the new-build programme, with opportunities for the workforce members to work on new projects within one of the two parent companies once the decommissioning work is complete.

One further key aspect in the strategy to deliver the requirement for the sites efficiently and successfully lies in the optimization of the supply chain. This will be made up of various facets, including taking a single approach, category management, SME engagement and SLC staff development.

CFP will seek to manage the transition of the skilled workforce
CFP will seek to manage the transition of the skilled workforce from decommissioning into the newbuild programme
Credit: Magnox Ltd

Implementation and delivery

In short, the Cavendish Fluor Partnership will manage the capability and experience residing in the Magnox and RSRL SLCs by agreeing the right strategy for decommissioning and waste management, turning that strategy into detailed programmes with clear targets, choosing the right people to deliver, adopting robust corporate governance processes, providing incisive challenge and demonstrating leadership. CFP will ensure delivery of the plan, while constantly seeking to reduce cost, learn from experience, and seek to provide additional future employment opportunities throughout the programme.

Key to delivering the established goals and target cost reductions are technical innovation, changing operating arrangements, streamlining the organizational structure and delivering the detailed decommissioning and waste management programmes. In implementing these, CFP will ensure that the programme is delivered safely and securely, without environmental impact, on time and on budget, thereby fulfilling its primary role as PBO: to ensure safe delivery of the decommissioning programme across all the sites, with an integrated management plan and system, ensuring that the NDA’s vision is supported and requirements are met.

Kenny Douglas is managing director of Magnox and RSRL

More Power Engineering International Issue Articles
Power Engineering International Archives
View Power Generation Articles on PennEnergy.com