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January 1999 - Armenia
- Bulgaria
- Czech Republic
- Hungary
- Kazakhstan
- Lithuania
- Russia
- Slovakia
- Ukraine
- United States
- Cross-Cutting Activities
- Planned Activities
- Previous Activity Reports

The January Activity Report documents safety improvements achieved in late December and January at Soviet-designed nuclear power plants through U.S. and host-country cooperation. To request a hard-copy version or to provide comments or suggestions, send an e-mail message to

Monthly Highlight

Field Assignments Augment Classroom Training on Safety Analysis Code. Through a cooperative, multi-site program, Ukrainian plant safety analysts are getting hands-on training on use of the RELAP5 thermal-hydraulic safety computer code. Selected individuals from Khmelnytskyy and Rivne nuclear power plants (NPPs) are spending one month each working with Ukrainian staff at the Energoatom Engineering Services Company. The company is located at Zaporizhzhya NPP and is supporting the ongoing Zaporizhzhya in-depth safety assessment.

The first participant, a Rivne specialist, was at Zaporizhzhya during December 1998. Another staff member from Rivne and one from Khmelnytskyy began their one-month assignments in mid-January 1999.

A cooperative training program under way at the Zaporizhzhya NPP site is giving Ukrainian analysts from Khmelnytskyy and Rivne firsthand experience with use of RELAP5 to apply to safety assessments at their home nuclear power plants.

The program, coordinated by U.S. specialists from Argonne National Laboratory, gives the analysts practical training and experience to supplement previously conducted formal classroom training on use of the RELAP5 code. RELAP5 is an essential tool in NPP in-depth safety assessment projects.

Such projects evaluate the most significant risks to an NPP during various accident scenarios and help to set priorities for safety upgrades. Experts use computer codes like RELAP5 to calculate the safety margins for the accident scenarios. For example, if a scenario would allow the reactor to reach a peak fuel temperature of 1,000 degrees Celsius and the maximum safe fuel temperature is 1,200 degrees, analysts conclude that the plant has a 200-degree safety margin during that scenario.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission developed RELAP5 for thermal-hydraulic analyses of NPPs. The United States is supplying RELAP5 to Ukrainian and Russian plants and to technical support organizations. The United States also is working with host-country experts to ensure that the code performs properly at Soviet-designed plants.

To use RELAP5, analysts enter data about an NPP, creating a computer representation of its reactor core, reactor pressure vessel, piping, and steam generators. In other words, they create a computer model of the plant’s thermal-hydraulic system. The RELAP5 code then performs calculations that predict the progression of transients involving the reactor coolant system and reactor core.

Following the training, the analysts will return to their respective plant sites to apply what they have learned to the in-depth safety assessments under way at Khmelnytskyy and Rivne NPPs. A side benefit of the current training is the enhancement of technical cooperation between and among staff of the three Ukrainian NPPs involved. (Charles Dickerman, ANL, 630-252-4622)



Progress Reported on Emergency Operating Instruction Development. Year-end reports from the field provide the following summary of progress at NPPs in Russia toward developing symptom-based emergency operating instructions (EOIs):



Training Methods and Expertise Being Transferred. Training specialists from Khmelnytskyy NPP, the Engineering and Technical Center for the Training of Nuclear Industry Personnel, and Sonalysts, Inc., just completed their second workshop in support of the transfer of training technology to participating nuclear power plants in Ukraine. These specialists are providing technical assistance in the development of the pilot training program for unit shift supervisors for transfer to Rivne, South Ukraine, and Zaporizhzhya NPPs. Training staff from the three plants worked with these specialists in Kyiv from January 19 through 29 to develop the training materials for the course.

The training technology transfer activity is aimed at the development of improved training methods and training expertise at NPPs in Ukraine. The participating Ukrainian organizations selected the unit shift supervisor position as an important one on which to gain assistance in developing the related training materials using the Systematic Approach to Training methodology. Participating facilities are not only developing training materials related to the unit shift supervisor position, but also will increase their knowledge and understanding of the Systematic Approach to Training methodology, which, in turn, will support development of future training materials and programs at the NPPs in Ukraine. The next step in this project will be two-week working visits conducted at each participating NPP to complete final preparations and actually implement the course. (Peter Kohut, BNL, 516-344-4982)

U.S. Team and Energoatom Representatives Coordinate 1999 Training Activities for Ukraine. U.S. team representatives from Human Performance Analysis, Inc., and the U.S. Department of Energy met in Kyiv on January 25 and 26 with representatives of Energoatom to discuss and coordinate training activities planned for fiscal year 1999 in Ukraine. The activities had previously been planned and discussed and are included in the existing training project work plans for Ukraine (i.e., Ukraine Training Technology Transfer and Ukraine Simulator Training and Engineering Support). Because of the extensive involvement of various Ukrainian organizations in the large number of planned activities, a coordination meeting for upcoming activities was deemed important at this time.

The meeting centered on reaching agreement among U.S. and Ukrainian representatives regarding the fiscal year plans. Specific dates for upcoming activities were discussed. Participants defined the roles and responsibilities in each activity for U.S. and Ukrainian organizations involved and agreed on necessary preparatory work to be completed prior to initiation of each planned activity. The activity will ensure that upcoming training activities in Ukraine are properly planned and coordinated and that each participating organization is aware of the roles and responsibilities for its organization in each activity. (Peter Kohut, BNL, 516-344-4982)

Emergency Operating Instruction Work Reviewed. Discussions in Energodar during the week of January 18 centered on the newly drafted regulation on symptom-based EOIs for Ukraine’s NPPs. U.S. specialists from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory met with representatives of Ukraine’s Nuclear Regulatory Administration, the State Scientific and Technical Center, Energoatom, and Rivne, Zaporizhzhya, and South Ukraine NPPs to review aspects of the regulation affecting the symptom-based EOIs under development for the three VVER plants. The new regulation will apply also to Chornobyl NPP, an RBMK plant, which already has developed and implemented its EOIs. Participants provided their comments on the regulation; specialists will review and incorporate them as appropriate to finalize the regulation and provide guides for verifying and validating Ukraine’s symptom-based EOIs.

The week’s activities also included a simulator-based demonstration of EOIs developed to date for Zaporizhzhya NPP and a demonstration of Zaporizhzhya’s soon-to-be-implemented symptom-based "Emergency Management Guide - Chapter Six." This guide is an interim step in the implementation of the full set of symptom-based instructions. The guide provides diagnostics, immediate actions, and initial mitigation of accidents before transitioning the user to older event-based procedures. The guide gives control room operators the capability to diagnose and initially mitigate two simultaneous events. (Larry Sherfey, PNNL, 509-372-4080)

Key Database Completed for Rivne Safety Assessment. In late December, Ukrainian specialists completed a database vital to the in-depth safety assessment under way at Rivne Unit 1. The database includes details on the nuclear steam supply system, which will provide information necessary for the current safety assessment and other future safety analyses of Rivne Unit 1.

After completing the database, the Ukrainian team members verified it in accordance with the quality assurance guidelines established for the Rivne Unit 1 in-depth safety assessment. A U.S. team representative received and accepted the database on January 4.

Ukrainian specialists from Rivne NPP and its Ukrainian contractor, Energorisk, prepared and verified the database. U.S. team members from Argonne National Laboratory and Scientech, Inc., provided technical support for the work. (Charles Dickerman, ANL, 630-252-4622)

Nuclear Criticality Monitoring System Undergoes Final Checks, Declared Operational. Health physics specialists from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory completed the final check and calibration adjustments on a U.S.-provided prototype nuclear criticality monitoring system for the Chornobyl Shelter. The monitoring system, installed earlier in 1998, was designed to determine whether the high neutron count rate obtained with existing monitoring equipment is indeed caused by fission reactions occurring in the reactor fuel debris entombed within the Shelter.

At the Shelter in early December, the specialists determined that the system was in good working order and ready for full-scale operation in the Shelter. They also noted that Chornobyl Shelter staff who will operate the system are appropriately trained and qualified. The project to develop, test, and deliver the system is complete. The prototype monitoring system will provide valuable data for the criticality safety study being conducted by a multinational consortium as part of the Shelter Implementation Plan. (Bryan Gore, PNNL, 509-372-4121)

Energoatom Authorized To Begin Chornobyl Unit 1 Shutdown Work. The Ukraine Nuclear Regulatory Administration issued a license to Energoatom on December 15, 1998, authorizing operations to deactivate and prepare for decommissioning Chornobyl Unit 1. Issuance of the license to Energoatom culminates a successful collaboration among representatives of Chornobyl NPP, the Slavutych Laboratory for International Research and Technology, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a shutdown program for Unit 1. Ukraine government officials--the Minister of Energy of Ukraine, Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety, Acting Minister of Economy, and Minister of Finance--approved the Chornobyl NPP Unit 1 Shutdown Program in November 1998.

Unit 1 shutdown activities will begin in March 1999. The first two scheduled tasks are the removal of fuel assemblies from the reactor and the conduct of a comprehensive engineering and radiation survey of Unit 1 facilities. Each of these tasks is expected to require one year for completion.

Permanent shutdown and deactivation of Chornobyl NPP Unit 1 is a high-priority objective of the U.S. Department of Energy. The project supports the overall closure of Chornobyl NPP by the year 2000, agreed to in the April 1995 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the government of Ukraine and the governments of the G-7 countries. The G-7 are providing financial support toward implementing the MOU. (Steve Short, PNNL, 509-375-2868)

Robot En Route to Chornobyl. In late December, the U.S. team shipped a radiation-hardened robot to Ukraine for the Chornobyl plant. Named "Pioneer," the robot ultimately will be deployed inside the Chornobyl Shelter to collect visual and physical data in areas too contaminated for human access.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.S. Department of Energy provided funding to develop and demonstrate Pioneer. U.S.-based RedZone Robotics, Inc., built the robot.

U.S. and Ukrainian specialists will demonstrate Pioneer’s capabilities at the Shelter after Ukrainian customs officers release the robot for transport from Kyiv to Slavutych. Staff of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, manager and technical coordinator for the Pioneer project, will work with the Shelter Implementation Plan consortium on future work for the robot within the Shelter. (Mike Durst, PNNL, 509-372-4698)



Analysis Team Prepares for Validation Work. The Bulgarian EOI analysis team, comprising specialists from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences Institute of Nuclear Research and Nuclear Energy and Energoproekt, is continuing its series of meetings to incorporate EOI operator actions into the set of baseline scenarios for the VVER-1000 units at Kozloduy NPP. Kozloduy is the first nuclear power plant site with VVER reactors to begin EOI analysis and development of the final technical basis documents. Specialists are preparing to perform a thermal-hydraulic analysis using RELAP5 to validate the effectiveness of the operator actions. The final results for the first 6 of 13 bounding modes are to be presented at a meeting in Sofia the week of February 15. (Kent Faris, PNNL, 509-372-4068)


Cross-Cutting Activities

Safe-Shutdown Analysis Work To Be Presented at Fire Safety Conference. The third international conference on fire safety, organized by Nuclear Engineering International, will be held February 8 through 10 in Frankfurt, Germany (see Planned Activities). The event is a follow-on to the February 1997 conference in London, which featured a half-day workshop on the Reactor Core Protection Evaluation Guidelines for performing safe-shutdown studies at Soviet-designed nuclear power plants. A team of U.S. and host-country specialists worked with international experts to develop those guidelines in 1996 as part of the U.S. Department of Energy effort to improve safety of Soviet-designed reactors.

The U.S. Department of Energy is sponsoring the participation of two technical specialists from Russia involved in the Smolensk NPP safe-shutdown study and three analysts from Ukraine associated with the safe-shutdown study under way at Zaporizhzhya NPP. The Russian specialists represent VNIIAES and Atomenergoproekt; the Ukrainians are based with Energoproekt, Minenergo, and the Central Fire Department of Ukraine.

Neither the Smolensk nor Zaporizhzhya study was sufficiently complete to enable results of the safe-shutdown analyses to be included in papers submitted for presentation at this conference. However, U.S. experts from Brookhaven National Laboratory and the University of Maryland have completed substantial work toward automating the safe-shutdown analysis process for the two projects. A U.S. team member from Brookhaven National Laboratory will present two papers describing how those experts are adapting the REVEAL computer code to perform the deterministic safe-shutdown analysis. (Scientech, Inc. developed REVEAL originally for performing probabilistic risk analysis.) Brookhaven staff already have implemented the REVEAL code in Russia and trained the Smolensk project team in its use. The instructors will provide similar training to the Zaporizhzhya project team in May 1999.

On the day following the conference, the Smolensk and Zaporizhzhya project teams will meet in a workshop format to discuss progress on the two safe-shutdown studies. The meeting will provide the two project teams an opportunity to share lessons learned and results obtained to date in those studies. (Andy Minister, PNNL, 509-376-4938)


Planned Activities

* indicates the event is a new item or has been changed from the last report.

February 1-5 -- Balakovo Training Center, Russia.

Simulators. The U.S. team will sponsor a workshop, "Verification and Validation Procedures for Full-Scope Nuclear Power Plant Simulators," for staff from Balakovo, Bilibino, Ignalina, Kola, and Kalinin NPPs. Specialists from Brookhaven National Laboratory, LAKROM (the Russian simulator vendor), and Gosatomnadzor (GAN) will provide information in a lecture format. The GAN representative will present Russian regulations for simulator certification and will describe GAN’s role in the simulator certification process. The lectures will be followed by a two-day practical demonstration of simulator validation on the Balakovo full-scope simulator. The workshop will train course participants in reviewing acceptance test procedures for their respective simulators as well as in verifying and validating their simulators. (Peter Kohut, BNL, 516-344-4982)

* February 1-8 -- Zaporizhzhya NPP, Ukraine.

Simulators/Training. A simulator training expert from Khmelnytskyy NPP and a representative from the Engineering and Technical Center for the Training of Nuclear Industry Personnel will transfer the simulator exercise guides already completed at Khmelnytskyy NPP to training staff of Zaporizhzhya NPP. A U.S. specialist will assist with the transfer. (Peter Kohut, BNL, 516-344-4982)

* February 1-12 -- Ignalina NPP, Lithuania.

Training. Trainers from Ignalina NPP will work with training specialists from Human Performance Analysis and Sonalysts, Inc., to implement the control room reactor operator pilot course for Ignalina personnel. (Peter Kohut, BNL, 516-344-4982)

* February 8-10 -- Frankfurt, Germany.

Engineering and Technology: Fire Safety Upgrades. The third international conference on fire safety, organized by Nuclear Engineering International, will be held. Participants will include Russian specialists representing VNIIAES and Atomenergoproekt; Ukrainian analysts with Energoproekt, Minenergo, and the Central Fire Department of Ukraine; and U.S. team members involved in the safe-shutdown analyses under way at Smolensk and Zaporizhzhya NPPs. (Andy Minister, PNNL, 509-376-4938)

* February 8-12 -- San Diego, California, USA.

Ukraine Quality Assurance. Representatives of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station will host a week-long workshop on NPP maintenance planning. Workshop participants will include Ukrainians representing NPPs, Energoatom, and Energoatom subcontractors. In addition, a representative from the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations/World Association of Nuclear Operators maintenance organization will participate. A representative of British Energy and U.S. managers of the Ukraine quality assurance project from Scientech and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory also will attend. (Lief Erickson, PNNL, 509-372-4097)

* February 15-17 -- Sofia, Bulgaria.

Emergency Operating Instructions. Specialists from Energoproekt and the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences Institute of Nuclear Research and Nuclear Energy will present final results of bounding mode analyses performed to support development of EOIs for Kozloduy NPP. U.S. team members from Science Applications International Corporation and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will attend the presentations. (Kent Faris, PNNL, 509-372-4068)

February 15-19 -- Khmelnytskyy NPP, Ukraine.

Simulators. Instructors will present a seminar on management issues associated with full-scope simulators for NPPs. Representatives from Chornobyl, Khmelnytskyy, Rivne, and South Ukraine NPPs will attend, as will staff from the Engineering and Technical Center for the Training of Nuclear Industry Personnel. (Peter Kohut, BNL, 516-344-4982)

* February 15-26 -- Kozloduy NPP, Bulgaria.

Training. Training specialists from Sonalysts, Inc., will collaborate with Kozloduy training staff on development of teaching materials for the mechanical maintenance training course. (Peter Kohut, BNL, 516-344-4982)

* February 23 -- Moscow, Russia.

Plant Safety Assessment. U.S. and host-country team members will review the status of projects under way to validate safety assessment computer codes for VVER and RBMK applications. They also will finalize reports documenting the comparative assessments for the standard problems identified in the first phase of the validation work. The meeting will be held at the Russian International Nuclear Safety Center. Project team members from the Electrogorsk Research and Engineering Center, the Kurchatov Institute, and Argonne National Laboratory will participate. (Jordi Roglans-Ribas, ANL, 630-252-3283)

* March 15-26 -- Armenia NPP, Armenia.

Training. Training specialists from Sonalysts, Inc., the International Atomic Energy Agency, and Armenia NPP will continue working to develop teaching materials for a radiation protection technician course being transferred to the plant. The specialists also will begin developing a maintenance training program for Armenia NPP workers. During this time, they will produce a job and task analysis and develop the initial course for the program. (Peter Kohut, BNL, 516-344-4982)

* March 17-26 -- Kyiv, Ukraine.

Plant Safety Assessment. U.S. experts from Argonne National Laboratory will conduct a workshop at Kyiv State University to train Ukrainian experts on the use of CONTAIN, a reactor safety assessment code. CONTAIN calculates the capability of reactor containments to prevent the release of radioactivity. Ukrainian organizations scheduled to participate are Khmelnytskyy, Rivne, South Ukraine, and Zaporizhzhya NPPs; Energoatom Engineering Services Company; Energorisk; and Kyiv Energoprojekt. (Igor Bodnar, ANL, 630-252-8336)

* April 5-9 -- Kyiv, Ukraine.

Plant Safety Assessment. U.S. experts from Argonne National Laboratory will conduct a workshop at Kyiv State University to train Ukrainian experts on the use of ORIGEN, a reactor analysis code. ORIGEN calculates the inventory of radioactive elements resulting from reactor operation. Ukrainian organizations scheduled to participate are Khmelnytskyy, Rivne, South Ukraine, and Zaporizhzhya NPPs; Energoatom Engineering Services Company; Energorisk; and Kyiv Energoprojekt. (Igor Bodnar, ANL, 630-252-8336)

Looking Ahead the Year 2000

During the last week of January, the U.S. Department of Energy and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) jointly held an international workshop to address year 2000 (Y2K) issues relevant to nuclear facilities in countries of the former Soviet Union. The seminar, which took place at IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria, focused primarily on reviews of operating and safety concerns for NPPs during the transition to the next century.

Because of its extensive involvement in improving safety at Soviet-designed NPPs, the U.S. Department of Energy cosponsored the meeting. Several of its national laboratories and contractors were actively involved in developing and presenting materials and information at the workshop.

U.S.-provided computer server for local area network at Kola NPP, Russia, supports the efforts of the plant's Department of Engineering and Technology, which is ensuring operational safety at Kola NPP. Photo by Alexander Sorin (10/98)

Through its Office of International Nuclear Safety and Cooperation, the U.S. Department of Energy is providing Y2K technical support to countries with Soviet-designed reactors. The next activity in a continuing series is the Y2K transmission and distribution workshop in Moscow, Russia, on February 1 through 4, for representatives of Russia's electricity electrical power distribution sector.

According to a 1998 IAEA draft report, Guidance for the Assessment and Remediation of the Year 2000 Problem to Maintain the Safety of Nuclear Installations,

Very few companies or government agencies can satisfy their operating commitments without software. As the turn of the century approaches, they face a significant and complex task: to resolve the Y2K problem in their software. [ (February 1, 1999)]

The report describes how the problem occurs in some software because two-digit date fields were used to represent the year. Computer algorithms may misread "00" for the year 1900 instead of the year 2000. Other algorithms do not correctly identify the year 2000 as a leap year and risk failure at February 29, 2000, or December 31, 2000 (the 366th day). Date-related problems can affect software in mainframes, desktop computers, local area networks, digital control systems, and computer-controlled equipment. Information in data files, databases, and libraries also can be affected.

The variety and types of computer software and computer-controlled systems used in nuclear installations raise concerns associated with the potential impact of the Y2K problem on nuclear installation safety.

The Y2K problem has a fixed, non-negotiable deadline and requires priority attention because of technical challenges and the limited time remaining for corrective actions and contingency planning.

Recent reviews of the susceptibility of Soviet-designed reactors to Y2K computer-induced problems have revealed that the countries of the former Soviet Union lack the expertise and financial resources to conduct detailed, systematic evaluation and have indicated that some significant safety issues likely remain.

The Y2K problem concerns host-country specialists like Vladislav Kirillov, lead software engineer for the Novovoronezh Training Center. Kirillov is the creator of the analytical simulator used in training control room operators for Novovoronezh Unit 5 in Russia. Photo by Alexander Sorin (10/98)

According to IAEA’s Jim Reed, "While former Soviet Union countries apparently have less of a problem [than the United States] with the Y2K transition primarily because they are less reliant on computers, IAEA and the United States need to assist member states to develop brief but comprehensive approaches to quickly resolve any safety impacts to Soviet-designed reactors that could result from Y2K computer changeover."


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