Project & Construction Site

Juho Vierimaa, Head of Licensing at Fennovoima, is involved in the renewal of operating methods in the nuclear industry. Photo by Junnu Lusa

Creating better processes for the nuclear industry

In the KELPO project, parties active in the nuclear industry are working in cooperation with the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) to find ways to update operating methods.

Who is responsible for a valve or anchor installed in a nuclear power plant, STUK or the power company? Do the components used in the plant have to be manufactured specifically for the nuclear power plant in question or could serial production be utilized in procurement?

These are some examples of the questions Fennovoima, TVO, Fortum, and STUK have discussed in the KELPO project since last spring. The project aims at clarifying and streamlining the industry’s licensing and qualification processes, which are fairly cumbersome and currently hamper and slow down the work of both the parties constructing power plants and the parties supervising the construction.

Similar bureaucracy must be tackled when renewing old equipment. Furthermore, the supplier network in the industry has become smaller year by year. KELPO aims at promoting the use of modern equipment of high quality that is manufactured in compliance with generally known industrial standards in nuclear power plants. Another goal is retaining the industry’s best companies that supply technological components to nuclear power plants.

Clearer division of labor

According to Juho Vierimaa, Head of Licensing at Fennovoima, the current situation where complex operating methods make work difficult for everyone does not benefit anyone. 

“The project is creating a division of labor where STUK is clearly responsible for supervision at the plant and system level, while the licensee is responsible for the component level in the lower safety classes. This way, both parties can focus on their key competencies and overlapping work will be avoided,” Vierimaa explains.

He describes the current situation by using the spark plugs in a car as an example: you can purchase them from any store selling spare parts without having to worry about differences in quality. Similar components for a nuclear power plant would at worst have to be custom-made one by one. Furthermore, STUK will have to verify that the components were properly installed at the right location.

"We must utilize digitalization better in the nuclear industry."

The new model would allow for simpler procurement and installation of similar common process industry components, such as shut-off valves.

“Many other industries have had fast development and have taken major leaps forward in terms of quality in the past few years. Digitalization is also progressing with great speed. We must utilize these better in the nuclear industry,” Vierimaa explains.

Information also to outside Finland

Even though the project and its recently started experimental projects focus on practices in Finland, the project’s successes will be shared with the other EU member states.

“We are ultimately dealing with clearer and more standardized operating methods, also internationally – which will improve safety as well,” Vierimaa emphasizes. 

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