Nuclear Knowledge Management for Canadian Nuclear Power Plants

IAEA "Assist Visits" to OPG Darlington and Bruce Power L.P.

2 May 2007 - A team of international experts, assembled by the IAEA, has provided advice and assistance on nuclear knowledgemanagement (NKM) to two nuclear generation stations in Canada: Ontario Power Generation (OPG) Darlington and Bruce Power L.P. ThisIAEA Expert Mission was initiated by, and held in cooperation with, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL); it took place on 23-27 April2007.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG), owned by the Province of Ontario, operates the Darlington nuclear generating station. Thisstation alone is capable of providing about 20 per cent of Ontario's electricity needs. Bruce Power L.P. is Ontario's largestindependent generator of electricity. The four nuclear reactors on Bruce B are capable of producing enough electricity for a citythe size of Toronto.

The IAEA conducted several such missions - coined "Assist Visits" - in the past; however, this was the first one toCanada and to CANDU stations. "Although OPG Darlington and Bruce Power have implemented several knowledge management initiatives to date in various parts of their organizations, both utilities are fairly early in the process of implementing a formal knowledge management strategy or system" said John de Grosbois of AECL. "Both utilities are very interested in learningmore about knowledge management best practices", he added.

The team of experts (including J.E. Boyles (USA), A. Jackson (UK), Z. Pasztory (Hungary) and A. Kosilov, R. Workman and Y. Yanev,all IAEA) met with senior managers of the Canadian utilities and discussed issues of knowledge management faced by nuclear powerplants in general, shared best international practices to better overcome the challenges in this domain, and presented case studies.For example, one issue to be dealt with is the aging of plants. "It is like going to a doctor and learning about the status ofyour body", observed IAEA’s Andrey Kosilov. "Preventive maintenance is crucial for safety", he pointed out.This implies keeping records of all equipment and parts in a utility, to know exactly when they need to be changed.

An important element of the Assist Visits was guided self-assessments, in which senior staff at OPG Darlington and Bruce Powerassessed their existing knowledge management systems in open discussions with the IAEA expert team. A recently published IAEAdocument (Knowledge Management for Nuclear Industry Operating Organizations,IAEA-TECDOC-1510), provided the assessment criteria, which coverall elements of a knowledge management system: policies and strategies, capturing knowledge and transferring methods and techniques,communication, HR management, effective learning from operating experiences, work control methods, improving human performance,implementing procedures and documentations, and IT solutions that support knowledge management. "This assessment gives you a snapshot of the current situation", explained Yanko Yanev of the IAEA, adding that "the criteria intend to help managers to identify strengths to build on and weaknesses to be addressed in the knowledge managementarea. Managing nuclear knowledge is at the heart of a safety culture. That is why it is so important".

The assessment results and recommendations by the IAEA expert team were well received, and will be used to initiate and improveprogrammes on nuclear knowledge management to increase the organizations’ performance and efficiency.

Nuclear knowledge management has become particularly important due to the recent hiatus in nuclear power plant constructions anddevelopments, and the associated turnover of significant numbers of experienced personnel, often leading to the loss of essential,undocumented knowledge. In an increasingly competitive energy environment, knowledge is being recognised as a key element of humancapital with substantial commercial value. Previous IAEA expert missions on nuclear knowledge management were undertaken to nuclearpower plants at Kozloduy (Bulgaria), Krsko (Slovenia), Paks (Hungary) and Ignalina (Lithuania).

The Expert Team at OPG Darlington, Ontario
The Expert Team at OPG Darlington, Ontario

Bruce Power L.P., Ontario
At the Bruce Power Station, Ontario