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Alex McNeill Interview

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Guest Name: Alex McNeill

Company: Dominion

Plant Name: Dominion Corporate support for North Anna and Surry (Anticipate integration of Millstone and Kewaunee in the near future into one corporate organization.)

Position or Title: Nuclear Engineer III

ASME Section XI/OM Code of Record: Units vary. 1989 Edition up to 1998 Edition through 2000 Addenda may apply depending on unit.

ASME Section XI/OM Inspection Interval and Period: Varies between third and fourth inspection intervals depending on unit.

E-Mail Address: Alex_McNeill@Dom.com

Phone Number: 804-273-2528


Question: How many personnel do you have in your ISI/IST organization and how are the responsibilities distributed between the ISI/NDE, Risk Informed, Pump and valve, Containment, System Pressure Test, Snubber, Repair/Replacement Programs, etc.?

McNeill: Corporate: 1 FTE - RI-ISI, Containment, Repair/Replacement, System Pressure Test, 6 FTE - ISI/NDE (includes ISI Plans, ISI schedules, 2 Principle Level III's (one for ET, the other for all other methods, and 2 NDE coordinators for outages), 1 FTE for Pump and Valve and Snubbers.

Question: How much of the NDE is actually performed by your organization, if any, in lieu of utilizing outside vender support, and if so, what savings have you recognized by using your in-house personnel?

McNeill: Non-outage, non-RT is performed in-house. Vendor support for RT anytime and for outages. Not so much savings as having the flexibility to support operation and component return to service.

Question: What changes have you made in your organizational structure or reporting functions that you have found to be beneficial?

McNeill: We are reorganizing in the near future to accommodate the new plant acquisitions. Newer plants are not being purchased with support staff and the work needs to be absorbed with the existing plant support staff.

Question: What issues proved to be very difficult, costly, or troublesome to resolve, and what would you recommend to avoid those issues in the future?

McNeill: Operational leakage, pressure testing rules associated with buried piping, 10 year pressure testing of extended boundaries, and risk-informed ISI periodic updates. I don't have answers as yet, but I am working on them.

Question: What code cases or relief requests have you implemented that have proven to be very helpful and cost effective?

McNeill: N-663 removal of surface examination method. Relief Request to implement RI-ISI (Westinghouse methodology).

Question: Has your organization implemented a risk informed ISI or IST program, and if so, what Code Cases or methodology did you incorporate and what benefits and savings have you realized? What was the scope of the program and the approximate costs to develop the program? Were there any unexpected problems encountered while developing the program? Did you receive any requests for additional information from the NRC and has your program been approved?

McNeill: Yes, Westinghouse methodology for RI-ISI, Dose reduction and reduced number of examinations is biggest benefit. The latter has kept ISI off critical path as outage duration has shrunk. Surry Unit 1 was the Westinghouse pilot (Full scope, Class 1, 2, 3, and nonclass). The other North Anna and Surry Units were Class 1 only and developed in-house. All programs have been accepted by the NRC after our RAI response on generic issues to the methodology. No problems of significance were identified.

Question: What form of training has proven to be the most successful for your group; in-house instruction, vendor instruction, organizational instruction (EPRI, NSSS, etc.), conferences, technical meetings, online learning, etc.? What ISI/NDE training seminars are you considering for attendance in the near future?

McNeill: In-house allows for maximum participation. I have also attended vendor instruction off-site, which has the benefit of reduced distraction. Repair/replacement training will be given on a recurring (every two years from a qualified vendor) basis due to the number of organizations involved and complexity.

Question: What new NDE techniques, technology, or special NDE situations have you encountered recently and were they successful?

McNeill: I believe the effort by the industry to address primary water stress corrosion cracking. Bare metal visual examinations have required the use of remote crawlers with enhanced visual capability for the reactor vessel head and bottom head penetrations. New NDE techniques are also being developed to address the issue.

Question: Has your organization implemented the requirements for ASME Section XI, Appendix VIII, of the 1995 Edition with the 1996 Addenda? Did you utilize the recommended EPRI format for relief requests, and if so, which ones? What is the approval status of your relief requests and what problems or successes have you encountered in implementing Appendix VIII?

McNeill: Yes, we are EPRI PDI members. I don't specifically work in this area.

Question: What do you find to be the most difficult part of your job?

McNeill: "Do more with less." Deregulation within the public utility sector has led to continued cost reduction. Engineers are finding themselves extremely loaded, and reducing time allowed for activities. Making choices as to where to concentrate available time is my biggest challenge today.

Question: What do you find to be the most rewarding part of your job?

McNeill: Providing support to the units in an outage is a challenging experience. The problems addressed by corporate have usually been passed up due to their difficulty, and involve code interpretation, application, and engineering experience. Solutions are usually a team effort, and rewarding when successfully concluded. As an active member of the ASME committees, I have been able to work some of these problems into the committee agenda to enable industry benefit of the engineered solutions.

Question: What have you found to be the most humorous experience on the job?

McNeill: During my committee work, I often find myself traveling. Once while in Washington, D.C. I was staying in an older hotel with other committee members. We had worked a long day and had retired for the evening at the hotel. One of the committee members was from England, a very proper gentleman. This member and the other U.S. members would often joke about the peculiar customs of each other's country. The hotel we were staying at was having employee problems as a result of a union dispute. At about 2 a.m. the fire alarm went off requiring hotel evacuation to the streets of Washington. This older hotel had two fire escapes. One led to the street connected to the front entrance, which was well lighted and afforded easy entrance back to the hotel. The other led to the back ally-way and had no entrance back into the hotel. The door had no door handle to re-enter the building either. At the sounding of the fire alarm our English member accompanied by two female floor mates in bath robes and pajamas chose the fire escape leading to the ally-way. They reached the ally-way and the fire door slammed behind them. They found themselves in a dark ally-way requiring that they traverse around an entire block in Washington, D.C. to again reach the front entrance of the hotel. About that time a police car apparently observed them and scanned them from the car. Apparently, determining nothing unusual in the scene, the police car drove on. After making their way around the block in their night attire they reached the front of the hotel and joined his U.S. counterparts whom had all apparently chosen the other fire escape. Our English colleague immediately complained about his situation indicating his obvious embarrassment. He went on to note that in England the police would have stopped and helped him and his female companions in their obvious embarrassing predicament. His U.S. colleagues pointed out to him, that in America the police might not find it as uncommon to see a man and two ladies in their pajamas on streets of Washington.

Question: Have you had any difficulties or questions regarding the code classification of system components or establishing the code classification boundaries? If so, what difficulties or questions did you encounter and how did you resolve the issues? What technical positions did you take?

McNeill: Both North Anna and Surry designs predate established classification boundary rules. It is not uncommon for boundary transitions to occur and open manual valves. These locations are documented and are generally explained as being part of our licensing basis.

Question: Have you had any difficulties or questions applying the Section XI Repair/Replacement Rules to components, spare parts, etc., and if so, what difficulties or questions did you encounter and how did you resolve the issues? What technical positions did you take?

McNeill: The later ASME Section XI R/R rules (after 1995 Edition and 1996 Addenda or later) clarified significant requirements associated with maintaining the plant's design basis. Specifically introducing the concept of reconciliation of the Design Specification and updating and evaluating changes to the Design Report. These activities have been a challenge to fully implement. The ASME Code Companion Guide section on R/R authored by Dick Gimple is excellent and was followed for developing our positions.

Question: Does your organization plan to implement a Section XI edition and/or addenda that is later than currently required in 10 CFR 50, and if so, what benefits do you anticipate?

McNeill: No, we would use Code Cases as appropriate.

Question: Do your NDE procedures include a methodology for calculating the examination coverage for limited examinations, and if so, how is this calculation performed and what considerations are included?

McNeill: Yes, averaging of the coverage of each of the four directions examined.

Question: Does your plant share any calibration blocks on a regular basis with other plants outside of your organization, and if so, what types of blocks do you share and who do you share them with?

McNeill: I am not involved with calibration blocks.

Question: As outages become shorter and shorter, how are you able to handle your ISI workload during the outage? Are you supplementing your staff with additional temporary personnel or are some tasks getting deferred?

McNeill: We use supplemental staffing from vendors in an outage. Also as explained before the use of RI-ISI has kept ISI off critical path.

Question: Has your current or prior organization ever lost accountability of their ISI/IST program due to inadequate record keeping, non-documented plant modifications, etc.? What activities were lacking that led to the situation? What efforts were required to reconcile, verify, and/or validate the database to get the program back to a state of confidence? What controls were put in place to ensure that such an incident would not occur again?

McNeill: No for ISI/IST, for R/R, if identified it would be correct through the station's corrective action program. That program also addresses preventing reoccurrence.

Question: What type of software do you use to track and analyze ISI program commitments and inspection data? Was the software developed by your organization or purchased from a vender? Does it adequately meet your needs? If not, why not?

McNeill: We are converting to the IDDEAL software package. We have been impressed so far, but have limited experience in its use.

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