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Ernest Throckmorton Interview

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Guest Name: Ernest Throckmorton

Company: Virginia Power (Retired)

Plant Name: North Anna and Surry

Position or Title: Supervisor of Materials/ISI Engineering

ASME Section XI/OM Code of Record: 1986 and 1989.

ASME Section XI/OM Inspection Interval: Second Interval at North Anna and Third at Surry.

E-Mail Address: ernest_throckmorton@dom.com

Phone Number: 804-273-2125


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.?

Throckmorton: There are about 22 people in the entire organization directly involved with the programs stated.

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?

Throckmorton: Almost all of the NDE is done by outside contractors during a outage and approximately 50% during other periods. Hourly rate for our contractors is about 1.5 times greater than the salaries of our staffs. Savings are difficult to obtain because of the very uneven demand for the service.

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

Throckmorton: Dose related relief request on the regen. Hx. saved a great deal of dose. We also implemented several of the code changes early through the relief request process which were a significant help Ė e.g. sampling of supports and integral attachments. The system pressure code cases were also very useful.

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?

Throckmorton: We were the pilot for the Westinghouse methodology at Surry 1. We have also submitted a Westinghouse program for Surry 2. Costs for the Surry 1 program were in the neighborhood of $350,000. The Surry 2 program was done with in house staff. The Surry 1 program was full scope and the Surry 2 program was Cat. 1 only. Surry 1 had several problems but being a pilot that is not unexpected. Surry 2 went smoothly. Approval has been obtained for Surry 1. The greatest realized benefit has been the significant dose reduction. ISI went from the single most dose significant activity to just a another activity. It took a lot of heat off of us from management. Costs savings have not been measured, but real savings are present. We estimated about average savings of $150,000 per year. I would guess we are saving at least half of that.

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?

Throckmorton: Vendor Instruction.

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

Throckmorton: We had a problem doing the steam generator welds at Surry in the area of the upper cone to the upper shell weld. Because of ID cracking of this weld in the 1980ís a lot of grinding had taken place. However, it did not require repair. This left us with a significant amount of surface condition to resolve in later UT examinations of the welds. This would require us to spend a significant amount of time at the weld and involve several Level IIIís to gain resolution. The inspection window was not big enough to accommodate this much activity. Because of the advances in small scanners and computers, we were able to purchase an affordable, very portable system to take the data once and then resolve the problems off the vessel.

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?

Throckmorton: We have implemented Appendix VIII without problems. We are doing the Appendix VIII piping ourselves. We submitted a limited amount of the recommended EPRI Relief Requests.

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

Throckmorton: Keeping up with all of the detail.

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

Throckmorton: Ending an outage without a problem.

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

Throckmorton: Answering this questionnaire. (I must get a life.)

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?

Throckmorton: No.

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?

Throckmorton: Yes, we simply average the percent coverage by each scan.

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?

Throckmorton: No. We have done it in the past, but do not get asked to do so often.

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

Throckmorton: We are still supplementing with temporary staff, but it is getting more and more difficult.

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?

Throckmorton: Not a problem.

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?

Throckmorton: We use a database of our own making which runs on Access. We have done so for better than 10 years and are satisfied.

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