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Jim Staffiera - Chuck Wirtz Interview

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Guest Name: Jim Staffiera and Chuck Wirtz

Company: FirstEnergy Corporation/FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co.

Plant Name: Perry Nuclear Power Plant - Unit 1 (Unit 2 cancelled @ ~40%)

Position or Title: Lead Engineer - Civil/Structural (Jim Staffiera) and ISI, Reactor System, and BWRVIP Engineer (Chuck Wirtz)

ASME Section XI/OM Code of Record: 1989 Edition (all but IWE/IWL) and 1992 Edition w/'92 Addenda (IWE/IWL)

ASME Section XI/OM Inspection Interval and Period: 2nd Interval, 1st Period

E-Mail Address: jestaffiera@hotmail.com or jestaffiera@firstenergycorp.com (Jim Staffiera) and cjwirtz@firstenergycorp.com (Chuck Wirtz)

Phone Number: (440) 280-5008 (Jim Staffiera), or (440) 280-7655 (Chuck Wirtz)


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.?

Staffiera/Wirtz: The PNPP ISI/IST organization is contained in the Plant Engineering Section and includes responsibility for the ISI/IST programs (although Containment ISI is performed by Quality Unit personnel). There is one ISI Engineer, who is also the System Engineer for the Reactor Vessel and Internal Components (B13) System and BWRVIP Program Manager for PNPP. There is one IST/Pressure Testing Engineer. There is one Local Leak-Rate Testing (LLRT) Engineer who is also the System Engineer for the Containment (T23) System. There is one Snubber Program Engineer.

The Repair/Replacement Program is not the responsibility of the ISI/IST group, but is a shared responsibility between Design Engineering and Quality Control. PNPP has a Nuclear Repair ('NR') and Repair ('R') Stamp Program for ASME Code repair activities in accordance with National Board Inspection Code requirements. This program is maintained by the Quality Control Element, with input from Design Engineering.

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?

Staffiera/Wirtz: Visual and UT-thickness examinations only; used on a resource-sharing basis with other FENOC facilities to some extent.

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

Staffiera/Wirtz: The Engineering Department has been restructured to re-incorporate Maintenance Engineering after it had been part of the Maintenance Department for several years. However, most changes over the past eight years have consistently reduced available resources while the workload has increased.

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?

Staffiera/Wirtz: Actually, too many to list . . .

Integral to long-term success is better time management and allowance for sufficient time to document/proceduralize activities that currently rely on a significant amount of 'tribal knowledge' . . . a situation of potential significance with the current aging workforce.

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

Staffiera/Wirtz: Code Cases that have provided significant benefit to our facility are as follows:
N-416-1, N-498-1, N-509, N-522, N-524, N-546, N-578, N-623, and N-627.

Several relief requests related to containment ISI were implemented in conjunction with the EPRI initiatives immediately following the addition of containment ISI as a mandatory requirement in the Code of Federal Regulations (invoking the 1992 Edition with the 1992 Addenda).

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?

Staffiera/Wirtz: Yes, as specified in Code Case N-578 for Class 1 components only. Plans are in-place for a risk-informed application to our Break-Exclusion Region (BER) welds in the future (possibly late 2004).

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?

Staffiera/Wirtz: In-house instruction has worked well for general introduction to ASME Code requirements, but EPRI training specifically for containment (IWE/IWL) inservice-inspection requirements proved very beneficial in implementing a containment ISI program. This was especially helpful in program development for the PNPP 'hybrid' containment vessel (Division 2 floor and suppression-pool areas and Division 1 free-standing containment above the suppression pool). There are no specific plans for additional training at this time (PNPP's ninth refueling outage is scheduled for Spring 2003).

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

Staffiera/Wirtz: Recently (due to a condition of standing water in several areas along the outside circumference of the containment - at and just below the level of the containment annulus concrete pour), a series of remote ultrasonic thickness examinations were performed on inside containment surfaces to verify that containment wall thicknesses in the locations of these areas met minimum requirements.

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?

Staffiera/Wirtz: Yes; three of the EPRI generic relief requests

1. Flaw-length requirements
2. Reactor-vessel-to-nozzle welds
3. Annual training requirements

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

Staffiera/Wirtz: Time-management with reduced resources and under ever-increasing requirements (e.g., BWRVIP).

Convincing management of the importance of a well-established and regimented containment inservice inspection program, especially since the requirements for same are relatively new and the resources needed are somewhat unique (Responsible Engineer; IWE/IWL-related certifications, the vagaries of concrete inspection, etc.)

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

Staffiera/Wirtz: Working with knowledgeable individuals who have been involved in nuclear power plant engineering, maintenance, and operations activities for many years. Using ASME Code knowledge to enable compliance with applicable requirements even though resource limitations exist.

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

Staffiera/Wirtz: The phrase: "Hey, we're gonna be paperless!"

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?

Staffiera/Wirtz: No, although as an Owner we have classified certain non-safety systems as ASME systems (and maintain them as such) to provide additional assurance as to their integrity. This has occasionally caused undue hardship during the performance of repair/replacement activities, especially during application of National Board Inspection Code requirements through the Nuclear Repair ('NR') and Repair ('R') Program.

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

Staffiera/Wirtz: Yes; Repair/Replacement requirements for Class 3 piping (wall-thinning).

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?

Staffiera/Wirtz: Not at this time.

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?

Staffiera/Wirtz: No; this is an NDE Level III responsibility.

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?

Staffiera/Wirtz: No.

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?

Staffiera/Wirtz: Use of an integrated contractor for refueling-related activities has facilitated the completion of required inservice-inspection activities, especially those related to the reactor vessel and its components, as the contractor is also responsible for performance of this ISI. There is never enough in-house capability to complete ALL required examinations, however, so an inspection subcontractor has also been utilized on occasions of high demand for ISI activities.

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?

Staffiera/Wirtz: No.

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?

Staffiera/Wirtz: The IDDEAL Software Suite from IDDEAL Concepts, Inc., has proven to be adequate for our needs.

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