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Kevin Whitney Interview

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Guest Name: Kevin Whitney

Company: North Atlantic Energy Service Corp.

Plant Name: Seabrook Station

Position or Title: ISI Engineer

ASME Section XI/OM Code of Record: 1995 Edition through 1996 Addenda

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

E-Mail Address: whitnka@naesco.com

Phone Number: (603) 773-7043


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.?

Whitney: Materials Engineering consists of the following personnel and general responsibilities.

  • 1 Supervisor – Steam Generator program
  • 1 Engineer – Overall ISI program coordination
  • 1 Engineer – Supports/Snubbers, ASME Section XI Repair/Replacement, and Welding program
  • 1 Engineer – ISI Pressure Test program, all other station pressure test activities, and boric acid leakage reduction.
  • 1 NDE Level III – NDE Certification program/instruction and Welding qualification/instruction.
  • 1 NDE Level III – NDE methods, ASME Appendix VIII, and NDE procedures.
  • 1 PHD Chemist – Overall station chemistry activities

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?

Whitney: ISI examinations are performed solely by outside vendors. In-house NDE personnel perform visual and surface examinations associated with repair/replacement activities. They report to the Nuclear Oversight organization.

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

Whitney: The Engineering organization of our company formed a Materials Engineering group which is responsible for the programs of Steam Generators, Welding, ISI, ASME Section XI, and NDE Certification. The associated NDE Level III’s and program owners report through this chain. So far it has been beneficial in providing program focus and accountability.

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?

Whitney: The examination of cast stainless steel has proved to be difficult at best and costly in terms of personnel, equipment, and radiation exposure. In the past 20 years, little has changed in the ability to reliably examine this material. ASME has also not been successful in getting Code Cases approved that address this situation. The one initiative that has been indirectly successful is the application of Risk-Informed technology. In many instances, segments associated with cast stainless steel are less risk significant, and thereby reduce the examination population.

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

Whitney: The following Code Cases have been adopted or approved for use: N-307-1, N-416-1, N-460, N-533, and N-537. We have requested approval to use Code Cases N-566-1, N-616, and N-623.

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?

Whitney: We have submitted to the NRC a RI-ISI program for Class 1 piping utilizing the EPRI methodology as outlined in Code Case N-578. No unexpected problems were encountered in development of the program. We have received and responded to an RAI from the NRC. At this time, we have not received feedback on our RAI response and hence have not received program approval.

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?

Whitney: Our group has benefited from and participated in many of the listed forms of training. I plan to attend the EPRI NDE Issues Meeting in 2002.

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

Whitney: Back a couple of outages during the 1st interval, we had a unique situation whereby the conditions encountered during pre-service differed from ISI. The ferritic weld in question had become limited in accessibility due to structure added after the pre-service examination. We employed a low height magnetic crawler delivering Time of Flight Diffraction (TOFD). This technology and technique proved highly successful in this limited access application.

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?

Whitney: We implemented ASME Appendix VIII last outage on ferritic piping welds without significant problems. The only relief we requested was on single-sided access of austenitic piping welds. After discussion with the NRC, we rescinded this relief request. This issue needs to be addressed as 10CRF50 requires examinations to be performed using qualified Appendix VIII techniques, yet there isn’t a qualified Appendix VIII technique for welds in which only a single side is accessible. We have stated to the NRC that we will request relief from full coverage on these welds at the end of the interval.

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

Whitney: In addition to needing to know current Codes and 10CFR50 requirements for all ASME Section XI scopes, trying to keep abreast of Code initiatives, NRC initiatives, and what other utilities are doing in these areas and the issues they have.

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

Whitney: A successful outage in which all the ISI scope was successfully completed. Validation of a well organized and established ISI Program.

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?

Whitney: Being a plant built to ASME Section III, the code boundaries and classifications are clearly established.

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?

Whitney: Our Section XI programs (ISI, IST, Appendix VIII, Containment, and Repair/Replacement) implement the rules established in the 1995 Edition through 1996 Addenda of ASME Section XI. We do not plan to implement a later edition or addenda.

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?

Whitney: We have not regularly shared calibration blocks with other plants. In the past, we have borrowed a set of safe-end blocks and we have loaned our RPV stud. Three plants here in the Northeast got together a few years back and pooled funds to fabricate ASME Section VIII practice blocks which we use to prep for PDI exams.

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?

Whitney: We manage the workload in a number of ways. In addition to initiatives which reduce the ISI burden (i.e. Risk-Informed, etc.), we schedule as many examinations on-line prior to the outage as possible, will be adding an additional shift, and eliminating days off to maintain continuity starting this outage.

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?

Whitney: ISI program accountability has been maintained throughout plant service. We were fortunate enough to be able to implement specialized ISI software at the beginning of the 1st Interval. We utilized this software package throughout the Interval and continue today. The end of 1st Interval reconciliation validated the effectiveness of the database and record keeping.

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?

Whitney: We purchased a specialized ISI software package from Softech Solutions. This software more than meets our needs and has been updated to conform to standard company/industry platforms.

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