At Holtec, we take innovation seriously. Whether that innovation comes from the application of new technologies or developing new tools for streamlining business, we stand committed to providing customers with safe, reliable and cost-efficient advances. In keeping with that ethos, we have developed Holtec’s Fleet Management Model (HFMM), an innovative tool for managing decommissioning sites that reduces, and in some cases eliminates, major cost drivers associated with decommissioning. The benefit of which is passed on to customers and communities in the form of the reduced cost, shorter decommissioning timelines and standardization that enables a more reliable decommissioning lifecycle.
Managing a Decommissioning Fleet
Holtec Decommissioning International (HDI) is a special purpose subsidiary formed to be the licensed operator and decommission nuclear power plant sites acquired by Holtec. Specifically, upon NRC approval, HDI will become the licensed operator for decommissioning nuclear power plant sites following license transfer and sale of the sites to Holtec.
Once HDI becomes the licensee, the corporate organization sets the broad criteria and governance requirements that the site must follow. HDI’s corporate infrastructure has been configured to conduct licensed activities for a multi-plant fleet with built-in facility to drive operational, safety and quality advantages across the HDI fleet.
Applied Innovation – Holtec’s Fleet Management Model
Holtec’s Fleet Management Model (HFMM) is an operational governance tool that brings proven processes, procedures and management principles together with software applications developed in-house by Holtec. This model is similar to how many Utility companies operate multiple plants within their fleet to keep the cost of producing energy low for consumers. Holtec plans to use HFMM and other intellectual property in a similar manner to drive improvement and efficiency that ensure each site is completely decommissioned within the funding availability of a site’s Nuclear Decommissioning Trust (NDT).
HFMM optimizes efficiency by standardizing processes and procedures for multiple sites that share common decommissioning challenges. Standardization means that safety, project management, licensing submittals, staffing models, scheduling and cost estimation methods remain consistent for each site. HDI’s corporate organization achieves this by setting performance goals for fleet activities. This across-the-board commonality of processes and procedures lies at the heart of HDI’s management approach. Commonality also extends to non-safety significant areas such as government affairs, public outreach and communication.
The benefit to customers and host communities is that governance and safety is maintained, while redundant operational cost typically found when sites are treated as different standalone projects is eliminated.
HFMM Benefits Safety and Quality
Workplace safety and quality comes first in all aspects of our businesses. Holtec currently implements robust safety and quality programs at its manufacturing facilities and project locations.
Under decommissioning operations, the same rigor applied to Holtec’s quality and safety program is enhanced to accommodate site specific nuances necessary to meet license requirements. To ensure that one program can encompass multiple sites, Holtec has applied a systematic approach to integrating site specific procedures. This approach places proper revision control and reviews cycles upfront in transition planning. This ensures that all safety and license requirements met are before the site license is transferred. No matter which site you visit, similar governance applies. The result of this effort is a streamlined process that allows Holtec to integrate sites purchased from different utility owners, without disruption to the workforce or a compromise in quality and safety on site.
An added benefit of this process is Holtec’s real-time cloud-based communication network, geographically separated team members can share real-time project developments, lessons learned and process improvements across multiple sites as they are discovered.
Integrated Fleetwide Procurement
The HFMM enables a fleetwide procurement strategy that is new to the decommissioning market. During decommissioning, there are work scopes and services that can be contracted through professional companies. Holtec, along with input from its jointly owned company Comprehensive Decommissioning International, took a critical look at past large projects and manufacturing lessons learned to further dissect discrete work scopes that could be contracted through industry experts. This exercise uncovered a two major benefits:
- A greater assurance that readily available experts could fill project needs quickly, thus deepening the pool of resource required to meet commitments.
- The ability to leverage an economy of scale that incentivizes competitive pricing for services, and bulk pricing for commodities.
With a fleet undergoing decommissioning, the ability to offer multi-site arrangements offers vendors long-term opportunity, and in many cases, allows them to spread upfront tooling costs across a longer recovery period. Both benefits create win-win opportunities for vendors and HDI, while at the same time enabling a subrogation of risk across contractual platforms.
Comprehensive Decommissioning International (CDI)
Comprehensive Decommissioning International (CDI) is the decommissioning general contractor for HDI’s plants. CDI is jointly owned by Holtec International and SNC-Lavalin of Canada. CDI is operationally managed by a board of directors, with its US headquarters co-located with HDI in Camden, NJ. In all operational matters CDI reports to HDI which is the designated license-holder and regulatory interface with the NRC for the entire fleet of shutdown reactors. HDI relies upon CDI to manage and perform the day-to-day site activities, including decommissioning and spent fuel management activities, in compliance with the licenses and the NRC regulations.
To ensure clear management control and effective lines of authority exist, HDI, CDI and site infrastructure are integrated through Holtec’s real-time cloud-based communications network. This network provides a seamless digital interface between the corporate organizations and the decommissioning sites. The network also provides timely monitoring of project status across the fleet. This cloud-based network is already helping transition planning between our Pilgrim and Oyster Creek teams by allowing them to share lessons-learned and performance improvement opportunities as they develop.
HDI and CDI believe the employees at each site bring strength to the decommissioning organization. With the right mentoring, training and opportunity for future growth, we believe that adopting site personnel is an advantage for not only the project, but it lessens the initial economic impact in the region. HDI and CDI strive to retain the incumbent personnel at each nuclear plant at the time of license transfer. These incumbent plant experts have been responsible for maintaining the plant in a safe and compliant condition. They bring vast amounts of site history, knowledge and experience to the HDI and CDI team. These incumbent nuclear professionals are experienced in owning, maintaining and executing the existing policies, programs and procedures. The qualified and experienced incumbent resources also help to satisfy staffing level requirements needed to maintain the site license during decommissioning. HDI and CDI augment the site organization with small pool of decommissioning and dismantlement experts who mentor, train and manage day to day activities.
Innovation Beyond Fleet Management
HDI’s industry leadership has been propelled and sustained by continuous technical innovation. Our model leverages the latest technology, digital tools, and tailored processes as summarized below:
- Holtec has accelerated the dry storage of spent nuclear fuel using Holtec’s licensed super-high conductivity MPCs with a high heat load fuel basket in conjunction with the HI-STORM FW storage cask.
- Investing in state-of-the-art technologies such as special purpose robots and drones to access and dismantle structures in high radiation fields. This technology will supplement humans with the goal to minimize crew dose and maximize personnel safety.
- Advancing safety through the application of Immersive Visualization Technology (IVT). IVT is a form of virtual reality used to improve safety within risky environments by enabling work process simulation and training before field activities begin.
- Deconstruction planning for buildings is guided by their structural attributes simulated on a suitable computer code. Structural simulation models are used to identify and remove non-load bearing structures in the early phase of work. This effort allows the decommissioning team to de-clutter the building to facilitate the movement of personnel and material.
- Ongoing development and licensing of casks to transport Class B, C and Greater Than Class C (GTCC) waste will give the company flexibility to ship a plant’s waste without dependency on third-party vendors. The suite of casks being developed to ship non-fissile waste by road, rail or sea, will help minimize radiation dose accrued from transport of the plant’s waste.