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Benefit of NDE Applications for the Energy Industry

The Bellefonte Nuclear Power Generating Station (BLN) dates back to January 1974, when the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was granted a construction permit to build two Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) Type 205, 1,256 MWe reactors at the Bellefonte site on the Tennessee River in Jackson County, Ala. This type of reactor is the same as the Mülheim-Kärlich reactor in Germany that operated for three years and proved the B&W design.


TVA began construction on two B&W units but work was halted in 1985 when TVA determined it had no immediate need for the power that could be generated from the twin reactors. Over time, TVA made several attempts to re-start construction: First, from 1989-1993, and then as recent as 2011, when AREVA came on-board as a prime contractor to revive and complete the effort.

Business Challenge

AREVA NP was tasked with performing engineering and related support work for the reactor’s nuclear steam supply system (NSSS) in anticipation of Bellefonte Unit One completion. The recovery effort was largely based on the AREVA Digital Control Center and the critical ASME work elements for re-generation of the ASME N-5 Code Data Reports and system documents. The ASME N-5 Code Data Reports are necessary for obtaining the Authorized Nuclear Inspector (ANI) approval, ASME certificate - L0 renewal and re-starting construction. That is where TUV Rheinland Industrial Solutions (TRIS) was able to help.

Solution and results

TRIS’s proposal included the scope, technical details, methods of performance and schedule and staffing levels needed to regenerate the ASME N-5 Code Data Reports for the 48 primary ASME systems. The company also proposed to complete estimating, identify the necessary repairs and replacements of components and achieve the ASME Code Certificate needed to re-start construction on Unit One. The TRIS proposal was informed by the nuclear power plant (NPP) industry experience of TRIS’s team leader John Cason, Project Manager, and his legacy knowledge of the 1989 re-start effort and similar US NPP projects over the past 30+ years, including his ASME Section III & XI assessment for the US-NRC after the accident at the Three Mile Island NPP. Using the TRIS assessment and project execution plan contained in the proposal, AREVA conducted an internal review of the N-5 regeneration process and ASME materials issues and awarded TRIS the managed task contract to begin work at Bellefonte.

TRIS worked with AREVA to organize a team dubbed “N5U,” with John Cason as the TRIS project manager of a team with nine handpicked personnel. They included five TRIS employees, two retired TVA individuals and two AREVA contractors. The N5U team underwent on-site training on all the data retrieval methods using TVA QA legacy document archives, database systems, and a vault retaining 30+ year old hard-copy records. The team began working on the Bellefonte site in November 2012, re-visiting all of the construction “open items.” Open items is a term for ASME Code and quality or regulatory variances that must be remedied prior to the acceptance of the final N-5 Code Data reports by the TVA Authorized Nuclear Inspectors.

Specifically, N5U provided the review and technical assessment - L0 of all open items and defined the technical/engineering closure process with man hour estimate for the disposition of each and every item and the item-related sub-condition. The root causes of the open items were paraphrased under several nuclear construction processes, including ASME material qualification and traceability, correct ASME class boundaries and classifications, component testing and validation, and construction QC, including visual and NDT inspections and tests. A critical element of the process was estimating the man power requirements in resolving the 6,000+ open items as part of the final estimate for construction cost.

TRIS completed the project on time and budget and delivered the final report in June of 2013. AREVA had budgeted for additional work for the balance of the year; however, TVA announced that work for all contractors on site would be temporarily suspended pending the completion of TVA Watts Bar Unit One, ending the immediate site work for AREVA, TRIS and over 300+ other site contractors from TVA prime suppliers. Fortunately, TRIS was able to provide a turnkey service to AREVA and demonstrate to TVA and its other contractors the full range of TRIS services, which go far beyond NDT and inspection. The services include regulator and licensing interface, equipment risk and qualification assessments, reviews of available advanced NDT methods, providing QA and QC process control methods and instructions, and defining the IT data integration options and pathways for interfacing with the AREVA/URS 3-D modeling software process for construction configuration management and work control.

“We were in a unique situation at Bellefonte because we could draw on the skills and expertise of TUV Rheinland professionals all over the world, when needed,” said John Cason. “TRIS is well-positioned now to put these skills and expertise to work to help other nuclear power customers perform code-compliant construction.”

When the TRIS team finished the N-5 task, they offered to extend their support to the closure process. AREVA granted the request to prepare the re-activation plan and lay-up of work activities, thus leaving the path for re-activation precisely marked by TRIS for AREVA and TVA.

About TÜV Rheinland

Founded 140 years ago, TÜV Rheinland is a global leader in independent inspection services, ensuring quality - L0 and safety for people, the environment, and technology in nearly all aspects of life.

We inspect technical equipment - L0 , products and services, oversee projects and help to shape processes for companies around the world. Since 2006 we have been a member of the United Nations Global Compact to promote sustainability and combat corruption.

We have been involved in the field of nuclear engineering - L0 since the beginning of the civilian use of nuclear power. We support atomic licensing and regulatory authorities, operators of nuclear plants, companies that build and install nuclear plants and equipment, and component manufacturers and service providers for the nuclear engineering market.

We offer you a comprehensive range of services, including quality management, process safety, radiation protection and condition monitoring of existing plants. We also offer you over 20 years of experience and knowledge, providing expert evaluation in shutting down and removing nuclear power plants of various designs, and other types of nuclear facilities.

Read more about our Solutions to Nuclear Engineering - L0