A pilot radiation early warning system, intended to provide priority protection to the population in Ukraine and Belarus territories around three nuclear power plants, has been implemented in the frame of the Tacis project named GAMMA-1. The system had been operating for some time so it was possible to identify the new equipment and related services required in order to ensure the continuous efficient operability of the system (GAMMA-2).
Results of and comments about the Provisional Acceptance Tests for Gamma 1 project in Belarus and Ukraine in August / September 1996 and the first months of experimental operation of Gamma 1 system in both countries showed difficulties concerning following aspects:
- Need for deeper computer knowledge at different levels of involved staff of the Beneficiaries;
- Low efficiency and performance of some gamma sensors from other vendors as well as difficulties with stocking and distribution of contracted spare parts (different locations);
- Necessity to help the Beneficiaries to deal with cost problems for communication lines from regional to central response centers;
After preliminary discussions with PMU, EC and Beneficiaries in December 1996 HORMANN was asked to prepare a proposal for rectification of a.m. problems.
During Steering Committee Meeting for Gamma 1 project in June 1997 in Kiev the need for Training Centers to train new staff members outside of their day-to-day business of running emergency systems was additionally taken into account. The revised version of HORMANN’s proposal was issued in October 97.
The Commission placed two contracts to provide assistance with the implementation of the Gamma 2 project:
- Contract 24981, with the objective of providing assistance with the technical preparation of the operative plan of the Gamma 2 project
- Contract 24982, for a Procurement Agent to act on behalf of the Commission to organise the purchase of the required equipment and services based on the operative plan
The Procurement Agent selected for the present project was Atos Origin. The contract was signed in September 1997 and ended in March 1999. The contractor selected to supply the required equipment and services was Hormann Systemtechnik. The contract for the Gamma 2 equipment and services supply project was signed in January 1998.
1) Preparation, realization and opening of Verification, Troubleshooting and Training Centers (hereinafter: Training Center, TC).
1.1 Decision making process for Training Centers:
As a result of intensive discussions it was agreed by all involved parties that each of the Beneficiaries (Belarus, Ukraine) needs a Training Center. This decision was not taken for the reason that Belarus and Ukraine are different countries, but was based on the fact that there are differences in administration, legal basis and also in different priorities for implementation of emergency centers as well as clearly different ways for extension and integration of new and different monitoring systems in the future.
1.2 Definition of locations for Training Centers:
The locations for each of the planned Training Centers were chosen and proposed by the involved Gamma 1 project support organizations of the Beneficiaries:
- State Committee for Hydrometeorology (Glavhydromet, GHM) for Belarus and the
- Ministry of Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety (MEPSN), reorganized and renamed in spring 2000 to: Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources of Ukraine (MENRU) for Ukraine.
Training Center for Belarus (TC-B) was proposed to be realized in the building of GHM, next-door to the National Monitoring Centers (NMC), which is a part of the Gamma 1 project, and to be organized and managed by the National Radiation Monitoring Center of Belarus.
In Ukraine the decision was made to organize such a Training Center of Ukraine (TC-U) as part of the Ukraine Scientific Research Institute of Ecological Problems in Kharkiv.
1.3 Organization of a Preliminary Training Center (PTC) A PTC was set up in 1997/98 in the Gamma office in Minsk:
It was a necessary step in advance of realization of Gamma 2 training centers in order to teach the trainers in all aspects of troubleshooting tasks, as well as to prepare installation discs, training documentation for the courses. Measurement probes, data loggers, antennas were taken from existing spare parts stock, computers from HORMANN's local project office for temporary use as computer center equipment for some months.
1.4 Reconstruction of facilities for TC-U and TC-B:
It needs to be underlined, that reconstruction of TC facilities as well as delivery of furniture for the Training Centers was an initiative of HORMANN's project management team, but not a requirement of the project. It was agreed with project leaders of the Beneficiaries. The success is visible and was very important from a psychological point of view. All activities of facilities reconstruction for TC's in both countries were finalized by mid 1998. Local teams did the reconstruction work.
Completely equipped new Training Centers in Kharkiv could be demonstrated to the project supervisor of SEMA Group during his visit in January 1999. Belarus Training Center at Glavhydromet in Minsk was also visited and approved at the end of January 1999 by the participants of Steering Committee Meeting.
1.5 Delivery and installation of technical equipment:
On 14th of May 1998 all items of equipment from EU countries were delivered by airfreight to Minsk and Kharkiv. Delivery of locally acquired equipment was scheduled corresponding to finalization of facility reconstruction.
1.6 Installation of software:
Belarus subcontractor company NEF Ltd. performed all software installations. A test installation of GAMMA1-system software was organized earlier in the so called Preliminary Training Center in Minsk. Microsoft's WINDOWS NT 4.0 was used as operational system software.
1.7 Special encountered and solved problems
Problem Nr.1: Instabilities in software performance and human error often arose due to very large number of setting steps during software installation process. Another problem was caused by new settings that were scripted not exactly enough.
Solution: To avoid aforementioned problems during installation procedures, installation CDs were prepared based on the most stable working version of computer center application software, including some improved user interface modules.
Problem Nr.2: So-called “low dose compare effect" troubled many operators of Gamma 1 system for a long time. This problem was due to the extreme sensibility in measurement equipment.
Solution: Improvements of data logger and probe software were realized and implemented in the measurement equipment of each Training Center. So this effect was excluded. This ensures that operators could concentrate their attention on really important effects of measurements values and technical and communication problems during training courses as well as for trouble shooting exercises. Based on these results, updated software (stored in EEPROMs) was implemented.
2) Training courses.
2.1 Evaluation of Center staff:
In autumn 96 experimental start of Gamma 1 system operation took place. In October '96 in both countries an unannounced evaluation was performed for the staff of all Response and Monitoring Centers.
The evaluation and testing includes computer grammar and operational knowledge. Local subcontractor in Belarus, NEF Ltd., Minsk developed test programs. The specialists from this company organized the testing and the evaluation of test results.
The results show very large differences in all tested aspects and demonstrated in many cases an essential lack of computer knowledge and experience.
This aspect was an additional reason to intensify the activities for preparation of a proposal concerning training centers.
2.2 Preparation of training courses:
Based on a long-term experience of staff training and being awarded by Microsoft with Certificated Training Center label, NEF Ltd. was selected as company to provide all necessary training courses in Belarus and also at least training of administrators in Ukraine.
Provisional Training Center was used to prepare training course information material as well as to refine training methods for failure detection approaches and troubleshooting experiments.
2.3 Development of training programs:
Training programs were developed by NEF Ltd. and agreed both with the Beneficiaries as well with HORMANN's project management. Training courses were prepared for two different levels:
- Training for operators of all center types (local, regional, national response and monitoring centers, as well as for remote and dial - up users).
- Training for administrators of regional and national response and monitoring centers.
2.4 Staff training Belarus:
The first training courses were held for the staff of Glavhydromet, Minsk, Belarus in autumn 1998. Summarizing the activities in Belarus for courses which were provided in Minsk, 16 operators and 8 +2 administrators were trained.
Training in Ukraine:
Training courses on administration level started in January 1999 in Ukraine. To provide a training service with most effective feed-back, also taking into account special questions by different participants as well as different levels of knowledge, training groups were selected very carefully. Two training courses for four administrators each were provided. Also staff members of future software support group from National Information Center as department of Ukraine Ministry of Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety (MEPNS) took part in these courses.
Ukrainian Ministry was recently reorganized and renamed as "Ministry of the Environmental and Natural Resources of Ukraine"- MENRU.
At the end of training courses, participants were completely prepared to take over the responsibility for software support activities at all regional and national response and monitoring centers. Fully trained administrators of the Ukraine regional response centers were contracted to train local operators on the job. It was done mainly during the whole year 1999.
2.5 Encountered and solved problems:
Problem Nr.3: It was an existing problem in many CIS countries to engage and to employ for a long period personnel with good computer knowledge in government related authorities because of low wages paid in this sector. Department manager of related Gamma 1 authorities tried to solve this problem and found some improvements. Nevertheless in many cases employees with best computer literacy often quit their jobs. So, it was a permanent need to train more operators.
Solution: A permanent training center is the only really long-term solution. In such situation it was a very staff-stabilizing factor that by the help of EU a very sophisticated training in TC's in both countries could be provided.
Problem Nr.4: Lack of well-trained and often changing staff in the computer centers causes a lot of trivial requests for software support.
Solution: The contracted software company from Belarus helped and supported very extensively. In many cases the arising problems and questions were quite simple and could have been solved by the operators themselves if they had had more software and computer knowledge. After completion of training courses the frequency for usage of help service decreased significantly.
2.6 Learned lessons:
- It was a useful decision to organize a Provisional Training Center to prepare training courses as well as train teachers for their action in front of people. So, a lot of practical steps to overcome step by step all difficult aspects of computer software as part of a sophisticated early warning system were separately checked.
- Training for complex systems has to include theoretical and practical aspects.
- Practical training must be realized independently from the operative running of systems.
- Before starting training it is necessary to check existing knowledge and qualification of staff to be trained. If in some cases the knowledge gap is too high, center management must exclude such persons from further engagement for such purposes.
- Training courses must be well prepared both in view of written information material as well as training methods.
- Training ought to be performed by resident teachers. Courses must be given in native language.
- To avoid over flooding of support teams with less important requests, it is necessary to provide in time necessary user manuals and also train staff of computer centers before they reach the necessary level independence.µ
- Without cyclic training for operators software support will certainly be overloaded with trivial requests preventing necessary analysis for real critical problems.
- Good performance and use of monitoring systems can be expected if the executing organization (Beneficiary) is responsible for different monitoring systems (e.g. radiological, meteorological, hydrometric and so on). This gives the awareness that you are dealing with a stable organization that is able to organize daily support and correct exploitation of monitoring systems.
In the opposite situation it is very difficult to hand over any responsibility.
3) Unification of gamma measurement equipment.
3.1 Technical, maintenance and support aspects (encountered and solved problems):
In the tender for Gamma project it was foreseen to install Gamma dose rate measurement equipment from different producers to be able to verify and also to compare measurement readings. But it came out soon after starting experimental operation of Gamma 1 pilot system, that probes produced by company Berthold showed very often defects.
Further to these negative measurement aspects, usage of different types of probes brought about additional volume of spare parts, storage capacity and transportation including necessary additional efforts to handle customs hurdles.
So it was decided to simplify the spectrum of measurement equipment in the framework of Gamma 2 project and to reduce it to such type of gamma dose rate probes, which demonstrated the best performance. It was the HORMANN Intelligent Gamma Probe IGS42113.
3.2 Learned lessons:
Equipment of early warning systems must be very reliable and for many practical reasons technically homogeneous.
4) Extension of spare part stock.
4.1 Aspects for improvements:
According to contract requirements one technical support center was foreseen for each country. Under these conditions the amount of spare parts was defined. In practice it became clear soon, that only a spare part distribution "as near as possible to the next subsystem location" could have success.
4.2 Learned lessons:
Maintenance and technical support must be developed and realized taking into account local specific conditions.
5) Upgrade of Mobile Monitoring Vehicles.
5.1 Aspects for improvements:
- Radio receiver for each mobile monitoring vehicle - to receive local broadcast information;
- Snow tyres -> to ease driving in winter and to improve road safety;
- Some minor repairs -> to relieve available tiny budgets of State Authorities.
6) Improvement of data communication between regional and national response centers.
6.1 Data communication in Belarus:
Tender, contract and DDD of Gamma 1 project defined different types of communication between regional and central computer centers in Belarus. In the framework of Gamma 1 implementation HORMANN project team together with local support tried to install long-distance radio communication between local response center in Braslav and regional center in Vitebsk. It was not successful.
At the end of the implementation phase a decision was made to switch over to 4 wires leased line to communicate. This was not foreseen in the operation budget of GHM. So financial support for some time was defined inside Gamma 2 project. Glavhydromet was usually choosing such type of leased line communication for transmission of meteorological data. Therefore communication technicians from GHM accumulated huge experiences in this field. As a result a very high stability of communication links was obtained with 99% availability. No other problems with data communication in Belarus were encountered.
6.2 Encountered and solved problems in Ukraine:
It was defined in the Detailed Design Document (DDD) for Ukraine subsystem of Gamma 1 "Early warning and radiation monitoring system" to use 4 wire leased lines for data exchange between the Regional Response Centers in Zaporishya and Rivne and the National Response and Monitoring Center in Kiev.
Ukraine Beneficiary MENRU did a lot of efforts to provide stable communication lines. It ought to be mentioned e.g. that MEPNS/MENRU in 1995/96 was a fairly new organized authority (in Kiev and at the countryside). Influence from MEPNS/MENRU into other, formerly already existing organisations in many cases was not high enough to get best available support.
Beside that, Gamma 1 project felt at that time the results of first steps into deregulation of telecommunication market in NIS countries. So, there were a lot of troubles with the day-by-day quality of communication service of telecom companies in Ukraine during experimental phase in 1996/97.
After integration of Nuclear Safety Authority into MEPNS and simultaneously realized Information and Communication Center links to communication providers communication service reached a higher level.
As part of Gamma 2 project a measurement campaign was organized in Ukraine with communication specialists from Glavhydromet, Belarus, and exchange of field experiences between the two NIS Beneficiaries. It was a successful step to better performance of communication lines in Ukraine.
6.3 Learned lessons and future aspects:
Local as well as wide area communication problems in East Europe are huge. To overcome them it takes time, and sometime money and experience how to solve it. With ongoing deregulation in the telecommunication market the instabilities, price monopoly and poor service will be reduced step by step. It can be expected that in the future, once GMS (later UMTS) is introduced, communication related infrastructure problems will be minimised.
- It was a very good decision to organize Training Centers in both countries.
- It was also very useful that HORMANN Company organized a Provisional Training Center to prepare material and teachers for the training courses.
- Reconstruction of TC facilities as well as delivery of furniture for the Training Centers was an initiative of HORMANN's project management team.
- The success was visible and was very important from a psychological point of view.
- It was found in the Beneficiary organizations more than 70% of staff, which was willing to learn.
- Local resident teachers gave theoretical and practical training for sophisticated systems in native spoken language.
- In early warning systems, equipment must be chosen from the viewpoint of reliability. As a result the monitoring system was realized technically homogeneous.
- With little financial support were reached a lot of results because it was known precisely the real and most important demands of support and help.