Having qualified and skilled personnel is one of the prerequisites of safe and reliable operation of a nuclear power plant. Systematic development and implementation of appropriate training programmes is essential for ensuring a sufficient number of qualified plant staff.
This personnel issue was the more crucial for Armenian NPP (ANPP), because the level of automation of plant operations was quite low, relying mainly on highly educated, qualified and experienced staff. Due to the long term shutdown of the ANPP and break-up of the USSR, the availability of qualified plant staff at the ANPP was adversely affected. The staff recently hired, however educated and trained, lacked practical experience. The ANPP had to rely even on staff seconded from other stations.
This TACIS project was therefore established to assist the management of ANPP in developing and carrying out systematic training programmes for all plant personnel involved in safety related activities, like operations, maintenance, radiation protection, etc.
The intended project activities had included:
- Definition of training organization and programmes
- Development/acquisition of training materials
- Adaptation of acquired training material to actual plant needs
- Training of instructors
- Simulator training of plant operations personnel
- Supply of training aids and training centre office equipment
The project was implemented through the “96-5076” direct agreement contract on training of ANPP shift operations personnel concluded with “Consulting- und Ausbildungszentrum Greifswald GmbH (CAG)” for the 7-month period from June 1996 to January 1997. The training was carried out at the Greifswald NPP Training Centre in Germany in five sessions from 16 June 1996 to 20 December 1996. Each session took three weeks, involving 6 ANPP staff members at a time.
The first training session was specifically dedicated to prospective training instructors. In addition, senior managers of Armenian Ministry of Energy, state regulatory body and Armenian NPP were involved to inspect the CAG centre, coordinate the further training and check possibility of future cooperation between CAG and ANPP (including training of ANPP technical personnel in 1997). In the next training sessions, ANPP shift supervisors and main control room (MCR) operators were trained on the CAG VVER-440/V213 full-scope simulator. To discuss specific training requirements, two CAG instructors visited the ANPP site.
The training included simulator lessons, classroom sessions and visits at German NPPs.
The simulator training was focused on MCR staff activities in normal plant conditions and abnormal situations (component failures, leaks in primary and secondary systems, etc.), on use of operating procedures, teamwork at the MCR and on evaluation of actual plant conditions. The trainees were also familiarized with the differences between the VVER-440 V230 (ANPP) and V213 reactors.
The classroom sessions were focused on reactor safety issues, German regulatory requirements concerning nuclear technologies and NPP fire protection.
The plant visits took place at two NPPs and involved 27 ANPP staff members. The trainees visited Brokdorf NPP (BWR, 1370 MWe), a modern NPP representing an up-to date German approach to nuclear safety, and Greifswald NPP, technically corresponding to the ANPP, which had been shut down.
In the project, 21 MCR staff members were trained in four training courses. Moreover, 3 instructors and 7 senior managers participated in one training course.
During the training, specific deficiencies in the ANPP organization and management were identified impairing conditions for shift operations personnel training and work. Deficiencies were also seen in the ANPP operating procedure system, including content, use and working language of the procedures. Moreover, lack of team work in the MCR was identified, as well as low “social” position of the MCR staff at ANPP and lack of information on operating experience from other VVER-440 plants. During the training itself, communication problems occurred due to the language barrier limiting the possibility to assess the trainees. Difficulties had been also encountered in selection of the trainees, as the operators “on-duty” could not attend the training for operational reasons, which reduced effectiveness of the training. Nevertheless, all the crews participating in the training sessions demonstrated strong motivation, high commitment and willingness to learn form experience.
To improve the training effectiveness, the CAG has proposed to:
- Send instructors from CAG regularly to the ANPP to gather information necessary for development of appropriate training programmes for ANPP;
- Provide a higher level training to ANPP training instructors for them to be able to assist the ANPP MCR crews in CAG simulator training and facilitate the assessment of the trainees.
Continuation of similar programmes has been highly recommended.