Replica simulators completed at Southern plants

13 August 2019

GSE Systems Inc has completed delivery and commissioning of three additional full-scope simulators at Southern Nuclear's Vogtle, Hatch and Farley nuclear power plants. Southern has described the project as the largest single nuclear simulator project in the USA in the past 30 years.

The new simulator at the Hatch plant (Image: Southern)

Southern Nuclear decided to install second simulators, with new training buildings, at its three nuclear power plants. This was to improve the quality of life for workers through less shift work; to avoid maintenance related scheduling issues; and to have all three plant sites on a common technology platform. In addition, the simulators would have more modern equipment and prepare for future training needs, such as severe accident training.

After receiving proposals for the new simulators from four North American vendors in August 2015, Baltimore, Maryland-based GSE Systems was selected in October of that year with a contract awarded the following March. Three separate purchase orders were issued with a three month delay between the start of each simulator.

At each plant, the new Operations Training Centres feature additional control room simulators that are visually and operationally identical to the plants' original simulators. In addition, the centres include classrooms, office space and conference rooms.

The simulator for the Hatch plant in Georgia was delivered in May 2018, and its new Operations Training Centre was opened last August. The second simulator for the Farley plant in Alabama was delivered a month later, with its training centre opening in March this year. The Vogtle plant in Georgia received its replica simulator in January 2019 and the new training centre opened there in May.

The new simulators "reflect Southern's commitment to modernise, optimise and expand their fleet's operator training programme", GSE said. The additional simulators will add flexible scheduling and increased capacity. They will also offer more availability to each plant's engineering and maintenance staff, who use the simulators for virtually commissioning plant changes, validating plant procedures, management certification, and other training activities.

GSE President and CEO Kyle Loudermilk said: "It was an exciting project that called upon our capabilities in hardware and software engineering and design, along with manufacturing logistics and complex project management. We could not have succeeded without a close working relationship with the Southern Nuclear team, for which we are very grateful."

"This investment in our replica simulators was made to support our strategic objective of developing our people by ensuring we attract, develop, and retain our operations and training staff, who are integral to meeting our vision of achieving and sustaining excellence," Southern Nuclear President and CEO Steve Kuczynski told Nuclear News magazine. "Additionally, these replica simulators allow is the opportunity to accelerate our initiative to teach nuclear fundamentals to a broader portion of our workforce. This investment demonstrates our long-term commitment to nuclear energy's role in promoting clean, safe, reliable, and affordable energy."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News