WANO urges early membership for SMR projects

16 November 2023

The World Association of Nuclear Operators says its New Unit Assistance missions have helped the safe start-up of 53 new nuclear units over the past eight years - and it wants new entrants such as those developing small modular reactors (SMRs) to become members in the years before launch to benefit from the industry's experience.

Naoki Chigusa, addressing World Nuclear Symposium in London, in September (Image: WNA)

WANO is a not-for-profit international organisation established in 1989 by the world's nuclear power operators to exchange safety knowledge and operating experience among organisations operating commercial nuclear power reactors. It currently has 429 nuclear units as members.

Naoki Chigusa, WANO CEO, said that experts had undertaken 159 New Unit Assistance missions to the 53 units since 2015 which have started-up in both existing and newcomer nuclear energy countries.

Chigusa said: "By receiving support from WANO, our members have demonstrated higher levels of operational readiness, ensuring safe and reliable start-up and strong operational performance. We encourage those organisations that are constructing and preparing to operate new units - whether they are using traditional reactor technologies or innovations such as small modular reactors - to join WANO early. This will ensure that they can benefit from our expertise and experience many years before commercial start-up and enable them to start up safely and reliably."

As well as New Unit Assistance missions, there are Operational Readiness reviews about 18 months before the first fuel load and Pre-Startup peer reviews a few months before fuel loading which provide "hands-on, face to face interactions which help new operators prepare for the crucial transition from plant construction into plant operations, and the initial years of commercial operation". There is also training "tailored to members' specific needs, and includes the sharing of industry best practices".

The organisation is well known for the on-going support operating nuclear power units provide and receive from each other, and it has created an earlier stage category of membership for an organisation during the tendering, licensing, construction and commissioning phase of a new nuclear power plant, with the intention that they will transfer to a full voting member at the time of pouring of first nuclear concrete on the nuclear island.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News