Kika Nuclear Cranes Seminar

KIKA Nuclear Cranes Seminar 2008 Växjö, Sweden – comments and interviews

KIKA’s first international seminar is now history and the participants have returned home from the Viking country of Sweden. But the story continues. During the two seminar days a lot of information was exchanged, which hopefully will contribute to increased safety for all lifting devices in nuclear power plants. Here are some comments from featured speakers and visitors to the KIKA seminar.

Björn Brickstad, PhD, Analyst, Special Strength of Materials, SSM, Swedish Radiation Safety Authority:

Björn Brickstad “The reason why I and my colleague, Mr. Peter Merck, decided to participate in the Nuclear Cranes Seminar was the need to update the Swedish rules and regulations concerning cranes and lifting devices in nuclear power plants. According to the SSM regulations regarding mechanical components, all parts should be designed to perform their intended function and to ensure that failure in a single component does not lead to failure of the system.” Björn Brickstad says that there are no special references or instructions on lifting devices in nuclear plants.
“We either have to adapt our own existing guidelines or we should design new regulations. The scope includes cranes in existing nuclear power plants as well as new cranes in fuel waste storages. SSM will make a survey of the existing international rules and we will analyse standards for manufacturing, classification and inspection of lifting devices. The single failure criterion is already introduced for pressure vessels.” The work will take a couple of years. SSM has initiated discussions with Inspecta, the Nordic CIT (Certification, Inspection and Testing) group, to assist with a survey of the existing regulations, both international and Swedish.
“We are aware that German KTA standards are used in both Swedish and Finnish nuclear power plants. It is not satisfactory that SSM lacks rules for manufacturing, design and regular inspection of lifting devices.” Björn says that similar technical problems often reoccur although the overall number of incidents is very low.
“A failure register would be very useful to prevent safety risks. For pressure vessels we have access to information about accidents and damages, but not for cranes. This would need cooperation between the NPP operators.” Björn and Peter regard the KIKA seminar and the new international contacts as a good starting point for the task to establish a new competence of lifting devices within SSM. “Together with the planned survey we will have a good foundation for the future work.”

Norbert Schilling, head of Project Engineering, NKM Noell Special Cranes GmbH, Germany

Norbert Schilling Norbert Schilling, born in 1962, graduated from the University of Braunschweig, Germany, with his main subject Crane Design. Later he worked as a researcher at the university before joining NKM Noell in 1994, now a part of the French Reel Group. Norbert has long experience of special cranes, e.g. for steel works and aluminium smelting plants and harbour cranes – for example in Gothenburg, Sweden. Norbert Schilling is a member of a committee that develops new standards for lifting equipment in nuclear power plants under the supervision of German KTA (Nuclear Safety Standards Commission).
Q: It seems that KTA is becoming more and more accepted outside Germany as a general standard for lifting devices in the nuclear industry. What is your explanation for this trend?
NS: KTA is not unique, in most other national regulations and standards we find the same aspects, but in Germany we are very fundamental in our definitions and requirements. The KTA standards are very close to DIN standards, which are commonly used in manufacturing cranes and similar lifting equipment. We look at harmonized European standards when revising the KTA standards. In 2006 a number of German standards were no longer valid and they are now replaced by corresponding EU standards.
Q: How will KTA keep up with the latest technical development in the nuclear crane sector?
NS: Many KTA standards were completed in 1999, which means that the whole digital control revolution and the introduction of frequency drives are missing in the texts. Our focus is now to reflect the development at least at a European level and to incorporate valid EU standards regarding calculation requirements. At present, in 2008, no complete calculation standard concerning mechanical parts for nuclear cranes is available.
Q: What will happen cross-border, are you going to make KTA an international standard in respect to the acceptance KTA has met, at least in the Nordic countries?
NS: The revision of KTA, hopefully to be completed in 2010, will however stick to German DIN standards, but we hope to bring into the revised standards the ideas of the most stringent procedures of calculation and risk analysis. Many national standards are based on DIN designs. We hope that in the next step other countries will follow us and we will establish a basis which will be understood by everybody.
Q: German NKM Noell seems to have an advantage as other countries apply KTA standards. How will you benefit the situation?
NS: It is true that KTA has been used in Sweden at Ringhals and the standards will be used in Olkiluoto in Finland for the new cranes from Eiffel, France. It is interesting that KTA turned out to be the solution in comparison with French EDF standards. Even in the new French EPR project Flamanville, to be completed in 2012, a new hoist is based on KTA. The reason, as I see it, is that KTA is based on a real standard, which covers all phases from design to inspection. Therefore KTA is at least equivalent to EDF for small hoists. NKM Noell has positive expectations for the future, for example when talking about retrofits in Switzerland. We are not too far away from our international colleagues and competitors – same requirements, same thinking, but different formulas. Maybe an international version of KTA would be the right way to go as the standard is easily adaptable.

Bradford P. Lytle P.E., NASA Kennedy Space Center and past Chairman of ASME Committee on Cranes for Nuclear Facilities:

Bradford Lytle One of the most honoured guests in Växjö was Bradford P. Lytle from the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. He has a profound experience of one of the most demanding operational environments for lifting equipment, the space centre, where every mistake or failure could cost a billion dollars.
“It is interesting to be back in Europe and for the first time ever in Scandinavia. I toured Europe in my youth and I have many good memories from the trip. I met Kjell Andersson, the secretary of KIKA, at an excellent lifting device seminar in Las Vegas three years ago. I try to meet as many people in this industry as possible – crane specialists in aerospace are a very small crowd and our technology actually originates in the nuclear industry. I have been a member of the ASME committee for nuclear cranes for many years, which has influenced my career path. The committee work has also given me insight in the industry and allows me to draw conclusions from the experience of my colleagues in the nuclear industry.” But, anyway, Kjell Andersson managed to tempt Bradford to come to Växjö and the KIKA seminar to tell more about how to make safe cranes even safer than they already are.
“I have been involved in investigating crane accidents and in my opinion the reason behind many incidents is that people don’t understand the basic elements of lifting. We are truly not talking about rocket science, but good engineering. Human mistakes may be avoided only by clever technical solutions and intelligent inspection – don’t mess things up!” Bradford meets with the ASME committee three times a year. He communicates with manufacturers, utilities and operators.
“I have a thorough interest in ultra-safe material handling. At NASA the stakes are huge in our daily operations and we have to make every effort that nothing ever goes wrong. Here in Växjö I hope that I have made people think about things outside the ordinary box, to have given them a different point of view. I have seen that all across the world we have similar engineering issues, some examples of different approaches, but we make almost identical corrections. I feel we are on the right track. In the USA we are in a very intense stage of preparing operation and maintenance documents, because not very many good ones are available at present. All inspections should be very rigorous and creative – failures can be prevented if you are able to imagine all possible risks.”

Steve Meng, Technical Programme Manager, WANO, World Association of Nuclear Operators, London:

Steve Meng

US-born Steve Meng started his career as Technical Programme Manager at WANO, the global organisation for the nuclear industry, in May 2008. He graduated from the US Merchant Marine Academy of New York and he is a specialist in both fossil-based power generation and the navy nuclear programme. In Växjö Steve presented a report (WANO Significant Operating Experience Report (SOER) 2008-1) on crane and lifting incidents that have happened in nuclear power plants and which have been investigated by the WANO specialists.
“I was invited to the KIKA seminar by Kjell Andersson, who had received a request from the attending representatives of the nuclear industry. The latest report from WANO is a result of the international co-operation between operators and WANO. This is my first visit to Sweden and I think it is a good initiative, which hopefully will continue and expand.” Steve also says that meeting crane specialists gives a good perspective. “It is nice to get different angles to crane safety and I think it was valuable for me to come here.” The analysis covers all events reported to WANO between 2004 and 2007. WANO specialists have in some cases visited the plant and spoken to persons involved. Although the details of the events are confidential, Steve explained that the main reason for WANO issuing a report is that there has been a worsening trend over the last six years.
“NPP operators have to be trained to identify risks. Many events show fundamental weaknesses in use of lifting, rigging and material handling practices.”
“We have found a number of reasons for the incidents – weak policies and procedures, insufficient training, weaknesses in inspection and maintenance, inappropriate work practices, ineffective management and poor supervision, and WANO has presented a number of recommendations to be implemented at nuclear power plants.