Nuclear power plant operating organization

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An organization operating nuclear power plants


NPP requirements include: nuclear safety, environmental controls, equipment reliability and qualification, nuclear quality assurance, nuclear security, waste management and safeguards, radiation protection and monitoring, operating experience feedback and corrective action programmes, work management and control, outage planning and management, and design basis configuration management. All of these are knowledge intensive processes that involve knowledge management considerations. Knowledge management in the NPP context presents many challenges and issues, and these are the result of many factors, such as:

  • A complex technology base and infrastructure;
  • Lengthy technology and plant life-cycles;
  • Highly capital-intensive plant assets;
  • A reliance on multi-disciplinary technologies and expertise;
  • Competing operational objectives (i.e. safety, economics, and production);
  • Potentially high hazards that must be systematically managed to demonstrably low tolerable risks; and
  • An organization that is a complex socio-technical system.

There is an on-going need in NPPs for coordination and alignment of often inter-dependent knowledge processes. There is also a frequent need for risk-informed technical decision making, both from a design basis management perspective and from an operations and maintenance perspective. Nuclear plant organizations are heavily knowledge-dependent and their operational needs demand a high level of expertise and knowledge-based infrastructure. Knowledge is embedded in humans, the underlying plant technology, and work processes and methodologies. The terms ‘knowledge-worker' and ‘knowledge organization’ are all the more relevant to the multi-disciplinary environment of NPP organizations. For these reasons, NPP managers are interested in understanding and influencing the factors that affect not only the building and retention of the corporate knowledge base, but its effective utilization. The KM issues and priorities will vary in each NPP organization and this will depend on both internal organizational factors, and factors such as the national industry and infrastructure issues.

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