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The Nuclear Roadmap

In Support of Commercial Nuclear Power

A new roadmap marks the way for ASTM International to contribute to the standards efforts needed for the nuclear industry.

The “ASTM International Roadmap in Support of Commercial Nuclear Power” is now available. Its ultimate goal? To ensure a safe and economical source of electricity for now and the future.

The roadmap communicates a practical set of plans for updating nuclear energy standards in conjunction with the Nuclear Energy Standards Coordination Collaborative, to identify areas where ASTM International can best contribute to that ultimate goal through the development and maintenance of standards.

“There are two especially important features,” says Stephen Byrne, a consultant based in Connecticut and a longtime member of ASTM Committee E10 on Nuclear Technology and Applications. “One is to organize the ASTM effort so that we can use available resources effectively. The other is to use it as a communication tool within ASTM as well as with the NESCC members.”

The Context

NESCC came into being in 2008 to coordinate the standards development efforts needed for currently operating plants and the design and construction of new nuclear plants. The U.S. Department of Energy, which had identified the need to update standards citations in U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations, and the American National Standards Institute, spurred its organization.

NESCC plans to support the standards efforts by working with code and standards development groups such as the American Nuclear Society, ASTM International and others. The commercial nuclear power industry has been working through NESCC to resolve technical issues and identify gaps in existing technology. And the driving force for this work has been to pave the way for new plant construction and operating plant license renewal.

To gather details about the importance and status of standards in the nuclear industry, selected ASTM International committees were surveyed in November 2010 to gather information about standards used by the nuclear industry. In addition, an ASTM-sponsored workshop, “Emerging Trends in Nuclear Energy: The Standards Component,” was held in June 2011 with presenters from NRC, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and ASTM; its purposes were to contribute to the roadmap, facilitate communications, and discuss issues and priorities.

It’s Practical

The roadmap describes an approach for ASTM International to identify and then to carry out standards and standards-related work as well as to measure progress. Byrne says, “It is a completely practical set of plans, but it is not intended as a self-contained manual on what’s to be done.”

The roadmap identifies priorities for commercial nuclear energy that:

  • Encompass objectives of the NESCC Task Group on Standards Prioritization;
  • Build on the results of the ASTM survey and the June 2011 workshop; and
  • Manage any gaps in underlying technology and standards based on their significance for NESCC goals.

The roadmap includes ranked priorities for specific actions, including revisions of certain significant standards cited in the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations and regulatory guidance, which reference steel and other metals specifications, tests for properties of concrete and fuel, procedures and guides for nuclear technology and more.

ASTM Near-Term Goals

Near-term goals for ASTM International in contributing to NESCC efforts to update NRC rules and regulations for commercial nuclear power plants include the following:

  • Work with NRC to conduct workshops on emerging issues, including such topics as small-bore piping, pressure-temperature limit curves for nozzles, instrument calibration and embrittlement mechanisms.
  • Act on the list of ASTM standards referenced in NRC documents with technical committees to determine whether cited standards are appropriate and current.
  • Coordinate with ANS regarding standards related to nuclear fuel facilities, power plant dismantling and decommissioning.
  • Establish areas for collaboration with the Nuclear Fabrication Consortium.
  • Establish areas for collaboration with the Electric Power Research Institute that would make optimum use of EPRI and ASTM International expertise.
  • Identify potential nuclear utility partners for possible collaborative efforts and as a resource for evaluating the ASTM International roadmap.

Byrne says that successful roadmap implementation will require participation by ASTM staff and committee members as well as NESCC member organizations. As the work proceeds, the roadmap can be refined accordingly.

This article appears in the issue of Standardization News.