Ferdinand Bartels, Department Head and Project Manager, PreussenElektra
During the decommissioning of a nuclear power plant there are many different waste streams. These are related to several material types that need different treatment steps to get the materials into the clearance process.
The treatment steps for e.g. metal differs from that of concrete. In addition to that there is less and less space to setup facilities. So, the decision has been made to sort and pack up different materials and bring them out of the controlled area to process them at a later time.
"It is necessary to document the contents properly (including pictures) and to build up a proper inventory management to be able to fully plan the steps in waste treatment."
For this, it is necessary to document the contents properly (including pictures) and to build up a proper inventory management to be able to fully plan the following steps in waste treatment. We are using steel boxes and decided to fully seal them off to avoid accidental contamination. We used partly pre-cut foil sheets and duct tape. Every boxes content was photographed before it being sealed and then put into storage containers. Every box was put on a content list that was also placed on the inside of each container door.
For all this we needed to make sure that all people in the process are aware of the steps and procedures. We generated checklists and purchased cameras to make sure people did not have to walk around looking for a camera and find agreements on lending those. We also included the official transportation documentation into the process to make sure all containers would be ready to ship if plans changed and further treatment could take place at a different location offsite. This transportation documentation concluded the proper lashing of all contents in the container and filling out and signing all necessary documents needed for road transportation.
To make sure that all lashings are according to standards we hired a certified trainer and made sure all people involved knew what to do and being legally allowed to sign the packing slip.
All of those steps helped smoothen the process and to keep an updated picture of what has been packed, how it is packed and what materials are in the inventory for further treatment to also progress with those projects ending into final clearance.
All this led into a list containing all containers with IDs, links to the protocols, CSC-inspection deadlines, and location of the container on site. We introduced location names, the position of the container in that location both horizontally and vertically (e.g. row 2 from the left, 3rd position counting from behind and ground level). With random checks of the lists on the container doors we were able verify the quality of our processes and documentation in addition to annual inventory checks.
And this was only the beginning. The further we worked with that the more ideas came up in the team to optimize the process: We wanted to keep containers together that had identical CSC-inspection dates, or at least dates that are closer together to make those inspections easier to handle. As we build up the knowledge in the team people became aware and we could delegate more and more activities on the operational level giving those “at the helm” more decisive power freeing up management capacity and increasing involvement of the people.
This was not an easy development and we had to sometimes step back, redo things and discuss the solution at hand and the next steps, but it all was for a greater and better working condition for everyone involved and it led to higher job satisfaction on every level.
My suggestion is to look at the process, include the people and understand what it is that needs to be done. You will then see what the right thing is to do and change for the better.