Study of NDE Workforce Availability
Jack C. Spanner
EPRI Charlotte, North Carolina
Douglas H. Harris
Anacapa Sciences, Inc., Santa Barbara, California
Corresponding Author Contact:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Web: http://www.epri.com
The objective of this study is to assess the availability of qualified personnel to conduct NDE tasks in nuclear power plants, through the year 2010. The study was initiated in response to the concern of the nuclear power industry about the future availability of the NDE workforce--that there will be a gap between the quantity of qualified personnel required for in-service inspections and the workforce available to meet these requirements. The problem of predicting the nature and size of any gap is complicated by a number of factors that might operate to either increase or decrease this gap. Examples include changes in policies and procedures relative to inspection intervals, inspection requirements, and personnel qualification and certification requirements. The seriousness to the industry of this potential gap, together with complexities involved in making workforce availability projections, indicated the need for conducting a systematic study in time to identify and implement needed interventions.
OVERVIEW OF THE STUDY APPROACH
A demand curve will be developed for each major NDE task (eddy-current examination of steam generator tubes, ultrasonic inspection of piping, visual inspection of reactor pressure-vessel internals, etc.) by surveying plants to obtain the numbers and qualifications of NDE personnel required by the nuclear power industry each year (the Demand survey). A supply curve associated with each demand curve (numbers and qualifications of NDE personnel available each year) will be developed from a survey of NDE personnel currently working in the nuclear power industry (Personnel survey), and from a survey of potential sources of additional NDE personnel (Sources survey).
The size of each gap, if any, between the demand for and the supply of qualified NDE personnel will be determined by calculating differences between the demand and supply curves for each task for each year through the year 2010. Survey information will also be collected, analyzed and interpreted to help define the types of interventions that will be needed to close the anticipated gaps between the demand and supply curves. Study instruments and procedures will be reviewed by the NDE Workforce Advisory Panel established to guide the study, and revised accordingly, at critical points in the project.
The study approach is illustrated in Figure 1.
Fig 1: Project Plan
LISTING OF NDE TASKS PERFORMED IN NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS
A listing of the major NDE tasks performed during in-service inspections of nuclear power plants is a critical element in the study approach. Identification of specific NDE tasks serves as the core of the data-collection instruments employed in each survey required by the study--the Demand, Personnel, and Sources surveys. The following listing of NDE tasks was developed by 1) identifying tasks from plant in-service inspection requirements documents, 2) removing redundancies, 3) combining like tasks and 4) describing each task in terms of method employed and component inspected. The resulting listing is provided in Table 1. While the list of tasks will not be employed in the survey instruments in exactly the same form as they appear in Table 1, the listing served as the foundation for addressing specific NDE requirements and qualifications in the instruments.
NDE Tasks Performed for In-Service Inspections of Nuclear Power Plants
|1. ||Eddy-current examination of heat-exchanger tubing
|2. ||Eddy-current examination of steam-generator tubing
|3. ||Leak testing of containment, bellows, airlocks and/or seals
|4. ||Leak testing of pressure vessels, pressurizers, steam generators, heat exchangers, piping, pumps and/or valves
|5. ||Surface inspection of containment welds of dissimilar metals
|6. ||Surface inspection of piping welds, weld overlays, pressure vessels, nozzles, bolting, control-rod housings and/or welded attachments
|7. ||Surface inspection of reactor-pump flywheels
|8. ||Surface inspection of turbines
|9. ||Ultrasonic inspection of piping (susceptible to IGSCC) and/or weld overlays
|10. ||Ultrasonic inspection of piping welds, pressure vessels, nozzles, bolting, control-rod housings and/or welded attachments
|11. ||Ultrasonic inspection of reactor pressure vessels
|12. ||Ultrasonic inspection of reactor-pump flywheels
|13. ||Ultrasonic inspection of turbines
|14. ||Ultrasonic measurement of piping and/or containment-vessel wall thickness
|15. ||Visual inspection of concrete components and associated tensioning systems
|16. ||Visual inspection of containment vessels and associated welds, surfaces, venting, seals and/or bolting
|17. ||Visual inspection of reactor pressure-vessel internals
|18. ||Visual inspection of supports for piping and/or other components
|19. ||Visual inspection of welds
CONSTRUCTION OF NDE WORKFORCE DEMAND CURVES
Industry demand for NDE personnel through the year 2010 will be estimated from data collected from a two-phase survey of the nuclear power industry. The first phase will involve a small sample of nuclear plants (four or five plants) that maintain detailed records of annual plant NDE requirements and personnel assignments. Working on-site in conjunction with NDE managers and/or planners, information contained in these records will be used to:
- determine the actual numbers of personnel at each level of qualification required for each NDE task for the year 1999, and
- estimate the numbers of personnel at each level of qualification required for each NDE task for each following year through the year 2010, considering factors that might increase or decrease workloads over those for 1999.
The results of the first-phase effort will be a set of NDE personnel demand curves (or tables), one for each level of personnel qualification for each NDE task. For the years beyond 1999, each curve will be bounded by estimated upper and lower limits on anticipated requirements.
In the second phase of the study, the remaining nuclear power plants will be surveyed to obtain their demand curves. An NDE manager or planner at each plant will be provided with the curves obtained in the first phase, to review and verify each as appropriate for that plant or, if not, to modify each to fit the expectations of the plant. Numbers will then be averaged over the sample of plants to obtain composite (typical) NDE personnel demand curves for a nuclear plant. If significant differences are found among types and sizes of plants, a family of composite curves will be developed.
This instrument will be reviewed again by the NDE Workforce Advisory Panel and by a sample of NDE plant managers and planners, and revised accordingly, prior to the start of the data-collection effort.
SURVEY OF NDE PERSONNEL
The Personnel survey is designed to assess the numbers and qualifications of NDE personnel currently working in the nuclear power industry, and to project their future availability.
The survey will be conducted by means of computer-assisted, telephone interviews, in which the interviewer records responses on the computer, and the computer goes to the next question based on the previous response. Survey results, along with those of the Sources survey, will aid in the construction of NDE personnel supply curves. In addition, the survey is designed to explore issues that might affect individual decisions to leave or stay in the NDE profession, providing insights relative to interventions that might be employed to assure NDE workforce availability for the nuclear power industry. At the core of this survey are the following questions asked about each of the 21 NDE tasks performed in nuclear power plants.
- How many years have you been conducting the task?
- What specific qualifications and certifications do you have for the task?
- What were your primary sources of training for the task?
- How would you rate the effectiveness of this training?
- How might training in this task be made more effective?
- What problems have you faced in performing this task in the nuclear power industry?
- What kinds of changes might help overcome these problems?
- How many years are you likely to continue to conduct this work in nuclear power plants?
- What are the probable reasons you will stop performing this work when you do?
Conducting the Personnel survey will consist of completing the following project tasks.
- Submit the draft for review by the NDE Workforce Advisory Panel, and address advisory-panel comments and recommendations in the revision of the instrument.
- Prepare survey materials for mailing out in advance of telephone interviews, and adapt computer software in support of telephone interviews, acquisition of data and compilation of databases.
- Define the population of NDE personnel from which survey respondents will be sampled, and to which survey results will be used to estimate population parameters. It is anticipated that the population of NDE personnel performing one or more of the listed NDE tasks will be approximately 2,000, from which 300 will be randomly selected, to provide a minimum of 200 completed interviews. A sample size of 200 is at the point of diminishing returns relative to the accuracy of population estimates. For example, if 70% of a sample of 100 gave a particular response, we could be 90% confident that the population value would be between 62.7% and 77.3%; increasing the sample size to 200 would narrow the 90% confidence interval to 65% and 75%. However, increasing the sample size to 300 would only narrow the 90% confidence interval to 66% and 74%, and further increasing the sample size to 400 would only narrow the confidence interval a bit more, to 66.6% and 73.4%.
- Pretest survey materials and procedures with a small sample of the targeted population, and revise survey materials and procedures based on pretest results and participant comments.
- Complete the survey by sending out survey packages (cover letter by a recognized authority, explanation of survey objectives and procedures, and a copy of the survey topics). The surveys were sent to every power plant that had an outage in the Spring of 2000. To increase the survey response appointments for telephone interviews were made for the personnel that didn't fill out the survey. The data was recorded and compiled for the rep[ort.
SURVEY OF SOURCES OF NDE PERSONNEL
The development of NDE personnel supply curves requires estimates of quantities and qualities of personnel coming into the NDE workforce, in addition to estimates of those in the workforce and their rates of attrition. Consequently, a third survey will be conducted to obtain this information from institutions and organizations involved in the training and qualification of personnel for the performance of NDE tasks in the nuclear power industry
ASSESSMENT OF THE GAP BETWEEN DEMAND AND SUPPLY
Analyze collected data to define NDE workforce demand and supply curves covering the period from 1999 through 2010, and to define the size and nature of the gap between the two curves. The demand curve will be based on data from the survey providing industry estimates of NDE person-hour requirements, by NDE task, for each year from 1999 through 2010. The supply curve will be based on survey results providing estimates of numbers of personnel leaving the workforce, and estimates of numbers entering the workforce by various avenues (such as sources of training in NDE techniques) and are likely to be available for work in the nuclear industry.
- Conduct review sessions with the NDE Workforce Advisory Panel to assure that these analyses are complete, credible and understandable.
- Prepare a draft report describing the survey methodology, results and conclusions. Obtain reviews of the report by the NDE Workforce Advisory Panel, and address review comments in preparing the final version of the report.
- Provide the database developed from the survey, NDE Workforce Database, in a form in which it can be assessed by EPRI members.
IDENTIFY AND PRIORITIZE POSSIBLE INTERVENTIONS
Assuming that a significant shortfall is found between the demand and supply of qualified NDE personnel, define additional information required to identify and assess interventions that are likely to close this gap. Prepare a plan for obtaining and analyzing additional information, and for applying interventions in the nuclear power industry.
- Conduct working sessions involving project staff, the NDE Workforce Advisory Panel, and other potential contributors, with the objective of reviewing survey results and identifying information needs and interventions that will help assure that the supply of qualified NDE personnel will meet the future demands of the nuclear power industry.
- Conduct an industry workshop/forum in which the results of the survey are presented and discussed along with a plan for closing the gap between the demand and supply curves.
- Prepare a report describing the proposed interventions and the plan for applying them. In addition to existing interventions, the plan might involve research and development efforts leading to interventions that are not currently available, or the modification or enhancement of interventions that are available but can be improved.
/DB:Article /SO:EPRI /AU:Spanner_J_C /AU:Harris_D_H /CN:US /CT:NDT /CT:energy /ED:2000-07
- 1. "Study of NDE Workforce Availability, a Project Plan", EPRI report number TP-110173, December 1999, Jack C. Spanner and Douglas H. Harris, EPRI NDE Center, Charlotte, NC