Personnel from across the NNSA complex and private industry gathered in Oak Ridge to discuss lessons learned and brainstorm solutions for dealing with the aging nuclear infrastructure. As Teresa Robbins, Deputy Manager of the NNSA Production Office noted, we're still operating in many of the original buildings, and we've made only minimal investments in those facilities over the years.
In his remarks, Chief Operating Officer Morgan Smith said "we have a very, very significant challenge." While the natural inclination is to be hopeful, Smith stressed the need for circumspection. "We have to make sure we don't add to the difficulties," he said. "Normalization of the deviation is what has gotten us to where we are now."
When something fails, you're looking through the rearview. (Integrated Facility Aging Management) is looking through the windshield.
— Craig McMullin, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions
By focusing on successes in the public and private sectors, attendees were able to crystallize the issues in three categories-maintenance, standards and requirements and risk and prioritization. With regard to maintenance, some of the key points included the need for integrated planning and having a good tool for performing outages. Distinguishing among life extension, aging management and code compliance was determined to be key in the standards and requirements arena. The group also noted a need to change the approach by looking at what we holistically need to deliver the mission. Finally, attendees noted that the risk of doing nothing (which can greatly increase decontamination and decommissioning costs) is often not considered. The need for a consistent template to communicate risk was also identified.
As the workshop ended, Ken Sheely, NNSA Deputy Associate Administrator for Infrastructure, assured the audience that a prioritization model will inform decision making, adding "we don't want to overrate the high-consequence, low-probability activities" Ken Keith of Engineering summed the essence of the gathering succinctly. He said,"we have unique sites, but our problems are the same. There should be common solutions."