In the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi accident in Japan, nuclear power reactor safety is under heightened scrutiny in the United States and worldwide. Concurrent with safety issues, power reactors remain under continual operational evaluation to assess their financial competitiveness in a deregulated electricity marketplace. The financial benefits of power uprates, longer operating cycles and higher capacity factors are intertwined with the competing burdens of operations/maintenance considerations and regulatory requirements for a defense-in-depth design basis supported by a robust safety culture. Furthermore, the design basis will change (in some aspects significantly) in response to forthcoming NRC regulations that address the Near-Term Task Force recommendations stemming from review of insights from the Fukushima Daiichi accident.
These competing considerations must be addressed with an industry workforce that is shrinking and undergoing significant turn-over during the generational shift with the ever-present specter of loss of critical skills during this transition. Simultaneously, the physical plant is aging, with some of the U.S. units moving into their post-40-year life extension period.
These evolving challenges place nuclear power plant support products/services at the forefront of industry needs and nuclear plant safety.