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 Post subject: MSR staff numbers
PostPosted: Sep 09, 2015 5:48 am 
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I'm trying to figure out how many staff a MSR would require to operate, and what are they doing.

I read a typical PWR has about 752 staff (see link below), which I could guess equates to about 50 times 5 shifts for operating, and 250 day workers on maintenance, cleaning, services etc.

How many would a 1GW MSR have. Within that:
-Staffing requirement for turbine hall
-Staffing requirement for nuclear island
-Staffing for electrical systems
-Staffing requirement for overall site
- Security
- Staff support (canteen etc, a multiple of the above)
- Offsite administrative staff
- Chemical engineering if there is on-site fuel reprocessing

There's no mention of janitorial and catering, which are probably outsourced services.

Given just about everything in a modern power plant is monitored and controlled by computer, is the number of actual operators small? Like two to watch a turbine and two to watch the reactor? Are they like airline pilots - there to watch over the computers and manage things in the event of an error? A lot of the staff function is to identify maintenance requirements before they cause a problem - but most of that will be done by computer analysis of the sensor data.

London Array wind farm by comparison has zero staff on site. However, I would expect that a lot of staff are needed to support the few staff who actually jump onto the turbines to fix issues.

Appendix 1 of this: www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/Pub1477_web.pdf has indicative staff numbers. Big numbers are:
Maintenance/construction 119 (I assume this is mainly day work, looking for faults, fixing minor faults, and filling in large maounts of paper work about the faults)
Operations 74 (probably breaks down to 15 operstors, 24/7)
Security 119 (probably breaks down to 25 on site at any time)
Plant engineering 33 (Is this back up for the maintenance?)
Technical engineering 19 (How is this different from above?)
Chemistry 17 (Not sure how much a PWR has control over chemistry in a solid fuel assembly)

I'm pretty certain that as a management consultant, I'd be shocked at the levels of over-staffing in a modern reactor. And I'm 100% sure the answer would be "we need all these staff for safety reasons, and if you reduce them you might be responsible for armageddon, and the regulator requires that we keep this number of staff", which is pretty much what most managers in every bureacratic organisation say.


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 Post subject: Re: MSR staff numbers
PostPosted: Sep 09, 2015 10:26 am 
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ESBWR is projected to have a staff of something like 300 per unit. Which translates to about 50 on duty at a time once shift requirements, leave and sickness are accounted for.

Remember that most reactors are 30-40 years old and don't have levels of automation we are capable of now.
And PWRs have chemistry control through addition of lithium and soluble boron [in the form of boric acid] to the primary coolant circuit to control activity of the reactor and reactor pH.


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 Post subject: Re: MSR staff numbers
PostPosted: Sep 09, 2015 11:18 am 
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The salaries of the power plant is not a big part of the nuclear electricity cost, I guess. Reducing the staff won't give you a major economical advantage.


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 Post subject: Re: MSR staff numbers
PostPosted: Sep 09, 2015 3:10 pm 
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fab wrote:
The salaries of the power plant is not a big part of the nuclear electricity cost, I guess. Reducing the staff won't give you a major economical advantage.


I recall looking at the cost structure of cigarette companies. Staff costs made sod all difference to profitability, which was governed by taxation and demand. As a result, cost control was, shall we sake, weak. I suspect that nuclear power is similar, for the reasons to give.

However,
1. MSRs are going to be cheaper to produce than PWRs, and therefore the staff costs are going to be more than just a footnote. Something we'll want to focus on.

2. Staff numbers drive other costs like plant size (in the UK, nuclear land is very, very expensive - though all the nuclear plants still have an admin building - which could be a few km away), training costs, and probably some element of regulation and training costs.

3. Most importantly, as E Ireland says, a ESBWR needs 300 staff. Most of these have degrees and many will need a few years of nuclear experience, which might be an issue in some countries. I'd rather have a microprocessor controlling something than a graduate with 3 years nuclear experience. The former takes six months to build, the latter 3 years to train.


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 Post subject: Re: MSR staff numbers
PostPosted: Sep 09, 2015 3:17 pm 
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E Ireland wrote:
ESBWR is projected to have a staff of something like 300 per unit. Which translates to about 50 on duty at a time once shift requirements, leave and sickness are accounted for.

Remember that most reactors are 30-40 years old and don't have levels of automation we are capable of now.
And PWRs have chemistry control through addition of lithium and soluble boron [in the form of boric acid] to the primary coolant circuit to control activity of the reactor and reactor pH.


Great info. Thanks.

Any ideas on how many on the nuclear island, how many in the turbine hall, and how many elsewhere?

You say - per unit. I heard that NuScale was battling the regulators who specified that every reractor needs a control room. I assume NuScale are pushing for one control room. And in that case, is there any reason why the control room needs to be phyiscally close to the reactor?

If, for example, you had 8 250MW MSR reactors, would one control room (and maybe one back-up) suffice, with controllers looking over the 8 reactors?


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 Post subject: Re: MSR staff numbers
PostPosted: Sep 09, 2015 4:35 pm 
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In Germany you`ll find in the amendments of the licence the minimum crew including qualification mentioned for operation, during start-up and during shut-down. The operators are organized in 4 shifts plus reserve duties. The remaining staff is up to the decision of the management. In Germany Brokdorf (single unit PWR 1400MWe) has 350 plus 30 aprenticians. Security, some maintenance functions, restaurant.. are outsourced. Double units have the big advantage that you do need less reserve poeple. All in all the crew makes up for 1,6 €/MWh.

The cost of the crew are indeed not a major cost driver. If you have a look in the business reports of nuclear power plants in Germany and Switzerland it is the capital costs of plenty of upgrades due to regulatory requirements.

A MSR will have significant higher building/capital costs than a PWR. It is made of more expensive materials has some complex fuel treatment. Cost advantages are the fuel. It might be possible to save 5 €/MWH. That means a MSR needs to be very large to surpass a LWR in terms of costs.


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 Post subject: Re: MSR staff numbers
PostPosted: Sep 09, 2015 4:49 pm 
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For an ESBWR the power plant staff cost should be under 3 $/MWh, that is the reason of my previous comment (but maybe I am not very neutral since I want to work in the industry :mrgreen: ).

Of course an ESBWR is a big reactor, for multiple small reactors it is different, you can not have the same number of people per reactor than with the ESBWR.

Quote:
I'd rather have a microprocessor controlling something than a graduate with 3 years nuclear experience. The former takes six months to build, the latter 3 years to train.


I think that the safety authorities will force you to have some human operators, if the reactor is totally passively safe it won't take too much time to train them.


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 Post subject: Re: MSR staff numbers
PostPosted: Sep 09, 2015 4:53 pm 
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fab wrote:

, if the reactor is totally passively safe it won't take too much time to train them.


"In event of emergency, walk this away".


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 Post subject: Re: MSR staff numbers
PostPosted: Sep 09, 2015 5:10 pm 
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Remote control rooms have to account for cable damage or similar cutting communication to the reactor - or even someone malicious managing to splice their way in.

Double unit reactors in France have joint control rooms - they are hardly a new concept.
But I doubt we will be able to cut that many people from the staff roster.
A double unit ESBWR might have ~550 staff instead of 600 for two single units.


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 Post subject: Re: MSR staff numbers
PostPosted: Sep 10, 2015 3:52 am 
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E Ireland wrote:
Remote control rooms have to account for cable damage or similar cutting communication to the reactor - or even someone malicious managing to splice their way in.


Cables, backup cables, and wireless backup combinations can be made far, far, more secure than humans.

If the Fukushima and Chernobyl control rooms had been 10km away, with military grade comms, they wouldn't have needed to be evacuated. Not that it would help in those cases - and in Chernobyl it should have been an advantage being next to the reactor, as in "push this lever to the red and you will die".

That said, most concepts will look at one control room, on site, to handle all reactors - whether one 2.5GW Moltex, sixteen 250MW Thorcons, or hundreds of NuScales.

Quote:

Double unit reactors in France have joint control rooms - they are hardly a new concept.
But I doubt we will be able to cut that many people from the staff roster.
A double unit ESBWR might have ~550 staff instead of 600 for two single units.


Any idea of how many might be in each sector at any time:
- Nuclear island
- Turbine hall
- Admiistrative building
- Rest of site


Last edited by alexterrell on Sep 10, 2015 4:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: MSR staff numbers
PostPosted: Sep 10, 2015 4:02 am 
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HolgerNarrog wrote:
In Germany you`ll find in the amendments of the licence the minimum crew including qualification mentioned for operation, during start-up and during shut-down. The operators are organized in 4 shifts plus reserve duties. The remaining staff is up to the decision of the management. In Germany Brokdorf (single unit PWR 1400MWe) has 350 plus 30 aprenticians. Security, some maintenance functions, restaurant.. are outsourced. Double units have the big advantage that you do need less reserve poeple. All in all the crew makes up for 1,6 €/MWh.


Thanks. I assume the minimum crew is decided based on reactor design, and not something set natioanally for all reactors?

Not that it matters for Germany, as future reactors will be based outside of the country.
Quote:


A MSR will have significant higher building/capital costs than a PWR. It is made of more expensive materials has some complex fuel treatment. Cost advantages are the fuel. It might be possible to save 5 €/MWH. That means a MSR needs to be very large to surpass a LWR in terms of costs.


Well, if it has higher capital costs, then there is no point to this forum.

You've been misled by the Gen IV reference design. Luckily, MSRs can be built for a fraction of the capital costs of a PWR, as they have no pressures to deal with, a much denser core, and no precision engineered solid components that have to survive in a PWR environment. They can also be built primarily from stainless steel.


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 Post subject: Re: MSR staff numbers
PostPosted: Sep 10, 2015 10:43 am 
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The control room for an AP1000 is slated to have one operator and one supervisor.

In the US, modified regs for SMRs are being recommended to allow one control room for multiple units.
Unfortunately, the specific recommendations are not available to the general public unless you are willing to pay $150,000.


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 Post subject: Re: MSR staff numbers
PostPosted: Sep 10, 2015 10:57 am 
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You need more than one person on watch at once so that the room isn't left unoccupied if the operator has to go to the bathroom or to fill the coffee pot. Only to return to find all the lights on the board flashing bright red.


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 Post subject: Re: MSR staff numbers
PostPosted: Sep 10, 2015 2:55 pm 
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Dear Alex,

" Luckily, MSRs can be built for a fraction of the capital costs of a PWR, as they have no pressures to deal with, a much denser core, and no precision engineered solid components that have to survive in a PWR environment. They can also be built primarily from stainless steel."

Sorry, I prefer to stay within the expected limitations of reality... If you respect such limitations it is a challenge to overcome the LWR.


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 Post subject: Re: MSR staff numbers
PostPosted: Sep 10, 2015 3:29 pm 
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Alex...

I would not press on the staffing of an MSR. It does not really matter if you have a 200, 300 or 400 poeple crew for a large power plant.

A more important topic is the operation time between maintenance periods, the reliability and the loss of operation time due to maintenance. A large nuclear power plant makes > 1 million $/day.

If you can increase the reliability of pumps, motors and instrumentation (high temperatures!) that you can run 4 years between maintenance periods it would give a huge benefit.

If you can develop remote controlled robots (please be aware that the primary circuit is radioactive due to plated out fission products or even worse if you use thorium) that make maintenance and repair it would be a big asset.

If you can simplify the fuel treatment of a MSR it would decrease capital cost and as well maintenance and repair costs.


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