In June 2016, the Alden Quality Assurance department attended the annual NUPIC (Nuclear Procurement Issues Committee) vendor conference for the third year in a row. NUPIC is an organization that provides a cost effective method for NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) licensee's to maintain their approved suppliers lists by sharing audits of suppliers. The vendor conference is an opportunity for utilities, suppliers and regulators to get together and discuss current issues which impact the processes of purchasing and supply of nuclear components and services. This annual event has been beneficial for Alden QA to stay abreast with current nuclear quality issues and to maintain a high quality product for our clients.
The NUPIC vendor conference is hosted each year by a different utility and in addition, the NRC sends representatives and holds a workshop on vendor oversight at the conference every two years. The 2016 event was hosted by Ameren in St. Louis, Missouri at a hotel adjacent to the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (U.S. National Park featuring the Gateway Arch and Old Courthouse, see photos). Conference topics included an update on new nuclear plant construction, updates on NUPIC initiatives and activities, maintaining independence during internal audits, common audit findings, and nuclear safety culture. One particularly interesting presentation last year was given by Kenneth Koves of INPO (Instutite of Nuclear Power Operations). Mr. Koves talked about ways to improve nuclear safety culture including; making sure to step back and look at the big picture, the importance of human factors and remembering that you don't "fix" people, the importance of communication including communicating the "why" of a particular situation, listening is often more important than telling, and planning (you have to go slow to go fast). He also made sure to point out that completing a checklist does not mean you have accomplished anything other than completing the checklist! Copies of the presentations from the conference can be found on the NUPIC site. The NRC workshop topics included commercial grade dedication, the development of guidelines for the implementation of 10 CFR Part 21, dedication of design and analysis software, and the expanded recognition of the ILAC accreditation process. Copies of the presentations from the workshop can be found on the NRC site.
If you are nuclear supplier, attending the annual NUPIC vendor conference for networking and staying current with nuclear quality issues is highly recommended. We will keep you updated here when more detailed information about the upcoming 2017 NUPIC meeting (https://nupic.com/) is available. We hope to see you this coming June in New Orleans, Louisiana.