The nuclear power industry is one of the most controlled industries in the world. Regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the industry has long adhered to stringent guidelines and inspections to ensure safe operations. In addition to the required regulations and standards, the nuclear power industry also actively and voluntarily participates in organizations such as the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) and the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO), both aimed at achieving the highest performance standards possible for nuclear power plants.
INPO was formed in 1979 by the U.S nuclear power industry after the investigation into the Three Mile Island accident. The mission of the organization is to set industry-wide performance objectives, criteria and guidelines for nuclear power plant operations. This is done by sharing operational experience between power plants and conducting plant evaluations at nuclear sites to identify both their strengths and areas for improvement. Although these evaluations are not required by the NRC, INPO evaluations are held to very high standards by the industry and the information gleaned from them is taken very seriously and acted on appropriately.
WANO, also not a regulatory body, is an international, non-profit group of nuclear power plant operators. It was formed in 1989 following the Chernobyl disaster in an effort to prevent any recurrences worldwide. The group’s policies focus on effective communication and open information sharing, which is done in part by in-depth peer reviews and benchmarking. Mutual support and exchange of information among nuclear stations worldwide is the concept WANO uses to maximize the safety and reliability of nuclear power plants.
Although the mission of INPO and WANO are closely related, the execution of each organization is set up differently to create a robust arena of information sharing and evaluations that will benefit both the nuclear power plants in the United States and worldwide. The nuclear power industry regards the information and evaluations received from each organization equally as important, and views their feedback as indicators of their performance – past, present and future.