Outage completed ahead of schedule despite pandemic

Louise Smyth

GE Steam Power has completed a major steam turbine and generator outage at the Cernavoda nuclear power plant, Romania, with no safety incident – during the Covid-19 pandemic. Originally scheduled for April, the outage was postponed until September as Covid-19 spread across the region. However, at Societatea Nationala Nuclearelectrica’s (SNN) request, the project was re-accelerated to begin in June.

The work at Cernavoda was completed in just 30 days as part of a multi-year service agreement with SNN. The lone nuclear plant in Romania plays a critical role in the country’s power structure, fulfilling about 20% of its overall electricity needs with reliable and CO2-free baseload power.

“Cernavoda is among the most important sources of power in Romania,” said Cosmin Ghita, CEO of SNN. “Keeping the site operational to deliver CO2-free power is critical to both our country’s energy supply and environmental commitments. We recognise that completing this outage on an accelerated schedule during a pandemic took professionalism and creativity.”

One of the biggest challenges during the project involved getting all needed field personnel to the Cernavoda site from outside Europe. Although GE largely draws on local resources to support its European customers, this outage required several field specialists from the USA to perform the work, including generator and field materials exclusion maintenance. With flight restrictions and unexpected cancellations due to the pandemic, GE took the unusual step of hiring a charter flight to transport the specialists. GE also brought in two Environmental, Health and Safety experts to oversee safety protocols throughout the project while SNN tested the onsite workers daily.

“Sometimes extraordinary times require extraordinary measures,” says Paul Wise, General Manager, GE Steam Power Europe. “In close collaboration with SNN, we were able to make possible what felt in May like the impossible.”

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