Posted on: 26th February 2010

In this week we are talking to Phil Prior (CCFE), Project Leader of this shutdown. The Culham Centre of Fusion Energy (CCFE) has responsibility for operating the JET facilities. Here is the excerpt of the audio file.

ShutdownWeekly: How do you sleep these days?

Phil Prior: Not too badly, sometimes thoughts can overtake you and  you start to worry about what is going on, but most of the time it is good.  The shutdown is going well.  That helps!

ShutdownWeekly: Have you been involved in a shutdown before?

Phil Prior: Yes, I have been involved in every JET shutdown since 1986.  So it goes back to most of the ones under the Joint Undertaking and, of course, the ones with the Authority, it is a long history.

ShutdownWeekly: If you compare the other shutdowns with this one, What is special about it?

Phil Prior: This is a significant shutdown, as we know one of the most major shutdowns we’ve had since the divertor was installed. This time around we have changed the structure and the way we are managing the shutdown and that reaps some positive benefits. The shutdown has a very good feel, there is always pressure, of course, but I think this one has a very positive feel to it and it is going well.

ShutdownWeekly: The shutdown is going to last 65 weeks and puts a lot of pressure on the staff. What do you do to keep the team spirit going?

Phil Prior: Obviously, one of the key areas is, to make sure we have enough personnel resources in order to have some level of rotation. If we take in particular the Remote Handling group: they operate a cycle of shifts, seven days per week, for most of the shutdown period and have additional teams in order to have some sort of rotation. Overall we are trying to maintain significant milestones so that people see that they are making progress, it is a long shutdown so it is going to be times, when people want to have a breather and that needs to be built into the programme. People will want to take their holidays and that is still going to be challenging to fit those in effectively but we must do that as the year progresses. Obviously giving the staff good feedback, via briefings and updates, on the successes and progress of the shutdown is a key element in keeping people motivated.

ShutdownWeekly: How many people are approximately involved in the shutdown business?

Phil Prior: That is a tricky question, depends were you begin and end on it, really. But we probably have the order of about 400 people who are closely involved in the shutdown […].

ShutdownWeekly: The part Remote Handling has taken over is probably the most time consuming. Is it?

Phil Prior: Well, the Remote Handling requires a great deal of preparation. It is a very detailed process, so, is working a very minute level in terms of the procedures, something we don’t generally apply to any other work on the shutdown, which does take a lot of resource. It needs to be done at that sort of level, because of the nature of the work.

The risks involved in vessel work are very significant. So, if we drop a tile, for instance, then we can write off that component and we don’t have that many spares. Looking forwards particularly to the ILW (means ITER-Like-Wall), and also we may damage other things in the machine, so a lot of precautions have to be taken to make sure that it is undertaken as carefully as possible. Elsewhere, you can be slightly more flexible in your approach to the level of detail required, but even then, although we are doing all the ILW work in the clean room and in the beryllium inspection facility assembling tiles, we have very detailed procedures for those to be assembled, because it is critical in terms of assembly procedures to getting components in the right orientations, in using the right bolts and the right torques etc. These sorts of details make a big difference in terms of the quality of the components and how well they fit in the first instance and how they perform in the machine operations later on.

ShutdownWeekly: What other topics keep you busy apart from Remote Handling and what happens in the Assembly Hall and the Torus Hall?

Phil Prior: Although the in-vessel work defines the critical path of the shutdown, the project covers all the areas of the JET facilities including the vacuum, cryo plant, water cooling and power supply systems etc. which are no less critical to the overall success of the shutdown. I also have my unit responsibilities for 240 personnel and three Group Leaders and some support for the ITER activities that CCFE are undertaking. So, that sums it up, really.

Thank you very much for this background information, Phil! That’s all from us. ShutdownWeekly will be back next week!