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Journal of Nuclear Science and Technology

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Comprehensive support for nuclear decommissioning

based on 3D simulation and advanced user interface
a a a a
Istvn Sz#ke , Michael N. Louka , Tom-Robert Bryntesen , Svein-Tore Edvardsen &
Joachim Bratteli
Institute for Energy Technology, Os All 5, NO-1777 Halden, Norway
Published online: 26 Aug 2014.

To cite this article: Istvn Sz#ke, Michael N. Louka, Tom-Robert Bryntesen, Svein-Tore Edvardsen & Joachim Bratteli
(2014): Comprehensive support for nuclear decommissioning based on 3D simulation and advanced user interface
technologies, Journal of Nuclear Science and Technology, DOI: 10.1080/00223131.2014.951704
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Journal of Nuclear Science and Technology, 2014


Comprehensive support for nuclear decommissioning based on 3D simulation and advanced user
interface technologies
, Michael N. Louka, Tom-Robert Bryntesen, Svein-Tore Edvardsen and Joachim Bratteli
Istvan Szoke
Institute for Energy Technology, Os Alle 5, NO-1777 Halden, Norway
(Received 20 June 2014; accepted inal version for publication 28 July 2014)

There is an increasing international focus on the need to optimise decommissioning strategies, driven by
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the anticipation of high costs and major effort for the decommissioning of nuclear facilities in the coming
decades. The goals are to control and mitigate costs and negative impacts on workers, the general public,
and the environment. The methods presently employed for many decommissioning tasks do not apply
the latest advancements of science and technology. Therefore, there is growing interest in research and
development into the adoption of novel techniques for improving safety, reducing costs, and increasing
This paper provides a comprehensive overview of the authors results from investigating how current and
emerging technologies can be applied to enhance the international decommissioning strategy, focussing in
particular on three-dimensional simulation, virtual reality, advanced user interfaces, mobile and wearable
devices, and geographical information systems. Our results demonstrate that emerging technologies have
great potential for supporting adoption of new instrumentation, improving data and knowledge manage-
ment, optimising project plans, brieing and training ield operators, and for communication, surveillance,
and education in general.
Keywords: nuclear power plant; decommissioning; radiation protection; 3D simulation; radiation dose; reactor
safety; radioactive waste management; optimisation; ALARA

1. Introduction interactive 3D technology inducing a sense of presence),

The topic of nuclear decommissioning is becom- and advanced user interface (UI, such as gestural inter-
ing increasingly important due to nuclear installations faces and multi-touch interaction surfaces) technologies
reaching the end of their lifecycles, unfortunate events, can be utilised to improve eficiency, safety, and trans-
decommissioning plans as a licensing requirement for parency of nuclear decommissioning projects. The infor-
new builds, and political decisions resulting in prema- mation provided here is the result of many years of ex-
ture initiation of the decommissioning phase. As a re- perience in research and development by the authors on
sponse to the increased international interest in research advanced computer simulation-aided technologies for
and development into this topic, building on earlier ex- realistic 3D simulation of work procedures, real-time 3D
perience [13], we intensiied our efforts in this area [4,5], radiological risk assessment, and VR-based immersive
partly through the OECD Halden Reactor Project [6], a training.
research program jointly inanced by 20 countries. The authors have also been active in both research
Conditions and requirements for decommissioning and the industrial application of 3D computer simu-
projects differ depending on the background to their be- lation and emerging technologies to support advanced
ing initiated. Nevertheless, the main question is always visualisation of complex 3D data, registration of data
the same: How can we optimise the project, i.e. max- connected to 3D environments, scheduling work tasks,
imise safety to be well within regulatory requirements, and monitoring work progress, advanced communica-
while minimising time and costs? The intention of this tion (within the team and to stakeholders), and rapidly
paper is to provide a comprehensive overview of how produced and easily perceived environmental monitor-
three-dimensional (3D) simulation, virtual reality (VR, ing and impact assessment.

Corresponding author. Email:

C 2014 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis.
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2 I. Szoke et al.

A number of software tools have been developed (2) Developing strategy planning and scheduling
by the authors to support this work. The Halden Plan- work activities.
ner [7] is a 3D simulation tool for planning and opti- (3) Preparing the ield team brieing and training.
mising work procedures in nuclear environments. The (4) Implementing plans performing work.
Halden Briefer is a brieing and instructor-led training (5) Evaluating, preserving, and transferring
tool for demonstrating work plans developed using the experience documenting and reporting work.
Halden Planner. The Halden Simulation Editor [7] is
a VR-based tool for producing interactive training in These steps can be followed at both the level of the
nuclear environments. The Halden Trainer is a tool whole project and at the level of tasks and subtasks
for providing training produced using the Simulation within a project. Ideally, an iterative implementation
Editor to trainees. These tools have been partially process would be applied, to detail the tasks and sub-
developed within the joint program of the OECD tasks, using fresh data and experience to update strategy
Halden Reactor Project [6] and are freely available to and safety protocols during the implementation of the
the member organisations. In addition to the more entire project.
general-purpose software solutions developed within
the joint research program, a series of case-speciic cus-
tom tools have been developed in the frame of bilateral 2. Assessing the current (initial) situation
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agreements based on the speciic user requirements of The irst step both in implementing a project and
targeted end-users. These customised tools are based detailing a task within it is assessing the initial condi-
on a commercial variant of the Halden Planner, the tions within which the work will be implemented. In nu-
HVRC VRdose system [7]. For example, the Andreeva clear decommissioning, the most important component
Planner has been developed speciically to support at this stage is radiological characterisation of the site
implementation of the as low as reasonably achievable the project is targeting. The overall cost of the project,
(ALARA) principle and high-level safety culture during associated risk, required safety measures, equipment,
the planning of the rehabilitation of the most dangerous and resources will primarily be inluenced by the radi-
nuclear site in the northwest of Russia, operated by ological conditions within the targeted site [11]. Hence,
the Andreeva Bay branch of the Northwest Center for facilitating this irst step is crucial to enabling optimisa-
Radioactive Waste Management (SevRAO) [8]. tion of costs, time, and safety. Radiological character-
In addition to the tools listed above, we have also de- isation involves gathering as much data as reasonably
veloped a tool that interfaces to a geographic informa- possible and using the data in the best possible manner
tion system (GIS) to incorporate support for wide-area to determine radiological conditions, in order to sup-
radiological mapping into our toolkit [7]. In addition, port informed decision-making during the development
software for in situ data acquisition and analyses and of the decommissioning strategy. Issues associated with
communication has been developed as part of our re- this step include:
search activities into using mobile computing technol-
ogy to support ield operators carrying out plans pro- (1) performing extensive sampling and measure-
duced using our software [1,4,5,7,9]. ments contributes to overall costs, and/or entails
Collectively, these tools provide a software testbed uncertain risks to humans performing the survey
uniquely useful both for researching and developing ef- and
icient solutions for the nuclear industry. This software (2) insuficient or inaccurate radiological survey-
testbed in combination with our competence in techni- ing can result in unexpected delays, costs, and
cal [9,10], as well as human and organisational aspects exposures.
[3], enables our research and development team to ad-
dress issues contributing to failures or ineficiencies from Optimising the number, location, and type of radi-
a general perspective instead of tackling related factors ological samples and measurements required can facili-
individually. tate the survey data collection. This can be achieved by
In the following, we present the consecutive steps taking advantage of any data already available, such as
of the process that has to be followed during a de- data from the operational phase of the plant, and any
commissioning project implementation, noting some modelling results (activation calculations, contamina-
of the challenges related to each step and explaining tion dispersion, and penetration estimates). Data from
how 3D simulation, VR, and advanced UI technology earlier decommissioning projects can also be useful,
can signiicantly change the way these challenges are if extrapolation is possible. Furthermore, the sampling
addressed. In this paper, the process of implementing a and measurement work can be done iteratively, to con-
decommissioning project, or a task within the project, tinuously reine plans based on acquired data. How-
is split into ive steps, as follows. ever, the decommissioning database containing all the
radiological characterisation data is usually vast. Man-
(1) Assessing the current (initial) situation agement of the database and analyses of the data con-
acquiring and analysing input information. tained in it is demanding. The radiological data acquired
Journal of Nuclear Science and Technology 3

ultimately serves to help decision-makers understand can be equipped with eficient functionality for radiolog-
the radiological conditions existing within the targeted ical characterisation.
site, and facilitate making informed decisions. Hence, ef-
fective presentation of the contents of the vast database
to users is crucial. Since the data is related to a real en- 2.1. Results and discussion
vironment, one approach to enabling rapid comprehen- Our results show that the technology demonstrated
sion is to present the data to the user in the context of in Figure 1 could be eficiently applied for exploit-
the environment it refers to. ing data records from the operational phase as the
In this work, innovative solutions, based on 3D mod- following:
elling and simulation, have been applied to investigate
possibilities for supporting eficient creation and main- (1) online monitoring data (dose rates),
tenance of decommissioning databases and registration (2) regular survey data (dose rates and surface
of radiological data, using spatially oriented 3D UIs contamination, radioactivity caught in ilters
[1,11]. tramp uranium), and
In addition to providing eficient ways for inspecting (3) information resulting from maintenance work
and updating the data, it is important to facilitate the affecting radiological conditions, such as reap-
process of data acquisition. In this paper, we explored plication of protective painting layers, and inci-
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how advancements in hand-held and wearable comput- dents involving contamination (spills, leakages,
ing technology could enable users to take the 3D simu- fuel element failure contamination in the pri-
lation technology described above to the site where sam- mary circuit).
pling and measurements is being done.
Acquiring a suficient amount of data of appropri- Furthermore, the technology could be applied for
ate quality is only the irst half of radiological charac- combining information noted above with data and
terisation. Decision-makers need to be able to eficiently assessments produced even earlier, during the planning
analyse the data in order to prepare reliable assessments and construction phase, including initial site conigu-
on which to base the planning of decommissioning im- ration, geological, geochemical, and hydrogeological
plementation tasks. Insuficient or incorrect radiological properties, radiation background, initial coniguration
characterisation has resulted in: of facilities (foundation, subsurface media), physical
and chemical material properties, and natural radioac-
(1) incorrect estimation of the amount of resulting tivity, U, Th, 40 K, content. This pre-operation data can
radiological waste that need to be handled and be useful for comparing actual levels to those initially
(2) incorrect estimation of the nature and extent of detected and as input for shielding and activation
remedial actions (decontamination, condition- calculations.
ing of activated material, segregation of waste, All of the above are potentially useful sources of in-
etc.) required. formation for planning further surveys and estimating
associated risks. In addition to taking advantage of ex-
Both of these issues entail additional costs and delays isting data, characterisation can also be facilitated [11]
in the project. by
The need to develop better techniques for remote
and in situ characterisation of complex sites is interna- (1) ensuring high data quality (the number of sam-
tionally recognised [12] and includes improving capa- pling and measures that need to be repeated due
bilities for identifying characterisation gaps, interfacing to not meeting required data quality),
measurements with modelling, and assessing the quality (2) applying an iterative approach based on a data
of characterisation data. In this work, the authors inves- quality objective (DQO) process[11],
tigated how advanced statistical analyses, data veriica- (3) integrating sampling and measurements into
tion, and iltering based on user-deined criteria, and ra- other necessary tasks, and
diological assessment models, could be combined with (4) combining several types of measurement and
3D simulation and advanced UI technologies to sup- sampling approaches.
port decision-makers during radiological characterisa-
tion in an effective manner. A software prototype has Our investigations show that the technology demon-
been developed for evaluating the potential of 3D simu- strated in Figure 1 could ensure successful implemen-
lation and appropriate UI technologies for radiological tation of the good practices listed above by supporting
data management and radiological characterisation in (1) registration and veriication of data based on a DQO
nuclear decommissioning projects. The upper panel of principle, (2) planning and keeping track of sampling
Figure 1 demonstrates visualisation of radiological data and measurements, and (3) eficient data extraction for
via a 3D interface showing a realistic model of the envi- further analysis (e.g. statistical analysis).
ronment and the data in the context of this environment. Due to the typically large volume of data, allowing
The lower panel of Figure 1 shows how such an interface the user to customise the amount and type of data
4 I. Szoke et al.

Our investigations show that the technology in

Figure 1 has great potential for enhancing the charac-
terisation of sites targeted by decommissioning projects
by providing rapid and eficient

(1) identiication of contamination (type, isotopic

composition, location and concentration, physi-
cal and chemical state of contamination in struc-
tures, systems, components, and environmental
(2) quantiication of activated materials and struc-
tures within the targeted site, and
(3) identiication and classiication of radioactive
materials (supporting treatment, packaging,
shipping, and disposal).

In addition, our results show that mobile computing

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technology, combined with 3D simulation and context-

appropriate UI technologies, can ensure in situ availabil-
ity of the functionality discussed above for ield opera-
tors (Figure 2). Having access to such tools in situ has
the added advantage of the potential to reduce the risk
of registration errors, and if implemented with an efi-
cient UI targeting the speciic needs of the user, reduces
the time the user has to spend registering or verifying
Figure 1. Interactive 3D user interface concept for managing data in a potentially hot area.
decommissioning databases (upper panel), visualising contam-
ination, classiication of structures and materials, and quantii-
cation of radioactive waste (lower panel).
3. Developing strategy
3.1. Assessment of risks to workers
displayed can contribute to rapid understanding, i.e. Once adequate radiological characterisation has
ilter the data shown based on user-deined criteria, and yielded suficient information for decision-makers, the
enable the selection of context-appropriate information next major phase of the project, or a task within it, is the
visualisation techniques. For example, data can be planning phase in which the work strategy is developed.
iltered based on any parameters to visualise hot spots, This phase involves, among other things, estimating
samples not meeting required data quality, samples risks, balancing options, scheduling work tasks, allocat-
and measurements scheduled for or taken during a ing staff and resources, and communicating to regula-
user-deined time period, data indicating the presence tory bodies, advisors, and stakeholders. Since robotics
of certain radionuclides or either conirming to or and remotely operated equipment are seldom applied,
deviating from user-deined nuclide vectors. except for particularly dangerous tasks and under
water[12], one of the most important inputs required in
this process is information about the risks to the workers
associated with the foreseen jobs. However, estimating
the risk to ield operators associated with a speciic work
task is challenging due to the strong dynamicity of the
exposure conditions. This is not only the case for risks
associated with radiation exposure but also for other
hazards in the environment, such as heavy machinery
and temporarily unstable building structures, which
could also be managed as part of an integrated solution.
The environment of a nuclear facility is generally sta-
ble during the operational phase. The radiological con-
ditions might be somewhat changed during a mainte-
nance procedure, but normally revert to a normal state
once the procedure has been completed. In contrast,
Figure 2. In situ support concept for radiological character- during the decommissioning phase the environment is
isation. continuously and signiicantly altered due to removing
Journal of Nuclear Science and Technology 5
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Figure 3. User interface of the Halden Planner showing a snapshot of a work scenario, associated dose charts, distribution of
radiation exposure, and other data relevant to the scenario.

biological shields, installing temporary protection, mov- based on multiple criteria, including collective dose, in-
ing and removing radioactive components, decontam- dividual dose, and overall duration. It should be noted
ination of contaminated surfaces, etc. Thus, there is a that though our focus is on real-time estimation, it is also
need to take into account continuous change to the ex- possible to combine our techniques with high-accuracy
posure conditions, even for brief, routine, decommis- techniques based on detailed radiation transport mod-
sioning tasks. The authors of this paper have been in- els, if necessary.
volved in research and development of novel solutions
for dynamic, real-time estimation of radiation, and other
risks [13,14] associated with maintenance and outage 3.1.1. Results and discussion
work activities in nuclear environments. In this work, Our investigations show that dynamic (real-time)
the authors investigated how this technology can be ap- tools that produce reasonably accurate radiological
plied to estimate risk to workers in decommissioning risk estimation can provide vital input information for
projects, focussing on estimating radiological risks asso- decision-making, such as to be able to make an in-
ciated with taking samples and performing in situ mea- formed choice between remote-controlled and manual
surements, decontamination of systems, dismantling of techniques for a decommissioning task. As a subopti-
structures, etc. The investigations were performed us- mal decision typically results in unnecessary costs or in-
ing the Halden Planner (Figure 3) and VRdose (see creased risk to workers, it is important that optimal so-
Section 1) software, both of which are tools that offer lutions can be eficiently identiied and suboptimal so-
real-time calculation (update) of personal and collective lutions can be rejected [15]. Since radiological condi-
dose, dose rates and dose history (dose charts) while tions may strongly change during a decommissioning
allowing the user to dynamically modify work scenar- task, dynamic radiological mapping of the whole en-
ios. This greatly facilitates identifying optimal worker vironment, as shown in Figure 3, is very eficient for
routes, shielding coniguration, order of subtasks, and producing plans for zoning the environment in terms
so forth by enabling suboptimal solutions to be quickly of risk to humans, e.g. plan safe and exclusion zones
rejected. Furthermore, real-time visualisation of radia- to apply during a job. In addition, due to the dynamic
tion risks (dose) [13,14] aids users in understanding the change of decommissioning environments throughout
radiological conditions and, thus in determining the best the whole project, zoning plans need to be time depen-
directions for reining a work scenario during the opti- dent as they should change for different stages of the
misation process. This also facilitates zoning the envi- decommissioning project as the situation changes. Fur-
ronment, by making it much easier to identify areas that thermore, optimisation of the work plan is required for
should be controlled or free, including optimal resting ensuring conformance with radiological protection prin-
and waiting zones. Both the Halden Planner and VR- ciples, including the ALARA principle, especially for
dose enable users to prepare and compare multiple alter- tasks for which a manual solution has been selected.
native work scenarios for the same job, before selecting However, since exposure conditions change during a de-
which alternative to schedule. Comparisons can be made commissioning job, and optimisation requires analyses
6 I. Szoke et al.

that the information is rapidly and, not least, correctly

perceived by decision-makers.

3.2.1. Results and discussion

GIS-based eficient environmental impact informa-
tion is very useful for balancing decommissioning and
environmental remediation options during the planning
phase, in order to identify optimal solutions resulting
in as low as reasonably possible risks to the workers,
as well as the public and the environment beyond the
site perimeter. Such easily understood environmental
data (e.g. abut surface and subsurface contamination of
Figure 4. GIS-based environmental radiological impact as- the land) are essential for an informed decision process
sessment. about the end-state of the site, as long-term liabilities
need to be justiied against costs for decommissioning
to green-ield status, if green ield is not a regulatory re-
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and comparison of a potentially large number of al- quirement. In addition, such information strongly sup-
ternative scenarios, static radiological maps, and high- ports the regulator in veriication of compliance with
accuracy models are not suitable alone to support efi- site clearance criteria. GIS-based environmental infor-
ciently identifying an optimal solution. In contrast, dy- mation that includes risk projection is also useful for de-
namic modelling enables decision-makers to investigate veloping effective crisis management plans. GIS-based
how any change to the work strategy inluences, result- environmental data can enable eficient analyses and
ing exposure to the participants in real time. visualisation of information about environmental con-
sequences of possible accident scenarios, required for
preparing monitoring and emergency response strate-
3.2. Environmental impact assessments gies. Since the general population is becoming increas-
While the capabilities discussed above aid decision- ingly accustomed to using GIS-based technologies, such
makers in inding the optimal strategy in terms of risks as GPS-based route planning in cars or on mobile
to the workers, risk analyses associated with any job re- phones, the technology is a potent option for disseminat-
quiring a radiological work permit also need to address ing information to stafing members that may be affected
the potential impact on the general population and envi- in the event of an accidental release, to inform about un-
ronment. Incomplete and/or incorrect assessment of po- safe zones, evacuation routes, registration points, and so
tential risks to the general public and the environment forth.
can potentially lead to signiicant health and environ-
mental consequences. Environmental impact assessment
is therefore an integral part of the 3.3. Scheduling jobs and allocating resources
Having found possible solutions for speciic jobs
within an overall plan, and possessing information on
(1) optimisation process, ensuring compliance with
associated worker exposure and required resources, jobs
the ALARA principle,
can be scheduled within the overall project plan. At this
(2) decision process, related to the planned end-state
stage, the main goal is development of an optimal overall
of the site, and
strategy in terms of safety and costs. The optimisation
(3) planning emergency preparedness (crisis man-
process is mainly based on balancing alternative selec-
agement) strategy, etc.
tion of decommissioning methods (jobs) and schedules
in terms of their characteristic data taking into account
In order to extend the use of visualisation technolo- the resources available. When scheduling an individual
gies as useful communication tools, the authors of this job or activity, we not only need to ensure that the re-
paper developed a software prototype based on GIS sources needed are available, but we also ensure that we
technology in order to evaluate the usefulness of the stay within all necessary constraints (worker dose lim-
technology for providing easily understood environmen- its, temporary storage capacity for waste, criteria for re-
tal information (radiological and other) to decision- lease of materials, etc.). This is especially challenging
makers in decommissioning projects (Figure 4). Our goal since we rarely want to execute jobs in a linear fashion
was to investigate what kind of environmental data and as that would take unnecessarily long time. Hence, we
associated impact projections are important to support need to be sure that jobs taking place simultaneously
different stakeholder requirements, and how data can be can be conducted safely, in particular if delays in one job
presented effectively. For example, we need to determine could result in signiicant risk for a job in parallel, and
the best ways to display suficient detail, while ensuring thus require active coordination between the individual
Journal of Nuclear Science and Technology 7
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Figure 5. Scheduling work tasks and allocating resources by combining the results of 3D work simulation, to determine the details
of jobs, and an interactive visual overview of the overall schedule, used to coordinate jobs taking into account safety and resource

teams of workers to ensure their common safety and ef- monitoring, communication (e.g. for coordinating par-
icient execution of their tasks. Suboptimal allocation of allel activities), type of containers for transporting ra-
staff and resources will result in higher overall costs than dioactive materials, temporary biological shielding, re-
necessary, without any safety advantage. Hence, ind- mote controlled equipment, etc. Furthermore, 3D sim-
ing the best solution in this phase is also vital for op- ulation of work tasks combined with the 3D radiologi-
timising costs and risks. In this work, we investigated cal characterisation technology, as presented earlier, also
the potential for applying 3D simulation and advanced facilitates quantifying and classifying both radiological
UI technology to support a user-friendly process for and non-radiological waste resulting from tasks. Subse-
scheduling jobs and allocating resources in decommis- quently, 3D simulation contributes to well-informed as-
sioning projects. Our investigations were based on expe- sessment, and balancing of risks and resources needed
rience in the development and application of the Halden to select an optimal work scenario. Our results also in-
Planner and the VRdose software, and experience from dicate that 3D simulation of work plans combined with
the development and deployment of tools based on semantic techniques based on advanced UIs for sup-
advanced touch-screen UIs for scheduling tasks and porting scheduling and allocating resources taking into
allocating resources in the oil and gas industry [16] account associated constraints (Figure 5) speciic to nu-
(Figure 5). clear decommissioning sites could greatly facilitate the
overall planning and management of decommissioning
projects. Such compound systems will greatly facilitate
3.3.1. Results and discussion optimisation of decommissioning strategies by support-
Producing a 3D simulation of a work plan can also ing optimal selection of decommissioning methods and
be useful for determining the level of resources needed schedules taking into account the resources available
for successful completion of a job, including require- and constraints applicable. In addition to supporting the
ments for man power (number of participants), equip- development of the high-level decommissioning plan,
ment (cutting tools, decontamination equipment, tools this technology could also greatly facilitate the imple-
for manipulating heavy components, etc.), radiological mentation of plans by enabling an eficient system for
8 I. Szoke et al.

rescheduling jobs, in case of unexpected delays. This jobs require new skills that were not acquired during the
could signiicantly lower additional costs and exposures operational phase. Consequently, the process of prepa-
due to unexpected events. ration of existing staff for decommissioning work can
begin with a training programme focussed on acquir-
ing essential skills and understanding, to be able to do
3.4. Communication particular kinds of work. High-quality training can have
Communication with relevant regulatory bodies and the added advantage of contributing to retaining high-
stakeholders is also an important part of the decom- quality specialist staff [2], who value the opportunity to
missioning planning activity, in particular when prepar- acquire new skills and ind job satisfaction in the fresh
ing the high-level overall plan needed to proceed with challenges offered by the job.
decommissioning. Demonstration and justiication of During the operational phase, ield workers acquire
plans toward the authorities and approval by the reg- routine understanding and skills in the regular tasks re-
ulator are inescapable requirements. Tools facilitating quired to ensure safe operation of an installation. How-
transparency towards the regulator may greatly facili- ever, as the decommissioning phase approaches, condi-
tate the process of obtaining approval. In this work, we tions and tasks will change, requiring a transformation
analysed the possibilities for applying 3D simulation and in the mind-set. Hence, general education of the oper-
GIS technology to facilitate transparency in decommis- ational staff to establish an appropriate safety culture
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sioning projects. Our investigations were based on ear- for decommissioning is desirable, to prepare them for
lier experience in applying 3D simulation and GIS tech- an environment with dynamically changing conditions,
nology in the nuclear industry. complex safety protocols, and multiple interdependent
teams working in parallel over relatively long periods.
In addition, due to the increasing demand for safe and
3.4.1. Results and discussion cost-effective decommissioning services, companies spe-
A signiicant advantage of realistic 3D simulation cialising in nuclear decommissioning are emerging. For
and GIS-based visualisation to conventional solutions such contractors, maintaining highly educated staff in
is that the information presented visually is easier to general decommissioning work, and having a safety cul-
understand. Hence, this technology is especially useful ture that is in line with safety requirements in nuclear
for providing a common communication platform for decommissioning, is vital.
stakeholders in a decommissioning project with very dif- Due to the increasing need for specialists in decom-
ferent backgrounds (Figure 6). Decommissioning plans missioning, and existing employees leaving due to job
also need to be documented in reports. The Halden Plan- insecurity, new staff may be hired during decommission-
ner and VRdose can produce reports for printing or ing projects. Obviously, preparation of the newly hired
archiving (Figure 6) based on the 3D simulations of jobs. decommissioning specialists needs to focus less on ac-
The reports typically contain illustrated descriptions of quisition of basic skills like that for existing operational
plans, with supporting tables of data, in a similar format staff being retrained to participate in the decommission-
to a conventional radiological work permit request or a ing. Instead, the training programme should focus more
detailed job description. on providing familiarity with the environment, exist-
ing conditions, safety protocols, and operational proce-
dures. Especially if most of the decommissioning work
4. Preparing the ield team is allocated to external contractors, it is very impor-
Following the planning phase, the next step is nor- tant to transfer all historical information, including un-
mally a brieing and training phase, where the ield team documented information, relevant for decommissioning
is assembled and prepared for performing the work in from the operational staff to the new decommissioning
a safe and eficient way. The goals of this stage are organisation.
to ensure that members of the team are familiar with Ensuring that the workers are qualiied to do a job is
the environment and have a good understanding of the an important pre-requisite for initiating the implementa-
tasks scheduled, the risks associated, safety protocols tion of the job. In the next step of the preparation phase,
to follow, including their justiication, and have prac- the main goal is to make sure that the team has a good
tice in the task to be performed. Depending on whether understanding of the work steps and strategy developed
the decommissioning work is carried out in-house or is during the planning stage. This is usually ensured by
partly or entirely transferred to an external contractor, demonstrating the plans to the ield team before the im-
requirements in preparing the decommissioning team plementation of the tasks begin. In addition to demon-
may differ. For example, if the decommissioning work is stration of the overall work plan, especially for more
planned to be carried out by retrained operational staff, complex work protocols, a brieing session at the start
the preparation programme can focus less on educat- of each work shift is usually performed to achieve safe
ing the team members about the environment, existing and eficient execution of the plan. The pre-job brief-
conditions and safety protocols, and operational history ing is especially important for decommissioning work in
of the facility. However, many decommissioning-speciic radiological environments as the situation regarding
Journal of Nuclear Science and Technology 9
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Figure 6. Environmental impact assessment aided by GIS technology, 3D work simulation, and printer-friendly reports for com-
munication between participants, authorities, and stakeholders.

safety precautions may change from day to day and will for supporting training and brieing for maintenance
often be dependent not only on the stage in the plan that and outage work [2,1719].
the job is at, but also the results of actual measurements
in the ield.
In this work, we investigated the potential for using 4.1. Results and discussion
3D simulation, virtual reality, and advanced UI technol- The results of our research and development on ef-
ogy to enhance training and brieing of ield operators fective solutions based on 3D simulation, VR, and ad-
in nuclear decommissioning projects. Our research vanced UI technology indicate that education of staff for
was based on prior experience in the development and decommissioning jobs can be cost eficiently enhanced
application of 3D simulation, VR, and advanced UIs within the nuclear sector by applying these technologies
10 I. Szoke et al.
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Figure 7. VR-based interactive immersive training.

[2] to provide both individual immersive (Figure 7) and not followed. Virtual environments can be especially ef-
instructor-based classroom training (Figure 9), expect- fective for visualising danger and safety zones, as well as
edly resulting in lower costs and improved safety of de- enabling trainees to see inside structures to understand
commissioning projects. what is happening. To some extent, it is possible to use
While conventional physical mock-ups are useful for augmented reality technology in a physical mock-up or a
learning how to do decommissioning speciic jobs from shutdown site to, for example, simulate a hidden danger
a physical viewpoint, they are inlexible or dangerous for such as radiation, but physical mock-ups are relatively
realistically emulating situations, where the operator can costly and are rarely intended to be demolished multiple
learn to handle errors or risks. Training in a virtual en- times, so have, in our opinion, a more limited scope for
vironment (Figure 7) can supplement physical training learning how to cope with abnormal situations or learn-
by focussing on the more cognitive aspects of learning ing how the coniguration of site will change over time.
procedures and understanding why certain precautions In addition to ensuring that the required general
are necessary, and, not least, what can happen if they are skills are available for stafing ield teams, general
Journal of Nuclear Science and Technology 11
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Figure 8. Screenshot of the Andreeva Planner showing simulation of remediation work in the Andreeva Bay (manipulation of
aged containers holding spent nuclear fuel preparation for repackaging and transport). The scenario (simulation) in the igure has
been created at the State Research Center Burnasyan Federal Medical Biophysical Center of Federal Medical Biological Agency,
RF Ministry of Health and Social Development of Russia.

training for familiarisation with the speciic site layout, mersion that, even on a desktop computer, is neverthe-
environment, conditions, protocols, and history would less effective for preparing workers to cope with a range
be needed for newly hired team members. For complex of emergency situations. Visual simulation of past and
jobs, being done for the irst time or representing espe- possible crisis situations, and enabling workers to ob-
cially high-risk one-off operations, then it may be nec- serve and practice response tactics, can be an effective
essary for the allocated staff to be familiarised with the method for implementing training for an emergency pre-
planned work in good time before the job will be done. paredness strategy. For an example, a customised ver-
For this, the 3D simulations produced during the plan- sion of the VRdose system, the Andreeva Planner, has
ning stage are very useful as they can serve as a use- been utilised to simulate planned remediation work (Fig-
ful starting point for developing training programmes, ure 8) and possible emergency situations, develop and
reusing data from the previous steps planning stage. The teach optimal emergency response tactics, as well as sup-
radiological data gathered during characterisation tasks, port regulatory compliance as part of the emergency
and the 3D simulations developed during work planning preparedness strategy within the programme for the re-
and optimisation, can be applied to produce a VR-based mediation of legacy sites in the Andreeva Bay in the
training programme enabling the ield team to practice northwest of Russia [8].
scheduled decommissioning jobs (Figure 7). Based on our results, 3D and radiological simulation
A signiicant advantage of simulator-based training also has great potential in enhancing knowledge transfer
is that it offers an effective way of preparing ield oper- from the operational to the decommissioning phase, by
ators to handle possible emergency situations [20]. Em- demonstrating radiological conditions, work protocols,
ulating radiological emergency situations for training in and past events (Figure 9) registered using 3D simula-
physical environments can be either dificult to do re- tion, advanced UI, and portable computing device tech-
alistically or, as is often the case, impossible to do for nologies during the data collection phase.
safety reasons or because the physical environment that Furthermore, 3D work and radiological simulation
the scenario is associated with is inaccessible or does can be used to demonstrate work plans and associated
not exist yet. While a virtual environment typically lacks radiation, and other, risks (Figure 9). The technology
a physical feel, it provides a sense of presence and im- can be used in various conigurations for projected 3D
12 I. Szoke et al.
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Figure 9. Brieing concepts based on 3D work and radiological simulation.

stereoscopic and two-dimensional (2D) classroom-type 5. Implementing plans

brieing, 3D/2D interactive (discussion type) brieing, in- Once work starts on implementing a scheduled de-
dividual and remote brieing, and even in situ using mo- commissioning job, the primary objective is to ensure
bile or wearable displays. Realistic visualisation of the that the work is done as planned and that any issues
planned work protocols and risks can contribute to es- that arise while the job is in progress are managed ef-
tablishing appropriate situation awareness and under- fectively. To achieve this objective, eficient monitoring
standing of the assigned tasks for the ield operators of the work progress and of the radiological and other
involved [17,18]. The technology has been found to be conditions in the work zone is needed, as well as ef-
superior to paper-based brieing [18], since every work icient communication between members of the work
scenario is associated with a physical 3D environment team.
in which human activities, radiation, and other sources During the operation of a nuclear facility, the main
of danger have a dynamic 3D nature. The 3D projec- control room is used to monitor information criti-
tion technology enables stereoscopic viewing for teams cal to nuclear safety. During the transition phase, in-
of stakeholders, which typically results in more rapid formation important to nuclear safety gradually loses
depth perception than 2D projection, and can therefore importance with the removal of operational waste
be useful for relatively short procedures (less than 30 and the shutdown of systems that are no longer re-
minutes), while 2D projection is more comfortable to quired. However, as the decommissioning work pro-
view for longer periods of time [19]. In general, 3D pro- gresses, the importance of radiological information in-
jection is of greatest beneit for visualising things within creases. Radiological and exposure conditions deter-
arms-reach of the operator/viewer, therefore 3D projec- mined by the remaining contamination and activated
tion is often not necessary for brieing purposes as the materials are the primary inluencer of the costs and
beneit is reduced the further away the objects visualised safety of a nuclear decommissioning project. Due to
are located relative to the viewer. the uncertainties in estimating the expected evolution of
Journal of Nuclear Science and Technology 13

radiological conditions beforehand, monitoring of radi-

ological and exposure conditions is therefore very im-
portant throughout the project. Monitoring radiologi-
cal conditions and mitigating risk to ield operators dur-
ing a decommissioning job is challenging because the
radiological environment changes, often dramatically,
as a result of decontamination and dismantling tasks.
Hence, monitoring systems need to have a high re-
fresh rate in order to capture the dynamicity of the
During a decommissioning project, ield operators
are often expected to perform tasks where the general
procedure that they have trained for may be the same,
but the conditions within which it is carried out differ
each time and the procedure may be slightly different,
requiring that the worker to be alert to the situation for
the current job and not expect, for example, exclusion
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zones, and other safety precautions to be the same as the

last time the same procedure was followed. While brief-
ing good procedures and requiring veriication of safety
barriers, during critical stages of a job, are important
means for ensuring safety, there is an increased likeli-
hood of a safety-related incident if a worker momentar-
Figure 10. Monitoring of work progress from a control room
ily forgets the current jobs conditions and attempts to of a nuclear installation supported by 3D simulation.
apply those recalled from a previous time when a sim-
ilar procedure was followed. Eficient communication
within a team and between ield workers and supervising the associated safety case normally covers the conceiv-
staff contributes to ensuring that the correct procedure able eventualities that need to be prepared for, but when
is followed. multiple safety barriers are breached in an unanticipated
A complicating factor for a team of workers doing manner, as is typically the case in a serious accident, the
a decommissioning job is that there are typically multi- consequences are often unexpected and require rapid de-
ple teams doing multiple jobs simultaneously. Hence, a velopment and execution of a well-informed emergency
safety incident that may in fact have been contained ef- management strategy [21]. As past events have shown,
fectively to protect the workers doing the job in which the results of a serious accident may not be conined
it occurred may pose increased risk for workers doing within a nuclear installation. Hence, a deliberated emer-
other jobs in the vicinity. Effective monitoring, coordi- gency response strategy must also take into account the
nation, and communication are therefore important if possible impact on the general public and environment.
multi-team work is to be done both safely and eficiently. In this work, we have also investigated the potential
Communicating dynamic 3D information on conditions for applying 3D simulation and mobile computing tech-
and risks is very challenging through traditional tech- nologies for supporting crisis management in nuclear de-
niques, such as procedures, brieings, and job descrip- commissioning projects.
tions on paper.
In this work, the authors of this paper have also con-
ducted research into the potential of using mobile and 5.1. Results and discussion
ubiquitous computing technologies to facilitate work Based on our results, virtual plant models and 3D
progress monitoring and team communication during simulation could be eficiently used to monitor work
work in decommissioning environments. progress (status of scheduled tasks), team and ield op-
When monitoring the execution of a decommission- erator locations, and radiological risks from a con-
ing job, the detection of minor deviances from estimates trol room (Figure 10). Such information would greatly
in the plan in terms of exposure of the workers, the pop- contribute to avoiding increased exposure due to un-
ulation, and the environment are quite common due to planned events and conditions. It could also contribute
the imprecision of impact estimates. Since impact assess- to increasing eficiency (e.g. avoiding delays) by enabling
ments are always performed in a strongly conservative rapid rescheduling and reassignment of workers in ac-
manner, deviances are often positive, with a job done cordance with actual progress.
more quickly and with less exposure than budgeted for. In addition to supporting monitoring work progress
A negative deviance does not usually lead to a crisis sit- from the control room, 3D simulation can also be ex-
uation unless the cause was a serious mishap or accident ploited to facilitate two-way communication within the
during the execution of the job. When planning a job, whole decommissioning team (i.e. among members of a
14 I. Szoke et al.

Figure 11. In situ information for ield operators showing task list (left-hand panel) and 3D simulation (right-hand panel).
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ield team, across different ield teams working in par- possible available to them. 3D simulation technologies
allel, and between ield teams and the control room). can be an eficient means for presenting dynamic (real-
Figure 11 illustrates how 3D simulation based in situ in- time) situation information to response team members
formation can complement task list based information in a manner that facilitates rapid visual perception and
to ield operators. The technology can be applied to vi- comprehension [20]. The concept illustrated in Figure 1
sualise pending tasks and tasks in progress using VR or can be used to enable rapid registration and sharing
augmented reality techniques [22], while also indicating of radiological and other data required for assessing
locations targeted by the tasks (i.e. team and worker po- the situation (Figure 2). The methodology shown in
sitions), task status, and associated risks to the ield op- Figure 10 can be utilised to present dynamic situation
erators (personal doses and ambient dose distribution, information and impact estimates (e.g. distribution of
i.e. radiation visualisation). In addition to the planned ambient dose levels) to decision-makers. The technology
situation, actual locations, exposure levels, and progress demonstrated in Figure 11 can facilitate communication
can be visualised based on regular manual input from between team members in order to ensure common
the workers, and/or automated data registration by understanding of the situation and the chosen response
sensors [1]. With the help of suitable interpolation strategy.
techniques, data from sensors measuring radiation dose The GIS-based technology presented earlier also
or activity concentrations can be applied for dynamic has strong potential for enabling eficient comprehen-
monitoring (mapping) of the environment in terms of ra- sion of environmental impact information (Figure 4) by
diation risk. This information combined with live data decision-makers involved in developing environmental
on team locations and work progress enables monitor- remediation and site monitoring strategies, as well as,
ing and projection of risks to ield operators. By com- supporting the regulators inal survey before site release.
paring the expected situation from the plan with the ac- In addition, the technology can be applied during emer-
tual situation and projections, deviations can be detected gency response to visualise conditions in real time, along
relatively early, and workers can be alerted to ensure with predictions based on the progression of the situa-
that they are aware of the deviation and can respond to tion. Systems based on GIS data standards are able to in-
it appropriately before any signiicant safety limits are tegrate multiple types of geographical data; therefore, in
breached. addition to visualising radiation measurements, they can
In addition to supporting emergency preparedness integrate meteorological data, the location of emergency
and the production of well-founded response proce- responders, points of interest, cordoned areas, evacu-
dures, the technologies presented in this paper could also ation routes, and so forth, depending on what data is
be used to support an emergency response team during available from ixed measuring stations and emergency
conceivable crisis situations and emergency conditions irst responders and monitors in the ield (Figure 12).
that were not prepared for. During irst response, the
situation may change rapidly in an unexpected manner.
It is very important that the response team performs 6. Evaluating, preserving, and transferring experience
prompt but deliberated actions. Hence, it is imperative After completing a scheduled decommissioning ac-
that there is eficient communication within the response tivity, there should be a learning step, where the job is
team, and that team members have the best information reviewed with respect to the plan and any important
Journal of Nuclear Science and Technology 15

Figure 12. GIS-based environmental radiological


lessons learned, extracted, recorded, and shared. The

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technologies presently employed for many decommis- Figure 13. Life-time support concept based on 3D simula-
sioning tasks do not apply the latest methods. Better tion and advanced user interface technology.
exchange of information and lessons learned would fa-
cilitate adaptation of new techniques facilitating more
eficient and safer decommissioning [12]. cient knowledge management culture, including support
In this work, we evaluated the potential for using by emerging sematic and 3D simulation technologies,
3D simulation technology to support advanced knowl- will revolutionise future international strategy in nuclear
edge management, facilitating improved preservation decommissioning [23].
and transfer of experience in nuclear decommissioning.

7. Conclusion
6.1. Results and discussion Results of the research within the OECD Halden
The 3D simulation used to prepare the plan is Reactor Project [6] into evaluation of 3D simulation,
useful for this as it can be applied, for example, to VR, advanced UI, and emerging mobile computing
demonstrate success or ineficiency in applying new technologies for supporting work in the nuclear industry
technology or exiting technology under new conditions. demonstrate that these technologies have huge potential
The simulation can also be annotated with actual data for improving safety, eficiency, and transparency of
collected when the job was done and used to explain nuclear decommissioning projects. Our results show
deviations or discuss ideas for how the job could have that these technologies can contribute to solving im-
been done even more eficiently. Clearly, if a serious portant tasks relevant for decommissioning during the
mishap took place then using the 3D simulation tool to entire lifecycle of a nuclear installation.
model what happened can aid understanding of the con- During the so-called transition phase, these tech-
sequences or determining what could (or should) have nologies can be applied to support planning inal re-
been done to prevent or contain the event. In any case, moval of operational waste, surveying historical data,
the simulations and data collected provide a compre- planning additional radiological surveys, managing and
hensive documentation of the on-site project activities analysing survey and activation calculation data, initial
and experience. This data can be applied to promote or- worker safety assessments and protection design, envi-
ganisational learning and contribute to improving safety ronmental impact assessments, preparing inal decom-
through greater understanding of the nature of risks, fa- missioning plans (scheduling and resource allocation,
cilitate exchange of experience between decommission- detailed planning of speciic jobs), communication (with
ing projects across the border, and educate future de- authorities, advisors and the public), and training work-
commissioning personnel (e.g. e-learning materials). In ers for decommissioning tasks.
addition, the data can also be used to produce statistics Similarly, during the decommissioning phase itself,
useful for planning similar jobs in future, thus provid- these technologies can be used to support commu-
ing a more accurate basis for the estimation of costs and nication (with and between staff), carrying out new
risks. radiological surveys, updating worker safety assess-
Management of knowledge presents special chal- ments and protection, updating decommissioning plans
lenges in the ield of nuclear decommissioning. Many (overall schedule, detailed plans for speciic jobs), waste
experts and international organisations (e.g. the Inter- classiication (dose-based clearance and release), inal
national Atomic Energy Agency) predict that more efi- survey of end state, development of long-term safety
16 I. Szoke et al.

assessment/monitoring strategy, and the regulators cation of new technology. The results of use in industry
conirmatory survey. projects [1,8,15,24,25] proved that these technologies are
Finally, after completing a decommissioning project, very useful for improving planning and optimisation of
the technologies described here can continue to be useful jobs, team communication and regulatory surveillance,
by providing valuable support for evaluating, preserv- as well as brieing and training of ield operators. This
ing, and transferring experience, in order to improve fu- is conditional, however, on the technological solution
ture practice and regulation. used being a good match with the speciic needs of
Furthermore, these technologies can be applied the decommissioning project, and being easy to use,
during the operational phase to support registration to minimising deployment costs such as training staff.
and preservation data that will be useful later for This generally means that the software needs to be
decommissioning, e.g. online monitoring and regular designed or adapted speciically to meet the nuclear
survey data, radiological data about incidents, and industry requirements in order to support an acceptable
development of preliminary decommissioning plans. worklow.
These technologies could also be employed during the At present, practical experience from deployment of
pre-operational phases of planning and construction, such 3D-based decommissioning support systems is rel-
to preserve data on the radiological background, site atively scarce. However, there is consensus among ex-
coniguration, material properties, natural radioactivity perts in that, based on experience so far and projec-
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content, to produce decommissioning plans required tions for the future, the costs entailed by adoption of
for licensing new build, and document the initial state such technology are deinitely worth it compared to the
of the facility environment. increased safety and inancial beneits enabled by the
Results of research in earlier studies at the OECD technology [23]. Unfortunately, open literature under-
Halden Reactor Project, into the applicability of 3D sim- pinning this statement is poor and is expected to bloom
ulation, VR, advanced UIs, and mobile computing tech- in the next few years.
nologies for supporting pre-operational and operational
phases of nuclear installations also provide useful guid-
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