ANS Whitepaper Background
In 2001, the NCSD Executive Committee endorsed use of whitepapers to relate guidance on pertinent issues or examples of good practices in the practice of Nuclear Criticality Safety. The whitepaper process is intended to be a venue for all members of the division to promote best practices, lessons learned or to explore meaningful discussions on issues of importance to the criticality safety community. Whitepapers are intended to be living documents that could and should change as practices improve.
The white paper begins with a relevant subject matter or guidance topic that could add value to ANS NCSD. Once the Education Committee agrees to work on the topic, volunteers are assigned to draft the white paper.
This document presents an overview of the American Nuclear Society Nuclear Criticality Safety Division (ANS/NCSD) Education Committee (EC) and delineates the white paper process lifecycle.
One of the more difficult, but important, tasks of a criticality safety engineer (CSE) is to develop the rationale for the establishment of controlled parameters and properly document the basis for subcritical limits derived using the controlled parameters. The documented basis is often referred to as a nuclear criticality safety evaluation (NCSE). In addition, clear specifications of associated control and functionality requirements needed to safely operate a process or facility involving fissile material must be clearly communicated to operating personnel.
As the Nuclear Criticality Safety (NCS) community grows older and large numbers of experienced criticality safety engineer specialists retire, there is a need for less experienced aspiring criticality safety engineer specialists to fill the gap. It is very important that the lessons-learned over the past ~50 years are passed on to the “next generation.” This can be effectively accomplished utilizing a nuclear criticality safety mentorship program. A more experienced criticality safety engineer specialist (i.e., mentor) should educate the less experienced criticality safety engineer specialist (e.g., trainee, or engineer). Mentorship should not end once the trainee becomes a qualified Criticality Safety Engineer or Senior Criticality Safety Engineer at his/her nuclear facility.
Mentoring and learning are not limited to less experienced specialists, nor limited to a period during the start of a career. Oftentimes seasoned professionals learn a great deal while serving as a mentor and gain perspective not available to them outside of a mentor relationship. The best careers have an element of learning throughout the entirety and therefore new and seasoned professionals can be gaining skills at any point in their career. It is an ongoing, continuous process while a member of the NCS community.
Mentorship is not limited by proximity or location. While there are requirements specific to a facility, a majority of learning can and does take place amongst professionals located at other sites and within other NCS programs. Development of mentor relationships across distance is encouraged and with regular meetings, conferences and technology that supports online connections it is possible to develop effective mentoring remotely.
A self-sustaining nuclear reaction with fissionable material can occur in a nuclear reactor, an experimental laboratory, or in a nuclear fuel processing setting. The reactor has shielding and reactivity control mechanisms. A critical mass laboratory anticipates a self-sustaining reaction and has safety features. A self-sustaining nuclear reaction in the fuel processing cycle is unintended and is referred to as a nuclear criticality accident.