Collective Memory of Operating Experience

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 11:00 AM
Room: 512
Oral Presentation
Johanna BISHOP , Behavioral Science, Wilmington University, New Castle, DE
The nuclear power industry has been in existence for over fifty years. Despite the mishap at Three Mile Island, the accident in Chernobyl, and the catastrophe at Fukushima, this industry with its self-regulating model has operated more safely and productively than most fossil fuel industries. The nuclear power industry is aware that its survival depends on its ability to share operating experience to prevent recurrence of past errors. This begs the question How does the nuclear power industry use operating experience?

Capturing and disseminating operating experience constitutes an organization’s collective memory. Problems at one nuclear plant are documented and stored to be shared with other nuclear power plants. Lessons learned from Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima provide impetus for actions at all nuclear power plants as each plant analyzes its vulnerabilities. Identifying and sharing with the industry, a plant’s potential for mishap and taking action to mitigate disaster becomes part of the nuclear power industry’s collective memory.

The nuclear power industry’s collective memory exists in its operating experience database, and becomes a living entity through the training function. Using case study methodology and extensive interviews with training instructors, this study examined how significant industry mishaps are remembered in the training function of one nuclear power station, and how remembering past operating experience informs a current nuclear power industry workforce.