Leningrad NPP training assistance project


The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign (NMFA) affaires has since 1999 funded an assistance project at the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant (LNPP) close to St. Petersburg in Russia. The goal of the project is to increase the safety at LNPP through better training.

Johnsen, Terje

Special Adviser

Mark, Niels Kristian

Senior Scientist



LNPP reactor hall in VRAs part of its programme for increased safety towards nuclear power plants in Russia, Central, and Eastern Europe, the Norwegian authorities has, since 1999, funded five projects at the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant (LNPP) in Russia. The reactor type at the operating LNPP is similar to the one at the now closed ChNPP. It is designed for online refuelling during full power using a refuelling machine.

Human errors may have significant impact on power plant safety, productivity, and operation. The complexity of both the refuelling operation and the refuelling machine itself means that the personnel need good knowledge and skills about the correct procedures. The training should familiarise the trainees with procedures, equipment, steps, coordination, inspections, and safety concerns. To be effective, the training must transfer to the actual work environment, meaning that the skills and behaviours learned during training must be demonstrated in the working conditions. The training should therefore satisfy some general requirements stating that the training must involve the active participation of the user. In addition, the trainee should receive feedback on his performance.

The results from the projects at LNPP are two closely-related VR applications: A simulator (called RMS-VR OPT) for the unguided (by the computer) simulation-based training of the refuelling operation that normally would be done together with an instructor, and a procedural training system (called RMPT) for training procedures related to the maintenance of the safety-critical interior components of the refuelling machine. The procedural training system is designed for pre-authored computer-based training, enabling the trainee to use the computer as a guide without the presence of an instructor. 

RMS-VR OPT used for training at LNPPLNPP was constructed in the period 1970-80 so all the original documentation about the layout is paper-based, and in some cases not up-to-date. Therefore, detailed 3D models of the refuelling machine and the reactor hall have been developed in the ISO VRML97 format. Both RMPT and RMS-VR OPT enable the trainee to interact with these 3D models in real-time. After being introduced to VR, LNPP has created additional 3D models of other parts of the plant and today one has a database of 3D models that is reused widely for visualising any aspect regarding planning, training and operation.

The VR applications have a potentially powerful interface, providing both static and dynamic information. The information presented may consist of data that will be available to the trainee in the real world and additional data given for assisting the trainee in order to make the training more effective. The two systems can be used by both groups of people or individuals, either alone or in a classroom context.

Today, both VR systems are in use at LNPP for training the refuelling operation and maintenance. The applications are expected to play an important role in the transfer of knowledge to the younger generation. In 2006-2007 Rosenergoatom, the owner of the Russian NPPs, financed the deployment of the refuelling operation simulator to Kursk NPP and Smolensk NPP for use in training there.

At LNPP, the development of VR software continued in 2008-2010 funded by the Norwegian authorities.

The LNPP assistance project 2008-2010

In April 2008, the Norwegian plan for increasing safety at nuclear power plants in Russia in 2008-2012 was approved by the Norwegian Government. IFE was officially approved by the NMFA to continue the LNPP-IFE project for the 2008-2010 time-frame. LNPP was the customer while IFE was the project leader on the Norwegian side and the Russian company InterDCM was subcontract to IFE.

Overall goals of the project

The over-all goals of the project were:

1) To perform the Site Acceptance Test (SAT) of the refuelling machine maintenance procedure trainer (called RMPT) developed in the previous stage of the project. This task was fulfilled 25 November 2008.

2) To update the refuelling machine simulator for refuelling operation training using virtual reality technology (called RMS-VR OPT) due to the upgrading of the real refuelling machine control room done by LNPP in 2007-2008. This task was completed in the spring 2009.

3) To perform the integration of RMS-VR OPT and the two Full-scope Simulators (FSS-1 and FFS-2) at LNPP TTC. The integration of RMS-VR OPT and FSS-1 was completed in March 2011 while the integration with FSS-2 will be ready in the Autumn 2011.

4) To develop software based on RMS-VR OPT and RMPT for using the Virtual Reality (VR) technology in the preparation for power unit decommissioning, and to use the software for visualising the nuclear fuel and in-core items transportation operations to be performed on pile cap or in spent fuel pools as part of power unit decommissioning procedure. The result of this task was the LNPP Procedure Creator and Trainer (LNPP PCT), which was completed in March 2011.

5) To have a decommissioning workshop at IFE in Halden. The workshop took place 18-19 August with the title “Use of Virtual Reality (VR) in decommissioning planning and training”.

Description of subprojects

The overall goals were organised in the following subprojects.

Site Acceptance Test of RMPT
The Refuelling Machine Procedure Trainer (RMPT) based on Virtual Reality (VR) technology for maintenance procedure training was developed by the parties in 2005-2008 and completed in November 2008.

Updating of RMS-VR OPT
In 2007-2008 LNPP upgraded the control room of the real Refuelling Machine. Due to this the refuelling machine simulator for refuelling operation training using virtual reality technology (i.e. RMS-VR OPT) had to be updated too. This work was finished in the spring 2009.

Integration of RMS-VR OPT with FSS-1and FSS-2
The refuelling operation involves a close cooperation between the refuelling operators and the reactor operators since the replacement of fuel is taking place while the reactor is at full power. The existing version of the refuelling machine simulator (RMS-VR OPT) allowed training the teamwork using a separate reactor core module for the simulation and for the interaction of the reactor operators. For more realistic training the RMS-VR OPT was planned to be connected to the two full-scope simulators (FSS-1 and FSS-2) at LNPP TTC. The integration between RMS-VR OPT and FSS-1 was completed in March 2011 while the integration with FSS-2 wil be ready in the Autumn.

Spent fuel transportation training

The scenario to be trained
After the spent fuel has been removed from the reactor core using the refuelling machine the fuel elements are placed in the cooling pool in the reactor hall for 3 years. Then the elements are put in a container with space for 9 elements and loaded on a railway wagon before the elements are moved to a separate storage area outside the reactor. The moving of the fuel rods and in-core items from the cooling pool to the container is done using a special transportation device. Technically it is a simplified version of the refuelling machine, which is moved by the main crane in the reactor hall. The moving of the spent fuel and in-core items to the storage area outside the reactor is a safety critical procedure and it is important for LNPP to train this procedure using a VR based training system. The removal of spent fuel is the first step in the procedure for preparing power unit for decommissioning before actually starting the dis-mantling of the unit.

Main functions of the training system
The training system is called LNPP Procedure Creator and Trainer (i.e. LNPP PCT). The main functions of LNPP PCT are:

1. Collaborative training: Two or more trainees are be able to train on a predefined work procedure in a 3D world. That is in a Virtual Environment (VE). Each trainee is represented by a manikin in the VE. The manikin is able to walk around and work in the VE. The trainees can to see each other and communicate in the VE.

2. Training of a work procedure: The trainee is able go trough a predefined work procedure. That is to select objects in the VE, move and manipulate objects in a realistic manner in addition to performing other physical work tasks.

3. Guided training: The trainee may be guided in training. Different levels of guiding are available; from free exploration in the VE to full guiding and presentation of the correct procedure.

4. Radiation data visualisation and dose calculation: The trainee is able to see a radiation map in the VE. Also, the trainee can be informed about the dose rate and the total dose received when training the procedure.

5. Risk visualisation: In the VE, the trainee can be informed about physical risks, both visible and non-visible ones, which may result in personnel injury, damage to the equipment or to the environment.

6. Detailed object data: The trainee can get detailed technical data about objects.

7. Tools for setting up the training scenario: The instructor has tools for setting up the training scenario for each individual trainee including the level of guiding and the incidents that the trainee may experience.

8. Instructor evaluation of the trainee’s performance: The instructor is able to log the trainee’s actions during training and evaluate the trainee’s performance.

9. Procedure creation and management: The instructor and others are able to create a new work procedure and to edit an existing one. The procedure may include several persons represented by manikins. There are tools for evaluating a new procedure including calculation of dose rate and total dose received by person doing the procedure.

10. Stereoscopic visualisation: Stereoscopic visualisation of the VE is available.

Input data for the training system

The input data for LNPP PCT is:

  • Information describing the procedure to be trained, including manuals.
  • Realistic VR-models (i.e. 3D models) of the environment and the equipment used when doing the procedure.
  • Radiation data from the place where the real procedure is performed.
  • Technical data about objects.

Decommissioning workshop in the August 2009
As part of the project IFE arranged an international workshop in Halden in 18-19 August 2009. The topic was the use of visualisation technologies such as VR for supporting decommissioning projects and the title was “Use of Virtual Reality (VR) in decommissioning planning and training”. More than 40 delegates participted coming from Leningrad NPP, Chernobyl NPP, Smolensk NPP, Kursk NPP, Kola NPP, the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authorities, the NMFA and IFE.

The project was finished as planned in March 2011 with the delivery of LNPP PCT to LNPP.