chapter  3
14 Pages

At the Nuclear Power Station – ‘We Put a Line in the Sand’

The nuclear power station includes two nuclear reactors and has a total generation capacity of almost 1,000 megawatts. The physical plant and equipment, and the operations staff, are divided into two distinct technical areas – reactor equipment and power generation. Approximately 650 people are employed at the site including approximately 170 people in the Operations Department. The operational decision-making in the face of a developing operating anomaly followed a clear two-stage process: compliance with station operating instructions and the line in the sand. The Shift Managers had a very strong cultural norm amongst themselves as to how operational decision-making was carried out. Operational decisions regarding safety at the nuclear power station are made within a highly disciplined organizational environment. The organization operates a comprehensive reporting system to capture all kinds of incidents in an attempt to learn from them, but this is largely irrelevant to operational decision-making about safety.