Abu Dhabi, UAE – 12 October 2018: Nawah Energy Company (Nawah), the operator of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in the Al Dhafra Region of Abu Dhabi, has become the first company in the world to develop English language standards for nuclear plant operations. These standards play a significant role in ensuring a high level of effective safety communication as part of a healthy nuclear safety culture.
With employees from more than 40 nationalities, Nawah is the most multinational and multicultural nuclear operating company in the world. Ensuring that the operators and maintenance personnel meet the highest standards of communication has a direct positive impact on the sustainable and reliable operation of the four Units at the Barakah plant.
“As we prepare to begin operating the first nuclear energy reactor in the Arab World, everyone at Nawah has been working to maintain high standards of effective safety communications,” said Mark Reddemann, Nawah CEO. “With the development of the first ‘Nuclear English’ standards, we can now ensure that our staff have the language ability to effectively communicate, to support safe, reliable operations.”
“Our current focus is to finalize the assessment of the people who are essential to the Fuel Load and start-up of Barakah Unit 1, comprising operators, maintenance and security personnel, emergency response officers, as well as other groups. Our dedicated Organizational Effectiveness team is working around the clock to ensure that these people sit the exams and obtain the official certification needed to meet the Nuclear English standard,” added Mr Reddemann. “So far, we have evaluated about 90 percent of the staff and around 55 percent have already achieved the required level.”
As part of the implementation of the Nuclear English standards, and to facilitate continuous learning, Nawah has created the world’s first Nuclear English Development Center (NEDC) at the Barakah plant. The NEDC provides all employees with an immersive learning environment for maintaining high standards of language proficiency and promoting effective safety communication as a key component of a healthy nuclear safety culture.
Effective safety communications is one of the ten key traits of a healthy Nuclear Safety Culture developed by the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) and the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO). Effective communication supports teamwork and coordination between groups, which enhances safety.
“Effective safety communication at a nuclear plant is not about English native- and non-native speakers; it is about a group of people from around the world working together as a team, being able to adapt to changing situations, and using the same terminology to support the long-term safe and sustainable operation of the nuclear energy reactors they are working on,” added Mr. Reddemann. “In fact, Peter Dietrich, Nawah’s Chief Nuclear Officer who is from the US, recently took the Nuclear English Test as this is a requirement.”
“Applying the highest standards of quality for communications directly contributes to Nawah’s mission of becoming a world-class nuclear operator. Communication is more than sending or receiving a message – it is a process that is conducive of building a strong corporate culture and ensures that our multinational team of people work together on operating the Barakah plant safely and sustainably,” concluded Mr. Reddemann.
The ‘Nuclear English’ standards developed by Nawah are based on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Nawah developed the first Nuclear English Test in the industry and qualified a number of staff as ICAO raters by a world renowned Aviation English College. The Nuclear English test uses a similar format to the Test of English for Aviation, but is set within the nuclear context and is developed in consultation with Nuclear Operators. Similar to Aviation English, the ‘Nuclear English’ standards require staff to demonstrate the ability to speak and understand the language used for operating in an international community.
Nawah’s dedicated teams in charge of ensuring the standards conduct regular training and testing sessions with employees to assess their language proficiency levels and match them to the standards.
Nawah currently employs around 2,000 people, half of which are UAE nationals. Since the start of the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Program, over 600 young Emiratis have graduated from educational programs in nuclear science and technology through the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation’s (ENEC’s) scholarship programs. Nawah also currently has about 200 reactor operators and senior reactor operators in training, who will be independently certified by the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR).