IAEA Level 3 NDT Workshop

13 May 2012

The African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA) is an inter-governmental agreement established by African member states to strengthen and enlarge the contribution of nuclear science and technology to socio-economic development on the African continent. There are 14 countries participating in the current AFRA RAF 8 043 project. The goal of the project is to promote self-reliance and sustainability of non-destructive testing facilities. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been appointed to manage the project on behalf of the group of sponsor countries.

SAIW has been appointed as a Regional Designated Centre (RDC) for Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) by AFRA. The RDC is a centre of technical expertise which provides support to countries in the region. One of the tasks of the project is to harmonise training, qualification and certification of NDT personnel. SAIW Certification has the only certification scheme in Africa which is based on the ISO 9712 standard for non-destructive testing – qualification and certification of personnel. The certification scheme is accredited by an International Accreditation Forum (IAF) member organisation. This led to SAIW Certification being AFRA’s preferred option for certification in the African region. A group of candidates were recently sent to SAIW for level 3 refresher training and certification. Level 3 is the highest level of approval in the NDT systems for certification of personnel examinations.

Amongst the 14 AFRA countries, 26 candidates took part in the workshop. These candidates came from Angola (1), Cameroon (3), Egypt (2), Ethiopia (1), Ghana (1), Kenya (3), Nigeria (1), Sudan (7) and Tanzania (1). There were also 6 candidates from South Africa attending. The purpose of the workshop was to provide an opportunity for candidates wanting to undertake level 3 examinations to gain level 2 practical skills in the test method in which they were being examined, as this is a prerequisite before level 3 examinations can be taken. This workshop was therefore an opportunity for personnel not certified as level 2 NDT technicians to complete a level 2 practical examination in the required method. Level 2 certification, or passing the level 2 practical examination, enables the candidate to do the Main Method training and examination.

Intense courses were presented during a two week workshop followed by a week of examinations. Candidates were encouraged to prepare before attending the courses so that pertinent problem areas could be addressed as opposed to presenting unfamiliar information. The basic exam included materials and processing, qualification and certification programmes and NDT level 2 knowledge of various methods. The Main Method training included level 3 theory in applicable methods, specific training relating to international codes and standards as well as written procedure writing.

The programme increases the pool of level 3 personnel in Africa. It enables NDT personnel to work across borders and gain on-going experience in the application of NDT. Suitably qualified NDT level 3’s are capable of developing and controlling NDT activities in various African countries. The workshop was an initiative to achieve project RAF 8 043 objectives, as identified by the group of national NDT project coordinators. RAF 8 043 is a follow on from a previous project RAF 8 032 which started in 2002. Candidates have been evaluated and selected in accordance with ISO 9712 requirements and viz. according to their NDT qualifications, certificate and experience. Other tertiary qualifications were also considered.

The project assisted in more than 100 new level 3 test method qualifications, equating to approximately 55 newly qualified level 3 personnel. During this workshop, 14 candidates wrote the basic examination with 13 being successful. Of the more specialised NDT examinations, such as magnetic particle testing, liquid penetrant testing, radiographic testing and ultrasonic testing, 48 exams and 8 rewrites culminated in a 36% pass rate which is considered within acceptable norms for such a programme and confirm the quality of the examination process.

While this workshop sees the end of the RAF 8 043 project, it is expected that there will be a deeper focus on tri-lateral projects between AFRA/IAEA, different countries and RDC to develop countries that are recognised as making progress towards self-sufficiency.