Hey guys, what would you say are the most important aspects of the job of being a nuclear reactor operator?
Not as an operator, but I did spend 17 years building nuclear power plant operator training simulators. So I had lots of interaction with the instructors and the trainees.Do you by any chance have any experience as a reactor operator anorlunda?
I will answer for myself rather than anorlunda. His answer about know and follow the procedures is completely correct.Do you by any chance have any experience as a reactor operator anorlunda?
You're probably not as old as I am. Did you ever hear of the 1970's BWR infamous incident know in the industry as "the Saturday night massacre?" That too was a case of an operator trying to innovate.I recall one in particular. An operator decided a particular maintenance procedure could be improved.
Do you have a BSE in nuclear?Not as an operator, but I did spend 17 years building nuclear power plant operator training simulators. So I had lots of interaction with the instructors and the trainees.
Ha ha ha, I've done that before, although not for 2 hours!I would be terrible as the operator of any kind of equipment. When nothing happens, my mind wanders and I lose concentration. One night when driving home, I missed a turn. Two hours later when I came to the border check of another country, I noticed.
I assume you hold at least a BSE then?I will answer for myself rather than anorlunda. His answer about know and follow the procedures is completely correct.
I'm a nuclear safety analyst, joined the industry in 1990. I've had to sit through a few group meetings reporting on people not following procedure. These are usually the most tense meetings we have.
That was unbelievably arrogant on his part. Sounds like he was weeded out in time.I recall one in particular. An operator decided a particular maintenance procedure could be improved. So he decided on his own to do what he thought was the better procedure. Fortunately, there is always somebody who's job it is to follow up on every action in the station and check it was done according to procedure. The variations were discovered. The guy's explanation was not accepted and he was fired. Later, other people evaluated his suggestions and made some modifications. But the guy who didn't follow procedure was still not invited back.
Sounds perfectly reasonable.The reason procedure is so important is this. The next guy who comes along must be able to have confidence that everything is where it should be. If he expects there to be power on this power line, and none on that power line, it better be that way. Because people can die if it's wrong. And huge damage can result to the station and to the public.
That is very insightful, thank you.mesa asked about my university level. I have a BSc, an MSc, and a PhD, all in physics.
In Canada, most nuclear operators are educated by the utilities. They very much prefer to start with a high school grad and train them directly. The training consists of some years of combination classroom and on-the-job training. Their in-class stuff is wide ranging. Lots of math, physics, and chemistry. And lots of technical stuff like electronics, welding theory, and the behavior of concrete. If it's relevant to nuclear reactors they try to push it into the brains of the operators. I would guess that the training an operator gets is equivalent to a typical BSc, but with far more lab time than a typical undergrad ever gets.
The only other country I know anything about the way they train operators is China. They do something similar there. Each utility has an academy for training their technical staff, both the operators and the people more concerned with design and analysis. There is one at the Daya Bay station. I got to walk around outside this one. It's fairly picturesque for a nuclear plant, being on the shore of the South China Sea.
How long have you worked in the field, and if you don't mind, where have you/are you currently worked(ing)?I am a current licensed senior reactor operator.
That last sentence says a lot.It’s all about procedure use and adherence, operator fundamentals, and conservative decision making.
As operators we need to be aware of the plant and be capable of recognizing if we are in a situation which needs the reactor shut down immediately because of degrading conditions or upon a failure of the reactor protection system. Unanalyzed conditions shouldn’t happen, but they can. And taking conservative action to scram the reactor or initiate a safety injection without hesitation is what’s important. Everything after that is about stabilization and minimizing the potential for complications. But I’ve seen situations occurs which are things you would never expect (turbine system stability issues causing rapid pressure swings and prompt flux changes, causing thermal duty cycles on the fuel. All control rods breaking off their seats due to Vortexing in the rod drive suction. Etc) and our job is to be the first line of defense for most events, and the last line of defense for the things which are too fast for us to react.
Your "guess" is completely incorrect.The most difficult part of the operators job there appeared to be simply staying awake. Control room were usually littered with Playboy, Penthouse, etc. and operators were struggling to not to doze off. I would guess it is similar in a nuke plant.
No kidding.I've never been in a nuke plant
Odd. I was a reactor operator in the navy, and staying awake was 99.9% of the job.Your "guess" is completely incorrect.
Same as with any job: Don't break anything.Hey guys, what would you say are the most important aspects of the job of being a nuclear reactor operator?
Reactor operators in the US navy have high school diplomas.Do you have a BSE in nuclear?
Ha ha ha!Same as with any job: Don't break anything.
So it seems, and with commercial reactors as well, this thread has been quite insightful.Reactor operators in the US navy have high school diplomas.
(Plus some military instruction, obviously. Don't want just any nose picker running a reactor.)
First off, @OmCheeto - thank you for your service. I know that has become a bit cliche lately but I mean it, sincerely.Odd. I was a reactor operator in the navy, and staying awake was 99.9% of the job.
So I would describe his guess as completely correct.
Perhaps you were an operator at a facility with a different type of reactor?
I've had arguments here at PF before, with people in that situation.