Office for Nuclear Regulation

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A day in the life of a nuclear inspector

14 March, 2012

Robert Clark joined the Office for Nuclear Regulation in 2010 as a Nuclear Inspector specialising in radiological protection.  He works within the civil nuclear reactor programme supporting inspections of nuclear licensed sites, assessing safety case submissions and participating in assessment of site emergency-exercise demonstrations. 

He also provides advice to the rest of the organisation on radiological protection issues. 

Robert takes us through a typical working day…

Morning

I get in just before 8am to beat the traffic!  I’m in a car share scheme which is helpful as I get to hear about what is happening in other parts of the organisation.

Once I’m in the office, it’s fair to say that no two days are the same but the one constant is emails.  I check to see if I need to change my priorities, especially if I have been on site for a few days.

Once I’ve responded to urgent queries, I start planning my day. 

I am a nuclear inspector in the Civil Nuclear Reactor Programme specialising in radiological protection, which means I spent a large part of my time supporting the site inspectors for the EDF and Magnox stations with any radiological protection issues. I am going to a site later this week, so I take the morning to plan the inspection. 

Inspections can take a solid two days involving interaction with the duty-holders, inspection of the plant and the necessary write-ups of findings. 

Although specific issues can vary from site to site, you start to identify common themes and work areas.  Part of my planning includes working out which areas I will concentrate on at site; arranging whom I need to speak to while I’m there and liaising with the site inspector to ensure that we’re co-ordinated ahead of the inspection.   

Afternoon

Radiological protection inspectors are always in demand to help assess emergency exercises.  Licensees are required to demonstrate their ability to deal with emergencies on an annual basis and ONR witnesses these exercises to assess their adequacy.  I call a colleague in the emergency arrangements team for some advice on an exercise I took part in last week.

Later this week, I will represent ONR at an early engagement meeting where a licensee will share its planned approach to what could be a groundbreaking care and maintenance project.  It is an important meeting and one that requires a lot of preparation but it appeals to me as I get the chance to influence ONR’s strategy in this area.   

Influencing is an important part of my job, so I move on to prepare for a high-level influencing course I am attending tomorrow.  Although I’ve completed most of my inspector training, being nearly two years in, ONR is always offering extra training to help with development.   

And just before I leave, I look ahead to the rest of my week and make plans to work from home – ONR operates flexible working, which means I can manage my own time.