‘Our People’ is a regular feature focusing on staff at the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the work we do every day to help keep the nuclear industry safe and secure. ‘Our People’ aims to bring our jobs to life while increasing understanding of our role among key stakeholders.
Today, we learn more about Jacob Plummer and his work as a Nuclear Safety Inspector in the Nuclear Internal Hazards and Site Safety specialism within ONR’s Technical Division.
Jacob joined ONR in November 2021 from Atkins, where he worked as a safety engineer specialising in internal hazards analysis and fire engineering for new build nuclear projects including Hinkley Point C, Sizewell C, and the Generic Design Assessments (GDA) for the UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (UK ABWR) and the UK Hualong Pressurised Water Reactor (UK HPR1000) .
Potential internal hazards on nuclear sites include fires, explosions, flooding and projectiles resulting from the failure of pressurised or rotating parts. They are a key focus of ONR’s work in safety assessment.
Jacob’s main area of expertise is nuclear fire analysis, which he first gained experience of while on his graduate scheme and which remains a topic that stimulates him due to the variety of work it encompasses, including assessments, inspections and research.
He chose to apply for his current ONR role because it closely matched his experience, but he was also interested in moving to the regulatory side of the nuclear sector having previously worked with ONR for licensees and requesting parties.
Jacob’s role involves assessing internal hazards for licensees, frequently Sellafield, as well as working on GDAs and carrying out inspections and enforcement for life fire safety (controlling the risks fire might pose directly to people on nuclear sites, rather than to equipment or systems).
This involves analysing information efficiently, formulating relevant questions, building relationships internally and externally, and talking competently about his subject area with a range of stakeholders.
Jacob’s biggest achievements at ONR so far include passing his warrant interview after finishing his legal training and supporting the permissioning of retrievals from the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo (MSSS), a legacy waste facility at Sellafield.
He is also involved in research with the international PRISME-3 project, which is investigating the safety impact of fire propagation within nuclear installations.
Jacob said: “I like the variety of work in fire safety and internal hazards – the different technologies, people, teams, projects and places – particularly when it involves going to site.”
His current plans are to build his experience at ONR, continuing his work on assessing new waste material stores at Sellafield and getting involved in civil new build.
A physicist by education, Jacob recently joined the Institute of Physics’ Nuclear Industry Group committee, and regularly attends and speaks at events related to the nuclear industry.
Outside of work Jacob is often busy renovating his home, but also recently got two kittens and is a big fan of running, having completed the London Marathon last year with plans to take part again this year.
On working in nuclear regulation, Jacob added: “It’s a busy time to be a part of the nuclear industry. Nuclear will play a big role in the government’s intended transition from fossil fuels, so there are lots of new technologies being developed, as well as progress on longstanding projects like decommissioning.
“ONR plays an important role in this by ensuring high standards of safety are maintained at both legacy and new build sites.”