Career Path > NRC


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Rad Sponge:
Ok so I am off to Fitzpatrick soon for an interview.

Being that my only experience is a little s8g pwr, what must I understand fundementally about a big BWR as I get involved with a new set of rules and theories and such.

I am sure the answer could fill a few thousand pages, just looking for some general guidance.

I do know that there is no primary/secondary and everything "aft" is crapped this true..

On a day to day bais it's not really all that different. For the most part your dose won't be higher because much of a BWR is in shielded pipe chases.

Since many BWRs have gone to Hydrogen Injection Chemistry a lot of the systems are now inspected with cameras.

The "secondary" is crapped up, but really not to the extent you'd think. I got secondary water on me a few times when I was a BWR sailor and never got crapped up. On the other hand, older BWRs are SCORCHERS on the primary side. Fermi had low shutdown dose rates because early in plant life they got rid of all the cobalt in the plant, then started Zinc injection early. most of the dose you'll pick up will be during Shutdown.

It's strange not being able to see a lot of equipment in the Turbine Building. What was strange to me was when I went back to a PWR and having all the equipment laid out where I could see it.

Fitz is a BWR 4 so I'll give ya the following advice.

1: If you're afraid of heights don't take the job, many valves are up in overheads.

2: If you're afraid of dark enclosed places don't take the job. The BWR 4 DRywell is about as enclosed a place as you'll ever get especially around top. It's worse than a submarine. They also never cool down and it's noisy in there. On the bright side if you're at the top of the containment (which at Fermi was 115 high with no real ladders to get there) and you fall you'll be dead before you fall 15 feet. You'll hit a pipe, bounce, hit a strut, bounce, maybe smack the Bio Shield (then you'd flip if there was room) then you'll impale yourself on a valve or two.

3: Same as item two and one. The top of a MK1 Torus is a scary place. There are lots of pipes, and it's easy to fall.

You'll grasp the theory and all. It's backwards but easily understandable. Rods come in from the bottom and the Reactor leads the "Secondary" They actually use flow to change power. It's a VERY easy machine to operate. The Safety Systems are complex as hell as compared with a commercial PWR and when you tag stuff you need to be careful as to what you're tagging because BWRs have logic power EVERYWHERE. BWRs behave extremely well during transients because they aren't closed systems and all the steam and water is in one place.

Any other questions ask. I did BWRs for 15 years, I started in them straight out of the Navy, and I had a great time in those 15 years.


Rad Sponge:
Hey thanks

I appreciate your candid descriptions.

The job prospect is for an "Instant SRO" kinda thing. I also applied to be an HP/Chem person at Vermont Yankee so we shall see.

The Fitz SRO job was decribed to me as a 2-3 year accelerated course. You arrive 6 months ahead of the licensing class start date and then come the Fall you class up and do whatever you all do.

We shall see. I understand I have a vast amount of knowledge to gain and I have read enough "abortion debates" over Instant SRO vs. NLO-RO-SRO paths
to understand there maybe some grumblings between the various flavors of nukes, but hey, life happens.

One thing though, it must get colder than an eskimo butt up there.

The 6 months is a requirement everywhere. You HAVE to spend 6 months onsite outside of class time, otherwise the NRC holds your license for 6 months. I know because I'm in that boat.

2 to 3 years is hardly accelerated, At the most it should take 20 months to license an Instant, and that includes the 6 months you have to spend in outside  of training.

Here is what you should expect.

1: 6 months of indoctrination, this should include being assigned to an operating shift with a sort of Pre Qual Card. Mostly it involves doing rounds with NLO's and learning how OPs thinks.

2: 8 to 12 weeks of GFE training (it's on the shorter end now since the test is easier). This consists of theory, Thermo, Reactor Theory, and Components. At the end you'll take a utility administered exam followed by the NRC GFE Exam. You must pass this to get a license. It's also the last Theory exam you'll ever take, although sometimes they drop a theory question or two on the NRC Operator Exam.

3: You'll then start systems training. You'll learn most of the systems at the plant, and print reading. I'd suggest learning to read electrical prints right now. You'll live in them the rest of your career. This usually lasts about 12 weeks with weekly exams, most utilities are requiring you maintain an 85% rolling average on your exams. Some utilities have a systems final, others an Oral board and some neither.

4: Then you'll start Procedures. These are the General Operating procedures on how you move the plant from point A to Point B. You'll also learn the Abnormal And Emergency Procedures and their hierarchy of usage. Normally you'll take weekly exams. You'll also practice each procedure once on the simulator. The simulator time is to expose you to the procedures, not to get you proficient. This lasts anywhere from 8 weeks to 4 or 5 months (depends on how it's broken down, sometimes EOPs are taught later). At this time you'll get the SRO Upgrades into your class. You best learn from them, they're the best teachers you'll get. You'll also learn Admin procedures. I'll warn you now, BWR EOPs require a LOT of prioritization as Opposed to the PWR world. Once you're in one BWR Emergency Procedure you're in them all. If you can't prioritize on the fly you'll be doomed.

5: 13 to 17 weeks of Onshift Time. This time is spent doing actual SRO stuff under the guidance of an SRO. The requirement is 520 hours onshift time with 240 hours of that time spent above 20 to 25% power. You'll also need to get 5 Reactivity Manipulations and since you're an Instant you'll get more qual cards than you can shake a stick at. 

6: Then it's about 6 to 10 weeks of Pre License Prep. This is when you'll do your simulator time using the AOPs and EOPs. This is where you learn command and control, and learn what to do when it gets hectic. Between this and Step 4 you'll get about 90% of what will be on your written NRC exam.  The rest is some sort of systems questions. Usually you're not taking exams in this phase because you're really not learning anything new. You may however take exams similar to the NRC Exam so you'll get practice at that sort of exam. This phase culminates with your Audit, which is basically the Utilities version of the NRC Exam. They'll go by the same rules, same schedule. You have to pass this to go up for your NRC exam. Usually after this you have about 2 weeks slack time before the NRC exam.

7: NRC Exam: Takes roughly 1 week to 10 days. The schedule depends on the utility but expect the following

A: A 100 question written exam, There used to be a 4 hour time limit, but now I believe if you're making reasonable progress you can take longer than 4 hours. You have to get an 80 to pass, you won't know if you did for around a month.

B: JPMs (Job Performance Measures). Something the NRC should get rid of because they're essentially meaningless. You're put into a position with an initiating que. Then you respond IAW procedures. You'll due 10 performance JPMs usually 7 in the simulator and 3 in the plant. You'll also do 5 Administrative JPMs (figure the dose of we have so many tenth thickness sort of stuff). They've changed the rules because they used to be able to ask questions about the JPM. Alledgedly they don't do that now but don't count on it.

C: The simulator. As an Instant you'll have to do at least 1 session as whatever position the Utility determines to be the Reactor Operator (basically the guy who manipulates the reactor controls). You'll also be required to do at least one scenario as the SRO. You have to pass both in order to pass the exam.

Other items, somewhere within 6 months prior to your exam you'll fill out your exam application. You also have to take a physical within 6 months of your exam date. Don't be surprised if you have to take a Pre Employment physical to prove you can pass an NRC Physical. Enough Utilities have been burnt by guys with disqualifying items that they now all pretty much require it before they spend a quarter of a million on your training.

If you have a chance to get an SRO License I have no idea why you wouldn't take it. You are right. It gets PLENTY cold up there at this time of year.

Good Luck! If you have any questions just ask!


Tracer Bullet,

You're 100% on the money with your assesment.  I feel a smart Navy Nuke can make it through a PWR SRO Instant class right out of the Navy.  A Smart Navy Nuke with good instincts or situational awareness can make it through a BWR SRO instant class right out of the Navy.  I'm not trying to start a PWR vs. BWR flame thread... just calling it like I see it.  Please weigh in on the subject if you have experience in both commercial types as an SRO.


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