In the second edition of 'what's in your bag?' I chatted to IPSE member Jim Storer about what projects he's working on, what his job involves, and most importantly, what he carries around each day. I've also included some insight into The Berkeley Waste Vaults - part of the first nuclear site to undergo decommissioning in the UK. Thank you to Jim for taking some time out of his schedule to talk to me.
Jim Storer, IPSE member since 2013
Current Occupation: Project Engineer
How would you describe yourself: Freelancer
How many yesars of experience do you have in your field: 15
Current project – decommissioning projects in the nuclear industry
Decommissioning old nuclear reactors can be quite a time-consuming task. Many of the early reactors across the UK are undergoing this process right now as the generation of plants created in the fifties and sixties are getting to the end of their life cycle.
I’m currently working with Magnox. Projects can take a year to 18 months, much of which will be spent designing and manufacturing new equipment.
I spend quite a bit of time working on the Berkeley Vaults Projects. The vaults are a large legacy underground waste storage facility. Projects are currently underway to retrieve the waste from the vaults and package in containers for interim storage on site.
The Berkeley Waste Vaults
Between 1962 and 1989 the Berkeley nuclear power plant in Gloucestershire generated 43 TWh of electricity. The waste products from this site were buried underground in vaults.
In 2010 the nuclear reactors at Berkeley became the first in the UK to be placed into Safestore (a passive state) while the site is cleared. This process will take an estimated 65 years and the reactors will start to be dismantled in 2074.
Dealing with the waste in the vaults is a large part of the process, as there is a unique mix of waste from the reactor and from the nearby labs. All of this must be carefully stored so as not to affect the environment. The process of solving the long-term storage problem has involved years of testing.
So, what's in your bag?
Laptop – an old 15in Acer
My laptop is six years old now, so getting on a bit. I need to upgrade it really, but it does the job. I have to write up a lot of reports in Word, Excel and other Office programs. Most of my days are spent doing these. Occasionally I’m asked to go to site to support some of the operational plant.
Phone – Samsung Galaxy Note 4
I chose this phone because it’s big enough to look up data sheets and other technical information on the move or in meetings. If I’m on site, it’s quite fiddly to get out my laptop. On the phone I can quickly bring up big datasheets or technical documents and check information as I’m going (and sound knowledgeable).
Backup battery – ANKER – 2nd gen Astro E7
When searching for one of these online, I chose the biggest one I could find. It actually would just about fit in your back pocket, and when it’s in the backpack I don’t notice the weight at all. But it’s big on power – I can charge my phone or laptop so many times using this. It’s a brilliant product and probably the most important thing I carry around with me as it means I can work for long periods, anywhere. In industrial settings you don’t often get plug sockets, and on the move I can work and never worry about running out of power.
Torch – a really cheap LED one from Tesco
As you can see, I chose a bog standard one. It’s important to carry it around though as I’m often working in the dark, and if I open up a panel I need to know what I’m looking at inside. Things would be quite difficult without it!
Laser distance tool – Bosch PLR 15m
This is very useful when I’m on site because you don’t need someone to hold the other end of the tape. You just point and the laser shoots out and you can instantly see the distance between objects. It’s great for quickly checking dimensions of transit routes and even better when access is difficult and you need to measure heights. No need for awkward stepladders.
This is a requirement in my line of work. If I forget it there’s always the option to borrow one from the gatehouse, but it’s nice to carry around your own.
Lunch – the most important bit
I would definitely refer to myself as a hungry bear – I do love my lunches. Some days it’s sandwiches, but the best days are when I have last night’s leftovers. My favourite I’d say would be a classic spag bol, but I recently had coq au vin and that was brilliant.