We cleaned steam generators and did inspection work of the steam generators. Inspection of the internals of the generators mainly because the whole industry is still learning about nuclear power and study it intensely. I prefer Navy work because the radiation levels in commercial plants are higher than the Navy. The main reason is commercial plants are run for profit and the Navy runs for efficiency/ reliability. There have been mistakes because of this that can not be reversed but learned from. The Japanize clean their steam generator regularly to increase reliability which in turn translates into higher efficiency. The Canadians now know but took some time and damage in the process. What happens is there is cross contamination from the primary side to the secondary side of the steam generators and this is where the contamination comes from. Because of lack of preventive maintenance, that's the short version and no more detail because I start to drift into a territory that the government would rather not like to see publish or chatting online about (the Navy knows more about me than I do about myself, I held and maintained a secret clearance for the Department of Defense for 13 years). Most radiation workers are healthy individual because they are required to visit doctors periodically for check ups and most people don't. So fixable problems are found in the early stages such as prostate cancer(I need to go soon myself to be checked besides I enjoy fat finger Doctors!). Which is curable if found early. Today I'm no longer involved in this type of industrial work. I can say that I made a very good living while doing it.
Bruce Nuclear Generating Station is located as I stated on the shores of Lake Huron and in the middle of corn fields. You either work at the plant or the local farm equipment store. Most women move out after college because they are not interested in working in the power generating station. The environment of station is something that should be learned by the Nuclear industry and other businesses as well. It strictly functional with block walls. Zero atmosphere. There is a constant loud hum from the turbines and the employees suffer from a high rate of alcoholism and in my opinion it is directly related to the atmosphere of the plant. Remember we are human and not machines. The atmosphere in which we live in can and will have a dramatic affect upon your life. If things aren't going well in your life try to remember that one it is possible its just the way or with whom your living with. We like to look at pleasant things, it makes us happier and in turn more productive. Harley Davidson was one of the first to study this and implement it. With air conditioning (ac). They installed ac units and found that the workers were more productive that far exceeded the cost of running ac. In other words not only did I not like the high dose of radiation but the atmosphere sucked also, bad. The good news was I was working 7 days a week 13 hours a day and my bank account was flush with cash. Many company employees were stating that they didn't want to travel to Canada to do the work mainly because the atmosphere was horrible. The problem was that meant I was traveling more often than most. Not that I minded that much but my argument was that is what we do for a living and if you didn't like that well the front door is over there. Call it harsh if you like but it was reality. I constantly run into people who don't like certain aspects of there job. I have the same thing but I don't complain, why because its my job and you take the bad with the good. Its not all roses. People think that a company is going to change things just for them the fact is there not going to and if you complain enough they will replace you with some one who is will to take the bad with the good. Enough on that.
Shortly after the terrorist attack know as 911 on New York and this country when the government allowed air traffic again we embarked to Hydro for more of the same. This time period was probably one of the safest times to fly in the history of aviation. There was nobody at the airport and security was carrying m-16.I had 6 paper clips confiscated upon entry at the terminal. There were 10 people on board 8 were from my company Foster-Miller which has since been bought out by QinetiQ North America. I started with Foster Miller as a temporary employment worker, I asked at the time how much work do they have and they told me they had a couple of days work, I was with them for 15 years. The generally was uneventful because nothing breaks or malfunctions. One trip I went on a manager asked me to inventory spare parts after we had already inventoried them and I wasn't sure if he was just keeping me busy or busting my cookies. If you were a manager you would come out a hero because the job was always successful and most experienced managers did their best to stay away from the job, it sucked with boredom. We worked along side of boiler makers from Canada who travel from outage to outage. These are regularized scheduled shut downs of the plant to preform maintenance(much needed). Canada as of this writing supplies 12% of the needed electricity from nuclear power as compared to the United States has 19%. Many of the workers have RV's they use to live in while traveling. They are paid for meals and hotel rooms(per diem) so they save the money by sleeping in RV's. On the weekends I would go out with some of the boys to a local watering hole to relieve some pressure via consumption of alcohol. Local bar owners loved the shut downs because of the money spent in their pub. Most places would handle 75-100 person capacity and on weekends would be packed with 150 boiler makers spending some overtime money on food and beverage. One night I remember well we had and over capacity crowd and the owner called in his mother sisters and fiends to help with the tending of the bar. Nothing worse than waiting more than 15 minutes for a beer. Before he called them in me and many others were ordering 2 at a time so we didn't have to wait. The owner being a experienced businessman know that if he didn't correct that condition he could potential loose business by people leaving. He was correct. The place would get double loud but never any trouble just occasional scuffles and yelling.
As far as brain numbing atmosphere one dude I worked with Russ hated the job with a passion so much so that physiologically tormented his mind because he was always thinking how much he hated the job and drove himself nuts. He worked mainly the second shift because I worked the second shift through out the 90's and was vocal about working that shift, I never could get use to it like other people can. On one particular night he had drove himself so mad about not wanting to be there that he started throwing aluminum pallets around after he was asked to move them by a manager from Bruce. Of cause this didn't go over well. I also walked in one morning to him carrying on a wild conversation with nobody around with his hand down his pants, flat out odd behavior. After this trip he was recommended never to travel to Canada again. The cement block walls, constant hum of motors and telling himself how much he hated the job drove him crazy. In the end of traveling to Canada the folks bought the system and we no longer traveled to Canada. For some reason for over ten years the company I worked for did the work and had some of the employees of Bruce help with operating the system and then all of a sudden bought it after ten years of leasing, I guess what I'm getting at is it would have been much cheaper to buy it eight years earlier.
I got the idea of storing my motorcycle in my kitchen from a dude I worked with in Canada(they had the same people each time) named Chief. I forget his personal name but he is an American Indian standing about 6'7" and we called him Chief. He like the name and was far from offended by it. He was the only one on the first shift I trusted in operating the system by himself he had an interest and it showed. Chief lived in a high rise building if I remember right it was 12 stories. Every year he had to store his Harley for the winter. So being frugal he and some friends would lift the Harley vertical in the elevator to get it to fit and bring it up to his apartment(all gas was drained and left out side to evaporate any residual fumes). When he told that it solved the storage problem with my 1958 chopper-in the kitchen she went.