Extremely Employable – Part VII

We now return to our regularly scheduled Friday show – Extremely Employable.

Continuing my trend of out of order posting – today’s post should probably have been #3 or 4.

Like most of the series this takes place after college when I was trying to figure out what the Hell I was supposed to be doing with my life.. so I turned to Craigslist.

I came across a posting for a temp job at a power plant. There wasn’t much info but the pay seemed decent so I applied. I don’t recall there being too much of an interview process, but I definitely got the job. Before too long I was flying down to Augusta Georgia to set up shop at the Vogtle nuclear power plant.

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The job title was ‘Nozzle Dam Technician’ and as I understood it I would be responsible for installing and removing a nozzle dam during an outage. The company put the crew up in a decent hotel nearby. We all had a suite and 2 drink tickets per day! Also had decent per diem and a few rental cars to get us all back and forth.

The first thing we all did was huddle up in an auditorium while our background checks were being run. We were literally being paid to be on standby to answer any interview questions.

From there it was training. There was a test lab setup where we could all learn to safely install the equipment. There’s quite a bit involved in the installation. Along with the dam is an air compressor and distribution unit, and lots of hoses.

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I snuck this picture in training, this is the damn dam. It blocks a big pipe to keep water from filling up the reactor bowl during refueling.. or something like that.

It wasn’t until a few days in chatting with other trades on site that I found out my job was one for the ‘crazies’ because it involves going into such a dangerous and highly radioactive area. I mean we’re all working inside the giant concrete bunker, but I was going to sit in a bowl that normally contains radioactive water.

Joy

After training it was a waiting game. All trades are on standby waiting for their turn. Once we were ready to go everybody puts on the monkey suit and goes into the upsidedown. I took one picture of my sweet outfit. This was only the partial outfit, there’s a full ventilated plastic suit that goes on over this.

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I ended up on setup crew and was not supposed to install a dam. I spent a lot of time setting up equipment and exploring the super cool reactor. Wish I had pictures to share.. but safe to say that was a ‘no no’. When installation time came for the second dam I ended up having to sub in on the install.

There’s very little room to navigate and no room for a hard hat so the first thing I had to do was hand off my head gear. I then ascended the ladder to certain doom, and cracked my skull on a steel crossmember. It hurt like Hell, thought I was going to pass out. I powered through and climbed into the big metal bowl of doom. It’s a scary place to be, you’re in a bowl staring at about a 2′ circular opening that descends into certain doom.

My team handed me the nozzle dam in 3 pieces and I slammed it in, easy peazy. Climbed out without bashing my skull again and put my helmet on over my goose egg.

We dressed down and left everything in place.

About a month later (I think) I flew back down and did the whole process in reverse. A very neat experience indeed.

Happy to say my radiation exposure was minimal and I still only have 3 testicles.

-Jed


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