Report 23rd November 2010


So You Want To Be A Nuclear Engineer 

Mr Roland Shaw, an engineer at the Sizewell B nuclear power station, travelled from Suffolk to speak to the forum. 

He gave an enthralling account of his career in the power generation industry starting with the study of mathematics, physics and technical drawing at Harrogate Grammar School and a degree from Leeds University.  After finishing an engineering apprenticeship with the Central Electricity Generating Board he went to work as an engineer at Drax power station.

With the coming of nuclear power generation to the UK in 1980, and after spending three years at the nuclear headquarters at Knutsford in Cheshire, Mr Shaw took the opportunity to move to one of the first nuclear power stations to be set up in UK , Sizewell B, as a member of the original construction team.

After some time in Yarm, Cleveland, the chance of two or three years in the United States was offered with British Energy. Returning to England he worked at Heysham in Lancashire for seven years but then got the chance of a move back to Sizewell, the station that he had helped to build almost 20 years earlier. 

At the moment there seems to be something of a nuclear renaissance with suggestions from the government that three or four new nuclear power stations should be built.   Mr Shaw believes that nuclear power has a large part to play in solving the challenges facing us in the future due to global warming and shortage of oil and natural gas.

When questioned about the disposal of spent nuclear fuel Mr Shaw stated that the only challenge was with the high level waste and that technically this problem can be solved. For example, at Sizewell B for the last twenty years all the spent fuel has been stored on the site.  The more difficult problem is dealing with the political and media questions that arise from the perceived dangers.

George Mountford

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