chapter  1
34 Pages

Three Nuclear Industry Maintenance Jobs

What’s a nuclear power plant? It’s thousands of kilometers of pipes/piping/ tubes/tubing and electric cables and more than ten thousand valves per unit.

This is how a valve maintenance specialist summed up a nuclear energy production center in terms of his own work. Nuclear facility maintenance of this sort consists largely in checking the condition of the pipes, valves, taps and stopcocks that regulate the circuits, repairing anything that is worn out, cracked, defective. The older the nuclear plant the more intense the radioactivity of the system components to be inspected or repaired. The secondary circuit is supposed to be perfectly impermeable to the primary circuit,1 so work on the secondary one does not officially expose workers to ionizing radiation. But according to testimony from workers I spoke with, in the secondary circuits of 900-megawatt nuclear plant units there is some radioactive contamination. These complex systems of conduits and pipes are held in place by supporting frames, which must also be maintained.