On my latest post, a comment posed a very important question about training at nuclear plants. Specifically, the comment raised questions about the future for people at Vermont Yankee.
Here's a quote from that comment:
Everyone even me is saddened about the loss of VY and that it is impossible to restart a shut down nuclear plant. One reason is because to keep the license, all the operators have to have continuous training. Why couldn't operators train at another reactor of the same brand? If the NRC won't allow that, why doesn't the industry try to change that? Entergy, for example, must have another GE reactor of theirs....Also, I read that a license is plant specific. Why is that? Why can it not go by maybe brand? That is like you get a drivers license but you can only drive 1 car. Again, why did the industry let that happen? Why is your industry taking this closures "lying down"?
My Partial Answer: About Simulators
These are good questions. Though I don't work at a nuclear plant, I made an attempt to answer the question as below:
There's an old saying that France has one variety of nuclear plant and 100 varieties of cheese, while America has one variety of cheese and 100 varieties of nuclear plants. That is the main problem.
Even "sister" reactors are not totally alike. Though being a qualified operator on one reactor definitely gives you a leg up on being qualified on a similar reactor, you still have to go through a lot of training for that second reactor.
I was at EPRI during part of the ten years just after TMI. At that time, reactor training went from "generic" to very plant-specific simulators. This was a Good Thing for training and safety.
That said, airplane pilots face this problem of the "new plant" all the time. (For a while, my husband worked at a company that did software for airplane simulators.) Anyhow, for a pilot qualified on a 727, after a certain number of hours in the simulator for a 737--that pilot can get into the cockpit of a 737, with passengers in the plane behind him.
However, you make a good point that such operator flexibility would be good for the industry.
I encourage people who work at nuclear plants to enter this conversation.
SROs and Others
I know people (such as Howard Shaffer) who held responsible positions at more than one
I hope knowledgeable people will comment on this post.
Also, if as a nuclear worker, you moved between plants in the past, it would be great if you could comment on this post.