The Senior Site ALARA Committee (SSAC) is a quorum of higher ups. These people are from various departments like Operations, Maintenance, Radiation Protection, Chemistry, Safety, and then there’s the Plant General Manager, maybe a Vice President, or CEO if they desire to be there.
Planning a big job that requires a SSAC meeting is a very big deal. This is where they will determine if the work group represented by one individual (project manager) can impress upon the uppity ups whether or not they can do the job well, if they have a plan to perform it with strategic measures for reducing their dose and the means to reduce budget or stay on schedule.
I have been tasked to plan the Refuel Floor work. I consider this my home. I’ve worked this area many times throughout the years in other plants but only once here. The Project Manager for the Refuel Floor is a young pup, but probably about the same age as me. His name is Paul but we call him Skittles for some reason. He is newly employed in this position. He’s past was mostly working with Reactor Maintenance as their Crane Operator. To describe him, he seemed immature when I first met him. Then he became a Supervisor for a period of time which did go to his head. His ego was big before that though. I think for anyone in that position having confidence is a must and he has it. I have been through lots of meetings with him and found him to be very knowledgable, able to handle pressure and smooth out any issues brought up.
Reactor Maintenance, as a whole, sometimes can cause grief for the Health Physics Techs. I’ve described them before as Cowboys. Always trying to get away with murder.
When I first met Paul, several years ago, I was giving him an exit Whole Body Count. This is when we have them step in a monitor to check for any internal contamination before we let them loose to go to another plant. It’s a requirement that we do this even though we check them on a daily basis for anything as they leave for the day. I didn’t find any, but I did find some minor low level contamination on his sweatshirt and hardhat, lower than our release limits and lower than anybody would see out there in the world from other means. He and another RX Maint worker were giving me grief and I thought I handled it very well being a young woman. But the other man, was not so friendly. He went to his supervisor and said that I was sexually harassing him. Of all the ridiculous things…he wanted to say something first because he thought that I would go crying to my supervision. Which I didn’t. This was the most stupid thing I’ve ever heard of. Nothing became of it, because everyone knew it to not be true. (I could and probably will write up about how I’m working in a man’s world and the idiosyncricies from it)
When I took Paul’s sweatshirt and hardhat, they made me so mad that I didn’t bother to try and clean it up for him. (they’re supposed to clean up their own by the way) I threw it away in our radioactive trash. There were other things going on in the plant that day and I didn’t want to waste my time. When he came back to see if he could get his stuff he was upset. That was a hundred dollar sweatshirt. Like my daughter says nowadays “Too bad, so sad”. When I told my coworkers what happened, they laughed and said it served him right.
Needless to say, we didn’t start off on a good note. Then we worked together on various projects like New Fuel Receipt and Spent Fuel Pool Cleanup. It really didn’t take long for me to earn the respect of these guys. One time, we had a false alarm on the floor. Max, who was working with me at the time, now the Subject Matter Expert retiree I was referring to in my other story, and I were an awesome team. Getting the workers out of the area. Verifying conditions on the floor were normal. Then directing the workers to segregate in the Kelly Building (the briefing area) from those that were in a Contaminate Area and those that were not. We had them take their protective clothing off in a fashion that would not contaminate the other workers who were not in the Contaminated Area. Then everyone was instructed to frisk (check themselves for contamination). We had a Quality Inspector there at this time and he was real impressed. Guess who this guy was? He was my husband’s ex-band member, ex-best friend. I wrote a little tiny bit about the break up they had a long time ago. I was going to embellish on that story someday too.
Ok back to the main topic. Paul was presenting his plan to the SSAC committee. I was to assist him in anyway even though it was his baby and he was to present it himself. We had a pre-meeting before the big meeting and Paul was his usual self, very confidant and articulate. I was nervous as hell. Talk about anxiety attack.
I said a little prayer before we went into the meeting. We all sat down and waited for the big-wigs to show up. They did and we got started. It went fairly well for Paul, he was thrown for a loop when they started asking questions that were not in his power point presentation. He looked to me to answer some specific questions which was what I was there for. The meeting turned around at some point and Paul was really no longer in control. The Plant General Manager was the one running the meeting, but others were playing devil’s advocate and asking certain questions that stumped poor Paul. I didn’t let him sweat though. I answered every one of those questions. I was cool and collected. I had it together!
I lost my anxiety and didn’t give it a second thought who these people were. I had specific information that I jotted down on a sticky note before I came into the meeting. I had a stack of research with me but I didn’t have to use that either. It was fantastic! Paul was getting nervous, I never saw him this way before. He was stuttering and fumbling. I gave him an encouraging smile and matter-of-factly stated the information.
There was a new gentleman sitting right across from me. They didn’t perform introductions at the beginning which was odd, but at the end of the meeting I was told this was our new Plant General Manager. Our acting PGM, Mr. King (ironic), was going back to being a Chemistry Manager. I really respect this guy. I have never seen him lose his control and he treats everyone with the same respect. So our new PGM, Mr. MacKissock, was making recommendations and asking questions that I answered professionally. He recommended that our Dose Goal for this work be only reduced by a small fraction. I planned the work for 26.302 person-Rem. Mr. King was animate about reducing that by 20% like he does for all other SSAC meetings. But I was very confident in my planning and was able to defend my number. Mr. MacKissock recommended 26 person-Rem. Wow! To only reduce it by that much! I did good!
So far, we are the only successful group to go through the SSAC meeting with their blessing. This was a major accomplishment!
Afterwords, Mr. King came up to me specifically and praised me for the way I handled the meeting. He said this was the best he’s seen and he was very impressed with my confidence. Yay! The next day, I see him again in the cafeteria and he told me again! WOW! There was another individual who gave me kudos after the meeting. Another one, at a different time at lunch…Holy cow! I felt so good!
So now, the real question is when we’re in the outage and the planning I did really works. I guess we’ll see. I have no doubt, but we could always encounter problems.