• Question: What was the scariest thing that happened on the job?

    Asked by Z to Leah on 4 Feb 2022.
    • Photo: Leah Sutton

      Leah Sutton answered on 4 Feb 2022:

      We have several reactors on site that operate at very low pressure but very high temperatures (~3500 F). To control these reactors requires cooling in the form of recirculating cooling water. There have been a couple of incidents where cooling water flows were either turned off when they should have been on or where cooling water leaked into places where is should not be (the hot zone of the reactor). This can cause the reactor to “burp” a lid which basically lifts the lid off the furnace due to pressure created by steam formation or in the worst case to explode. Luckily operators reacted in time in every incident I have been around for so the reactors were able to be brought to a safe state with no major damage. However, before my time they have blown lids off of reactors even killing a man about 40 years ago when the facility was owned by a different company so this type of incident can be very scary even if the worst does not occur.