At a nuclear power plant, nuclear engineers have part of the responsibility for engineering operations. They work in a central control room, where they control and monitor all essential plant systems using devices that offer them a global view of the nuclear plant.
Nuclear engineers monitor routine operations, such as plant startup and shutdown. They manage emergency situations and plant breakdowns.
They handle a wide range of electromechanical systems, including boilers, turbines, fueling machines, diesel generators and seawater electric generators, as well as emergency cooling pumps.
Nuclear engineers are responsible for maintaining a safe environment at the plant and its surrounding area. They must take into consideration possible accidents that may occur and ensure that adequate systems and work practices are in place to minimize the risk.
They spend a significant part of their time ensuring that all personnel are trained and aware of the safety procedures that must be applied in the plant.
Nuclear engineers manage the process by which nuclear power plants are shut down for checks and inspections, known as outage periods.
They ensure the correct state of the facilities, and carry out the necessary tests to allow the start-up of all machinery and systems. They ensure that time, budget and quality objectives are met. Some nuclear engineers are responsible for business plans and financial budgets.
They provide engineering solutions to technical problems that arise, and are responsible for planning and executing scheduled plant upgrades and modifications.
Nuclear engineers manage maintenance and repair tasks, working as a team with other technicians and engineers.
If necessary, they design new equipment or systems, using computer-aided design (CAD) programs.
Nuclear engineers ensure that nuclear reactors and other associated facilities are safe during their period of operation, and that they are also safely shut down, that is, they are responsible for shutting down reactors.
Nuclear engineers manage the ways to recover, store and treat waste. At the beginning of a decommissioning project, they evaluate all the options, so they have to establish work strategies to meet the deliveries, the budget, and take charge of the risk assessment.
Nuclear engineers must take into consideration issues such as environmental safety and radiation protection. They advise on all aspects of radioactive waste management.
They deal, for example, with the development of waste management strategies, and are dedicated to the design and development of special containers used to transport “spent” fuel for subsequent recycling or safe storage.
Containers must be 100% safe and made of the most suitable materials, to prevent the leakage of radioactive waste.