Our radiation expert in Iran
Why did the International Atomic Energy Agency choose you for this job?
In autumn last year the IAEA in Vienna invited me to take part in an international mission of experts to the Iranian nuclear power plant at Bushehr. The aim of the mission was to provide expert assistance in improving methods for the gamma spectroscopic analysis of samples collected in operation of the nuclear power plant and in the vicinity of the plant and to increase the knowledge and skills of plant staff in this area. It was also a good opportunity to share with these workers my knowledge and long experience not only in this area but also in the monitoring of the environment around a plant during operation.
Why did the agency choose me? They were looking for experts with theoretical knowledge and long experience in the use of gamma spectroscopy at VVER nuclear power plants who were willing to share that knowledge.
Why Iran and the Bushehr nuclear power plant?
It is the first nuclear power plant to operate in the country. There is one VVER–1000 reactor in operation and a second is under construction. Construction of Bushehr-1 started in 1975 but various economic and political factors caused construction to stretch out until 2011, when the first unit entered service. The long-running sanctions meant that workers at the nuclear power plant were not able to have professional contacts with colleagues from other power plants or agency experts. After the nuclear sanctions were lifted and Iran began to open up to the world again, Bushehr requested the IAEA’s professional assistance and the agency organised its first technical mission there in accordance with its mission to assist countries.
What was your impression of the country and its people? What caught your interest? How do the Iranians differ from us in their work, and outside it?
Even though the mission took place at the start of December, the Persian Gulf had nice, sunny weather and temperatures around 25° C. I had just one week in Iran (what they used to call Persia), and I spent nearly all that time working. I can say that the people I met there were very friendly and helpful. Of course, we tasted the local food, which, luckily enough, was not so different from ours. One thing that I had expected, and which was confirmed, was the amazing way they drive on their roads. There was always at least one more lane of cars on the road than there were painted. Unfortunately, from what I saw of Bushehr and the country around it, the economic sanctions had had a severe impact on country and the lifestyle of its inhabitants.
At the start of the year you became the head of radiation protection at Mochovce NPP. What challenges do you see in your new job?
Being the head of radiation protection for a nuclear power plant is always a huge challenge because of the great responsibility for protecting the plant personnel and the surrounding population against radiation. Managers always have a high workload that takes a lot of time, so I’m curious how I will get on with it. Nevertheless, I’m sure that with the help of my colleagues I will manage this new position and the radiation protection unit will fulfil its tasks and meet its deadlines and quality targets.