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From the Navy to the Commercial Nuclear Industry

Blain Highland is on a temporary rotation as a Chemistry and Radiation Protection Instructor at Diablo Canyon 1 and 2. He has worked at Diablo Canyon for more than four years, choosing to make a career in the industry after serving his country in the U.S. Navy.

Blain Highland
Blain Highland
How long have you been in the nuclear industry? 

I got my start in nuclear power in 2000 when I joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 17. I worked as an Engineering Laboratory Technician on a submarine and as a Radiological Controls Technician for the shipyard. I entered the commercial nuclear industry in 2010 as a contract Radiation Protection Technician for the decommissioning of Fermi 1. Nine months later I had the opportunity to join the Diablo Canyon team as a permanent Chemistry and Radiation Protection Technician. I’ve been a Pacific Gas and Electric employee here since January 2011.

What is your job and why do you enjoy doing it? 

Currently, I am a Chemistry and Radiation Protection Technician on a temporary rotation as an Instructor. The rotation in training is proving to be very enjoyable. Being able to see when something clicks in someone’s head is a rewarding experience. I’ve also found it’s true that in order to truly learn something, you should teach it. 

At the technician level, I enjoy my job because I am actively helping ensure that radioactive materials from the plant are properly controlled and I can personally assure people that their health and safety are our priority.

Why do you think nuclear energy is important to America’s energy future? 

Nuclear energy provides a stable baseload for the country to build on. With newer designs and increased safety capabilities, I see nuclear facilities continuing to provide economical and clean energy. For its level of reliability and amount of base generation, nuclear energy should be a mainstay for all portfolios. 

How are you bringing innovation into the nuclear industry? 

In several instances, I alleviated paperwork burdens and reduced errors by automating tasks. I also partnered with a colleague at the plant to roll out an orientation program designed to engage our employees in the plant’s mission. 

How does working in the nuclear industry affect your personal life?

Working in the nuclear industry allows me to provide for my family while also knowing I am helping provide the community safe, affordable and reliable energy when they need it. If I didn’t know what I was doing was safe, I would not be doing it. The commercial nuclear power industry has given my family peace of mind. There is no fear that something will happen to me like there was in the military. Everyone knows that daddy is coming home to play at the end of every workday.

The above post was sent to us by PG&E for NEI’s Powered by Our People promotion. It aims to showcase the best and the brightest in the nation’s nuclear energy workforce.

For more on this promotion, follow the #futureofenergy tag across our digital channels. 

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