Skip to main content

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. 


Popular posts from this blog

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.


The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.

What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…