October 20 2020, 13:28 PM
NB Power is proud to own and operate Atlantic Canada’s only nuclear power plant. Our employees at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station (PLNGS) work hard every day to produce safe, reliable and clean power for New Brunswickers. As part of Nuclear Science Week, we are happy to put the spotlight on one of our accomplished shift supervisors at the Station and New Brunswicker through and through, Leah Belding.
Standing in the Main Control Room at the PLNGS for the first time was a career defining moment for Leah Belding. At the time she was only 19, fresh out of high school, and working at the plant on a short-term contract in the Service Maintenance Department.
“It was a real ‘wow’ moment to see these nuclear professionals working in a room with hundreds of buttons and switches, and knowing that they were operating a nuclear power plant,” Leah said. “That is the moment when I knew I wanted to be part of the team that operates Point Lepreau.”
Leah was raised in the area, and calls the local community of Chance Harbour home, which is approximately 10 minutes from the Station. Upon graduating from high school, with family members, friends and neighbours who worked at the plant, she knew Point Lepreau was a good employer with diverse career opportunities.
During her initial six-month contract, Leah developed relationships with co-workers who became mentors and helped her learn about the career possibilities in the different departments.
“Getting an inside look at the roles that keep a nuclear power plant running was a great learning opportunity,” said Leah. “These conversations with staff helped me decide that I wanted my future to be at Point Lepreau, and specifically as part of the Operations team, which lines up with my love of hands on, dynamic work.”
Leah then enrolled in the Power Engineering Technology Program at the New Brunswick Community College (NBCC). Upon completion of the first year of the program, Leah joined the Point Lepreau team again, this time as a Power Engineering summer student. She was assigned to one of the Operations crews for her CO-OP program. This experience gave her a glimpse of what full-time employment would entail, the challenges of working shift work, and the day-to-day activities the Operators perform, such as applying work permits, general routines, alarm response needs from the Control Room Operators, and more.
Upon graduation from NBCC, Leah was hired as a Power Plant Operator (PPO), and took nuclear-specific plant training, along with radiation protection training, to give her a strong foundation to work at PLNGS. Two years into that role, she had the opportunity to become a Senior Power Plant Operator (SPPO) by completing additional training. In these roles, Leah performed field inspections and operational tests, among other activities, to ensure plant reliability.
Two years later, Leah was selected to become a licensed Control Room Operator (CRO), which she had set as her ultimate career goal.
A CRO is a position of leadership amongst the staff who are licensed by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to operate the plant. A CRO is responsible for monitoring the status of systems or components, interpreting and responding appropriately to instrumentation, verifying the work of team members, and configuring the plant to allow specialized maintenance and testing to be performed. A CRO also plays a key role in plant emergencies and any events involving personnel safety.
The three-year CRO training program was challenging, with a year of general training, a year of station-specific training and another year of simulator training, where candidates train to respond to unlikely hypothetical emergency scenarios at the Station. This was followed by six months of co-piloting where Leah worked alongside a licensed operator in the plant to gain experience. Leah achieved certification as a CRO at the age of 29, just 10 years after setting her sights on the occupation.
“The training program to become a CRO was very rigorous and included a lot of self-directed reading and studying before we got to the hands-on learning,” Leah said. “In the midst of this program, I had my first child, and balanced my family and work commitments to keep my progress on track. I had tremendous support from my family and community, as well as my colleagues, who rallied behind me to help me achieve this important career goal.”
Leah spent the next nine years working on shift as a CRO, with her “thumb on the pulse of the plant.”
“I love the fast-paced work environment and team approach for Operations,” she said. “Being in the middle of everything and providing leadership and direction to the larger team is exciting and rewarding. Every shift I am relied upon to make important decisions based on what I have learned, to ensure the safety and reliability of the plant.”
In September 2016, Leah was once again recognized for her skills and leadership abilities. This time she was selected as a candidate to train to become a certified Shift Supervisor.
The Shift Supervisor role at PLNGS is the most senior role on shift in the Operations group. The Duty Shift Supervisor is responsible for ensuring the plant is operated within Point Lepreau’s Operating Policies and Principles, and the Power Reactor Operating Licence granted by the CNSC. Ultimately, they are responsible for maintaining nuclear safety to protect staff, the public and the environment. The Shift Supervisor makes operational decisions and prioritizes the work to be done. They also lead the response to any potential abnormal plant conditions or emergency situations.
She completed the simulator phase of her training, and after 40 co-piloting shifts with a senior mentor, the applications for her certification was submitted to the CNSC and she officially became a Shift Supervisor.
“It was a great honour to train to be a Shift Supervisor at the time,” said Leah. “I have spent 40% of my 19 years with NB Power taking formal training either in a classroom or a simulator, focusing on not only plant operation, but also the personal aspects of operator fundamentals – not just what to do, but how to do it to the high standards required and expected of staff.”
Leah, her husband, and their three children live in Chance Harbor close to where they both grew up. Their family ties run deep over many generations with connections to both PLNGS and the fishing industry. These links guarantee that Leah does not take the responsibilities of the Shift Supervisor role lightly.
“When I talk about ensuring the safety of the public and the area surrounding the Station, I am talking about my husband, children, siblings, nieces, nephews, parents, aunts, uncles and friends, and the places we call home,” she said. “I am talking about my husband and our family members who are local fishermen providing fresh, safe food for the people throughout New Brunswick and beyond. It is my commitment to operate PLNGS in a safe manner every single day to protect the communities around us.”
August 18 2020, 16:40 PM
Sometimes heroes wear hard hats instead of capes.
Terry Bass, a Construction Manager at NB Power, certainly wasn’t expecting to be part of a life-saving rescue when he went to work on a beautiful summer morning. Terry was working alongside a crew from East Coast Powerline in the forest near Allardville. With the help of a Vortex company helicopter, they were working on reliability upgrades in northern New Brunswick.
While on top of an 80-foot tall tower, a member of the crew heard someone calling out for help. They yelled in the direction of the sound and a woman shouted back that she’d been lost in the woods for days and couldn’t walk anymore.
Terry and the rest of the team jumped into action, starting the emergency response plan they learn before each project. They coordinated with Ambulance NB and the RCMP before setting off in the helicopter. Armed with a backboard and medical supplies, the team was dropped off near the marshy rescue area.
“The crew waded through knee-deep water, grass, mud, and kept going until they found her,” said Terry. “Amazingly she was able to speak and in good spirits but was not able to get out of there on her own. We worked together to carry her out of the marsh and onto solid ground. Then we figured out the nearest access road and carried her through the dense forest and brush while medics attended to her needs.”
After hiking about 2.4 kilometers, the crew was shocked to discover it was a woman from Saint-Isidore who had been missing for nearly two weeks. RCMP and Ground Search and Rescue had been looking for her.
“I just can’t believe she’s alive,” said Terry. “She said she’d been drinking water on leaves and eating berries she found on the ground. It’s remarkable that she was doing so well after such a terrible experience. We are all so happy that we happened to be in the right place – a very remote one – to be able to help her get home.”
Terry and the crew helped first responders get the woman to an ambulance and she was taken to hospital and treated for minor injuries. She is happy to be back home, thanks to the heroics of our team.
Anyone who knows Terry won’t be surprised that he played a role in this life-saving mission. He is passionate about helping others and is a perfect example of what our employees are all about.
At NB Power, we are proud of our people that are the heart of our company. Working in communities across our great province, our employees have been serving New Brunswickers for more than 100 years.
This story is a powerful example of how a perfectly-timed coincidence, paired with courage and know-how, can change someone’s life.
July 21 2020, 10:03 AM
Whether he’s presenting a safety case to the nuclear regulator, or showing kids how nuclear power is generated, Paul Thompson is in his element. Combine his extensive technical knowledge with his cheerful personality and great sense of humour, and you’ve got one of our region’s most trusted experts on nuclear power.
Over his 40 plus-year career, most of which at the Point Lepreau Generating Station (PLNGS), Paul has made important contributions, both technical and non-technical, to the nuclear industry. Respected by his peers for his passion for everything related to nuclear safety and nuclear asset management, Paul continues to be an invaluable part of the NB Power team.
He recently received the Harold A. Smith Outstanding Contribution Award by the Canadian Nuclear Society (CNS) and the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) for his extensive contributions to the Canadian nuclear industry. The award highlighted his work involving nuclear power plant safety, plant life extension, and the development of Advanced Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) here in New Brunswick.
“I am truly honoured to be recognized by my peers and am humbled when I look at current and past award recipients,” said Paul. “I have been extremely fortunate throughout my career to work in such a great industry at such a wonderful company. I’ve been able to work on exciting and interesting projects alongside so many amazing energy experts. As they say, it really is not work if you enjoy your job!”
Paul started his nuclear journey graduating from the Engineering Mathematics program at Queen's University, specializing in the fields of Thermal Sciences and Nuclear Engineering.
Paul has led many successful teams at NB Power, including Nuclear Safety, Regulatory Affairs, Emergency Preparedness, Security and Fire and Performance Improvement. A real team player, he has always found time to support other projects and working groups both within the company and the industry.
Paul has also been a regular point of contact with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission at hearings and meetings, has served as a Board Member for the CANDU Owners Group (COG), as well as a Board member for the Centre for Nuclear Energy Research - a research arm of the University of New Brunswick. He also remains an active member and contributor to the CNS, authoring and co-authoring several papers to assist his peers. He has also held the position of CNS President twice and has been involved with the organization of numerous conferences.
“Throughout my years at Lepreau, one of my main objectives has always been to ensure that our values of safety, quality, diversity and innovation are reflected in all aspects of nuclear in New Brunswick,” says Paul. “I believe that this is being demonstrated every day by the dedicated nuclear team at Point Lepreau. Collaboration, teamwork and the expertise of my peers all play a significant part in the successful operation of the station on a daily basis.”
Most recently, Paul was the Station’s Deputy Chief Nuclear Officer, prior to his retirement in 2019. Paul has remained a key part of the team as a Senior Strategic Advisor responsible for assessing the development of Advanced SMRs.
“I believe that nuclear energy has a key role to play in our vision of sustainable energy for future generations,” he indicated. “New Brunswick is well positioned to benefit from new opportunities thanks to the know-how of our people and the tremendous asset we have in Point Lepreau.”
Canadian Nuclear Achievement Award recipients were nominated by their colleagues, community members and nuclear peers for leadership, dedication, and passion for nuclear power.
More information on this year’s recipients is available in a joint news release issued in June.
All of us at NB Power would like to congratulate Paul on a remarkable career in the nuclear industry here in New Brunswick and this well-earned award.
Kathleen Duguay Receives National Award Recognizing her Contributions to Nuclear Education and Communication
July 7 2020, 11:44 AM
Ask anyone in the communities around the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station (PLNGS) who their go-to person is for questions about the plant, and 99% will point you to Kathleen Duguay.
As NB Power’s Manager of Community Affairs and Nuclear Regulatory Protocol, she is often the “face” of the Station and has fostered many important relationships with nearby residents, First Nations communities and stakeholders.
Kathleen was recently awarded with a national Education and Communication Award from the Canadian Nuclear Society (CNS) and the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) to recognize her outstanding career.
During her 32 years at NB Power, Kathleen has demonstrated a sustained and unwavering commitment to external education and communication about nuclear power and the operation of PLNGS. Her work has created and maintained the “social licence” for the generating station. Through Kathleen’s natural ability to actively listen and connect with people, she has put a friendly face on the nuclear community in New Brunswick.
This strong capacity for relationship building with a diversity of groups and individuals has allowed her to build trust and respect with various stakeholders and rightsholders at the local, provincial, national and international levels throughout the years including First Nations, special interest groups, the local community, the general public, workers, contractors, government, regulators and the media.
She is an industry leader in community relations who has cultivated deep roots throughout New Brunswick. By being transparent, trustworthy and accessible, Kathleen has developed lasting relationships with everyone from the lobster fishermen who work the waters near Point Lepreau to members of First Nation communities in all corners of the province.
A great example of her strong commitment to transparency and nuclear education is the establishment of a Community Relations Liaison Committees at Point Lepreau. The Committee has served as a vehicle for two-way information sharing in the communities around the Station for the past 25 years. The fact that Kathleen has co-chaired this Committee for more than two decades is an accomplishment on its own.
“Making sure our neighbours know what is happening at the Station is one of our most important jobs,” said Kathleen. “The relationships we have built with our Committee members are based on trust, respect and transparency. Members know that they can count on us for honest and timely updates on the things that matter to them. Through this Committee and other activities, we demonstrate our personal accountability to community engagement.”
Her work played an important role in bringing an outside perspective into the nuclear industry, to improve awareness and understanding, and to influence the way business is performed. As part of Point Lepreau’s public communication program, she developed various newsletters, brochures, school age-specific materials, plant updates and videos that showcase the power plant throughout its lifecycle, with a strong focus on the safety of workers, the community, and the environment.
For many years, Kathleen was the Media Relations Manager and the voice of NB Power, sharing the utility’s story with the local, provincial and national media. In that role, she also led communications and community relations efforts during the refurbishment of PLNGS.
She has managed community relations programs for other NB Power initiatives and projects across the province. Kathleen is no stranger to the inside of the nuclear plant where she began her career with Point Lepreau and has acted as a Radiation Protection Assistant and Human Performance Manager. She is also a seasoned member of the Station’s Emergency Response Incident Command Team.
A New Brunswicker through and through, Kathleen is also an active volunteer in her community, and she has brought her communication skills and love of New Brunswick to a host of important initiatives of benefit to her community.
Canadian Nuclear Achievement Award recipients were nominated by their colleagues, community members and nuclear peers for leadership, dedication, and passion for nuclear power. More information on this year’s recipients is available in a joint news release issued earlier this month.
All of us at NB Power would like to congratulate Kathleen on this well-deserved award and an exceptional career serving New Brunswickers, employees and the nuclear industry.
June 29 2020, 15:06 PM
NB Power’s former President and CEO, Gaëtan Thomas, was recently honoured with a national award to mark his leadership at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station and his contributions to positioning NB Power as a national leader in the development of Advanced Small Modular Reactors (SMRs).
He received the Ian McRae Award, which is presented every year by the Canadian Nuclear Society (CNS) and the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA), to recognize the contribution of an individual to the general advancement of nuclear energy in Canada through management, administration, public service, medicine, communication and the arts.
“I have always believed that excellence starts with love and a passion for what you do,” said Mr. Thomas. “I am honoured to receive this award, but I want to acknowledge the hundreds of dedicated nuclear employees at NB Power who, through hard work, leadership and expertise, have helped position New Brunswick as a world leader in the nuclear industry. I have always been a proponent of teamwork because together everyone achieves more, and we have become a leader in our field because of the dedicated New Brunswickers who work hard every day towards achieving excellence.”
Throughout his 38-year career at NB Power, Mr. Thomas has advanced nuclear energy in many ways through different roles. Before his 10-year tenure as NB Power’s President and CEO, he held the role of Chief Nuclear Officer and Vice President Nuclear. In 2018, he was also appointed as the Chairman of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO)-Atlanta Centre Regional Governing Board.
In recent years, he has been instrumental in positioning NB Power as a leader in the development and deployment of Advanced Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). He has successfully worked with the New Brunswick Government to encourage investment in SMR technology.
“I am very proud of the work that has been accomplished during my time at NB Power to position New Brunswick as a leader in the future of nuclear energy in Canada as well as here in New Brunswick,” said Thomas. “Small modular reactors are the next generation of nuclear technology because of their potential to generate low-carbon electricity safely, reliably, and inexpensively. They offer great flexibility for a number of uses within the province’s power grid.”
A New Brunswicker through and through, Mr. Thomas was born and raised in the small northern New Brunswick community of Tilley Road. His first job at NB Power was at the Eel River High Voltage Direct Current Converter Station. Throughout the years, he became a leader known for engaging with staff at all levels of the organization, facilitating a culture of innovation and excellence and has always demonstrated well NB Power’s values of safety, quality, diversity and innovation.
He led his team through the completion of many major projects, including the Point Lepreau Refurbishment, extending the Station’s life by 30-plus years. In 2019, under Mr. Thomas’ leadership, Point Lepreau also achieved the highest industry standards as assessed by the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO).
Point Lepreau and its employees continue to be part of the fabric of New Brunswick - living and working in communities around the province, while driving the economy and producing energy that supports day to day life in New Brunswick.
Canadian Nuclear Achievement Award recipients were nominated by their colleagues, community members and nuclear peers for leadership, dedication, and passion for nuclear power.
More information on this year’s recipients is available in a joint news release issued earlier this month.
All of us at NB Power would like to congratulate Mr. Thomas on this well-deserved award and an exceptional career serving customers and the industry.