Here I am almost ready to go into the Containment Building. It houses the nuclear reactor and other equipment and is designed to withstand pressures over 60 psi in case of a steam break. I just have to zip up and put on a purple hardhat which they keep inside the airlock. [Note - Security descriptions here are two years old and they are even more stringent now.]
I have on my underwear, socks, and high-top boots; the company provides disposable Orex tee shirts and shorts. Orex is a paper cloth that dissolves in the laundry. Then there are plastic booties, Orex booties, yellow rubber overshoes, Orex coveralls, Orex hood, cotton glove liners, yellow rubber gloves, red elastic cuffs (to keep the glove cuffs from rolling down), and safety glasses over my regular glasses.
Around my neck is a cord with a breakaway link (in case it gets caught on something) with my security badge, a TLD (thermo-luminescent detector) which keeps a permanent film record of my radiation exposure, and an ED (electronic dosimeter) which provides a readout of the radiation levels and my exposure for this work entry. My security badge is on a little wind-up lanyard and a coiled lanyard so I can scan it through card readers without detaching it. Two lanyards make sure it doesnít accidentally drop into some sensitive equipment.
I start out by entering the Protected Area where I pass through a metal detector after removing my boots (they have metal in the insteps) and any other metal. My glasses and belt buckle are small enough that they donít set it off. Then I put my boots back on and stand in an explosive sniffer for about 20 seconds. Then I scan my security badge and put my hand in a hand scanner to verify my hand profile matches the one established when I first cleared Security.
I walk down the hall and pick up my TLD and an ED. Then I walk around two Reactor Buildings to the Radiation Control entry point where I check in with Radiation Protection personnel to tell them where Iím going and what Iím doing so they can let me know what to look out for. There I scan my badge and TLD, then activate my ED at a computer terminal to get permission to enter. Then, I proceed to the dressout room and get suited up. Next I go to the entry control point for Unit 3 Reactor Building. There I again scan my badge and activate my ED at another computer terminal to enter the Vital Area (where vital equipment is located which could affect operation of the reactor). With a security guard looking on, I scan my security badge once more and pass through a detector that makes sure my ED is activated properly. RPs (Radiation Protection personnel) check out my dress and make sure that I am ready to enter. Then I pass through an air lock with massive steel doors and battleship type handwheels to lock each door closed before the other can open.
The Reactor Building is hot and noisy but actually pretty clean. My main job is to compare the piping, supports, and equipment to the reference drawings to plan my design changes. I have to climb ladders and crawl over and under piping, cables, and equipment. I use a flashlight, measuring tape, drawings, and digital camera to make notes and photos to take back to my desk. The notes are faxed outside and the paper that I used is disposed as contaminated waste. The camera is wrapped in plastic with only the lense, flash and viewfinder exposed. Iím not supposed to touch my face or scratch my nose if it itches. While working, I check my ED occasionally to keep tabs on my exposure and make sure it doesn't get near the alarm setpoint.
To leave, I pass through the air lock again. Next, I take off the protective clothing in a particular order to minimize the potential to spread contamination. I scan my security badge as I leave the undressing area (still in shorts, shirt, and boots) and step into a hand and foot monitor to check for any contamination. Then check out at the computer terminal to determine the total exposure recorded by the ED. I walk down to the Menís dressing area and take off the tee shirt and gym shorts. In my underwear and boots, I step into a body scanner which monitors half my body at one time for contamination. Back in the locker room, I get dressed again and check out at the Radiation Control entry point scanning badge, TLD, and ED again. I return the TLD and ED to their racks in the main Security Control building, scan my security badge once more, step into one more body scanner, and then I can go back to the office.