IDAHO FALLS, Idaho – In any Nuclear Hazard Category 2 or 3 facility, when the lights come on in the morning, until crews go home at night, there’s one critical position that oversees the compliance and safety of all operations, the Nuclear Facility Manager (NFM).
Individuals who strive to become an NFM share several common attributes which help to perform the job. They have a questioning attitude, a special eye for details, and a strong sense of responsibility and knowledge that they are responsible for all the work happening in their facility.
Earlier this month the NFM organization welcomed a new member who brings a distinctly new quality to the group. Pat Spaulding became the first female NFM on the Idaho Cleanup Project Core managed by contractor Fluor Idaho.
Pat’s new position is the latest in a career that began 33 years ago as a graphic artist and typesetter at the Idaho National Laboratory. Her first glimpse of being an NFM came when she accepted a position as a Spent Nuclear Fuel shift supervisor. As part of her responsibilities, she worked closely with the NFM on that project, Spent Nuclear Fuel Support Manager Mark Stubblefield. Mark recognized Pat’s interest and determination to learn more and began to mentor her in the nuclear operations side of work.
“Once I got into this field and understood how involved an NFM is with every aspect of work, I knew this is the job where I wanted to be,” Pat said. “I have been so lucky to have a mentor like Mark to help me understand the scope of the job and to always be there with helpful answers and suggestions to my questions.”
Pat has qualified as an NFM on each of the three spent fuel projects located at the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center.
“I think the best thing about this job is the satisfaction I get from knowing that I’m helping to ensure our work is done compliantly and making sure my co-workers have a safe work environment,” she said.
Thinking back to her first job as a graphic artist, Pat is amazed at how far she has come in her career.. “I truly enjoy my job. I’m detail oriented and appreciate the responsibility that rides on what I do. A NFM makes sure the safety basis requirements are implemented in every aspect of the job and because of that, I know I’m contributing to all work being performed safely and compliantly.”