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Our People – Rachel Kirley, Nuclear Safety Inspector

‘Our People’ is a regular feature, focusing on ONR’s staff and the work we do every day to help keep the nuclear industry safe and secure. It aims to bring our jobs to life while increasing understanding of our role among key stakeholders.

Today, we learn more about Rachel Kirley, a Nuclear Safety Inspector working in ONR’s External Hazards team within the New Reactors Division.

Rachel joined ONR in 2015 as part of the two-year nuclear graduates scheme after graduating from the University of Leicester with an integrated master’s degree in geology.

The nuclear graduates scheme allowed Rachel to complete three rewarding and varied work placements at EDF’s Dungeness B site in Kent, a secondment at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (now the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero), plus a period in ONR’s Emergency Preparedness and Response team in Merseyside.

It helped Rachel to gain a variety of work experiences during a short period of time. This included leadership training, attending conferences, and inspiring young people at STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) events.

As part of the nuclear graduates scheme, Rachel and a team of her peers set up and managed a business to help understand the challenges that small companies face. All proceeds from the business were donated to charity.

After completing the scheme, she returned to work for ONR in 2017 as a Nuclear Associate in the External Hazards team which has allowed Rachel to put her geology degree to good use.

Consideration of external hazards is a growing part of ONR’s regulation, and its inspectors study the range and potential impact of natural or man-made hazards which might originate beyond the boundaries of licensed nuclear sites.

Sites must be able to safely and securely withstand such very rare external hazard events together with the effects of climate change, which is the subject of the next Chief Nuclear Inspector’s themed inspection.

Rachel said: “I’m delighted that I chose to return to ONR after completing the nuclear graduates scheme as it’s a great place to work with lots of opportunities. I really feel my work makes a difference to nuclear safety across the UK.

“I’ve always enjoyed the variety of work and my colleagues are very supportive which makes working at ONR an enjoyable experience.

“I have particularly enjoyed the international work I’ve been involved in recently on Advanced Nuclear Technologies including attending International Atomic Energy Agency technical meetings in Vienna and collaborating with other national regulators.

“I’m currently involved in assessing external hazards in relation to the construction of Hinkley Point C in Somerset. This involves regular engagement with the site licensee.

“I’m also part of the team leading the Chief Nuclear Inspector’s themed inspection on climate change, for which we recently held an engagement day with industry.”

Outside of work in her spare time Rachel is a keen baker. She also enjoys walking, going to the gym, yoga and pilates.

Inspired to join the ONR team? Visit our job vacancies portal for details of current roles or to sign up for email alerts on future opportunities.