Industry: water, steel & energy

McInerney, Tom (6 of 12). An Oral History of the Electricity Supply in the UK

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  • Recording date

    2014-08-20, 2014-09-23, 2014-10-07, 2014-10-24

  • Interviewees

    McInerney, Tom, 1935- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 6: Remarks on: TMI boss group manager Derrick Harrison, reporting to Director of Generation Bob Weeks, responsible to Director General Douglas Pask; degree of contact between TMI and senior managers. [01:35] Story about race between Hinkley B and Hunterston [B] to become first operational AGR; Hunterston starting construction later but advancing due to experience gained with Hinkley; stations neck and neck in approaching mile stone of synchronising station to grid; SSEB chairman Donald Miller allegedly using progress to demonstrate better management of SSEB, aggravating CEGB chairman Arthur Hawkins; TMI preferring to measure performance over first year of operation not who synchronised to grid first; Hinkley synchronising a few hours before Hunterston; pressure on TMI from senior managers to synchronise station first in spite of problems; [05:45] examples of problems in run up to commissioning, such as with valves connected with boiler water quality; constant pressure on TMI and counterpart Derrick Evans at Hunterston; outline of process for synchronising power station to grid; operators more cautious in pushing on than constructors and contractors; anecdote about TMI lunch being disrupted by a problem; Hinkley coming offline a few hours after synchronising to grid due to many problems that took months to rectify; anecdote about [TPNG, not BNDC] throwing party after successful synchronisation; TPNG good to work with, enthusiastic and helpful site manager at Hinkley, fair contracts staff. [11:30] Remarks on: Hinkley design, different arrangement of boilers to Hartlepool; multiple small problems in run up to completion, anecdote about Trawsfynydd engineer's attitude to small problems sorting themselves out; TMI feeling about taking over Hinkley; problems with making changes to staff organisation; comparison of running commissioned and under construction stations. [15:45] Remarks on problems with Hinkley A ponds used to store spent fuel: fuel unable to be sent for reprocessing due to problems at Windscale; pond becoming cloudy, making problems for operators; chemistry mistakes causing cloudiness, despite help from CEGB research establishments; transfer of fuel to Windsacale slowed by limited number of fuel flasks; anecdote about TMI Christmas card featuring fuel flask and Santa. [18:50] Remarks on: UKAEA senior scientist Tom Marsham assigning UKAEA staff to help Hinkley B along; outline of duties of reactor physicists in understanding reactor core behaviour. [20:55] Remarks on daily life at Hinkley: TMI disliking practice of checking of charge engineers' log for issues by and manager when he was a charge engineer, meaning he delegated it to deputy managers; many meetings; many site visits by different groups due to Hinkley's status as lead station; industrial relations; technical issues; long working hours; working at home at weekends. [24:45] Story about visit of Plowden Committee and TMI faux pas in laying on lavish hospitality. [27:00] Anecdote about visit of Japanese delegation with beautiful female interpreter. [28:10] Anecdote about unorthodox cocktail requested by Nationalist Chinese visitor. [30:45] Remarks on: visitors to Hinkley, common practice for visitors from ESI around world, but many visitors a major diversion for TMI; local liaison committee to coordinate relations with local community; anecdote about TMI organising open day at power station, which proved unexpectedly popular after advertising by AA.

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