Nuclear: A Great Environment for Promoting Positive Change

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by Rebekah Valero-Lee on

As a child and a teenager in the 1980s and 90s, Natasha Round was concerned by environmental issues, such as global warming and pollution in our rivers and oceans. Rather than protesting about environmental damage, however, she decided that the best way to make a positive change was to work in the commercial world and help drive environmental best practice.

It was a philosophy that led Natasha to study STEM subjects and geography at school, followed by a degree in environmental science and an LLM Masters in environmental law.

With 22 years in environmental management under her belt, Natasha is currently working as a senior nuclear oversight inspector for Horizon Nuclear Power, which is developing plans to build at least 5,400MW of new nuclear power generation, enough to power around 10 million homes at Wylfa on the Isle of Anglesey and Oldbury-on-Severn in South Gloucestershire.

Having decided that she wanted to work from within the industry to drive improvements in environmental standards, Natasha became an environmental consultant and has worked across a wide range of sectors, including mining automotive, utilities and the MoD supply chain.

“Over the course of my career I’ve seen a lot of change in the way environmental issues are handled and prioritised within the commercial world. Companies are more aware of the impact of their activities these days and committed to making measurable improvements as part of a more holistic approach.

“There has also been considerable legislative change on environmental matters since I first started in consultancy. Keeping up with environmental law and advances in technology is one of the things that keeps my work constantly fresh and challenging.”

Natasha has worked in the power sector since 2014 and her current role is amongst her most exciting and rewarding yet.

“My current role involves working for a new company with a remit to deliver the kind of project that hasn’t been done in the UK for more than 50 years. I’m working with a talented team of experts to ensure that every element of the design and planning meets the highest standards of environmental and safety due diligence.”

Natasha is one of a team of nuclear oversight inspectors on the Wylfa Newydd scheme who operate as internal regulators to interrogate the design against a wide range of parameters, including nuclear safety and environmental protection. The team works closely with external regulators, including Natural Resource Wales, and the project’s design team to develop the scheme, which will use advanced boiling water reactor technology. The technology is now in the fourth and final stage of its Generic Design Assessment (GDA) and Horizon submitted a site license application for its lead site, Wylfa Newydd, in March 2017.

Natasha continues: “As a very ethical person who really cares about sustainability and the environment, it’s really rewarding for me to be involved in a project that will be such an important source of low carbon energy.

“For me, it’s that drive to make a difference that brought me into an engineering work environment: I was really focused on the potential positive impact I could have.”

It’s a philosophy that Natasha is now sharing with young people as a lecturer on a radiological and environmental protection course and a mentor for graduates and younger colleagues beginning their career in environmental management.

She adds: “Women who want to work in an engineering environment can still expect to find themselves in a male-dominated workplace but it’s also a progressive work culture where the focus is on positive outcomes. My advice to any woman thinking of following a similar career path to me would be to think about what they want to achieve in terms of problem solving and making a difference.”

Just like Natasha, Alma discovered a powerful nuclear journey, read her story here.

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