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Insights Meeting client needs and keeping commitments on track

As part of our #PeopleDriveResults campaign, this week we have caught up with Justin Alizadeh, Specialist, Project Director for our Nuclear division based in Mississauga, Canada.

image of Justin smiling

Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do

I am a project director leading the reactor dismantling scope for the Darlington Nuclear Plant Refurbishment Project. I am a civil engineer by training and spent the early years of my career in project controls, responsible for planning, scheduling and budget control on a series of nuclear plant life extension projects. My day-to-day role is to ensure project performance meets our clients’ needs and keeps them on track to their commitments to the province of Ontario. I manage a team of approximately 150 non-manual and 400 tradespersons. So, there is no end of things to do every day to keep things on track.

What inspired you to take an active interest in energy?

Working in the nuclear industry runs in my family. In fact, my family relocated to Turkey for six years because my father was stationed there in an effort to sell nuclear plants to Turkey and Romania. So, from a young age, I have been interested in nuclear power and the benefits that it brings. Also, he did manage to sell a plant to Romania.

What kind of energy projects have you been involved in professionally?

I have worked in Korea on the life extension of the Wolsong Nuclear Power Plant, in Argentina on the life extension of the Embalse Nuclear Plant, in Romania on the new build of the Cernavoda Nuclear Plant and am currently leading the reactor dismantling efforts at the Darlington Nuclear Plant in Canada.

What is the coolest thing that you’ve had the opportunity to be a part of in your career?

AtkinsRéalis has a continuous drive to develop new and improved technology for extending the lives of nuclear plants. I had the good fortune of leading the deployment of our new approach to removing reactor core components which cuts the removal time in half. The CANDU reactor that this technology was used on has 480 individual fuel channels. Before we deployed this new technology, we would remove different components from these channels individually, with each component taking over a month to remove. The two most complex components to remove are pressure tubes that hold the fuel bundles and calandria tubes that wrap around the pressure tubes. Our new approach removed both of these components together and saved over a month of critical path on each reactor that we refurbish. This will become the baseline approach for all subsequent life extension programs and is a step change in how quickly we can remove these components, saving worker dose, cost and project time.

What do you think the biggest change to the energy sector will be in our lifetime?

I’m hopeful that we will see a significant improvement in electricity storage technologies, either through batteries, hydrogen generation or other means. This will significantly change the way the electricity sector operates. It will allow for large power stations to continually output baseload power. It will also allow for the storage of more renewable generation, helping smooth out the power generation from wind and solar. This will result in more efficient power generation, less reliance on fossil fuels for addressing peak demand and better grid stability.

Just for fun… You get to design your own spaceship. What fuel source do you use?

I think light is underrated as a fuel. With large and thin enough sails deployed off a spaceship, light from nearby stars provides a limitless, though somewhat slow, source of acceleration. However, given there is almost no drag in space, it can power long distance space flight for free.

What is the best advice you were ever given? Who was it from?

The best advice I was ever given came from my project director in Romania. He taught me to have confidence in the strength of a project team to overcome any obstacle that comes up. Working with him showed me that in a large project, there is always enough capability and drive to develop solutions and plow through issues. I also realized that the most important role of project management is to eliminate the barriers the project team faces to achieving high performance. We must promote a culture that values creativity, problem solving and a drive for achieving project milestones and goals.