Radiation Protection Today - Winter 2022 Issue 4 | Page 28



An interview with Dr Roger Coates OBE , SRP and IRPA Past President , about his experiences during his career in radiation protection .
Roger Coates retired in January 2021 from the role of President of the International Radiation Protection Association ( IRPA ). In addition to his career in the nuclear industry , he supported first SRP ( he is also a past President of SRP ) then IRPA , championing the voice of the radiation protection practitioner on the international stage .
Interviewed by Dr Stephanie Bloomer , who is an SRP Council member and chairs SRP ’ s Outreach Committee . She works as a waste characterisation specialist for Urenco .
As I talk to Roger , he is enjoying a visit to his family after a little break in Cornwall . Some may think Roger is retired as he left BNFL in 2006 . However , he is on his fourth attempt at fully retiring . We discuss Roger ’ s career in BNFL , SRP , and also IRPA .
Roger joined the nuclear industry in 1975 , after completing a PhD and post-doctoral research in physics . He spent 31 years with BNFL in a number of different roles , starting out as a trainee health physicist . After making a general application to Sellafield , Roger ’ s background in physics led to his first placement in health physics . Two years into his career , Roger found himself as the secretary for the local liaison committee . “ I suddenly realised that this career isn ’ t all science . It ’ s dealing with people too .” Roger always enjoyed the variety that a career in
“ What makes a good radiation protection professional ? Not just science , but also engaging with people ... and listening .”
radiation protection provides , which can move from ‘ how to control radiation jobs ’ to ‘ liaising with local politicians and regulators ’. Roger has some advice for radiation protection professionals : “ Concentrate on your job , do a good job ... but take every opportunity to broaden your experience .”
“ As my career progressed , I got more and more into management . Then after 15 years I had a change in role to lead the scientific case for the defence to the childhood leukaemia writ we had received .” This role moved Roger ’ s work back towards hard science . “ I worked with Rick Wakeford and other colleagues on developing our case , getting together expert witnesses .”
Roger joined SRP in 1977 , and in 1995 became the youngest SRP President , still in his 40s . He currently sits on the Honours and Nominations Advisory Committee and the Task Group for the ICRP review . In the 1990s , his growing profile led to his involvement in the UK delegation to work with the IAEA on the Basic Safety Standards , where he was one of very few practitioners . Roger was also on the ICRP Task Group which wrote ICRP75 on occupational exposure .
Roger has advice for getting involved in extracurricular roles : “ Don ’ t be afraid to put your head above the parapet outside your company or organisation .”
In 1996 , Roger was part of the SRP delegation to the IRPA International Congress in Vienna . He was invited to join the Programme
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