Jim Stewart: "Who would I like to be for a day? I’m happy to be me. "
Member Since: 2007
Grade: MSRP
Interview Date: September 2023
Who do you work for?

Previously I worked for the UK transport regulator and then was head of the IAEA transport section. After taking early retirement, I now work for my own consulting company, W4C.

Tell us more about W4C.

W4C was established to generate income via consultancy that can be used to support charitable causes and international development. It does this through offering low-cost (including cost-free) consultancy services which generate improvements in states receiving UN Technical Cooperation assistance.

Please describe your work in general and what you are currently working on

In short – regulation governing the transport of radioactive material. My work since setting up my company has been varied. Until recently it was mainly providing advice to the maritime insurance business on the application of the nuclear liability conventions. At the moment I'm supporting transport regulators in a number of countries in developing a compliance assurance regime. I have also just reviewed a proposed publication looking at transport issues for TNPP (transportable nuclear power plants), for IAEA.

Jim in the Emergency Room, Fukushima Day 1.
What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the variety of the work, but I have to say the people are the best part of it. There is a term used at IAEA to describe the transport community: 'the transport mafia'. People involved in international transport have good friendships globally. They will regularly go for meals together, and some even vacation together. I have particularly enjoyed getting to know some of the new people involved in transport regulation – it is refreshing to see people all over the world sharing a passion to develop their expertise.

Describe SRP in three adjectives

Diverse, communal, professional.

What has been the most memorable, or useful, SRP event you have attended, and why?

Sadly I have had very little opportunity to attend events – that's one of the downsides of working internationally.

Can you recommend any information resources that have been useful for you in your work?

The IAEA publications on transport are essential to my work, as are the modal (air, sea, road and rail) regulations. Of these, the one I use most at the moment is the IAEA guide to compliance assurance. It is a guide to countries establishing an effective regulatory system. I used it at IAEA to develop an assessment process that states can use to check they are doing everything they should. My successor took this one step further, developing an online training platform using the same structure (a quick plug – this is available free of charge at IAEA).

Who do you live with?

At the moment, the fairly large spider that I just saw dashing under my hifi.

Do you have pets?

See previous answer. Maybe I should ask if it wants to be a pet?

What would be your Desert Island Disc?

Just one, in these days of MP3? Okay – I’ll go for Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down by Kris Kristofferson.

What are your hobbies?
A mixture (like my work).

* I enjoy hiking – I have wild camped in Greenland a number of times. I have planned long distance walks for myself and others (currently I'm helping somebody plan a walk from Calais to Istanbul). Since COVID struck I walk about 2 hours every day.
* I make candles.
* I enjoy F1.
* I have a rustic house which I'm upcycling.
* I support a number of charities. Tomorrow I’ll be visiting a Christian charity that works with people who don’t find it easy to fit into wider society.
* I love music (particularly live).
* Finally, I should give a mention to George Sallit (Chair of SRP's Membership Committee) who encouraged me to take up staring at stars.

Some of the very first candles that Jim made.
Do you have a prized possession?

A piece of CP-1 (Chicago Pile-1), the first man-made nuclear reactor.

Who would you like to be for a day?

I’m happy to be me.

What’s the most exciting or interesting thing you have ever done?

Probably my wilderness hikes in Greenland. And just to be clear – there is a lot of green land in Greenland – none of my hikes were on the ice. I enjoy just walking away from civilization and setting up a shelter – then seeing where the next day takes me.

Greenland - Jim's shelter is the tiny white dot at the bottom right of the photo.
What book would you recommend taking on holiday?

Actually, I would rather have a good map of local walks.

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to work as a rubbish collector (bin man).

What’s the best advice you’ve received?

You have two ears and one mouth.

How did you get into Radiation Protection?

I started as a criticality and shielding specialist. I had applied to work in the Met Office, but in those days applications were shared between government establishments and somebody spotted my degree in nuclear engineering. They invited me to stay in the nuclear industry. I was lucky to get to meet some true experts (people who were first in the field) in my early career and that captured me.

What’s your favourite film?

It’s a Wonderful Life – partly because of the actor’s name.

Do you have any unusual skills or talents?

I can break computers. Seriously. In one organisation, I was chosen to test new systems because the IT team knew if anybody could break them, I could.

What’s top of your bucket list?

It used to be a trip to space, but these days my ambition is smaller – to fly a plane.

What would be your perfect day?

There is a particular rock I found in a valley looking out over the sea. Perfection for me would be sitting on that rock drinking coffee all day, without interruption.

What would be your dream holiday, assuming unlimited money and a month off?

Have I mentioned Greenland?

Jim relaxing in Greenland.
Is there something you are passionate about?

My Christian faith.

Do you have a funny, interesting, or embarrassing story you can share?

I once went to the USA to see a solar eclipse on Christmas Day. I drove out into the desert to a small state park, stopped and set up my camera. Everything was quiet – there were no other people around. Then a car drove up and parked nearby. I heard the people talking as they got out – and realised the elderly gent in the group was Scottish. I introduced myself, and after a few minutes of conversation, we discovered his first job as an apprentice was to paint my grandfather’s house!

Since then I have found it hard to trust probabilistic risk assessment.

Do you have a favourite quote?

Is it not the interest of the human race, that every one should be so taught and placed, that he would find his highest enjoyment to arise from the continued practice of doing all in his power to promote the well-being, and happiness, of every man, woman, and child, without regard to their class, sect, party, country or colour

Robert Owen

Finally, what question haven't we asked you, that we should have done?

What is your favourite word?

And what’s the answer to that question?


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