Radiation Protection Technician | Spring City, Tenn.
There probably aren’t many five-generation families working at TVA, but Anita Smith Snyder is part of one. Her great-grandfather, grandfather, mother, father, son, daughter, two sisters and a son-in-law all are—or have been—members of the TVA family.
Snyder, a radiation protection (RP) technician at Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, is proud of her heritage—and proud of the role she now plays in keeping her fellow employees safe.
“In my world, the dosimetry world it’s more about taking care of everybody and enabling them to do the jobs they have to do. Helping people is what we do…. It’s just part of the mission: taking care of each other and of the Valley.“
“Everyone wears a device called the DLR (dosimeter of legal record)—it’s like your badge; you wear it all the time while you’re in and around the plant,” Snyder explains. “Every six months those are turned in to the Dosimetry office and we send them off to be read so we can monitor any dose. I’m responsible for ensuring that your dose report is accurate and that you don’t exceed your limits. In our office, documents are maintained for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.”
It’s a serious commitment. “We’re first in, last out. We have an oath to protect ourselves, employees and the public. We perform drills all the time to test our emergency readiness. It’s in our job description—it’s who we are and what we do.”
Snyder worked at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant for 10 years as a laborer, then became a contract RP technician, working at Sequoyah Nuclear Plant before being hired at Watts Bar. Her daughter, Audrey Burnett, has followed her mother’s path into nuclear as an RP technician, and has worked all three TVA nuclear plants as a supplemental employee.
“She got her first paycheck as an RP technician when she was just 18,” Snyder says proudly. “Not only is she beautiful and young, but willing to work hard and go the extra mile.”
“I feel blessed to have my job,” adds Burnett. “I have met a lot of people I now call family. The challenges and accomplishments make what we do more rewarding than most jobs.”
Clearly, TVA is a family tradition for Snyder, who’s from Florence, Alabama.
“When President Roosevelt created TVA, it had a huge impact,” Snyder says. “When TVA came in during the Depression, both my grandfathers went to work building Gallatin Steam Plant. Then they went to work on Wilson Dam together. And my great-grandfather, Buck Ingram, retired from the Muscle Shoals Service Shop. So, my children are fifth-generation TVA. I don’t think you’ll find that very often.”
Snyder likes being in a service-oriented group because she knows she helps people.
“There are such great people in all the nuclear plants. They’re like extended family. I’m kind of a mama duck in my department,” she laughs.
“Because of my experience and having been in tough situations in my career, I can be a mentor for the new employees and help them understand that you have to be on your game. The safety of our fellow employees depends on it.”
Snyder’s life outside work involves extended family, too.
“My dad had a bluegrass band and I grew up with everyone playing instruments,” she says. “I play music with both my daughters. All of my children made learning to play a guitar look easy. My grandson is only seven and he’s already learning to play and sing. We all play and sing harmony. We did a show recently and TVA employees came up from Alabama to see us.”
Whether singing in harmony or working in harmony, Snyder’s always ready to express herself.
“My plant manager has come to me for my opinion at times because he knows he’s going to get an honest answer,” she laughed. “I’m just an RP technician, just the voice of the people! We’re where the rubber meets the road.”
Meet more TVA employees, and learn about some of the fascinating ways they serve the Tennessee Valley through their work in energy, environmental stewardship and economic development.
They’re your friends, your family, your neighbors. Get to know them.