The prospects for nuclear power to replace various fossil fuel power sources has become a much ““ debated subject, partly due to the issue of disposing of radioactive waste and the cost of clean ““ up operations following decommissioning.
At the least, a programme for a comprehensive approach to decommissioning power stations is needed, and as such, job opportunities will appear in the market for apprentices. At Hinkley Point A nuclear power station, this has proven to be the case, with the plant taking on new apprentices for the first time in a decade, with more openings to come.
The task at hand is to decommission a nuclear power station that first began operating in 1965 following an eight year construction period. One of eleven “Magnox” nuclear power stations commissioned for the UK between 1956 and 1971, the station stopped operations in power generation in 2000. The British Nuclear Group is the organisation responsible for the site, and has announced that the site will be the first to be decommissioned and defuelled simultaneously, with the 280 fuel flask being transported to Sellafield.
The British Nuclear Group is a specialist site management and decommissioning of nuclear sites body, with expertise in the field of site clean ““ ups and priding themselves in a reputation for economic practices whilst maintaining site security and environmental standards. They have also been employed on sites outside the United Kingdom, including sites in Bulgaria, Italy and Sweden.
Following the end of power production at the Somerset plant, which saw the production of 103 TWh at the twin reactor site, job openings and opportunities fell away. The current growth in opportunities (during the past twelve months) has been down to the accelerated pace of decommissioning, and the British Nuclear Group have elected to interact with the local community to build further on this.
The Group have been working closely with local colleges in developing a number of training and apprentice openings. The apprentices will be in areas covering general craft, electrical and mechanical training. They will be centred on the needs of a safe, efficient and secure decommissioning process. The first three apprenticeships are set to begin in August and will last for a total of three years.
The positions for the decommissioning of the site will be open for applicants between the ages of 16 and 18. The site manager, Mark Lesinski, observed that this was a sign for the future as well as current success, commenting: “This is the start of a rolling programme which will produce a significant investment in young people.”
With nuclear power one of the central planks to the Government proposals for meeting Britain’s energy needs, and with the Hinkley Site B reactor due for decommissioning in 2011, this would seem to be a field that will offer significant employment and training growth both now and in the future.
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