The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is preparing to hire thousands of contract workers next year to build what could be the first of more than two dozen nuclear reactors added in the South over the next two decades, according to a report in the Chattanooga Times/Free Press.
TVA officials predict it will need more than 500 contract electricians and a comparable number of pipefitters and boilermakers to finish building the Watts Bar Unit 2 reactor, starting in 2008. Once that reactor is built by 2013, TVA expects to need a comparable number of workers to build each of two reactors tentatively planned for the Bellefonte Nuclear Site in Alabama.
A study prepared for a conference last week in Biloxi, Miss., on nuclear work force issues found that more than a third of the nuclear power industry is staffed by baby boomers who are eligible to retire in the next five years. To fill that void and build and operate the power plants now on the drawing board will require thousands of new electricians, pipefitters and engineers in the South.