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Uncertain future for nuclear engineers

High-Paying Jobs in Nuclear Power Aren’t Looking So Safe Anymore

A wave of plant closings has workers—even highly trained engineers—on edge, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Erin Ailworth, Dec. 28, 2018  “………As large employers, these plants are often economic anchors for the smaller, sometimes rural communities in which they were built. When they disappear, so too can a significant portion of the tax base—a big blow for many. Each plant shuttered equals hundreds of jobs lost; combined, the nine slated to retire employ more than 7,000.

After a plant closes, those employees are left playing musical chairs, hoping to land a spot at another nuclear plant even as that job pool shrinks. Federal labor data for nuclear and other electric power generation shows the number of workers has dropped to about 63,000 in October from roughly 158,000 in 1990. At least 3,000 of those jobs vanished since the start of 2013………

Federal forecasts show that employment among nuclear power reactor operators, who tend to have a high school or equivalent education, is expected to fall by just over 10% from 2016 to 2026. Meanwhile, the Nuclear Energy Institute, a trade association, estimates that of 100,000 nuclear workers—including those with jobs outside power plants—it expects about 23,000 people to retire from or quit the industry over the next five years.

……. The latest nuclear job losses occurred at Oyster Creek, a 49-year-old plant owned by Exelon Corp. in New Jersey, that went offline in September. Next to go will be Entergy Corp.’s Pilgrim nuclear plant in Massachusetts, which is scheduled to shut down in May. Three Mile Island’s shuttering is slated for September 2019.

Christopher Crane, chief executive of Exelon, said his company is doing what it can to absorb workers displaced by Oyster Creek’s retirement, even as it works to avoid further closures by lobbying for policies that recognize nuclear power as a carbon-free resource akin to solar and wind farms.

…….. The last nuclear plant built in the U.S. came into full service in 2016. More recent nuclear projects have had huge cost overruns and delays.

The Trump administration, meanwhile, repeatedly has promised to help the struggling nuclear industry, but so far its efforts haven’t panned out.

Employees at the James A. FitzPatrick nuclear plant in central New York state worry about their future.

January 5, 2019 - Posted by | employment, USA

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