Nuclear Industry News Brief – April 30, 2009
Nuclear Utilities Implement Pandemic Flu Action Plans
Several nuclear utilities have implemented pandemic flu action plans in response to the swine flu outbreak. All utilities were required to develop the action plans a couple of years ago to prepare for “what if” pandemic flu scenarios. So far actions are limited to precautionary and preparatory elements of the plans such as acquiring materials, communicating with employees currently traveling in Mexico (or planning travel), and activating flu response teams. This is example of the conservative, proactive approach in which the nuclear industry approaches issues and challenges.
Impact of the Stimulus Act
American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 is having an impact on the nuclear industry that may have not been anticipated. A provision in the bill will accelerate spending on environmental cleanup activities at the national energy laboratories. These projects were on the books for several years from now, but the Stimulus act requires funds to be spent within the next 30 months. This means the laboratories are scrambling to get contracts executed and “boots on the ground.” This will cause a large demand on the nation’s limited supply of radiation protection technicians. One estimate is the projects could draw away up to 30% of available contract RP Technicians during the fall 2009 and spring 2010 outage seasons.
Over the last several years the industry has worked with colleges and technical schools around the USA to develop new radiation protection technician education and training programs. At one time few programs existed. Today there are several well-established RP Tech programs in MO, MS, AR, MI, CT and other states, and several others in various stages of development.