Lack of skilled workers hampers cleanup

September 5, 2006

A declining nuclear workforce is complicating efforts to deal with radioactive waste threatening Washington State's Columbia River.

The massive project to clean up a Cold War-era nuclear weapons plant has met with one setback after another since it started more than a decade ago, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Academic experts agree the U.S. is losing its expertise in nuclear engineering, which is one of the reasons there have been so many problems with the project.

Known as the Hanford site, it is the most polluted in North America and a top clean-up priority of the U.S. Energy Department.

Unfortunately efforts to build a sophisticated waste treatment complex to transform the radioactive sludge have foundered because of engineering mistakes and runaway costs.

Lead contractor Bechtel Corp, the third firm brought in to do the job, says it underestimated how much U.S. expertise in nuclear engineering has atrophied and how difficult it is to find people with the required skills.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Smart imaging of materials lets national labs look to solving big energy problems

Related Stories

UW researchers scaling up fusion hopes

June 2, 2015

Producing reliable fusion energy—the same process that powers the sun—has long been a holy grail of scientists here on Earth. It releases no greenhouse gases, can be fueled by elements found in seawater and produces no ...

Recommended for you

Climate ups odds of 'grey swan' superstorms

August 31, 2015

Climate change will boost the odds up to 14-fold for extremely rare, hard-to-predict tropical cyclones for parts of Australia, the United States and Dubai by 2100, researchers said Monday.

Quantifying the impact of volcanic eruptions on climate

August 31, 2015

Large volcanic eruptions inject considerable amounts of sulphur in the stratosphere which, once converted into aerosols, block sun rays and tend to cool the surface of the Earth down for several years. An international team ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.