Nearly 100 members of the Southeast chapter of the North American Young Generation in Nuclear leadership group are attending the conference, which features speakers from the Plant Vogtle and V.C. Summer nuclear plants.
With four new reactors under construction in Georgia and South Carolina, Augusta is an ideal location for the young workers to discuss the industry, said Sandra Stewart, a 33-year-old analyst at a nuclear company in Texas and the conference organizer.
“The Southeast is a hot bed of the industry,” Stewart said.
NAYGN represents hundreds of young workers in the nuclear industry, which has a large age gap between the workers who built the first reactors in the U.S. and the new generation of workers entering the field.
Of the eight chapters in the U.S., Mexico and Canada, the Southeast chapter has the most members, Stewart said.
By 2018, the Nuclear Energy Institute estimates that 38 percent of the 120,000 commercial nuclear workers will reach retirement age. In anticipation of the looming retirement wave and to fill the workforce needs created by new reactors, power companies have hired tens of thousands of young workers in recent years.
“They’ve got to turn this over at some point and make this successful,” Stewart said of the retiring generation. “They look to the younger workers for input. We are their kids to an extent. They say, ‘This industry is your baby. You’ve got to take it and take care of it.’”
During the conference, participants will explore nuclear technology, energy policy, new nuclear construction, the industry’s response to the Fukushima
nuclear meltdown and other topics.
The conference begins Tuesday with a service project in Augusta and concludes Friday with a tour of the Plant Vogtle reactor construction site.
Southern Nuclear Co. is the host company of the conference, which is being held at the DoubleTree Hotel on Perimeter Parkway.