Jobs there if workers there

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Some of us may not like the idea of stimulus money, but adding energy to a wellspring of science enhancing the U.S. Department of Energy cleanup of toxic nuclear byproducts is a real shot in the arm to our green energy future.

The job creation and economic opportunities for our community grow with the stimulus investment in projects at Savannah River Site, our world-class science lab. We must not squander or underestimate this economic force comparable to Research Triangle Park or Silicon Valley.

The Cold War left us with a pile of radioactive waste in underground tanks at the site. Production of nuclear materials for defense, research and medicine started there in 1951. The Savannah River National Laboratory lab, the current cleanup work and other facilities assure a future as an epicenter of research and development regarding nuclear and other forms of power.

The entire site and its work related to national security and energy are a national treasure.

Purging, cleaning and assuring safe disposal of waste stored in underground tanks from a bygone era is a national responsibility. The urgent attention to this is of great environmental and health concern locally, due to leaks that were found years ago in 12 of the 49 tanks. Closure of tanks has been ongoing and has a long timeline extending well into the future.

Ines Triay, the U.S. Department of Energy's assistant secretary for environmental management, visited to detail the care being taken, the progress to be made and to thank the unions and local workforce for being an easy sell for the added investment.

Hiring 3,000 new workers will make a difference. These nuclear jobs add to a current workforce of 11,000 at SRS. Seventy percent of the 6,000 working on cleanup came from the local workforce, and all would like to see that maintained or increased.

Nuclear engineers and construction workers are needed. The site has a full training program for technical jobs. Town meetings are ongoing to recruit and explain what is involved.

Dr. Triay went on to underline the world-class lab's role in today's world, and the place SRS holds as a microcosm of everything nuclear.

This comes as a study commissioned by the SRS Community Reuse Organization indicates 10,000 of tomorrow's nuclear jobs may be in store for our region. This seems real, backed with progress seen at the Mixed Oxide Project facility. It is a $4.8 billion site to convert weapons-grade plutonium into reactor fuel, as part of mission to aid nuclear disarmament well into the 2030s. Plant Vogtle is moving forward with new reactors.

The opportunity for us is in question, however. If local officials and educational institutions do not act to enhance the creation of tomorrow's workforce, we will be a smaller part of these developments.

This is where area schools should focus in the coming years. We recognize the positives of A. R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering magnet school, but more is needed. Much more.

For our community, there has to be a commitment to transparency and safe operations in the cleanup. We commend the DOE's efforts here. The stimulus job creation is well served and timed well.

News about the possibilities for regional nuclear jobs should inspire action on an educational pipeline for jobs. The time is right to "tweak" prep school through post-grad programs on both sides of the river to feed this industry for Georgia and South Carolina's mutual benefit.

We encourage our delegation and national leaders to continue to build up SRS. Our opportunity and responsibility is to assure our children can become the workforce of tomorrow.

Let's strengthen our local economy with high-paying, technical jobs and keep moving forward urgently and carefully on the cleanup that will benefit us now and for many years to come.

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overburdened_taxpayer 06/20/09 - 08:18 am
Speaking of jobs, did anyone

Speaking of jobs, did anyone catch it on the news the other night? A woman being interviewed about the Kellogg's plant expanding in September with 220 jobs said something to the effect of: "If they are going to bring jobs they need to bring them now, we need the jobs now not in September". I'm thinking that I would never hire that lady if she put in an application with me. They are bringing 220 jobs to Augusta - better in September than never. Be greatful lady, they could have gone somewhere else. Da-n entitlement mentality.

southernguy08 06/20/09 - 08:40 am
OVER, I agree with you that

OVER, I agree with you that she should be grateful for the jobs coming, whenever they come. But, if she was with any entitlement program, she wouldn't care less about a job, whenver it came. Thank you Kelloggs. Some of us are very grateful for these jobs.

Riverman1 06/20/09 - 08:54 am
I was somewhat cynical of the

I was somewhat cynical of the job fairs, but maybe it will work out...let's hope so anyway. With the politically driven abandonment of the Yucca Mtn repository, SRS is going to be called into storing nuclear waste more and more. Let's also hope that works out for us in a positive way. With both states being Republican dominated, we don't have the political power to fight what the Democratic administration and Congress want to do with SRS.

SCEagle Eye
SCEagle Eye 06/20/09 - 09:05 am
Has DOE done any analysis of

Has DOE done any analysis of jobs now vs how many will be lost in the future due to the current bump-up in hires? I don't think so. A push to bring spent fuel to SRS or conduct reprocessing is one trade-off that South Carolinians don't want for a few jobs and profits (from the government dole) to narrow special interests. People here will fight being the nation's nuclear dumping ground and promise of a few jobs won't stop that opposition, which will harm the environment and while the rest of us pay & pay.

Tigger_The_Tiger 06/20/09 - 09:26 am
Aiken Conservative, why

Aiken Conservative, why wouldn't you want to reprocess spent fuel? Would you rather throw away 85% of the U-235 that is left in the spent fuel? That's a good way to fill up whatever repository we finally authorize, real fast. Running your reactor fuel once through and not reprocessing it would be analogous to filling up your gas tank, running it until you were at 3/4 tank, then pulling the tank off and throwing it away. It's very wasteful and doesn't fit in today's green mentality.

patriciathomas 06/20/09 - 10:00 am
I think the work being done

I think the work being done at SRS is important and needs to be handled, but the jobs created are all government jobs. The training for these jobs is being encouraged at government schools. All of this is well and good for now, but it will all be paid for with government money. Non-profit, tax only, government money. It's not the same as building the manufacturing base or commercial base that brings in taxes. This is what will happen to a lot of the "stimulus" money. It's called redistribution. At least under this plan, the money is being redistributed to the productive. (A sure sign it's a short term situation)

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