News 12 at 11 O'clock, February 11, 2010
WAYNESBORO, Ga.---Work is going on right now to expand two nuclear power plants: one in Georgia and the other in South Carolina. Both projects are creating a lot of jobs.
It's the first nuclear expansion in the nation in more than thirty years. SCANNA is adding two nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer Plant, about 30 minutes north of Columbia in Jenkinsville. And the Southern Company is also adding two new reactors at Plant Vogtle, just down the Savannah River from Augusta in Waynesboro. Both jobs will take a massive workforce to do the construction. And then they'll need hundreds of full time employees to run the plants.
It's not easy to describe the size and the scale of the work going on right now at Plant Vogtle. If you point a camera at it, it just looks like a lot of dirt. But if you look carefully, there's an army of seven hundred workers out there. And that army is about to grow.
Vogtle Expansion Job Opportunities
There are opportunities with Southern Company, Shaw Group, Morgan Corporation, Westinghouse Corporation, and Williams Power. Click here for details.
About the Expansion
Southern Company says Vogtle was built with the option to expand, and that "Vogtle Units 3 and 4 will be among the first new nuclear units built in the U.S. in the last three decades."
How Nuclear Plants Work
According to Southern Company, "a nuclear power plant is not all that different from coal, oil, or gas fueled plants. The main difference is that at a nuclear power plant, the heat used to make steam is produced by fission." Click here to learn more.
E.N.E.R.G.E. Family Nights at Augusta Tech
Middle and high school students are invited to learn about energy-related careers at the following E.N.E.R.G.E. Family Night events:
Tues., Feb. 16, 6:30-8pm
Waynesboro/Burke Campus Auditorium
216 Hwy 24 South, Waynesboro
Tues, Feb. 23, 6:30-8pm
Augusta Campus/Jack B. Patrick Information Technology Center Auditorium
3200 Augusta Tech Drive, Augusta
David Jones is overseeing the project for the Southern Company. "Right now, the majority of our construction jobs are excavation," Jones said. "Heavy equipment operators moving soil, moving rock, gravel as you'll see."
The Southern Company wants you to know they're hiring locally.
"And over 50 percent of our craft labor has come from the state of Georgia and within a 50-mile radius of the plant site," Jones said.
They'll be moving dirt here for the rest of this year. Right now, Georgia's "Big Dig" is all about digging massive holes where the two new nuclear reactors will sit. They'll go down 90 feet until they hit rock bottom.
Once they finish digging- they'll need concrete workers.
"And then," Jones continued, "we will have everything from pipe fitters to welders to iron workers to carpenters. All types of labor trades will be important to us as we go through this phased approach."
They're already working with Augusta Tech to make sure people are trained and ready for those jobs. They call this event ENERGE Night. ENERGE stands for Engaged Networking Energy Regional Georgia Education.
We stopped by a recent ENERGE event at the Augusta Tech campus in Thomson, Ga. Walking along the various booths, we heard plenty of conversations.
"These are all the energy related programs," one volunteer pointed out to a student.
"What are your favorite subjects?" asked another one.
If your answer is math and science, you're in the right place. This may be the chance to energize your career. Or for students, a chance to plan ahead.
Julie Langham is with Augusta Tech. "Energy is a great field, and [students] need to be thinking, 'What can I be doing now to get into that field?'" she said.
Mike McCracken with the Southern Company was there to remind attendees that the companies involved in the expansion are looking to hire locally. There's a good reason why.
"It's an idea situation to hire someone locally," McCracken said. "They have roots in their area and they're likely to stay and have their families here."
And they're targeting local students in middle and high school. Thomson High student Mitch Langham told News 12, "I think more people should show up. It beats working at McDonald's."
Back at Plant Vogtle, David Jones is pleased with the progress, but he knows there's a lot of work to be done. Projecting forward, how many people will they really need?
"Construction labor, at peak of construction we estimate over 3,500 construction jobs," Jones said.
And once the dust clears here and four cooling towers rise above the Savannah River, they'll need eight hundred more people to operate the nation's newest nuclear reactors.
If you want to learn more about those jobs in the nuclear industry, there are two more ENERGE Nights planned. Representatives will be there to discuss current and future employment needs. You can also learn about the courses or career pathways to help you get ready.
The next ENERGE Night is at the Augusta Tech campus in Waynesboro on February 16. The last one is at the Augusta campus on February 23. On both nights, the event starts at 6:30pm.
Aiken Tech is also offering a program in the related field of Health Physics. Those graduates go on to work at the Savannah River Site.