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The Construction of Each New Nuclear Power Plant Creates 200,000 Job-Years of Employment

Sept. 19, 2017 (EIRNS)—A study by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), titled "Measuring Employment Generated by the Nuclear Power Sector," analyzed the job-years created by each step in the life-cycle of a nuclear power plant. It found that "cradle to grave" employment for each 1,000 MWe nuclear power plant requires approximately 200,000 job-years of direct, directly related, and also induced employment to service the industry.

The breakdown is:

  • site preparation and construction, 12,000 job-years

  • 50 years of operating the plant, 30,000 job-years

  • decommissioning, 5,000

  • managing radioactive waste, 3,000

  • indirect employment in the nuclear supply chain is another 50,000 job-years, and

  • induced employment to service all of the above jobs adds another 100,000.

Geoffrey Rothwell from NEA said,

"Now is the time to employ short-term and long-term underemployed workers in building infrastructure. Nuclear power provides high-skilled, high-pay construction and supply chain jobs to lower unemployment rates and increase average wages."

The longer-term perspective is spelled out in the "Harmony" program of the International Energy Agency, which targets 1,000 GWe of new nuclear capacity by 2050, as compared to the total of less than 500 currently operating plants worldwide. Nuclear would then provide 25% of global electricity production.

The IAEA/NEA study proposed that to meet the 2050 Harmony goal, peak direct employment would be 810,000 job-years per year. These are just "the people passing through the gates of the plants," says Rothwell. But the program would not end in 2050, he explains. "We are not talking about one century. The Harmony program is providing employment until 2160. This is a project for the next two centuries."