Nuclear staff skills 'transferable'

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Staff at Dounreay nuclear plant can transfer their skills to a renewable energy "revolution" in Scotland, it has been claimed.

Scotland's environment secretary Richard Lochhead is expected to visit the Caithness site to see how the decommissioning process could be harnessed to create jobs in alternative energy production.

Skills could also be applied at other out-dated nuclear plants across Scotland, he said.

But union leaders warned more must be done to create a replacement energy economy in the far north - and criticised the SNP government's green credentials.

Dounreay operators UKAEA said around 2,000 people work on the north-coast site, but numbers will go down to "almost zero" when the last building is flattened by 2025.

Mr Lochhead, speaking before the visit, said the Scottish Government is committed to renewable energy. He added: "Dounreay's experience in technology development and the skills of its workforce have the potential to be at the forefront of the Scottish renewables revolution.

"Its legacy as a former research reactor facility is that a considerable amount of radioactive waste is now being stored on-site.

"This legacy is continuing to support hundreds of jobs in the area, but also has the potential to show us how to deal with the legacy we have elsewhere in Scotland from nuclear power.

"I am keen to see for myself the progress made in cleaning up Dounreay and the area's plans for harnessing the skills of its workforce to create a prosperous and sustainable economic future for Caithness and Sutherland."

But John Quigley, regional secretary for the Unite union, said workers at Dounreay should take Mr Lochhead's comments with a "handful of salt", adding: "The SNP say they will generate alternative employment in the area through renewable energy but they make no commitments."

Posted in |