Source: EM Update | Vol. 13, Issue 24; Contributor: Carol Hendrycks | June 22, 2021
A new chapter of cleanup is underway at the Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), a massive endeavor requiring EM to maintain its existing workforce while preparing new skilled workers for the challenges ahead.
EM Oak Ridge cleanup contractor UCOR is ensuring employees are trained to advance cleanup. Most recently, the contractor administered training to workers who will provide radiation protection support to numerous projects in the field.
“With decades of environmental cleanup remaining in Oak Ridge, companies like ours will continue to need a well-trained, highly-skilled workforce,” said Ken Rueter, UCOR president and CEO. “The goal is to ensure that an adequately trained workforce is ready to meet the challenges and demands of future cleanup on the Oak Ridge Reservation. To the extent possible, we want to draw workers from the local community.”
This month, UCOR’s second radiation protection technician class graduated 20 people who successfully completed the 13-week course. The first class, which also had 20 graduates, completed its training in December.
Most of those participants are new to Oak Ridge’s environmental cleanup, while a smaller portion entered the training program from labor and craft positions that had been supporting various cleanup efforts.
The course features classroom, on-the-job, virtual reality, and simulated training environments to achieve proficiency. It covers 32 hours of asbestos training and 40 hours of hazardous waste operations and emergency response training.
A cross-training program provides workers opportunities to expand their knowledge and experience to include industrial safety and industrial hygiene disciplines.
Ryan Keeton, a June graduate, said instructors made sure students understood what they would be dealing with in the classroom and in the field.
“To me that perspective was the biggest draw in keeping us engaged and helping us understand the importance of what we are learning,” Keeton said.
Chris Jones, UCOR training cadre manager, says the latest class included top performers with all students passing the exam. The average exam score was 92 percent.
“The students leave training more than prepared for their first assignment,” Jones said. “This training opportunity is the beginning of a rewarding career path for these new survey technicians that will open up new directions and other future job possibilities.”
With training complete, participants are now supporting projects ranging from deactivation of former enrichment buildings at Y-12 and former reactors at ORNL to soil remediation projects at the East Tennessee Technology Park.