As the Obama Administration looks to help jumpstart job creation across the United States, it should look no farther than the nuclear energy sector. Nuclear energy already plays an important role in the U.S. economy, producing 20 percent of the nation’s electricity and employing some 120,000 hardworking Americans. Yet investment in new nuclear facilities will create many additional jobs during both the construction and operation phases.
For instance, each new U.S. EPR reactor would create some 3,500 jobs during the peak construction phase and some 400 permanent jobs during the facility’s operations. If you include indirect jobs, this figure swells to more than 10,000 jobs. Other smaller reactor designs would create slightly fewer but similar numbers of jobs.
In addition, building and operating these projects inject billions of dollars into the regional economies. One nuclear energy facility contributes, on average, $430 million in sales of goods and services in the local community, almost $20 million in state and local tax revenue, and nearly $75 million annually in federal taxes annually.
AREVA is investing in other aspect of nuclear supply chain. The company plans to begin building its Eagle Rock Enrichment Facility next year, a project that would create up to 1,000 jobs during peak construction and some 350-400 jobs during operation. This $3 billion state-of-the-art facility would help invigorate the eastern Idaho economy.
Additionally, AREVA is partnering with the Shaw Group to build the MOX (Mixed-Oxide) Fuel Fabrication Facility in South Carolina for the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration in support of its nonproliferation effort. Construction of the facility is well advanced and today some 2,000 workers are employed at the site.
Other companies in the nuclear energy sector are also doing their part with each new projects hundreds or even thousands of jobs are created. According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuclear industry has already created some 15,000 jobs over the past few years. Workers in the nuclear sector earn more a higher than average wage, and operation jobs are long-term and quite stable.
While U.S. policymakers struggle with approaches that will help bring down stubbornly high unemployment, they should consider ways to encourage investment in new nuclear projects that can create jobs by the thousands and spur investment in local communities. When complete, nuclear power plants produce clean, reliable and affordable electricity, which underpins a healthy economy.
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