University's nuclear chair inaugurated

18 January 2008

In Britain, the drive to create a new national nuclear training network has advanced with the inauguration of the Lloyd's Register Educational Trust Chair in Nuclear Engineering and Decommissioning at Lancaster University

Funding of GBP755,000 ($1.47 million) has been agreed for the chair over five years with the Lloyd's Register Educational Trust, a charity connected to Lloyd's Register, the risk management organisation which
 providesassurance of the safety of nuclear facilities through independentverification. Trevor McMillan, vice chancellor of research at Lancaster described it as a "hugely generous award" during an event hosted yesterday by the Royal Academy of Engineering in London.

McMillan said that some 1000 nuclear graduates would be required each year for the next fifteen years to meet the UK's demand for manpower in power, defence and research. This figure could increase further if firms are successful in their plans to replace current nuclear power plants in coming years. An invitation to them to do so was announced by the UK government on 10 January.

In clean-up, the UK has put together a comprehensive program under the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), worth a total of around GBP60 billion ($117 billion). Already, some 50,000 workers are included in the supply chain for this work, said Ian Hudson, head of technology and skills development at the NDA.

The University of Lancaster is in the southern portion of England's northwest nuclear hub. The region includes the cities of Liverpool, Manchester and Salford as well as the Springfields uranium enrichment facility and Sellafield, the largest nuclear site in Europe. Lancaster believes its undergraduate course in Nuclear Engineering to be the only one of its kind in Britain.

Sue Ion was formerly head of technology at BNFL and president of the British Nuclear Energy Society. In a new role as chair of a nuclear subcommittee of the Northwest Regional Development Agency she said that nuclear power is "too important an issue to ignore" and that the region is "committed to the pursuance of excellence." There is "no way on earth" the region's nuclear capabilities would be allowed to slip - especially with new nuclear build on the agenda.

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