Westinghouse to open training centres

13 August 2009

Correction - An earlier version of this article gave an incorrect number of welders to be trained at the Chattanooga welding institute. The actual number is up to 288 annually, not 700.


Westinghouse will next week open its second WEC Welding Institute in the USA, as well as a training centre for maintaining and refuelling boiling water reactors (BWRs).


Welding (Westinghouse)
A student undergoes training at Westinghouse's Welding Institute in Rock Hill (Image: Westinghouse)

The new welding institute - based at Westinghouse's new Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) Training Centre in Chattanooga, Tennessee - will train up to 288 welders annually in both nuclear and non-nuclear operations.


The facility houses a full-scale BWR cavity with vessel, internals, spent fuel pool and a refuelling bridge. The centre also has two 33-tonne cranes and an under-vessel mock-up. It is equipped with 48 weld booths and certifies students after they complete an average of five months of hands-on training. After training, the students can take the American Society of Mechanical Engineers' welding qualification exam. On passing the exam and receive certification, they must work for Westinghouse for 2000 hours.


The students can work as apprentices at power plants or at any facility where Westinghouse is performing welding work. The company said several of its customers use the institute to pre-qualify the students to work during upcoming nuclear plant outages.


Westinghouse also has a welding institute in Rock Hill, South Carolina, which opened in 2006 and was expanded in 2008. Together, the Rock Hill and Chattanooga institutes will training more than 700 welders annually. The company earlier said that, in addition to the new Chattanooga welding institute, it planned to open a further three schools, each having 50 welding booths, in other US locations.


In November 2007, Westinghouse has announced the acquisition of Carolina Energy Solutions (CES), a supplier of welding and machining services for a wide range of energy industries. Is acquisition also brought affiliates Aggressive Equipment and the Construction Institute of America (CIA). All three entities were merged into Westinghouse's existing WEC Welding and Machining business. At that time, Westinghouse highlighted the "strategically important" addition of the CIA Welding School, which produces 120-150 apprentice welders per year.


Sharing experience


Meanwhile, South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) is planning to send a team of engineers to China to observe the construction of Westinghouse AP1000 reactors, according to a report in South Carolina's The State newspaper.


Westinghouse is constructing four AP1000 units in China – two each at Sanmen and Haiyang. SCE&G and its partner Santee Cooper intend to build AP1000 units at the VC Summer nuclear power plant in South Carolina.


Bill Timmerman, CEO and chairman of Scana Corp - SCE&G's parent company - told a utility seminar in Boston that SCE&G would gain valuable information on how the units are built. In exchange, early next year, the Chinese will be sending teams of engineers to the Summer plant to learn how to operate reactors.