Westinghouse Electric Company has opened its US boiling water reactor (BWR) training center and its second WEC welding institute in Chattanooga, Tennessee.The BWR training center, opened on 20 August, will be used to train Westinghouse employees, customers and industry representatives on the safe maintenance and refuelling of boiling water reactors in nuclear power plants.

The BWR training facility is composed of a full-scale BWR cavity with vessel, internals, spent fuel pool, and refuelling bridge; two 33-ton cranes, under-vessel mock-up and 65,000 square feet of shop floor. Combined, the welding institute and the BWR training facility will provide approximately 50 jobs for the city of Chattanooga.

The WEC welding institute offers a no-cost programme that is equipped to train welders to perform work in both nuclear and non-nuclear plants. Currently, 10 students are enrolled in the program which has the capacity to train and graduate 288 welders per year. Westinghouse also has a WEC welding institute in Rock Hill. Together the welding institutes have the capacity to graduate more than 700 welders a year.

The Chattanooga WEC Welding Institute is equipped with 48 weld booths and certifies students after they complete an average of five months of hands-on training. After training, they can take the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) welding qualification exam. Once students pass the exam and receive certification, they must work for Westinghouse for 2,000 hours. They have the opportunity to work as apprentices at power plants or at any facility where Westinghouse is performing welding. Several customers work at the institute to pre-qualify the students to work during upcoming nuclear plant outages.

Nick Liparulo, senior vice president, nuclear services, cut the ribbon on the refuelling bridge over the training center’s full scale BWR mockup with the assistance of other Westinghouse colleagues.

In commenting on the new facility, Liparulo said: “Our investment here in Chattanooga is reflective of both the scope of the nuclear renaissance and our ongoing commitment to meet the diverse needs of our growing customer base. We see an exciting and long-term future for our industry, our company and this state-of-the-art facility.”

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