Nuclear workers offered retraining as Wylfa reactor shuts early

The Welsh government said help would be available for more than 1,200 staff at Wylfa and the former nuclear power plant at Trawsfynydd, Gwynedd.

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Nuclear industry workers will get career advice and re-training as part of a £4m scheme for north-west Wales.

It comes as the end of generating electricity at Wylfa Reactor 2 on Anglesey was brought forward by five days on Wednesday.

The Welsh government said help would be available for more than 1,200 staff at Wylfa and the former nuclear power plant at Trawsfynydd, Gwynedd.

Wylfa will stop generating in 2014, and Trawsfynydd is being decommissioned.

Originally Wylfa's Reactor 2 was due to be shut down on Monday 30 April, but it finished generating electricity on 25 April when the reactor was shutdown at 19:02 BST.

Power projects

Operators said the decision was taken after "an issue was identified with the plant, leading to the early shutdown of the reactor".

Start Quote

Helping the north-west Wales workforce prepare for the future... is essential to meet the challenges arising from structural change in the regional economy”

End Quote Edwina Hart AM Business Minister

The reactor's turbines were first synched to the grid in 1971 and have produced enough electricity in its lifetime to power two-thirds of the UK's total electricity demand for a year.

Last month two firms shelved plans to build a new nuclear power station at Wylfa.

E.On and RWE npower announced their decision to scrap the so-called Wylfa B power station, intended to operate from 2025, after a review.

The energy giants, who formed the joint venture Horizon, blamed problems raising finance for power projects and costs associated with decommissioning in Germany where the government abandoned nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster.

It has been reported that Russian state-owned nuclear operator Rosatom is interested in a bid to build a new reactor on the Wylfa site.

The Welsh government said the Shaping the Future project would help reduce the impact of winding down Wylfa and Trawsfynydd.

It is being paid for with £2.3m of EU money through the Welsh government and £1.2m from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. Additional funds will come from Gwynedd and Isle of Anglesey councils.

'Scarce and sought after'

Business Minister Edwina Hart said: "Helping the north-west Wales workforce prepare for the future, grasp new opportunities and secure sustainable, alternative employment is essential to meet the challenges arising from structural change in the regional economy.

Start Quote

At a time of national and global shortages in key technical skills and engineering expertise, north-west Wales offers a unique concentration of scarce and sought after skills for employers to tap into”

End Quote Judy Craske Training project director

"Our use of EU and other funding demonstrates how we can back up our tailor-made policies with resources to support our ambition to secure a highly skilled and adaptable workforce for a modern economy."

One-to-one mentoring will be on offer, with participants in the scheme getting individual action plans to address the skills they need.

Training programmes to help people into new jobs or to start up their own businesses in the area will be provided.

The project's director, Judy Craske, said it showed how the public and private sectors can deal with "structural employment shifts and boost the diversity of regional economies".

"At a time of national and global shortages in key technical skills and engineering expertise, north-west Wales offers a unique concentration of scarce and sought after skills for employers to tap into," she said.

Reactor 2 at Wylfa, which began operating in 1971, will stop producing electricity on 30 April. The remaining Reactor 1 can operate until 2014.

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