Lehigh Heavy Forge announces plans to build nuclear reactor
A Bethlehem company is getting in on the nuclear manufacturing business. It's part of a new partnership announced Wednesday at Lehigh Heavy Forge.
Energy equals jobs. That's what Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said at Wednesday's event.
"Nuclear is among the most misunderstood industries in the history of our world as far as I'm concerned," he remarked.
It's an industry that's in our backyard. Bethlehem company Lehigh Heavy Forge is partnering with North Carolina-based Babcock and Wilcox Company to produce its B&W mPower Small Modular Reactor, or SMR. The local business will forge about 18 components of the new nuclear technology.
"We are uniquely qualified as the only domestic manufacturer capable of producing these large complex high quality components," explained Lehigh Heavy Forge President Jim Romeo.
Over the next 10 years, Lehigh Heavy Forge says at least 100 jobs will be added as it undergoes an expansion to increase productivity in the plant. No state money was used to create the agreement between companies.
"We have an aggressive schedule to deploy the world's first commercially viable SMR by 2022," added B&W President Christofer Mowry.
They will be one-fifth the size of big reactors and about a tenth of the cost. Weighing only 600 tons, the 75-foot SMR is portable and can be shipped to locations as needed. It will also be emission-free.
"They can be constructed incrementally as utilities need more generating capabilities," said Mowry. "Modular means that the nuclear core steam generator and other essential components are contained within a single vessel."
Lehigh Heavy Forge says some of the estimated 100 jobs will be engineers, but most will be manufacturing. They also note support jobs in the community will also be needed once they start making the parts.
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