1. Identify the technical and sociotechnical competencies needed to support current and projected future U.S. workforce needs for the nuclear-environmental industry for the following educational opportunities:

    a. Certificate program (undergraduate or post-graduate)

    b. Undergraduate minor that allows for integration into other engineering and science program

    c. Advanced studies at the master’s level

Note that “sociotechnical” refers to the interrelationship of social (e.g., political, ethical, environmental, financial) and technical issues or challenges that the nuclear- environmental industry encounters. Sociotechnical competencies are identified in the Appendix at the end of this survey.


  1. In order for a “Competency Area” to be determined essential or important, it should (1) align with current and/or projected future U.S. workforce needs for any of the following sectors: nuclear energy, environmental remediation, waste management, or nuclear safeguards and security AND (2) be considered appropriate for either a certificate program (undergraduate or post-graduate), an undergraduate minor, or advanced studies at the master’s level.
  2. You will be asked to identify Competency Areas that are not included in the Appendix, if any. If you identify new Competency Areas, please consider if:

    a. There are existing educational resources for this Competency Area readily available for use in the classroom such as qualified educators, teaching materials, research equipment and/or facilities OR if there are not existing educational resources if classroom resources can be developed without requiring a significant financial investment.

    b. The Competency Area allows for integration of educational technology into the classroom experience.

    c. The Competency Area allows for meaningful learning experiences outside of the classroom such as field observations, mentorship opportunities, or internship opportunities.

Technical Competency Areas

Nuclear Fuel Cycle

  • Mining – overview of the uranium mining sites and the types of mines that have been used; the nature of the effluents and waste products generated by mining activities; and emerging mining methods
  • Milling and Mill Tailings – mill sites; mechanics of extracting uranium from the ore; the chemistry of the extraction process; and waste products generated by milling activities
  • Conversion – process and chemistry of converting yellow cake to gas for fuel fabrication or enrichment; properties and hazards of UF6; shipment of material to an enrichment plant; and for those plants that do not require enriched uranium, the conversion to UO2 at the conversion plant
  • Enrichment – summary of the methods used to isotopically enrich uranium
  • Fuel Fabrication – fabrication of ceramic pellets from UO2 powder; creation of fuel elements and fuel assemblies; the need for new fuel types and accident tolerant fuel
  • Electricity Generation – differences between fossil fuel and nuclear power plants; different types of nuclear reactors; fission and creation of chain reactions; safety features of a nuclear power plant
  • Spent Fuel – storage of fuel assemblies; reprocessing including the relevant chemistry and radiochemistry, and lessons learned
  • Other topics include other Fuel Cycles such as radioisotopes for medical application; managing radioactive waste generated from the fuel cycle; UMTRCA; sustainability of the nuclear fuel cycle; fusion

Health Physics and Radiological Protection

  • History of health physics including the evolution of the safety aspects of dealing with nuclear systems and the radiation that is emitted
  • Sources of radiation (natural, manufactured, technologically enhanced)
  • Harmful effects from exposure to ionizing radiation
  • Radiation protection fundamentals (time, distance, shielding) and biomonitoring
  • Radiation protection standards

Environmental Assessments and Environmental Protection

  • Sources and causes of environmental contamination
  • Regulations governing environmental protection (e.g., NEPA, CERCLA, RCRA)
  • Remedial options available to address environmental contamination (e.g., water/stream restoration, air pollution control systems, wastewater treatment systems, hazardous waste management)
  • Long-term stewardship and environmental sustainability

Performance and Safety Assessments

  • Basics of geology and geochemistry to understand the requirements for a geologic repository
  • Engineered barrier systems
  • Siting of disposal facilities – history and the consent-based siting process being conducted in the U.S.
  • Performance requirements and probabilistic assessments including radiological transport and modeling
  • Environmental monitoring

Deactivation, Decontamination, Demolition, Decommissioning (D4)

  • Key neutron activation products within reactor vessels and internal structures, and their waste streams
  • Decommissioning strategies (entombment, removal of high hazard material followed by tear-down, etc.) and an overview of the activities involved in each D4 step
  • Building characterization, waste management options including size reduction, storage, transportation, and final surveys for facility free release
  • New technologies for radiation measurements, unmanned robotic systems, use of LiDAR, tools to better prepare and train the workforce performing D&D activities

Contaminant Transport in Soil and Groundwater and Treatment Alternatives

  • Data quality objectives, characterization methods, laboratory analysis
  • Available treatment alternatives for contaminants in soil and groundwater
  • Risk assessments, establishment of cleanup standards, and remedy selection processes
  • Remedial action, treatment alternatives, transportation and disposal, verification
  • Engineering and institutional controls, long-term monitoring

Nuclear Waste Types and Management (storage, transport, disposal, regulations)

  • Waste Classifications – types of radioactive waste generated from nuclear activities, U.S. versus international regulatory classifications of waste, and different approaches to management of waste
  • Storage – review of applicable regulatory requirements, methods of storage for the different waste classifications including types of storage containers
  • Transportation – regulations governing transportation of radioactive waste and materials, types of packaging for radioactive materials, placarding and labeling, types of radioactive shipments.
  • Disposal practices both internationally and in the U.S.
  • Emerging geologic disposal methods (e.g., deep borehole disposal – update on current technology and potential for its application.

Nuclear Facility Design and Safety Analysis

  • Underlying physical principals which make nuclear systems feasible and functional
  • General requirements for power and research reactors and the different designs in use as well as the next generation of reactors under development
  • Nuclear facility hazards, defense in depth, and classification of nuclear structures, systems, and components
  • Regulatory requirements and available guidance

Emergency Preparedness and Accident Response

  • Emergency classifications and development of action levels
  • Exposure pathways and planning zones
  • Federal, state, local and tribal responsibilities
  • Emergency exercises and drills
  • Continuity of operations plans
  • Managing waste from nuclear accidents

Nuclear Safeguards and Security

  • Requirements and roles of agencies
  • Physical protections
  • Material control and accounting for special nuclear materials
  • Threat assessments
  • Information security including cyber security

Sociotechnical Competency Areas

History of Nuclear Activities and Uses of Nuclear Materials

  • Rise of nuclear physics and chemistry
  • Discovery of fission
  • Development of nuclear weapons
  • Peaceful applications of nuclear technologies
  • Uses of nuclear materials including defense materials, energy production, medical applications, industrial uses, consumer products, food and agriculture, scientific research
  • Nuclear safety history and comparison to other fields

Environmental sustainability and climate change

  • Energy and climate change policies and implications for the power sector
  • Nuclear energy as a carbon-free energy source
  • Challenges of safe, secure, and safeguarded nuclear technology development
  • Potential roles of existing and evolutionary nuclear power systems, including the integration of nuclear/renewable energy systems and expanded deployment scenarios
  • Strategic and cross-cutting issues relating to public perception, regulations, markets, and finance

Applicable regulatory requirements and policies

  • Regulatory approach for nuclear materials including the scientific understanding of radionuclide transport, biological effects, and scenarios considered at the time of development of regulations compared to information available today
  • Regulatory agencies and statutes governing treatment, storage, and disposal of nuclear wastes and nuclear-related hazardous substances
  • Comparison of nuclear-related regulations to other U.S. environmental regulations (e.g., RCRA, CERCLA, CWA)
  • Comparison of U.S. and international nuclear-related regulations

Ethical and environmental justice issues

  • Pros and cons of nuclear technology and its uses
  • The need for energy security
  • Other security concerns: policies regarding nuclear deterrence, nuclear arms control (including proliferation and non-proliferation), and nuclear energy
  • Long-term management of nuclear waste and intergenerational equity
  • The NIMBY (not in my back yard) syndrome and the need for a safe disposal location
  • Natural resource, cultural, and social impacts
  • Mitigating risks to workers, general public, and future generations
  • What is environmental justice, history and examples of inequal treatment, efforts underway today to avoid making the same mistakes

Risk communication

  • Overview of risk assessment methodologies and associated uncertainties
  • Risk comparisons
  • Risk assessment paradigms and uncertainties
  • Public perception of risk and risk communication to different audiences

Stakeholder engagement

  • Importance and role of stakeholder involvement
  • Regulatory requirements for stakeholder involvement
  • Public involvement in nuclear waste management decision making
  • Ongoing stakeholder oversight roles

Quality Assurance, Quality Control, and Continuous Improvement

  • Differences between QA and QC
  • Regulatory requirements including NQA-1
  • Oversight and assessments including corrective actions
  • Counterfeit, fraudulent and suspect items
  • Integrated safety management systems and continuous improvement

Nuclear Energy Supply Chain

  • Key elements of the nuclear energy supply chain from upstream activities (e.g., resource extraction, material manufacturing, component manufacturing, construction) to plant operation and eventual dismantling, decommissioning, disposal, and potential recycling.
  • Supply chain assessments and vulnerabilities.
  • Strategies the U.S. government is starting to employ to address supply chain issues.

Project management and control principles

  • Project organization, roles, and responsibilities
  • Project goals, objectives, and performance measures
  • Performance baseline – scope, cost, schedule
  • Project risk management plan
  • Monitoring progress (cost and schedule performance) and mid-course corrections

Nuclear supply chain and business systems

  • Procurement of services and supplies
  • Contract administration
  • Budget formulation
  • Finance
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