Jobs boost at Vulcan as Rolls-Royce continues to run plant after MoD contract extension
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The decision to delay the start to the clean-up of Vulcan until 2026 has created a mini jobs boom at the Ministry of Defence site, near Reay.
Twenty new jobs have been created by site contractor Rolls-Royce since the start of the year and others are in the pipeline.
It follows the extension of the firm's contract to run the plant, which had been scheduled to end next March.
Work to start on the decontamination and dismantling of the long-time nuclear submarine support base has been put back until early 2026.
That is to allow extra time to remove the stockpile of radioactive fuel used in Vulcan's reactor.
A Rolls-Royce spokesperson said: "As a result of the announcement of the site extension to 2025, we have had a targeted recruitment campaign and have successfully employed 20 permanent positions.
"Many of these individuals are transfers from our existing sub-contractor workforce.
"We continue to assess our longer term needs and expect to make further focused recruitment plans in the near future."
Four new Rolls-Royce apprentices are meanwhile to start in September to add to the 16 already on site.
Rolls Royce refuses for security reasons to say what the site's workforce is but the latest rise is thought to have taken it to the low 200s.
Vulcan’s pressurised water reactor was shut down in 2015 and three years ago the MoD announced it had no future need for the site.
Rolls-Royce, however, maintains it has plans for a future in Caithness after its MoD contract ends.
The spokesperson said: "We remain committed to review specific future business planning for our capability, skills and personnel at Vulcan for the longer-term in Caithness, particularly in the overall submarine and nuclear services arena.
"At an appropriately aligned pace, we continue to progress our business planning and development for utilisation and deployment of our personnel and nuclear skills, in Caithness to 2025 and beyond."
The jobs boost was welcomed by newly re-elected Thurso and North West Caithness Highland councillor Matthew Reiss.
He said: "This is a slightly unexpected bit of good news. The creation of any new jobs is a bonus and this reminds us that the county continues to be closely linked to the nuclear industry and very dependent on aspects of it."
The MoD in March announced it was suspending the tender process it had planned to run for a 10-year contract to decommission Vulcan.
It is now exploring the option of the job being carried out by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the quango which owns and runs the next-door one-time fast reactor complex at Dounreay.
- Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) in line to take on Vulcan decommissioning role at Dounreay site