For Immediate Release
Contact: Ashley Hartman
Oak Ridge, Tennessee, August 18, 2016 – Senior students at Sunbright School in Sunbright, Tenn., have new insight on how to respond to a hazardous waste emergency. A 40-hour training class was offered to 20 students as part of a joint effort between the United Steel Workers (USW), URS | CH2M Oak Ridge LLC (UCOR), and Safety Fest TN.
The class, conducted Aug. 8-15, was an outreach effort to prepare the workforce of the future and broaden the knowledge of work opportunities in the emergency response field. It was conducted by Billy Edington, USW Local 9-288 president, as well as USW members Bobby Griffith, Pam Gray, Gary Chitwood, and Phillip Eddinger, who are employed by UCOR.
“The opportunity to provide these young adults with a certification that will enhance their transition from high school into the workforce has been a gratifying experience,” Edington said.
The class, commonly called HAZWOPER (Hazardous Waste Operations Emergency Response), marks the first ever offering of its kind for high school students in the southeastern United States. In addition to the students who volunteered, a Sunbright teacher also took the class.
“The HAZWOPER training being provided at Sunbright is an incredibly valuable opportunity for these students to expand their future options,” said Ron Treadway, Sunbright School Principal. “Receiving the training and certification made available through this program will give these young people an opportunity to look for challenging and rewarding post-secondary employment options across the breadth of the United States. I am so thankful to USW, UCOR, and Safety Fest TN, without which this unique experience would not be possible.”
The students will receive their certificates at Safety Fest TN on Sept. 13. Safety Fest TN is the combined efforts of federal, state and local agencies; large and small businesses; and non-profit organizations that come together to promote safety and health at work, at home, and in the community. Safety Fest TN provides a week of free safety and health training annually in Oak Ridge, and Knoxville, Tennessee, and is dedicated to the mission of making the region the safest place to work and live in the United States. It is being held this year from Sept. 12-16. Last year the event had more than 850 participants
representing 172 organizations from six states. More information on Safety Fest TN can be found at
“As a cleanup contractor at a former gaseous diffusion plant, emergency response preparedness is essential to our safe operations,” said Ken Rueter, UCOR President and Project Manager. “As part of our company’s focus on improving educational opportunities in our region, we are proud to be a part of this unique opportunity to provide our future work force with real-world training in this field.”
UCOR is the Department of Energy’s cleanup contractor for the East Tennessee Technology Park (former Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant) and other sites on its Oak Ridge Reservation.