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Transportation of hazardous materials is safer today than it was in the past, but accidents still occur. Emergency and disaster response workers clean up hazardous materials after train derailments and trucking accidents. These workers also are needed when an immediate cleanup is required, as would be the case after an attack by biological or chemical weapons.
Some hazardous materials removal workers specialize in radioactive substances. These substances range from low-level-contaminated protective clothing, tools, filters, and medical equipment, to highly radioactive nuclear reactor fuels. Decontamination technicians perform duties similar to those of janitors and cleaners, but the items and areas they clean are radioactive. They use brooms, mops, and other tools to clean exposed areas and remove exposed items for decontamination or disposal. Some of these jobs are now being done by robots controlled by people away from the contamination site. Increasingly, many of these remote devices are being used to automatically monitor and survey surfaces, such as floors and walls, for contamination.
With experience, decontamination technicians can advance to radiation-protection technician jobs and use radiation survey meters and other remote devices to locate and assess radiated materials, operate high-pressure cleaning equipment for decontamination, and package radioactive materials for transportation or disposal.
Decommissioning and decontamination workers remove and treat radioactive materials generated by nuclear facilities and power plants. With a variety of handtools, they break down contaminated items such as “gloveboxes,” which are used to process radioactive materials. At decommissioning sites, the workers clean and decontaminate the facility, as well as remove any radioactive or contaminated materials.
Suggested citation: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook
Job Postings could be federal or private sector positions and may not all be Nuclear Job Industry related.