Building scaffolds to support eddy current testing of feedwater heaters

Productive, Safe Scaffolding Work Provided for STP Nuclear Plant

More than 100 scaffold builders from the Central South Carpenters Regional Council (CSCRC) are turning in top-quality work at the South Texas Project (STP) nuclear power plant in Bay City, Texas. In fact, the CSCRC responded rapidly to changing needs and communicated any challenges, resulting in a 99.9 percent success rate in bringing skilled workers to the project.

Day & Zimmerman is the general contractor at STP. The company confidently bid for the work knowing that the Council had the trained, experienced and properly credentialed manpower needed to do the work.

“The Council’s craft workers performed as nuclear professionals, through their application of essential knowledge, skills, behaviors and practices needed to complete their work safely and reliably,” said Day & Zimmerman Site Manager, Alan Bassham. “It’s clear the Council does an excellent job of selecting and training their members to perform within the nuclear industry.”

Central South carpenters have been staffing jobsites with the same excellence for more than 30 years, during STP’s refueling and maintenance outages.

For outage work, workers arrive onsite weeks before the outage begins to build the initial scaffold structures for those who will clean, maintain and refuel the reactors. Scaffold work continues through the outage, and then a crew remains to dismantle the structures, which can reach three tiers. Bassham specifically credited Central South Carpenter Business Representative Ken Fontenot for playing a key role in ensuring the success of the project by employing clear, frequent, and open communications.

“His leadership gave me the confidence to know that we will have no issues staffing this project,” Bassham said.

Training for STP’s work is a vital strategy, and it’s all-inclusive at the Council’s Houston joint apprenticeship training center (JATC). Scaffolding training modules include instruction on the Safway system and tube-and-clamp fundamentals—crucial for power plant work. The JATC also provides required OSHA-10 training among its many safety offerings. 

Safety consciousness is critical at STP—and so is security. Potential workers must pass eight safety tests, including competence with “lockout-tagout” hazardous control procedures, and certification as “competent persons” in securing scaffolding for proper load-carrying capacity. To meet security requirements each worker must submit a detailed Personal History Questionnaire and other material. Central South workers are accustomed and easily cleared to work under the federally-mandated vetting processes that address both issues.

“All of the testing and certification procedures are second-nature to Central South carpenters,” said Jason Engels, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the four-state, 5,000+ member Council. “We keep our credentials current so that we are ready to go on a moment’s notice and not disrupt any schedules.”

Because of the Council’s sterling record, Central South concrete form workers were also placed on the STP outage. 

The CSCRC represents carpenters and piledrivers in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. The Houston JATC is one of 11 Central South training centers, and they’re all part of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters’ skills training program, which is headquartered at the union’s 17-acre state-of-the-art International Training Center in Las Vegas. The ITC is home to nearly one million square feet of training space and features a zone with a retractable roof, tailored for practice in multi-level scaffold erection. Central South carpenters have access to proprietary training via partnerships with construction industry leaders.