The Future of Nuclear Technology in Lynchburg

May 23, 2019

Over the past several decades, Lynchburg has been positioned as one of the largest hubs for nuclear technology. Currently, two major nuclear technology companies, BWX Technologies (BWXT) and Framatome are headquartered here. These two employ 2,200 workers, a total that is eight times larger than the U.S. Average. In the next five years we anticipate continued growth in this sector to create more opportunities for our residents and economy.

The History of Nuclear Technology in Lynchburg

The first Nuclear Technology facility to open was BWXT (formerly Babcock and Wilcox) in 1955. A few years later, the Lynchburg operation would have the opportunity to work on the nuclear reactor to power the NS Savannah, the first nuclear-powered merchant ship, created under President Dwight Eisnhower’s Atoms for Peace program.

Today, BWXT continues to innovate not only in naval nuclear technology, but they are one of the industry leaders for government and commercial nuclear components, with services such as:

  • Commercial Nuclear Fuel
  • Research Test Reactors
  • Medical Isotopes
  • Nuclear Thermal Propulsion

The second prominent local nuclear technology leader is Framatome (formerly AREVA). Originally, Framatome was a separate nuclear technology company that operated in Lynchburg from the 1990’s to the early 2000’s, and was bought out by Areva in 2006. However, in 2018 the company announced they would be rebranding to the new, yet familiar name of Framatome, a decision which was cheered by many local workers employed by the former facility.

Along with news of a rebrand, the company also announced their U.S. headquarters would relocate from Charlotte, NC to Lynchburg, VA. Now, Framatome operates three facilities locally, including their corporate office, a U.S. Installed Base Services organization that includes a 27,000 foot training center and their Solutions Complex which focuses on testing and repairing.

Where Nuclear Technology is Going

Today, BWXT and Framatome are on the forefront of nuclear technology in the United States, and their work is having a strong impact on alternative power generation, biotechnology and cybersecurity. Therefore, the nuclear sector will continue to affect growth in the City of Lynchburg in several ways.

First, Lynchburg will expand its position as a hub for emerging technologies in the nuclear technology field. Just like the nuclear reactor for the NS Savannah, there are pockets of innovation tucked within our city, which will continue to grow through collaboration amongst BWXT, Framatome and the 27 firms here within the local sector that have similar capabilities and suppliers.

Second, there will be more job expansion in the field. About 2,000 workers currently have the skillset needed to work in the nuclear technology cluster, however that talent base is projected to grow by 2023. So as nuclear technology continues to develop in the city, more job creation opportunities and competitive salaries (current average salary is $60,000) will be available during the next five years.

Through placemaking initiatives and local support, the City of Lynchburg will continue to work with the local nuclear technology sector. To learn more about what the next five years will look like in the City of Lynchburg, read more in the Blueprint for Opportunity.

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