This article is not intended to denigrate or politicize clean energy technology or the solar industry but to inform the public about new environmental jobs. The links provided lead to important job information.
Heavy Metals = Tough, Highly Skilled Environmental Jobs
San Francisco's CBS channel 5 in its coverage of the cleanup and decontamination of the Solyndra's facilities in California, has reported that toxic heavy metal compounds are present on the site. It is widely known that solar panel manufacturers use heavy metal materials such as Cadmium Telluride, Copper Indium Selenide, and Gallium Arsenide . What is not discussed openly is that these highly toxic compounds require highly trained personnel and specialized equipment to remove these compounds for proper disposal. Since this article is focused on environmental jobs, let's talk about them here:
- Hazardous Materials Managers & Technicians: According to the Bureau of Labor (BLS) statistics the growth of jobs for hazardous materials removal workers will range from 20-28% or higher over the next decade. During a cleanup action, such as the one in California, technicians wearing protective gear (PPE) will sample all of the equipment and materials in the facility to determine what is clean and contaminated. Clean materials and equipment will be removed and disposed in the appropriate manner. Contaminated equipment and materials will dismantled, cleaned, packed and shipped to a licensed disposal facility.
- Environmental Engineers: Environmental engineers find ways to neutralize or minimize the toxic chemical's effect on the environment if there is some type of accidental release. This field is projected to have a growth rate over 25%.
- Inspectors: Environmental Inspectors will make sure that the contaminated equipment, waste containers and the facility will be cleaned to regulations. They will also monitor the sampling, cleaning and closing procedures to make sure no corners are cut.
- Safety Managers: Safety managers will monitor the employees and safety equipment to make no one contracts a contamination derived illness. They will also have a key role in ensuring no contamination is released into the public.
As the solar industry continues its growth trend, there will be strong opportunities for environmental/hazardous waste professionals. It is my hope that many job seekers will explore environmental jobs to find the right opportunity for them.
- Solyndra Not Dealing With Toxic Waste At Milpitas Facility (sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com)
- 312 Billion Reasons Why Environmental Management Jobs Are Growing Fast (hintonhumancapital.com)
- Solar power boom fuels increase in hazardous waste sent to dumps. (newser.com)
- Solar Power's Toxic Footprint (kcet.org)