The presence of the HFR (operational since 1961) has always been considered a flywheel for (nuclear) activity in and around Petten / Netherlands. This is well reflected in the history of ‘Petten’, starting with the establishment of the Reactor Centre Netherlands, where the foundation was laid for among others multinational Urenco (ultracentrifuge technology for uranium enrichment), and later on ECN.
In 1976 RCN was renamed the Netherlands Energy Research Centre (ECN), with the aim to broaden to other energy sources. In 1998 this led to a separation of activities, in which NRG emerged as a full ‘nuclear’ subsidiary of ECN (and initially KEMA).
In 1999 NRG took over the irradiation activities for medical isotopes from the European research centre JRC (Joint Research Centre in Petten). HFR also attracted other activity, and thus employment to Petten. Thus an entirely new industry broke through in the dunes of Petten: that of medical isotopes, the processing of irradiated isotopes for the medical industry and the development of new isotopes for this industry. This was done through the years by successive companies Philips-Duphar and Mallinckrodt Medical (until 2013 Covidien). This rapidly growing industry was not foreseen when the decision to build the HFR was made.
Furthermore, the HFR enabled the establishment of the European energy institute JRC-IET (Joint Research Centre, Institute for Energy and Transport). A development that not only brought employees to Petten, but also led to the establishment of for example the European school in Bergen (NH).
PALLAS will probably not mean a jump in direct employment. The main reasons are that the new technology and an efficient site layout will cause that fewer employees are required in continuous service / maintenance than at the HFR.
Just as the HFR was central to attracting and clustering of activities in Petten over the years, so will PALLAS do likewise in its turn. Without HFR and without PALLAS not only NRG and Mallinckrodt Medical will disappear from the dunes of Petten in the foreseeable future, but also supporting services such as the company fire brigade and the security services. A movement that will also put the activities of ECN and JRC-IET under considerable pressure and will have profound impact and costly consequences for all organisations involved.
With approximately 1600 employees ‘Petten’ is one of the largest employers in the north of North Holland, that has approximately 30,000 jobs in total. More than half of the labour force works outside the area. Apart from the city of Den Helder (with the Royal Navy, the naval base and the airport) the main economic drivers are agriculture, fishery, recreation and tourism and ECN / NRG / Mallinckrodt Medical / JRC-IET.