Richland Mayor Speaks at International Conference - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Richland Mayor Speaks at International Conference

RICHLAND, Wash.- Richland Mayor Rob Welch is back from Europe where he spoke on small town nuclear cleanup.

Mayor Welch says the conference gave him the chance to tell this community's nuclear story, and hear others.

He's returned with new knowledge after this once in a lifetime speaking opportunity.

It was at the International Nuclear Energy Association's biannual conference.

Every nuclear country was there, and Hanford cleanup was central; not so much the actual cleanup, but what happens after.

"How does a community focus it's attention and build an economy, what are the effects of the schools, the housing market, the overall condition of the economy" Welch said.

Part of that is worker compensation.

The Mayor wants to ensure Richland doesn't fall in the same boat as others.

"There were speakers there from Chernobyl and they have huge unemployment in Chernobyl, and they don't have unemployment benefits available, they just passed laws to take care of unemployment, but they don't have the funding in place," he said. 

Welch brings home a new view of the nuclear world, but it's the view of Hanford that he hopes will make an impact.

"It was worthwhile for me to be able to see the differences throughout the world, and then also I think hopefully it was helpful for them to be able to see that it can be done successfully as it is here in Richland."

Looking to the future is more important than the past.

"When you do cleanup a nuclear site you've gotta look long term at the legacy that you leave that community."

It's the first time an elected official has ever been invited to speak at the conference.

The Mayor thinks his stance resonated more with the audience because he's a stakeholder.