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Nuclear Energy: Clean, Reliable and Misunderstood?

By: , Posted on: July 26, 2017

ans annual meeting

At the beginning of June 2017 I attended my first Nuclear Energy conference as Elsevier’s Acquisitions Editor for the nuclear program. The preview program looked fantastic; littered with fascinating session topics delivered by world-renowned experts creating monumental splashes in the nuclear ocean. The fact that is was held in beautiful San Francisco only enthused me more, and I couldn’t wait to get going!

Having worked through the program ahead of the conference, I already had a packed schedule of meetings with key existing authors, potential new authors and other experts whose insights and knowledge I was keen to hear to help inform and direct my commissioning activity.

After registering and collecting my conference pack I met with long-standing ANS member Robert Einziger, deserving recipient of the ‘Fuel Cycle and Waste Management Division Significant Contributions Award’ for his instrumental impact on establishing the behavior of used light-water reactor fuel in storage and repositories. It was interesting to hear about Robert’s work and learn more about the management of aging power plants, waste management, and the safe transportation and storage of fuel- all of which prevailed as key topics through the rest of the conference.

I was also honored to sit down with Fiona Rayment, Director for Fuel Cycle Solutions at the National Nuclear Lab who, when we got back from San Francisco was recognized in the Queen’s Birthday Honours and awarded an OBE for her services to nuclear research and innovation in the UK.

Monday morning’s ‘Innovating Nuclear Power’ opening plenary set the tone of the conference which centered around ensuring that nuclear power plays a fundamental and competitive role in our future energy mix, and realizing the need for innovation and effective communication throughout all stages of the nuclear fuel cycle. Michael Shellenberger, President of Environment Progress, delivered a very engaging keynote where he described the media’s role in determining society’s bad reputation of nuclear energy. Accidents such as Chernobyl and 3 Mile Island were very well documented and are still discussed today, but what about the Windscale fire in 1957, the UKs worst nuclear accident, or Fermi 1 in Detroit in 1966? These seem to have slipped from the media’s clutches, but it is important to remember that no public lives have been lost as a result of nuclear power generation.

In addition to learning about the technological research and developments currently in progress, I was also fortunate to be able to meet with some new authors and editors to provide feedback on their recently received book proposals. Developing book proposals is one of the most enjoyable parts of my job; building well-thought through tables of contents and helping authors to consider who the market would be for their book and exactly how readers would benefit from reading it.

I am looking forward to attending the ANS meeting again next year and continuing to develop and establish relationships with key academics, researchers and professionals to work to improve nuclear’ s reputation, while advancing technologies, processes and safety measures to increase its footprint in the energy mix. Human interaction and control is what ultimately makes nuclear so safe and reliable, and I am privileged to be able to spend time speaking with these highly skilled individuals.

The nuclear community must try to re-educate society about the safety and reliability of nuclear power generation to shift their distorted understanding from the images we see in the media of desolated sites post-accident, to one of a cleaner and more reliable energy future.

Related books

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Get to Know an Acquisitions Editor: Maria Convey

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Alternative & Renewable Energy

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