Skip to main content

At the Nuclear Energy Assembly

The Honorable Gregory Jaczko_DSC2362 NEI hosted its annual Nuclear Energy Assembly in Washington DC Tuesday and Wednesday with a solid lineup of speakers and plenty of opportunities for attendees to catch up with colleagues and industry pals. Let’s consider the latter analog social media and leave it at that.

The speakers represented a topflight assemblage of industry, government and regulatory figures. Happily, none tried “the future is bright for nuclear energy” approach you might reasonably expect at an industry meeting. Everyone looked at the year and years ahead through clear eyes.

Here’s a bit of what they had to say:

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko expressed the continued confidence of his agency in the safety of U.S. nuclear energy facilities.

“The commission remains confident in the programs of the NRC and in the safety of the nation’s nuclear power plants,” he said, noting that in 2010 “there were no statistically significant adverse trends in industry performance.”

Still, Jaczko warned the gathered nuclear energy executives against complacency. He noted an increase in the number of automatic reactor shutdowns and significant reactor events in 2010 compared to 2009.

---

In the wake of events in Japan, the head of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations has proposed an international organization for emergency response to accidents at nuclear energy facilities.

“Events of the last few weeks have clearly shown the benefits of significantly improving site-specific plans while moving beyond them to establish and formalize a national and even international response capability worthy of the name,” said James Ellis, INPO’s president and CEO.

Formed after the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island, INPO is an industry-established organization that rigorously promotes excellence in nuclear energy facility safety and operations.

---

Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman made clear that the president’s support for nuclear power remains unwavering, as the events at Japan’s Fukushima plant continue to unfold.

“The president made clear that we still see nuclear energy as an important element of a diverse clean energy portfolio and an important source of low-carbon baseload electricity,” said Poneman.

The domestic nuclear energy industry must continue to make safe and secure operations its top priority, said Poneman, who is also the Energy Department’s chief operating officer.

---

In order to “win the future” we need to continue investing in nuclear and other forms of clean energy, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said.

“Advances in innovation don’t occur in a vacuum,” said Clyburn. “We must make the necessary investments today. Unless we keep innovating, exploring and investing in basic research, our economy will shrivel and die.”

Clyburn said that recent nuclear energy budgets “have been more generous,” but international competition means the country will have to push harder to keep the edge in innovation.

---

Events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility “have changed the industry landscape,” said Laurent Stricker, chairman of the World Association of Nuclear Operators.

And, Stricker said, WANO is changing to respond to a post-Fukushima world. For example, he anticipates a better WANO strategy for sharing operational experience and safety information among members and with such organizations as the Institute for Nuclear Power Operations, Japan Nuclear Technology Institute, World Nuclear Association and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

---

Given this round-up, I suspect the next year will be an extremely interesting time.

Consider the Nuclear Energy Assembly a snapshot in atomic time: we’ll check back in 2012 to see how things are going.

---

This is all original reporting, by Chris Charles, Lynne Neal, T.J. Swanek and myself.

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko at NEA.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…

Innovation Fuels the Nuclear Legacy: Southern Nuclear Employees Share Their Stories

Blake Bolt and Sharimar Colon are excited about nuclear energy. Each works at Southern Nuclear Co. and sees firsthand how their ingenuity powers the nation’s largest supply of clean energy. For Powered by Our People, they shared their stories of advocacy, innovation in the workplace and efforts to promote efficiency. Their passion for nuclear energy casts a bright future for the industry.

Blake Bolt has worked in the nuclear industry for six years and is currently the work week manager at Hatch Nuclear Plant in Georgia. He takes pride in an industry he might one day pass on to his children.

What is your job and why do you enjoy doing it?
As a Work Week Manager at Plant Hatch, my primary responsibility is to ensure nuclear safety and manage the risk associated with work by planning, scheduling, preparing and executing work to maximize the availability and reliability of station equipment and systems. I love my job because it enables me to work directly with every department on the plant…