Message from the Chair – September 2007

It seems to almost complete a journey as I watch the nuclear renaissance from the viewpoint of those in the DESD Division of the American Nuclear Society. I first co-authored a paper while in the Army nuclear program ……just under 40 years ago. My professional life has been spent in reactor operations including the chance to serve as a chief nuclear officer and an SRO on both PWRs and a BWR; I traversed the breadth of the industry from large units to small. Those were heady days…. new plants announced every few months. Sounds familiar.

Those times are returning and as we in DESD move forward we will spend time this year expanding our mission through our information programs such as our website, technical sessions and newsletter. We will provide opportunities to just talk to each other about better ideas. We know that the cleanup of federal sites is ongoing and will be impacted significantly by the political process in which we need to involve ourselves. The public objections to new facilities in the commercial sector are shown, in almost every survey, to focus on spent nuclear fuel remaining at 72 locations in 31 states, which include almost 90 percent of the electoral votes of our political process. We need to move forward on Yucca Mountain and our already licensed interim storage site at Private Fuel Storage. These great frustrations can be positively influenced by each of us. Our Division carries the opportunity to influence the outcome of nuclear maintenance and expansion more than most others.

Our work will change as forty-year power plants become sixty-year power plants, and they become eighty-year power plants. We will need to recognize that with the environmental concerns of today they will become perpetual power plants continually replacing and refurbishing every component to address aging issues. They must not become perpetual waste sites near our waterways and cities. Our Division can lead the way in raising public awareness and in continuing the technical development necessary to lead the nuclear renaissance. The day of new power plants is swiftly returning and each of us needs to look at helping our DESD through education of the public and political leaders, through the development of better technology and through the growth (yes, I said growth) of our membership to ensure that our industry takes as much pride in the successful cleanup of radioactive materials as it does it cutting ribbons at new facilities. Ours is ultimately the task to bring true closure to the nuclear cycle. The days of a return to a brighter era are coming and we must take a leading role in ensuring that failure to Decommission (including removing spent fuel to a central location), Decontaminate (including releasing unused sites to public access) and Reuse are the greatest threat to the future of nuclear energy and nuclear materials.

Let’s spend our time working hard for this clean form of energy production, which can address the concerns of the American people about the impact of energy generation on our climate and our lives.

John Parkyn
Chair, DESD Division