The first joint meeting between the Savannah River Section of the American Nuclear Society and Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness featured a nationally recognized speaker and put the state of America’s nuclear power industry on display.
Dr. Andrew Klein, president of the American Nuclear Society and professor at Oregon State University, spoke to the group in North Augusta Thursday evening, focusing on progress and promotion of nuclear technology and understanding.
He advocated building newer, more efficient plants while ensuring current ones are kept running and are maintained to the highest standards.
“There are four nuclear power plants being built between Georgia and South Carolina and they’re important to what’s coming next,” Klein said.
The reactors in all four units, two at Plant Vogtle and two at VC Summer in Jenkinsville, SC, are AP1000 reactors, built by Westinghouse. They are considered Generation III+, the most technologically advanced in the U.S. The four units are the only currently under construction in the nation.
Klein also noted a few challenges to commercial nuclear power generation, including competitive pricing from some fossil fuel and public safety concerns.
“Liquid natural gas is just so cheap, and it’s really easy to put a couple hundred megawatt plant in, turn the switch and burn the gas. It makes a lot of sense from a business standpoint,” he said.
Other challenges to building new nuclear plants include availability of skilled workers and qualified materials suppliers, but he noted public concerns and misconceptions were also a major hurdle.
“People are fearful of radiation and we’ve seen over the years that it’s not a realized risk as much as people fear that it is. I am more worried about chemical spills and things like biological terrorism than I am about nuclear activities. There is a lack of understanding and a fear of the unknown; you can’t see it,” Klein said.
During the presentation he encouraged members to become more involved in local schools and to help fill those knowledge gaps and misunderstandings through educational outreach.
For more information on the American Nuclear Society or the Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness visit their websites at www.ans.org and www.c-n-t-a.com.
Reach Thomas Gardiner at (706)823-3339 or firstname.lastname@example.org