The nuclear community remembers Pete Lyons

May 3, 2021, 11:59AMNuclear News

Peter Lyons, former Nuclear Regulatory Commission commissioner (2005–2009) and assistant secretary of energy for nuclear energy (2011–2015), has passed away.

American Nuclear Society President Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar and executive director/CEO Craig Piercy issued the following statement on May 3:

“We are saddened to hear about the death of Peter Lyons. An ANS fellow and member since 2003, Pete will be remembered for his inspiring leadership and distinguished public service career that spanned five decades. His legacy and vision for a nuclear renaissance will continue to inspire future generations of nuclear professionals. Our thoughts today are with his family and loved ones.”

Early in his nuclear science and technology career, Lyons worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). In 1997, after nearly three decades at LANL, Lyons joined the staff of Sen. Pete Domenici (R., N.M.) as a scientific advisor, where he crafted Domenici’s “A New Nuclear Paradigm” speech, which set a foundation for the resurgence of nuclear power in the United States.

Lyons also helped Domenici lay the groundwork for the Nuclear Energy Research Initiative and the Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems program. At the Department of Energy, Lyons championed efforts to secure federal funding for small modular reactor development and for the Nuclear Energy University Program, among many other contributions to the future of nuclear energy.

In 2020, ANS’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Policy Division honored Lyons with the Dwight D. Eisenhower Award for his influential leadership in nuclear technology policy and for the vital role he played in the nuclear renaissance of the early 21st century.

The NRC issued the following statement on May 3 on behalf of the commission and staff:

“For decades, Pete distinguished himself as an influential thought leader in nuclear science and energy policy, first at LANL and later at the NRC and DOE. He was a mentor, a friend, and a role model for public service,” said NRC chairman Christopher T. Hanson. “We are deeply saddened over the loss of this great man.”


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