Zack Pate remembered as statesman in nuclear energy industry

November 9, 2022, 9:30AMANS News


Zack T. Pate, the former chief executive officer of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) and chair of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO), passed away recently at the age of 86. Pate will be remembered for his many important contributions to the global nuclear energy industry, especially regarding nuclear plant performance and safety, as well as his lengthy service in the U.S. Navy. He was a longtime member of the American Nuclear Society.

Navy: Pate was originally from Leesburg, Ga. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1958 and continued to serve with distinction in the navy for 22 years, working on several nuclear submarines and reaching the rank of captain. He was executive officer of the USS Thomas Jefferson and commander of the USS Sunfish.

In 1970, while still in the navy, Pate earned a doctorate degree in nuclear engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, writing his thesis on nuclear safety. In 1979, he was selected by Admiral Hyman Rickover to be his special assistant at the Naval Reactors Headquarters.

INPO, WANO: After retiring from the navy in 1980, Pate joined the newly established INPO as chief of staff for the institute’s chief executive officer, eventually becoming CEO in 1984. His efforts at INPO played a major role in improving the safety, performance, and reliability of U.S. nuclear power plants. He retired in 1998, and passed away this past September 4.

Pate was a key figure in the founding of WANO in 1989. He encouraged WANO to adopt many of INPO’s programs and served as WANO’s chair from 1997 to 2002. In recent years, Pate and his wife, Bettye, matched funds set aside by the WANO Board of Directors for a scholarship program. Pate also provided his service to a number of other industry associations and boards.

Honors: Pate received numerous industry honors for his accomplishments. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in recognition of his work in “promoting and achieving significant improvements in the safe and reliable operation of nuclear power plants worldwide.” Among the other honors received by Pate were the William S. Lee Award for Industry Leadership and the Henry DeWolf Smyth Nuclear Statesman Award.

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