2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting: President’s Special Session

ANS President Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar took to the video screen on November 18 during the 2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting for the President’s Special Session on radiation risk, echoing a comment by Exelon Nuclear’s Bryan Hanson, the Winter Meeting’s general cochair, who earlier in the week characterized radiation as one of the most misunderstood aspects of nuclear.

“I think that’s very true,” Dunzik-Gougar said. “So much misconception and misunderstanding. I have always had a passion for communicating about such things as radiation, helping people understand the nature of radiation and the relative risks of nuclear, but mostly about its benefits. But I think we in the industry can better prepare ourselves with knowledge about radiation and its impacts and also educate ourselves on how to talk about the risks of radiation with people not in our own echo chambers to help change the perception among a broader scope of people.”

The panel of experts assembled to help impart some of that knowledge to session attendees included Amir A. Bahadori, assistant professor at Kansas State University; Donald A. Cool, a technical executive at the Electric Power Research Institute and a former senior executive at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Paul Locke, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and Shaheen Dewji, assistant professor at Texas A&M University.

President's Column

Safety: It comes down to perception

Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar

Last month I asked if you’ve ever wondered why nuclear isn’t commonly considered the choice for clean power production. I also provided what I hope will be useful information as you make the case for nuclear in discussions about clean energy. In addition to being the cleanest form of energy today, nuclear is also safe, reliable, and scalable. This month, let’s talk safety.

Like the term “clean,” “safety” can mean something different to everyone. As measured by the number of deaths per unit of electricity produced, nuclear is on the same order of magnitude as “renewables” and other low-carbon sources of energy.

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