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Public perception of nuclear power "has been defined almost by its failures rather than by its successes", and the industry has thus adopted a defensive posture, Adi Paterson, CEO of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation told delegates at the International Youth Nuclear Congress on 9 March. The challenge now for the 250 IYNC attendees is: "How to change the narrative of nuclear in a deep and profound way," he said.

"We need to look forward rather than back," Paterson said.

IYNC and the Australian Young Generation in Nuclear (AusYGN) are holding the IYNC 2020 conference in Sydney, Australia, this week under the theme ‘Diversity in Nuclear’. The aim of the conference is to promote and enable the diversity of people engaged in the many peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology.

On diversity at ANSTO, Paterson said: "We are harvesting the best from divergent interests, abilities and experience, so that we create new ideas. New communities of interest enable networking beyond our own particular specialities, testing of our own assumptions, and result in a pattern of working which is inherently diverse."

In response to Paterson, Fidelma Di Lemma, keynote and plenary co-chair for the conference and material scientist at Idaho National Laboratory in the USA, said that YGN people should be vocal in pointing out that "nuclear is for everything" in that it has multiple applications. YGN members need to be introducing questions about all of these applications, Di Lemma said, adding that nuclear power "applies to something in your life that you use every day".

Susan Jaworowski, senior advisor for policy and communications at the US Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy, said by video link that communication and education had become a priority. DOE has a K-12 programme (for Kindergarten and 12 years of basic education) with modules available online, she said, and at the college campus level, public discussion with other clean energy advocates has been established. Beyond that there is an education programme for policymakers on Capitol Hill, and also some outreach to the public by encouraging publication of articles in the mainstream media, she added.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Wednesday, 11 March 2020
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