NA-YGN Member Addresses Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Energy Future
12 May, 2011
[Approx. Read Time: 2 minutes]
My name is Robert Ashworth, but people know me as “Bobby.” I am a mechanical engineer and live in nearby Alexandria, VA with my wife and my one year old son. For the past five years, my engineering career has been spent helping ensure the safe and reliable operation of nuclear power plants around the United States. I chose a career in nuclear power because I consider nuclear power to be clean, safe, reliable, and a necessary form of energy generation. I remain in this industry because my early views are continually reinforced by the people and the technology that support nuclear power. As an individual citizen, a father, and a young person working in the nuclear industry, I look forward to the continued use of nuclear technology in this country. However, I recognize the challenges that this commission faces.
Today, I address you not only as an individual, but as a volunteer representing the North American – Young Generation in Nuclear, or NA-YGN. The NA-YGN organization comprises more than 6,000 young professionals across North America who believe in the benefits obtained from the peaceful application of nuclear science and technology. Nuclear technology provides many benefits to Americans, such as a sustainable source of medical isotopes, safer foods, and large-scale clean electricity to help America reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The benefits of nuclear technology are being realized by Americans today. However, in order for these benefits to be available in the future, America needs a sustainable plan for managing used nuclear materials.
- NA-YGN supports the research and development of advanced recycling technologies and advanced reactor technologies. Each year, the nuclear power reactors in this country produce approximately 2000 metric tons of spent fuel. Approximately 96% of this fuel inventory can be recovered and used as new fuel. Ninety-six Percent! Other countries have implemented recycling technologies to keep these used nuclear materials in the fuel cycle. NA-YGN encourages the Commission to recommend the continued research and development of advanced recycling and advanced reactor technologies. Investing in beneficial research and development will provide a sustainable foundation for nuclear technology.
- NA-YGN also encourages the Commission to recommend establishing an independent agency for managing used nuclear materials. For the past 30 years, electric utility customers have placed funds into a Federal Trust with the promise from the U.S. government to manage used fuel. This promise has yet to materialize, but funds continue to be collected from electric utility customers. An independent agency would be insulated from political whims and provide stability for the nuclear industries. This independent agency should have access to nuclear waste fees outside of congressional appropriations, but also be fully subject to the regulatory requirements of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
- Lastly, NA-YGN would like to remind the Commission that there are over 6,000 young professionals in North America eager to be part of the solutions for used nuclear materials. Our organization is filled with young professionals that see a bright future for nuclear science and technology. We are ready to use our skills, ideas, and enthusiasm to implement the recommendations of this commission. After all, the recommendations from this Blue Ribbon Commission will affect the future of nuclear technology. Members of NA-YGN will one day lead that future.
On behalf of the North American – Young Generation in Nuclear, I thank the commission for this opportunity to speak.