Sen. Bingaman promotes nuclear energy leadership

Washington, D.C., January 27, 2011 — Energy and Natural Resources Committee chairman, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) called upon the U.S. nuclear energy industry to be a world leader in small modular nuclear reactors at a news conference held on Capital Hill today as part of National Nuclear Science Week activities.

“We have a great opportunity to be a leader in the development and deployment of small modular nuclear reactors and to maintain our position of leadership for this technology worldwide,” Bingaman noted from the Senate Natural Resources conference room. Bingaman emphasized the need to continue to increase enrollment in the nuclear sciences; he also noted support of 2005 national energy bill that gave tax incentives and credits for new nuclear building and the need to address the issues surrounding regulatory uncertainty for nuclear licensing renewal.

The education and innovation theme echoed points that the speakers heard President Obama make in the State of the Union address this past Tuesday. “A few years ago there were only a handful of nuclear technical programs in the U.S. and now there are 40 two-year programs.” said Dr. Audeen Fentiman, Associate Dean of Engineering for Graduate Education at Purdue University. “Our students in nuclear engineering are excited about the future of the industry and their career paths in nuclear energy.”

“Nuclear power plants provide 71 percent of the electricity from a non-GHG emitting source,” stated Marv Fertel, President and CEO or the Nuclear Energy Institute. “We heard the president say that 80 percent of our electricity needs to come from clean sources by 2035. This means that nuclear energy must play an important role in meeting this goal.”

Rounding out the panel, Guiseppe Esposito, MD, Associate Professor of Radiology and Chief of Nuclear Medicine at Georgetown University, spoke about the important healthcare role that nuclear medicine plays in diagnostic and treatment of patients nationwide. “More than 20,000 people work in our field providing more than 50,000 procedures daily for 16 million Americans annually. Our issue of concern is regarding affordable and available radioisotopes as we care for our patients each day,” he noted.

The panel was moderated by Jim Walther, Director of the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History located in Albuquerque, N.M. The museum is the founding sponsor of the national recognition week for the nuclear science industries.

“This week and this event on Capital Hill provide the opportunity for us to turn a spotlight on how nuclear sciences contribute to job growth and economic strength for our country,” Walther said. “We are focusing on the clean air contributions of nuclear energy, critical patient care services provided by nuclear medicine and the significant future career needs in the nuclear science and energy sectors.”

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