Incoming ANS president says group must inform public, policy makers

The American Nuclear Society (ANS)’s 61st president said the organization will take a bigger role in educating the public and policy makers about nuclear and how everyone’s lives are affected by it.

Gene Grecheck does not officially begin his role as ANS president until June 11, when the annual meeting ends, but he already has plans in place. Grecheck, who is the principal of his own consulting group, spent more than 30 years with Dominion before retiring in 2013. He said his theme for his one-year term is that the world needs nuclear.

“Nuclear affects everyone’s lives and, in so many ways, people’s lives can be improved through nuclear,” Grecheck said. “There are many ways ANS can further educate and provide information and help to influence public policy decisions.”

Grecheck takes over the helm from Michaele Brady Rapp, and says he will continue her outreach with other societies to discuss the risks and benefits of radiation and the fact that it is everywhere.

“Many seem to think it’s a man-made artifact or a product of nuclear power plants, but it is all around us and our bodies are used to it,” Grecheck said. “We know how to measure it and shield against it, and we need to engage in that dialogue.”

He spent the previous year as vice president and president-elect of ANS, learning the ropes and meeting other members who expressed frustration at how politicians were making decisions without understanding all of the information available.

“The thing I learned is that members are frustrated at the lack of rigor in U.S. political discussions, and that many decisions have been made based on distortions,” Grecheck said. “We want to help society to make the right decisions.”

Energy markets and their effects on nuclear in the U.S. have been a hot topic, and Grecheck said it will continue to be one of several issues ANS will focus on under his tutelage.

“From price perspective, the U.S. electricity market is very diverse. Some places are more regulated and subject to government policy, while other energy sales markets have no recognition of fuel diversity,” Grecheck said. He said ANS will have to tailor the message to each market and the impact nuclear has in the 31 states where nuclear power facilities are operated.

“Both state and local governments have forgotten the tremendous positive economic impact that nuclear can have,” Grecheck said. “As they are making decisions, they have to make sure nuclear is getting equality and not being distorted by tax incentives.”

Grecheck said he believes ANS will be able to help the industry get the information out.

“I think you will hear a lot from ANS in the next year, how we need nuclear and nuclear technologies, and to communicate that very strongly,” Grecheck said.

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