Florida State University to host town hall meeting on nuclear energy

Crystal River Nuclear Plant

With the future of nuclear energy as uncertain and hotly debated as ever, several local organizations have come together to provide a public forum where a panel of experts in nuclear energy, public policy and energy regulation will discuss the opportunities and risks associated with this important and controversial energy source.

Distinguished speakers and panelists at next week’s town hall meeting will include Mary Bane, special adviser on energy policy to Florida Gov. Rick Scott; Mike Halpin, director of air resource management for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection; John Kelly, deputy assistant secretary for nuclear reactor technologies for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy; and Steve Unikewicz, principal engineer of Alion Science and Technology and chairman of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ (ASME) National Energy Committee. Florida State University’s Center for Advanced Power Systems (CAPS) has joined forces with ASME and The Village Square to organize the forum.

Following talks by each of the panelists, there will be an opportunity for questions from the audience. The presentations and discussions will be moderated by Art Carlson of the Florida Municipal Electric Association.

The town hall meeting, “Where Now for Nuclear Energy, Post-Fukushima?,” is free and open to the public. It will take place:

7 – 8:30 P.M.
(located in University Center Building C on the west side of Doak Campbell Stadium near the Sportsmanship statue)

Free parking will be available for the meeting. Registration and networking will take place from 6:30 to 7 p.m.

“Nuclear energy has had its travails over the years, from Three Mile Island to Chernobyl and, most recently, to the catastrophe at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, and many countries have begun re-evaluating their nuclear energy programs,” said Rick Meeker, the program development manager for industry partnerships at CAPS and a member of the Tallahassee Section of ASME. “Germany, in fact, has announced plans to eliminate nuclear energy from its generation mix by 2022.

“Still, despite the risks,” Meeker said, “of the currently available electric power generation technologies commonly in use, nuclear fission produces the greatest amount of energy output for a given physical power-plant footprint, or per mass or volumetric rate of fuel consumed, and with essentially no greenhouse gas emissions.”

The event’s sponsoring organizations seek to encourage civilized debate and informed decision making, as well as to provide forums for open, unbiased and fact-based discussion on pressing issues of the day — in this case, nuclear energy. This is the seventh in a series of Engineers Town Hall Meetings that will have taken place in Tallahassee over the years with ASME leadership. The Village Square has held many similar forums in Tallahassee with great success.

Founded in 1880 as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, today’s ASME is a 120,000-member professional organization focused on technical, educational and research issues of the worldwide engineering and technology community.

The Village Square is a nonpartisan public educational forum on matters of local, state and national importance. The forum is dedicated to maintaining factual accuracy in civic and political debate by growing civil dialog on divisive issues, and recalling the history and principles at the foundation of democracy.

For more information on the Aug. 2 event, email Liz Joyner of The Village Square at liz@tothevillagesquare.org, or Rick Meeker of CAPS and the Tallahassee Section of ASME at meeker@caps.fsu.edu.