The first 10-day module of INLEP, NSE’s new International Nuclear Leadership Education Program, brought together leaders from emerging and established nuclear countries to discuss the challenges involved in building safe, secure, and successful nuclear energy programs. The inaugural INLEP class was made up of 8 participants from Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Nigeria, Slovakia, UAE, and Vietnam, They heard presentations from 25 experts drawn from the international nuclear community as well as the MIT faculty. The first module covered the fundamentals of nuclear engineering including neutronics and thermal hydraulics, and the managerial, legal, economic and public policy aspects of nuclear leadership.
The opening lecture by Dhiaa Jamil, President of Duke Energy Nuclear, highlighted the ways in which nuclear plants represent a truly unique source of energy with unique institutional as well as technical complexities. Jamil stressed that for nuclear plant operators safety is not a priority, it is a value. Priorities change over time, but values do not. It is the responsibility of nuclear leaders to create and sustain a strong culture of safety.
Nuclear leadership was a recurring theme in the first module, reinforced by Bob Willard and Jim Ellis, the current and former CEOs of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO), who each shared their experiences as to the importance of leadership for success during times of both crisis and tranquility.
To establish a new nuclear energy program, new institutions, new organizations and new cultures must be created. Critical decisions on the scale of the program, the pace of its development, and the selection of a reactor vendor must also be made. In an animated panel discussion, both lecturers and participants discussed the prospects for large and small reactors, BWRs and PWRs, and criteria that ought to inform the selection of a reactor technology.
Many of the countries represented at INLEP have already taken early steps to build their workforces and ‘train the trainers’ through the creation of new nuclear engineering departments at universities, sending graduate and undergraduate students to international universities and forging regional and international partnerships to share experiences. The participants saw INLEP as a valuable addition to their human resource development programs.
The participants also gave brief presentations on the status of nuclear programs in their respective countries. In each case the rationale for the decision to develop nuclear energy was described, and the challenges faced and lessons being learned were debated in lively discussions.
The second INLEP module will be held in November in Atlanta. It will kick off with each of the participants discussing the impact of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant on the planning and implementation of their nuclear energy programs. They will also reflect on their roles as leaders of organizations that will build new nuclear energy systems. A full program of lectures, case studies, discussions, and visits to local nuclear facilities will follow.
INLEP visited a nuclear component manufacturing facility in New Hampshire where reactor internals for the Summer and Vogtle plants in the US and the Barakah reactors in the UAE are being manufactured. INLEP participant Adnan Al Naqi, the Deputy Chief Program Officer of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, was pleased to witness the production of reactor internals for the APR 1400 reactors at Barakah, a project that he is overseeing.
Participants also attended a screening of “Pandora’s Promise”, a documentary film by the Oscar-nominated director Robert Stone. The film presents an argument in favor of nuclear energy through the personal stories of prominent environmental activists who changed their views on nuclear energy and now embrace it as one of the solutions for mitigating climate change.
INLEP participants also toured the MIT campus and visited the on-campus 6MW nuclear research reactor during their stay.
Written by Aditi Verma, Uuganbayar Otgonbaatar, INLEP staff