Word from the President

Contributing, communicating, participating.

Dear ENS NEWS Reader,

First of all I would like to wish you and your family a happy, prosperous and healthy 2007!

But what will the New Year bring? Well, it certainly promises to be a busy one and a watershed year for EU energy policy – something that this edition of ENS NEWS has attempted to reflect. The urgent need to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, geopolitical realities imposed by the planet’s finite resources, the just struggle by developing countries to achieve reasonable living standards and the global population explosion all point an inescapable and non-negotiable requirement for sustainable energy sources. And it appears that EU leaders recognise this fact and are committed to meeting these challenges.

The strategic energy review that was recently undertaken by the European Commission shows how a new spirit of pragmatism has given fresh impetus and a sense of urgency to EU energy policy. Let’s hope that decision-makers and policy-shapers at all levels can get their act together and translate words into deeds. EU energy policy’s reinforced focus on combating climate change, ensuring greater security of energy supply and increasing research spending by 50% over the next 7 years will continue to influence the focus of the nuclear science community’s work and, to a large extent, define the environment in which we work. I think it is very important that the nuclear science community makes its voice heard more and engages more actively in the debate that shapes the EU energy policy-making process.

Nuclear energy is certainly not the only sustainable energy source, nor is it the only acceptable one in today's context. The nuclear community is convinced, however, that it is a crucial component of the overall energy mix and an environmentally-friendly and economically viable option for meeting our long term energy needs. To make this a reality will require the appliance of science and the harnessing of the latest scientific and technological advances. But it will also require a considerable communications effort and, above all, the optimal exploitation of nuclear energy in accordance with the highest of safety standards. None of us needs reminding that it only takes one major nuclear-related accident to occur for the future of nuclear energy, and the scientific work that underpins it, to be seriously compromised in large parts of the world, particularly in Europe.

This leads me to another area that we need to concentrate on - communications. We need to increase the visibility and credibility of the work that we do. Common misconceptions and misinformation about nuclear energy need to be dispelled. Part of the problem is that many people remain largely unaware of the broad range of nuclear applications that exist and how they are present in our daily lives. They have little or no idea those applications can improve quality of life and protect the interests of consumers across the world. For example, each year the diagnosis and subsequent treatment of millions of patients depend upon reactor or accelerator-produced radio-nuclides. Thousands of industrial processes use sealed radioactive sources for monitoring, quality assurance etc. Of course, we know that nuclear is about a lot more than just energy – but how many ordinary citizens do?

This situation needs to change. The onus, therefore, is on us to “sell” the success of our science. Mind you, not all nuclear scientists are born communicators. But I believe that we have to play our role in spreading information in a clear, objective and scientific way - and by so doing enhance the knowledge and improve the opinion that people have about all things nuclear.

One of the mainstays of the service that ENS provides is, of course, its conferences. Following on from what I just said about the importance of communications, the ENS conference schedule, appropriately, kicks off from 11-15 February with PIME 2007 (in Milan). PIME is an established annual conference for communicators in the nuclear research and industry sectors. It is organised with the collaboration of FORATOM, the IAEA and the NEA.

Next up will be RRFM/IGORR 2007 (in Lyon from 11-15 March). This annual ENS fixture for specialists working in the field of fuel management for research reactors is organised in co-operation with the IAEA.

Finally, ENC2007 (the European Nuclear Conference) will take place in Brussels from 16 -19 September. ENC2007 is a biannual conference that provides a platform for sharing knowledge and insight into the latest developments in nuclear research. It also seeks to seek synergy between the scientific community, industry and citizens on the key issues of the day. It is organised in collaboration with the British Nuclear Society, the American Nuclear Society and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

Make sure you register now for the conference(s) of your choice. And remember, your feedback on the conferences and all other aspects of ENS’ work is crucial if we are to improve the service that we provide.

ENS looks forward very much to further developing the way it collaborates with its members in the year to come. I hope that we will satisfy your needs and live up to your expectations by providing you with the information and support you will need to keep abreast of what’s going on in the nuclear community and expand your activities.

Let’s make the New Year one to remember.

Best regards and enjoy your ENS NEWS!

Frank Deconinck.
President of ENS


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