Spanish Young Generation Network in ICEM’09/DECOM’09:
The 12th Edition of the International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management was held in Liverpool, England, from 11-15 October 2009. The conference was jointly organised by ASME, the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and the Nuclear Institute (NI).
This conference is one of the most important ones currently on the conference agenda dedicated to the subject of waste management, decommissioning and dismantling (D&D). There were many topics covered in the 63 sessions included on the agenda. These were: L/ILW characterisation, treatment, regulatory compliance, packaging, vitrification and alternatives, environmental remediation, spent fuel programmes and HLW management, research and power reactor decontamination, dismantling and decommissioning, national and international programmes, disposal sites and repository programmes, local participation and decision-making, behaviour and politics, dialogue, and risk communication.
The UK&NI Young Generation Network (YGN) ran a panel session entitled Young Generation Networks and Professional Development. Corhyn Parr (UK YGN Vice Chairman) opened the session with a presentation on the results of a survey on attitudes and opinions towards the nuclear industry in UK made by NI YGN members. One of the conclusions of the survey was that young professionals now think that there are more opportunities in UK than abroad. Carl Dawson, from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), talked about the NDA ‘nuclear graduates’ programme, the reasons why it was set up and its plans for future development and expansion. This was followed by Susan Elder (NDA), a member of one of the first cohorts of ‘nuclear graduates,’ who talked about her experiences with the programme, the challenge of knowledge transfer between generations and shared learning between graduates.
Finally, Miguel Millán, General Chairman of the Spanish YGN (Jóvenes Nucleares, JJNN) showed the process and evolution by which the Spanish YGN have become a technical reference in Spain for companies, media and public opinion.
The YGN Panel
Miguel presented the current situation in Spain, where only 24% of the population support nuclear energy. He pointed out that, faced with such a difficult environment, the main objective of JJNN is to promote a growing and significant number of people who can learn about this technology, because fair and objective knowledge is clearly needed to make a judgement, to draw conclusions and to make choices about such a complex matter. At the same time if that information is not available it will never be possible to reduce the reluctance of Spanish society to embrace nuclear energy.
Within this context Miguel presented how JJNN realised that all relevant parties must be involved in an open and transparent debate on nuclear issues and underlined that JJNN seeks to provide information, and objective scientific and technical data, nothing more and nothing less. JJNN leaves the important task of deciding and choosing up to the people. Miguel stressed the fact that his organisation is primarily composed of members with a strong scientific and technical background and it is precisely this technical knowledge about nuclear industry that is the key to their credibility.
Another important aspect of JJNN is its youth and its consequent empathy and energy. Finally, Miguel said what best summarises the spirit of the organisation with the words: “Much more important than what we say -even if we are right- is the credibility that we gain from being fair”.
Miguel Millán during his presentation