The second day of the conference started with a session on political aspects of nuclear science and technology. In this session, nuclear policies throughout the world, and more specifically non-proliferation and plutonium disposition issues, were discussed.
Nuclear Technology II
In this second session on nuclear technology, in parallel with a session on political aspects of nuclear science and technology, speakers told of applications in global space communication, the field of medicine, both in diagnosis and therapy, and applications to agriculture, manufacture, environmental protection and research.
The speakers spanned the globe, coming from Argentina, Belgium, Russia and Austria. These non-power applications very often get less recognition by a large part of the industry and the general public. As keynote speaker A.K. Padhy, from the IAEA in Vienna stated:
Environment & Safety
Presentations on existing safety and environmental programs in operating plants like Bohunice preceded discussion on the clean-up of cold war wastes in Russia and the possibility of accelerator assisted disposal of high level waste from civil power programs. The participants understood that they had inherited a legacy of issues from the old generation which required their attention. While Marco Cepin of Slovenia spoke of improvements in test and maintenance planning through probability theory, Tony Hechanova spoke of the latest US ideas of transmutation of some species of dangerous waste to harmless isotopes.
Communications & Public Perceptions I+II
In two consecutive sessions on Communication and Public Perception, the importance of clear and honest information was mentioned more than once. It became clear that even though different cultures have to deal with slightly different types of problems in nuclear technology, the cause of the public perception problem and the approach to solve it through communication seems to be the same everywhere. A Hungarian teacher, Istvan Lazar and his pupil Istvan Cziegler, representing the RAD Lauder Laboratory in Hungary, demonstrated the importance of experimentation as opposed to simulations, through a school project on in-house radon levels. In a question and answer style, they spoke of the high school’s long term initiative in investigating the effects of radon in Hungarian homes. This project had for eight years provided practical understanding of the existence and effects of natural radiation. Moreover the results of their research was fully in accord with results found elsewhere. Both the presentation and the ideas presented where first rate.
Some papers covered new subjects. To most participants, the topic of improving public acceptance through memetic engineering, presented Jeremy Whitlock of the Canadian Nuclear Society, was a completely new approach. J.E. Saulnier of Cogema presented the French approach to transparency in creating an internet site with web cams to show what was going on in the company 24 hours a day, was also considered an unexpected way of saying: “we have nothing to hide”.
The most controversial presentation in this session, shown by the wealth of questions from the audience afterwards, was given by Ann MacLachlan, European bureau chief for Nucleonics Week. She created quite a stir by stating that “journalists don’t need education, communication is OK, but information is better”, and by stressing the importance of trust.
Just like on Monday, at the end of this day of sessions, another series of “Y note sessions” took place, in which all the information that was given during the day was recaptured and discussed.
In the evening, no events were planned, so that participants had the opportunity to go out on their own to visit Bratislava and to enjoy the Slovakian cuisine and beers.