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GE Hitachi, Duke Energy To Bring Annual Nuclear Science Event To Area

By Jenny Callison, posted May 9, 2016
Correction: This version of the story corrects the amount of time the Brunswick Nuclear Plant has operated safely to 40 years.

Southeastern North Carolina will be the site of the 2016 Nuclear Science Week “Big Event” later this year, according to an announcement Monday morning. The event, scheduled for Oct. 20-22, will feature speakers, a technology expo and demonstrations and tours of area nuclear-related facilities.

Wilmington-based GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) and Duke Energy will support this “annual international celebration of all aspects of nuclear science,” a joint news release from both companies stated. The co-hosts are the Wilmington Area Local Section of the American Nuclear Society and the local chapters of North American Young Generation in Nuclear.

“Southeastern North Carolina is a great location to host the Nuclear Science Week ‘Big Event,’ given the significant concentration of nuclear technologists in the state,” Derek Bass, a new plants engineer at GEH and chairman of the Wilmington Area Local Section of the American Nuclear Society, said in the release.

In an interview Monday, Bass said that one main thrust of the Big Event is to get young people excited about careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). He said organizers expect about 200 students from Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender counties to attend the Big Event on Oct. 21. Those young people will range from grades K-12 through college students.

“Most of the people here at GE Hitachi came from a STEM background,” he said. “There are also health care applications for nuclear technology: X-rays, CAT and PET scans, a lot of cancer treatments. Event speakers will talk about the numerous applications for nuclear technology from energy to health care, and those presentations will be live streamed to classrooms all over the U.S., he said.

Bass said the event will also draw 50-75 professionals in nuclear science fields. Exhibitors and presenters will highlight the many ways in which nuclear technology is used today. The technology expo, a movie screening and many of the other activities will be held at University of North Carolina Wilmington and will be open to the public.

Karen Williams, spokeswoman for Duke Energy’s Brunswick Nuclear Plant, said Duke Energy is supporting the “Big Event” because it’s important to engage and educate the local community about nuclear energy’s benefits.

“The fact that it’s clean; there are no emissions,” she said Monday. ”Duke Energy’s nuclear fleet is the second largest in the country, and we’ve been providing nuclear energy for more than 40 years in the Carolinas.”

Nuclear Science Week is celebrated annually throughout the country by companies and organizations in the nuclear industry, but the “Big Event” moves each year. This year’s co-hosting organizations submitted a proposal to bring the event to the greater Wilmington area, Bass said.
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