COLUMBUS, Ohio – State Representative Dick Stein (R- Norwalk) announced the creation of the Ohio Nuclear Caucus on Tuesday. He also welcomed more than half a dozen nuclear experts to speak at the Ohio Nuclear Forum. Those experts provided an in-depth look at where nuclear power is today and where it could be soon with the proper policies in place.
The Forum was organized by eGeneration Foundation, a group that, according to their website “…focuses on the decentralization of the federal authority to develop new nuclear technologies through state-based cooperative research and development agreements with the Department of Energy and with the Department of Defense.”
Stein opened the event in the Statehouse Atrium. He told attendees that, “90% of Ohio’s clean energy comes from the two nuclear plants [Perry and Davis Besse].” He also publicized the newly established Nuclear Caucus.
Members of the bi-partisan caucus include: Reps. Stein, Adam Holmes (R-Nashport), Anthony DeVitis (R-Green), Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), Brett Hillyer (R-Uhrichsville), Brian Baldridge (R-Winchester), D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron), Darrell Kick (R-Loudonville), Don Jones (R-Freeport), Don Manning (R-Middletown), Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville), George Lang (R- West Chester), Haraz Ghanbari (R-Harrisburg), Jon Cross (R-Kenton), John Patterson (D-Jefferson), Michael Sheehy (D-Toledo), Nino Vitale (R-Urbana), Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg), Phil Plummer (R-Dayton), Rick Perales (R-Beavercreek), Riordan McClain (R-Upper Sandusky), Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton), Scott Ryan (R-Granville Township), Shane Wilkin (R-Lynchburg), Scott Wiggam (R-Wooster), Susan Manchester (R-Lakeview), Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) and Tracy Richardson (R-Marysville).
Speakers included JobsOhio Managing Director Andrew Deye. Deye noted that energy is one of JobsOhio’s nine targeted sectors for growth. Healthcare is another, and the nuclear issue covers both because it delves deeply into medical isotopes.
Coquí Pharmaceuticals President, CEO and Founder Carmen Bigles expounded on the healthcare applications for nuclear energy. Medical isotopes, she shared, have a “…role in diagnostic imaging… and cancer treatments such as targeted alpha therapies.” Her goal is to be able to create medical isotopes, for which there is a great need globally, in the United States. She is in the process of building a plant in Tennessee.
Chris Conrardy of Edison Welding Institute in Columbus, Donald Larson of eGeneration Foundation and Marcus Nichol of the Nuclear Energy Institute explained the economic benefits of expanding nuclear technology that range from making space exploration easier and faster to more efficient and better quality manufacturing.
A concern about improving the time and quality in manufacturing is that human capital will no longer be needed. Conrardy addressed that, “The fear that automation is going to eliminate jobs is unfounded.” He explained that the jobs will be more technical and better paying, but reassured legislators and audience members that human employees are absolutely necessary in an advanced manufacturing environment.
The main speaker was Bradley Williams from the U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE). He explained that nuclear energy is the largest source of clean energy in the world and the only reliable source of emissions-free electricity. It is also critically important to national security.
One of the goals of the USDOE is to have an operational “versatile test reactor” by 2026, which will help push forward the advanced reactors needed to improve our economic and security environment. According to the DOE website, “This new research reactor will be capable of performing irradiation testing at much higher neutron energy fluxes than what is currently available today.”
In laymen’s terms, Williams told the group the advanced reactors were needed to “…support accelerated development of advanced fuels and materials.”
eGeneration Foundation’s David Amerine stated he had dedicated his life to nuclear endeavors. “Since the gas lines of 1974, we know we cannot take energy for granted.” He presented the facts and benefits about nuclear energy as:
1) Nuclear plants in the US are safe
2) Environmentally benign
3) Nuclear power plants are extremely reliable
4) Over the life of a nuclear plant, it is economically sound
5) Vital to economy
6) Necessary for medical advances
7) Safe and economical
8) Nuclear waste is good news for electrical generation
9) Enough nuclear fuel to last a long, long time.”
After the event, Deye from JobsOhio, some of the experts and business interests were meeting to discuss ways in which nuclear energy could be used to grow Ohio’s economy for decades to come. Legislators know some policies will need to change and appeared on board and ready to work with businesses and federal officials to get the nuclear ball rolling.
Rep. Stein told The Ohio Star, “Nuclear has strong ties to Ohio. I am pleased to see a group of members from very diverse backgrounds, representing all areas of Ohio, open to learn about emerging possibilities and engage with programs set out by the Federal government or created by Congress to further nuclear technology in America.”