One step forward for Canada, one step back for America

  The only place on the East Coast where you can get a diploma in nuclear engineering is MIT,  (Danielle Geller/Flickr Creative Commons) 

 

The only place on the East Coast where you can get a diploma in nuclear engineering is MIT,  (Danielle Geller/Flickr Creative Commons) 

University of Connecticut engineering students may have opportunities at the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), a Canadian nuclear science and technology organization that will hire 200 research staff over the next three years, according to a press release in GlobeNewswire. 

An investment of $1.2 billion will enable CNL to modernize infrastructure to support the research needs of the Canadian government, according to the press release.

“CNL is growing its science and technology activities, and we need to align our capabilities with the needs of our customers and with our vision for the future of CNL,” said CNL president and CEO Mark Lesinski in the press release. “That starts with having the right people in the right jobs, doing the right work.”

Canada has always been ahead of the United States in terms of nuclear technology and development, said Gai Moshe, professor of Nuclear Physics at the University of Connecticut Avery Point campus.

Until five years ago, the United States imported a medical isotope from Canada that is important in testing bone structure, Gai Moshe said. The nuclear reactor the isotope came from was decommissioned and the United States was left without a source for the isotope because there is not a proper infrastructure for nuclear medicine in America.

“(Nuclear research) is controlled by hysteria and it is controlled by a lack of education,” Moshe said. “(The isotope) is a very clear example of how we’ve failed to address the needs of this country.”

The United States is failing to produce nuclear engineers, Moshe said. He said that UConn has a great engineering department, but when he made a suggestion to create a nuclear engineering program he was ignored.

“The only place on the East Coast where you can get a diploma in nuclear engineering is MIT,” Moshe said.

In Connecticut, 50 percent of energy consumed as electricity within the state is nuclear, generated by Millstone Nuclear Power Plant in Waterford, according to Moshe. Connecticut is the leading state in nuclear technology.

There was a nuclear power plant called Connecticut Yankee that operated with graphite, the same material used for the infamous Chernobyl reactor, Moshe said. Commissioned in the 60s, it produced electricity until 1996 when it was realized how poorly designed the reactor was.

“We should deal with everything on the merit instead of hysteric accusations that nuclear is bad and everything should be shut down,” Moshe said.

There are already nuclear power plants in the United States, so the public needs to move past the hysteria surrounding nuclear energy and train a new generation of workers, Moshe said.

“All we have to do is educate the people who will replenish the retiring workforce,” Moshe said.

America needs a more educated policy than the current federal administration is advocating for, Moshe said.

“The decision to burn coal is ill-educated. It is a very bad decision that will affect the health of our people and the health of our planet,” Moshe said.

There has been a worldwide movement towards integrating all types of alternative energy systems such as turbine, solar and nuclear sources, none of which will affect Earth’s climate, Moshe said.

“It is very likely right now that the future of energy in this country and in the world will not be a single source,” Moshe said.


Nicholas Hampton is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at nicholas.hampton@uconn.edu.