By Joe Colvin
In the days since Japan’s earthquake and tsunami combined to create the situation at Fukushima, nuclear professionals across the country have been united in our deep concern over the events in Japan and have contributed countless hours working to ensure that information provided to the public and media was based on fact and reason rather than hysteria and misinformation. I want to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the many ANS members who stepped forward to support the efforts of the Society in this time of great need.
The Society has played—and is continuing to play—a major role in addressing the scientific and technical aspects of the accident at Fukushima with the public, policy makers, and the media. ANS headquarters, the ANS corporate officers, and our media, social media, and federal consultants have worked diligently, with the support of many members, to improve the public understanding of the situation in Japan. Within several hours of the events at Fukushima, ANS initiated the Crisis Communications Team, which has met daily by conference call since the accident to coordinate the Society’s activities, including media outreach. Though ANS members could not be everywhere, we have had a significant and positive effect.
ANS members have participated in more than 150 interviews in venues such as The Today Show, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, CBS Morning News and local affiliates, CNN, NPR, Good Morning America, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal—to name a few. Over one hundred members volunteered their services after Candace Davison, ANS Public Information Committee chair, explained the urgent need for media resources.
Thanks to your efforts, ANS members reached more than 81 million people through proactive media outreach. That’s over one in four U.S. households—a truly remarkable effort!
While some ANS members could not serve as media spokespersons due to company restrictions, they provided essential analysis of the ongoing technical events in Japan. That analysis helped to formulate documents such as the Japan Backgrounder and the ANS Talking Points. ANS Social Media Group members actively engaged in positive, proactive media outreach—something they have done so successfully in the past. They identified and shared media opportunities and formed the backbone of the early media efforts.
Those who could not speak helped those who could by lending information, analysis, and advice.
The ANS Nuclear Cafe blog site was repurposed as an information clearinghouse during the early morning hours of March 11. As ANS members shared links to factual, non-alarmist information provided on the blog, traffic to the site increased by a factor of 100.
The strength of the Society is rooted in our membership and catalyzed by effective and talented expertise. ANS Student Sections, Nuclear Engineering Departments, and Local Sections have engaged in efforts across the country to reach out via public forums, webinars, presentations, conversations with friends and colleagues, and social networks. ANS Professional Divisions have put together technical briefs and fact sheets, and our commercial publications, such as Nuclear News magazine, are focusing articles on the Fukushima events. You can also visit the ANS website to be inspired by the wealth of activities catalogued under ‘Featured Content.’
ANS members have engaged in the vital grassroots efforts that drive greater understanding—and thus greater acceptance—of nuclear science and technology.
In response to your overwhelming feedback, ANS established the ANS Japan Relief Fund to help our friends, colleagues, and their families in Japan who have been affected by the earthquake and tsunami. This fund symbolizes how the international nuclear community stands together to help one another.
ANS will continue to play a key role in placing the Fukushima incident into perspective, as well examining the factors that have contributed to the incident. We are in the process of outlining the important role that the Society can play in developing a greater understanding into the scientific and technical issues surrounding the accident at Fukushima. Nuclear professionals will continue to set the bar high for nuclear energy, which remains the safest source of electricity generation.
I look forward to working with you, the dedicated and passionate members of this Society, as we continue to promote the awareness and understanding of nuclear science and technology.
Joe Colvin is the 56th president of the American Nuclear Society. He has been an ANS member since 2001 and has worked to obtain senior nuclear utility expertise on ANS committees and the Board of Directors. Colvin is President Emeritus of the Nuclear Energy Institute, and he serves on the boards of Cameco Corporation, the world’s largest uranium company, and US Ecology, a hazardous and radioactive waste disposal company. He also is on the boards of non-profit organizations such as the Foundation for Nuclear Studies, which was set up by NEI to help provide the U.S. House and Senate with information on nuclear technology.