Engaging the public in an open dialogue can be one of the most essential elements in explaining complex scientific topics, such as nuclear science. Community and policymaker support are critical for the ongoing successful operations of nuclear plants and other nuclear facilities. Engineers and scientists are in a unique position to be credible leaders and effectively communicate about nuclear energy and technology.
Organizations, such as the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), communicate with their surrounding communities in a proactive way rather than a reactive way responding only in emergency scenarios. Nicole Stricker, nuclear communications lead at INL, focuses on giving employees tools based on factual information that they can engage the public with. Scientists and engineers are trained to speak to the public to explain research and operations activities to the local community.
Harsh Desai, ANS Congressional Fellow, noted that, “less than 2% of science is utilized in making a policy, so we need to make sure that that 2% is communicated correctly.” Policymakers have unlimited access to information and scientists and engineers should be actively reaching out to legislators with factual information on nuclear energy and other nuclear technologies. Desai encouraged scientists and engineers to form relationships with their Congressional representative, as well as their staff in order to be a credible source of information.
The “Focus on Communications” panel was convened at the 2014 American Nuclear Society (ANS) Annual Meeting in Reno, NV.