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Japan Quake: Pitt to Host Panel of Nuclear, Structural Engineers to Assess Danger of Damage to Japan's Nuclear Power Plants

PITTSBURGH--In response to the widespread concern about the stability of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, the University of Pittsburgh will host a March 16 lecture and discussion by a panel of experts who will assess the extent and danger of the damage the plant sustained during the 8.9-magnitude earthquake of March 11.

Presented by the Nuclear Engineering Program in Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering, the free public event begins at 6:15 p.m. in Pitt's Benedum Hall, Room 157, 3700 O'Hara St., Oakland.

The event begins with a lecture by David Griesheimer, an adjunct professor in Pitt's Nuclear Engineering Program and a nuclear reactor specialist, who will discuss the condition of the Fukushima Daiichi reactor from a nuclear engineering standpoint, including its built-in safeguards and the steps necessary to secure its radioactive core.

After the lecture, a panel of experts in nuclear and structural engineering will answer questions from the audience regarding the power plant. Along with Griesheimer, the panelists include:

•    Kent Harries, a structural engineer and Pitt professor of civil and environmental engineering with expertise in designing earthquake-resistant power plants;
•    David Haser, a senior reactor operator at the Beaver Valley Power Station in Shippingport, Pa., and an adjunct nuclear engineering professor at Pitt; and,
•    David Helling from Westinghouse Electric Company's operations and training department and also an adjunct professor of nuclear engineering at Pitt.

Directed by John Metzger, a nuclear engineer and associate professor of mechanical engineering and material science, Pitt's Nuclear Engineering Program was launched in 2007 as part of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science to meet a growing demand for engineers with a knowledge of nuclear power plant operations. The program provides the only nuclear engineering track in Western Pennsylvania.

Contact: Paul Kovach