00:00 AM

Thornburgh Forum & Swanson School to host symposium on the future of nuclear power

UPDATE (March 18, 2012) ... Governor Thornburgh appeared on Our Region's Business with host Bill Flanagan to discuss the Conference. His interview is available on YouTube. (Part I and Part II)

PITTSBURGH—“From Its Birthplace: A Symposium on the Future of Nuclear Power”—a two-day event that will include presentations on such topics as engineering technology, public health, emergency management, insurance, and financing—will take place March 27-28 in the University of Pittsburgh William Pitt Union Ballroom, 3959 Fifth Ave., Oakland. The symposium is cosponsored by Pitt’s Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy and Swanson School of Engineering.

Dick Thornburgh (LAW ’57)—Pitt emeritus trustee, former governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, former attorney general of the United States, and former U.N. undersecretary general, and now counsel to the international law firm K&L Gates in its Washington, D.C., office—will open the symposium with welcoming remarks. Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg and Gerald Holder, the Swanson School’s U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering, also will speak.

“This symposium is built on two of the many strengths of this University,” said Chancellor Nordenberg. “The first is the Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy, which honors the legacy of achievement and impact of University of Pittsburgh trustee and alumnus Dick Thornburgh, who, through a lifetime of public service, has made extraordinary contributions to the public good. The other is Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, which is among this country’s finest by almost any standard of measure, among them, its cutting-edge research, faculty stature, industry partnerships, and quality of its student body.”   

“This symposium brings together highly regarded experts with a variety of vantage points to consider the future of nuclear power,” said Thornburgh. “And there could be no more appropriate venue for this event than Pittsburgh, where nuclear power was born. During the symposium, the in-depth presentations will examine not only the many aspects of nuclear power, but also the accidents at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union, and Fukushima Daiichi in Japan.”

According to Edward McCord, director of the Dick Thornburgh Forum, the symposium stands apart from others by virtue of the role Western Pennsylvania has played historically and continues to play as a leader of the energy industry. Also relevant, said McCord, is the unique position Pennsylvania holds as a result of the March 28, 1979, Three Mile Island accident, which serves as a case study of nuclear crisis management under the Thornburgh administration.

Last March, the Three Mile Island accident again was thrust to the forefront of media attention with the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, and this month marks both the first anniversary of Japan’s accident and the 33rd anniversary of Three Mile Island, an alignment that positions the symposium to make an important contribution towards public awareness of this critical policy issue.

The symposium comprises four panel sessions featuring national and international experts in nuclear, fossil fuel, and passive energy; federal, state, and local government leaders; and academic and scientific researchers.

The session titles, times, dates, and speakers for each follow.

• Nuclear Power and Energy Alternatives, 2:15-4:45 p.m. March 27
Patrick Moore, cochair of the CASEnergy Coalition;
Matthew Wald, environment and energy reporter at The New York Times;
Peter B. Lyons, assistant secretary for nuclear energy in the U.S. Department of Energy;
Anthony Cugini, director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory;
Matthias Kurth, president of the Federal Network Agency, Germany; and
Jim Ferland, president of Westinghouse, Americas, and, effective April 1, president and CEO of Westinghouse Electric Company.
David Shribman, executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, will moderate.

• America’s Nuclear Future, 7-9:30 p.m. March 27
Vicky A. Bailey, president of Anderson Stratton International, LLC, and a member of the President’s Blue Ribbon Commission on the Future of Nuclear Power;
David Lochbaum, director of the Nuclear Safety Project for the Union of Concerned Scientists;
Ann Bisconti, president of Bisconti Research, Inc.; and
Jacques Besnainou, CEO of AREVA Inc., North America.
Douglas Heuck, publisher and editor of Pittsburgh Quarterly, will moderate.

• Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima Daiichi, 9 a.m.-noon March 28
Harold Denton, former director of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation;
Adolf Birkhofer, managing director of the Institute for Safety and Reliability, Germany;
Isao Kato, deputy general manager of the Nuclear Power Department, Tohoku EPCo, Japan;
Daniel Roderick, senior vice president of GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy; and
William Magwood IV, commissioner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Kathy Kiely, national political journalist at USA Today and managing editor at the Sunlight Foundation who covered the Three Mile Island story in 1979 for The Pittsburgh Press, will moderate.

• Legal and Financial Aspects of Nuclear Power, 2-5:30 p.m. March 28
Barton Cowan, of counsel to the Pittsburgh-based law firm of Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC, and a visiting professor of law at the West Virginia University College of Law;
Mark Cooper, senior research fellow for economic analysis at the Institute for Energy and the Environment, Vermont Law School;
Peter P. Sena III, president and CEO for FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company;
Steve Kuczynski, chair, president, and CEO of Southern Nuclear Operating Company; and
Robert F. Powelson, chair of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.
Bill Flanagan, host of WPXI-TV’s Our Region’s Business and executive vice president for Corporate Relations at the Allegheny Conference On Community Development, will moderate.

Barton J. Gordon, partner at K&L Gates in Washington, D.C., and former member of the U.S. Congress from Tennessee, will give a lunch presentation titled “The Politics of Nuclear Power: A View From the Congress”—from noon to 2 p.m. March 28. A video presentation featuring Lamar Alexander, U.S. Senator from Tennessee, will also be shown during the luncheon.

There is a $300 fee to attend. For more information about the symposium or to register, visit www.thornburghforum.pitt.edu.

In addition, the sessions provide up to 11.5 hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits and are presented in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.  Both of the March 27 sessions have been approved by the Pennsylvania CLE Board for four and one-half hours of substantive credit, for $45; the March 28 session has been approved for seven hours of substantive credit, for $70. Participants seeking credit may pay at the door with a check made payable to the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Separate checks are required for each date. For more information, contact Lila Steffy at 412-648-1305 or steffy@pitt.edu.

Professional Development Hours (PDHs) verification will be provided, upon request, for professional engineers for two PDHs for each session attended (eight PDHs maximum).

Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy
Established in 2007, the mission of the Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy is to foster public education and civic action on important public policy issues, building on Thornburgh’s legacy by creating a framework for advancing his vision of creating effective and principled governance. The forum engages in a variety of activities across the University that are designed to enhance the accountability and integrity of governmental institutions at the local, state, and national levels. Internationally, it seeks to advance those values as well as the commitment to the rule of law for all levels of government.

Swanson School of Engineering
The University’s Swanson School of Engineering is one of the oldest engineering programs in the United States. The Swanson School has excelled in basic and applied research during the past decade and is on the forefront of 21st century technology including sustainability, energy systems, bioengineering, microsystems and nanosystems, computational modeling, and advanced materials development. Approximately 120 faculty members serve more than 3,200 undergraduate and graduate students and Ph.D. candidates in six departments, including bioengineering, chemical and petroleum engineering, civil and environmental engineering, electrical engineering, industrial engineering, and mechanical engineering and materials science. For the two most-recently reported consecutive years, 2009 and 2010, the Swanson School has had the second-highest percentage of doctoral degrees awarded to women in North America, according to the American Society for Engineering Education.

Contact: Paul Kovach