Chris Ball & Brian Watson of Atkins - 1 February 2012
In their talk Chris Ball and Brian Watson discussed the historical issues which have shaped both public perceptions and the nuclear industry. They placed particular emphasis on why the image of nuclear power has metamorphosed in the public’s eye from being the champion to the pariah and how a more positive view is being built.
They included the high profile incidents such as the Windscale fire in 1957, Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1985 which drive the opinions of those which oppose nuclear energy. In past and energised by these event public sentiment became characterized by distrust of those in the industry who they viewed as being introverted, secretive and out of touch.
The problem, as identified by Chris and Brian, has been a lack of communication between the industry and the general public, in contrast, those opposed to nuclear have excellent communication skills. Nuclear has a positive story of clean and secure energy in the future and of accomplishment over the last 20 years. The crux of the current position as investment in a new generation of nuclear reactors is being planned is the industry needs fresh young talent with the right leadership skills; or as Chris and Brian put it:
“The right people, with the right motivation, doing the right things, in the right way”.
From the very outset both Chris and Brian were extremely engaging. They asked us questions; where we’d come from, where we wanted to go and what we thought about the industry into which we are making our first tentative steps. Both were full of excitement for the future prospects of the industry, and it was contagious!
We would like to thank Chris Ball and Brian Watson for an excellent presentation that has made a lasting impression on all of us at the Cambridge on the Nuclear Energy MPhil. They left us with no doubt that the industry is going through a huge transformation and that we, as the next generation, are going to play major roles as the agents of that change.
Chris Ball is the current managing director of Atkins nuclear and Brian Watson is the former managing director of Sellafield and is currently a management consultant in the nuclear industry.
Written by: Pete Husemeyer post graduate student - MPhil in Nuclear Energy