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Dale Klein, left, receiving the Smyth Award from Joe Colvin, president of the American Nuclear Society.

Dale Klein, left, receiving the Smyth Award from Joe Colvin, president of the American Nuclear Society.

This article by Dan Yurman was originally published on the ANS Nuclear Cafe web site.

Former NRC chairman is honored at American Nuclear Society (ANS) national meeting

Dr. Dale Klein

Dr. Dale Klein, American Nuclear Society Nuclear Statesman Award winner. Dr. Klein is also a professor in the Mechanical Engineering department.

Dale Klein, former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), received the Henry DeWolf Smyth "Nuclear Statesman" award on June 27, 2011, at the national meeting of the American Nuclear Society (ANS).

The award, which is given jointly by ANS and the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), recognizes Klein's outstanding contributions to the nuclear energy field in the United States and around the world over the past 25 years. Klein, who has been a lifelong educator with The University of Texas at Austin, also served as an assistant secretary of Defense. He holds a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Missouri.

In making the award, ANS President Joe Colvin said, "I am very honored to present this award to a distinguished member of our community, who is also a long-time friend of mine; Dale represents everything I admire about our colleagues: he's committed to the future of nuclear energy, which he has demonstrated by his dedication and public service."

"Nominees for this award exemplify the highest level of commitment to policy and statesmanlike conduct," noted Colvin. He added, "We are fortunate to have such an extraordinary individual as a member and co-chair of ANS's Special Committee on Fukushima, whose charter is to provide a clear and concise explanation of the events surrounding the accident to the general public and U.S. leaders. We're confident that Dale's experience and wisdom will be invaluable to the work of the Special Committee."

Klein "humbled" by award

portrait of Ed McGaffigan Jr.

Ed McGaffigan Jr., 2007 award recipient

In his remarks accepting the award at the plenary session of the ANS national meeting, Klein said that he grew up on a farm in Missouri and that it was a long way from those humble beginnings to standing on the podium of the ANS meeting. Then Klein said that he was mindful of the comments of a prior recipient of the award, the NRC's Ed McGaffigan, Jr., who received the same award in 2007 shortly before his untimely death.

Perhaps in a reference to the troubles afflicting the current NRC chairman, Klein said, Ed McGaffigan was noted for respectfully yet forcefully reminding NRC commissioners not to make decisions that could be perceived as political in nature.

"McGaffigan said at his award ceremony that he stood on the shoulders of giants like Smyth, whom the award is named after, and I feel the same way," Klein said.

Career highlights

ANS Nuclear Cafe talked with Klein on the occasion of his award and asked him about some of the highlights of his long career.

The first question is why does the NRC get involved in international nuclear issues, given its primary mandate to regulate the U.S. reactor fleet?

Klein said that the NRC staff and the other commissioners understand that nuclear energy is a global enterprise. A nation's nuclear agency responsible for the safety of its reactors cannot work in a vacuum. The NRC works closely with the (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Multi-National Design Evaluation Program (MDEP).

The MDEP program incorporates a broad range of activities including:

  • Enhanced multilateral cooperation within existing regulatory frameworks.
  • Multinational convergence of codes, standards, and safety goals (see annual report).
  • Implementation of MDEP products to facilitate licensing of new reactors, including those being developed by the Generation IV International Forum.

Setting boundaries that matter

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