Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Nuclear Energy Industry Leaders in Asia Recognize the Importance of Effective Communication

Last week, I attended a spectacular nuclear energy conference in Busan, South Korea – the 18th Pacific Basin Nuclear Conference. More than 500 nuclear energy executives, professors and scientists from Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East attended the conference, participating in sessions ranging from highly technical to policy-level topics. But for me, the main takeaway was the broad recognition that an effective communications program is the foundation of a successful nuclear energy program.

From the very beginning of the conference, communication was a major topic. In the opening plenary session on Fukushima, Pacific Nuclear Council President Dr. Francois (Mexico), Dr. Hattori (Japan), Dr. Jung (Korea), Dr. Kupferschmidt (Canada) and Dr. McDaniel (U.S.A) each noted that investments in effective communications and transparency will be key elements for the nuclear energy industry’s future success.

Pacific Nuclear Council President Juan Luis Francois Lacouture presides at the opening session of the 18th PBNC

According to Dr. Hattori, the events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were the result of a “failure of the imagination.” He recommended that the industry take seriously all potential external threats to nuclear power plants, no matter how low their probability, noting that the earthquake and tsunami were improbable but chillingly real. He also told attendees to pay attention to public concerns and to communicate aggressively to address them. Dr. Kune Suh of Seoul National University, my intrepid co-chair of the plenary session, also underscored the importance of communicating in simple, everyday language with the public.

Throughout the conference, the buzz was all about communication, and the session focusing on it was lively. The Pacific Nuclear Council in conjunction with Potomac Communications Group unveiled the results of its first-ever survey of nuclear energy communicators in Pacific Basin nations. The top-level finding: nuclear energy communicators spent much of the past year in correcting misperceptions about nuclear energy. I’ll write more about this in a future blog.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t congratulate Dr. Ho Hyun Chang, head of the Korea Atomic Industrial Forum’s International Cooperation Division, who coordinated every conference event and literally was everywhere. Dr. Chang emceed the gala banquet and introduced some of the best entertainment that I’ve ever seen –See the photos below…

Korean folk dancers enthrall the audience

Executives from China, Malaysia, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates were speakers in the "nuclear newcomers" session

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