Monday, April 14, 2008

Re-terming Nuke

As a final message from the nuclear professional world, NRC executive director Luis Reyes gave students at this year’s ANS national student conference a tool for rethinking how we represent the changes in our field. Essentially, by changing the words used to describe ideas we often take for granted, we can both arrive more rapidly to the point in conversations with the public and convey a more positive image of nuclear.

Reyes noted that we should use “used fuel” in place of “spent fuel” as a means to rid from the concept of nuclear fuel its oft associated stigma; moreover, instead of “reprocessing” such spent fuel, we should “recycle” it.

The idiom shift does two things. First, the ideas of a “used” item and “recycling” are rather familiar for most people; contrarily, trying to understand exactly what “spent” or “reprocessing” means can leave many people befuddled. Second, and worse yet, putting “spent fuel” and “reprocessing” together leaves for some people the bitter taste of proliferation and other concerns, which are often outside the conversation’s context.

With that, we might all follow Reyes’ suggestion. By doing so and by continually looking for other better, more effective ways of communicating our positive message, we can facilitate the exciting future we all know nuclear has to offer.

(by: Jeremy Roberts)