On 28th April, Quintessa employee Rebecca Newson earned second place in the Central England Branch of the Nuclear Institute 2021 Young Speakers Competition with a talk entitled
How (Not) to Predict the Future: Use of Scenarios to Assess Long-Term Safety of Nuclear Waste Disposal.
The Young Speakers Competition is hosted annually by the Nuclear Institute's Young Generation Network (YGN). The aim of the competition is to encourage young nuclear professionals to enhance their public speaking skills and confidence by delivering a short presentation. The theme of this year's competition was 'Nuclear for Net Zero', in conjuction with the YGN's campaign #NetZeroNeedsNuclear ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26). Due to UK Covid-19 restrictions, the presentations in this year's competition were delivered virtually.
The Central England Branch event contained an interesting variety of talks on the topic of nuclear energy; from the ongoing legacy of the Chernobyl nuclear accident on its 35th anniversary, to cutting-edge research at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE). Speakers came from organisations including Radioactive Waste Management (RWM), Veolia Nuclear Solutions and the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA). Rebecca's talk focused on the uncertainties inherent in post-closure safety assessments of nuclear waste disposal facilities, drawing on Quintessa's experience in undertaking and reviewing such assessments for clients including the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL). The talk highlighted the challenges of being able to "predict" the future, and explained how scenarios are instead used to bound and assess potential uncertainties.
A recording of the event will be available on the Nuclear Institute website for members.