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Nuclear experts to discuss Japanese disaster
in March 30 talk at Hingham Public Library

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  March 23, 2011 01:47 PM

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Hingham’s own nuclear experts will give a presentation at the Hingham Public Library on March 30, describing the Fukushima power plant failures in order to better inform locals of the situation in Japan.

Otto K. Harling, Ph.D., a professor emeritus of MIT’s Department of Nucelar Science and Engineering, and John A. Bewick, DBA, a contributing editor of Public Utilities Fortnightly, will be giving the two-part presentation.

Both Hingham residents, the men plan to explain the effects of radiation, a describe a power reactor and its components, and discuss possible consequences of the Japanese disaster.

According to the press release, the event is not meant to be a presentation for or against nuclear power, but merely an informative meeting.

Library Director Dennis Corcoran said that Harling and Bewick participated in a discussion the library held last year, called "Our Energy Future," and contacted the library in light of the recent disasters.

"Both are believers in nuclear power as part of our country's energy future ... However, they are very well-equipped to talk about the reactors and what has gone wrong in Fukushima." Corcoran said.

It is a topic especially important for South Shore residents to learn about, because all US nuclear plants, including the one in Plymouth, share the same basic light-water technology as the Japanese plants.

"The goal is to help us understand the science behind the plants, what has happened and [what] will be happening," Corcoran said.

Berwick and Harling bring practically a lifetime of combined knowledge to the table about the subject.

Harling, the former director of the M.I.T. Nuclear Reactor and the Interdepartmental Nuclear Reactor Laboratory, has more than 50 years of experience in researching and teaching the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology.

According to the release, his experience includes the basic physics studies of condensed matter to the development of a new type of cancer therapy. His research also includes areas in support of nuclear and fusion energy.

Bewick will also bring his doctorate in statistical decision theory and his master's in nuclear science to Wednesday’s talk.

His experience includes times at the Bettis Atomic Power Lab in the reactor physics section, as well as time spent at the Atomic Energy Commission, where he worked on a study of nuclear accident risk.

Formerly the secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, Bewick has since specialized in environmental, health, and safety management systems for the nuclear industry.

He is currently exploring issues related to the “Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future” as a contributing editor to Public Utilities Fortnightly, and is investigating the long-term disposal of spent nuclear fuel.

Both men will be available to answer questions at the end of the discussion.

The talk will take place on Wednesday March 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the Whiton Room at Hingham Public Library. For questions or directions, please call 781-741-1405.

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