Dr S K Jain became the 10th President of WANO at the recent Biennial General Meeting in Chicago.
To be elected the president of WANO is indeed a great honour and undoubtedly a huge responsibility too. I thank the Governing Board for placing its confidence in me.
There is no doubting the fact that WANO has made a world of difference in the performance of nuclear power plants across the globe. To that extent we can now be reasonably confident that nuclear power is a safe and reliable alternative to fossil energy. But this has taken us a pretty long time to prove, after the unfortunate incidents of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. We need to guard against complacency because as someone very appropriately said, 'it is only the weakest link in the chain that can bring the load crashing'. The challenge becomes manifold at a juncture where nuclear energy is poised to expand to larger proportions, even to countries that will be putting their first step in this area. WANO's role will need to be more proactive and the scope may probably need to be enlarged.
In today's context, as the reliability of nuclear plants has reached its highest levels, there is an increased risk of complacency and reduction in reflexes among operators. It is a challenge to keep the operating crew always 'fighting fit'. My colleagues all around the world will be well aware of this fact.
The key issues that demand world attention today, in my opinion, are those related to the ageing work force, ageing reactors, global increase in the fleet of nuclear power plants and probably, the hesitation of the younger generation to embrace this technology as a profession. It is also a fact that that with the increased turnover of work force, the invaluable tacit knowledge, built up through years of experience, is steadily being lost. It is therefore absolutely essential for all of us to put on our thinking caps and evolve methods to tackle these serious issues.
I have been associated with the nuclear industry for over 38 years and have a first hand experience of the different facets of the industry. India's nuclear power program has come to the present level the hard way. The experience has given me the confidence to handle any situation without much difficulty and will further help me in discharging my duties as president, in an efficient manner.
Of course my predecessors have set very high standards. But with the support of all of you and the able leadership of the chairman, I will surely be able to carry forward the mission of WANO and support the nuclear industry