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Advancing our Nuclear Collaboration with the Czech Republic

September 28, 2011 - 5:36pm


President Obama addresses a crowd in Hradcany Square on April 5, 2009, touching on issues from green energy to nuclear treaties.

This week, I joined with the Řež Nuclear Research Institute, the U.S. Embassy in Prague, Texas A&M and the Czech Nuclear Education Network in Prague, Czech Republic, to announce a series of bilateral nuclear research and development programs that will help to advance safe and secure nuclear energy technologies in both countries.

Prague has long had a very important place in the global nuclear energy landscape because of its considerable expertise in the industry. It’s also the place where in 2009, President Obama laid out his nuclear agenda, including his vision for a world free of nuclear weapons and his commitment to the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear power around the world. His vision was – and is – one of close collaborations to assure that civilian nuclear technologies are deployed carefully and responsibly."

The joint announcement today signals a deepening of the U.S.-Czech nuclear relationship, a step that is exactly in the spirit of President Obama’s speech here two and half years ago.

U.S. and Czech researchers and experts will work together to advance nuclear technologies, to share information and best practices, and to leverage our individual areas of expertise to achieve mutually beneficial advancements in civil nuclear energy.

There are five primary areas of focus under this collaboration.

First, our universities will play a central role in advancing R&D cooperation. Specifically, Texas A&M University will be partnering with Brno University of Technology, the Czech Technical University and the University of West Bohemia. Researchers at these universities will work together to research ways of improving the efficiency of analyses on nuclear reactor cores, and will focus on finding additional ways to improve the safety of nuclear materials and technologies.

Second, the Department of Energy, led by our Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Dr. Pete Lyons, will be joining with the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the State Agency for Nuclear Safety to conduct a regional nuclear safety workshop this October.

Nations from across Central Europe will come together to share technical information and best practices on ways to strengthen nuclear safety, including improving nuclear safety and accident management practices, emergency preparedness and public communication.

Third, we will be shipping coolant salt currently stored at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee to the Řež Nuclear Research Institute, where Czech researchers will conduct additional experiments to continue advancing the Czech's molten salt reactor development program. The results from the experiment will be shared with U.S. experts, ensuring that they are able to benefit from the data as well.

Fourth, the collaboration opens the door for information sharing on fluoride volatility methods and how they can be applied to treat used nuclear fuel.

And finally, in partnership with the state of Texas and the Nuclear Power Institute, we will be launching an exchange program for high school science teachers. Under the program, two teachers from the Czech Republic will have the opportunity to visit Texas and vice versa. The program will help facilitate ongoing collaboration between teachers and academics in both countries.

These steps, including R&D efforts, workshops and teacher exchanges, will usher in a new era of cooperation on nuclear power and leverage the expertise of research institutions and universities in the United States and the Czech Republic to support the safe and secure development of nuclear energy.