The Gulf Nuclear Energy Infrastructure Institute (GNEII) concluded its third year with a graduation ceremony and two-day symposium on nuclear safety, security, and safeguards held at the Abu Dhabi campus of Khalifa University on May 19th-20th. The 20 fellows who participated in the program this year represented the largest graduating class for GNEII since its inception. This year’s fellows came from across the Gulf Cooperation Council states, specifically from the UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.
The symposium was opened by Ambassador Michael H. Corbin, the US Ambassador to the UAE, and was attended by representatives from Khalifa University, the US Department of State, Texas A&M University, and Sandia National Labs. The Texas A&M College of Engineering was represented by Dr. Kenneth Hall, and NSSPI was represented by its deputy director, Dr. David Boyle, who also served as a GNEII instructor. NSSPI’s Dr. Michael Schuller, who again served as GNEII faculty coordinator, was the Symposium’s Master of Ceremonies. Representatives from the UAE entities, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), and Critical Infrastructure and Coastal Protection Authority (CICPA) were also in attendance.
Ambassador Corbin opens the GNEII symposium
At the symposium, the GNEII fellows presented nine Capstone projects, which represented the culmination of the 12-week GNEII course. These projects addressed a wide range of topics and included “Pyrochemical Reprocessing,” “A Qualitative Assessment of Fuel Fabrication Options in the UAE,” “An Emergency Preparedness Plan for Radioactive Materials,” and “A Suitable Mobile Lab for UAE Conditions.”
During the graduation ceremony, Abdelaziz Al Madhloum, Manager for GNEII, said, “GNEII’s mission is to develop a responsible nuclear energy culture and institutionalize key safety, security, safeguards and nonproliferation norms in the future decision-makers of the Gulf region nuclear energy programs by providing professional development and training events like this one.”
Sandia Labs and NSSPI teamed up to help establish GNEII in 2011 as a Khalifa University institute housing a regional education program offering both classroom instruction and hands-on experience in topics related to nuclear energy safety, security, safeguards and nonproliferation. Conceived as a response to the growing interest in nuclear energy among Middle Eastern nations, GNEII strives to promote a nuclear energy security and safety culture in countries in the region with nascent nuclear energy programs. The program is sponsored on the US side by the International Nuclear Safeguards and Engagement Program (INSEP) at the US Department of Energy / National Nuclear Security Administration, and the Partnership for Nuclear Security (PNS), which is a program of the US Department of State’s Office of Cooperative Threat Reduction. NSSPI has worked with Sandia National Laboratories to develop the curriculum and supply the instructors for the modules.