Invited Speakers Series: Dr. Milton Levenson
The Nuclear Engineering Department welcomed Dr. Milton Levenson Thursday, April 1 as part of their ongoing "Nuclear Technology and Society" Invited Speaker Series.
In his presentation, "Validity of Risk Assessments in Societal Decision-Making," Dr. Levenson discussed how our use of values and models are based on assumptions, not facts, and how that challenges the validity of risk assessments. He also addressed the lack of metrics for comparing different risks, an important deficiency since most societal decisions involve selection between or among risks.
More than seventy students and professors attended the presentation. During his introduction, Dr. Marvin Adams, told the group of Levenson's more than 60 years of experience in nuclear energy, much of it relating to nuclear safety. His technical experience includes work related to nuclear safety, fuel cycle, water reactors, advanced reactors and remote control.
In addition to the scheduled lecture, Levenson also presented a special lecture, "Chernobyl, What Happened and Why?" Friday morning for students. The standing room only crowd listened to his first-hand perspective of what has been deemed the worst nuclear power plant disaster in history.
Levenson has participated in essentially the entire history of "nuclear" matters:
- he was at Oak Ridge during the Manhattan Project in the early 1940's,
- had first-hand knowledge of the SL-1 accident in Idaho,
- lead the technical team that responded to the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, and
- was appointed to a special Soviet commission that investigated the Chernobyl accident.
His professional experience includes research and operations positions at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Argonne National Laboratory, Electric Power Research Institute, and Bechtel, where he retired as vice president.
Levenson is a fellow and past president of the American Nuclear Society, a fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and a recipient of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers' Robert E. Wilson Award in Nuclear Chemical Engineering. He is the author of more than 150 publications and presentations and holds three U.S patents. He is also a member of the National Academies' Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board and has served on several National Research Council committees.
Currently he is one of seven Senior Technical Advisors to the DOE's program for dismantling nuclear weapons, advising on safety matters.
The department was honored to have such a distinguished guest participate in the speaker series. The next installment of the series is scheduled for Thursday, April 15 with Dr. Jay Davis, president of the Hertz Foundation.