Individuals and representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) around the country and Europe gathered at the Carnegie Institute in Washington, DC on November 10, 2014, to present a Lifetime Achievement Award Lifetime Achievement Award to Michael Mariotte of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS).
Ken Kimmell, UCS’s president, Elliott Negin, UCS’s senior writer, Ed Lyman, UCS’s senior scientist, and I co-signed a letter to Michael applauding his achievements spanning nearly three decades at NIRS and expressing our appreciation for the support we have received from Michael and NIRS. Ed, Elliott, Rob Cowin, UCS’s senior manager of government affairs, and I were fortunate enough to attend the ceremony for Michael in person.
NIRS played a significant role in my path to UCS. While working as a consultant in the nuclear industry, a colleague and I uncovered a safety problem at the Susquehanna nuclear plant in Pennsylvania. We reported the problem first to the plant’s owner and then to the NRC in 1992, but nothing was done to correct the safety shortcoming. I contacted several NGOs for assistance in escalating the problem. NIRS answered the call and helped us take that next step. In April 1994, we mailed a report detailing the safety problem to the governors and U.S. Senators in the ten states with nuclear plants like Susquehanna and to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of Congressional committees overseeing the NRC. “Suddenly,” the NRC stopped playing dodge ball and began playing hard-ball and the owner implemented long overdue safety fixes at Susquehanna. Two years later, Paul Gunter at NIRS and Jim Riccio at Public Citizen told me about the job opening at UCS and then vouched for me to UCS. I have often worked with NIRS since joining UCS. For example, NIRS and UCS teamed up to author a report on the 2001 near-miss at the Davis-Besse nuclear plant in Ohio.
My interaction with NIRS is hardly unique. Throughout the award ceremony, person after person went to the podium and related a similar account of needing help and getting it from Michael and NIRS. And while the testimonials went on for hours, they still formed a small subset of the unabridged listing.
After receiving the award, Michael gave a short speech in which he said he has a new goal—to earn a second Lifetime Achievement Award. Whether he gets a second award or not, the world is undoubtedly a better place due to Michael’s decades of commitment.
Thank you, Michael.