Representatives from Waynesboro and Plant Vogtle participate in international nuclear power plant forum

Representatives from Waynesboro and Plant Vogtle participate in international nuclear power plant forum

Plant Vogtle Communications Coordinator Mike McCracken speaks to an international audience about the history of Plant Vogtle, its multiple safety features and communications with the public. Real-time translation was available to participants in three languages – English, Korean and Japanese.

It’s not every day that representatives from Waynesboro, Georgia, and Plant Vogtle participate in an international event half a world away. But that’s what happened in April, when Waynesboro City Manager Jerry Coalson and Plant Vogtle’s Mike McCracken were invited to participate in The 3rd Kijang Forum in the Republic of Korea.

Hosted and sponsored by Kijang County, South Korea, the forum included representatives from eight countries to discuss, as Kijang Mayor Kyuseok OH described, “shared experiences and wisdom” to ensure the “safety and prosperity of nuclear power plant communities.” Kijang County is home to the four-unit Kori and three-unit Shin Kori nuclear power stations and is part of the larger Busan Metropolitan City, which is South Korea’s second most populated city with 3.5 million people.

Coalson shared an overview of Waynesboro and Burke County with the forum participants and a general audience of Korean community leaders and news media. McCracken followed with a summary of how Plant Vogtle 1&2 is designed, built and operated to ensure employee and public safety. Coalson and McCracken also discussed how communications are handled between the community and Plant Vogtle and how they partner on emergency preparedness.

“The forum participants were most interested in the numerous backup safety systems available at Plant Vogtle and the construction of Vogtle units 3&4,” said McCracken. “The value of community outreach and public education pertaining to the local nuclear facilities was also regularly mentioned throughout the forum.”

In addition to Coalson and McCracken, three other participants from the United States served as forum participants – the mayor of Zion, Illinois (a community near the decommissioned Zion nuclear power plant), a retired U.S. NRC and DOE nuclear expert, and the founder and president of the Global American Business Institute in Washington, D.C. Other countries directly involved with the forum included Canada, Finland, France, Japan, Scotland and Ukraine.

“There are actually more similarities between countries and their nuclear facilities and communities than there are differences, with everyone focused on safety and the prosperity of the communities and energy facilities,” said Coalson.

Coalson, who also participated in the 2012 and 2015 Kijang Forums, and McCracken received earlier this year the expenses-paid invitation to participate in the forum and to represent Plant Vogtle and the surrounding community.

The fourth forum – date and location to be determined – will be called the “World Nuclear Community Alliance” to better reflect the purpose and scope of the event, and will continue with the mission of learning from each other to sustain the safety and prosperity of nuclear power plant communities.

There was an Americana display at the newly constructed Busan Hilton, the venue of the Kijang Forum. Interestingly, Steve McQueen, the actor highlighted in this display, is the same person who starred in “The Great Escape,” the movie based in part on Plant Vogtle’s namesake Alvin Vogtle and his World War II heroics.

This view from the nearby Haedong Yonggung Buddhist temple shows a small fishing village with the modern Busan Hilton and condos in the distance.

The green onions and boats are representative of Kijang -- a coastal town with a vibrant agricultural, fishing, business and tourism economy.