Last week NNL hosted a major international conference on nuclear safeguards R&D. The ESARDA (European SAfeguards Research and Development Association) Symposium takes place every two years at a different European venue, and NNL offered to host this year’s event in Manchester, to coincide with the fact that Harwell-based NNL employee Jim Tushingham is the current President of ESARDA.The conference attracted over 215 international delegates from all over the world. Although the organisation has a European focus, the ESARDA Symposium always welcomes a number of US delegates and others from the nuclear safeguards community outside Europe. An opening plenary session with top-level speakers from organisations including the European Commission, the EU Joint Research Centre, the Institute of Nuclear Material Management and the UK’s own ONR. This opening session was then followed by a large number of parallel technical sessions, each with a specific focus on an aspect of safeguards technology or policy.
In addition to the main Symposium which ran from Tuesday 19 to Thursday 21 May, there was a pre-event session on Monday 18 May dedicated to “Building Capability in Safeguards R&D”, a post-event technical tour to Urenco Capenhurst, a series of Working Group meetings, a splendid conference dinner at Tatton Hall in Cheshire and even an optional evening excursion to the “Secret Nuclear Bunker” at Hack Green, which now operates as a tourist attraction. The attendance at this year’s event was among the largest for a number of years and ESARDA 2015 was hailed as a great success by all involved. NNL External Relations Director, Adrian Bull, commented:
“This was the first time that NNL has taken the financial risk of hosting a major international conference of this scale, but it is exactly the sort of thing which a National Lab should be doing. Thanks to a tremendous amount of effort from the organisers – in particular Jim Tushingham – the event was a great success, raising NNL’s standing and profile with the UK Government, the European Commission and the international safeguards community, many of whom are potential customers of ours. We are very pleased about the impressive numbers of delegates which we were able to attract to the event. Thanks are due to all those who helped to make the Symposium such a success.”