Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2006-04-21

BIRMINGHAM---"Sustainability and Nuclear Power: Opportunities and Challenges" is the topic of the 2006 spring conference of the Alabama Environmental Education Consortium at Samford University Saturday, April 29.

The event, sponsored by the Vulcan Materials Center for Environmental Stewardship and Education at Samford, will draw environmental educators from Alabama colleges and universities as well as environmental leaders from business and industry.

Speakers will address a variety of topics related to current issues of environmental concern, including global initiatives, technologies and new energy.

The morning session on the general theme of sustainability will open with remarks by U.S. Congressman Artur Davis at 9:15 a.m. in the Samford Sciencenter Planetarium.

Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI) representatives will discuss the work of the group of leading companies that foster global environmental health and safety excellence. GEMI's 42 member companies represent more than 22 business sectors with comprised annual sales of more than $915 billion.

Elizabeth Girardi Schoen and Robin Tollett, GEMI chair emeritus, will present strategies on how to incorporate GEMI concepts into academic curricula, business, municipalities, churches, campus sustainability efforts and other areas.

A roundtable discussion on sustainability technologies will follow their presentation.

Afternoon sessions will focus on the nuclear option as a new energy source.

Houston Law Center professor Jacqueline Lang Weaver, a specialist in oil and gas, environmental and natural resources law, will discuss traditional energy economy.

Pete Planchon, Ph.D., director, nuclear industry programs, Idaho National Laboratory (INL), will discuss nuclear energy and its future. The INL research facility focuses on nuclear energy, national and homeland security and science and technology.

Nuclear energy industry specialist Ralph Schwartzbeck will discuss new perspectives on nuclear risk and safety. A veteran of the U.S. Navy's nuclear power program and nuclear submarine service, Schwartzbeck is manager of engineering analysis and design for Enercon Services, Inc., nuclear engineering and consulting firm in Atlanta.

A closing discussion panel at 4 p.m.will include Chris Hobson, senior vice president, research and environmental affairs, Southern Company; Lou Long, vice president, technical support, Southern Nuclear; and an Alabama Power company representative.

The conference begins Friday evening, April 28, with a reception and dinner.


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.