Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

Kaufman, on Floor, Recognizes Great Federal Employee, Gareth Parry

December 4, 2009

Mr. KAUFMAN. Mr. President, I wish to honor the service of a great Federal employee.

Human ingenuity is boundless. This is especially true in America, which has always been driven by an entrepreneurial spirit and a belief that nothing is impossible.

From Whitney's cotton gin to the first elevator, from the electric telegraph to the refrigerated rail car, our forbearers used their ingenuity to help build a nation. Such invention and perseverance closed the western frontier in the nineteenth century. In the century that followed, Americans continued to be pioneers on that frontier which has no end--the frontier of science.

Sixty-seven years ago this week, a team of American physicists led by Enrico Fermi conducted a critical experiment. On a cold winter's afternoon, they huddled under the stands of the old football stadium at the University of Chicago. Using graphite blocks, wooden rods, and uranium pellets, they initiated the first-ever controlled nuclear reaction.

That experiment, called ``Chicago Pile One,'' marked the beginning of the nuclear age.

Today all Americans know that the discovery of nuclear power was a mixed blessing. With it came the potential for a new form of energy to power our homes and businesses. For the first time, our naval ships could remain at sea--and on guard--for extended periods without refueling.

But with nuclear energy came nuclear weapons. These led to the dangerous prospect of the mass destruction of hundreds of cities within minutes. They brought us a generation of ``duck and cover'' and backyard fallout shelters.

Thankfully--though our nation and others continue to possess these weapons in our time--the Cold War is over. No longer are we minutes from ``mutually assured destruction'' the way we once were.

Today, peaceful nuclear energy provides a fifth of our electricity, and there are 104 civilian reactors in operation across the country.

Developing and enforcing the regulations that keep these reactors safe are the men and women of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

This week I wish to recognize the contribution of an outstanding public servant, Dr. Gareth Parry. Gareth has had a distinguished career at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission advancing our nuclear safety.

He is also a 2004 recipient of the distinguished Arthur S. Flemming Award for public service.

Gareth, who immigrated to this country from the United Kingdom, has over thirty years of experience in developing models for probabilistic risk analysis--or PRA. He retired this September after a long and distinguished career.

As senior adviser on PRA for the Commission's Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, Gareth became one of the leading experts on analyzing common cause failure and human reliability. His work led to the development of PRA standards and the use of PRA to support risk-informed decision-making with regard to nuclear safety.

Gareth, as a scientist and a public servant, worked hard to ensure the safety of America's civilian nuclear facilities.

The kind of work he performed is highly mathematical and complex, and it may not sound glamorous to the average American, but it is critical and contributes enormously to the security and economic well-being of our Nation.

Sixty-seven years ago, Fermi and his team first harnessed the power of the atom. Today, the men and women of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ensure that our modern nuclear reactors continue to do so safely.

I hope my colleagues will join me in honoring the service of Dr. Gareth Parry and all who have worked--and continue to work--at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Print this Page E-mail this Page