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Former NNSA exec applauds SC nuclear work, CNTA education efforts

Brent Park, CNTA, Teller Lecture

Dr. Brent Park, the former deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation, speaks Thursday at a Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness banquet. (Colin Demarest/Staff)

The former boss of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s nonproliferation program on Thursday applauded South Carolina’s long history of work for the Department of Energy as well as a laundry list of efforts ongoing at the Savannah River Site.

“You guys are simply amazing,” Park said in a speech at the downtown Amentum Center for Performing Arts.

The ex-deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation also lauded Michael Budney, the Savannah River Site manager, and Dr. Vahid Majidi, the Savannah River National Laboratory boss, for their accomplishments, both as individuals and as a pair.

“That’s a great partnership right there,” Park said, pointing at the two.

Park delivered his remarks, and ran through a few slides of a presentation, at the 30th annual Teller Lecture and Banquet. The major get-together is put on by Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness.

The local nonprofit focuses on education and works to dispel rumors or misconceptions about the nuclear industry.

“The faces, names and technology may have changed over 30 years,” said Dr. Daren Timmons, the board chairman, “but CNTA is steadfast in its commitment to be the voice of truth on nuclear matters.”

CNTA honored distinguished scientists and star students during the celebration Thursday. Park cheered the education and outreach efforts.

“We have to invest into our next-generation people,” he said. “I’m so happy to have witnessed CNTA recognize all these early career people. That’s a great thing, right?”

Park became the the National Nuclear Security Administration’s nonproliferation lead in April 2018. In that position, he headed up efforts to secure or eliminate sensitive nuclear materials.

Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, then the leader of the NNSA, said Park “brings vast technical and policy experience to this position” – an expertise that was on display Thursday. “His understanding of the complex and multifaceted nonproliferation mission, both domestically and internationally, will be an asset to the department.”

Park has a background in physics and worked at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, where he “led and managed the science-to-application efforts for national security programs,” CNTA said in an announcement.

Colin Demarest covers the Savannah River Site, the Energy Department, its NNSA, and government and politics, in general. Follow him on Twitter: @demarest_colin.

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