FLORENCE---Gov. Mark Sanford has appointed David M. Peterson, chairman of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Francis Marion University, to the Governor’s Nuclear Advisory Council.
The nine-member council is charged with making recommendations to the governor on all nuclear issues affecting South Carolina. The state is heavily involved with nuclear energy, nuclear weapons production and the storage of low-level radioactive waste.
Fifty-five percent of the state’s electricity is generated at seven nuclear power reactors. The Department of Energy authorizes the Westinghouse Savannah River Co. to operate the Savannah River Site, where the nation’s nuclear arsenal has been produced since 1953. The Savannah River Site, on the border of South Carolina and Georgia, near Aiken, is one of the world’s largest nuclear facilities and employs perhaps the largest number of health physicists at any one site in the world. Health physics is the science of radiation protection, and FMU has the only health physics undergraduate program in South Carolina.
The Chem-Nuclear Corp. operates the only commercial low-level radioactive waste disposal facility in the Southeast at Barnwell. South Carolina is a member of the Atlantic Compact with Connecticut and New Jersey.
Radioactive materials and electromagnetic radiation are widely used in medical treatments and diagnosis throughout the state’s medical and dental industries.
Peterson’s appointment is subject to confirmation by the S.C. Senate, and his term runs coterminous with the governor. He is one of two scientists from South Carolina universities appointed to the council.
A physics professor, Peterson earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from London University and a doctorate in nuclear physics at N.C. State University. He has been a member of the FMU faculty since 1979. In 1984, he co-founded FMU’s health physics program with the late Dr. L.D. “Skip” Hendrick. For almost 20 years, this program has provided South Carolinians the opportunity to study health physics and go on to productive professional careers in this area of critical public safety.
#24 / 9-12-03