Oct. 12, 2004
CEO of Leading Nuclear Waste Disposal Firm to Speak on Academic/Industry Partnerships
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Catholic University of America will confer an honorary doctorate on Robert E. Prince, president and CEO of Duratek Inc., during a ceremony to be held Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2004, at CUA’s campus, located at 620 Michigan Ave., N.E.
Prince, a former nuclear submarine officer, has spent the past 20 years making Duratek Inc. a national leader in secure disposition of radioactive materials. The Columbia, Md., company provides solutions to radioactive waste needs, from field services at client sites to offsite waste processing and disposal, including transportation services.
Duratek uses vitrification (conversion of waste into glass) to treat nuclear waste, based in part on technology developed by leading glass scientists at CUA’s Vitreous State Laboratory. The vitrification process prevents waste dissipation into the environment and particularly into the water table, making it safer to store waste at sites such as Nevada’s Yucca Mountain.
Duratek and VSL technology has been applied to cleanup operations at former U.S. nuclear weapons manufacturing sites in South Carolina (the Savannah River site) and Washington state’s Hanford Reservation, where the plutonium used in America’s atomic weapons arsenal was manufactured from 1943 to 1988. Duratek and the VSL have designed a factory to vitrify 53 million gallons of deadly radioactive sludge stored at Hanford, a site once called “the most urgent environmental emergency in the U.S.” by Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall. Department of Energy staff, responsible for leading the cleanup, have said Duratek/VSL techniques are expected to get the site cleaned up 20 years faster — and at a $20 billion savings — than traditional methods of waste containment and disposal.
“We are honored to recognize Robert Prince for his great service and leadership in the area of science and industry,” said the university’s president, Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M.. “For many years, Mr. Prince and Duratek have worked side by side with our university to improve the methods available for containment and disposal of nuclear waste. In my mind, this partnership demonstrates a mutual commitment to the Catholic mission of the university, which challenges us all to address the critical moral issues of our day, ecology among them.
For that reason, in particular, we are proud to honor and recognize Mr. Prince for his accomplishments.”
Prince will give a public talk about university/industry partnerships on Tuesday, Oct. 19, at 4:45 p.m. in Herzfeld Auditorium, located in Hannon Hall. He will be speaking on the lessons that have been learned from the relationship between Catholic University, its Vitreous State Laboratory and Duratek. The talk will be free and open to the public.
Prince arrived at the company that would become the present-day Duratek Inc., after a career in the U.S. Navy. He earned a bachelor’s of science in engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1970, attended the U.S. Navy Nuclear Power School and subsequently served for six years as an engineering officer on nuclear submarines. After earning an M.B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance, in 1984 he joined the General Physics Corporation and founded General Technical Services Inc., which later merged with Duratek. Since its founding, Prince has taken the operation from a “one man and a desk” enterprise to a company with 1,300 employees and approximately $300 million per year in revenues. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Nuclear Energy Institute and the Wildlife Fawn Rescue.
CUA’s association with the company that would become Duratek started in 1977, when physicists at the university were doing research into methods for processing nuclear waste. Later they worked with the group to patent an ion exchange process in which porous glass removes particular radioactive pollutants from water. The lab worked to commercialize this and other technologies with NPD Nuclear, which was renamed Duratek in 1982 and went public in 1985. After the company merged with General Technical Services Inc. it became known as GTS Duratek and later Duratek Inc.
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