Office of Nuclear Energy

Nuclear Energy: It's Mother Approved

May 10, 2018

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Two mothers posing for a picture with their kids
Heather Matteson and Kristin Zaitz are out to momsplain nuclear energy.
Mothers for Nuclear

Heather Matteson and Kristin Zaitz are just two moms who happen to work in nuclear energy.

If you ask them, they’ll both tell you how they reluctantly took jobs at Diablo Canyon—California’s only nuclear power plant.

“I was really nervous starting my job at the plant,” remembers Zaitz, a civil engineer at Diablo Canyon. “My friends made me a cake and put real firecrackers on top of it – the insinuation being that we were celebrating me going to this place that was going to blow up.”

Spoiler alert.

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The plant did not blow up, but it did ignite curiosity in Matteson and Zaitz, who admittedly grew up skeptical of nuclear energy.

“I went in with the attitude of, I will ask a lot of questions and figure out what the real deal is,” said Matteson, a reactor operator at the plant. “I eventually asked enough questions and it made me even more sure that nuclear was a good thing.”

Mothers for Nuclear

It didn’t take long for Matteson and Zaitz to uncover the truth about nuclear—it’s clean, it’s reliable and it produces a lot of power on a relatively small footprint compared to other energy sources.

That aligned perfectly with their passion for the environment.

“What I thought was so bad was actually doing one of the most important things that we should be doing, which is keeping our air clean and saving our land for our kids’ kids to enjoy in the future,” said Zaitz.

With rumblings (and the later reality) of a decision to retire Diablo Canyon early, Matteson and Zaitz took action and formed Mothers for Nuclear—a grassroots organization to build a dialogue around nuclear energy.

 

To be a mother and an environmentalist, it felt like there weren't a whole lot of other people like us. It was our duty to start sharing the reasons why people like us should support nuclear.

Heather Matteson
Mothers for Nuclear

Momsplaining Nuclear

Finding information about nuclear energy isn’t always easy.

Not everyone knows that nuclear is the world’s second largest source of clean energy, or that 99 U.S. reactors make up 20% of nation’s power and nearly 60% of its emission-free electricity.

And with a number of plants scheduled for early retirement, a mother’s perspective is more important now than ever before.

“Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean that it’s right,” said Zaitz. “It’s important for us to stand up and say something because at some point in time we will all realize that we just closed a bunch of clean energy.”

Why Mothers Should Support Nuclear
Video courtesy: Gordon McDowell and Eric Meyer

Protecting the Nest           

Matteson and Zaitz, like all parents, want what’s best for their children.

They believe nuclear energy is essential in protecting the air quality for their kids and preserving the land that they explore.

Mothers for Nuclear carrying signs advocating for nuclear energy
Mothers for Nuclear

“It’s our whole job to raise the next generation and to think about the future,” said Matteson.

“Land conservation was one of the first things that drew me to nuclear,” added Zaitz. “I want my children to explore wild spaces and to walk in meadows, deserts and mountains and leave no trace of themselves.”

Get Informed

Mothers for Nuclear is all based on the premise of asking questions and starting a dialogue to get informed.

At the end of the day, it’s about recognizing what people care about and seeing if nuclear fits into that equation.

Is nuclear right for you and your family?

Take the first step and explore these fast facts about nuclear energy.

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Click above to learn 5 fast facts about nuclear energy.
Sarah Harman | U.S. Department of Energy
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