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Founder of IEC TC 45 Louis Costrell Passes Away

New York, Jun 19, 2009

Friends, members, staff, and colleagues of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the U.S. National Committee (USNC) mourn the loss of Louis Costrell, a leader in the standardization of nuclear instrumentation both within the United States and globally. Mr. Costrell died on June 8, 2009.

A founder of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) TC (Technical Committee) 45, Nuclear instrumentation, Mr. Costrell was a powerful force in the development of International Standards for nuclear instrumentation. His work in the early growth of the nuclear instrumentation field was influential as he helmed the introduction of modular instruments standards for the industry.

He served as the chief U.S. delegate to IEC/TC 45 for thirty-seven years, from the committee’s inception in 1964. Mr. Costrell also chaired the committee’s Working Group (WG) 9, Detectors and systems, contributing his experience and knowledge of standardization to serve as the basis for many IEC International Standards. Additionally, he served as the technical advisor of the USNC’s TC 45 and actively participated in the USNC’s work until the age of 94.

In November 2007, Mr. Costrell was awarded a commemorative certificate for his notable contributions to the IEC at a special event in New York. Ceremony attendees enjoyed the nonagenarian’s quick wit and spirited personality as he accepted this acknowledgement of his lifetime of work.

In October 2004, ANSI awarded Mr. Costrell a Meritorious Service Award during World Standards Week to recognize his significant contributions to national and international standardization and his commitment to industry, the nation, and the enhancement of the global voluntary consensus standards system. [see related news item]

In addition to his work with the IEC, Mr. Costrell was a founder of the ANSI Accredited Standards Committee (ASC), N42, Nuclear Instrumentation and an active participant on ASC N13, Radiation Protection. He was also a member of the ANSI Nuclear Standards Board (NSB) and the American Physical Society.

Mr. Costrell worked as an Engineer in the U.S. Navy Department Bureau of Ships until 1946, when he joined the U.S. Department of Commerce National Bureau of Standards (now NIST – the National Institute of Standards and Technology) where he held several technical and management positions. In 1964, he initiated the development of the Bureau’s Nuclear Instrument Module (NIM) system, utilized worldwide by laboratories, universities, and industry. This system has had a tremendous impact in all markets – from medicine to security – for which such instrumentation is crucial for health, safety, and protection.

He retired in 1982, and had since been employed by NIST as a rehired annuitant.

Mr. Costrell will be remembered as a mentor to young experts in the development of IEC standards, with unparalleled leadership, immense technical knowledge, and tireless energy to support the community.

“It’s a very sad day for the USNC, for IEC TC 45, and for the IEC in general,” said Charlie Zegers, general secretary of the USNC. “Lou Costrell was one of a kind, and the cause of International Standardization will never be the same.”

For more information, see the related IEC article.

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