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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Ontario landowners sign deal with agency looking to store used nuclear fuel

January 27, 2020 Posted by | Canada, wastes | Leave a comment

Over 32,000 potassium iodide pills ordered in 2 days after Pickering nuclear power plant alert error  

January 16, 2020 Posted by | Canada, incidents | Leave a comment

The fallout from a false nuclear alarm 

The fallout from a false nuclear alarm  The Conversation, Jack L. Rozdilsky
Associate Professor of Disaster and Emergency Management, York University, CanadaJanuary 14, 2020
   On Sunday at 7:23 a.m., residents of the Greater Toronto Area were abruptly awakened by an alert issued by Ontario’s Emergency Alert Ready System stating: “An incident was reported at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station. There has been NO abnormal release of radioactivity from the station and emergency staff are responding to the situation.”At 8:06 a.m., the Ontario Power Generation released a statement that the alert was issued in error and that there was no danger to the public or the environment. At 9:11 a.m., another message from the Provincial Alert Ready System stated that the initial nuclear alert was “in error.”………..

Other false nuclear alerts This false alarm is not the first time that a nuclear-related alert has been issued during in error during an exercise. In January 2018, an alert was issued in Hawaii warning of an impending ballistic missile attack. Thirty-eight minutes later, the alert was rescinded as a false alarm.

In the Hawaii case, similar to what happened in Ontario on January 12, a public alert was accidentally issued during a routine internal test of the Emergency Alert System. The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency released a statement that the false alert was due to human error.

Jeopardizing trust

Within hours of the false nuclear alarm, the office of Ontario’s Solicitor General released a statement of apology and said a full investigation has been launched into the error made during the routine training exercise. Those initial actions are only the first steps in attempting to repair the damage.

If we take the incident in Hawaii as a guide, the fallout was far-reaching. In the immediate term, all upcoming emergency drills and exercises were suspended. Changes were put in place, such as a two-person verification rule along with a new cancellation command system for public alerts. As the false alarm became a scandal, state-level emergency management officials resigned. Human error and poor software design were identified as root causes, and investigations suggested revamping the system, specifically in terms of oversight of the Integrated Public Alert & Warning System in the United States.

The bottom line is that a false alarm for an incident at a nuclear power station erodes public safety efforts. Fortunately, the risks realized from the Ontario emergency alert were not related to actual radioactive fallout. The fallout from the false alarm is that the public’s trust in emergency alert systems was jeopardized. https://theconversation.com/the-fallout-from-a-false-nuclear-alarm-129766

January 14, 2020 Posted by | Canada, politics, safety | 1 Comment

Canadians got a false alert about a nuclear power plant incident

January 13, 2020 Posted by | Canada, safety | Leave a comment

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors’ costs and toxicity

Small modular nuclear reactors – a case of wishful thinking at best, NB Media Cop. by Gordon Edwards, Michel Duguay, Pierre Jasmin, 21 Dec 19

“……….4 Small Modular – Nuclear – Reactors’ costs & toxicity

That Carnegie-Mellon report includes Small Modular Nuclear Reactors in its analysis, without being any more hopeful than we are. This is mainly because a new generation of smaller reactors, such as those promised for New Brunswick, will necessarily be more expensive per unit of energy produced, if manufactured individually. The sharply increased price can be partially offset by mass production of prefabricated components; hence the need for selling hundreds or even thousands of these smaller units in order to break even and make a profit. However, the order book is filled with blank pages — there are no customers. This being the case, finding investors is not easy. So entrepreneurs are courting governments to pony up with taxpayers’ money, in the hopes that this second attempt at a Nuclear Renaissance will not be the total debacle that the first one turned out to be.

Chances are very slim however. There are over 150 different designs of “Small Modular Reactors.” None of them have been built, tested, licensed or deployed. At Chalk River, Ontario, a consortium of private multinational corporations, comprised of SNC-Lavalin and two corporate partners, operating under the name “Canadian Nuclear Laboratories” (CNL), is prepared to host six or seven different designs of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors — none of them being identical to the two proposed for New Brunswick – and all of these designs will be in competition with each other. The Project Description of the first Chalk River prototype Small Modular Reactor has already received over 40 responses that are posted on the CNSC web site, and virtually all of them are negative comments.

The chances that any one design will corner enough of the market to become financially viable in the long run is unlikely. So the second Nuclear Renaissance may carry the seeds of its own destruction right from the outset. Unfortunately, governments are not well equipped to do a serious independent investigation of the validity of the intoxicating claims made by the promoters, who of course conveniently overlook the persistent problem of long-lived nuclear waste and of decommissioning the radioactive structures. These wastes pose a huge ecological and human health problem for countless generations to come.

Finally, in the list of projects being investigated, one finds a scaled-down “breeder reactor” fuelled with plutonium and cooled by liquid sodium metal, a material that reacts violently or explodes on contact with air or water. The breeder reactor is an old project abandoned by Jimmy Carter and discredited by the failure of the ill-fated French SuperPhénix because of its extremely dangerous nature. In the event of a nuclear accident, the Tennessee Clinch River Breeder Reactor was judged capable of poisoning twelve American states and the SuperPhénix half of France.

One suspects that our three premiers are only willing to revisit these bygone reactor designs in order to obtain funding from the federal government while avoiding responsibility for their inaction on more sensible strategies for combatting climate changes – cheaper, faster and safer alternatives, based on investments in energy efficiency and renewable sources.

By Gordon Edwards PhD, President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility; with assistance by Michel Duguay, PhD, professor at Laval University & Pierre Jasmin, UQAM, Quebec Movement for Peace and Artiste pour la Paix. https://nbmediacoop.org/2019/12/21/small-modular-nuclear-reactors-a-case-of-wishful-thinking-at-best/

Gordon Edwards, PhD ccnr@web.ca
Michel Duguay, PhD michel.duguay@gel.ulaval.ca
Pierre Jasmin, jasmin.pierre@uqam.ca

This article is also published in French, link here.

January 11, 2020 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors – a wasteful distraction from real efforts to combat climate change

Small modular nuclear reactors – a case of wishful thinking at best, NB Media Cop. by Gordon Edwards, Michel Duguay, Pierre Jasmin, 21 Dec 19“…….3 Climate changes’ valid preoccupation (1)

Many people concerned about climate change want to know more about the moral and ethical choices regarding low-carbon technologies: “Don’t we have a responsibility to use nuclear?”  The short reply is: nuclear is too slow and too expensive. The ranking of options should be based on what is cheapest and fastest — beginning with energy efficiency, then on to off-the-shelf renewables like wind and solar energy.

In Germany, Dr. David Jacobs, founder of International Energy Transition Consulting, is proudly mentioning the green energy sector’s contribution in achieving the lowest unemployment rate since reunification of his country in the early 1990s. Post-Fukushima Angela Merkel’s decision to close down all of its nuclear reactors by 2022 has pushed the country to purchase photovoltaic solar panels and 30,000 megawatts of wind energy capacity in only 8 years: an impressive achievement – more than twice the total installed nuclear capacity of Canada. It would be impossible to build 30,000 megawatts of nuclear in only 8 years. By building wind generators, Germany obtained some carbon relief in the very first year of construction, then got more benefit in the second year, even more benefit in the third, and so on, building up to a cumulative capacity of 30,000 MWe after 8 years.

With nuclear, even if you could manage to build 30,000 megawatts in 8 years, you would get absolutely no benefit during that entire 8-year construction period. In fact you would be making the problem worse by mining uranium, fabricating fuel, pouring concrete and building the reactor core and components, all adding to greenhouse gas emissions – earning no benefit until (and IF) everything is finally ready to function. In the meantime (10 to 20 years), you will have starved the efficiency and renewable alternatives of the funds and political will needed to implement technologies that can really make an immediate and substantial difference.

In Saskatchewan, professor Jim Harding, who was director of Prairie Justice Research at University of Regina where he headed up the Uranium Inquiries Project, has offered his own reflection; here is the conclusion of his December 2, 2019 comment:

“In short, small reactors are another distraction from Saskatchewan having the highest levels of GHGs on the planet – nearly 70 metric tonnes per capita. While the rest of Canada has been lowering emissions, those here, along with Alberta with its high-carbon tar sands, have continued to rise. Saskatchewan and Alberta’s emissions are now almost equal to all the rest of Canada. Shame on us!”

In the USA, engineers and even CEOs of some of the leading nuclear companies are admitting that the age of nuclear energy is virtually over in North America. This negative judgment is not coming from people who are opposed to nuclear power, quite the opposite — from people lamenting the decline. See, for example, one major report from the Engineering faculty at Carnegie-Mellon University.

January 11, 2020 Posted by | Canada, climate change | Leave a comment

As conventional nuclear reactors fail economically, the pro nuclear turn to the fantasy of small nuclear reactors

Small modular nuclear reactors – a case of wishful thinking at best,  NB Media Coop, by Gordon Edwards, Michel Duguay, Pierre Jasmin,  21 Dec 19

On Friday the 13th, September 2019, the Saint John Telegraph-Journal’s front page was dominated by what many readers hoped will be a good luck story for New Brunswick – making the province a booming and prosperous Nuclear Energy powerhouse for the entire world. After many months of behind-the-scenes meetings throughout New Brunswick with utility company executives, provincial politicians, federal government representatives, township mayors and First Nations, two nuclear entrepreneurial companies laid out a dazzling dream promising thousands of jobs – nay, tens of thousands! – in New Brunswick, achieved by mass-producing and selling components for hitherto untested nuclear reactors called SMNRs (Small Modular Nuclear Reactors) which, it is hoped, will be installed around the world by the hundreds or thousands!

On December 1, the Saskatchewan and Ontario premiers hitched their hopes to the same nuclear dream machine through a dramatic tripartite Sunday press conference in Ottawa featuring the premiers of the provinces. The three amigos announced their desire to promote and deploy some version of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors in their respective provinces. All three claimed it as a strategy to fight climate change, and they want the federal government to pledge federal tax money to pay for the R&D. Perhaps it is a way of paying lip service to the climate crisis without actually achieving anything substantial; prior to the recent election, all three men were opposed to even putting a price on carbon emissions.

Motives other than climate protection may apply. Saskatchewan’s uranium is in desperate need of new markets, as some of the province’s most productive mines have been mothballed and over a thousand uranium workers have been laid off, due to the global decline in nuclear power. Meanwhile, Ontario has cancelled all investments in over 800 renewable energy projects – at a financial penalty of over 200 million dollars – while investing tens of billions of dollars to rebuild many of its geriatric nuclear reactors. This, instead of purchasing surplus water-based hydropower from Quebec a lot less expensive and more secure.

In a December 2 interview on QUB radio, Gilles Provost, spokesperson for the Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive (Movement against radioactive pollution, a Quebec-based group) and former environmental journalist at Le Devoir, criticized the announcement of the three premiers as ill-considered and premature, since none of the conjectural nuclear reactor prototypes exist in reality. Quite a contrast to the three premiers’ declarations, boldly claiming that “SMRs” (they leave out the “N” to minimize public opposition) will help solve climate change, knowing full well that it will take a decade or more before any benefits can possibly be realized – IF EVER.

These new nuclear reactors are so far perfectly safe, because they exist only on paper and are cooled only by ink. Declaring them a success before they are built is quite a leap of faith, especially in light of the three previous Canadian failures in this field of “small reactors.” Two 10-megawatt MAPLE reactors were built at Chalk River and never operated because of insuperable safety concerns, and the 10-megawatt “Mega-Slowpoke” district heating reactor never earned a licence to operate, again because of safety concerns. The Mega-Slowpoke was offered free of charge to two universities – Sherbrooke and Saskatchewan –both of whom refused the gift. And a good thing too, as the only Mega-Slowpoke ever built (at Pinawa, Manitoba) is now being dismantled without ever producing a single useful megawatt of heat.

2 “Nuclear renaissance” – clambering out of the dark ages?

This current media hype about modular reactors is very reminiscent of the drumbeat of grandiose expectations that began around 2000, announcing the advent of a Nuclear Renaissance that envisaged thousands of new reactors — huge ones! — being built all over the planet. That initiative turned out to be a complete flop. Only a few large reactors were launched under this banner, and they were plagued with enormous cost-over-runs and extraordinarily long delays, resulting in the bankruptcy or near bankruptcy of some of the largest nuclear companies in the world – such as Areva and Westinghouse – and causing other companies to retire from the nuclear field altogether – such as Siemens.

Speculation about that promised Nuclear Renaissance also led to a massive (and totally unrealistic) spike in uranium prices, spurring uranium exploration activities on an unprecedented scale. It ended in a near-catastrophic collapse of uranium prices when the bubble burst. Cameco was forced to close down several mines. They are still closed. The price of uranium has still not recovered from the plunge.

Large nuclear reactors have essentially priced themselves out of the market. Only Russia, China and India have managed to defy those market forces with their monopoly state involvements. Nevertheless, the nuclear contribution to world electricity production has plummeted from 17 percent in 1997 to about 10 percent in 2018. In North America and Western Europe, the prospects for new large reactor projects are virtually nil, and many of the older reactors are shutting down permanently without being replaced. By Gordon Edwards PhD, President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility; with assistance by Michel Duguay, PhD, professor at Laval University & Pierre Jasmin, UQAM, Quebec Movement for Peace and Artiste pour la Paix. https://nbmediacoop.org/2019/12/21/small-modular-nuclear-reactors-a-case-of-wishful-thinking-at-best/

January 11, 2020 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors – just a speculative technology, no use against climate change

January 9, 2020 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

How Ontario can get out of nuclear power, and reduce carbon emissions

Ontario can phase out nuclear and avoid increased carbon emissions, The Conversation, January 6, 2020  MV Ramana, Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia, Xiao Wei, MITACS Globalink Research Intern, University of British Columbia As wind and solar energy have become cheaper, they’ve become a more prominent and important way to generate clean electricity in most parts of the world.The Ontario government, on the other hand, is cancelling renewable energy projects at a reported cost of at least $230 million while reinforcing the province’s reliance on nuclear power via expensive reactor refurbishment plans.

As researchers who have examined the economics of electricity generation in Ontario and elsewhere, we argue that this decision is wasteful and ill-advised, and the unnecessary cost differential will rise further in the future.

One concern about renewables has been the intermittency of these energy sources. But studies have shown it’s feasible to have an all-renewable electric grid.

These feasibility studies, however, are always location specific. In that spirit, we have carried out detailed modelling and found that it’s possible to meet Ontario’s electricity demands throughout the year with just a combination of renewables, including hydropower, and storing electricity in batteries.

We also found that dealing with the intermittency of wind and solar energy by adding batteries would be more economical than refurbishing nuclear plants in the foreseeable future, well before the current refurbishment projects are completed.

That’s because of the expected decline in the cost of batteries used to store the electricity during the hours when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining in order to supply electricity during the periods when they aren’t. The cost of different kinds of battery technologies, such as lithium-ion or flow batteries, have come down rapidly in recent years.

Essential results

In all scenarios, the bulk of the demand was met by solar and wind power, with a lower fraction met by hydropower. Even in the scenarios with no batteries, less than 20 per cent of the electricity demand was met by nuclear power…….

In summary, our results show that for reasonable assumptions about future battery costs and the current price tag for solar and wind power, scenarios involving nuclear power are more than 20 per cent higher than the cheapest scenario involving only batteries, solar, wind and the current hydropower capacity. …

nuclear power isn’t needed to meet Ontario’s electricity needs. And the absence of nuclear power won’t have any impact on emissions in Ontario’s energy sector.https://theconversation.com/ontario-can-phase-out-nuclear-and-avoid-increased-carbon-emissions-128854?fbclid=IwAR20ANW_yAmpR7zZVw113hUp9bl7Xt2h0v1XiB1K815lFIKctZiaR8xB5Ew

January 6, 2020 Posted by | Canada, renewable | Leave a comment

Renewable energy to fight climate change, – NOT Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

December 14, 2019 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | 1 Comment

Nuclear power the worst, most unsuitable, most expensive power option for Ontario

December 14, 2019 Posted by | Canada, politics | Leave a comment

U.S. Congress members call on Trudeau to stop nuclear waste dumping near Great Lakes

December 12, 2019 Posted by | Canada, environment, opposition to nuclear, USA, wastes | 3 Comments

Ontario’s First Nations to vote on nuclear waste plan near Lake Huron

December 8, 2019 Posted by | Canada, indigenous issues | Leave a comment

To store Canada’s nuclear wastes close to Lake Huron – the worst of the worst

December 8, 2019 Posted by | Canada, wastes | Leave a comment

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors – many pitfalls, including security risks

‘Many issues’ with modular nuclear reactors says environmental lawyer, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/many-issues-modular-nuclear-1.5381804

Three premiers have agreed to work together to develop the technology, Jordan Gill · CBC News   Dec 03, 2019  Modular nuclear reactors may not be a cure for the nation’s carbon woes, an environmental lawyer said in reaction to an idea floated by three premiers.

Theresa McClenaghan, executive director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association, said the technology surrounding small reactors has numerous pitfalls, especially when compared with other renewable energy technology.

This comes after New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Ontario Premier Doug Ford agreed to work together to develop the technology.

Small modular reactors are easy to construct, are safer than large reactors and are regarded as cleaner energy than coal, the premiers say. They can be small enough to fit in a school gym.  Designs have been submitted to Canada’s nuclear regulator for review as part of a pre-licensing process.

The premiers say the smaller reactors would help Canada reach its carbon reduction targets but McClenaghan, legal counsel for the environmental group, disagrees.

“I don’t think it is the answer,” said McClenaghan. “I don’t think it’s a viable solution to climate change.”

McClenaghan said the technology behind modular reactors is still in the development stage and needs years of work before it can be used on a wide scale.

“There are many issues still with the technology,” said McClenaghan. “And for climate change, the risks are so pervasive and the time scale is so short that we need to deploy the solutions we already know about like renewables and conservation.”

Waste, security concerns: lawyer

While nuclear power is considered a low-carbon method of producing electricity, McClenaghan said the waste that it creates brings its own environmental concerns.

“You’re still creating radioactive waste,” said McClenaghan.

“We don’t even have a solution to nuclear fuel waste yet in Canada and the existing plans are not taking into account these possibilities.”

McClenanghan believes there are national security risks with the plan as well.  She said having more reactors, especially if they’re in rural areas, means there’s a greater chance that waste or fuel from the reactors could be stolen for nefarious purposes.

“You’d be scattering radioactive materials, potentially attractive to diversion, much further across the country,” said the environmental lawyer.

December 5, 2019 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment