The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Renewable energy, energy efficiency would create over 145,000 jobs in Alberta, Canada

green-collarAlberta could produce over 145,000 jobs by going green: report HTTP://EDMONTONJOURNAL.COM/BUSINESS/ENERGY/ALBERTA-COULD-PRODUCE-OVER-145000-JOBS-BY-GOING-GREEN-REPORT GORDON KENT April 22, 2016 Alberta could create more than 145,000 jobs by investing more heavily in renewable energy, energy efficiency and public transit, a report by three environmental organizations says.

The move would boost employment when oil prices have dropped, reduce carbon emissions and help shift the economy toward green industries, according to the report released Friday by Greenpeace, the Alberta Green Economy Network and Gridworks Energy Group.

“The government can start putting people back to work without having to wait for the price of oil to go back up,” co-author David Thompson said Friday, which was also Earth Day.

The report estimates 68,400 positions are available from energy efficiency upgrades on more than 183,000 older homes and other buildings, requiring spending of $1 billion over five years.

Another 30,000 to 40,000 places would come from building LRT lines at a cost of more than $3.6 billion, along with the unpriced expansion of bike lanes, sidewalks and other sustainable transportation.

As well, there could be 46,780 jobs created by 2020 by almost doubling the amount of wind power to seven per cent of the electricity grid, boosting solar and geothermal production, and improving energy efficiency and storage.

No price tag is attached to this development. The provincial budget calls for investing $6.2 billion raised by the new carbon levy in green infrastructure, renewable energy, energy efficiency and other work over five years.

Many communities are already shifting toward renewable power.

The Lubicon Lake First Nation of Little Buffalo, 465 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, put in an 80-panel, 20.8-kilowatt solar electricity system next to its health centre last summer. The Louis Bull First Nation at Maskwacis, 70 kilometres south of Edmonton, will start installing 340 solar panels on four public buildings next month, training residents to work in this field and cutting electricity bills, councillor Desmond Bull said.

The approximately $300,000 cost is being covered with money from the federal government.

The project is intended to help the environment as well as produce economic development, Bull said.

“There’s not really any template or model for how First Nations can move in this direction.”

City of Edmonton chief economist John Rose cautioned this week that governments need to be prudent about major investments in renewable energy, but Thompson said Alberta has big wind and solar resources.

“We can learn from the mistakes others have made … We can go down the tunnel and hopefully get less scratched.”

August 24, 2016 Posted by | Canada, employment, renewable | Leave a comment

Canadian nuclear boss ridicules whistledblower

civil-liberty-2smflag-canadaCanadian nuclear boss jokes about whistleblowers and muzzles environmentalistBy Mike De Souza, National Observer August 18th 2016 Shawn-Patrick Stensil shook his head in disbelief as he walked out of a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission public meeting on Thursday.

 The commission invited Stensil to speak about nuclear safety issues, but wouldn’t let him comment about a remarkable anonymous letter that raised serious engineering and procedural issues questioning whether the agency was doing a bad job overseeing reactors. The commission’s president and chief executive, Michael Binder, led a series of jokes ridiculing the whistleblowers the night before, prompting a public rebuke by the union representing government scientists. Today, Binder cut off Stensil’s microphone.

The commission also declined to review Stensil’s 26-page analysis of the safety issues raised in the anonymous letter.

“I’ve never been shut down before like that by the commission,” said Stensil in an interview withNational Observer after his brief appearance at the meeting.

Stensil is a senior energy strategist at Greenpeace Canada, who has researched nuclear safety policy issues for more than a decade and testifies frequently before federal panels about the issue.

The commission is an independent federal regulator that is responsible for overseeing the Canadian nuclear industry. In other words, it is there to ensure that Canada’s nuclear reactors don’t meltdown and cause a full-scale catastrophe.

“I’ve been intervening before the commission for 15 years,” Stensil said. “They didn’t want to see any outside opposing views. They didn’t want to ask why it happened in the first place and it also shows that the Harper government is still alive and well at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Outside views aren’t welcome. Dissenting views aren’t welcome. And that’s a legacy of Harper that the Trudeau government needs to clean up.”

The letter, released by Stensil, a nuclear campaigner from Greenpeace Canada, to media outlets in July, was addressed to Binder, who was appointed by the government of former prime minister Stephen Harper. Stensil had received a copy of the letter, along with other senior officials at the commission in May. It suggested that commission employees were not doing their job properly, withholding critical information from commissioners, prior to decisions on nuclear safety.

The letter also alleged that some nuclear plants were violating safety rules and had licenses that were approved following inadequate reviews by staff, who then withheld information from commissioners prior to decisions. The author or authors said that the commission, as a result, failed to identify safety risks at nuclear plants and impose conditions to reduce the likelihood of serious accidents.

Stensil has compared these types of failings to the errors which led to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan that was triggered by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011, causing serious damage in its wake.

“It’s very clear from this letter that people (the authors) have inside information about what’s going on at the CNSC,” Stensil said. “I’ve seen some of these issues raised in debates internally that I’ve gotten through access to information (requests). There’s a credibility issue here. And when you start dismissing a dissenter as not having expertise, it really shows why they probably did this in an anonymous fashion.”

But when Stensil began addressing the whistleblowers’ concerns, Binder told him that the commission had discussed the anonymous letter the night before and proceeded to cut off the environmentalist’s microphone.

Whistleblowers targeted by jokes, ridicule

At that previous meeting, the commission heard testimony from several staff, led by Peter Elder, an engineer and strategic advisor at the commission who presented a report that dismissed the concerns raised by the whistleblowers and defended the commission’s oversight and integrity.

Binder and the commission’s senior staff went a bit further, suggesting that the letter’s author or authors were incompetent……After several staff members further ridiculed the letter and commended their boss, Binder, for raising good points, another executive, Ramzi Jammal, the executive vice president and chief regulatory operations officer intervened to echo their comments…….

Stensil described the whole exercise as having appeared to be staged to embarrass and shame the author or authors of the letter and discourage others from coming forward with safety concerns.

Scientists’ union rebukes nuclear boss, vows to defend public interest   Binder’s behaviour prompted a rebuke from the union that represents the commission’s scientists and which has been trying to ensure that its collective agreements with government include protections for scientific integrity to prevent muzzling.

“Our members who are involved in protecting the safety of Canadians do not take their duties or concerns lightly,” said Steve Hindle, vice-president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada. “It is unfortunate that Mr. Binder has chosen to make light of such an important issue. But his reaction will not prevent our members from defending the public interest.”…….

August 19, 2016 Posted by | Canada, civil liberties | Leave a comment

General Electric Co. and Hitachi sell Canadian nuclear technology buisness

BWXT to buy Ontario nuclear business from GE-Hitachi, double presence in Canada, Globe and Mail, MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — The Canadian Press, Aug. 18, 2016 General Electric Co. and Hitachi Ltd. are selling a Canadian joint venture that supplies nuclear fuel and equipment for Candu nuclear reactors – a key source of electricity for Ontario.

The buyer is a Canadian subsidiary of BWX Technologies Inc., a U.S. publicly traded company headquartered in Virginia.

BWXT says the acquisition will nearly double its presence in Canada and “signals a long-term strategic commitment” to the Candu nuclear power segment.

 BWXT Canada recently signed a contract, valued at $130-million, to design and build eight generators for Bruce Power’s nuclear generation facility in Tiverton, Ont…….

August 19, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, Canada | Leave a comment

Huge majority of Scarborough-Rouge River residents oppose keeping Pickering Nuclear operating beyond 2018

text-Noflag-canadaOntario Clean Air Alliance, 12 Aug 16, Residents in the Scarborough Rouge River riding oppose keeping the Pickering Nuclear Station operating beyond 2018 by a wide margin. Informed about Pickering’s high costs and large surrounding population – including all the homes in this riding — close to 70% of voters said the plant should be shut down in 2018 when its current licence expires. (Click here for full polling results.)

Voters in Scarborough-Rouge River will head to the polls on Sept. 1st to elect a new MPP in a provincial by-election. Currently, it is a race between PC candidate Raymond Cho (49%) and Liberal candidate Piragal Thiru (43%). Liberal supporters overwhelmingly support closing the plant, as do a strong majority of PC voters concerned about costs. NDP and Green supporters support closure in even greater numbers.

Living as little as 10 kilometers from Canada’s oldest nuclear plant – which is also the 4th oldest nuclear plant in North America – residents also felt they had been poorly informed about emergency measures in case of an accident at the aging plant. Fifty-nine percent rated safety-related communications poor or very poor.

Riding residents overwhelmingly supported closing Pickering when told that the province has a large surplus of electricity and lower cost options for keeping the lights on. We hope local candidates — and party leaders — will listen to Scarborough voters and promise to direct Ontario Power Generation to drop its plan to apply for a ten-year licence extension for the old and trouble-prone Pickering station.

August 13, 2016 Posted by | Canada, politics | 1 Comment

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s sham review of safety allegations

biasCNSC review dismissing nuclear-safety concerns called a ‘sham’ GLORIA GALLOWAY OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail – Corrected version, Aug. 09, 2016 An internal review by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission dismisses allegations that important information was withheld during the licensing of nuclear plants but two nuclear scientists say the review is “less than impartial” and a “sham” that should give Canadians no comfort.

In June, CNSC president Michael Binder received an anonymous letter, purported to have been written by employees at the nuclear regulator, that pointed to five separate cases in which the commission’s staff sat on relevant information that might have called the safety of a nuclear plant into question.

Peter Elder, a strategic adviser within the CNSC’s regulatory operations branch, who says he was able to maintain a neutral position because he did not work on the safety of nuclear power plants between 2008 and 2015, conducted a review that concluded late last week that none of the five cases point to any safety issues………

But two nuclear experts have written subsequent letters to Mr. Binder asking him to discard Mr. Elder’s review and to allow an arm’s-length inquiry into the allegations of the anonymous whistle-blowers.

Frank Greening, a nuclear chemist who is a former senior research scientist at Ontario Hydro, the predecessor of Ontario Power Generation, wrote that Mr. Elder’s claim to have conducted an independent investigation was “quite extraordinary and ridiculous.”

Mr. Elder “cannot possibly be independent because he is an employee of the CNSC,” wrote Dr. Greening. He asked Mr. Binder to “reject Mr. Elder’s less than impartial review.”

In a telephone interview, Dr. Greening said PSAs have, for many years “been taken very very seriously and formed the backbone of a licence renewal. And now the CNSC turns around and says well actually, they’re really not that important. That’s absurd.

“If I was one of those whistle-blowers, I would be very very distressed at this stage of the game.”

In a second letter, Sunil Nijhawan, a nuclear safety engineer with more than 35 years in the industry, wrote that Mr. Elder’s conclusions display an ignorance of basic safety principles and the legislated role of the CNSC.

“After a lifetime of working in PSAs I am now asking why so many of us toiled for years and why the industry was forced to spend well over $50-million on PSAs so far?” Dr. Nijhawan wrote. “Why are many in the rest of the world doing brilliant peer-reviewed PSAs and using the findings to not only improve operations, reduce risk and also come up with improved designs?”

Mr. Elder’s “sham” review only reinforces that view held by international nuclear professionals that there is an “incestuous” relationship between the CNSC and the utilities, Dr. Nijhawan wrote.

CNSC officials said in an e-mail on Tuesday that Mr. Elder’s review would be discussed at a commission meeting next week and they could make no further comment.

Tom Mulcair, the Leader of the federal New Democrats, wrote to Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr after the anonymous letter became public to say he found the allegations alarming and warning that they must not be ignored……..

August 12, 2016 Posted by | Canada, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention putting on pressure for nuclear disarmament

This is a critical moment for the disarmament movement, and activists in Canada and abroad are pushing for broad public support for a nuclear ban. In September, the United Nations’ open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament will present its final report, hopefully laying out a path toward a convention banning these weapons for good.

flag-canadaNuclear disarmament: back on centre stagELIZABETH RENZETTI, The Globe and Mail, text-relevantAug. 05, 2016 Could Donald Trump accidentally be the best friend of the nuclear disarmament movement? This may sound like Dr. Strangelove-level madness, but the prospect of the Republican presidential candidate anywhere near the nuclear launch codes could be a pivotal movement for public awareness, and it comes at a critical time for the movement to ban those weapons.

Consider, first, that the disarmament movement, although well-organized and determined, has done its important work largely in the dark for the past three decades. It’s just not an issue that electrifies the public, even if it should. As former U.S. defence secretary William Perry writes in his recent book, My Journey at the Nuclear Brink, “Our chief peril is that the poised nuclear doom, much of it hidden beneath the seas and in remote badlands, is too far out of the global public consciousness. Passivity shows broadly.”

Now, consider that Mr. Trump has made this existential threat – Russia and the United States each have nearly 2,000 weapons deployed and ready to launch – not so much theoretical as terrifyingly real. This week, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough created a stir when he said he had heard that a “foreign policy expert” was briefing Mr. Trump, and the presidential candidate mentioned nuclear weapons, asking, “If we have them, why can’t we use them?”……

This is a critical moment for the disarmament movement, and activists in Canada and abroad are pushing for broad public support for a nuclear ban. In September, the United Nations’ open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament will present its final report, hopefully laying out a path toward a convention banning these weapons for good.

The eight nuclear powers (North Korea is the ninth) will try to block this. Canada, which has traditionally sided with it large and domineering American friend on nuclear-arms issues at the UN, could instead take a leading and ground-breaking role toward a more stable and peaceful world, as it did with the Ottawa Treaty banning landmines in 1997. (Last year, Canada was one of only 29 countries refusing to endorse a humanitarian pledge to seek a weapons treaty at the UN, along with the United States and Britain, also a nuclear power. Meanwhile 139 countries supported the pledge. Seventeen abstained, including the nuclear states India, Pakistan and China.)

More than 800 members of the Order of Canada have supported the campaign by Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, and the group Science for Peace has started a national letter-writing campaign to persuade Canadian lawmakers. This may take some doing……..

As long as the disarmament issue remains at the back of the public consciousness, nothing will change. In early August every year, the world briefly stops to remember the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, then moves on again. This might be changing, though: There were powerful protests last month as British lawmakers voted to renew the Trident nuclear submarine defence, and alarm bells when the failed Turkish coup threatened Incirlik Air Force base, where the United States stores some of its nuclear weapons…….

both Russia and the United States are moving, in real time, to refurbish their nuclear arsenals.

It’s worth keeping in mind the words of Mr. Perry, who witnessed the devastation of Japan as a soldier stationed there after the Second World War: “I believe that the risk of a nuclear catastrophe today is greater than it was during the Cold War – and yet our public is blissfully unaware of the new nuclear dangers they face.” That’s a scary message, but fear can be a great motivator, at the right time.

August 6, 2016 Posted by | Canada, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Calgary, Canada succeeds brilliantly with wind-powered Light Rail Transport

Dedicated wind farms are an increasingly important source of energy for data centers.flag-canada Calgary’s wind-powered LRT an incredibly successful system: Nenshi , Green Energy Futures July 6, 2015 “Every one of these three-car trains that goes by has a capacity of 600 people. That means it’s taking about 550 cars off the road. It makes a lot of sense,” says Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.  By David Dodge and Duncan Kinney 

The CTrain in Calgary is one of the greatest examples of electrified transport in Canada.

It is overwhelmingly popular with residents, boasting an average weekday ridership of 325,000. It has kickstarted smarter, denser development around its stations. And, best of all, it and the City of Calgary’s operations are 100 per cent powered by renewable energy.

“It’s hugely important to me. I wish I could take it every day, but it’s an incredibly successful transit system,” says Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi. “It has amongst the highest ridership of any LRT system anywhere — about 50 per cent of the people who travel downtown every day come downtown by public transit, and the majority of those use the CTrain system.”

But it’s when you compare Calgary to the other transit systems in Canada that it starts to get really interesting. The Pembina Institute has compiled some fascinating data, released in its Fast Cities report last year (disclosure: Green Energy Futures is presented by the Pembina Institute).

Calgary takes home the top spot when it comes to the amount of existing rapid transit lines per million residents; over the past ten years it has laid the most track out of any other city in the report. Continual investment in the system is an important factor that too many cities ignore.

City building

A full three-car CTrain carries 600 people. Not only does the CTrain take a lot of cars off the road, it also helps the city grow in a smarter, denser way………….

Powered by the wind

Perhaps the greatest coup of Calgary’s CTrain system is that it is powered by wind energy. In 2001, Calgary city council voted to purchase 21,000 megawatt-hours of wind power a year for 10 years. That’s the amount of electricity that the LRT uses in a year.

Now, the LRT does not run on electrons delivered straight from wind turbines — instead, it’s connected to the standard electricity grid. But while that grid is still dominated by natural gas and coal, Calgary’s 2001 investment meant 12 wind turbines were erected.

Then in 2012, Calgary went all-in on renewable energy, purchasing 100 per cent renewable power for all of the city’s operations. This investment meant two wind farms got built, totaling 144 megawatts of installed wind capacity.

While the CTrain is still 100 per cent powered by wind, the city’s other operations use a mix of renewable energies: wind, hydro, biomass and solar power. The power purchase agreement totals 450,000 megawatt-hours a year or the equivalent power demand of over 65,000 Calgary homes.

This is one of the killer apps of electrified rail transport: the ability to choose cleaner, greener options. By purchasing wind power, Calgary Transit reports they are saving 56,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

Cities like Calgary are playing a leadership role without breaking the bank. While the City of Calgary wouldn’t disclose the terms of their power purchase agreement with ENMAX, wind is the cheapest source of electricity in Alberta. The 2013 average pool price for wind according the Alberta Electric System Operator was 5.5 cents per kilowatt-hour while coal was 7.7 cents per-kilowatt hour.

In December 2014 when Quebec issued requests for proposals to build 450 MW of wind power, the average price for accepted bids was 7.6 cents per kWh, including 1.3 cents per kwH transmission costs. Solar power purchase agreements are being signed for as low as 5.84 cents a kWh in Dubai and at 8 cents/kWh in Brazil.

The bottom line is Calgary’s LRT and city operations are running on 100 per cent renewable energy, making the city a leader in Canada. Doubly cool are the phenomenal ridership numbers Calgary has achieved for its LRT — something that is reducing congestion, bringing down emissions and building the clean energy economy of the future.

July 22, 2016 Posted by | Canada, renewable | Leave a comment

Natural Resources officials to meet Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission about allegations of nuclear unsafety

safety-symbol-Smflag-canadaCNSC head to meet with officials to tackle allegations in anonymous letter, GLORIA GALLOWAY, OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail, Jul. 19, 2016 Natural Resources officials will meet with the head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to discuss allegations that information was withheld from commissioners as they made critical decisions about the licensing of the country’s nuclear plants.

An anonymous letter, purportedly written by specialists at the nuclear regulator, was sent five weeks ago to CNSC president Michael Binder. It points to five separate cases in which the commission’s staff sat on relevant information about risk or non-compliance that might have called the safety of a nuclear plant into question…….

The anonymous letter writers say nuclear hazards have been underestimated, plant operators have been permitted to skip requirements of the licensing regime, and assessments outlining what could happen in the event of a major nuclear disaster – such as the one that occurred in Fukushima, Japan in 2011 – have been withheld from the commissioners and the public……

Among other allegations, the writers of the anonymous letter to Mr. Binder say an evaluation of the effects of a Fukushima-scale nuclear disaster in Canada has never been released to the commissioners or the public.

In a 2014 e-mail obtained by the environmental group Greenpeace under access to information laws, François Rinfret, a director at the regulator, said a scenario for a Fukushima-size disaster would “become the focal point of a licence renewal and, despite brilliant attempts to caution readers … would be used malevolently at a public hearing” by people concerned about nuclear energy.

July 20, 2016 Posted by | Canada, safety | Leave a comment

Allegations that nuclear risk information was withheld from Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

whistleblowerflag-canadaLetter claims info on nuclear risks withheld from safety commissioners GLORIA GALLOWAY OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail, Jul. 18, 2016  The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is investigating allegations contained in an anonymous letter claiming to be written by specialists at the nuclear regulator that says information has been withheld from commissioners while making critical decisions about the licensing of this country’s nuclear plants.

The letter, which was sent several weeks ago to CNSC president Michael Binder, points to five separate cases in which the commission’s staff sat on relevant material about risk or non-compliance that might have called the safety of a plant into question.

The letter says hazards have been underestimated, plant operators have been permitted to skip requirements of the licensing regime and assessments outlining what could happen in the event of a major-scale nuclear disaster – such as the one that occurred in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011 – have been withheld from the commissioners and the public…….

The letter was also sent to representatives of two environmental groups, as well as to a current and former CNSC commissioner.

Although it is impossible to verify that the letter was written by CNSC specialists, environmentalists who received copies of the document say the level of detail, the manner of speaking and the amount of complexity suggest it was written by someone with inside knowledge. And, they say, the problems are symptomatic of a culture at the commission in which employees are expected to act as boosters of the nuclear industry rather than watchdogs of nuclear safety.

The letter writers, who say they are remaining anonymous because they are not confident of whistle-blower protection, are asking Dr. Binder to assign an independent expert to review the accuracy of their claims. They make eight additional recommendations for improving the licensing regime, many of them relating to specific issues at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station on Lake Ontario, just east of Toronto, and at the Bruce plant on Lake Huron.

“Our primary concern is that CNSC commissioners do not receive sufficient information to make balanced judgments,” the letter says. And “because insufficient information is made available, other branches of government cannot make informed decisions. For example, the government of Ontario cannot make a good decision about financing the refurbishment of Darlington without knowing all the facts.”

Dr. Binder was appointed by the former Conservative government of Stephen Harper after it fired then-CNSC president Linda Keen when she balked at skirting safety rules. Ms. Keen now serves as a corporate director for various organizations and does consulting work.

“We’ve seen the CNSC become a cheerleader for the nuclear industry since the Harper government fired former CNSC president Linda Keen,” said Shawn-Patrick Stensil, a senior energy analyst with Greenpeace Canada who was one of the two environmentalists to receive a copy of the letter. “The Trudeau government needs to restore the independence of Canada’s nuclear regulator,” he said.

The letter writers refer to a number of cases in which, they say, the commissioners have made decisions without knowing all of the facts…….

Theresa McClenaghan, executive director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association, who was the other environmentalist sent a copy of the letter, said actions of this sort – in which whistle-blowers make such specific allegations – are both rare and surprising. But, she said, she has no doubt it was written by someone inside the CNSC.

“We are often very concerned that commissioners are not getting the full story from the proponents or the regulatory staff,” Ms. McClenaghan said. “In the hearings, we really do see a frustrating amount of apologetics for the industry going on by staff.”

Mr. Stensil, of Greenpeace, said the most serious issue raised in the letter is the allegation suggesting that CNSC staff knows about additional risks being posed by reactors, but is ignoring them. That is what happened at Fukushima, he said.

“That’s not a nuts-and-bolts or an engineering issue,” Mr. Stensil said. “That’s a safety culture issue.”

July 20, 2016 Posted by | Canada, safety | Leave a comment

Aging Pickering Nuclear Station that is well past its prime: time to shut it

flag-canadaLiberals Should Shutter Nuclear Plant Well Past Its Prime  Huff Post Mike Schreiner 
Leader of the Green Party of Ontario 07/18/2016  Ontario could save money, increase public safety and create jobs if it closes the Pickering Nuclear Station when its operating licence expires on Aug. 31, 2018. Yet, the Liberal government has approved plans to extend Pickering’s operating life to 2024.

Pickering is already 15 years past its best before date. It’s the fourth oldest nuclear station in North America and the seventh oldest nuclear station in the world. Given its age, it is not surprising that Pickering is one of the most unreliable and poorestperforming nuclear plants in North America. Or that is has the highest operating costs of any nuclear station in North America.

Best before dates are important — not only for the milk you drink but also for the nuclear plant you live by. Pickering is surrounded by over 2.2 million people who live within the 30-kilometre high-risk zone. The Liberals are rolling the dice on a nuclear station that is surrounded by more people than any nuclear plant in North America………

Ontario is currently selling excess electricity at a loss. Ontario’s total electricity exports (22.6 billion kWh) exceeded the total output of the Pickering Nuclear Station (22.6 billion kWh) in 2015. Ontario’s peak hour demand for electricity has declined by 17 per cent in the past decade.

Even if electricity demand goes up because of the Ontario’s efforts to electrify the transportation system, Ontario can purchase electricity from other sources at a lower cost.

We live next door to the world’s fourth largest producer of water power — Quebec. Quebec has a large and growing supply of water power available for export. On average, Quebec water power sells at one third the price of power from Pickering. Why not use this low cost source of clean power to meet possible increases in demand and to cover gaps from the anticipated temporary shut down of the Darlington Nuclear Station?

Ontario can also do more to stretch our energy dollars by investing in energy efficiency measures. The cheapest source of energy is the energy we save. According to the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), large industrial energy efficiency programs save electricity at an average cost of 1.5 cents per kWh. Residential, commercial and small industrial energy efficiency programs save electricity at an average cost of 3.5 cents per kWh — far below OPG’s estimate cost of power from Pickering of around nine cents per kWh.

The Liberals seem more interested in making the nuclear lobby happy than in making smart energy choices for the people of Ontario.

And while I understand why the nuclear lobby would fight to protect jobs at Pickering, I believe the Liberal government has a responsibility to make energy decisions that benefit all the people of Ontario even if it means cancelling their $100,000 dinners with the premier.

Moreover, what if we could convert operating jobs at Pickering into jobs decommissioning Pickering–making the area safer for residents while establishing Ontario’s expertise in the decommissioning of nuclear plants. Doing this would create 16,000 person years of employment according to a study by Torrie Smith Associates. This could establish Ontario’s global expertise in decommissioning nuclear plants. With a number of nuclear plants around the world reaching their best before dates, Ontario nuclear workers could benefit from becoming the global experts in shutting down nuclear plants.

The Liberals have a choice to make — give the nuclear lobby what it wants or provide the people of Ontario with an affordable, clean electricity supply; a supply that doesn’t include an old and aging Pickering Nuclear Station that is well past its best before date.

July 20, 2016 Posted by | Canada, politics | Leave a comment

Canada’s aging nuclear plants – renewal of licenses due, but concrete decaying

safety-symbol-Smflag-canadaDecaying concrete raising concerns at Canada’s aging nuclear plants, National Post Ian MacLeod, Postmedia News | July 8, 2012 Decaying concrete at nuclear power plants is the latest concern for nuclear safety authorities.

At Quebec’s sole atomic power station, Gentilly-2, eroding concrete has prompted federal licensing officials to suggest that any provincial attempt to refurbish and re-license the 30-year-old plant must satisfy federal concerns over the aging concrete’s ability to stand up to another two or three decades of service.

The move comes as economic pressures force nuclear utilities to consider refurbishing their nuclear plants and operating them well past their 25- to 30-year initial lives.

With Gentilly-2 at the end of its service life, the Quebec government is under pressure to decide soon whether to order a refit or shut down the plant permanently. Refurbishment estimates range from $2 billion to $3 billion. A shutdown is pegged at $1.6 billion.

Of particular concern for any “life extension” is the dome-shaped containment building that encloses the 675-megawatt CANDU 6 reactor. The metre-thick, steel-reinforced concrete structure serves as the final physical barrier against radioactive contamination escaping into the atmosphere around Becancour, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River across from Trois-Rivieres and an hour’s drive northeast of Montreal.

“Special attention is needed for the containment structure in the longer term since it has been identified that containment concrete suffers from” a common type of concrete decay called alkali-silica reaction (ASR), says a 2010 report by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) in Ottawa.

Despite those long-term concerns, the CNSC last year renewed the plant’s operating licence until 2016.……..

July 13, 2016 Posted by | Canada, safety | Leave a comment

Close Pickering Nuclear Station – Former Minister of Energy

Former Minister of Energy calls for closure of Pickering Nuclear Station in 2018, Angela Bischoff, Outreach Director, Ontario Clean Air Alliance Ontario Clean Air Alliance , 30 June 16   Yesterday, George Smitherman, former Deputy Premier and Minister of Energy for Ontario, called for the closure of the Pickering Nuclear Station in a deputation to the City of Toronto’s Executive Committee. (View Mr. Smitherman’s remarks).

Mr. Smitherman suggested that Ontario extend its “cash for clunkers” program to include Pickering and noted that he was informed as Energy Minister as early as 2007 that the plant was nearing the end of its useful life. He also warned that Pickering was an example of badly outdated technology with weak radioactive containment systems.

Mr. Smitherman went on to note that Ontarians are far too passive about the threat posed by an aging nuclear plant on the doorstep of its largest city and suggested that the City of Toronto had every right to express concern, given the likely impacts on residents and first responders of an accident at North America’s 4th oldest nuclear plant. Asked what had motivated him to speak out about Pickering, Mr. Smitherman simply replied “I’m here in my capacity as a father.”

Mr. Smitherman was speaking in favour of Councillors Glenn De Baeremaeker’s and Gord Perks’ motion that the City of Toronto request the Government of Ontario close the Pickering Nuclear Station in 2018 when its licence expires. He was among a number of speakers who addressed the threats posed by Pickering, including routine releases of radioactive tritium and the continued build up of high level radioactive waste.

Unfortunately, the executive committee adopted precisely the passive response that former Minister Smitherman warned about, and voted to defer the motion indefinitely. Deputy Mayor Minnan-Wong’s motion was supported by Mayor Tory and Councillors Crawford, Di Giorgio, Pasternak, Robinson and Thompson.

The Deputy Mayor’s motion was opposed by Councillors Ainslie, Holland, McMahon and Shiner.


July 1, 2016 Posted by | Canada, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Ontario Power Generation wants a whopping 69 per cent increase in price it gets for nuclear power

nuclear-costs1flag-canadaOPG applies for rate increases to fund nuclear station refurbishing Hamilton Spectator By Keith Leslie TORONTO, 2 June 16 — Ontario Power Generation has applied for a whopping 69 per cent increase in the amount it is paid for nuclear power over the next five years.

OPG says it needs the increase to help pay for the $12.8-billion refurbishment of the Darlington nuclear station, which the government announced in January to extend the life of the reactors by another 30 years.

The government-owned utility is also asking for a small increase — less than the rate of inflation — in the rate it’s paid for hydroelectric power……

The Ontario Clean Air Alliance says OPG’s application shows it wants nine cents a kilowatt hour for the power produced from Darlington, which is more expensive than the 8.6 cents a kWh it pays for wind power.

“Our electricity rates are already too high, and we shouldn’t increase them even further when we can actually lower our bills by choosing a cleaner and safer option,” said Alliance chair Jack Gibbons.

“Why are we putting our children at risk of a nuclear accident when there are lower-cost options?”

Gibbons said Ontario should also consider signing long-term contracts to import more clean, renewable electricity from Quebec to offset the nuclear generation……

In addition to the Darlington refurbishment, which is supposed to extend its life until 2050, OPG is also undertaking work to squeeze about four more years of life out of reactors at the Pickering nuclear generating station.

And Bruce Power is spending $13 billion to refurbish six reactors at the nuclear generating station it operates under contract to the government near Kincardine……

June 3, 2016 Posted by | Canada, politics | Leave a comment

Ontario pouring good money after bad in its failing nuclear dream

flag-canadaOntario’s misguided love affair with nuclear power, The Star, 31 May 16  Instead of seeing principled leadership in Ontario, we are seeing the opposite – a stealthy effort to keep an old and uneconomic nuclear dinosaur on life support. By JACK GIBBONS

The Wynne government in Ontario is considering spending more than $300 million to patch up Canada’s oldest nuclear generating station in hopes of keeping it running for another eight years or more. It’s kind of like deciding to buy new tires, a new transmission and a new windshield for your 20-year-old Buick LeSabre, except this mechanical dinosaur is a giant nuclear plant located in the heart of our largest urban area.

Construction on Pickering began in the 1960s and its first reactors were powered up in 1971 – the same year Led Zepplin released Stairway to Heaven. Despite 45 years of operation, its owner, Ontario Power Generation (OPG), only recently decided to see if the millions of people living around the plant are aware of its plans for what they should do in the event of an emergency at the plant. It quickly found out that a) local residents had no clue what they were supposed to do; and b) they weren’t buying OPG’s plan to “shelter in place” (stay put) during a high-level emergency.

No other nuclear plant in North America even comes close to having as many people on its doorstep as the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station. …….

Pickering is already sucking up $900 million per year in out-of-market subsidies for its power. As one of the highest-cost nuclear plants on the continent, keeping Pickering running means higher electricity rates.

And it’s not like we need its power: In 2015, Ontario exported more power than Pickering produced – and lost money doing it.

So why after promising to close Pickering by 2020 at the latest are the Liberals now working to keep it limping along?  It could be like your Buick: You bit the bullet on that costly new transmission and just can’t admit it was a big mistake. Repairs to Pickering’s reactors in the late 1990s went massively over budget and were years late in being completed.

The truth is, however, that “fixing” Pickering is like fixing your aging Buick – it is an ongoing and costly battle. One reactor has recently been offline for months for repairs and breakdowns and “incidents” are regular occurrences at North America’s fourth oldest nuclear station. Pickering was the site of the worst loss of coolant accident at a Canadian reactor, during which workers had to siphon heavy water off the floor of the containment building and back into the reactor in 1984.

Designed in the 1950s and ‘60s, Pickering is an unusual nuclear facility: It has multiple reactors sharing a single containment building and has no secondary fast shutdown system. Separate containment for individual reactors and redundant fast shutdown systems have been standard issue for most nuclear plants for years.

The real reason the government wants to keep Pickering going is that our energy planners remain some of the last people on the planet who still believe that nuclear energy is the best way to meet our need for a brightly lit home or a cold drink. Only France outranks us for dependence on nuclear energy……

The problem is, we are all going to pay the price for their love affair with this outdated technology.

June 1, 2016 Posted by | Canada, politics | 1 Comment

Canada’s wildfires – surrounding a radioactive trash site

wildfire-nukeflag-canadaThe nuclear waste site at the heart of Canada’s wildfires south of the Canadian city of Fort McMurray, in an area partly ravaged by flames, sits a nuclear waste site.

Situated at the extreme north of the Beacon Hill landfill tip, it contains some 42,500 m3 of radioactive minerals, including uranium and cesium.

But does it pose a threat to society today? According to information gained by euronews reporter Renaud Gardette, the site lies in the middle of the huge wildfires, blazing uncontrollably since May 1.

Why was the landfill created?

To understand the origins of the landfill site, we must first go back to 1982 when Canada launched an extensive exploration and containment of low-level radioactive land programme all over the territory. It was piloted by the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Office (LLRWMO).

In Fort McMurray, radioactive minerals were regularly discharged and used along the Northern Transportation Road. Built in the 1930s, the thoroughfare was initially used to transport uranium from the Port Radium mine (Northwest Territories) to Fort McMurray. From there, uranium was also transported by train to Port Hope, Ontario.

The Port Radium mine closed in 1960. Thefts and pillages occurred along the road and that is where the contamination is most visible.

The LLRWMO detected more radioactive sites around Fort McMurray. Work began in 1992 and, up to 2003, 42,500m3 of waste were sent to a specially-engineered landfill with a double layer of clay, several management systems, protection and monitoring, as well as a layer of earth and grass.

The site is monitored annually by the LLRWMO.

Does the site really exist?

The site’s existence is confirmed in several reports, including the Inventory of Radioactive Waste in Canada, published in 2012 by the LLRWMO.

What if?

Several questions have arisen. Was the site burnt in the wildfires? Have radioactive particles been emitted into the atmosphere? What is the risk to the environment?

For the moment, no specific warning has been triggered.

The response from the Canadian authorities

(Translated from French)

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories and our Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Office are responsible for managing historic low-intensity radioactive waste located in the Beacon Hill dump at Fort McMurray. The site is at the north end of the Beacon Hill landfill site, which itself is south of the city of Fort McMurray and west of Highway 63. The approximate coordinates are: 56 degrees 39 ’10 “ N, 111 degrees 20 ’56 “W.

  • CNL manages these sites on behalf of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd, the federal corporation that is ultimately responsible for the safe management of historic low-intensity radioactive waste.
  • The low-intensity waste at Beacon Hill consists of uranium ore residue, mixed with soil and placed in isolation (in a separate cell), which is covered with a thick layer of low-permeability soil, then another, dense layer of clean earth. In total, there are at least 45 centimetres of clean soil over the contaminated soil.
  • According to the information available, it appears that the site was affected by the fires. That said, this does not pose any immediate risk to the health and safety of people and the environment. There are also no concerns about the physical integrity of the cell.
  • Given the composition of the contaminated soil, that is to say, ore residue mixed with earth, there is no risk that it will catch fire. In a similar way to a field or garden, fire can ignite the grass, but the earth itself does not catch fire.
  • We continue to monitor the situation closely.

May 25, 2016 Posted by | Canada, climate change, safety | Leave a comment


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