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Small nuclear reactors make no economic sense, despite the boost by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and lobbyists.

Guess Who’s Leading the Charge for Nuclear Power in Canada?
Small reactors make no economic sense, despite the boost by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and lobbyists.
David Climenhaga The Tyee, Today | Alberta Politics 10 Jan 22,

David J. Climenhaga is an award-winning journalist, author, post-secondary teacher, poet and trade union communicator. He blogs at Follow him on Twitter at @djclimenhaga.

Small nuclear reactors don’t make any more economic sense now than they did back in the summer of 2020 when Alberta Premier Jason Kenney took to the internet to tout the supposed benefits of the largely undeveloped technology being promoted by Canada’s nuclear industry.

Now that Kenney has taken to Twitter again to claim atomic energy is a “real solution that helps reduce emissions” and that so-called small modular reactors can “strengthen and diversify our energy sector,” it’s worth taking another look at why the economics of small nuclear reactors don’t add up.

As I pointed out in 2020, “as long as natural gas is cheap and plentiful, small nuclear reactors will never make economic sense.”

Natural gas is somewhat more expensive now than it was then, but not enough to make a difference to that calculation when the massive cost of any new nuclear-energy project is considered.

Even “small modular reactors,” so named to reassure a public skittish about the term nuclear and wary of the costs and risks of atomic reactors, are extremely expensive. It would be more accurate to call them “medium-sized nuclear reactors.”

For example, two such reactors built by Russia starting in 2006 were supposed to cost US$140 million. They ended up costing US$740 million by the time the project was completed in 2019.

Getting approvals for smaller reactors is time consuming, too. As environmentalist and author Chris Turner pointed out yesterday, the first small nuclear reactor approved in the United States “submitted its application in 2017, got approval late last year, could begin producing 700MW by 2029 if all goes perfectly. Solar will add double that to Alberta’s grid by 2023.” Indeed, the estimated completion date of the NuScale Power project may be even later.

The small reactors touted by many companies, often entirely speculative ventures, are nothing more than pretty drawings in fancy brochures. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, there are about 50 concepts, but only a couple in the United States and Russia with massive amounts of government money behind them are anything more than pipedreams or stock touts’ pitches to investors.

And small nuclear reactors are less economical than big reactors, so power companies aren’t interested in building them; all but one proposed design requires enriched uranium, which Canada doesn’t produce, so they won’t do much for uranium mining in Alberta; and all the safety and waste-removal problems of big nukes continue to exist with small ones.

These points are documented in more detail my 2020 post, which also discussed why smaller reactors will never create very many jobs in Alberta, ……………………-

January 11, 2022 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Canada to be the guinea pig for America’s probably unviable small nuclear reactor.

There’s lots of enthusiasm among nuclear reactor designers, developers and national laboratories, and academic nuclear engineering departments” about SMRs, said Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists, who published a report on SMR reactor designs in early 2021. “

There’s a lot of supply but there’s not much demand, because utilities don’t want to be guinea pigs.”

cost escalation is practically inevitable.

Canada’s first new nuclear reactor in decades is an American design. Will it prompt a rethink of government support? The Globe and Mail,  MATTHEW MCCLEARN, 26 Dec 21
, Ontario Power Generation’s selection of GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy to help build a small modular reactor (SMR) at its Darlington station in Clarington, Ont., set in motion events that could shape Canada’s nuclear industry for decades to come.

OPG’s choice, announced in December, is the BWRX-300. It’s a light water reactor, the variety most popular in developed countries, and quite unlike Canada’s existing fleet of CANDU heavy water reactors. Though not exactly small – the BWRX’s 300-megawatt nameplate capacity is roughly equivalent to a large wind farm – it would produce only one-third as much electricity as traditional reactors. It would use different fuel, produce different wastes and possibly have different safety implications.
The Darlington SMR would be the first BWRX-300 ever constructed. By moving first, OPG hopes Ontario will become embedded in a global supply chain for these reactors.

“OPG ourselves, we don’t really get anything out of it – it’s a lot of work,” said Robin Manley, OPG’s vice-president of nuclear development. “Our goal is to have as many contracts signed with Canadian suppliers as we possibly can.” But that might not satisfy some critics, who’ve protested OPG’s selection of a U.S. design by GE Hitachi, which is based in North Carolina.

Ontario Power Generation chose GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy to build a light water reactor .

It does seem to confirm the end of Canada’s tradition of homegrown reactors. The BWRX-300 would be Canada’s first new reactor since Darlington Unit 4 in Ontario, completed in 1993. According to Mycle Schneider Consulting, the average age of the country’s 19 operational reactors is 38 years. Attempts to update the CANDU design proved largely fruitless; OPG and Bruce Power opted to refurbish reactors at Darlington and Bruce stations to operate another few decades, while sizing up SMRs as a possible next act.

Time is running short. This decade is widely regarded as crucial for building emissions-free generation capacity. SMRs will be late to that party even if this BWRX-300 is built on time. Delays and cost overruns, ever-present risks with any reactor, could kill its prospects.

The partnership with OPG represents a major coup for GE Hitachi, a U.S.-Japanese alliance that set up its SMR subsidiary in Canada less than a year ago. There are at least 50 SMR designs worldwide, but most exist only on paper; vendors compete vigorously to sell to experienced nuclear operators such as OPG because they represent an opportunity to build a bona fide reactor that might entice other clients. For the same reason, OPG’s decision is a blow to the losing candidates, Oakville, Ont.-based Terrestrial Energy Inc. and X-energy, an American vendor

“There’s lots of enthusiasm among nuclear reactor designers, developers and national laboratories, and academic nuclear engineering departments” about SMRs, said Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists, who published a report on SMR reactor designs in early 2021. “There’s a lot of supply but there’s not much demand, because utilities don’t want to be guinea pigs.”

Nuclear industry executives and government officials hope the Darlington SMR will be the first of many deployed in Ontario and beyond. SaskPower is also shopping; it has collaborated with OPG since 2017, and said the BWRX-300 is among its candidates. Canada has a small population, so observers doubt the country could support supply chains for multiple reactor designs.

But OPG’s selection of an American SMR has drawn some sharp criticism. Some observers assumed Terrestrial enjoyed a home turf advantage, particularly in light of the federal government’s decision to invest $20-million toward its Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR). The Society of Professional Engineers and Associates, a union representing engineers and others working on CANDU reactors, complained that “priority should have been given to Canadian design.”

“It is a slap in the face for Terrestrial,” said M.V. Ramana, professor at the University of British Columbia’s Liu Institute for Global Issues. “It is not a good sign for Canada’s nuclear industry.”

Prof. Ramana added that OPG’s decision may prompt a rethinking of government support to SMR developers. In addition to Terrestrial’s funding, Moltex Energy received $50.5-million from the federal Strategic Innovation Fund and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency to advance the Stable Salt Reactor-Wasteburner it is working on in New Brunswick. ARC Clean Energy received $20-million from New Brunswick’s government toward its ARC-100 reactor.

“If these companies are not able to persuade OPG, then maybe we should stop funding them,” he said…………………..

Unlike CANDUs, which consume unenriched uranium, light water reactors require fuel enriched to increase Uranium-235 content. Mr. Lyman said that by adopting any non-CANDU design, Canada will become dependent on enriched fuel imported from the U.S., Europe or elsewhere.

The industry would also need to learn how to dispose of unfamiliar wastes. The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), which is in the final stages of selecting an underground storage site for Canada’s radioactive spent fuel, said spent BWRX-300 fuel would generate more heat and radioactivity than CANDU fuel, but could be stored in fewer containers, placed further apart.

“We will learn from our international partners who already have plans to permanently store this type of waste in a deep geological repository,” the NWMO said in a statement.

All this assumes OPG’s reactor gets built. To begin with, the BWRX-300 actually isn’t licensed to be built anywhere. GE Hitachi is participating in the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s Vendor Design Review, through which it receives early feedback from the regulator on its reactor. ………

critics say completing the reactor by 2028 is a tall order. According to Mycle Schneider Consulting, one in eight reactors that have begun construction since 1951 were never connected to the grid. Many survivors, meanwhile, arrived years later than promised.

Mr. Manley said 2028 is “an aspirational goal” rather than a hard deadline. The project schedule will firm up over the next two years.

OPG has yet to publish a cost estimate, but according to a report published by PwC, the SMR project “is expected to spend $2-billion over seven years.” That’s already higher than the US$1-billion price tag GE Hitachi promised for a BWRX-300 in 2019. (In public presentations, GE executives declared that keeping the price below US$1-billion was crucial to its plans to exponentially grow its customer base.)……

Prof. Ramana said cost escalation is practically inevitable……….

December 27, 2021 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Nuclear Plants Masquerading as Climate-Friendly Shouldn’t Qualify for Green Finance

Nuclear Plants Masquerading as Climate-Friendly Shouldn’t Qualify for Green Finance

December 17, 2021 Gaye Taylor,

Bruce Power’s recent issuance of C$500 million in green bonds to help extend the life of Ontario’s biggest nuclear power plant is being touted as a critical step toward decarbonization. But it could also be seen as a dangerous and time wasting dead-end, a corruption of the very notion of green financing.

According to Jonathan Hackett, head of sustainable finance at BMO Capital Markets and co-lead green structuring agent for Bruce Power, nuclear is necessary to the net-zero transition, writes the Globe and Mail.

According to Hackett, the urgent need to green the energy and power sectors means nuclear power is a worthy recipient of green finance.

But confronting the notion that nuclear power is “green” are unresolved concerns about what to do with reactor waste products, as well as the acute dangers inherent in nuclear power plants, with the tragedy at Japan’s Fukushima plant the most recent example.

As for the claim that nuclear is essential to avoiding climate meltdown, independent experts say the world has neither the time, the funds, nor the expertise to bring the expensive and notoriously slow sector to bear in time to shift the climate crisis in any meaningful way.

And this reality doesn’t change as the hype around small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) ramps up. “There is no SMR promoter suggesting a prototype could be licenced, built, and operating by the end of this decade,” said Mycle Schneider, author of the annual World Nuclear Industry Status Report, at a webinar hosted by University of British Columbia in October. “That means—if ever, likely not—a commercialization could start only in the second half of the 2030s.”

Noting that “the industry has never kept its promises on schedules and budgets,” Schneider added, “we have no time, money, and brainpower to waste on fantasy PowerPoint designs.”

Early this month, Ontario Power Generation and GE Hitachi triumphantly announced plans to bring an SMR into service at the Darlington nuclear generating station “as early as 2028”. But even if they managed to bring the project in on time and on budget—a practice that has never been the industry’s strong suit—the project would just be one expensive generation source in a decarbonizing economy that needs far more electricity, and vastly more energy efficiency, far faster than SMRs can deliver.

And this year’s WNISR report was only the latest to conclude that the nuclear industry outside China is already in decline, with its output in the United States dropping to its lowest level since 1995. In France, a former nuclear leader, atomic generation dropped to 1985 levels.

Faced with such an implosion in the prospects of its traditional reactors, the nuclear industry has seized upon SMRs as a ticket to a new revenue track. But SMRs will never be ready in time to shift the trajectory of the climate crisis. Even if they worked, “it would take centuries to build enough to make a difference,” Schneider said.

Schneider is not alone that view.

“Betting on nuclear as a climate solution is just sticking our heads in the sand because SMR technology is decades away, extremely expensive, and comes with a nasty pile of security and waste headaches,” Ontario Clean Air Alliance Chair Jack Gibbons wrote last year, responding to then-natural resources minister Seamus O’Regan’s full-throated endorsement of the SMR storyline.

“That our government would be this gullible is distressing, especially given the havoc already being wreaked by a changing climate,” he added.

Jonathan Porritt, founder of the UK’s Forum4theFuture, echoed Gibbons’ view in a March opinion piece for The Guardian. He warned of a nuclear sector now “straining every sinew to present itself as an invaluable ally” in the global push for net-zero by 2050.” Yet the problems that have long dogged the industry remain unchanged: “ever-higher costs, seemingly inevitable delays, no solutions to the nuclear waste challenge, security and proliferation risks.”

December 20, 2021 Posted by | Canada, climate change | Leave a comment

Canada to get its version of the mythical beast – the Small Nuclear Reactor – GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) BWRX-300

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) will build a GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) BWRX-300 small modular reactor (SMR) at its Darlington Nuclear Station in Clarington, Ontario, marking a major triumph for the nuclear vendor in a stiff competition for the much-watched utility-scale project.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) will build a GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) BWRX-300 small modular reactor (SMR) at its Darlington Nuclear Station in Clarington, Ontario, marking a major triumph for the nuclear vendor in a stiff competition for the much-watched utility-scale project.

OPG announced the selection of the GE Hitachi BWRX-300 SMR over competitors X-energy and Terrestrial Energy in a live stream on Dec. 2. The utility said it will now work with GE Hitachi on the SMR engineering, design, planning, preparing the licensing and permitting materials, and performing site preparation activities. The companies are targeting a “mutual goal of constructing Canada’s first commercial, grid-scale SMR, projected to be completed as early as 2028.” Site preparation, which will include
“installation of the necessary construction services,” is slated to begin in the spring of 2022, pending appropriate approvals. OPG additionally said it will apply to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
(CNSC) for a License to Construct the SMR by the end of 2022.

 Power Mag 2nd Dec 2021

December 6, 2021 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Gordon Edwards discusses a Canadian documentary on the ”Nuclear Revival” and small nuclear reactors.

Gordon Edwards, 1 December 21, On November 24, 2021, APTN broadcast a half-hour TV documentary about High Level Nuclear Waste in Canada, with some extra attention paid to the new, unorthodox irradiated fuels that would result from the proposed new reactors called SMRs. Here is a link to the program, entitled Nuclear Revival: 

A couple of observations that crossed my mind while watching the report by Journalist Christopher Read –
(1) The fuel bundles should be thought of as CONTAINERS of the actual radioactive wastes, which are locked up inside those solid bundles.  There are many different radioactive elements (all of them human-made, most of them not found in unspoiled nature) that can escape from the fuel bundles as gases, liquids or solids. They all have different chemical and biological properties but they are all cancer-causing elements and can damage genetic materials like DNA molecules.

Even though the fuel bundles may not move an inch from where they have been emplaced, these other materials can leak out or leach out and find their way to the environment of living things. Time is on their side!! Damaged fuel bundles are analogous to a broken bottle – the container is still there, but the contents (some at least) have escaped.

(2) Concerning SMRs, even if these new nuclear reactors all worked very well, which is doubtful, they will be terribly expensive and very slow to reach a level of commercial deployment (and profitability) – at least 10 to 20 years – so they are too costly and too slow to respond to the climate crisis TODAY.

Solar and wind are much cheaper than nuclear, they are proven and can be quickly deployed, while energy efficiency measures are even cheaper and even faster to implement. We do not yet know how much progress can be made using these alternatives but clearly they should have the first priority – with nuclear as a wait-and-see backup possibility which very likely will not be needed at all (as in the case of Germany, which has phased out nuclear – nearly finished – and now is focussed on phasing out coal, using renewables and efficiency.)

December 2, 2021 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, spinbuster | 3 Comments

9 top US nuclear no-proliferation experts write to Prime Minister Trudeau requesting a review of Canada’s planned nuclear reprocessing to recover plutonium.

 The latest of three open letters to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from US non-proliferation. experts is copied below [on original] . The previous two letters are linked in footnotes #1 and #2. [on original]

In these three letters, a group of nine distinguished nuclear policy experts are asking for a top level Canadian government review of the nuclear weapons proliferation dangers associated
with the planned reprocessing of Canadian used nuclear fuel to recover the plutonium for use in a proposed new reactor in New Brunswick.

These nine experts have worked under six U.S. presidents: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama; and hold professorships at the Harvard Kennedy School, University of Maryland, Georgetown University, University of Texas at Austin, George Washington University, and Princeton University.

 CCNR 30th Nov 2021

December 2, 2021 Posted by | - plutonium, Canada, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

”Nuclear Revival” for Canada? Gordon Edwards discusses the latest propaganda.


Gordon Edwards, 27 Nov 21, Christopher Read’s latest half-hour documentary on the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) discusses its efforts to convince some small community in Ontario to receive all of Canada’s high level radioactive wastes for deep burial. 

These are the most toxic materials ever produced by any industry. Of the hundreds of kinds of radioactive poisons contained in the used nuclear fuel, only a handful existed on Earth in significant amounts before 1939. They are created in large quantities inside nuclear reactors.

 NWMO is owned by the same companies that make the radioactive poisons in the first place – and they have no intention of stopping. They want to keep right on mass-producing the highly dangerous byproducts indefinitely. Because they have to wait 30 years before moving these deadly wastes – they are literally and figuratively “too hot” to move sooner — there will always be a catastrophic amount left unburied at the surface no matter how fast they bury the older, somewhat cooler wastes. 

Meanwhile they will be burdening communities with a permanent radioactive  legacy, including contamination caused by unpacking and repackaging millions of embrittled fuel bundles right at the surface, beside the proposed waste dump. Any damage to any of these fuel bundles during handling, even small  cracks, will allow radioactive materials to escape and some of it will inevitably enter the sir we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, or the soil we walk on.

New reactors are untested, exorbitantly expensive, and will take 10 to 20 years to become available, if ever. They are a DDD = Dirty, Dangerous Distraction from the real job of cutting greenhouse gases now, not 10 years from now.  Energy efficiency and renewables can be implemented in a single building season. Wind and solar and efficiency measures are far cheaper and much faster to implement than new nuclear. 

When your house is on fire, it is time to grab a bucket or a fire hose and pour water on it – out the fire out!  This is no time to sit down and design a new, improved sprinkler system for future use.

 Climate change is here now. Action is urgent.

Investing in new nuclear plants is just “kicking the can down the road”. Canada’s Environment Commissioner points out that Canada has the worst record for fighting climate change of any country in the G7, as our greenhouse gas emissions have increased steadily since Trudeau was first elected in 2915. Five of the G7 countries have reduced their GHG emissions, while the sixth has increased GHG emissions at a much slower rate than Canada has. 

To invest in unproven and dangerous nuclear plants now will guarantee that no progress will be made for at least 10 to 20 years, minimum. And it will give us more radioactive waste, much of it even more dangerous than the waste we already have. Can we afford to encourage this kind of behaviour with lavish government subsidies?

November 29, 2021 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, spinbuster | 2 Comments

Financial hypocrisy in Canada – the pretence that nuclear power is green and cheap

A Global First: BMO Supports Bruce Power with World’s First Nuclear Green Financing Framework, Yahoo Finance  TORONTO, Nov. 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ – Bruce Power, Ontario’s leading private sector power provider, has taken another industry-leading step in its environmental [?], social and governance strategy by launching the world’s first green [?] finance framework with nuclear use of proceeds.

Acting as Co-Lead Green Structuring Agent, BMO Financial Group (TSX:BMO) (NYSE:BMO), today announced the successful issuance of CAD $500 Million in green [?] bonds under the framework, which is designed to guide future issues of green bonds with a focus on Bruce Power’s Life-Extension Program and investments related to increasing the output of nuclear units and extending the plant’s life beyond 2060.

The framework sets out the guidelines in accordance with the Green Bond Principles issued by the International Capital Markets Association (ICMA) and the Green Loan Principles issued by the Loan Market Association (LMA) and Loan Syndications and Trading Association (LSTA) – ensuring the proceeds are exclusively allocated to green projects and activities that promote environmental sustainability and deliver clear environmental benefits.

CICERO Shades of Green, an internationally-recognized leading provider of independent review and second-party opinions on green financing frameworks, [REALLY?} has given Bruce Power’s Green Finance Framework the highest possible governance score of Excellent, and an overall designation of CICERO Medium Green, acknowledging the role of nuclear power in mitigating climate change and recognizing Bruce Power’s strong risk management processes.

Clean nuclear power is crucial to fighting climate change, and today’s announcement marks another industry-leading step in the company’s environmental, social and governance strategy,” said Mike Rencheck, Bruce Power’s President and CEO…..

“We’re proud to partner with Bruce Power to build a green framework that facilitates the alignment of the company’s business and financing activities to support nuclear power’s critical role in mitigating climate change,” said Jonathan Hackett, Head, Sustainable Finance, BMO Capital Markets. ……….

November 23, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, Canada, climate change | Leave a comment

Climate change intensifies disastrous floods in Canada

A state of emergency has been declared in the Canadian western province of
British Columbia after a major storm cut road and rail links in the region.
The Canadian Armed Forces have been deployed to help thousands of stranded
residents who have been trapped since the storm hit overnight on Sunday.
Local officials warned on Thursday that the price tag to rebuild could
exceed C$1bn ($790m, £590m). One woman was killed in a landslide, and two
people are missing. Officials expect more fatalities to be confirmed in the
coming days. One man caught up in the storm told the BBC the scenes
afterwards were like “Armageddon”.

 BBC 18th Nov 2021

 Canada floods: 18,000 people still stranded in ‘terrible, terrible
disaster’. Alarm grows about climate change in British Columbia after
summer wildfires wiped out vegetation that could have slowed flooding.

 Guardian 19th Nov 2021

November 20, 2021 Posted by | Canada, climate change | Leave a comment

Canada’s Environment Minister refuses to declare his support for nuclear energy

Guilbeault refuses to declare his support of nuclear energy iPolitics, By Aidan Chamandy. Nov 5, 2021 Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault says “it’s not up to the government to decide” which sources of energy will reduce the country’s greenhouse-gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

Nor would he say explicitly whether he supports nuclear energy, which he’d opposed in his work before entering politics in 2019……

Before running for the Liberals in 2019, Guilbeault worked for decades as an environmental activist for Greenpeace and Équiterre.

In 2018, he said the Pickering nuclear plant in Ontario should be shut down and replaced with other forms of renewable energy.

November 6, 2021 Posted by | Canada, environment, politics | Leave a comment

War hawks quietly positioning Canada to participate in US-led Ballistic Missile Defence program

War hawks quietly positioning Canada to participate in US-led Ballistic Missile Defence program,  The Canada Files: Joyce Nelson  , 20 Sept 21, 

During the 2021 federal election campaign, there has been almost no emphasis or discussion in the media on the Liberal government’s plan to spend more than $553 billion on the military over the next 20 years, including the awarding of contracts for purchase of military fighter jets and armed drones in the next few months. The contracts for new frigates have already been awarded, including design components by Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and BAE Systems.

Even more telling, there has been virtual silence about the fact that Canada is quietly being moved into position to participate in U.S. ballistic missile defence (BMD) – a hot-button issue in Canada since December 2001, when U.S. President George W. Bush withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

Since then, the U.S. has spent more than $100 billion attempting to build a missile shield, and for almost two decades the U.S. and defense industry lobbyists (Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin) have been pressuring Canada to join in.

In January 2021, CBC News reported, “The recent Liberal defence policy reaffirmed the 2005 decision by Paul Martin’s government to remain on the sidelines of any continental BMD effort, despite pleas from both the Senate and House of Commons defence committees to reconsider joining.”

Only six months later, however, that Liberal policy appears to have dramatically changed.

In fact, the day before the election call, Canada’s Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a joint statement agreeing to “modernize” NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, and outlining “priority areas for new investments”.

Their August 14th joint statement says: “Canada and the United States share a desire to coordinate in fielding new capabilities to complement and eventually replace the North Warning System with more advanced technological solutions as soon as possible, including next-generation over-the-horizon radar systems that can dramatically improve early warning and persistent surveillance of North American airspace and approaches. Ensuring effective awareness ultimately requires a system-of-systems approach including a network of Canadian and U.S. sensors from the sea floor to outer space.”

“System-of-systems” is Pentagon jargon for BMD.

Political/Defense analyst Keith Jones has stated that this joint commitment is meant to pave the way “for Canada’s participation in the US ballistic missile shield, whose underlying purpose is to enable the US to wage ‘winnable’ nuclear war.” 

That may be why there has been so much silence around the joint statement. If no one knows about it, or what it means, then there can be no opposition to it.

A Bit of History………

Renewed BMD Rhetoric……….

Increased Insecurity Both Russia and China have warned that the Pentagon’s relentless pursuit of ballistic missile defense destabilizes security for their countries and causes nuclear escalation.  

Both Russia and China have warned that the Pentagon’s relentless pursuit of ballistic missile defense destabilizes security for their countries and causes nuclear escalation.  

As Canadian peace activist Peggy Mason, president of the Rideau Institute, recently wrote, “So the untold billions spent by the USA on nuclear modernization and missile defences have played a key role in convincing China that it, too, must increase its nuclear arsenal. Can there be clearer proof of the utter disconnect between the US nuclear posture and the security of that country (and its allies)?”

For a thorough analysis of BMD, a must-read is the lengthy July 26, 2021 report by Ernie Regehr, called “Canada and the Limits to Missile Defence,” available on The Simons Foundation website. Regehr is particularly scathing about U.S. “first strike,” pre-emptive attacks and the chronic strategic destabilization and instability that BMD is causing around the world.

Perhaps a deeper dive into the origins of the missile shield concept will reveal the urgency of stopping it.

A Deeper Dive…….

Canada & BMD Presently, the NDP is further embracing militarism. Their current party platform complains about “outdated” military hardware

and states : “In contracting for new military equipment, including ships and fighter jets, New Democrats will ensure maximum industrial benefits and jobs. This will help ensure the survival of healthy shipbuilding and aerospace industries all across Canada.”

With anti-Russia and China rhetoric so paramount, with militarism and military spending so rampant, and with Canada’s war hawks (especially Harjit Sajjan and Chrystia Freeland) eager to please the U.S., it looks like BMD is quietly back on the federal agenda in Canada.

Ernie Regehr asks the important questions about ballistic missile defence: “Would Canada want to be partnered to a system headed for the weaponization of space? Would Canada want to be a partner in a defence system that depends on pre-emptive attacks?” 

Regehr urges that Canada “maintain its decades-long wariness of strategic missile defence” and instead pursue, “in the company of like-minded states, the arms control/disarmament and prevention strategies on which Canadian and global security really do depend.”

October 29, 2021 Posted by | Canada, weapons and war | 1 Comment

South Bruce citizens want a referendum on plan to permanently house Canada’s nuclear waste.

South Bruce, Ont. citizens push for referendum to decide location of nuclear waste,  Scott Miller, CTV News London Videographer,  25 Oct 21,  TEESWATER, ONT. – Michelle Stein is putting up signs around her community she hopes will lead to referendum on whether South Bruce should permanently house Canada’s most radioactive nuclear waste.“That’s the fair way to do it. People that see benefits from the project can vote yes, those of us that feel the risks are too great we get to vote no,” says the chair of Protect our Waterways, a citizens’ group opposing plans to bury high-level nuclear waste in the Municipality of South Bruce.

  • Stein believes a binding referendum during next October’s municipal election would be the best way for the 5,600 citizens of the Municipality of South Bruce to determine their willingness to host Canada’s first permanent nuclear waste facility, under 1,500 acres of farmers fields north of Teeswater…………

  • The Nuclear Waste Management Organization say they’ll decide whether Ignace, QC or South Bruce will house Canada’s first permanent nuclear waste facility in 2023.

How communities decide their willingness to do so, is up to each community. South Bruce’s Willingness Study final report will be before council in November.

Protect our Waterways will be going door to door in South Bruce this month and next, to try and get residents to sign a petition urging South Bruce council to commit to a binding referendum on the nuclear waste topic in time for the 2022 municipal election.

“This is a decision that will forever change our community, and every single person deserves a voice, and deserves to have their vote counted,” says  Stein.

October 26, 2021 Posted by | Canada, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Problems and public opposition to the plan to store high level nuclear wastes under the Great Lakes

Nuclear Question: Debate continues over long-term storage of nuclear waste in the Great Lakes. Great Lakes Now, By Andrew Reeves, 25 Oct 21,

Canada’s plan to store spent nuclear fuel 1,600 feet below ground in the Great Lakes basin, some 30 miles from Lake Huron, is continuing to ruffle feathers throughout the Great Lake states.

Earlier this month, U.S. lawmakers called out the Canadian plan for failing to prioritize the health of the Great Lakes and the 40 million residents who depend on it for clean drinking water ahead of its own energy needs.

Michigan Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee is leading a 20-member bipartisan group calling on President Joe Biden to pressure Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to halt the plans for storing an anticipated 57,000 tons of high-level radioactive material within the basin.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, in a statement on the ongoing legal battle over the future of Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline, accused the Canadian federal government of “adding even more risk to our waters” by allowing plans to store radioactive nuclear waste in a 1,400-acre underground warehouse to proceed.

Yet despite concerns within the basin from politicians and environmental groups, and unrest among local farmers worried about water contamination and potentially tanking property values, the project is moving ahead as planned. Geologic testing at one location in southern Ontario began this spring.

Even so, determining the long-term fate of Canada’s spent nuclear fuel remains far from settled as rifts develop within the host community, and between Canada and frustrated U.S. lawmakers.

“There’s a divide taking place,” Canadian Member of Parliament Brian Masse noted on a recent tour of the proposed South Bruce site with concerned residents. “I do believe there needs to be some responsibility taken on a federal level to make sure our communities aren’t broken in this process.”………

When spent nuclear fuel bundles are removed from a reactor they are currently interred in a water-filled pool for up to seven years until radioactivity decreases. From there the rods are relocated to dry storage containers made of 20-inch-thick, high-density concrete lined with steel half an inch thick. These storage facilities have a lifespan of roughly 50 years, and Canada has been generating nuclear power since the early 1960s. While the dry storage silos can be refurbished to extend their use, it does nothing to address the long-term need for safe storage solutions.

Experts at NWMO settled on a deep geological repository as the preferred storage option in 2007 after three years of discussion with European nuclear engineers.

The basic premise of the DGR is deceptively simple: bury the spent fuel. If NWMO could identify a willing host community that is situated in an area with suitable geology, the stage would be set to spend $23 billion over 40 years to construct a massive underground labyrinth of tunnels bored into rock that, in total, would be capable of storing the 57,000 tons of spent fuel that Canada currently has in cement-encased copper canisters. The aboveground footprint of buildings would be little more than a mile across.

But the question remains: Where should three million bundles of spent nuclear fuel be stored for what is, essentially, the rest of time?

Identifying a willing host community

The process for identifying a willing host community began in 2008.

From an initial pool of 22 potential locations across Canada, on-site investigations quickly whittled that list down to two, both of which are in Ontario: South Bruce, at a location some 30 miles from Lake Huron, and Ignace in northwestern Ontario. (The Ignace location, northwest of Lake Superior, is not within the Great Lakes basin; rather, it sits within the Winnipeg River basin. Borehole drilling to determine the suitability of the bedrock beneath the proposed site began in Ignace in 2017.)…………

U.S. lawmakers aren’t the only ones concerned about the proposed DGR. Public opposition to the proposal among South Bruce residents has been mounting steadily. ………….

October 26, 2021 Posted by | Canada, wastes, water | Leave a comment

Ontario’s Unfunded Nuclear Decommissioning Liability is in the $18-$27 Billion CAD Range

 Ontario’s Unfunded Nuclear Decommissioning Liability is in the $18-$27 Billion CAD Range    Editorial Team, August 6 2021 Late last year I worked up the likely amount of public money that would have to be thrown at the nuclear industry in order to successfully and safely decommission the 100 operational reactors and the now shut down ones. Unsurprisingly, the nuclear industry had been very optimistic in its estimates of decommissioning costs and timeframes, when the global empirical averages were trending to a billion USD and 100 years per reactor.

Recently I was asked by an Ontario journalist what I thought the likely situation in Ontario would be, and whether the decommissioning trusts were equally underfunded. I was unsurprised to find that Canada is in the same boat as the US, with highly optimistic schedule and cost projections which belie Canadian empirical experience with the CANDU reactor, and that the fund had nowhere near the money necessary for the job. Let’s run the numbers. [diagram on original]

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is the chunk of the provincial utility that was carved apart in the late 1990s by the Mike Harris Conservatives to handle generation alone. It operates 18 aging CANDU reactors across three sites: Bruce, Pickering, and Darlington.

Table of operational nuclear generation reactors in Ontario

OPG has a nuclear decommissioning fund of about $5 billion CAD or US$4 billion right now. If the experience of other countries on the actual cost of a billion USD per reactor and an actual timeline of decommissioning of a century holds true, and I see no reason why it doesn’t, that means that there is currently a $17.5 billion CAD gap in Ontario, in addition to the existing $19.3 billion CAD in debt still being serviced from their construction. When the government of the era split up the utility, it moved all of the debt off of the components and into general debt. One of the many appropriate and sensible things that the McGuinty Administration did in the 2000s, in addition to shutting down coal generation entirely, was to move the debt back into the utility and set about servicing it from utility bills.

Most of the reactors at Bruce Nuclear are aging out, with several over 40 years old and the remainder approaching 40. Darlington’s are around 30, so they have a bit of runway. Pickering’s reactors are going to be shut down in 2024 and 2025 and start decommissioning in 2028. While refurbishment could bridge Ontario’s for another 20 years in many cases, that’s expensive and typically won’t pass any economic viability assessment compared to alternatives.

The likelihood is that all reactors in Ontario will reach end of life by 2035, and be replaced by some combination of renewable energy and HVDC transmission from neighboring jurisdictions, with both Manitoba and Quebec having excellent, low-carbon hydroelectric to spare.

Does the empirical experience of shutting down CANDU reactors track to the roughly billion USD that’s seen for other reactors? According to the World Nuclear Association, no.

The fourth unit is Gentilly 2, a more modern Candu 6 type, which was shut down at the end of 2012 after 30 years operation. It is being defuelled and the heavy water was to be treated over 18 months to mid-2014. A decommissioning licence was issued for 2016 to 2026 and the main part of the reactor will be closed up and left for 40 years to allow radioactivity to decay before demolition. All 27,000 fuel bundles are expected to be in dry storage (Macstor) by 2020. The decommissioning cost is put at C$ 1.8 billion over 50 years.”

That translates to US$1.44 billion, so it would appear as if CANDUs are on the expensive side to decommission. If that holds true, Ontario’s gap is actually in the range of $27 billion CAD.

Nuclear decommissioning funding comes from reactors operating revenue. In the US, it’s 0.01 to 0.02 cents per kWh as a set aside. I wasn’t able to find the required set aside for Ontario’s fleet, but obviously they aren’t setting aside sufficient funds now, or have absurdly optimistic fund growth expectations. They only have a decade to set aside more money from operating reactors, and have only set aside $5 billion CAD after 50 years, so the most generous assumption is that they will set aside perhaps $7 billion CAD in the OPG fund by end of life of the reactors, and have a liability for decommissioning of $15.5 to $27 billion CAD. For the next step, let’s assume $20 billion CAD for the sake of round numbers.

Given the likelihood of all of Ontario’s reactors being off of the grid by 2035, with major decommissioning occurring every few years until then, the kWh generated by Ontario’s nuclear fleet from now through 2060 will be in the range of about 1000 TWh assuming there are no lengthy outages at any of the plants, which to be clear is an awful lot of low carbon electricity.

However, $20 billion is a big number too. It turns into about 19 cents per kWh if you only count electricity generated from today through end of life for the reactors. It’s obviously a lot lower if you calculated from beginning of the lifetime of the reactors. However you count it though, that’s only the unfunded Ontario liability, and it’s on top of subsidized security costs Canada and Ontario and municipalities bear, and it’s on top of the outstanding $19.3 billion in debt that has only been receiving servicing on the interest since the McGuinty government brought it back into the utility. It’s likely that the majority of that debt will be outstanding in 2035 still, as it has gone from $20 billion to $19.3 billion in the last 11 years, so expecting it to be gone by 2035 is not realistic.

So yes, Ontario’s nuclear program will be a fiscal burden on Ontarians to the tune of around $40 billion CAD which will be spent through roughly 2135, finally being paid off by the great-grandchildren of babies born in 2021.

Nuclear, the gift that keeps on giving.

This article was originally published by

Read the original article here.

October 2, 2021 Posted by | Canada, decommission reactor | Leave a comment

Nuclear power: Why molten salt reactors are problematic and Canada investing in them is a waste

China’smolten salt nuclear reactor

Nuclear power: Why molten salt reactors are problematic and Canada investing in them is a waste, MV Ramana, Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British ColumbiaSeptember 15, 2021 

Should an MSR be built, it will also saddle society with the challenge of dealing with the radioactive waste it will produce. This is especially difficult for MSRs because the waste is in chemical forms that are “not known to occur in nature” and it is unclear “which, if any, disposal environment could accommodate this high-level waste.” The Union of Concerned Scientists has also detailed the safety and security risks associated with MSR designs.

 One of the beneficiaries of the run-up to a potential federal election has been the nuclear energy industry, specifically companies that are touting new nuclear reactor designs called small modular reactors. The largest two financial handouts have been to two companies, both developing a specific class of these reactors, called molten salt reactors (MSRs).

First, in October 2020, Canada’s minister of innovation, science and industry announced a $20-million grant to Ontario-based Terrestrial Energy and its integral molten salt reactor (IMSR) design. In March 2021, New Brunswick-based Moltex received $50.5 million from the Strategic Innovation Fund and Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

As a physicist who has analyzed different nuclear reactor designs, including small modular reactors, I believe that molten salt reactors are unlikely to be successfully deployed anytime soon. MSRs face difficult technical problems, and cannot be counted on to produce electricity consistently.

How they work

Molten salt reactors use melted chemicals like lithium fluoride or magnesium chloride to remove the heat produced within the reactor. In many MSRs, the fuel is also dissolved in a molten salt.

These designs are very different from traditional reactor designs — currently, the Canada Deuterium Uranium (CANDU) design dominates Canada’s nuclear energy landscape. CANDU uses heavy water (water with deuterium, the heavier isotope of hydrogen) to transport heat, slow down or “moderate” neutrons produced during fission, and natural uranium fabricated into solid pellets as fuel. Slower neutrons are more effective in triggering fission reactions as compared to highly energetic, or fast, neutrons.

Terrestrial’s IMSR is fuelled by uranium which contains higher concentrations of uranium-235, a lighter isotope as compared to uranium found in nature (natural uranium), which is used in CANDU reactors. The enriched uranium is dissolved in a fluoride salt in the IMSR. The IMSR also uses graphite, instead of heavy water used in CANDU reactors, to moderate neutrons.

Moltex’s Stable Salt Reactor (SSR), on the other hand, uses a mixture of uranium and plutonium and other elements, dissolved in a chloride salt and placed inside a solid assembly, as fuel. It does not use any material to slow down neutrons.

Because of the different kinds of fuel used, these MSR designs need special facilities — not present in Canada currently — to fabricate their fuel. The enriched uranium for the IMSR must be produced using centrifuges, while the Moltex design proposes to use a special chemical process called pyroprocessing to produce the plutonium required to fuel it. Pyroprocessing is extremely costly and unreliable.

Both processes are intimately linked to the potential to make fissile materials used in nuclear weapons. Earlier this year, nine non-proliferation experts from the United States wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressing serious concerns “about the technology Moltex proposes to use.”

Difficult questions

Experience with MSRs has not been very encouraging either. All current designs draw upon the only two MSRs ever built: the 1954 Aircraft Reactor Experiment that ran for just 100 hours and the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment that operated intermittently from 1965 to 1969. Over those four years, the latter reactor’s operations were interrupted 225 times; of these, only 58 were planned. The remaining were due to various unanticipated technical problems. In other words, the reactor had to be shut down at least once every four out of five weeks — that is not what one would expect of a reliable power plant.

Even the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission that had funded the U.S. MSR program for nearly two decades raised difficult questions about the technology in a devastating 1972 report. Many of the problems identified continue to be technical challenges confronting MSR designs.

Another basic problem with MSRs is that the materials used to manufacture the various reactor components will be exposed to hot salts that are chemically corrosive, while being bombarded by radioactive particles. So far, there is no material that can perform satisfactorily in such an environment. A 2018 review from the Idaho National Laboratory could only recommended that “a systematic development program be initiated” to develop new alloys that might work better. There is, of course, no guarantee that the program will be successful.

These problems and others have been identified by various research laboratories, ranging from France’s Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire (IRSN) to the Nuclear Innovation and Research Office in the United Kingdom. Their conclusion: molten salt reactors are still far from proven.

As the IRSN put it in 2015: “numerous technological challenges remain to be overcome before the construction of an MSR can be considered,” going as far as saying that it does not envision construction of such reactors “during the first half of this century.”

Should an MSR be built, it will also saddle society with the challenge of dealing with the radioactive waste it will produce. This is especially difficult for MSRs because the waste is in chemical forms that are “not known to occur in nature” and it is unclear “which, if any, disposal environment could accommodate this high-level waste.” The Union of Concerned Scientists has also detailed the safety and security risks associated with MSR designs.

Problematic solutions

The Liberal government’s argument for investing in molten salt reactors is that nuclear power is necessary to mitigate climate change. There are good reasons to doubt this claim. But even if one were to ignore those reasons, the problems with MSRs laid out here show that they cannot be deployed for decades.

The climate crisis is far more urgent. Investing in technologies that are proven to be problematic is no way to deal with this emergency.

he Liberal government’s 

September 16, 2021 Posted by | Canada, Reference, technology | Leave a comment