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NuScale and Ontario Power Generation (OPG) trying to make Small Nuclear Reactors happen in Canada

NuScale partners with Ontario Power Generation to bring small nuclear reactors to Canada, The Chemical Engineer Amanda Doyle, 9 Nov 18, NUSCALE has signed a memorandum of understanding with Ontario Power Generation (OPG) in a bid to bring NuScale’s small modular reactors (SMRs) to the Canadian market.
OPG has agreed to support NuScale in its vendor design review with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. The review will ensure that the design meets Canadian nuclear regulatory requirements and expectations. OPG will also assist in the evaluation of development, licensing, and deployment of NuScale’s first facility in Canada.  ………

November 10, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, Canada | Leave a comment

? Canada’s nuclear regulator wants Small Nuclear Reactors exempted from full Environmental Assessment

Federal nuclear regulator urges government to exempt smaller nuclear
reactors from full Environmental Assessment panel review, Globe and Mail 6th Nov 2018 -(subscribers only)

November 10, 2018 Posted by | Canada, environment, politics, safety | Leave a comment

Small Modular Reactors not commercially viable, but nuclear companies want the government handouts

there is no market for the expensive electricity that SMRs will generate. Many companies presumably enter this business because of the promise of government funding. No company has invested large sums of its own money to commercialize SMRs.
NRCan and other such institutions are regurgitating industry propaganda and wasting money on technologies that will never be economical or contribute to any meaningful mitigation of climate change. There is no justification for such expensive distractions, especially as the climate problem becomes more urgent. 

Are Thousands of New Nuclear Generators in Canada’s Future? is pushing a new smaller, modular nuclear plant that could only pay off if mass produced. By M.V. RamanaToday |, 7 Nov 18  M. V. Ramana is the Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at UBC, and the author of The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India, Penguin Books, New Delhi (2012)

Canada’s government is about to embrace a new generation of small nuclear reactors that do not make economic sense.

Amidst real fears that climate change will wreak devastating effects if we don’t shift away from fossil fuels, the idea that Canada should get deeper into nuclear energy might seem freshly attractive to former skeptics.

For a number of reasons, however, skepticism is still very much warranted.

On Nov. 7, Natural Resources Canada will officially launch something called the Small Modular Reactor Roadmap. The roadmap was previewed in February of this year and is the next step in the process set off by the June 2017 “call for a discussion around Small Modular Reactors in Canada” issued by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, which is interested in figuring out the role the organization “can play in bringing this technology to market.”

Environmental groups and some politicians have spoken out against this process. A petition signed by nearly two dozen civil society groups has opposed the “development and deployment of SMRs when renewable, safer and less financially, socially and environmentally costly alternatives exist.”

SMRs, as the name suggests, produce relatively small amounts of electricity in comparison with currently common nuclear power reactors. The last set of reactors commissioned in Canada is the four at Darlington. These started operating between 1990 and 1993 and can generate 878 megawatts of electricity (although, on average, they only generate around 75 to 85 per cent of that). In comparison, SMRs are defined as reactors that generate 300 MW or less — as low as 5 MW even. For further comparison, the Site C dam being built in northeastern B.C. is expected to provide 1,100 MW and BC Hydro’s full production capacity is about 11,000 MW.

Various nuclear institutions, such as Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, Canadian Nuclear Association and the CANDU Owners Group are strongly supportive of SMRs. Last October, Mark Lesinski, president and CEO of CNL announced: “Small modular reactors, or SMRs, represent a key area of interest to CNL. As part of our long-term strategy, announced earlier this year, CNL established the ambitious goal of siting a new SMR on a CNL site by 2026.”

Likewise, the CANDU Owners Group announced that it was going to use “their existing nuclear expertise to lead the next wave of nuclear generation — small modular reactors, that offer the potential for new uses of nuclear energy while at the same time offering the benefits of existing nuclear in combating climate change while providing reliable, low-cost electricity.”

A fix for climate change, says Ottawa

Such claims about the benefits of SMRs seems to have influenced the government too. Although NRCan claims to be just “engaging partners and stakeholders, as well as Indigenous representatives, to understand priorities and challenges related to the development and deployment of SMRs in Canada,” its personnel seem to have already decided that SMRs should be developed in Canada.

“The Government of Canada recognizes the potential of SMRs to help us deliver on a number of priorities, including innovation and climate change,” declared Parliamentary Secretary Kim Rudd. Diane Cameron, director of the Nuclear Energy Division at Natural Resources Canada, is confident: “I think we will see the deployment of SMRs in Canada for sure.” Such talk is premature, and unwise.

Canada is a late entrant to this game of talking up SMRs. For the most part it has only been talk, with nothing much to show for all that talk. Except, of course, for millions of dollars in government funding that has flown to private corporations. This has been especially on display in the United States, where the primary agency that has been pumping money into SMRs is the Department of Energy.

In 2001, based on an overview of around 10 SMR designs, DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy concluded that “the most technically mature small modular reactor designs and concepts have the potential to be economical and could be made available for deployment before the end of the decade, provided that certain technical and licensing issues are addressed.” Nothing of that sort happened by the end of that decade, i.e., 2010. But in 2012 the U.S. government offered money: up to $452 million to cover “the engineering, design, certification and licensing costs for up to two U.S. SMR designs.” The two SMR designs that were selected by the DOE for funding were called mPower and NuScale.

The first pick was mPower and, a few months later, the DOE projected that a major electricity generation utility called the Tennessee Valley Authority “plans to deploy two 180 megawatt small modular reactor units for commercial operation in Roane County, Tennessee, by 2021, with as many as six mPower units at that site.”

The company developing mPower was described by the New York Times as being in the lead in the race to develop SMRs, in part because it had “the Energy Department and the T.V.A. in its camp.”

But by 2017, the project was essentially dead.

Few if any buyers

Why this collapse? 

In a nutshell, because there is no market for the expensive electricity that SMRs will generate. Many companies presumably enter this business because of the promise of government funding. No company has invested large sums of its own money to commercialize SMRs.

An example is the Westinghouse Electric Co., which worked on two SMR designs and tried to get funding from the DOE. When it failed in that effort, Westinghouse stopped working on SMRs and shifted its focus to decommissioning reactors that are being shut down at an increasing rate, which is seen as a growing business opportunity. Explaining this decision in 2014, Danny Roderick, then president and CEO of Westinghouse, said: “The problem I have with SMRs is not the technology, it’s not the deployment — it’s that there’s no customers…. The worst thing to do is get ahead of the market.”

Many developing countries claim to be interested in SMRs but few seem to be willing to invest in the construction of one. Although many agreements and memoranda of understanding have been signed, there are still no plans for actual construction. Examples are the cases of JordanGhana and Indonesia, all of which have been touted as promising markets for SMRs, but none of which are buying one because there are significant problems with deploying these.

A key problem is poor economics. Nuclear power is already known to be very expensive. But SMRs start with a disadvantage: they are too small. One of the few ways that nuclear power plant operators could reduce the cost of nuclear electricity was to utilize what are called economies of scale, i.e., taking advantage of the fact that many of the expenses associated with constructing and operating a reactor do not change in linear proportion to the power generated. This is lost in SMRs. Most of the early small reactors built in the U.S. shut down early because they couldn’t compete economically.

Reactors by the thousands?

SMR proponents argue that they can make up for the lost economies of scale  in two ways: by savings through mass manufacture in factories, and by moving from a steep learning curve early on to gaining rich knowledge about how to achieve efficiencies as more and more reactors are designed and built. But, to achieve such savings, these reactors have to be manufactured by the thousands, even under very optimistic assumptions about rates of learning. Rates of learning in nuclear power plant manufacturing have been extremely low. Indeed, in both the United States and France, the two countries with the highest number of nuclear plants, costs went up, not down, with construction experience.

In the case of Canada, the potential markets that are most often proffered as a reason for developing SMRs are small and remote communities and mines that are not connected to the electric grid. That is not a viable business proposition. There are simply not enough remote communities, with adequate purchasing capacity, to be able to drive the manufacture of the thousands of SMRs needed to make them competitive with large reactors, let alone other sources of power.

There are thus good reasons to expect that small modular reactors, like large nuclear power plants, are just not commercially viable. They will also impose the other well-known problems associated with nuclear energy — the risk of severe accidents, the production of radioactive waste, and the linkage with nuclear weapons — on society. Rather than seeing the writing on the wall, unfortunately, NRCan and other such institutions are regurgitating industry propaganda and wasting money on technologies that will never be economical or contribute to any meaningful mitigation of climate change. There is no justification for such expensive distractions, especially as the climate problem becomes more urgent. [Tyee]

November 8, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Canada’s glaciers are retreating – and fast!

November 6, 2018 Posted by | Canada, climate change | Leave a comment

“Clean Energy Ministerial”: despite Canada’s Liberal claims, nuclear power will not save the environment


Despite Liberal claims, nuclear power will not save the environment, Ole Hendrickson October 23, 2018 Want a shiny new nuclear reactor in your community? Justin Trudeau has a deal for you.

In the lead-up to the 2015 election, he said the economy and environment “go together like paddles and canoes. Unless you have both, you won’t get to where you are going.” Such vacuous statements helped him win a majority government.

Did Liberal voters think “real change” would mean maintaining fossil fuel subsidies, buying the Kinder Morgan pipeline, and promoting new nuclear reactors?

When the Liberals renamed the cabinet committee on “Environment, Climate Change and Energy” to “Environment and Clean Growth” on August 28, 2018, Trudeau’s office said this “reflects the government’s commitment to addressing climate change through growing the economy.” But putting “clean” in front of “growth” is a con job — like putting “sustainable” in front of “development.”

Behind closed doors in the “clean growth” cabinet committee, the minister of natural resources will discuss next year’s “Clean Energy Ministerial” — a gathering of energy ministers from the world’s richest nations, hosted by Canada. 

One of Canada’s objectives for this meeting, together with the U.S., is to advance plans for the “next generation” of nuclear reactors. In preparation, a federal nuclear reactor “road map” will be released next month at a Canadian Nuclear Society conference in Ottawa subsidized by the Trudeau government.

For the one-percenters, “clean growth” includes nuclear power. The military industrial complex needs nuclear power and nuclear weapons just as much as it needs fossil fuels.

Government officials and lobbyists who call nuclear power “clean energy” cannot provide a shred of evidence that a new generation of reactors will help Canada and other nations achieve the Paris Agreement greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The real point of this exercise is to perpetuate the military industrial complex.

The nuclear industry is desperately casting about for ways to attract young scientists and engineers. It promotes fantasies of reactor technologies that will provide carbon-free electricity, eliminate existing nuclear waste stockpiles, desalinate ocean water, power remote Indigenous communities, and enable travel to Mars.

But these technologies have been around for decades. They are enormously expensive. They require huge government subsidies, waste taxpayer dollars and generate budget deficits characteristic of the U.S. military industrial complex.

Climate justice incompatible with economic growth

Addressing climate change through economic growth is an ecocidal fantasy. To claim that humans can appropriate more and more of the planet’s resources, and still protect the environment and halt climate change is ludicrous.

This is business as usual — continuation of the “great acceleration” created by post-Second World War governments who transformed the war machine into the “peacetime” military industrial complex.

Politicians and corporate executives — the one-percenters — have no intention of putting the brakes on this machine.  They need to fuel the nuclear sub fleets in the U.S. and U.K., and the armoured vehicles that Canada makes and sells to Saudi Arabia. They will try to extract every last gram of uranium and drop of oil. Nuclear and fossil fuels are both the means and end of war.

Ultimately, the military industrial complex is waging war against the planet, against ourselves and against all living creatures. The Earth is in great peril.

Revolution is brewing. Activists, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike are rejecting these corporate-driven technological fantasies. Energy is changing. The capitalist system will not survive. But what will replace it?

Ole Hendrickson is a retired forest ecologist and a founding member of the Ottawa River Institute, a non-profit charitable organization based in the Ottawa Valley.

Photo: European Parliament/Flickr

November 5, 2018 Posted by | Canada, climate change, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Non nuclear production of medical isotopes – Canada

Canada to build advanced medical isotope centre, WNN 02 November 2018 Canada is to invest more than CAD50 million (USD38 million) on a new centre for advanced medical isotope research and development. The centre will be on the campus of Triumf, the national laboratory for particle physics, at the University of British Columbia.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau yesterday announced federal funding for the Institute for Advanced Medical Isotopes (IAMI) during a visit to Triumf.

The 2500-square-metre state-of-the-art facility will house a new TR-24 medical cyclotron, a cyclotron control room and six laboratories. It will also have technical rooms, quality control laboratories, office space, and electrical control rooms.

The construction of the facility is valued at CAD31.8 million, Triumf said. “With additional equipment and philanthropic funding, the total value of the IAMI project will be more than CAD50 million,” it added.

The government of Canada will contribute CAD10,232,310 to the project through the Investing in Canada infrastructure plan. The Province of British Columbia has contributed CAD12,250,000, Triumf is contributing CAD5,352,638 and, through fundraising initiatives, BC Cancer and the University of British Columbia are each contributing CAD2 million.

“IAMI promises to secure a local supply of several important medical isotopes, including critical imaging isotope technetium-99m (Tc-99m), and to enable Canadian access to the global Tc-99m market,” Triumf said. Canada is already a leader in the global medical isotope market – worth some USD3 billion – and contributes more than 50% of the world’s raw material for medical isotope supply.

Announcing the federal funding, Trudeau said: “The Institute for Advanced Medical Isotopes will be a state-of-the-art facility where industry leaders and academics can work together to push the boundaries of research and discover new ways to protect and improve our health. We will continue to invest in cutting-edge research and facilities – like the Institute for Advanced Medical Isotopes – to ensure Canada remains a world leader in medical research and   innovation.”………http://www.wor

November 3, 2018 Posted by | Canada, health | Leave a comment

The dangerous radioactive trash – 60,000 tons on the shores of the Great Lakes

60,000 tons of dangerous radioactive waste sits on Great Lakes shores, THE EFFECTS OF A WORST-CASE SCENARIO — FROM A NATURAL DISASTER TO TERRORISM — COULD CAUSE UNTHINKABLE CONSEQUENCES FOR THE GREAT LAKES REGION, Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press, Oct. 19, 2018  More than 60,000 tons of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel is stored on the shores of four of the five Great Lakes — in some cases, mere yards from the waterline — in still-growing stockpiles.

“It’s actually the most dangerous waste produced by any industry in the history of the Earth,” said Gordon Edwards, president of the nonprofit Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.

The spent nuclear fuel is partly from 15 current or former U.S. nuclear power plants, including four in Michigan, that have generated it over the past 50 years or more. But most of the volume stored along the Great Lakes, more than 50,000 tons, comes from Canadian nuclear facilities, where nuclear power is far more prevalent.

It remains on the shorelines because there’s still nowhere else to put it. The U.S. government broke a promise to provide the nuclear power industry with a central, underground repository for the material by 1998. Canada, while farther along than the U.S. in the process of trying to find a place for the waste, also doesn’t have one yet.

The nuclear power industry and its federal regulator, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, point to spent nuclear fuel’s safe on-site storage over decades. But the remote possibility of a worst-case scenario release — from a natural disaster, a major accident, or an act of terrorism — could cause unthinkable consequences for the Great Lakes region.

Scientific research has shown a radioactive cloud from a spent fuel pool fire would span hundreds of miles, and force the evacuation of millions of residents in Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, Toronto or other population centers, depending on where the accident occurred and wind patterns.

It would release multiple times the radiation that emanated from the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011 — a disaster that led to mass evacuations, no-go zones that exist to this day, and a government ban on fishing in a large, offshore area of the Pacific Ocean because of high levels of radioactive cesium in the water and in fish. The fishing industry there has yet to recover, more than seven years later.

“The Mississippi and the Great Lakes — that would be really bad,” said Frank von Hippel, senior research physicist and professor of public and international affairs emeritus at Princeton University.

Added Jim Olson, environmental attorney and founder of the Traverse City-based nonprofit For Love of Water, or FLOW: “The fact that it’s on the shorelines of the Great Lakes takes that high consequence that would be anywhere and paints it red and puts exclamation marks around it.”

Spent nuclear fuel is so dangerous that, a decade removed from a nuclear reactor, its radioactivity would still be 20 times the level that would kill a person exposed to it. Some radioactive byproducts of nuclear power generation remain a health or environmental hazard for tens of thousands of years. And even typically harmless radioactive isotopes that are easily blocked by skin or clothing can become extremely toxic if even small amounts are breathed in, eaten or drank,  making their potential contamination of the Great Lakes — the drinking water supply to 40 million people — the connected Mississippi River and the prime agricultural areas of the U.S. a potentially frightening prospect. ……….

For five years, Michigan residents, lawmakers, environmental groups and others around the Midwest have, loudly and nearly unanimously, opposed a planned Canadian underground repository for low-to-medium radioactive waste at Kincardine, Ontario, near the shores of Lake Huron.

Meanwhile, spent nuclear fuel, vastly more radioactive, sits not far from the shores of  four Great Lakes — Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario — at 15 currently operating or former nuclear power plant sites on the U.S. side. In Michigan, that includes Fermi 2; the Donald C. Cook nuclear plant in Berrien County; the Palisades nuclear plant in Van Buren County, and the former Big Rock Point nuclear plant in Charlevoix County, which ceased operation in 1997 and where now only casks of spent nuclear fuel remain.

Neither the U.S. nor the Canadian government has constructed a central collection site for the spent nuclear fuel. It’s not just a problem in the Great Lakes region — more than 88,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel, an amount that is rising, is stored at 121 U.S. locations across 39 states…….

Spent nuclear fuel isn’t only radioactive, it continues to generate heat. It requires storage in pools with circulating water for typically five years before it can be moved into so-called dry-cask storage — concrete-and-steel obelisks where spent fuel rods receive continued cooling by circulating air.

In practice, however, because of the high costs associated with transferring waste from wet pools to dry casks, nuclear plants have kept decades worth of spent fuel in wet storage. Plant officials instead “re-rack” the pools, reconfiguring them to add more and more spent fuel, well beyond the capacities for which the pools were originally designed.

“The prevailing practice in the United States is you re-rack the pools until they are just about as dense-packed as the nuclear core,” von Hippel said.

Only in recent years have nuclear plants stepped up the transition to dry cask storage because there’s no room left in the wet pools. Still, about two-thirds of on-site spent nuclear fuel remains in wet pools in the U.S.

That’s a safety concern, critics contend. A catastrophe or act of terrorism that drains a spent fuel pool could cause rising temperatures that could eventually cause zirconium cladding — special brackets that hold the spent fuel rods in bundles — to catch fire.

Such a disaster could be worse than a meltdown in a nuclear reactor, as spent nuclear fuel is typically stored with nowhere near the fortified containment of a reactor core.

“The long-term land-contamination consequences of such an event could be significantly worse than those from Chernobyl,” a 2003 research paper by von Hippel and seven other nuclear experts stated.

The reference is to the worst nuclear power disaster in world history, the April 1986 reactor explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the former Soviet Union, now a part of the Ukraine, where 4,000 to 90,000 are estimated to have died as a result of the radiation released. A study by the University of Exeter in Great Britain, released this June, found that cow’s milk from farms about 125 miles from the Chernobyl accident site still — more than 30 years later —- contains the radioactive element cesium at levels considered unsafe for adults and at more than seven times the limit unsafe for children.

Allison Macfarlane, a professor of public policy and international affairs at George Washington University, served as chairman of the NRC during the Obama administration from July 2012 until December 2014.

“What I think needs more examination is the practice of densely packing the fuel in the pool,” she said.

The NRC does not regulate how much fuel can be in a pool, in what configuration it’s placed, and how old the fuel is, Macfarlane said. ……….

In a Great Lakes region where magnitude-9.0 earthquakes and tsunamis aren’t a potential threat to stockpiles of spent nuclear fuel, terrorism remains possible………

In a Great Lakes region where magnitude-9.0 earthquakes and tsunamis aren’t a potential threat to stockpiles of spent nuclear fuel, terrorism remains possible.

“The NRC’s position on beyond design basis threats is essentially that this is a matter for the national security apparatus — it’s not our job, so somebody else will take care of it,” he said. “But if you look at the Pentagon, Homeland Security, I think you will look in vain to find any part of that apparatus that is addressing that area that the NRC says is not its job.”……….

Welcome to Zion, nuclear waste dump  ………..

Canada’s Yucca Mountain  

Because nuclear power is much more widely used in Canada — the province of Ontario alone has 20 nuclear reactors at three plants — it also generates much more nuclear waste.

In Ontario, nearly 52,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel is stored on-site at nuclear plants along Lakes Huron and Ontario.

“There’s a huge amount of high-level, radioactive waste stored right along the water,” said Edwards, the president of the nonprofit Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility……… .

October 20, 2018 Posted by | Canada, wastes | 1 Comment

SNC-Lavalin shares fall to lowest since 2016 on news foreign bribery case will go to court  

October 18, 2018 Posted by | Canada | 1 Comment

Coalition calls to “Make nuclear waste site Ottawa Valley election issue”

Make nuclear waste site Ottawa Valley election issue: coalition  NEWS Oct 05, 2018 by John Carter  Arnprior Chronicle-Guide A group of concerned citizens is making a concerted effort to make the proposed nuclear waste disposal at Chalk River an election issue throughout Renfrew County, especially those municipalities along the Ottawa River.The informal alliance that also includes Ottawa Riverkeeper, the Coalition Against Nuclear Dumps on the Ottawa River and two cottagers groups, has sent a lengthy letter to each municipal candidate, spelling out “major concerns” about the plan. The groups stress they’re not advocating the closure of Chalk River nuclear laboratories but want changes to proposals on how and where radioactive nuclear waste is to be disposed.

It asks candidates to support efforts to petition the federal government to move the proposed radioactive nuclear disposal site “much farther away” from the Ottawa River and to use more-secure containment methods.

“Your constituents are very worried that large amounts of radioactive waste could contaminate the Ottawa River if these plans are not changed,” says the letter. That would affect the drinking water of millions of people.

The letter points out the contract includes the requirement to “seek the fastest, most cost-effective means” to dispose of all the radioactive waste that has been accumulating at Chalk River and other federal nuclear sites. The contract also includes decommissioning and entombing the nuclear reactor at Rolphton, which the coalition calls inappropriate.

The letter says the proposed 27-acre containment “mound” will contain up to one million cubic metres of radioactive nuclear waste, including materials transported in from other Canadian decommissioned nuclear sites. It is to be covered over by a combination of sand, stone, gravel and topsoil that could reach about 25 metres high.

The coalition is particularly concerned because the location is directly over an active earthquake zone, above porous and fractured rock, and less than a kilometre from the Ottawa River. It is beside a small lake that drains directly into the Ottawa River through a small creek, the letter points out.

The letter says the danger is exacerbated if the mound is left uncovered for more than 50 years, as planned. Furthermore, “climate change brings unpredictable, catastrophic weather that could cause permanent radioactive contamination of the Ottawa River,” the letter adds.

It suggests retired Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) senior nuclear scientists have raised serious concerns about the proposal. It quotes Dr. J.R. Walker as saying it “employs inadequate technology and is problematically located” and “does not meet regulatory requirements with respect to the health and safety of persons and the protection of the environment.”

The letter urges candidates, if elected, to introduce resolutions questioning the process and opposing the waste proposals as they currently stand, as well as the importation of nuclear waste to Chalk River from other locations “as more than 135 municipalities in Ontario and Quebec have already done.”

October 8, 2018 Posted by | Canada, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Town Council election becomes a debate on nuclear waste hosting

Hornepayne, Ont., municipal election to become debate on nuclear wasteCommunity one of three in northwestern Ontario to consider hosting nuclear waste  Jeff Walters · CBC News  Oct 04, 2018 Voters in the small northwestern Ontario town of Hornepayne will have more to consider at the ballot box than tax rates and economic growth.

October 5, 2018 Posted by | Canada, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

The dishonesty in the bribing of “willing host communities” for nuclear wastes

A conversation with Dr. Gordon Edwards: contemporary issues in the Canadian nuclear industry, and a look back at the achievements of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR), Montreal, August 25, 2018,   Nuclear waste management: an exercise in cynical thinking., 24 Sept 2018.   “…….. The elusive “willing host community”DR: I know too there have been a lot of targeted “willing host communities” that have rejected it. Do you think they’ll succeed in finding one?

GE: Here in Canada they have gone through this process of looking for a “willing host community,” which is kind of foolish because these communities are very small. For example, I just visited two of them within the last few weeks way up above Lake Superior. In the two communities that I visited, Hornepayne and Manitouwadge, I gave presentations. These communities have less than a thousand residents in each one of them and they get $300,000 a year as basically bribe money in order to keep them on the hook, to keep them interested in learning more. It’s called the “learn more” program, and as long as they’re “learning more,” they can get $300,000 a year. Well, they are both interested in getting the money, and consequently they’re still in the running, but do they really want to be a nuclear-waste community?  If this is such a good deal for them, then why aren’t other communities bidding for this—larger communities? Of course, one of the points that comes to mind immediately is that if you had a city of a million people or so, then you’d have to shell out $300 million instead of $300,000 every year, so this idea of a “willing host community” exists only because of the bribes that are given by the industry in order to keep these communities supposedly interested in receiving the waste. And in some of them, of course, there are people who see dollar signs and who see an opportunity for them to make a lot of money. In a small community, a certain small number of people can make a lot of money by capitalizing on an opportunity like that without being concerned very much about the long-term wisdom of it.

DR: Yeah, and the seventh future generation doesn’t get a voice.

I did speak to two other communities a couple of years ago in that same general area north of Lake Superior. One of them was the town of Schreiber, and one of them was White River, and both of those communities are now off the list. They’re no longer candidates, so we now have only three communities up north of Lake Superior which are still actively pursuing this program of taking money and “learning more.” I have spoken now to two of them and I haven’t yet been invited to go to the third one.

10. The great unknowable: long term care for nuclear waste. Who pays? Who cares?When I go there I try and point out to them not only the fact that this whole exercise is questionable, but also the fact that once the nuclear waste is moved up to a small remote area like this, what guarantee is there that it’s really going to be looked after properly? Because these small communities do not have a powerful voice.

They don’t have economic clout, and so they can’t really control this. If a person like Donald Trump, for example in the United States, or Doug Ford in Ontario, who many people think is a kind of a mini Donald Trump, thinks, “Why are we going to spend money on that? Forget it we’re not going to spend money on that,” then it’s going to not be pursued as originally planned. And it could become just a surface parking lot for high-level nuclear waste. Who is going to guarantee that it is actually going to be carried out? Now the nuclear plants are in danger of closing down. We’re having fewer nuclear plants every year than we had the year before now in North America, and consequently there’s not the revenue generation that there used to be. The money that’s been set aside is nowhere near adequate to carry out the grandiose project they’re talking about, which here in Canada is estimated to cost at least twenty-two billion dollars. They have maybe five or six billion, but that’s not nearly enough.

So there’s also another problem lurking in the wings, and that is that if you do want to carry out this actual full-scale program of geological excavation with all the care that was originally planned, how do you generate revenue? What company is willing to spend twenty-two billion dollars on a project which generates absolutely no revenue?

There are only two ways you can generate revenue from that, and one way is to take waste of other countries and charge a fee for storing the waste. The other thing is to sell the plutonium. If you extract the plutonium, then you could have a marketable product, but both of these ideas are extremely far from what these communities are being told. In other words, the plan that’s being presented to them does not include either one of these possibilities, and it changes the game considerably. As we all know, getting the plutonium out of the spent fuel involves huge volumes of liquid radioactive waste. It involves very great emissions, atmospheric emissions, and liquid emissions. The most radioactively polluted sites on the face of the earth are the places where they’ve done extensive reprocessing, such as Hanford in Washington, Sellafield in northern England, La Hague in France, Mayak in Russia, and so on.

DR: And Rokkasho in Japan.

GE: That’s right, and so this is a completely different picture than what they’re being presented with. Now whether or not that would actually happen is anybody’s guess, but it’s written right in their documents that this is an option, and they’ve never excluded that option. They’ve always included the option. In fact, the first sentence of the environmental impact statement written by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited many years ago says that when we say high-level nuclear waste we mean either irradiated nuclear fuel or solidified post-reprocessing waste. They have always kept that door open for reprocessing.

11. A disturbed “undisturbed” geological formation is no longer undisturbed But even under the best of circumstances we know that you can’t get waste into an undisturbed geological formation without disturbing it. As soon as you disturb it, it’s no longer the same ballgame. The other thing that people are unaware of, generally, is the nature of this waste. They really don’t realize that this waste is not inert material, that it’s active. It’s chemically active. It’s thermally active. It generates heat for fifty thousand years. They have a fifty thousand-year time period they call the thermal pulse, and the degree of radio-toxicity staggers the mind. Most people have no ability to wrap their mind around that. Take a simple example like Polonium 210 which was used to murder Alexander Litvinenko, and which will breed into the irradiated fuel as time goes on… According to the Los Alamos nuclear laboratories (it’s on their website), this material is 250 billion times more toxic than cyanide. That’s a staggering concept. In fact, nobody can wrap their mind around that, really. 250 billion times more toxic?! Theoretically that means that if you had a lethal dose of cyanide, and you had the same amount of Polonium 210, the cyanide could kill one person. The Polonium 210 could kill 250 billion persons. That’s amazing. How do you possibly wrap your mind around that?………

September 26, 2018 Posted by | Canada, secrets,lies and civil liberties, wastes | Leave a comment

The next big thing: unfeasible small modular nuclear reactors

A conversation with Dr. Gordon Edwards: contemporary issues in the Canadian nuclear industry, and a look back at the achievements of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR), Montreal, August 25, 2018,   Nuclear waste management: an exercise in cynical thinking., 24 Sept 18, “…….. 8. The next big thing: unfeasible small modular reactors

They want to basically clear the decks by shoving this waste off to the side so that they can use this territory, which is crown land owned by the Government of Canada, in order to develop a whole new generation of small modular reactors which are also pie-in-the-sky. They don’t have any customers at the present time. They say there’s a great deal of interest in small modular reactors. However, the interest is almost totally confined to the nuclear establishment. It’s the nuclear people who are interested in these small modular reactors, nobody else.

In fact, we’ve had bad experience with small modular reactors Canada. We had two ten-megawatt nuclear reactors designed and built. They were built around the year 2000, and each one of these reactors was supposed to be able to replace the very old NRU reactor at Chalk River, which is the largest isotope production reactor in the world. And each one of these reactors—they’re called maples, the maple reactors—each one of them would be able to take over the workload of the already-existing NRU reactor which is now shut down. They couldn’t get either one of them to work properly. They were so unsafe, and so unstable in their operation that without operating them and after having spent hundreds of millions of dollars in building them, they now are dismantling them without ever having produced any useful results.

They also had here in Canada a design called a “slowpoke district heating reactor,” and this reactor was ranging from ten megawatts to a hundred megawatts, thermal power only, no electricity, and the idea of this was it could be a reactor which could supply district heating for buildings and so on. That was also a complete failure. That was back in the last century in the 80s and 90s in Canada. They tried to give these things away for free, and they couldn’t even give them away for free. Nobody wanted them.

So the whole business of nuclear waste has really been obfuscated by the industry who are perpetually trying to convince people that they have the solution, that they know what to do, and that when they do it, it’ll be perfectly safe. All of our experience points in the opposite direction…………

September 26, 2018 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

What to expect from media and politicians when we want action on nuclear wastes

We have to create such a social movement that the press cannot ignore it, and then the press starts reporting.
people, when they get themselves mobilized, can really have an effect on events

A conversation with Dr. Gordon Edwards: contemporary issues in the Canadian nuclear industry, and a look back at the achievements of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR),, August 25, 2018,   Nuclear waste management: an exercise in cynical thinking., 24 Sept 2018  “………… What to expect from media and politicians
I think you appear sometimes on CBC and they give you five minutes or ten minutes, so has any of that sort of transformed into journalists picking up the issue and working with it more seriously, or politicians bringing up the issue in parliament?

We live in a very scattered society right now with what’s going on with President Trump in the United States, and what’s going on with the media. The concentration of ownership of the media, the elimination of a lot of independent journalism, like neighborhood newspapers and that sort of thing, community newspapers. Even within the mainstream media there is the idea that journalists are now being shunted into media conglomerates where the reporting is expected to go simultaneously into numerous papers, and so this makes it more and more difficult for these kinds of things to be done. However, as I point out to my friends, we’ve had many, many examples like, for instance, apartheid South Africa, or the Soviet Union before its demise, where there was no free press, and yet people got things done. The thing is that I don’t think the absence of a vital press should be a serious obstacle. I think we have to use whatever tools we have available to us, and we in North America have all kinds of freedom to express ourselves, and so we have to use what tools are available to us. For example, we’ve had many victories.

19. VictoriesI could tell you a few stories because without knowing specific examples, it all sounds very airy-fairy. It all sounds very theoretical, but, for example, we have Bruce Power, which is a private company that rents publicly owned nuclear reactors in Ontario, eight of them, and operates them for profit. They wanted to ship sixteen contaminated steam generators through the Great Lakes and through the Saint Lawrence Seaway and across the ocean to Sweden for their convenience basically. It was for their convenience so that they could have these things dismantled in Sweden. And also some of the radioactive left leftovers would be in fact secretly blended, and I say secretly. They would not reveal the names of the companies involved. Those are secret because those companies would not want the public to know what they’re engaged in. And that was actually recorded in public hearings. They wanted to secretly blend some of this less radioactive metal with non-contaminated metal. So they wanted to deliberately contaminate scrap metal. They wanted to deliberately contaminate the scrap metal market without any knowledge or notification that this scrap metal contained post-fission radioactive waste. And of course more and more of this is going to be happening as time goes on.

So we managed to stop that, and we managed to stop that through very word-of-mouth methods. We managed to get hundreds of communities passing resolutions against it on both sides of the border, both in the United States and Canada. We got lawmakers in the United States sending letters objecting, and the press was never playing a leadership role in this, but as the story became more interesting they would report on it just because it’s a good news story.

But to expect the press to play any leadership role is dreaming in technicolor, I think, especially in today’s world. We have to create such a social movement that the press cannot ignore it, and then the press starts reporting. And the same thing goes with the government. In certain respects you could say that our government leaders are not leaders. They’re followers, and the largest voices, the loudest voices are usually the voices of industry, and so they follow what they’re being told by industry or by other countries, big players like the United States, for example, but occasionally the public voice becomes loud enough that it drowns out the industrial voice or at least rivals it. In those cases a government can finally act, in their own self-interest, but not totally in their own self-interest. I hope that there’s a glimmer of concern, genuine concern about the future and the environment and doing the right thing.

But you’ve got to have a combination. It’s often said, for example, in lawsuits that behind the technical judgment where a judge might make some technical decision which lets somebody off the hook or which convicts somebody of some crime, there’s often a non-technical reason behind. Certain evidence has been heard and certain issues have been raised which, if a judge is touched by those issues, and feels that this is a case which deserves very careful consideration, then without breaking the law or even bending the law, the judge can find some legal aspect which will allow her or him to do the right thing. That’s not the judge’s main prerogative. His or her main prerogative is to ensure that the law is obeyed, and that can be done, but there has to be some kind of a conscience involved there, too, and I think there often is.

I think it’s the same thing with government. As I’ve said to people here, even if you yourself were the Minister of Energy all of a sudden, you couldn’t just do what you wanted. You have to have the support of your colleagues in cabinet. You have to have the support of people who have contributed to the party, and so on. These are all considerations, but if you have a vocal public who are clamoring to have something done, and it’s something you agree should be done, it strengthens your hand as a political person to be able to enact a law or to be able to take some political step which can be justified to colleagues. I don’t know if I’m making much sense here, but we’ve had some very good examples of this, not only with the steam generators.

20. Cross-border activism for environmental protectionI’ll give you one other example. In Vermont, the US Department of Energy were hunting for a repository in crystalline rock for high-level radioactive waste. This is back in the 90s. We had a busload of people here from Quebec who went down to Vermont and participated in public meetings and so on, and the Vermonters were delighted to see us there. And we raised some very pointed questions which the industry found difficult to answer. For example, the first question I asked at a public meeting was, “If this project is so safe, why is low population density one of your criteria?” And the man from the Department of Energy said that’s a good question, and he went red in the face, and he couldn’t give an answer.

So this thing blew up until the point where we had many public meetings in Vermont and we, as Quebecers, were invited to attend, and the US Department of Energy said, “Look, we have no choice. We have to obey the law, and the law has been written by the US Congress, the highest law of the land, and they passed a law saying that there will be a repository in crystalline rock in the Northeast United States, so don’t blame us. We can’t just snap our fingers and say we’re not going to do this.” But the voices of the people were so strong, and what really happened here was that it became an international incident because a lot of the people who were interacting within this debate were from the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Sherbrooke in particular, and the Member of Parliament from Sherbrooke was Jean Charest, who subsequently became the premier of Quebec. He was at that time a federal member of parliament. He went to his bosses in his own party, and who were the ruling party at that time, and they had a diplomatic note delivered to the Americans through the Canadian ambassador in Washington, saying that Canada would not look kindly on a nuclear waste repository right on our border where the water flows into Canada from the United States.

So to make a long story short, what happened was the impossible was done. The law was rewritten, and there was no repository in Vermont. Now you might say, “Well, that’s just postponing the problem or pushing it off.” True. But it’s a victory for us, and it shows that people, when they get themselves mobilized, can really have an effect on events, and we’ve had many successes of that sort, here in Quebec, in particular, and we hope to have many more. But the purpose is not to pursue a NIMBY idea (not in my backyard). The purpose is to call attention to the fact that this whole exercise is really an exercise based on dishonesty. It’s based on the dishonest claim that they in fact know what they’re doing, and that they in fact know that this will be a solution. It is really the survival strategy for the nuclear industry rather than a strategy that will ensure the safety of future generations. So we don’t feel that we’re acting in bad faith. We feel that we’re acting in good faith, and we’re doing our best to enlighten people as to the nature of this bad deal, and the nature of the fact that the wrong people are in charge of the program.

21. High, medium or low-level waste: similar ingredients in all of themGE: We have concentrated a lot here on the high-level waste, but in fact this consortium is not dealing with high-level waste. They’re dealing with low-level waste, medium-level waste. I hate these words because, of course, it’s the same material in many cases. They are exactly the same isotopes that you find in the high-level waste in many cases. They’re just at lower concentrations, so it’s bad language from the nuclear industry that is again fundamentally dishonest. But it’s really the decommissioning and the storage of all those other post-fission wastes that most people have never even given a thought to because they’ve been misled into thinking they don’t exist……..

September 26, 2018 Posted by | Canada, media | 2 Comments

Magical thinking about nuclear waste – but that doesn’t solve the problem

A conversation with Dr. Gordon Edwards: contemporary issues in the Canadian nuclear industry, and a look back at the achievements of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR), Montreal, August 25, 2018,   Nuclear waste management: an exercise in cynical thinking., 24 Sept 18, Dennis Riches (DR): Instead of a question I thought we would ask you to comment on something that has been published by an organization called Waste Management Symposia (Waste Management Symposia Inc. ). They are a non-profit organization, but they seem to be something that was set up by the nuclear industry so that different players in the field could get together and talk about waste management issues. They have a symposium coming up in March of 2019

 Gordon Edwards (GE): Well it’s an exercise in cynical thinking……….Of course, the problem is that there’s no way of destroying this stuff. There’s no way of getting rid of it that is technically or economically feasible, so all we’re really doing is repackaging. We’re not getting rid of it, and of course the packages do not last forever, so you can’t eliminate this liability by simply repackaging it and moving it from one place to another. It may be justified on the basis of environmental protection—for example, moving it away from waterways and so on so as to have less opportunity for the material to be dispersed, but once again you really can’t get rid of it. So the with language itself, they talk about “disposal.” Disposal implies that you somehow magically eliminate or get rid of this waste when in fact all you’re doing is reconstituting it in a different form, a different physical form, a different chemical form, but generally not changing the nature of the problem fundamentally.
2. Private solutions for public problemsSo when the last government approached this problem they decided, being Conservative, that it’s better to get private enterprises to look after these things, so they hired a consortium of multinational corporations to solve the problem for us, and in the absence of any policy—the trouble is that Canada has absolutely no policy regarding any nuclear waste except for the irradiated nuclear fuel itself………..

3. Early days: ignorance about nuclear wasteBut if we just back off on all this, the way my organization sees the picture, my organization being the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, which formed in the early 1970s—Well, basically in 1974 we formed, and from our view, the first thirty years of the nuclear age were characterized by a total ignorance about nuclear waste. That is, the public was not informed that there was such a thing as nuclear waste and the decision-makers who authorized the spending of billions of dollars in building a nuclear infrastructure and nuclear reactors were also not informed that this was a major unsolved problem. So it was basically a lie

Nuclear energy was presented as an absolutely clean energy source and people interpreted that to mean, “Hey, no problem. There is no waste.” When it became clear that it is, in fact, the most dangerous industrial waste ever produced on the face of the earth, in the form of the irradiated nuclear fuel, the industry then embarked upon a second lie which was, “Yes, we do have this waste product, the irradiated fuel, and it is very dangerous, and it is essentially indestructible, but we know exactly what to do with it. We know how to solve the problem, and the solution is simply to stick it underground in an undisturbed geological formation and then it’s all safe. We just walk away from it, and no problem.”

4. Belated realization of the problemWell, of course, that was then and this is now, and in the light of experience in the intervening years…  In the mid-1970s there was a series of reports in Canada, the United Kingdom, the USA and other countries calling attention to this nuclear waste problem and basically saying quite plainly that unless this problem could be adequately solved that there should be no more nuclear power plants built. So I call this the nuclear ultimatum. It was really an ultimatum to the nuclear industry: You do not have a future if you don’t solve this problem. And because the industry said that they knew what to do with it, the expectation was that they could solve it in ten or twenty years. It would only take ten or twenty years……….

DR: But it seems like they want to keep up the impression that the solution is being worked on. It’s underway. As long as they can keep doing that, the nuclear plants can keep running.

GE: That’s correct, and people have been bamboozled by this empty promise really, and of course it’s become increasingly clear. There have been eight attempts in the United States to locate a high-level waste repository, all of which have failed. There have been two underground repositories in Germany which have failed, for low-level and intermediate-level waste. There’s no facility anywhere in the world which is operational for high-level waste, although there are some that have been built like the one in Finland, for example, near Olkiluoto.

5. Barbaric plans for nuclear wasteAnd now we have this consortium of private companies that has come into Canada to deal with not the irradiated nuclear fuel, but the decommissioning waste and the other post-fission waste, and they have come up with what we consider to be barbaric suggestions.One of them is to, just less than one kilometer from a major river—the Ottawa River which flows into the St. Lawrence River and which comes right down here to Montreal flowing through the nation’s capital—they wanted to build a gigantic mound, basically a surface facility, which is simply a landfill, nothing more than a glorified landfill, and put all the low-level and intermediate-level waste into this one facility which would be five to seven stories high and cover an area which would be equivalent to 70 major-league hockey rinks, and this would basically have no solidity to it. It would be just a mound, an earthen mound of radioactive waste, about million cubic meters.

There has been a massive outcry over this. For example, the twenty-eight communities which make up the municipality of Montreal, as an agglomeration of municipalities, have all come out unanimously against this project. And there are over a hundred municipalities up and down the Ottawa River.

DR: How about Ottawa itself?

GE: No, not Ottawa itself, unfortunately. Most of the opposition has come from the Quebec side of the border. There has been far, far less opposition on the Ontario side. Of course, Ontario is also largely dependent upon nuclear power and so that may be the reason why.

We do not find that Canada has produced any enviable plans for nuclear waste disposal. On the contrary, we feel that they’re setting a terrible example for the rest of the world, and we are fighting to stop it cold in its tracks. We actually had a press conference just last week in Ottawa, just the last few days, in fact, and a march and a demonstration and so on, calling upon the federal government to stop these plans which are underway right now.

6. In situ abandonment of nuclear facilitiesIn addition to piling up the waste on the surface, as I was mentioning, in a huge mound, they’re also planning to take four prototype nuclear reactors, or at least two of those four (they haven’t talked about the other two), and use a process of entombment whereby they will simply dump all the radioactive waste from the reactor itself into the sub-basement and then flood the interior of the building with concrete and turn it into a concrete mausoleum, very close to various rivers, including the Ottawa River, and the Winnipeg River in Manitoba. This they call in situ decommissioning. What it means is that you are taking a facility which was originally licensed to house a nuclear reactor, and you’re turning it into a permanent nuclear waste repository, even though it was never chosen with that in mind. It never went through the examination, the scrutiny, and the qualification that would be associated with a permanent waste repository. And yet that’s what they’re planning to do: just wave their magic wand and turn it from a reactor into a waste repository. We are totally opposed to this, and we’re mobilizing citizen opposition to it……….

7. Wrong people in charge, telling rather than consultingThe nuclear industry wants to abandon these wastes because they cannot possibly look after them for the period of time we’re talking about. Who can really? But we feel that they’re the wrong people to be in charge of this because they have a clear conflict of interest, and this conflict of interest manifests itself in many different ways.

There has been no consultation with Canadians to arrive at these plans. These plans have been announced, and then there have been meetings to inform the public of what they’re planning to do, with no opportunity to change those plans other than to criticize them. Basically it is regarded as a fait accompli.

DR: Yeah, in Japan they call those setsumeikai—explanatory meetings, which means it goes in one direction—we’re explaining to you what’s going to happen.

GE: Yeah. This is by no means a consultation. And we’re calling upon the Canadian government to actually stop these plans and to launch true consultations with Canadians and with First Nations, and to follow up on the recommendations that have been made by several independent bodies in Canada, all of which have recommended that there should be a nuclear waste agency completely independent from the nuclear industry and which has on its board of directors major stakeholders, including First Nations people, in order to ensure that the sole efforts of this organization should be the protection of the public and the environment, and not the furtherance of the nuclear industry, the promotion of expansion of the nuclear industry, which is what the consortium is interested in……….

September 26, 2018 Posted by | Canada, wastes | 1 Comment

Six hundred Lake Superiors needed to dilute nuclear waste to a safe level


September 26, 2018 Posted by | Canada, wastes | Leave a comment