The new nuclear reactors — which do not exist, have not been built or tested, and even under the most optimistic scenario cannot be deployed for at least 10 or 20 years (if ever) — are intended by the Government of Canada to be installed in small communities in the north (including First Nations) and to assist industry in plundering northern resources işn Ontario’s “Ring of Fire” (e.g. chromite mines) and the rest of Canada (mining, oil and gas extraction, etc. — much of it impinging on indigenous lands).
Background: Where did the “N” go?
Ottawa calls these new nuclear reactors SMRs, or “Small Modular Reactors”, deliberately leaving out the word “Nuclear”. They should be called SMNRs.
Background: Radioactive Waste
Of course, all nuclear reactors produce highly dangerous long-lived radioactive wastes of many different kinds, and SMRs are no exception.
In fact the “irradiated nuclear fuel” from SMRs will be (for the first thousand years or so) MUCH more radioactive than the irradiated fuel from CANDU reactors now operating. That’s because the SMR fuel itself is much more highly enriched, containing more than 25 times as much fissionable material per kilogram (compared with CANDU).
Background: “Decommissioned” reactors as Radioactive Waste Dumps
In addition, the structural materials of the SMR will also become dangerously radioactive and will remain so for hundreds of thousands of years. Judging by CNL’s current plans to turn existing nuclear reactor sites into permanent radioactive waste dumps by simply grouting the radioactive structures in place with cement, it is likely that every SMR will in time become a permanent radioactive waste repository. If the government has its way these permanent radioactive sites will be scattered all across Canada’s northern territories (and elsewhere).
Background: Tuesday’s Events – November 6
The timing of our media conference on Monday is important, because on Tuesday a three day international conference in Ottawa promoting these new nuclear reactors will be launched, with full government participation and support. At that time (Tuesday noon) there will be a “red canoe” protest march taking place in the streets outside the building (in downtown Ottawa) where the conference will be taking place.
Background: Wednesday’s Events – November 7
On Wednesday, November 7, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources will be publicly released Ottawa’s so-called “Road Map” for SMR deployment, specifically laying out the government’s intentions as to where these new nuclear reactors might be situated. The Road Map may well include the oil sands of Alberta and Saskatchewan as well as the proposed Northern Corridor that would provide easier industrial access to massive resource extraction in the arctic regions, as well as in the Ring of Fire in Northern Ontario.
We are planning to have another small demo with some “street theatre” during noon hour in the Sparks Street Mall just outside the building where the SMR conference is taking place.
If there is a possibility of a representative from your organization attending the Tuesday march, or the Wednesday “street theatre” protest, we would all be delighted.
Cheers, Gordon Edwards.
PS. We are quite skeptical that these Small Modular Nuclear Reactors will ever be successful in a commercial sense, and they certainly cannot address climate change even if they were successful, because the next 12 years are critical and these reactors cannot possibly be available before then. But the government can waste a lot of money and time and political will going down a blind alley — or “barking up the wrong tree”. More importantly, the fantasy of these new reactors is distracting the government away from more important matters, like consulting First Nations and other Canadians about an acceptable plan for safely managing radioactive wastes over the very long term, away from major water bodies. So we think it is important to go on the record now saying that this is counterproductive and irresponsible, and to remind people that government’s first responsibility is towards the health and safety of Canadians, and the safeguarding of the environment — especially our precious waters — for hundreds of thousands of years.
SMRs for Northern Ontario Mining Operations:
Northern Ontario’s Ring of Fire:
Here’s some promotional material from Canada’s Ministry of Natural Resources.
You may have received this before in a previous email from me — my apologies for duplicates.
Generation Energy Dialogue (NRCan)
ON THIS “COVER PAGE” There is NO MENTION of nuclear energy
Canada’s low-carbon energy future, designed by you
Beginning on April 21, 2017, over 380,000 people joined a national dialogue on Canada’s energy future.
Why? To find out how Canadians want to meet Canada’s climate goals, create jobs and keep energy affordable.
You told us that the transition to a Canadian low-carbon economy and society is underway. Luckily, our energy resources and technologies provide a strong platform for long-term growth and prosperity. Canadians told us they want to play an active role in creating this future. They foresee bold leadership and action from all facets of society.
for Nuclear Energy: see Summary Report of “Generation Energy Dialogue”
then Scroll down to the Table of Contents and select “Nuclear Energy”
CANADIANS TOLD US THAT:
- Many Canadians view the role of nuclear as fundamental to achieving and sustaining Canada’s climate change goals and see the technology as a long-term source of baseload electricity supply.
- Small modular reactors (SMRs) will be key to the sustainable development of Canada’s energy and natural resources, such as the oil sands, and can help reduce reliance on diesel generators for remote communities and the North.
- Canadians also view nuclear as a high-cost energy option and are concerned about nuclear waste management. As a result, they called for the selection and promotion of sustainable and low-cost energy solutions.
Social Acceptance for Nuclear Energy: Many Canadians agreed that there is a need to build and maintain public confidence for nuclear technology, with industry and government playing a role. There was consensus that governments have a role in providing certainty (policy, regulatory and funding) to improve investor confidence and deepen relationships with partner governments. Nuclear energy is viewed by many as an important part of Canada’s energy mix now and into the future to help achieve our climate change goals.
Canadians identified the need for scalable electricity generation solutions that provide employment, use existing Canadian skill sets, are sustainable and safe, take advantage of existing infrastructure and help us mitigate and adapt to a changing climate. Accordingly, building public confidence for nuclear energy requires public education to inform Canadians about the role of nuclear energy as part of the mix.
Canadians expressed the concern that education alone is not enough and focused on the need to engage with communities, Indigenous peoples and other partners to determine social acceptance and support for additional nuclear development. There is a need for meaningful and not just obligatory public consultation, and it is important that local communities be engaged in decision- making processes to build public confidence.
Nuclear Waste Management: Many Canadians voiced concern with nuclear energy due to the perceived hazard associated with radioactive waste management and the perceived threat of nuclear disasters. There are concerns among Canadians about the management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel, particularly if the use of nuclear energy increases and more nuclear fuel waste needs to be transported and stored safely. Some Canadians view uranium refining technologies as inefficient due to the creation of large amounts of waste. However, others point out that uranium mining and refining does not have a significantly higher environmental impact than other forms of mining.
Discussions also alluded to a potential shift to thorium as a primary fuel source, as many consider it to be more abundant and it produces less waste than uranium. In addition, the shift to different fuel sources could be complemented with a switch to newer nuclear technologies that some consider to be more efficient and cost-effective for Canadian taxpayers.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR ACTION
- Canada’s nuclear energy sector can provide reliable, affordable and clean baseload power to help Canada achieve and sustain its climate change goals. It is viewed as a core part of Canada’s efforts to decarbonize the energy system and to meet the government’s Paris Accord commitments.
- With increasing global demand for electricity, large and small nuclear power plants provide a viable option to support the achievement of emissions reduction objectives, reduce air pollution and limit land-use concerns related to other energy sources.
- Some Canadians think that nuclear can contribute to the expansion of Canada’s electricity supply, a goal required for decarbonization. It also supports the integration of renewables and storage technology into the energy portfolio.
- In order to tackle climate change and accommodate new nuclear technologies, policy and programming support is needed from federal and provincial governments to position nuclear as an essential part of Canada’s domestic clean energy mix.
- Canada’s nuclear industry is a strategic asset and its long-term success relies equally on business and governments, making continued dialogue between all stakeholders an important priority.
- SMRs and Variable SMRs provide tailored on- and off-grid electricity and co-generation solutions to remote communities, industrial parks and other large energy users. Small modular reactors can also help deliver clean, affordable energy to Canada’s 300-plus remote communities. Some Canadians see SMRs improving the quality of life of residents inhabiting remote communities, as well as helping governments reduce the use of diesel in the North, improving energy access and security and supporting economic development opportunities through the export of technologies to global markets.
- Government and industry engagement on the nuclear file can support export opportunities and build investor confidence.
Due to the importance of science and innovation in providing long-term prosperity for Canada and the potential for small modular reactors to address priorities for clean energy in the North, there is a need for investment by industry and governments in nuclear innovation.
Nuclear energy can serve as a reliable baseload supply of electricity and can help Canada reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and meet climate goals.
Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) can serve to meet demand for affordable and clean energy, specifically in Canadian industry and in Canada’s remote and northern communities.
Ideas expressed in this summary have been gathered from input solicited through Generation Energy
Nuclear technology has a broad range of applications beyond power generation.
The nuclear industry supports more than power generation, as it creates benefits across a wide range of industries (health, security, agriculture, etc.). Additional benefits can be gained by establishing lasting partnerships amongst various players and across sectors (including large companies, utilities, small and medium enterprises, governments, laboratories and academia).
Ongoing development of Canada’s expertise in nuclear can spur innovation, jobs, exports and growth in nuclear science and technology in areas such as health, energy, safety and security and the environment , as well as maintain Canada’s role in international political security and energy dialogues.