Monthly Archives: April 2013

CNA Responds Nuclear Energy

Just the Facts, Ma’am. Just the Facts.

You’d think the facts would persuade people like the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) . But that appears not to be the case.

Gideon Forman, their executive director, apparently told health authorities in Haliburton region that kids living near nuclear energy facilities face higher risks of leukemia.  Forman, who is not a medical doctor, cited the widely discredited German study Kinderkrebs in der umgebung von Kernkraftwerken (KiKK), published in 2008. (The title translates to “Childhood Cancer in the Environment of Nuclear Power Plants.”)

Here’s the problem. It’s just not true.

In fact, several follow-up studies have reviewed the KiKK work. Every one of them concluded that the kids’ leukemia risk could NOT be blamed on the nearby nuclear energy facility.

Even CAPE acknowledges in its own literature that the German study proved nothing: “The authors state that the reason for the elevated risk is unexplained, as the levels of radioactive emissions from these facilities are considered too low to explain the increase in childhood leukemia.” (Source:  Cathy Vakil and Linda Harvey, Human Health Implications of the Nuclear Energy Industry, p. 62)

As the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission said in its review of the KiKK studies, “any claims of a link between childhood leukemia and radiation from nuclear power plants are unfounded and not supported by a wealth of evidence resulting from multiple epidemiology studies.”

And as the commission chairman, Dr. Michael Binder, wrote last August in a letter to the Hamilton Spectator  specifically rebutting CAPE’s allegations, “The truth is that studies have shown over and over that people living near nuclear power plants are as healthy as the rest of the population.”

Forman also cited scientific studies to show that “all reactors release radioactive material routinely” but failed completely to put this into perspective.  The truth is that nuclear energy facilities generally add less than 0.1% to the background radiation that occurs naturally.

In fact, Canadians receive over 100 times more radiation dose naturally through the food we eat than from Canada’s nuclear energy facilities.

Those are the facts. Shouldn’t doctors deal in facts rather than fiction?

Nuclear Safety

International Regulatory Cooperation: It Works!

By Heather Kleb
Vice President
Canadian Nuclear Association

What happens when you bring together nuclear regulators from 50 countries for a week-long conference in Ottawa? An approach to regulatory oversight that is impressively consistent and rigorous, including in how they responded to the events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

I was very impressed by how thorough the regulators were in their response to Fukushima. Clearly they have been sharing a lot of information, the same way that the nuclear industry has been sharing our lessons learned from Fukushima.

Since the tsunami struck Japan two years ago, the nuclear industry has been working to ensure that safety standards and policies reflect current findings. Canada’s nuclear companies thoroughly assessed our own systems and operations to confirm their safety. We looked at back-up power systems and assured ourselves that our energy facilities could withstand tsunamis and other natural disasters.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), in its Fukushima Task Force Report, shared our view that all Canadian nuclear power plants are safe, and designed to withstand Fukushima-like conditions. Interestingly, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) concluded that CNSC’s Fukushima response was prompt, robust and comprehensive, and an example for other regulatory bodies.

I hadn’t realized until this conference just how closely our regulators work together. I was encouraged to see that regulators from countries with lengthy nuclear experience are more than willing to help countries with newer nuclear programs to develop their own effective regulatory frameworks.  I was also pleased to hear from other regulators that the CNSC is widely recognized as “one of the top regulators in the world”.

The nuclear energy industry is an international community. We all feel the impact of events at other facilities, and we all share the same desire to make our industry safer.

The more we can share and communicate, the better we will be.