By John Stewart
Director, Policy and Research
Canadian Nuclear Association
A business-school professor made an interesting remark to me recently. “Nuclear technology let itself get branded from the start, in the 1940s, as being unique and special,” he said. “But that may have hurt the technology. It helped your critics to argue that nuclear is uniquely and specially dangerous. From there, it was easy to say that nuclear needed uniquely, specially restrictive rules around it – or even to say that there’s no safe amount of nuclear, period.”
He’s right. And we could spend a while discussing his point.
But there’s another way in which nuclear’s perceived uniqueness-and-specialness hurts our industry: It makes it easy to imagine that nuclear companies, facilities and professionals are hidden away somewhere in isolated shiny silos that don’t interact with, or affect, the rest of our economy.
The figure below shatters that image. It was made by the consultancy SECOR to illustrate some (in fact, just a few) of the working linkages between this country’s nuclear-related public research facilities and other industry sectors.
Keep in mind that this web of linkages was never fully drawn (data from several important universities did not get included). And that it does not include research facilities in industry organizations like Ontario Power Generation, Kinectrics-Candesco, and many other CNA member companies that have intimate working relationships with non-nuclear industries.
Nuclear is an integral part of today’s technologies, from crops and livestock to jet engines. CNA made this and other points this month in a submission to the federal government’s Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy Consultation. Our submission also looks at the economic case for public research infrastructure, whether in telecommunications, defence, agriculture, or nuclear. Check it out here.