Monthly Archives: July 2018

Uncategorized

Highlighting the Need for Nuclear

January 2017 was the third warmest January in over 100 years, according to scientists with NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. As the planet continues to warm, temperature increases continue to wreak havoc. A United Nations report on weather-related disasters pegged the cost of extreme weather events like floods, storms and droughts at close to 300 billion US dollars annually. The impact of the climate crises on communities has been echoed time and time again.

“In the long-term, an agreement in Paris at COP21 on reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be a significant contribution to reducing damage and loss from disasters, which are partly driven by a warming globe and rising sea levels,” according to former head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Margareta Wahlstrom.

The impacts of climate change go far beyond the thermometer. Rising temperatures and erratic weather patterns will make the viability of growing and feeding an expanding world population even more challenging as stressed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Then there are health impacts of these environmental changes. The Canadian Cancer Society recently set off alarms following the release of a report that stated that nearly half of all Canadians, 1 in every 2 people, will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetime.

But among all the chaos of melting ice caps, increasing cancer rates and concerns over global food supply, there lies a solution in an atom. One energy source, that alone, can provide solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems: nuclear energy.

Canada’s history with nuclear power dates back to the 1970s when the Pickering nuclear generating station came online. The benefits of nuclear power across Canada, and specifically in Ontario, have been profound. It is reported that 45 million tons of carbon dioxide is avoided every year, making nuclear one of the most important contributors to clean air in the province.

The public health impacts of carbon emissions have been well documented by Health Canada and others who have cited an increased risk for cancer, heart attack and stroke as a result of poor air quality. In fact, the Asthma Society of Canada stated that, “asthma exacerbations due to air quality have decreased thanks to carbon-free options such as nuclear, hydroelectric and renewables.” A statement that should come as no surprise when one considers that turning off the switch to coal fired electricity generation in Ontario meant reducing carbon emissions by a staggering 87%.

The importance of nuclear energy was highlighted by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in a recent article by Reuters that stressed the interconnectedness between meeting climate targets and investments in nuclear power. Without nuclear, climate targets could fall short by decades.

Then there are the other benefits. Nuclear science, has enabled huge leaps forward in medicine.  Through work with isotopes and Cobalt-60, a key ingredient in nuclear medicine, doctors can improve the quality and save the lives of millions of patients – from the diagnosis and treatment of cancers to treating other diseases and afflictions such as Alzheimer’s.

Nuclear science is also addressing pest populations and making plants more resilient to climate change, thereby protecting the agriculture lands we need to sustain a growing population.

Nuclear science and nuclear energy can address several the global challenges including the challenge of providing large amounts of power to communities without the high price tag. Nuclear power, while reducing carbon emissions is also cheaper than most other renewable energy sources.  The latest data released by the Ontario Energy Board in their Regulated Price Plan Report, shows that the cost for nuclear power is the second cheapest next to hydro; making nuclear a viable baseload (can run day or night) clean and affordable option for communities.

From fighting food insecurity to providing a low-cost and clean energy solution, further investments in nuclear are needed if we are to win the war on climate change and ensure a more sustainable future for all.

Uncategorized

Next Generation Nuclear

Recently, the Government of Canada announced an initiative called Generation Energy; re-imagining Canada’s energy future. An energy future that, if climate goals are to be realized, must include a mix of clean, cost-efficient, reliable power. Several companies in Canada and beyond are racing to create the nuclear reactors of tomorrow.

Enter the next generation of nuclear. #NextGenNuclear

Image: Luke Lebel

Luke Lebel is one example of young leaders looking to slow down the impacts of climate change thanks to nuclear technology.

“I finished my undergrad degree in 2008 and I was thinking about grad school and was wondering where I could make a difference”, said Lebel, a Research Scientist at CNL. “I liked the idea of energy and helping to mitigate climate change, and I chose the nuclear industry because I think it can make the most amount of difference in replacing fossil fuel energy.”

Lebel concludes strongly that engaging with his peers and advocating for nuclear will be key to the industry’s future success.

“We have to start connecting with young people and have an image out there that makes us feel high tech. If you want to be like Google, you have to act like Google,” said Lebel.

Possessing a strong background in research and analysis, Lebel believes steering a successful next generation of nuclear will require information sharing, communication, mentoring and partnership.

“People of my generation are going to be working on the issue (Paris climate goals) the whole time. The role of younger people is really important just because of that,” said Lebel.

The International Energy Agency in its 2016 World Energy Outlook, estimates that 16% of the world’s population still lives without access to electricity.

Image: Rory O’Sullivan

“In order for people to lift themselves out of poverty, particularly in Africa, they need energy to be cheap and clean”, according to Rory O’Sullivan, Chief Operating Officer at Moltex Energy.

This need to help others is what lead O’Sullivan to forge a path in clean energy. A mechanical engineer by trade, his career took him through project management construction and wind energy before landing on nuclear and Moltex Energy was born.

Recently, Moltex Energy announced a partnership with Deloitte and is in talks with Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), and major utilities to work together on this vision for #NextGenNuclear. Moltex team member Eirik Peterson was also recognized for his work on reactor physics by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as the recipient of a “Young Innovator” award in Russia recently along with Lebel.

“The waste is concentrated and produces a lot of heat, you can’t put it in the ground, but if you shield it and put it into a box, you can plug that box into a turbine,” said O’Sullivan. “That box can then produce power for 10 years, maintenance free. It can also be used to provide district heat to communities.”

This ability of #NextGenNuclear to recycle used fuel to provide heat and power will improve humanitarian conditions, ensuring a brighter future.

Image: Eric Meyer

Advocating for nuclear is exactly what Generation Atomic has set out to do. Founded by Eric G. Meyer, this grassroots nuclear advocacy group is self-described as “energizing and empowering today’s generation to advocate for a nuclear future.”

Using a combination of the latest in new digital technology and on the ground outreach, Generation Atomic is raising awareness about the importance of nuclear energy for people and the planet.

As the Government of Canada looks to reimagine its energy future, it is clear: the next generation of nuclear is here and is working hard to ensure that we have a clean, low-carbon tomorrow for the next generation and beyond.

Do you have a next generation energy story?

CNA Responds

Response to “Pickering’s nuclear waste problem just got bigger”

Re: “Pickering’s nuclear waste problem just got bigger” (NOW Online, July 20), by Angela Bischoff, director of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA).

Ontario Power Generation has safely stored used fuel bundles from the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station for more than 40 years. After they are removed from the water filled bays where they cool and become much less radioactive, they are placed in robust concrete and steel containers. Before being placed into storage, the containers are rigorously tested and safeguard seals are applied by an inspector from the International Atomic Energy Agency. The entire site is closely monitored by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, which is Canada’s regulator.

Despite what the article argues, Canada has a plan in place to safely manage used nuclear fuel and identify a single, preferred location for a  deep geological repository (DGR) for used nuclear fuel. Potential sites are assessed by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) in a process that began when the communities formally expressed interest in learning more. The NWMO has narrowed a list of 22 potential and interested host communities down to five. A single site is expected to be selected in 2023 with licensing and construction to follow. It is expected that an operational facility will be available to begin taking used fuel shipments in the mid-2040s.

John Barrett, President & CEO, Canadian Nuclear Association, Ottawa

Uncategorized

Nuclear Science Week

The following post is published on behalf of the Canadian Nuclear Society (CNS).

‘NUCLEAR SCIENCE WEEK’ initiative by the Durham Region, UOIT, Toronto, Sheridan Park and Golden Horseshoe Branches of the CNS
In partnership with Durham College, UOIT and OCNI

We are planning the second edition of our Student Job Fair for the Nuclear Industry as part of Nuclear Science Week, to take place on: Tuesday, October 16, 2018 at the UOIT/Durham College North Oshawa Campus.

We are encouraging all CNA member companies that are actively or potentially hiring to make up the core of the
participants in this important outreach event. We could have as many as 50 employers and exhibitors to help us fill the gymnasium on campus!

    1.  Meet over 600 students “Under One Roof” from colleges and universities in the Greater Toronto and Golden Horseshoe areas, and beyond – not just students in nuclear-related fields, but in other skills and professions that can benefit the industry. Other organizations will be there (Labour Unions, COG, UNENE, etc).
    2. A great venue offered by Durham College and UOIT, with catered food for students and exhibitors.
    3. Exhibitor booths of great value.
    4. Event to be held in the late week-day afternoon to facilitate student participation, and simplify event logistics.
    5. Educational sessions in parallel with the job fair to keep the students engaged for the duration of the event. These will be held on the gym floor.
    6. Exhibitors will have the opportunity to visit UOIT and Durham College facilities prior to the Job Fair

We thank the companies and organizations who participated in 2017, and hope that you will return this year. We welcome new participants, and encourage you to register early (you can save on the booth price, and you can help us advertise a full venue when the bulk on the students register in September).

Here is a bird’s eye view of the program:

Please go to our website www.cns-snc.ca/events/nuc-jobs2018 for further details and to register. Consider:

  • Over 600 college and university students from around Ontario and beyond in a 4h session.
  • Over 50 employers and support organizations.
  • Low registration fee of $450 ($340 early-bird) gets you a 10’x10’ booth supplied with electricity, table and chairs, food and beverages for 2 attendees.
  • Opportunities for sponsorships to support our students (pizza) and general expenses associated with running the event – check our website for details:
    • Platinum: $5,000
    • Gold: $2,000
    • Silver: $1,000

Partner with us at the Job Fair for the Nuclear Industry. Get involved with our youth! Register early!

Uncategorized

Nuclear Science and Your Apple

The Okanagan Valley in southern British Columbia is known for its beautiful beaches, pristine lakes and fruit production. In fact, this sweet snack is one of the main drivers of the local economy. But did you know that nuclear science plays a key role in protecting apple crops?

The value of tree fruit is almost a billion dollar per year business, making it one of the most important industries in the region. Apples reign king in the Okanagan, comprising over half of all planted land.

However, fruit growers in the Okanagan region have not always made headlines for bumper crops. Pests and disease have seriously threatened the viability of orchard growers in the past and one culprit- the codling moth, has taken a huge bite out of the B.C. apple industry.

This moth, or worm in your apple, directly attacks the fruit and can damage between 50-90% of crops. Using pesticides to control the moth and subsequent crop damage, brought with it negative environmental and health effects. The prolonged use of pesticides contributed to another challenge; immunity as the moths became resistant to chemicals.

To find a solution that was safe for the environment while controlling the devastation caused by the codling moth, researchers looked to nuclear technology. The team at the Okanagan-Kootenay Sterile Insect Release Program has found success with the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT). This technique has been able to reduce fruit damage and control the codling moth population in the B.C. Interior, all while reducing the use of chemicals. And they’ve been doing it successfully for over 20 years.

“Climate change is resulting in an increase of pests per season and there are growing concerns about resistance to chemical controls (pesticides). In B.C., we have reduced pesticides used to control codling moth by over 90%,” stated Cara Nelson, General Manager/Director of Business Development with the Okanagan-Kootenay Sterile Insect Release Program.

This locally funded and operated program has proven itself as a successful way to control a pest problem. Like birth control for pests, SIT uses small amounts of radiation to make the moths sterile thereby preventing reproduction.

“It’s like having an X-ray taken at the dentist. The patient does not become radioactive. While the radiation is different it’s a similar concept in that the radiation goes through the insect,” states Nelson.

While not widely known, research into codling moth SIT goes back to the 1970s when it was discovered that SIT could have profound benefits for the apple industry. The B.C. facility can produce approximately 780 million sterile moths per year at their facility. Currently, they deliver approximately 2,000 sterile moths to local growers per week. Traps are placed one hectare apart and they are checked weekly for both sterile and wild captures. The data is then uploaded via a smartphone app and sent off to local growers. Staff also carry out visual fruit inspections and monitor for “moth” hot spots.

“Many growers in the area don’t even know what codling moth damage looks like because they’ve never experienced it,” says Nelson. “However, if we stop the program the pest will infest again,” she warns.

For Nelson, she would like to see the success of this program go beyond B.C.’s borders. She hopes that both the provincial and federal government will make investments in further research and applications of SIT due to its ability to save agriculture economies while reducing the use of harmful chemicals. She believes that the benefits for SIT go beyond Canada’s borders and is currently working with other regions in Europe and the U.S. to provide both sterile moths and by way of knowledge transfer to help grow the acceptance and use of SIT as part of agriculture techniques. All thanks to nuclear science.

Uncategorized

Nuclear Science: Mapping Out Red Tide

Seafood lovers could one day find their plates dry thanks to climate change. Findings reported on by the Marine Stewardship Council indicate that increasing greenhouse gas emissions absorbed by our world’s ocean are causing them to heat up and become more acidic. These changes threaten the very habitats that fish and other marine organisms like shellfish need to survive.

Coral habitat destruction, rising sea levels and red tides are just a few examples of ocean degradation due to climate change. Red tide or colonies of harmful algae blooms (HABs) is nothing new to coastal communities. This phenomenon has been documented for centuries, however it is only recently that researchers are investigating how changes to our ocean environment could be impacting this coastal occurrence.

This is where nuclear science comes in.​ Scientists with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Environmental Laboratories in Monaco are using a nuclear technique known as receptor binding assay (RBA) to help better detect and map these harmful algae bloom outbreaks (HABs) to help protect human populations.

RBA works like this. In each sample, toxins and radiotracers or radioactive isotopes compete to bind to receptors or cells within the sample. How the isotopes behave tells scientists how much toxicity is present in the sample.

Red tides are transported by wind and ocean currents and are usually found close to the shoreline.  Ocean warming due to the absorption of greenhouse gases brought about by climate change has resulted in these toxic blooms become more frequent and more severe.

As the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pointed out, “recent research suggests that the impacts of climate change may promote the growth and dominance of harmful algal blooms through a variety of mechanisms including warmer water temperatures, changes in salinity, increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, changes in rainfall patterns, intensifying of coastal upwelling and sea level rise.”

Red Tide outbreaks can be devastating to the aquaculture economies of developed and developing countries alike. A red tide outbreak that affected Luzon Island, Philippines in 2006 which had adverse impacts on the nearly 12,000 families that rely on shellfish to make their living.  When these toxic plants enter the food web they can kill off large numbers of fish and marine life. The US National Library Institutes of Medicine and Health discovered high levels of toxins in dead manatees and dolphins following a red tide outbreak.

However, the impacts of red tide are not limited to marine life. HABs can also cause illnesses in humans, mainly affecting the nervous system. Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) is a potentially fatal condition that occurs when people consume shellfish that contain red tide toxins. Ingesting infected shellfish can impact the nervous system and cause dizziness or difficulty swallowing. In extreme cases, it can lead to death.

While science may not be able to stop red tide outbreaks, a method known as receptor binding assay (RBA) can help to better detect and map out these harmful algae bloom outbreaks, taking a step towards health protection of both marine environments and human populations.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in partnership with International Oceanographic Commission of ​UNESCO is working with approximately 40 countries is transferring the knowledge of nuclear technology to stop the effects of red tides on human population, making seafood safer thanks to nuclear science.