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CNA Members Lead the Way in Aboriginal Relations

CCAB logo

Four CNA members were among 40 companies recently recognized by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) for Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) for 2014.

The PAR program is the only corporate assurance program in the world with an emphasis on Aboriginal relations.

Bruce Power achieved the highest possible certification with Gold Standing, becoming one of only 12 companies in Canada to receive the designation. The gold designation indicates that certified companies are good business partners; great places to work, and are committed to prosperity in Aboriginal communities.

Of the new companies, SaskPower received certification with Silver standing (one of just three companies in Canada to receive that ranking), while Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP and Hatch joined at the Committed Level.

The PAR program supports improvement and best practices in Aboriginal relations. The designation is made by a jury of Aboriginal business people who examine employment, community investment, business development, and community engagement based on company reports, on-site visits and interviews with Aboriginal stakeholders.

The names of the companies were announced at the CCAB’s 12th Annual Vancouver Gala on September 25, 2014 at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver.

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Possible Solutions to a Shortage of Medical Radioisotopes

Submitted by François Couillard
Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists

The Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists (CAMRT) has identified the risk of a global shortage of medical radioisotopes as an emerging issue of concern in the near to medium term, particularly for the international community of nuclear medicine specialists and their patients.  Technetium-99m (99mTc) is used in over 80% of nuclear medicine procedures- more than 30-40 million examinations worldwide yearly. This is the “bread and butter” of nuclear medicine. Ongoing reliable supply of this critical isotope appears to be questionable.

The CAMRT is working with a number of stakeholders to define the issue more specifically and propose    solutions that mitigate the impact of a diminished supply of medical isotopes, to provide decision makers with the details they need to make an informed decision.

Defining the issue

In order to understand the issue, it is necessary to understand the current supply chain:

Uranium –> Reactors –> 99Mo processing facility –> 99mTc processing facility –> Hospitals

Uranium targets are irradiated in a nuclear reactor. They are then processed to extract 99Mo. This product is shipped to facilities where “generators” are assembled. These generators are then sent to hospitals all over the world. The two most critical steps in the process are the irradiation of uranium target in reactors and the processing of these targets to produce 99Mo. Any disruption can hurt the supply chain downstream.

There are several issues that threaten the supply of this critical isotope:

  • Demand is expected to continue to grow at a rate of about 2% per year worldwide until at least 2020 (ref. NEA-OECD report).
  • 2 of the 9 reactors used in this supply chain are scheduled to stop production in 2016 (the Canadian NRU and French OSIRIS reactors). Together, they account for over 25% of the potential annual production capacity.1 The Canadian government has indicated that it will not extend NRU production beyond 2016.
  • All other major existing producing reactors, except for OPAL in Australia, are aging and scheduled to shut down by 2030.
  • OECD countries have agreed to substitute the use of High Enriched Uranium (HEU) in reactors with Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) (HEU can be used to make nuclear bombs). The transformation is proving technically challenging and expensive in light of the short expected life of existing reactors.
  • The 99Mo processing capacity in the world is at high risk of being insufficient to meet demand. One of the largest processor, Nordion, will cease 99Mo processing after NRU stops production, creating a gap until new projects like Australia’s ANSTO new facility are fully operational.
  • The future price of 99mTc is likely to rise due to the above challenges and the exit of Nordion.

Possible solutions:

There are 3 ways to address these issues:

  1. Increase production capacity
  2. Optimize distribution and utilization
  3. Substitute tests with other tracers or modalities

The last major disruption in supply forced health providers to collaborate to find creative ways to share limited 99mTc supplies. It also encouraged substitution to other modalities, often at higher cost and/or with compromised quality. Most health jurisdictions in Canada now have contingency plans in place.

The ideal situation would be to have new irradiation and processing capacity in place by 2016 to ensure a seamless transition away from the NRU and OSIRIS reactors and associated processing facilities. There are over 11 new irradiator projects underway (mainly reactors) and almost as many new processing facility projects. Canada is also experimenting with 3 cyclotron/linear accelerator schemes to replace reactor supplied 99mTc. These Canadian projects are promising but they are still years away from full approval by Health Canada and pricing and distribution scenarios remain uncertain.

At this point we have been unable to get industry reassurance that a sufficient number of these projects will be fully operational on time to ensure a steady and reliable supply of 99mTc. Getting a clear picture of the situation post-NRU is proving very challenging. The best information available is from the April 2014 OECD report which concludes that “clearly, insufficient processing capacity will be a major risk for secure supply in the next 5 years”. Capacity should stabilize after 2020, provided additional capacity is added to replace the 6 reactors scheduled for shutdown between 2024 and 2030.

 Progress to date

The CAMRT is monitoring the situation closely, and coordinating ongoing investigation of the situation through dialogue and information sharing with CAMRT members, international colleagues and other national healthcare associations.

We are currently engaged in discussions with Health Canada, with provincial and territorial government representatives, and various industry players.  Our goal is to monitor the situation closely and stimulate the emergence of mitigation strategies, if required, through constant engagement with our members, producers, governments and other stakeholders.

We welcome partners, questions, suggestions and any new information you would like to share with us.

References

[1] The supply of medical isotopes; medical isotope supply in the future: production capacity and demand forecast for the 99Mo/99mTc market,2015-2020. April 2014 NEA/SEN/HLGMR(2014)2 www.oecd-nea.org

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CNA Fall Energy Seminar Features Release of 2015 Life-Cycle Analysis of Canadian Electricity Options

fall-seminarWith climate change as a top priority for decisions about electricity generation, it is more valuable now than ever to understand the carbon impact of our energy activities, from construction to decommissioning.

A life-cycle analysis of a technology takes into account all the activities required for its function – not just during operation. It is easy to point out that fossil fuels emit greenhouse gases, and compare nuclear and renewable sources as comparatively zero-emissions – but doing so disregards the carbon impact of mining, construction, and other non-operational activities.

This fall, on October 7-8, the CNA will hold its inaugural Fall Energy Seminar at the Hilton Toronto. We will debut our latest life-cycle study, and discuss its conclusions in the pursuit of a cleaner electricity future.

Registration is affordably priced and is open to everyone.
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Environment International Nuclear Policy

All may not be Lost on Global Heating

By John Stewart
Director, Policy and Research
Canadian Nuclear Association

The UN’s 69th General Assembly opened today in New York. On the agenda is “stemming the existential threat of climate change,” along with a litany of other crises from Ebola to ISIS.

I commented six months ago that only a “Poland moment” – the arrival of real, widespread fear for our way of life – might get climate change recognized as an “existential threat.” Let alone get it “stemmed.” I doubt that we are there yet.

But as catastrophic as the outlook seems on carbon emissions, I am not completely pessimistic. Governments do face up to, and act to mitigate, grave threats, even at times when doing so is costly and defies electoral arithmetic. The record of improving air and water quality in developed areas of the globe since the 1960s attests to this. So do many other international efforts to improve human health and security.

While it takes time, our governments have shown they can act to address environmental challenges. Source: http://www.ec.gc.ca/air/default.asp?lang=En&n=8ABC14B4-1&offset=2&toc=show

While it takes time, our governments have shown they can act to address environmental challenges. Source: Environment Canada.

How hopeful can we dare to be that a child born today will not witness hundreds of millions of people being displaced by rising seas and desertification due to climate change? Or at least, that he or she will live to see a substantial turnaround of this process?

Here are what I see as the negatives that support a pessimistic view:

  • Lack of action by major national governments so far – except for grasping at fake “solutions” that are politically expedient (such as farm subsidies dressed up as “biofuels”), are subsidy-based and therefore inefficient and unsustainable (much wind and solar). All of which create new vested interests faster than they decarbonize our lifestyles. Slightly less bad is watching government jump into solutions that may work out, but are too far down the road to be useful in the near-term climate battle (such as technology development funds).
  • A global policymaking environment of crises upon crises – to take just a few examples: for Europeans, the Eurozone economic crisis followed by Ukraine; for Arabs, the Arab Spring followed by Egypt and Syria; for Americans, financial crisis followed by politico-fiscal paralysis, military withdrawals, and now a new war.
  • The long financial crisis and sluggish world economy – putting a continuing drag on governments’ fiscal capacity, and also slowing the rate at which infrastructure can be rebuilt on lower-carbon technologies.

On the other hand, here are some major positives, raising hope that something can be done:

  • Real concern at the top – the UN Secretary-General, the US President, and many other top political, business and intellectual leaders appear to recognize the threat posed by climate change.
  • Steps forward by smaller players – large companies, industry associations and sub-national governments have been willing to be early movers, and some of those moves seem to have worked well.
  • Leadership in the high-growth regions – while dense emerging markets like China and India may remain far behind the West in many aspects of environmental quality, their high rates of infrastructure investment give them once-in-a-century opportunities to build lower-carbon systems in electric power, transportation and urban design. In fits and starts, they are seizing it.

The ecosphere will benefit if high-growth countries make good choices (as China does when it invests in fifty or seventy nuclear power plants instead of coal-fired units), and stable economies such as ours continue to rely on nuclear.

Weighing the scales, my own view is that the odds that we can still act to mitigate climate change are better than bleak.

Environment

Nuclear is the No. 3 Contributor to Climate Change Mitigation: The Economist

Ahead of the September 23 UN meeting of world leaders to discuss climate change, The Economist magazine decided to do something they claim has never been attempted before.

The magazine has compiled a list of the top 20 climate change mitigation measures put in place globally.

Not surprising, nuclear power ranked third overall and was credited for reducing 2.2 billion tonnes of C02 annually, behind the Montreal Protocol and hydro power. Nuclear’s climate change mitigation was estimated to be four times greater than all non-hydro renewable energy sources combined.

To slash or to trim

“According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, nuclear power avoided the production of 2.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2010—that is, emissions would have been 2.2 billion tonnes higher if the same amount of electricity had been produced by non-nuclear plants,” The Economist reported.

It added that the high rate at which new wind and solar capacity is being built will eat into this lead of nuclear and hydro “but it will take some time to overturn it.”

You can read the full Economist article here.

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Here’s to Heather

Heather Kleb

Heather Kleb

Farewell, Heather
CNA Vice-President Heather Kleb left the CNA on September 12 to join Bruce Power.
Kleb will be taking up a position as senior program manager in the regulatory program with Bruce starting in Ottawa in late September.
”Working at the CNA has allowed me to meet so many of the great people who make up the nuclear industry,” said Kleb. “I hope to continue to run into all of you in my new role. And I plan to cheer the CNA on from the sidelines as they advocate for our industry.”
Kleb joined the CNA in 2010 as director of regulatory affairs and served as acting CNA president from October 2012 to October 2013.
“Heather will always be a most welcome friend of CNA; we very much hope to benefit from her advice on regulatory and environmental affairs,” said CNA President John Barrett. “Her expertise in these matters is most valuable, not only to the CNA but also to the nuclear industry at large.”
Heather has a background in environmental science with a Master of Science in Ecology and over 20 years of experience working on multi-million dollar projects supporting a variety of industries. She has held a number of positions at Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, including Manager, Regulatory Affairs, for the cleanup and long-term management of historic low-level radioactive waste in Port Hope and Clarington, Ontario.
She is also currently enrolled in the EMBA program at Queen’s University.
Good luck, Heather!