Category Archives: Nuclear News

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The Next Generation of Nuclear

June in Paris. It’s a time for lounging in the gardens just outside of the Louvre and stopping into Berthillon’s for a sweet escape from the crowds. It’s also where young professionals from all over Europe will gather June 22nd – 26th to discuss the next wave of nuclear energy.

PARISTOWERA 2014 report by the IAEA looked at the role of nuclear energy in the fight against climate change.  What the report found, was that if substantial measures are not taken to curb CO2 emissions we will see our pollution footprint rise to an estimated 20% by 2035.

Population growth and economic development are driving the demand for electricity, forecast to double by 2050. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the demands of industry and population growth will require that 80% of all electricity generation come from low-carbon sources.

One of the most effective ways to meet these targets is through nuclear power.  In May, 39 nuclear societies representing 36 countries signed an agreement in Nice, France in May to show their commitment towards helping the environment.

The building blocks of this commitment will continue to be strengthened as an estimated 400 students and young professionals from across Europe gather in Paris to tackle energy generation and the environment head on.  According to Sophie Missirian, the SFEN Young Generation President, it is a key role for the future of the industry.

“I believe it is the role of the young generation to defend the idea that nuclear is a solution to fight climate change and must be recognized as such.”

Six months ahead of the big climate summit in Paris, conference organizers and attendees will key in on how to find success in December. They will take on issues including the impact of uranium mining on the environment, waste management options and the physics behind building reactors. The success of this year’s conference has yet to be realized but as one attendee put it, “It’s great that we are having this nuclear renaissance across Europe and across the world.”

The Young Generation Network exists in 48 countries. It was established twenty years ago by the European Nuclear Society as a way to exchange knowledge and encourage the participation of young people in national nuclear sectors.

Nuclear News

Top Ten Nuclear News Stories in 2014

By Romeo St-Martin
Communications Officer
Canadian Nuclear Association

Greater media coverage and government concern about climate change powered a steady supply of nuclear energy issues in the media in 2014.

As 2014 closed, Japan pressed ahead with plans to restart its nuclear reactors, Germany’s Energiewende continued to raise questions about whether renewables can replace fossil fuels, and more and more environmentalists came to support nuclear power.

Here, in no particular order, are 10 of the most-talked-about nuclear energy issues of 2014.

China

The nuclear industry’s Asian expansion continued, with China leading the way. Not only is the country’s economy expanding, lifting millions out of poverty, but its middle class is fed up with coal-driven pollution in major cities.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama announced a surprise climate agreement in December that would see China’s CO2 emissions peak by 2030.

Not surprisingly, Chinese leaders have begun to rapidly develop nuclear power, as the negative impact of Japan’s nuclear crisis in 2011 wanes. Under the country’s National Energy Administration’s latest Five-Year Plan, China will invest $196 billion in 101 new reactors between 2015 and 2030.

Canada will play a role in this scale-up. Candu Energy Inc. announced in November that its Advanced Fuel CANDU Reactor (AFCR) earned a positive review from a Chinese scientific panel. The review will lead to further development and construction with significant benefits to the Canadian industry.

“It’s a big step toward our entry into the biggest nuclear market in the world,” Jerry Hopwood, vice-president of Candu Energy, told the Toronto Star.

Radiation in perspective

Stories that brought perspective to radiation exposure were popular in social media, catalyzed in part by a United Nations report that dispelled one of the most popular myths regarding the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown.

The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) said in its April report that it did not expect “significant changes” in future cancer rates that could be attributed to radiation exposure from the reactor meltdowns.

Social media also took note of a study by a Scottish mountain climber and radiation-protection advisor who found climbers scaling Mt. Everest received a radiation dose five times more than the average annual exposure of a UK nuclear power worker.

Google’s Energiewende

google hqWind and solar energy’s continuing unpredictability gained widespread attention thanks to in part to a viral story about Google’s decision to scrap its renewable energy program, RE<C.

“Trying to combat climate change exclusively with today’s renewable energy technologies simply won’t work; we need a fundamentally different approach,” wrote Google’s Ross Koningstein and David Fork in a piece published in IEEE’s Spectrum.

“We felt that with steady improvements to today’s renewable energy technologies, our society could stave off catastrophic climate change. We now know that to be a false hope—but that doesn’t mean the planet is doomed.”

Climate debate

Nuclear’s contribution to climate change mitigation gained further global recognition. The Economist published a chart that listed nuclear power as the third-biggest contributor to GHG reductions, trailing the Montreal Protocol (which reduced chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons) and hydroelectricity, but much further ahead of renewables.

To slash or to trim

Also the latest policy report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) included nuclear among the clean energy technologies whose total output must quadruple to help avert catastrophic climate effects.

Environmentalists continue to go nuclear

Carol Browner, former director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy
Carol Browner, former director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy

More environmentalists and scientists joined the likes of James Hansen and Mark Lynas as public advocates of nuclear energy.

Carol Browner, former director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, joined the advocacy group Nuclear Matters.

Browner said in a Forbes piece that she had been anti-nuclear, but changed her position because of nuclear’s beneficial role in offsetting climate change.

In December, 75 conservationist scientists wrote an open letter to environmentalists urging them to reconsider nuclear energy because it helps preserve biodiversity.

Here’s the quote from their letter:

“Although renewable energy sources like wind and solar will likely make increasing contributions to future energy production, these technology options face real-world problems of scalability, cost, material and land use, meaning that it is too risky to rely on them as the only alternatives to fossil fuels. Nuclear power—being by far the most compact and energy-dense of sources—could also make a major, and perhaps leading, contribution. As scientists, we declare that an evidence-based approach to future energy production is an essential component of securing biodiversity’s future and cannot be ignored. It is time that conservationists make their voices heard in this policy arena.”

Energiewende

Germany continued its nuclear phase-out in 2014, creating a need for more coal-fired electrical production. Enough said.

Ontario goes coal-free thanks to nuclear

Ontario became the first North American jurisdiction to end the use of coal in electricity generation. The event was even noted by former U.S. vice president Al Gore.

Nuclear power played a major role. Between 2000 and 2013, nuclear-powered electrical generation rose 20 percent, coinciding with a 27 percent drop in coal-fired electricity. During the same period, non-hydro renewables increased from one percent to 3.4 percent. This major transition to a cleaner Ontario could not have happened without nuclear.

DGR

Also in Ontario, OPG’s proposal to create a deep geologic repository for low- and intermediate-level waste remained in the headlines.  The CNA appeared for the second time before the joint review panel to voice our support for the initiative.

OPG, with the support of the surrounding community, has proposed a permanent management solution for these materials. This speaks to the proactive and responsible environmental management to which all members of the Canadian Nuclear Association are committed.

Fusion

One of the biggest news stories featured an announcement by Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works division that it had made a breakthrough in developing a fusion reactor and could have one small enough to fit on the back of a truck in 10 years. The announcement stunned nuclear-savvy observers who had thought such a development would take much longer than a decade.

Quebec imports

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard signed an agreement November 21st on electricity. Ontario will make 500 megawatts available to Quebec to manage its winter demand peak, while Quebec will reciprocate for Ontario’s summertime peak.

The capacity amounts are small, representing about 1.4 percent of Ontario’s installed generating capacity of 33,771 megawatts (MW), and less than four percent of Ontario’s nuclear generating capacity of 12,947 MW.

In announcing the Quebec agreement, Ontario’s Premier Wynne rejected suggestions that imported electricity could reduce Ontario’s reliance on nuclear power. “We’re not anywhere near having a conversation like that,” Wynne told reporters.

Nuclear News

Nuclear Pioneers Pass

Our industry lost two important people recently. John Runnalls, a former president of the Canadian Nuclear Association, and Jim Harvie, a past president of the Canadian Nuclear Society. Both men made significant contributions the development, safety and promotion of nuclear in Canada and will be missed by their contemporaries and all who knew them.

Our thoughts are with the Runnalls and Harvie families.

Below is John’s obituary from the Globe and Mail, and a summary of Jim’s many positions over his career.

John Runnalls, Ph.D., F.R.S. C, F. C.A.E., P.Eng

John passed away peacefully on October 14, 2012 in his 88th year. Cherished and devoted husband of Vivian Constance (nee Stowe) for 65 years. John is survived by his sister Corinne Holtby of Thunder Bay. He was an exceptional father and will be deeply missed by his children David (Brenda) and Catherine (Don). All the grandchildren Angela (Lindsay), Sean (Sheila), Christopher (Karen), Jeffrey (Stephanie), Laurel (Michael); step-grandchildren Melissa, Lachlan (Natasha); and great grandchildren Sophie, Jack, Murray, Haley, Hannah, Logan and Harper were blessed to have such a wonderful grandpa and papa John. Truly a ‘gentleman and a scholar’ with a reputation as ‘the lawyer’ to the female contingent of the extended family, John mentored many and was respected by all including not only family and friends but the scientific community.

He began his career in 1951 in Chalk River with Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. and held various senior research and development positions over a 20-year period. During his last 2 years with A.E. C.L. he served as Chief Liaison Officer, Europe . From 1971-1979 John was the Senior Advisor of Uranium and Nuclear Energy for the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources in Ottawa and was Executive Vice-President of Uranium Canada Ltd. from 1974-1979. In 1979 John was appointed the 1st incumbent of a new Chair in Energy Studies with the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering at the University of Toronto and in 1983 became Chairman of the Centre for Nuclear Engineering. When he retired in 1989 at 65 he continued to consult internationally in the energy field.

John was on the Board of the Canadian Energy Research Institute, Canadian Nuclear Association, Ontario Hydro, URANERZ, and was the Canadian Representative on the International Advisory Committee of Nuexco. He was recognized by a number of prestigious awards, medals and fellowships for his contribution to the energy field throughout his career. John was also a very avid boater, loved cottage life and had talents as a woodworker which seems to run in the family! The family express their deepest appreciation for the compassionate and caring support provided by staff of Sunrise of Erin Mills. In memory of this gentle man with the ‘kind eyes and beautiful soul’ the family would appreciate donations to the Alzheimer’s’ Society of Ontario for research (www.alzheimer’s.ca). The family will receive friends at Skinner and Middlebrook Funeral Home, 128 Lakeshore Road East; Port Credit Mississauga on Saturday November 3, 2012 from 1-4 pm. John will be interred in Deep River, Ontario. The immediate family will hold a celebration of his life this summer.

Jim Harvie

President, Canadian Nuclear Society, 2008 – 2009.
1966 – 1974: Researcher in Thermalhydraulics, Chalk River Laboratories.
1974 – 1979: Project Officer at Bruce Generating Stations “A” and “B”, Atomic Energy
Control Board (subsequently Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission).
1979 – 1991: Manager of various divisions in AECB responsible for safety and licensing
of nuclear reactors.
1991 – 1996: Director General, Research and Safeguards Directorate.
1996 – 2002: Director General, Reactor Regulation.
2002 – 2007: Chair, Ottawa Branch, CNS.
2003 – Present: Member, CNS Council.
2005 – 2007: Treasurer, CNS.
2007 – 2008: Vice-President, CNS

CNA Responds Nuclear Energy Nuclear News

Gentilly-2 Movie Makes Fiction Out of Fact

It was reported last week that the recently elected Parti Quebecois intends to shut down Quebec’s reactor, Gentilly-2. Nothing is official until the new government makes it so, but comments from PQ spokesperson, Éric Gamache, have caught some attention.

This has always been the PQ party’s position on Gentilly-2 (G2), so why the stir now?

Timing is everything. A movie called “Gentilly Or Not To Be,” based on a report by the Quebec government’s Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de la Mauricie et du Centre-du-Québec aired last night on Télé-Québec.

The G2 movie uses this report as the basis for their claim that ‘the rate of childhood cancers in the area around the plant is 27% higher than in the rest of Québec.’

To be clear, this is the film maker’s interpretation of the data.

The director of the public health agency that authored the report, physician Gilles W. Grenier, clearly acknowledges the limitations of the municipal data, the very small numbers involved, random variables, the difficulty in interpreting the statistics to determine significance, the need for more detailed study and so on — so the 27% claim is simply not credible.

In fact, according to the CNSC, the Regional Public Health Directorate confirms cancer rates are normal around Gentilly-2. The fluctuations recorded by the documentary filmmakers for the years 2000–2004 are normal, temporary and related to cases located in a relatively remote area from the plant. In fact, such fluctuations are regularly observed in the population and should not be interpreted blindly and recklessly.

To quote Dr. Grenier, when he spoke with the CBC on September 11,

“We’ve been monitoring cancer rates and birth-defect rates for 20 years in a 20-kilometre radius around the reactor, and in all that period, in the zone from five to 10 kilometres out, we’ve never seen a rise in cancer cases against the Quebec average.”

The film also references a German study that alleges increased leukemia risk for people living near nuclear power stations. This is false. The authors of the study and the German Commission on Radiological Protection have determined that the presence of clusters (or concentrations) of leukemia cases near some German nuclear power plants had nothing to do with the radioactive releases. In fact, some years clusters are observed in different regions of Germany whether they have nuclear power plants or not.

Also worth noting, recent British and French studies used the same methodology as the German childhood leukemia study and did not find any increase in risk in their populations.

To be or not to be

The film’s title is a clever play on the opening lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy and clearly signals the intention of the movie, which is to ask the question: do we need nuclear energy?

…Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles…

But who is Hamlet in this scenario, really? What outrageous fortune is it to have a reliable, clean energy source like nuclear? In 2012, nuclear power from G2 helped avoid almost 3.5 million tonnes CO2 emissions in Quebec. The province is fortunate to have immense hydro power but that’s not the case for all provinces or countries.

This is another issue the film failed to address. Nuclear power is a vital part of Canada’s clean energy mix. It accounts for 15% of all electricity generated across the country and almost 60% in Ontario alone. Nuclear is a strong reliable source of base load power that is enabling Ontario to quit coal by 2014 and get renewable sources like wind and solar on the grid. Nuclear power generation can enable Canada to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by reducing dependence on burning fossil fuels, like coal, oil and gas. An energy mix that includes nuclear means a cleaner, greener future.

The film makers feel they are taking arms against a sea of trouble. A sea filled with supposed increased childhood cancer rates and misunderstandings about the safety of this energy source.

People who work at nuclear facilities live near them too. They are knowledgeable about the technology and the science. They understand how safe it is, how responsibly power generation by-products and used-fuel are handled.

They are 800 strong at G2. Ask yourself, would 800 people collectively decide to put their health and their families’ health in harm’s way if there was indeed such a huge risk, as the film makers say?

We don’t think so either.

 

Additional Reading

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission sent a letter from President Dr. Michael Binder to the editor of Le Nouvelliste, a QC paper that has been covering the issue recently. They completely debunk the claims in the film. If you’re still worried, we recommend you read the letter and sleep better tonight.

More from the CNSC on this issue:  Similar to the letter above but with more myth busting facts!

Radiation and health is a complicated issue for us regular folks. AECL, one of the best sources for accurate information about nuclear, has compiled this information and list of resources.

Nuclear News Nuclear Pride Nuclear Safety

FireFit and TopCop are Coming to Chalk River!

This July 7 and 8, FireFit and TopCop are coming to Chalk River! AECL is hosting this competitive event for the first time in the area, at the Laurentian Hills Fire Department – Chalk River Branch. The event is free and open to the public and media.

FireFit and TopCop Competition in Chalk River

What is FireFit and TopCop?

FireFit and TopCop are competitions that simulate the fire fighting and security tasks most often performed in emergency situations. The purpose of the FireFit and TopCop events is to showcase the demands of fire fighting and of being a security/ law enforcement professional. In both competitions, participants are challenged to race through designated courses and perform emergency tasks, all while dressed in the full equipment of a typical fire fighter or police officer at the scene of an emergency.

“By hosting this event in Chalk River, AECL can display the exemplary capabilities of the emergency personnel we have on site. It also allows us a great opportunity to work with our community partners. These competitions give the public some insight into the rigorous training and state of readiness that these employees maintain,” said Brian Mumford, Director of Emergency and Protective Services at AECL.

Activities at Firefit/TopCop Weekend

  • Firefit Race – Free (10:30 a.m. Saturday)
  • TopCop Race – Free (10:30 a.m. Sunday)
  • Petting Zoo – Free
  • BBQ – $
  • Pig Roast Dinner – $10 (6:30 p.m. Saturday)

AECL has worked alongside local organizations and community members to help pull this event together, including the Town of Laurentian Hills, CFB Petawawa and a number of other sponsors.

For more information about Firefit and TopCop please visit www.firefit.com or www.beatopcop.com.  A portion of the proceeds from this event will be donated to the Heart & Stroke Foundation.

2012 is a milestone year for AECL as it also celebrates 60 years as Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology organization. For more information about AECL, please visit www.aecl.ca.

Nuclear News Nuclear R&D

Journal Launch: AECL Nuclear Review

TalkNUclear is pleased to share the news that AECL has just launched AECL Nuclear Review, Canada’s newest journal for nuclear science and technology.

AECL Nuclear Review - Vol. 1, No. 1 June 2012

AECL Nuclear Review showcases innovative and important nuclear science and technology that is aligned with AECL’s core programs. The Journal welcomes original/novel articles and technical notes in a variety of subject areas: CANDU Nuclear Industry; Nuclear Safeguards and Security; Clean Safe Energy including Gen IV, Hydrogen Technology, Small Reactors, Fusion, Sustainable Energy and Advanced Materials; Health, Isotopes and Radiation; and Environmental Sciences. The accepted peer reviewed articles are expected to span different disciplines such as engineering, chemistry, physics, and biology.

AECL Nuclear Review welcomes Canadian and international research scholars and scientists from different disciplines to its new publication which reflects the integration of scientific researchers and industrial practitioners.

If you would like to submit an article for consideration, or, wish to reach any member of the editorial team, please get in touch:
JANL@aecl.ca or 1-800-364-6989 (Corporate Communications)

Click to download the first issue of AECL Nuclear Review (8MB)