On June 12, Denise Carpenter, President and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association addressed the Nordion VIP Reception in advance of the 16th International Meeting on Radiation Processing. Here’s what she had to say:
Thank-you very much for inviting me here today to speak with you at Nordion’s VIP reception.
I truly enjoy taking the opportunity to talk about Canada’s nuclear industry, but am particularly honoured to be here today at the kick-off event for the International Meeting on Radiation Processing here in Montreal.
I had the pleasure this morning of touring The Canadian Irradiation Centre, which is part of Nordion’s commitment to gamma processing. The Centre offers a range of irradiation services including training, testing and development and is truly a testament to the sophistication of the industry and the advancements that have been made.
I often refer to Canada’s nuclear community as a village – we all make one another stronger and together build the infrastructure for a more vibrant and stable future.
Nordion and its global partners are village leaders in this respect. I am a firm believer that health is the most important resource we have and the most essential component of a community.
Quite simply, the Cobalt-60 and related technologies and services your organizations provide or use on a daily basis, prevent disease and infections worldwide.
Without the cohesive global network of highly skilled organizations that are here with us today including the US, Europe, China and South America, this simply would not be possible.
If I can take it one step further, your industries are truly where science and business connect.
But before I get into specifics, I would like to tell you a bit more about the Canadian Nuclear Association and what it is we do.
The CNA represent over 95 members from the entire spectrum of the nuclear industry – electricity producers, manufacturers, uranium mining and fuel processing, engineering and universities and labour unions.
As an association, our work includes being active with governments and encouraging all levels to recognize the value our industry brings to Canada: a clean energy source, the creation of highly skilled jobs across several sectors, and revolutions in nuclear medicine. The list goes on.
And I am proud to say that we have a strong Canadian legacy of innovation and leadership in the nuclear industry.
From our early days at Chalk River to today, our industry is responsible for developing innovative new products and services that have improved the quality of life of Canadians and people around the globe.
- We invented CANDU technology.
- We have created a world-leading uranium industry.
- We have achieved a record of safe, reliable and affordable nuclear power generation.
- In fact, nuclear energy is responsible for 15% of Canada’s electricity production and for over 55% of Ontario’s alone.
Despite many inroads, our industry has also faced many challenges in the past year.
Recently, the nuclear industry was challenged by the tragic incident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan.
Our industry, which supports more than 71,000 Canadian jobs, has been working tirelessly to help our Japanese counterparts and derive any lessons learned to improve upon our own safety here in Canada, as we always do.
Safety has always been – and continues to be – the number one priority for our industry. The nuclear safety culture goes beyond geographical boundaries. It is truly global.
While this was a major shock to our industry, it is not a setback. We continue to improve as our industry forges forward.
Since the tragedy in Japan, the Ontario Government has reaffirmed its commitment to the refurbishment of reactors as well as new builds.
These exciting projects will bring new revitalization to the Ontario and Canadian economies as well as our nuclear industry.
To give you some concrete numbers, an independent report released by the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters stated that refurbishing nuclear facilities at Bruce and Darlington will support 25,000 jobs and inject $5 billion into the Ontario economy annually for a decade – with more than 15,000 jobs continuing thereafter.
In Western Canada, the Government of Saskatchewan recently announced a Centre for Research in Nuclear Medicine and Materials Science at the University of Saskatchewan.
The province is investing $30 million over seven years in the new centre, which will make Saskatchewan the focal point for nuclear research and development in Western Canada.
Our effort of continual improvement also includes enhanced communications with stakeholders, and all Canadians for that matter.
Last year, we conducted extensive research and learned that Canadians want to know how nuclear affects them, beyond simply keeping the lights on. We heard that they want to learn more about how nuclear plays a role in healthcare, and most importantly, how it’s keeping their families healthy.
We thought long and hard about how to communicate this message, and decided to take a multi-prong approach.
Later this month, we are launching an interactive microsite that virtually takes users through different scenarios to learn how nuclear is making Canada better.
A large focus of this site is how nuclear is improving health care in Canada and abroad, from sterilizing medical supplies and devices to diagnosing and treating illnesses like cancer.
The site poses attention-grabbing questions to visitors, like
‘Did you know nuclear ensures critical medical devices are sterile?’
When the site launches later this month, I encourage you all to take a look and pass it along to your colleagues.
It of course will be an iterative process, and we welcome any recommendations or input you each may have.
While we continue to move forward and leverage these communication platforms, uncertainties do remain such as the Government of Canada’s plans to privatize the commercial interests of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL).
With a majority government now in place, we suspect this process will move along more quickly.
The path forward for the Chalk River Laboratories, Canada’s primary nuclear industry research and development infrastructure, will also be analyzed.
The CNA has developed a position paper on the need for re-investment in nuclear research and development infrastructure as essential to Canada’s future domestic and international competitiveness.
We are advocating for a small expert panel to review the status, potential, and governance of nuclear R&D in Canada.
We believe the Government should give thoughtful consideration to the future of the R&D side of the nuclear industry, regardless of the status of the AECL restructuring
As you all know, continued investment in nuclear, particularly R&D, is the strongest catalyst for our industry’s growth and successful future.
I want to thank you again for inviting me to be here this evening.
Our nuclear village is truly global and would not be possible without the strong networks I’ve seen tonight. Your global cooperation will continue to make our nuclear industry stronger and better.
On a day-to-day basis, it might be easy to forget what your work means to people worldwide. Your efforts go beyond the numbers and figures of business. You are in the business of improving lives and preventing disease, each and every day.
For that, we thank you.