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The Point Lepreau Generating Station is Seismically Robust and Safe

Below is a press release from NB Power correcting misinformation being circulated about the safety of their facility at Point Lepreau.

We echo the sentiments of NB Power Site VP & CNO, Sean Granville, when he says that our industry is one of most (if not THE most) closely regulated industries in Canada. Nuclear safety is not something we take lightly, it’s part of our culture.

Please read on for the straight facts on the matter.

The Point Lepreau Generating Station is seismically robust and safe

February 6, 2013

Fredericton, N.B. – NB Power takes exception to comments made today about the safety of the Point Lepreau Generating Station (PLGS) by the Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB) Action Committee.

“These comments are misleading and attempt to undermine public trust in nuclear safety regulation and in the Point Lepreau Generating Station,” said Sean Granville, Site Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer. “The nuclear industry is one of Canada’s most closely regulated industries and its safety record is excellent and very transparent to the public. The people of New Brunswick can take great confidence in the safety of Point Lepreau.”

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) regulatory framework relies, in part, on International Atomic Energy Agency guidelines. On the basis of that framework, the CNSC sets licensing conditions for PLGS, which also includes meeting various Canadian standards. The Station meets or exceeds the specifications required under its federal licence. Comments made today by CCNB take highly technical seismic data about Point Lepreau out of context.

“We understand that the CCNB is not in favor of nuclear power and they of course are entirely entitled to hold that opinion,” said Granville. “However, NB Power is fully committed to operating the Station in a safe and responsible manner while meeting all licence and safety requirements.”

As stated by the CNSC, all Canadian nuclear power plants, existing or new, are licensed on the basis of their proven ability to withstand seismic events like earthquakes. Structures and systems have been designed to safely survive earthquakes and the CNSC ensures that all nuclear power plant licensees comply with regulatory requirements. In Canada, reactor sites are geologically screened to ensure they are constructed in a location that is seismically stable.

PLGS is located in an area of much lower seismic hazard risk than Fukushima. It is well within the North American plate and not located at a subduction tectonic plate boundary as is the case in Japan. The Station was designed to withstand potential earthquakes; both the actual structures that form containment and the systems important to safety have been seismically qualified prior to being granted a licence to operate. In addition, a
number of upgrades to the plant were made as part of the recent Refurbishment Project to further enhance seismic safety.

When the CNSC renewed PLGS’s Power Reactor Operating Licence in February 2012, the Commission made the completion of a site-specific seismic hazard assessment a condition of the Station’s licence renewal.

Since early 2012, PLGS staff have worked with experts on the site-specific seismic hazard assessment. Seasonal factors make it impossible to complete all data gathering until the summer of 2013, which means the final assessment report will be issued in 2014. Meanwhile, the preliminary findings offer reassurance about the safety of the Station.

Data included in this study is highly technical information, and NB Power – in reporting to the CNSC – relies on independent, highly qualified experts to conduct this type of work. Additionally, the assessment is reviewed by an independent panel of experts.

Preliminary findings of the seismic assessment received from third-party experts in December 2012 indicate that the current understanding of the earthquake hazard for the Point Lepreau site is not substantially different than that presented in a 1984 study. More information on the preliminary findings is available here.

Based on these findings; we are confident that the original safety case for PLGS remains as strong today as it was when the Station was constructed. The Station is sound and will continue to operate safely. New Brunswickers should be assured that NB Power takes its responsibilities to the people of New Brunswick as its utmost priority and puts the safety of employees and the public above everything else.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Kathleen Duguay, Manager, Public Affairs, (506) 647-8057 or kduguay@nbpower.com.

CNA Responds Nuclear Energy Nuclear Pride Nuclear Safety

CNA Endorses OPG’s Applications for Renewal of Darlington Facilities

December 5, 2012, OTTAWA – The Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) welcomes and endorses Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) applications to renew its Darlington facilities. These applications cover refurbishment and ongoing operation of the Darlington nuclear generating facility, and renewal of the Darlington Waste Management Facility’s licence for a 10-year period.

“I’m delivering this message not just on behalf of at least 60,000 Canadians whose livelihoods are supported by our industry, but also for the 13.5 million Ontarians who deserve to enjoy the same affordable clean air energy in the future that they have in the past,” said Heather Kleb, CNA President and CEO.

“Darlington supplies electricity that is extremely reliable, reasonably priced, emits virtually no greenhouse gas from operations, and delivers high-wage, highly skilled jobs. The Darlington Nuclear Generating Station has been one of the largest contributors of electricity to Ontario’s power grid since 1990. We at CNA feel very strongly that the continued service of these facilities is vital for an ongoing stable supply of base load electricity to Ontario homes, workplaces and businesses.

“The Darlington station is an extremely valuable economic resource that has not yet reached the mid-way point of its functional service life. By renewing it, Ontario has a great opportunity to realize more value from this asset. The front-end cost of nuclear plants is spread over several decades of operating life, allowing them to produce electricity at low and predictable unit costs.

“Nuclear is one of the assets that has made Ontario so attractive in the past for investors and knowledge industries. Darlington is helping that to continue.”

A recently released study by Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters determined that nuclear is an integral part of Canada’s innovation, manufacturing and export capacity. Refurbishing ten nuclear reactors will support at least 10,000 jobs for the coming eleven years, plus ongoing long-term jobs in plant operations.

Ms. Kleb added that the safety of operations at Darlington has been demonstrated through 20 years of commercial power generation at this site, and over 40 years in the province.

Ms. Kleb spoke on December 5 at a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) Public Hearing in Courtice, Ontario.

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For more information:
John Stewart
Director of Policy
Canadian Nuclear Association
stewartj@cna.ca

Background information:

 

Guest Blog Nuclear Energy

Open Letter from Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission President Michael Binder

This letter by CNSC President, Dr. Michael Binder, is simply too good not to share. Kudos to the CNSC for being such a strong regulator and our member companies Cameco and AREVA for their solid safety track record and impeccable operations. Please read on below.

November 22, 2012

Following the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s (CNSC) recent decision to license a uranium exploration project in Quebec, I’m dismayed that recent statements and discussions over the safety of uranium mining have been based neither on fact nor science. Uranium mining and milling in this country is tightly regulated by the CNSC. Canada is a world leader in responsibly developing this resource. This is largely attributable to a solid safety track record.

Uranium mining is the only type of mining that has a dedicated federal regulator that oversees all aspects of operation on an ongoing basis. Provincial oversight is also strictly applied. In fact, uranium mining is the most regulated, monitored and understood type of mining in Canada.

Activists, medical practitioners and politicians who have demanded moratoriums may have various reasons for doing so, but their claims that the public and environment are at risk are fundamentally wrong. The provincial governments that have decided to ban uranium exploration have done so ignoring years of evidence-based scientific research on this industry.

The CNSC would never compromise safety by issuing a licence or allowing a uranium mine or mill to operate if it were not safe to do so. All monitoring data shows that uranium mining is as safe as other conventional metal mining in Canada.

The numbers speak for themselves. Metal mining effluent data reported to Environment Canada demonstrates that uranium mining operations from 2007 to 2010 was 100% compliant with federal release limits for all seven types of contaminants. Uranium mining operations were the only type of metal mine to have 100% compliance during this period.

Both the CNSC and provincial environmental regulators closely monitor and analyze industry releases to ensure streams, lakes and rivers downstream of mining operations are safe for people, animals, fish and plants.

We also monitor miner safety. The average annual radiation dose to miners is well below the CNSC annual dose limits, which are conservatively established to protect workers. Radiation doses to the public and the environment near uranium mines are negligible.

In Saskatchewan, where Canada’s operating uranium mines are found, the province’s Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety monitors all conventional health and safety issues for uranium mining. All reporting continuously shows that uranium mining and milling sites are among the best performing facilities in accident prevention and lost-time incidents across the province’s entire mining and industrial sectors.

The CNSC has carried out and validated numerous studies over the decades that have repeatedly provided sound evidence that workers and residents near these facilities are as healthy as the rest of the general population. The same is true of people who live near nuclear power plants.

The CNSC’s conclusions on the uranium mining industry are clearly based on decades of studies, research, and a rigorous licencing and inspection framework. That being said, it needs to be voiced again, the CNSC will never compromise safety and would never issue a licence for a mining or milling operation unless the proposed activities were safe.

I invite Canadians to visit our Web site to get the facts about uranium mining and the complete nuclear sector in Canada.

Michael Binder
President
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

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.

Guest Blog Nuclear Energy

Gentilly or Not To Be: Hype not Truth!

Below is a well-crafted response, by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, to an article in Le Nouvelliste about the forthcoming movie “Gentilly or not to be.” The movie is being widely criticized as a shock-doc and, given the false claims described and debunked below, it’s not hard to understand why.

Check back for our response to the G-2 movie early next week after we’ve seen it. The movie airs on Télé-Québec on Monday September 17.

Response to the article entitled “La centrale nucléaire est-elle dangereuse?” published in the September 7, 2012 edition of Le Nouvelliste.

September 7, 2012

The upcoming release of the documentary Gentilly or Not To Be recently reported by Le Nouvelliste could unfortunately raise unfounded concerns about the safety of Gentilly-2 and the nuclear industry in general.

Here are some examples of falsehoods spread to raise people’s interest for the film:

 

Falsehood #1:

Fact: 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 of the plant. In fact, such fluctuations are regularly observed in the population and should not be interpreted blindly and recklessly.

 

Falsehood #2: Women of childbearing age should not live near nuclear power plants because of the dangers related to radioactive releases.

Fact: Minimal releases from nuclear power plants do not pose a danger to human health, including fetuses and young children. This has been demonstrated by many Canadian and international studies.

 

Falsehood #3: A German study found that children living near nuclear power plants are at a higher risk of developing leukemia resulting from radioactive releases.

Fact: 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.

 

Falsehood #4: All Canadian nuclear waste will be stored in Quebec.

Fact: None of the 19 communities that are currently part of the selection process for the establishment of a nuclear waste storage site in Canada are in Quebec.

 

Described in the media as a shock film, Gentilly or Not To Be promises to induce anger because of its lack of rigor and the falsehoods repeated by spokespersons of anti-nuclear groups. It seems that the documentary filmmakers have fallen into the trap.

The one and only role of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is to regulate the nuclear industry to protect Canadians and the environment. Rest assured that we would not allow Hydro-Québec to continue to operate Gentilly-2 if it was not safe.

 

Michael Binder
President
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Guest Blog Nuclear Safety Waste Management

CNSC Response to ‘Debate Over Possible Nearby Nuclear Waste Site Buried’

The letter below is a response from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to an editorial that appeared last week in the Whig and the London Free Press. The CNA responded as well (you can read our response here). The CNSC is the federal government agency that regulates the use of nuclear energy and materials to protect the health, safety and security of Canadians and the environment.  The editorial to which the CNSC’s Ramzi Jammal is responding was by a UWO professor – who writes about nuclear non-proliferation, but is not an expert in the regulation of nuclear energy or waste materials. Let’s get the straight goods from someone who is an expert in these issues.

 

CNSC response to the letter entitled ‘Debate over possible nearby nuclear waste site buried’ published in the Kingston Whig-Standard and London Free Press on July 21, 2012

Ramzi Jammal Executive Vice-President Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Your July 21 guest editorial by University of Western Ontario professor Erika Simpson, entitled ‘Debate over possible nearby nuclear waste site buried’, compels me to correct some inaccurate and erroneous statements that may confuse your readers.

To begin with, the author is confusing two completely distinct projects: Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) proposed deep geologic repository to manage low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste produced from the continued operation of the Bruce, Pickering and Darlington nuclear generating stations; and the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s (NWMO) Adaptive Phased Management (APM) project for the long-term management Canada’s used nuclear fuel.

The article’s author was correct in stating that OPG’s project is for low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste and does not include used nuclear fuel. But she then proceeds to speak of used nuclear fuel and to further confuse several other different issues.

The OPG project is for the long-term management of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste from the Bruce, Pickering and Darlington nuclear generating stations. This waste includes such things as tools, rags, filters, resins, refurbishment waste, and other radioactive contaminated materials. The government has appointed a panel to conduct the environmental assessment and the first stages of licensing for the project. Public hearings for the project are likely to be held next year in the Bruce area. More information about this project is available at nuclearsafety.gc.ca and www.opg.com.

The long-term management of used nuclear fuel is a separate project being managed by the NWMO which was established in 2002. In May 2010, the NWMO launched its Site Selection Process to identify a willing community to host a geological repository for the long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel. As of July 7, 2012, 19 communities have formally expressed interest in learning more about the APM project to host a deep geological repository for used nuclear fuel. More information about this project is available at www.nwmo.ca.

The NWMO’s project is still considered in its very early stages, and once the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission receives a licence application, it will carry out its due diligence in terms of safety and regulatory requirements. More information about CNSC’s early role in this project is available at nuclearsafety.gc.ca.

Your guest editorialist’s allusion that the CNSC is not independent is completely false. I would like to emphasize that the Commission is a quasi-judicial administrative tribunal, independent from any political, government or private sector influence. It is the Commission Members, and only the Commission Members, who render decisions based on all the evidence presented in the context of a hearing process.

The CNSC’s mandate is very simple. To ensure that nuclear activities are done in a manner that protects the environment as well as the health, safety and security of workers and the public and to implement Canada’s international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

In the future, I encourage anyone writing for your publication to contact the CNSC in order to provide your newspaper’s editorialists with the facts, and as a result, editorials with more rigour and thoroughness, something this one is sorely lacking.

Ramzi Jammal
Executive Vice-President
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission