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Canada Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Nuclear Power Generation

The Canadian nuclear industry today celebrates the 50th anniversary of nuclear power generation in Canada!

On June 4th, 1962, in Rolphton, Ontario, the Nuclear Power Demonstration (NPD) reactor began supplying electricity to the Ontario grid, producing enough electricity to power 10,000 homes.  Today, nuclear power generation supplies 15 % of Canada’s safe, clean, and reliable electricity, and almost 60% in Ontario alone.

Birds-eye view of NPD

“This historic achievement marks an important milestone in Canada’s leadership in nuclear energy and technology,” said Denise Carpenter, Canadian Nuclear Association President and CEO. “The NPD was made possible through the combined expertise and innovation of several companies we know today, such as AECL, and with the support and direction of the National Research Council.”

One of NPD’s essential roles was as a prototype for Canada’s homegrown CANDU technology as it was the first heavy-water power reactor in the world. It used Canadian natural uranium and assumed the horizontal pressure-tube arrangement, which is characteristic of all CANDU units to this day. This made NPD the first commercial power reactor to have a completely replaceable core, and the first to refuel while operating at full power – both signature CANDU traits.

In the five decades since, Canada’s CANDU nuclear fleet has grown to include 20 reactors with two more planned at Darlington in Ontario to help the province achieve its clean energy goals – similarly, this was the goal when nuclear energy was developed 50 years ago to compete with coal.

“Today also marks the kick-off of Canadian Environment Week,” added Carpenter. “This is particularly significant since nuclear energy provides a clean and reliable source of power that is an important part of Canada’s clean energy portfolio.”

The role of nuclear in Canada goes far beyond being a safe, clean, affordable, available, and reliable source of energy. Nuclear has an important role to play in medicine, research, food safety, highly-skilled jobs, and makes crucial contributions to other industries across the Canadian economy.

The women and men who worked to give us the gift of the clean, reliable, affordable nuclear power generation we enjoy today. Thank you!

The NPD was shut down in 1987 after having exceeded its operational goals. Our thanks to the women and men who brought us this strong symbol of Canadian innovation for a powerful, clean energy future.

For more information about nuclear in Canada and around the world, please visit CNA’s Factbook.

 

Additional Info:

AECL marks 50th anniversary of nuclear power in Canada – June 4, 2012

50th anniversary of nuclear power in Canada observed at UOIT – April 9, 2012

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Happy Earth Day!

According to Earth Day Canada, Earth Day was first launched as an environmental awareness event in the U.S. in 1970. That’s still the purpose today as millions of Canadians join 1 billion people from countries all over the globe in holding events and supporting projects that raise awareness of local and global environmental issues.

One of the greatest environmental challenges the world is facing today is climate change. As Canada and the global community work to address the challenges of climate change, nuclear energy is an important part of Canada’s clean energy portfolio. Nuclear power generation doesn’t contribute to climate change or smog because there are virtually no greenhouse gas emissions from our nuclear power facilities. And because nuclear power facilities produce large amounts of continuous power (base load), they enable the use of complementary renewable energy sources, like wind and solar. Currently nuclear energy provides 15% of Canada’s electricity. If this 15% was replaced by fossil fuels, it would increase Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by 12%, or about 90 million tonnes.

It’s an interesting time for nuclear as countries are starting up and expanding their nuclear energy programs (China, India, Vietnam), and others are shying away for the time being (Germany, Japan). We believe nuclear is a key part of a clean energy future, for Canada and the world. So this Earth Day, why not learn more about the contributions of nuclear technology – not only in power generation but also in medicine, food safety, new technologies, innovation, etc. Visiting NUnuclear.ca is a good place to start.

Happy Earth Day!

Check out what one of our members is doing to celebrate Earth Day – or rather, Earth Week, in their case!
Bruce Power supports Earth Week by assisting environmental programs along the shoreline

“Although we do an excellent job of protecting the environment through our day-to-day operations, we understand the importance of educating the greater community and youth of Bruce and Grey counties on the importance of being good environmental stewards. By supporting these important community initiatives, we are helping to foster an appreciation and understanding of the environment at a very young age.” — Duncan Hawthorne, Bruce Power President and CEO

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The Evolution of Nuclear Power

In 1962, the NPD (Nuclear Power Demonstration) reactor came online and demonstrated the CANDU (CANada Deuterium Uranium) design. The NPD was Canada’s first electricity-producing reactor, and the world’s first heavy-water power reactor. Canada’s CANDU reactor is a Generation II commercial reactor. It’s considered one of the world’s safest and most successful nuclear reactors.

Nuclear reactor designs have continued to evolve from the Gen II designs to make them even safer, more efficient, and in some cases, smaller (i.e. small modular reactors) – but still powerful enough to power a small city.

We've come a long way, baby!

GENERATIONS III AND III+
Generation III designs, now in use, reflect design improvements that have made these systems safer and more efficient and given them longer operating lives (typically 60 years) than earlier systems.

Generation III+ designs, which are now being built outside Canada, extend these improvements.  (The “Generation” standards for nuclear technologies originated with the U.S. Department of Energy – www.energy.gov).

WHAT IS GENERATION IV?
Canada is part of an international collaboration to set the following goals for advanced nuclear energy systems, and to work toward them:

  • Sustainability
  • Minimum waste
  • Life cycle cost advantage
  • Competitive in financial risk
  • Excellent safety and reliability in operation
  • Secure

Technologies that meet these international standards will be called Generation IV (www.gen-4.org).

WHAT ARE SMALL MODULAR REACTORS?
Small modular reactors (SMRs) have existed for decades.  As opposed to full-sized, built-on-site reactors, these units are mostly built in a factory environment and then shipped and installed.   In past uses they have proven to be low-maintenance, reliable, and versatile.

SMRs can be designed to have low staffing needs, and long cycles between refuellings (four to ten years or longer).   Like all reactor designs, they have made substantial advances in safety and efficiency.

In Canada and elsewhere, there is considerable interest in applying newer SMR designs:

  • For electricity generation — replacing aging fossil-fuel units of similar size and power.
  • For electricity in small, remote communities where diesel is currently in use.
  • For process heat applications – in heat-intensive resource extraction industries (smelting ore, extracting bitumen from oilsands, cooking wood pulp).
  • For local heat applications in arctic communities.

Why Go Nuke?
Nuclear energy provides a clean and reliable source of power and is an important part of Canada’s clean energy portfolio. Because there are virtually no greenhouse gas emissions from our power generating plants, it does not contribute to global climate change or smog.

Not only important in energy production, the application of nuclear science improves the health and well-being of Canadians through nuclear medicine and food safety technologies as well. Innovation in nuclear science is also being applied to address a number of societal challenges such as public health and transportation.

CNA Responds

CNA Responds to “Nuclear Aftershocks”

Last night, CBC’s The Passionate Eye, aired a re-broadcast of PBS’ Frontline documentary “Nuclear Aftershocks.” The doc asks: how safe are North American nuclear facilities?

The focus of the program was South of the border, and the Nuclear Energy Institute (our equivalent in the U.S.) did a great job of responding in two blog posts.

So, how safe are Canadian nuclear facilities?

Very safe. They’ve been very safe for 45+ years (as demonstrated by our remarkable safety track record).

But we NEVER rest on our laurels. Here’s what Canadian operators and the federal regulator have done to ensure the safety of our facilities post-Fukushima.

Soon after the disaster struck, nuclear operators in Canada launched a thorough assessment of their own systems and operations to confirm their safety. This included looking at back-up power systems and the ability of nuclear plants to withstand natural disasters that might occur here.

Last October, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission released the Fukushima Task Force Report. It concluded that all Canadian nuclear power plants are safe. It also said our plants are designed to withstand conditions similar to those that triggered at Fukushima. Still, it’s important for the nuclear industry internationally to share valuable lessons learned from the tragedy in Japan and ensure that safety standards and policies reflect current findings.

Nuclear power is very important for Canada’s future, as it is an energy alternative to fossil fuels. But power generation is only one of the many great things about nuclear power. Our nuclear industry provides a broad spectrum of products and services that benefit not only Canadians but people around the world. Nuclear science provides nuclear medicine and food safety technologies. Innovation in nuclear science is also being applied to address a number of societal challenges such as public health and transportation.

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Nordion Builds North America’s First Food-Only Gamma Irradiator

This is a prime example of how the nuclear industry continues to play an increasingly important role in the lives of Canadians – and North Americans – not only for power generation but for our most basic health and safety too.

Delicious and Safe Produce - Photo courtesy of Nordion

Nordion has built North America’s first gamma irradiator, custom-built to eliminate insect pests from fresh fruit.  Irradiation is commonly used to protect consumers from food-borne disease, reduce spoilage and improve shelf life. Gamma sterilization works by exposing products to a measured dose of ionizing radiation from Cobalt-60 (also supplied by Nordion). This destroys insect pests and helps to reduce harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E.coli. (E.coli is a serious health threat. An outbreak is underway in Europe right now) And of course, gamma irradiation doesn’t affect the taste or nutritional value of fruits and veggies.

Pallet Irradiator - Photo courtesy of Nordion

 

The irradiator was built for Benebion, a Mexican provider of phytosanitary services to exporters of fruit and vegetables, a USD$7.1 billion industry in Mexico. The plant in Matehuala will have the annual capacity of 300,000 metric tons!

Nordion has been in the gamma sterilization game for over 40 years. CEO Steve West says, “As demonstrated by this new facility, Nordion is able to tailor its sterilization systems to meet its customers’ specific processing needs … Nordion brings unparalleled experience, reliability and expertise to customers such as BENEBION.”

Arved Deecke, CEO of Benebion is happy about the irradiator and says, “The new Nordion irradiator allows us to do just that [serve the produce industry]. Mexico will now be able to export guava at significant volumes and offer tree-ripened quality mangoes, something simply not achievable with the current hot water dipping process.”

Canada’s federal Government and the Canadian nuclear industry have a long history of investing in nuclear R&D. Let’s keep it up!

Read more in Nordion’s full press release.