Tag Archives: NRCan

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CNA Makes Specific Commitments on Gender Equality

In May 2018 at the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM-9) in Copenhagen, Canada and Sweden jointly launched the “Equal by 30” campaign, which is aimed at reaching 30% representation of women in the energy sector by 2030.  Parliamentary Secretary Kim Rudd, head of the Canadian Delegation, signed on behalf of Canada. Details of the campaign, its principles and objectives, can be found at www.equalby30.org

Several CNA member companies have become signatories to “Equal by 30” in support of the endeavour and its objectives. CNA signed up in its capacity as the association representing the nuclear industry.

Next step in the “Equal by 30” process is for signatories to develop specific commitments that, once developed and communicated to the “Equal by 30” organizers, will be put on the campaign’s website. The signatory will then be encouraged to report regularly on progress made.

CNA already has a pay equity plan and has reached overall gender balance in its staffing. CNA has flexible working hours and working-from-home arrangements that help to support family-related responsibilities.

In addition, CNA is prepared to make the following commitments, bearing in mind that CNA cannot undertake commitments that are within the sole responsibility and control of its members:

  1. Encourage CNA member companies not currently signatories to the “Equal by 30” campaign to consider signing up to it;
  2. Encourage CNA member companies that are signatories to “Equal by 30” to aim for at least 30% representation of women by 2030 in company positions in which women are currently under-represented;
  3. Encourage CNA members to identify qualified women candidates for election to the CNA Board, with the aim of reaching 30% representation of women on the CNA Board by 2030;
  4. Encourage the CNA Board to nominate a senior leader to support initiatives towards a gender-diverse work environment in the nuclear sector;
  5. Undertake to promote “Equal by 30” and its principles, including facilitating the exchange of best practices and knowledge-sharing where possible within the nuclear sector; and
  6. Continue CNA’s active support of Women in Nuclear (WiN) Canada.

The “Equal by 30” campaign and corporate commitments from energy sector signatories will be a feature item of the forthcoming Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM-10), hosted by the Government of Canada in Vancouver at the end of May.

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Nuclear industry eyes more federal support of ‘small modular reactors,’ as advocates push for Ottawa to hit pause

By Jolson Lim
Originally published in The Hill Times, December 3, 2018

The Canadian nuclear industry is looking for more federal government involvement in supporting the development of a new generation of reactors, after Natural Resources Canada put out a “roadmap” report earlier this month, spelling out steps different players in the sector could take.

The small modular reactor (SMR) roadmap was published on Nov. 7, and was co-developed between different public and private sector stakeholders. It recommends that federal, provincial, and territorial governments, along with utilities, industry, and the federally-funded national laboratory support demonstration of the use of SMR technology.

It also proposed: financial risk-sharing between the different players to support early deployment; the modernization of legislative and regulatory requirements to make development economically viable and timely; the development of a “robust knowledge base” for SMR technology; and for commitment to proactively engage with Indigenous communities.

SMRs are typically defined as nuclear reactors generating less than 300 megawatts of energy, and proponents see it as a promising source as the world struggles to fight climate change.

In Canada, backers see SMRs as a way to phase out diesel power for remote and Northern communities. However, to make it economically feasible within a small window of time for it to become a tool in reducing emissions, it would require demonstration soon, and eventually would require a fleet of reactors so manufacturers could benefit from more efficient and financially stable production.

But there is strong opposition to new nuclear energy development based on both environmental and safety concerns.

Nevertheless, any future development would likely have to involve government funding to support demonstration, on top of a regulatory review and placing a stronger emphasis on such technology in climate change plans.

“What would be so important now is for the government to show its policy support,” said John Barrett, president and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA). “But that kind of holistic policy statement is not available yet.”

Mr. Barrett’s association submitted a letter addressed to Finance Minister Bill Morneau (Toronto Centre, Ont.) following the release of his fall economic update in November.

The letter calls for the extension of clean technology and clean infrastructure funding and support programs, such as the ability to expense of 100 per cent of capital investments and loan guarantees, to nuclear technology in the next budget.

It also asks the federal government to recognize nuclear as part of Canada’s suite of clean energy technologies and to create a funding mechanism for applied research and development of the next generation of reactors.

“Such measures would go a long way in creating the supportive business innovation climate needed in Canada today to encourage clean technology developers and start-ups in the nuclear sector,” it reads. “Only with a significant scale-up of such sources can Canada meet its Paris climate targets.”

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) is currently partnering with small-reactor proponents to get a prototype built at one of its sites by 2026 for future demonstration. The company wants to prove the commercial viability of such reactors, and position Canada as a global hub for testing and development.

The company is aiming for it to occur at its Chalk River research facility, which sits about 200 kilometres northwest of Ottawa. CNL manages and operates the two research laboratories in Canada for Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., the crown corporation that owns such facilities.

Interest in SMRs is particularly strong in New Brunswick, where the local utility, NB Power, has partnered with an American firm to develop a small reactor in the province.

Mr. Barrett said Canada is in a commanding place with the development of SMRs, given its good regulatory and research environment and interest from different players. Globally, it makes the country an attractive place for development.

However, he said more federal focus is needed on nuclear energy.

“Nuclear is one of the tools that is sitting in the box and government hasn’t really pulled it out and taken a good look at what it can do,” said Mr. Barrett, adding it has a lot of export potential as well.

Concerns with SMRs

There are concerns that nuclear’s advantage as a low-carbon energy source is offset by serious safety and other environmental concerns.

Ole Hendrickson, a researcher for the advocacy group Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area—where the Chalk River facility is located—said proponents of nuclear energy ignore other emissions, including various noble gases, iodine, and radioactive waste that has to be expensively and carefully managed. Such waste remains dangerous long after its use, and disposal remains a major concern and question.

“We don’t see small modular reactors as any different,” he said.

Earlier this month, the group appeared on Parliament Hill alongside Green Party leader Elizabeth May (Saanich-Gulf Islands, B.C.) to voice their concern over SMRs ahead of the release of the roadmap report.

Lynn Jones, a member of the citizens’ group, also questioned whether federal government funding is worth it, given there are concerns about its economic viability that has recently seen nuclear power struggle to grow globally.

“They can’t possibly succeed without significant government subsidies, the private sector has backed away from them all over the world,” she said. “They’ve come to Canada to try and get the government to subsidize them.”

Her group recently submitted two petitions to the Auditor General of Canada, with the first voicing concerns that any investment in future nuclear power would tie-up funds that would otherwise go to other proven renewables that could more quickly and effectively reduce carbon emissions. The second petition asks federal ministers to provide a justification for considering nuclear power to be a form of clean energy.

“It would take way too long to develop SMRs, apart from the fact there’s lots of other concerns about them,” she said.

The road ahead

John Stewart, director of policy and research at the CNA—speaking as the project manager of the SMR roadmap—said the report makes recommendations to a wide range of players, including governments, waste management organizations, industry, researchers, and the regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

He said the “logical next step” is for one facilitating player to survey all those players to see what commitments they’re willing to make to further SMRs development.

“You need someone to do all that and elicit offers from the different players, get them to make specific commitments and eventually translate that into sort of national action plan,” he said.

He said he was pleased to see Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi (Edmonton Mill Woods, Alta.) attend the roadmap launch last month, despite not seeing a “lot in the way of signals” for nuclear power from the federal Liberal government.

Mr. Stewart said if the federal government offers a strong signal that SMRs can be a serious energy source, other players will follow up with tangible commitments.

“That would be a positive signal for other players to step up,” he said.

Nuclear energy accounts for almost 15 per cent of all electricity generated in Canada, particularly from two massive power plants in Ontario providing power to the Toronto region.

Mr. Stewart said nuclear power’s outlook has improved, but attitudes toward the severity of climate change haven’t matured fast enough that would see countries move quickly on SMRs.

“It looks better than it has in the past. Good would be going too far,” he said.

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Carr Supports Nuclear

The CNA’s ongoing dialogue and lobbying efforts with government are underpinned with the message that Canada’s nuclear sector is a strategic advantage for the nation in its capability to enable clean prosperity for all Canadians. Part of this message was reflected back from government in a recent Q&A with Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr in the Hill Times.

Carr’s reference to nuclear was particularly notable given the fact that his comments were part of a special feature in the Hill Times on climate and renewable energy.

Q: While the government has set a target for the percentage of energy it hopes to draw from renewable sources, are there any source-specific targets? For example, how much energy will be drawn from solar or wind, etc.? Also, is nuclear included as a renewable source in those calculations? If so, what do you make of arguments that until solutions are found for the safe and proper disposal of nuclear waste, it is in fact not a ‘clean’ energy source?

A: “Today, 80 per cent of our electricity comes from non-greenhouse gas-emitting sources, including nuclear energy, and our government’s goal is to put Canada on the pathway to 90 per cent, by 2030, in large part by accelerating the phasing out of coal-powered electricity.

However, power generation falls under provincial jurisdiction and it is the responsibility of the provinces to decide the best ways to green their electricity grids.
“When it comes to producing nuclear energy, waste owners are required, under federal law to implement safe solutions for their waste in both the short and long term. Pursuant to the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, all waste produced from nuclear power generation is currently safely managed at facilities licensed by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

“As I told the Canadian Nuclear Association earlier this year, there is no reason why nuclear energy can’t be a part of the solution. In fact, Canada is one of only nine Mission Innovation countries to include nuclear energy as part of its clean-energy portfolio.

“Why? Because the use of nuclear power throughout the world makes an important contribution to cleaner air and the mitigation of climate change. Over 22 per cent of the uranium used to generate nuclear power around the world is mined in Canada. This displaces the equivalent of between 300 and 600 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year compared to electricity that otherwise would have been generated using fossil fuels.”

mvigliotti@hilltimes.com

The Hill Times – July 17, 2017

CNA Responds Messages

Natural Resource Projects will Require More than $500-Billion from Government

This letter from our President, Denise Carpenter, appeared in The Hill Times today in response to this article in the Hill Times Resources Policy Briefing on December 5. Canada’s energy and natural resources infrastructure need government investment and streamlined regulatory frameworks and would benefit greatly from enhanced collaboration between government and industry.

***

The Canadian Nuclear Association was among the industry associations that appeared before the House of Commons Environment Committee recently to advocate for changes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) (“NRCan anticipates $500 billion in new investments in natural resources projects,” December 5).

In fact, we made a number of suggestions that the nuclear industry believes would make environmental assessments:

  • More efficient – by conducting EAs according to the principle of “one project, one assessment, by the best-placed regulator”;
  • More effective – by strengthening the precedent value of EAs;
  • Proportionate to the environmental risk – avoiding reassessment of risks that have already been addressed;
  • More aligned with permitting and authorization decisions; and
  • More timely.

As vital as improving the regulatory framework may be, an anticipated $500 billion in natural resource projects will require much more than this from Canadian governments.

Your article rightly quoted the petroleum industry on the need for pipeline expansion.  But realizing all of these energy and natural resource developments will depend on a range of goods and services that will not be adequately supplied by business alone, and are fertile ground for public-private collaboration:

  • Education and human resource development:  public schooling and an academic sector that build the skills employers need.
  • Science and technology infrastructure:  laboratory facilities, equipment, instrumentation and expertise that can be invested in, and accessed, by business, government and universities.
  • Transport infrastructure:  the capacity to move supplies, energy, people and products efficiently within Canada and across our borders.

Senators Angus and Mitchell made related points in the same issue (“Energy, Environment:  We Need a National Discussion”).  Government can enable hundreds of billions in development, not just by regulating well, but also by working together with industry to build the human, technological and transport infrastructure required.

Sincerely,

Denise Carpenter
President
Canadian Nuclear Association

Messages Nuclear News Nuclear Pride

Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI) Important Part of Managing our Legacy (Waste)

This letter appeared in the Toronto Star on June 14. It’s from a resident of Port Hope who understands that low-level radioactive waste doesn’t pose a health threat and that background radiation is as natural as breathing. That doesn’t mean that the Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI) is a “scam,” as he says. The government has a responsibility to clean up its legacy nuclear waste, most of which dates back to the Cold War and is unrelated to current operations in Port Hope.

The PHAI website FAQ describes low-level waste as:

In Port Hope (Ward One), low-level radioactive waste consists of soil mixed with small amounts of historic refinery waste, left over from uranium and radium refining operations in the town during the 1930s to 1970s. This contaminated soil contains slightly elevated levels of natural radioactive materials. The Welcome and Port Granby Waste Management Facilities contain residues generated at the refinery from the 1940s to 1988. Low-level radioactive waste in the Port Hope area does not come from nuclear power reactors.

The PHAI clean-up is a process started in the late 1970s, when the issue came to light. It took until 2001 to agree on an acceptable solution. There have been hundreds of consultations with residents, government and Aboriginal groups, plus extensive  environmental and public safety assessments. In fact,

each phase of the project has been, and will continue to be, subject to regulatory review and oversight by the CNSC as well as by Environment Canada, Health Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Transport Canada and several provincial ministries.

There’s also some confusion about the Property Value Protection (PVP) Program. The Program isn’t about compensating people for having historic low-level waste on their property. The PVP Program is designed to protect the property seller if they realize a loss on the sale of their property as a direct result of the clean-up project. This is part of the 2001 agreement between the federal government and Port Hope (and Clarington).

(FYI – the PVP Program is working well with 29 of 40 claims approved since 2001.)

The bottom line: the clean-up is perfectly legitimate and will have a lasting postive impact on the community. Residents of Port Hope have expressed concern about the low-level waste, the government has responded. As an industry we support the Port Hope Area Initiative because of our commitment to public safety and environmental stewardship which includes the safe, secure and responsible management of nuclear waste — from low-level waste  to used nuclear fuel from power plants. Learn about the different types of waste and how it’s managed here.

You can sign up for email updates about PHAI on their website.

Messages Nuclear News Nuclear Pride

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver Addresses the CNS 2011 Conference

On Sunday evening, at the Opening Reception of the Canadian Nuclear Society 2011 Conference in Niagara Falls, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver addressed the crowd of mostly engineers and scientists who are the “backbone of this industry,” as Mr. Oliver said.

The Minister acknowledged the key role that nuclear has played in Canada’s energy mix for over 40 years, as well as the value the industry brings by way of direct and indirect jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity. He said the new Conservative government is committed to managing the nuclear file and addressing key issues such as legacy waste management and the restructuring of AECL; he says AECL must be “repositioned for success,” starting with the CANDU Reactor Division, then turning attention to AECL’s nuclear laboratories. AECL will be more competitive and benefit Canadian taxpayers.

The AECL labs are huge in Canada’s nuclear history – and really where it all began. Mr. Oliver reminded the CNS conference audience that the labs are where Nobel Prize-winning neutron scattering technology was pioneered, where Canada advanced medical isotope technology and where CANDU technology was created. Mr. Oliver said the Government of Canada recognizes nuclear technology’s contributions in meeting our energy, environmental, and health care needs. He said the Government supports AECL’s work to re-license the NRU at Chalk River to 2016 to ensure the supply of medical isotopes. In fact, you’ll recall the government committed $35 million over two years towards research and development of non-reactor based technologies for isotope production, specifically technetium-99m.

In addressing nuclear safety, the Minister offered words to those affected by the events of March 11 in Japan. He said the effects of the earthquakes and tsunami on the Fukushima nuclear plant are a reminder of the importance of maintaining and constantly improving the industry’s safety culture. The events certainly have strengthened our commitment to the health, safety and security of Canadians and our environment, the Minister said.

Canadian nuclear safety is paramount. From the independent regulator (the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission), to Canada’s highly-trained skilled operators, to the robust design of Canada’s reactors, proven to be among the safest in the world – Canadian nuclear means safety!

The Minister of Natural Resources is also tasked with overseeing the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), which is currently in the process of selecting a site for a long-term management facility. Responsible waste management is part of the Government’s commitment to a strong nuclear industry, which is why the government supports the Nuclear Legacy Liabilities Program which addresses accumulated waste from the early years of research and development conducted on behalf of the Canadian Government, as well as the Port Hope Initiative to secure the low-level waste in that community.

In closing Minister Oliver reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to ensuring an industry that is competitive, strong and safe, as a foundation for high-paying jobs and growth. We’re with you, Mr. Oliver!