Tag Archives: Nuclear

Nuclear Energy Nuclear Safety

A Little Fear is Healthy, Right? Wrong.

By John Stewart
Director, Policy and Research
Canadian Nuclear Association

A couple of my neighbours work in public health policy. She researches disease epidemics; he studies addictions.

All three of us have good relationships with serious, informed, responsible media reporters. And we all share a common problem with the media when they aren’t so professional.

When some reporters call our offices, it’s clear what they’re after: The scary sound-bite. They want a few words, however out of context, that they can use to alarm readers about a fast-growing threat from that new virus, that new designer drug, or that remotely-possible accident or emission.

 

There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them. – Andre Gide

To him who is in fear, everything rustles. – Sophocles

 

We share the experience of  spending a quarter or half hour giving thoughtful, calibrated answers that don’t get taken up because they don’t ring alarm bells. Instead, our least guarded phrase or our least discreet word is what’s most likely to make it into the media.

The next day we read, hear or see “news” that’s little more than pure fear-mongering. We experience media “coverage” of epidemics that barely (or never) materialize, drug plagues that are exaggerated, and radiation dangers that don’t exist.

This doesn’t just affect us personally, through the frustration of seeing our knowledge dumbed down and distorted. It affects us as members of a society in which the information that reaches all of us is tilted toward fear.

 

To him who is in fear, everything rustles. – Sophocles

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. – Franklin Roosevelt

There is no passion so contagious as that of fear. – Michel de Montaigne

 

As a result, citizens demand solutions to fake threats. Those demands are put before governments and companies — often by the same reporters who trumped up the fake threats in the first place.

Governments and companies, even when they know better, have to placate people, so they devote resources to these “solutions” to fake threats. And every year, society throws attention and resources – flu shots, tests, treatments, dietary changes, and pills that do negligible good – at things that only matter because we were briefly made to fear them.

The trouble with this is that fewer precious resources are left for real threats. I, my neighbours, our colleagues and our organizations are left with lower capacity to reduce risks that might actually matter in a measurable and demonstrable way. Society ends up with fewer real solutions to real problems, and we are much worse off as a result.

 

Fear is static that prevents me from hearing myself. – Samuel Butler

The first duty of man is to conquer fear. – Thomas Carlyle

 

Fear is a lousy basis for making decisions. Fear-based decisions nearly always involve more sacrifice than benefit. Fear-based decisions are decisions against something, rather than decisions toward something, so we don’t pursue our real values. And they lead to inconsistency, because we’re likely to jump in a completely different direction next time we’re afraid.

This is why great leaders tell us over and over that we must not be governed by fear (or anger). Yet large parts of our society’s information-gathering media seek out, and thrive on, fear (and anger).

Because fear is based in ignorance, its defeat begins with the responsibility to inform ourselves. And that continues well after we’ve heard from the reporters.

Want to start? Next time a news item containing the word “nuclear” tries to push your panic buttons:

  • Resist fear.
  • Inquire. Look for the factual (as opposed to emotional or opinion-only) content in the news coverage. Some of it should be from independent and informed sources.
  • Read further. Take three to ten minutes to research the topic more deeply from credible experts. We can help you get started at www.cna.ca.
  • If you don’t think an item is delivering fair and informative content, demand better. Use the news organization’s website to ask for balanced, informative coverage.

CNA Responds

Wind Attacks Nuclear, Gets Blown Away

By John Stewart
Director, Policy and Research
Canadian Nuclear Association

Chris Forrest is the vice-president of communications and public affairs at the Canadian Wind Energy Association. He wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Hamilton Spectator attacking nuclear on a variety of fronts. Here’s our response to the unnecessary and non-factual assault.

Chris Forrest’s attack on nuclear (“Wind Energy is a Better Deal for Ontario than New Nuclear,” Jan 4) is unnecessary and non-factual.

It’s unnecessary because Ontarians aren’t called upon to choose one energy source over another.   We use many diverse energy sources that support and complement each other.

It’s non-factual because Forrest says that “pricing on nuclear is very hard to find” but in the same breath that “it is broadly understood that electricity from new nuclear generation will be significantly more expensive” than the rate he claims for new wind.

If the data is so hard to find that he doesn’t cite any, what’s the basis for this alleged “broad understanding?”  Nuclear helped to build the affordable business environment that made Ontario so prosperous over the past half-century.

The 2011 Ontario Auditor General’s Report remarked that “Billions of dollars were committed to renewable energy without fully evaluating the impact, the trade-offs, and the alternatives through a compre¬hensive business-case analysis” (page 97). The report also cited Ministry of Energy and Ontario Energy Board projections that residential electricity bills will increase by 7.9% annually over the next five years primarily due to investments in renewable energy (page 89), resulting in a $570 increase in annual household electricity bills between 2009 and 2014 (page 95).

Nuclear power generation currently sells on average at around $.06 per kWh.  By providing this stable, affordable base, nuclear enables the grid to diversify into new sources like wind.

Advocates for wind energy are welcome to make their case without attacking other, good and proven options.

Guest Blog Nuclear Energy

Bringing Bruce A Back to Life has Transformed Ontario’s Energy Sector

This morning, the following article appeared in the Windsor Star, which contained a series of factual inaccuracies. http://www.windsorstar.com/technology/Nuclear+cheaper/7550998/story.html

Our friends at Bruce Power wrote this letter to the editor to clear things up.

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To the Editor:

I would like to set the record straight on an article that was published in the Windsor Star this morning that contained a series of factual inaccuracies on the role nuclear power generation plays in Ontario.

Nuclear power provides half of Ontario’s electricity every day – that’s one out of two homes, car plants, businesses and schools. At Bruce Power, we provide a reliable source of low-cost electricity that is a major contributor to not only keeping the lights on, but getting the province off coal by the end of 2014.

The article states, “It took 15 years to complete the refurbishment,” of Bruce A’s Units 1 and 2. This is not correct. When these units were taken out of service in the 1990s there were no plans to bring them back to service until Bruce Power assumed control of the site in 2001. We immediately returned Units 3 and 4 to service by 2004 and then, in late-2005, launched something that had never been done before – the full refurbishment of two nuclear units. All of this was done by private investment in these publically owned assets.

Bringing Bruce A back to life has transformed Ontario’s energy sector with a large supply of low-cost, clean electricity.

Following Units 1 and 2 being removed from service in 1995 and 1997, combined with Units 3 and 4 in 1998, fossil generation dramatically increased in Ontario – it jumped from 12 per cent of electricity in 1995 to 29 per cent in 2000. With these units now back in service, we can move forward with a clean energy future and support the phase-out of coal by the end of 2014.

The economic analysis in the article is also inaccurate. There is no doubt the economics of energy involves many elements, but there is only one thing that matters to consumers – how much they pay for electricity. The Bruce Power site supplies low-cost electricity for Ontario ratepayers and we are undisputedly lower than the other supply options raised in the article. In fact, the price consumers pay for Bruce A output is 6.8 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is significantly lower than solar at 44 and 80 cents, depending on the type of project. This information is available on the Ontario Power Authority’s website.

We appreciate the opportunity to correct the record. For more information visit www.brucepower.com.

James Scongack
Vice-President, Corporate Affairs
Bruce Power

 

Messages Nuclear Energy Nuclear Pride

Bruce Power Achieves Next Milestone in Revitalization Project

We are so pleased to share this news with TalkNUclear.ca readers. Yesterday Bruce Power’s Unit 2 sent power to Ontario’s electricity grid, for the first time in 17 years! Bruce Power CEO, Duncan Hawthorne said:

“This gets us one step closer to the finish line and for the first time in nearly two decades we’re in the midst of returning the site to its full operational capacity. With this project in the final stages we can see a period of stable, steady operations ahead where Bruce Power plays a key role in keeping electricity costs low, the lights on and the air we breathe clean.”

And of the Bruce Power revitalization project, Ontario Energy Minister, Chris Bentley, said:

“Ontario is building a modern, clean, reliable electricity system and nuclear energy is a critical part of our energy supply. Bruce Power’s revitalization program is an important step towards eliminating the use of coal fired electricity by the end of 2014.”

Coal generated power has dropped by 90 per cent in Ontario in the past decade, 40 per cent of which is attributed to the 55 per cent increased output by Bruce Power’s nuclear power generation. Bruce’s Unit 1 and 2 restart is a key factor in quitting coal and reducing Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Go low-carbon, reliable, safe nuclear power! Congratulations to the entire Bruce Power restart team!

October 17, 2012, Ottawa, ON – The Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) congratulates Bruce Power on the completion of the synchronization of Unit 2 to Ontario’s electricity grid. This follows the successful synchronization of Unit 1 in September, 2012.

“The refurbishment of Units 1 and 2 is a first for Canada’s nuclear industry as it is the first time two CANDU Units had been fully renewed after being laid-up for nearly two decades,” said Denise Carpenter, CNA President and CEO.  “Congratulations to the Bruce Power team on another major step forward in their revitalization project – a key component to Ontario’s Long Term Energy Plan.”

In the last 10 years, coal generation in Ontario has been reduced by 90 per cent, while Bruce Power has doubled the number of operating units on their site. This increased clean generation from the Bruce Power accounts for 40 per cent of the coal generation reduced to date in the province.

With the return to service of Units 1 and 2, Bruce Power will remain a key player in both reducing and staying off coal, one of the largest greenhouse gas reduction initiatives in North America.

Bruce Power operates one of the world’s largest nuclear sites and is the source of roughly 25 per cent of Ontario’s electricity.

The Canadian nuclear industry supports the employment of 30,000 Canadians who are responsible for mining uranium, generating electricity, advancing nuclear medicine, and promoting Canada’s global leadership in science and technology innovation. Through these efforts, we also support 30,000 spin-off jobs and contribute $1.5 billion in tax revenues as well as $1.2 billion in export revenues.

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Media Inquiries:
Kathleen Olson
Director of Communications
Canadian Nuclear Association
olsonk@cna.ca

Background:
Bruce Power’s Unit 2 sends electricity to Ontario grid for first time in 17 years http://www.brucepower.com/6926/news/bruce-power%E2%80%99s-unit-2-sends-electricity-to-ontario-grid-for-first-time-in-17-years/

CNA Responds

Closure of Gentilly-2 Nuclear Generating Station

October 5, 2012, Ottawa, ON – Hydro-Québec has confirmed the Gentilly-2 nuclear power plant which has been operating safely and reliably since 1983, will stop producing electricity on December 28, 2012. This follows the September 20 announcement by the Government of Québec on its decision to shut down Gentilly-2 rather than proceeding with a refurbishment.

“The Canadian Nuclear Association is disappointed with this decision. The Gentilly-2 Nuclear Generating Station employs roughly 800 people in stable, well trained, well-paid jobs, and powers the equivalent of 275,000 households in Québec,” said Association President and CEO, Denise Carpenter.

The increase in project costs, combined with falling market prices prompted Hydro-Québec to recommend to the Québec government that the generating station be closed. In light of the feedback it has obtained on the complete refurbishment cycle, the company has reassessed the cost of the project to $4.3 billion.

“Hydro-Québec made a decision based on their plant and their economics, for a plant that supplies three per cent of their demand,” continued Carpenter. “However, new project costs are subject to interpretation considering other refurbishment projects in Ontario, where nuclear supplies almost 60 per cent of demand, have lower estimated costs.”

Candu Energy Inc. President and General Manager, Kevin Wallace, has stated Candu Energy Inc. believes the government’s decision to close the Gentilly-2 nuclear facility was made before all options were considered. Candu also hopes that the government will reconsider its decision and engage in further dialogue on a possible lease agreement with a partner to refurbish, operate and potentially decommission the plant.

Despite this announcement, Canada’s nuclear industry is strong and moving forward. In Ontario, nuclear is an integral part of the electricity supply and is expected to continue to account for 50 per cent of the province’s energy supply as indicated in the Government’s Long-Term Energy Plan. For example, a decision to issue a licence to prepare for the new units at the Darlington station was announced in August 2012, and one of the most complex engineering challenges in Ontario’s history of infrastructure is coming to a successful conclusion as workers at Bruce Power prepare to return Units 1 and 2 to commercial service.

The Canadian nuclear industry provides a broad spectrum of products and services that benefit Canadians, generating approximately $6.6 billion per year and contributing $1.5 billion in tax revenue and $1.2 billion in export revenues, and supports over 71,000 direct and indirect jobs.

-30-

Media Inquiries:
Kathleen Olson
Director of Communications
Canadian Nuclear Association
olsonk@cna.ca

 

Background:

Candu Energy statement on decision to close Gentilly-2 nuclear facility in
Quebec (October 3) http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1047543/candu-energy-statement-on-decision-to-close-gentilly-2-nuclear-facility-in-quebec

Hydro-Québec Confirms Gentilly-2 Closure at the End of 2012 (October 3) http://media.hydroquebec.com/en/communiques/communique/hydro-quebec-confirms-gentilly-2-closure-at-the-end-of-2012

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.