Tag Archives: Nuclear

Uncategorized

Uranium: A Sustainable Resource

By Erin Polka
Communications Officer
Canadian Nuclear Association

One of my projects at the CNA has been to organize screenings of the movie Pandora’s Promise at universities across Canada.

At each university, there are a number of departments in which the movie could potentially resonate, including science, engineering, political science and environmental studies. Some universities have a department dedicated to the study of sustainable resources, where I would have expected to find nuclear energy advocates.

On the contrary.

The term “sustainable” has become synonymous with “renewable” among a significant number of students studying sustainable resources. For the most part, they are focused on water, wind and solar power, and have the tendency to neglect or even attack nuclear energy.

To set the record straight, it should be noted that sustainable energy has a much broader umbrella as it includes renewables such as water, wind, and solar, as well as non-renewables such as nuclear, which can be used as an energy source for many years to come.

By definition, sustainable energy provides the energy needs of today without compromising the energy needs of future generations.

Canada is a country so rich in uranium that it can continue to provide the fuel for nuclear energy for hundreds, if not thousands of years. With known resources of 572,000 tonnes of U3O8, Canada has approximately 10% of the world’s uranium, less only than Australia (31%) and Kazakhstan (12%).

In addition, Canada has the option to reprocess used fuel, as is being done already in many European countries, Russia and Japan. Moreover, Canada’s nuclear plants have the ability to breed Thorium, which is even more abundant in Canada than uranium.

Clearly, nuclear energy is sustainable. Why, then, does it continue to be omitted from consideration in the sustainable energy mix at Canadian universities?

A number of factors are likely at play, including general misinformation regarding the benefits (and risks) of nuclear energy, the trendy nature of renewables, and the fact that nuclear forces a division among those who consider themselves environmentalists and they choose to avoid this division rather than confront it.

Moving forward, we will continue to reach out to students studying sustainable resources, as I believe that while many of them will only ever endorse renewables, there is an opportunity to educate and engage those who simply haven’t considered nuclear.

Nuclear Energy

Meeting Governor Haley and Opportunities in the Carolinas’ Nuclear Cluster

By Dr. John Barrett
President
Canadian Nuclear Association

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and CNA President John Barrett.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and CNA President John Barrett.

On April 1, I was invited by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to attend a dinner to meet the Governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley.  It proved to be a very interesting evening on a number of fronts.

First, Governor Haley: first elected in November 2010, she has since then, according to the promotional material, “worked tirelessly to create jobs and to improve the overall business environment in South Carolina. Under her tenure as Governor more than 44,500 jobs have been created and over $11 billion has been invested in South Carolina.”

I can believe every bit of that.  She gave a strong, spirited and convincing presentation about her efforts to bring South Carolina out of the doldrums, languishing with an 11 per cent unemployment rate, to a state bursting with drive, pride and accomplishment.  A state on the upswing economically, full of energy.

And I use the word “energy” with special meaning.  Many of our CNA members will already know of the “Carolinas’ Nuclear Cluster,” a hub of nuclear expertise, supplying more than 11 per cent of the United States’ nuclear power generation.  This nuclear cluster has been described as a consortium of industry, higher education and non-profit organizations working together to support energy and economic development.

More to the point, North Carolina has five nuclear reactors in operation, providing 32 per cent of the state’s electricity generation.  South Carolina has seven operating reactors, with 52 per cent of the state’s total electric generation — and two new units under construction.

If there’s a region that would be a natural partner to Southern Ontario’s own nuclear cluster, it would be the Carolinas, with South Carolina showing its optimism in the future of nuclear with two new builds.

Speaking with Governor Haley afterwards, she expressed considerable interest in the Canadian nuclear industry and its priorities and prospects.  She insisted that I come and visit her soon to continue the conversation and see what opportunities for collaboration there might be in the Carolinas’ Nuclear Cluster for our CNA members.

This southern hospitality was further extended by the former U.S. Ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins, who sat next to me at dinner.  He said he’d be happy to introduce me to the folks in the South Carolina nuclear industry, since he knew them all personally.

I checked in the next day with OCI President Ron Oberth to see whether he’d been to the Carolinas to visit their nuclear industry.  Indeed he had, but he thought it’d be very useful for the CNA to visit, especially since the invitations were coming from the highest level in the state.

So this is now on my list of places to visit and relationships to build on behalf of CNA members.  If any of you reading this have advice or insights on what opportunities and business connections we can forge with the U.S. nuclear industry in the American southeast, please let me know.

CNA President John Barrett and U.S. Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman

CNA President John Barrett and U.S. Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman

I should add that the dinner provided an opportunity for me to meet the U.S. Ambassador-designate to Canada, Bruce Heyman, and his wife, Vicky.  He presents his letters of accreditation to the Governor General at Rideau Hall on April 8, after which he will officially take up his ambassadorial duties.  He is arriving brimming with enthusiasm and eagerness to get to know Canada and Canadians.  We wish him and his family all the very best in their new assignment, and I am looking forward to meeting with him once he is officially accredited.

Some quick points on South Carolina:

-South Carolina’s four existing nuclear power plants supplied 57 per cent of the state’s net electricity generation in 2013; two new reactors are under construction at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station site in Fairfield County. (Source: US EIA. http://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=SC)

-In the Carolinas (North and South), the nuclear energy industry directly provides 29,000 jobs, has more than $2.2 billion in direct payroll , and more than $950 million paid in state and local taxes, according to a 2013 analysis by Clemson University. (Source: NEI.http://neinuclearnotes.blogspot.ca/2014/03/why-should-you-consider-career-in.html)

-The NRC decision to approve new build, back in 2012, was the first construction licence issued since 1978. (Source: Media. http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/219277-regulators-approve-construction-of-second-new-nuclear-reactors-in-decades)

Here’s a quick profile of the Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgil_C._Summer_Nuclear_Generating_Station

Uncategorized

It’s Business as Usual at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station

By Heather Kleb
Vice President
Canadian Nuclear Association

On March 25, 2014, I had the pleasure of meeting with staff of the Point Lepreau Generating Station in New Brunswick. You may recall that that was the day that a nor’easter hit much of Canada’s East Coast; a blizzard with winds reaching upwards of 150 km/h. The storm, described by meteorologists as a “winter hurricane,” or “a nasty spring weather bomb,” also hit Point Lepreau, where the station is located on the northern shore of the Bay of Fundy.

PL image

Despite being hit by the worst storm in over 10 years, it was business as usual at the Point Lepreau Generating Station. Staff went about their daily business in the calm, deliberate manner that they are accustomed to. Control room operators adjusted their plans in anticipation of the storm, planning to review them more frequently as the storm develops; their goal to continue to provide safe, reliable power to New Brunswickers. The station is the backbone of New Brunswick’s electrical grid, providing 25-35 per cent of the provinces’ power supply, but as much as 40 per cent when conditions demand it.

Heather at PL

The significance of their response to the storm was not lost on station staff. Having just come through a rigorous assessment of lessons learned from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the station had recently reaffirmed its ability to respond to seismic, fire, flood and extreme weather events. As you can tell from this photo of me in my Personal Protective Equipment, all was well in the turbine hall that day, as well as the rest of the station.

CNA2014

Nuclear Science Whiz Kid Taylor Wilson Explores Fusion Potential at CNA2014

Physics wunderkind Taylor Wilson astounded the science world when, at age 14, he became the youngest person in history to produce fusion. The University of Nevada-Reno offered a home for his early experiments when Wilson’s worried parents realized he had every intention of building his reactor in the garage.

Wilson now intends to fight nuclear terror in the nation’s ports, with a homemade radiation detector priced an order of magnitude lower than most current devices. In 2012, Wilson’s dreams received a boost when he became a recipient of the $100,000 Thiel Prize.

At CNA2014, Wilson discusses ways to revolutionize the way we produce energy, fight cancer, and combat terrorism using nuclear energy.

Nuclear Energy Nuclear Policy

Harper Skeptical of Germany’s Goal to Phase Out Nuclear

You can add Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the list of skeptics of Germany’s decision to phase out its nuclear power plants.

During a question-and-answer session at a business event in Germany on March 26, Canadian Press reported Harper had this to say when asked about Germany’s energy policy.

He expressed skepticism that Germany would be able to meet its goal of phasing out fossil fuels and nuclear while having a scant supply of hydro power.

“I do not know an economy in the world that does not rely heavily on at least one of those, so this is a brave new world you’re attempting; we wish you well with that,” he said to seemingly nervous laughter from the crowd.

He said it would be very challenging for Germany not to rely on some combination of fossil fuels, nuclear and hydro, but said Canada was ready to help.

Germany plans to phase out all of its nuclear plants by 2020 and its so-called “Energiewende” calls for the country to have 80 per cent of its energy supplied by renewables by 2050.

Renewables, nuclear and hydro are the only energy sournces that release no emissions during generation. But only nuclear and hydro can provide a stable baseload of energy supply.

So far the transition to renewables has not reduced greenhouse gas emissions and German industry figures published in January 2014 show that bituminous coal and lignite together contributed 45.5 percent of Germany’s gross energy output in 2013, up from 44 percent the previous year.

The German government has defended its decision to phase out low-carbon nuclear as a baseload and increase its reliance on coal in the short term. Germany’s environment minister, Barbara Hendricks, even told a reporter in January, “We must not demonize coal. We still need to transition to a guarantee security of supply.”

Nuclear Safety

Radioactive Packaging Put to the Test, Passes with Flying Colours

The recent incident at the port of Halifax is a real-life example of the high level of safety involved in the packaging and transport of nuclear substances in Canada and around the world.

On Thursday, four steel cylinders encased in concrete containing uranium hexafluoride fell about six metres from inside a container at the Fairview Container Terminal at the port, landing in a contained area of a ship.

URENCO has said the cylinders came from its enrichment facility in the United Kingdom. The shipment was bound for the U.S.

Fire and port officials evacuated the terminal and it remained closed until radiation experts confirmed there was no leak of radiation the following day.

Halifax Fire and Emergency Executive Fire Officer Phil McNulty was quoted in a Canadian Press story as saying the containers are extremely durable.

“The safety redundancies built in for the transportation of nuclear materials are unbelievable,” he said.

“If this wasn’t done properly, we wouldn’t be singing the song we’re singing now.”

Every day, Canadians working in nuclear ship thousands of packages of radioactive material, many of them across the world. In five decades, there has been no transportation incident with significant radiological damage to people or the environment.

According to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, packages requiring certification have to undergo stringent testing. Testing must simulate both normal and accident conditions of transport. The tests can include free-drop testing, puncture testing, thermal testing, and aircraft accident simulations.

The following video illustrates drop testing in Germany.

Testing methods in Canada are very similar, if not identical, to methods used by other international regulatory bodies.