Monthly Archives: August 2011

Messages Nuclear Energy

Size Matters: Small Nuclear Reactors and Alberta’s Oil Sands Development

Earlier today, Denise Carpenter, President and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association, gave a presentation at the Oil Sands Infrastructure Summit in Calgary. The presentation focused on developing and maintaining a sustainable oil sands infrastructure, and on the role nuclear technology can play in achieving that objective.

President & CEO of the CNA – Denise Carpenter

The Canadian Nuclear Association represents all nuclear technologies in Canada.  The tens of thousands of Canadians whose jobs are connected to those technologies work in nuclear power generation, nuclear medicine, pharmaceuticals, food safety, materials science, engineering, science and technology services, and many other areas.

We believe that small modular reactor technology represents a unique and discrete change in the possibilities for applying nuclear energy in the oil sands.

SMR technology creates an opportunity for Alberta to show the world that you have the courage and commitment to live up to your vision.

Small Modular Reactors: How Small Is Small?

The acronym SMRs originally referred to Small and Medium Reactors, where “small” was defined to be less than 300 megawatts of electricity and “medium” reactors to be between 300 and 700 megawatts. The SMRs of interest in the oil sands typically fall into the “very small” range.

Why Small Nuclear for the Oil Sands?

At this point you may wonder why I think nuclear is a good fit for the oil sands. After all, haven’t there been a number of studies that seem to suggest that it’s not?  Well, the problem with these studies is that they were looking at the wrong size reactors.

Large reactors present a challenge for use in the oil sands. These include, among other things:

  • Large, permanent installations with high capital cost;
  • Large support staff with high operation and maintenance costs;
  • Relatively short maintenance and/or refueling cycles;
  • Excessive energy production (thermal & electric);  and,
  • Concerns about whether the steam is of adequate temperature and pressure.

To our knowledge, there have not been any comparable studies of SMRs for the oil sands. However, very preliminary evaluations that have been carried out by some in the nuclear industry suggest that SMRs can overcome these shortcomings and that they provide a vastly better match for Steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD).

The Hydrocarbon Value Chain
Today, most bitumen production is from in-situ processes, and of these, the SAGD process is the fastest growing. The SAGD process uses high-temperature, high-pressure steam for extraction of the bitumen from the oil sands, and for the most part this steam is currently generated using natural gas.


–    Quote Source: Oil Sands Technology Roadmap.


Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Possibly the most critical issue that has stimulated interest in using nuclear power to produce steam for the SAGD process rather than natural gas is the growing concern over greenhouse gas emissions.

At present it takes up to 30 cubic meters of natural gas to produce a barrel of oil.  With projections of three million barrels per day by 2016, a great deal of natural gas will be required.

Quite apart from the question of gas availability, this has major CO2 implications.  Essentially, the equivalent of about 20% of the energy in the oil is required to produce it and about 80 kilograms of CO2 is released for every barrel of oil produced.

This is even before refining begins – and without even talking about a price on carbon.  If any substantial price were put on carbon, we could be talking about a very great deal of money indeed in this context.

Nuclear power generation is an important part of a clean energy solution for Canada as it produces virtually no greenhouse gas emissions.  The emissions are actually zero from the heat generation process itself, but we say “virtually no emissions” because building and servicing any plant still requires using trucks, equipment and so on that do emit some greenhouse gases.

How clean is nuclear compared to the alternatives?  Well, it has been calculated that the use of nuclear power generation instead of coal avoids about 90 million tonnes per year of GHG emissions.  And nuclear is a strategy for making that kind of change in the oil sands.

Click here for the the full speech (PDF).

Nuclear Education Nuclear Energy

Five Realities of Nuclear Energy

Recently an article appeared by former state rep., Jerry Paul, who served as principal deputy administrator of the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration, and worked as a control room reactor engineer.  Understandably people have questions about nuclear. To this Jerry says,

For each of these questions, there are rational answers based on the laws of physics, thousands of peer-reviewed scientific and academic studies, and decades of successful operating experience.

What often gets lost in the debate surrounding nuclear energy are these five realities:

  1. Eliminating nuclear energy is not realistic if we want to maintain our quality of life.
  2. Day-to-day activities present a greater health threat than a local nuclear plant.
  3. Nuclear power plants are constantly upgraded.
  4. The amount of spent fuel is small and can be managed safely. (In many cases, the issue of storing used fuel is discussed without proper context.)
  5. Nuclear plants have more government oversight than any other industry.

For elaboration on these five points, read the entire article by Jerry Paul.


Canadian Nuclear Worker Newsletter September 2011

A Publication of the Canadian Nuclear Workers’Council

This issue includes:

  • Message from the President
  • Five-Year License Renewal for Hydro Quebec
  • Point Lepreau Refurbishment Makes Progress
  • CNWC Hall of Nuclear Industry Leaders
  • Clarington Receives Good News from OPG
  • Cameco Updates Port Hope Community
  • Bruce Power Achieves Major Milestone
  • In short…

Download a PDF of the September issue of the Canadian Nuclear Worker newsletter

is published four times a year by the
Canadian Nuclear Workersʼ Council,
244 Eglinton Avenue East,
Toronto, Ontario M4P 1K2.

Nuclear News

Darlington New Build Passes JRP Environmental Assessment

Yesterday the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) released a report by a federally-appointed Joint Review Panel (JRP) to evaluate the proposed new nuclear power plant at Darlington. We are proud of OPG’s extensive work and thorough studies undertaken as part of this environmental assessment (EA) process. We are especially pleased that the Panel came to the same conclusions as OPG: that Darlington New Nuclear Project will not result in any significant adverse environmental effects, given mitigation, to workers, the public or on the surrounding environment.

Public input, including the public hearings, is an integral part of the EA process. OPG’s public consultation process throughout the EA was extensive and inclusive.

The CNA was an intervener during the process and our message was clear:

  • This proposed project is a very important step in fulfilling Canada’s growing energy demands.
  • New nuclear units are an integral part of the electricity supply and consistent with the direction of the Government of Ontario’s commitment to maintaining nuclear power at 50 per cent of the province’s energy supply in the Long-Term Energy Plan.

It was great to see so much participation in the hearings by the communities, individuals and groups that took part in the public review process.

OPG has what it takes to do the job!
OPG has the necessary experience to move forward and manage a project of this magnitude. The Darlington site hosts a four-unit station that has provided safe, reliable and clean energy for 20 years with minimal environmental effect. OPG has experience successfully managing complex nuclear projects (i.e. Pickering A unit 1, Pickering units 2&3 safe storage, Pickering and Darlington Vacuum Building Outages). OPG will now thoroughly review the Panel’s report and work with our partners to implement the best solutions for the mitigation requirements set by the Panel as they await the final Government response.

Here is a link to the  Joint Review Panel summary report.

For more information about the JRP hearing, see the news release sent during the hearing about CNA’s involvement as an intervener.

Messages Nuclear Pride

Ontario Power Generation’s Latest Performance Report

Here’s a message from Ontario Power Generation CEO, Tom Mitchell about their latest Performance Report.


OPG CEO Tom Mitchell

Fellow Ontarian,

I am pleased to share with you Ontario Power Generation’s latest Performance Report.  This report showcases OPG’s business development and performance highlights throughout the first quarter of the year and includes the following features:

  •  Nuclear Safety and Operations, which outlines OPG’s post-Fukushima efforts to confirm and further strengthen the safety of our nuclear plants.
  • Hydroelectric Development Projects across Ontario that will deliver clean, low-cost electricity including the recently completed excavation of the Niagara Tunnel.
  • Environmental Initiatives like the installation of fish protection nets at Pickering Nuclear and the potential for converting OPG’s coal plants to biomass.
  • Community Partnerships featuring the terrific work of OPG volunteers.
  • Financial and Operational Results, which continue to demonstrate solid, reliable performance.

I trust you will find this report to be an interesting and informative read, reflecting OPG’s commitment to delivering safe, cost-effective electricity to Ontarians.

Tom Mitchell
President and CEO
Ontario Power Generation

Nuclear News Nuclear Pride

2010 Annual CNSC Staff Report on the Safety Performance of Canadian Nuclear Power Plants

Last week, the CNSC staff presented their annual report on the safety performance of Canada’s nuclear power facilities. Part I of the presentation covered the safety performance, from January to December 2010; Part II addressed regulatory developments and issues.  The public was invited to provide comments on the reports, which have been publicly available since April, however, no comments were received. The industry average was Satisfactory. This means our operators were found to be satisfying the regulators’ expectations for safety and control areas and maintaining very safe operations.

Summary of Results for 2010

  • No serious process failures at the NPPs
  • No radiation dose to the public and workers above the regulatory limits
  • Accident severity rate was low
  • No environmental releases above regulatory limits
  • Canada was able to meet its international obligations regarding the peaceful use of nuclear energy
How did we do?

Here are some report highlights on each of the Canada’s nuclear stations

Bruce A & B

  • Integrated Plant Ratings: Satisfactory
  • Fully Satisfactory in measures of conventional health and safety


  • Integrated Plant Rating: Fully Satisfactory
  • Fully Satisfactory in measures of Operating Performance, Fitness for Service, Radiation Protection

Pickering A & B

  • Integrated Plant Ratings: Satisfactory
  • Satisfactory in measures of Environmental Protection, Emergency Management and Fire Protection, Waste Management


  • Integrated Plant Ratings: Satisfactory
  • Satisfactory in measures of Human Performance Management, Safety Analysis, Safeguards

Point Lepreau

  • Integrated Plant Ratings: Satisfactory
  • Satisfactory in measures of Packaging and Transport, Radiation Protection, Environmental Protection
  • NB Power’s Point Lepreau Generating Station received a “Below Expectations” rating in area of Emergency management and fire protection. NB Power assures their plant is safe. They have a plan in place to address the areas where performance needs to be improved and are confident in achieving high standards of performance. Safety is their number one priority.They do have fire, chemical, radiological and medical response capabilities as provided by highly trained, qualified and dedicated emergency response teams. They will continue to put measures in place to improve — that is their commitment to continuous improvement and ensuring that they meet the expectations of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

Aside from the report card on our nuclear power facilities, the CNSC staff report contains tons of interesting information about how Canadian plants fair against international benchmarks (note: very well!).

CNSC Presentation Overview

  • Background of the 2010 Report
  • Public Comments
  • Summary of the Results for 2010
  • Individual Station Highlights
  • Concluding Remarks

Download PDF versions of the CNSC presentation documents below

2010 Annual CNSC Staff Report on the Safety Performance of Canadian Nuclear Power Plants

2010 Annual CNSC Staff Report on the Safety Performance of Canadian Nuclear Power Plants – Presentation

In the concluding remarks, the CNSC found that all nuclear power facilities in Canada operated safely in 2010, and that operators made adequate provisions to protect health, safety, environment and international commitments. The Canadian nuclear industry works because of a shared commitment to safety among plant workers and operators and the strong regulatory oversight of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

The CNSC will present a final report on the implications of the Japan nuclear event for Canadian nuclear power facilities. This report will be available on September 30, 2011.