Author Archives: Romeo St-Martin

Canadian Nuclear Power Plants Get Top Marks for Safety from CNSC

By Romeo St-Martin
Digital Media Officer
Canadian Nuclear Association

OPG, Bruce Power and NB Power all received high marks for their plant safety from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission last week, proving again that nuclear power in Canada is safe.

The CNSC Staff Integrated Safety Assessment of Canadian Nuclear Power Plants for 2013 concluded that Canada’s nuclear power plant operators “made adequate provision for the protection of the health, safety and security of persons and the environment from the use of nuclear energy.”

The report’s highlights included:

  • there were no serious process failures at the nuclear power plants
  • no member of the public received a radiation dose that exceeded the regulatory limit
  • no worker at any plant received a radiation dose that exceeded the regulatory limits
  • the frequency and severity of non-radiological injuries to workers were minimal
  • no radiological releases to the environment from the stations exceeded the regulatory limits

The CNSC rates nuclear power plant safety performance on 14 criteria using a scale of “Fully Satisfactory,” “Satisfactory,” “Below expectations,” and “Unacceptable.”

All nuclear power plants received scores of either “Fully Satisfactory” or “Satisfactory” for all 14 items, including things such as waste, fitness for service and radiation protection.

In addition, OPG’s Darlington was the only station to receive a “Fully Satisfactory” score – the highest score possible – for its overall plant rating.

Harper Skeptical of Germany’s Goal to Phase Out Nuclear

By Romeo St-Martin
Communications Officer
Canadian Nuclear Association

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.”

Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver to Deliver Keynote Address at CNA2014

By Romeo St-Martin
Digital Media Officer
Canadian Nuclear Association

Born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver entered politics with an impressive academic and investment banking resume.

He obtained both his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Civil Law at McGill University and later graduated with an MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business.

He began his investment banking career at Merrill Lynch, and served in senior positions at other investment dealers and as Executive Director of the Ontario Securities Commission. He was then appointed President and CEO of the Investment Dealers Association of Canada and played a prominent role as Chair of the Advisory Committee of the International Council of Securities Associations and as Chair of the Consultative Committee of the International Association of Securities Commissions.

He ran in a Toronto-area riding in the 2008 federal election, but lost in a close race to the Liberal incumbent, Joe Volpe. In a subsequent election in 2011, he defeated Volpe to win the seat. On May 18, 2011, Oliver was sworn in as the Minister of Natural Resources.

While Oliver is one of the most high-profile cabinet ministers in the Conservative government due in large part to his advocacy for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, he still understands the importance of Canada’s nuclear sector.

“Nuclear continues to be a key part of Canada’s energy mix and a major contributor to our status as a world leader of clean energy,” he told last year’s CNA conference.

“We all take pride in Canadians’ roles in developing nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Canadians continue to play a leading role in demonstrating the safe and effective use of nuclear energy.

“Our commitment is to ensure Canada’s tradition of excellence and leadership in nuclear science and technology will continue in support of the needs of Canada and Canadian business and in respect for the Canadian taxpayer,” he said.

The Honourable Joe Oliver will be speaking at CNA2014 this month.

Cameco Named One of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for 2014

By Romeo St-Martin
Digital Media Officer
Canadian Nuclear Association

Congratulations to Cameco.

For the fifth successive year, Cameco has been selected by the Globe and Mail as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for 2014.

The annual competition recognizes Canadian employers that have exceptional workplace diversity and inclusiveness programs.

“This award recognizes our long-standing track record in aboriginal and Métis employment,” said Tim Gitzel, Cameco’s president and CEO. “We are proud to be Canada’s leading industrial employer of aboriginal people and of the proactive approach we take to support career growth in this sector of our workforce.”

Here are some of the reasons why Cameco was recognized by the Globe:

  • Established a northern workforce strategy to focus on the recruitment of residents from northern Saskatchewan, of which a large percentage are Aboriginal – the strategy is managed by a dedicated team of employees who consult with Aboriginal leaders, local schools, community members and professionals on the creation of opportunities for residents as well as overall development of the northern community

Those of us in Canada’s nuclear industry already know it’s a great place to work, offering long-lasting, safe, well-trained and high-knowledge jobs to tens of thousands of Canadians. Cameco continues to set a great example that all Canadian businesses can admire and follow.

CNA2014 Welcomes Famed Demographer David Foot

By Romeo St-Martin
Digital Media Officer
Canadian Nuclear Association

David K. Foot is a Canadian economist and demographer, who believes demographics explain “two-thirds of everything”.

Foot can bring to life demographic statistics and make the aging of society – an issue of importance to the nuclear industry – relevant to any group.

He was born in England, raised in Australia, educated in the United States and now lives in Canada.

Foot did his graduate work in economics at Harvard University. Following his PhD, he joined the department of economics at the University of Toronto, where he turned his attention to economic demography.

Subsequently, he focused on Canada’s declining population growth and associated population aging as one of the fundamental and often neglected determinants of the challenges to economic performance and policy.

“The future growth of an economy depends on new people coming into a workforce,” he says. “But with a slower growing economy, you’re not going to collect as many taxes and you’re not going to be able to grow yourself out of deficits so easily.”

He came to prominence in 1996 with his book Boom Bust & Echo: How to Profit from the Coming Demographic Shift, co-authored with journalist Daniel Stoffman.

Boom, Bust & Echo became a national phenomenon that demonstrated the power of demographics to help us understand the past and forecast the future. The book was on Canadian best-seller lists for over three years and has sold more than 300,000 copies.

Shortly after the book was released, Foot explained to the CBC’s Evan Solomon that all he was doing was putting two disciplines together – sociology and economics.

“There shouldn’t be anything very unique about this, except most sociologists don’t know economists and most economists hardly know any sociologists or demography,” he said.

In addition to academic writings and contributions to professional journals and to the popular media, Foot’s work in the area of public policy has included research and submissions to many government commissions and numerous consulting and conference assignments for both private and public organizations.

He is a recipient of a national 3M Award for Teaching Excellence and is a two-time winner of the University of Toronto undergraduate teaching award.

David Foot will be speaking at CNA2014 this month.

Physics Wunderkind Taylor Wilson to Speak at CNA2014

By Romeo St-Martin
Digital Media Officer
Canadian Nuclear Association

Time Magazine calls him “The Next Einstein.”

Taylor Wilson is a 19-year-old nuclear physicist who was born in Texarkana, Arkansas and raised in Nevada.

As a child, Wilson was initially interested in rocketry and space science, before entering the field of nuclear science at age 10.

Interest in space led to an interest in nuclear propulsion and then nuclear science and fusion.

“I was obsessed with space and I was really excited about being an astronaut and designing a rocket,” he said. “I think there is something really poetic about using nuclear power to propel us to the stars because the stars are giant fusion reactors. They are giant nuclear cauldrons in the sky.”

During high school, Wilson attended both the Davidson Academy of Nevada and the University of Nevada, Reno where he was given a laboratory to conduct his fusion research.

He astounded the science world and gained notoriety when, at age 14, he became the youngest person in history to produce fusion.

A lot of his work was done on a small budget in his garage.

“I make yellowcake in my garage, so my nuclear program is as advanced as the Iranians,” he quipped.

In 2012, Wilson’s dreams received a boost when he became a recipient of the $100,000 Thiel Prize.

Wilson now intends revolutionize the way we produce energy, fight cancer, and combat terrorism using nuclear technology.

His homeland-security research earned him the opportunity to meet with U.S. President Barak Obama.

“In about seven years of doing nuclear research, I started out with a dream to make a star in a jar, a star in my garage and I ended up meeting the president and developing things I think can change the world,” he said in 2012.

And 2013 was a big year for him as well. In May, he graduated high school and in December he was named one of Time Magazine’s 30 Under 30 World Changers.

Taylor Wilson will be speaking at CNA2014 this month.