Category Archives: Guest Blog

Guest Blog

Toronto Electric Transit: Clean, Affordable, and Nuclear Powered

Today’s post comes from guest contributor Steve Aplin. Steve works at the HDP Group and authors the great blog, Canadian Energy Issues.

Toronto is a beautiful, modern, clean, world-class city which is—sometimes unfairly—nicknamed The Big Smoke. The nickname comes from the smog that sometimes hovers over the city on hot summer days. Smog is caused in part by fossil fuel combustion, and in Toronto that means cars. Therefore the city’s biggest and most effective weapon against smog is its electric-powered subways and streetcars.

Subways and streetcars run on steel rails, and rail transportation is far more efficient, in terms of fuel used per kilometer traveled, than road transportation. And electric-powered rail is far more efficient than fossil-powered. If the electricity comes from mostly zero-carbon sources, as it does in Ontario, then electric rail transit is, on a passenger-by-passenger basis, twenty to eighty times as clean as car transportation.

In 2010, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) used 4.4 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity to move millions of passengers on electric subways and streetcars. Most of those 4.4 billion kWh came from Ontario’s three nuclear power plants. Because most of that electricity came from nuclear plants, each individual subway or streetcar rider’s carbon footprint was tiny: nuclear emits no smog or greenhouse gas pollution.

And because Toronto’s subways and streetcars are mostly nuclear powered, TTC fares were low—nuclear is among the least expensive types of electricity in Ontario.

Nuclear energy is affordable because it is also among the most efficient and reliable ways we know to make electricity.

So I congratulate all Toronto subway and streetcar riders: every day you prove that modern transportation is affordable, reliable, and clean.

Guest Blog

Getting Girls Energized about Science and Engineering

By Cheryl Cottrill
Executive Director
WiN-Canada

WiN-Canada (Women in Nuclear) hosted Camp GEMS (Girls in Engineering Math and Science) for two full day March Break camps last week at the Bruce Power Visitors’ Centre.  The sessions are meant to provide a fun, hands-on experience, using science, math and engineering principles, with a female mentor who has been successful in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) careers.  It’s done to awaken a life-long passion for science and ignite scientific curiosity, so campers will ask intelligent questions around issues like climate change and energy options, and possibly go on to study STEM subjects post-secondary.  In Canada, only an estimated 21% of students enrolled in applied science and engineering are women.

Day one’s theme, All in a Bug’s Life, centered on insects and taught the 25 girls attending about different types and characteristics of insects. They learned about the two types of metamorphosis, a process of dramatic change in a body form during a lifespan, which can be complete or incomplete.  Day two’s theme, Enzymes – Step on it! took the girls through two experiments: Jello Meets Pineapple, to see how the pineapple, acting as an enzyme on the jello substrate, changed the ability of the jello to set and an experiment using controlled quantities of raw potatoes immersed in hydrogen peroxide to initiate a chemical reaction.

These events are hosted by Women in Nuclear and have become well known and supported in the community. This energizing and welcomed approach to engaging young women into science, technology, engineering and math is creating a pathway for their future endeavours, and should help to bring more young Canadians into the excellent careers offered by our nuclear industries.

Guest Blog

2012 was Very Good to WiN…

By Cheryll Cottrill
Executive Director
WiN-Canada

To wrap up the year, I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on the wonderful accomplishments within the WiN organization in 2012:

  • WiN-Canada membership continues to grow with a 20% increase over last year, largely due to the new chapter inSaskatchewan.
  • We completed the incorporation of WiN, opened a new bank account and took over our own banking responsibilities.
  • We secured continued support for the full time Executive Director position from OPG and Bruce Power.
  • We had diverse attendance from companies in the industry at our annual conference. We enjoyed record sponsorship from the industry, which helped us realize a profit of over $50,000.00, to be used for 2013 programming.
  • We produced a new WiN promotional video showcasing members talking about their personal experiences within WiN.
  • We purchased science curriculum kits at the chapter level to be distributed to kindergarten and daycare classrooms that offer a very hands-on experience connecting science to everyday life.
  • An article about WiN’s position paper, Women in the Skilled Trades and Technology – Myths and Realties was featured in the Media Planet insertion for International Women’s Day in the Toronto Star.
  • We had a large presence at the CNA conference in Ottawa. We staffed a WiN booth and Susan Brissette, WiN-Canada’s Past President spoke on a plenary panel on Innovative Methods of Communicating Science and Colleen Sidford, WiN-Canada’s President, spoke on a panel on Career Development.
  • We welcomed the WiN-Saskatchewan chapter into the WiN-Canada family and signed a co-operation agreement with Saskatchewan Women in Mining (SWIM) to create a joint chapter. A very successful launch with over 100 attendees took place at the CNS conference in June.
  • WiN also had a great presence at the CNS conference inSaskatchewan. Thanks to the board members who put in the nomination, I was awarded the CNA/CNS Education and Communication award for my work with WiN-Canada. WiN also presented at the CNS Annual meeting and at the NAYGN seminar on our activities and staffed a booth at the conference.
  • We participated in 10 Skills Canada dinners acrossCanada, reaching over 1,160 elementary and secondary school female students.
  • We facilitated two successful full week summer GIRLS Science Camps, a 2-day March break camp and 6 club sessions.Other chapters are doing outreach in schools, attending community events i.e., Science Olympics, GIRLS Inc., Go ENG Girl. As result of all our programs we reached over 270 girls grades 4-7.
  • We helped organize two successful Skills Work! Summer Day Camps for boys and girls showcasing different trades and technologies used in the nuclear industry.
  • We provided a monetary award to the female student with the highest overall mark at the Ontario Technological Skills Competition.
  • We sat on the Communication Working Committee, the Social Media Working Committee at the CNA and participated in the CEO Leadership Forum for the nuclear industry.
  • We participated in a very successful Parliament Hill Day with over 36 participants attending meetings with 25 senators, MPs and parliamentary staff.
  • We contributed WiN-Canada stories to all four issues of WiNFO put out by our global organization.
  • We had a number of great outreach opportunities by the board this year with OSPE; Saugeen District Secondary School; the CNA Board, Communications Committee and Social Media Committee; CEO Leadership Forum; CNS Nuclear 101 and annual meeting; NAYGN; 7thAnnual Int’l Youth Nuclear Congress; AECL Open House; Go ENG Girl; and CNI-LP.
  • Our website drew 25,690 visitors from 161 countries. The blog was read over 14,000 times over the past year and the women on WiN feature drew over 30,000 page views.
  • We held a number of local chapter meetings covering excellent topics with great speakers reaching over 790 members.

WiN has been very busy and successful 2012 and 2013 proves to be just as active. All this work is the result of our wonderful members who work tirelessly to support the industry’s success. I hope you all come back refreshed and ready to take an active role in all WiN’s activities in 2013.

As this is my final blog for 2012, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the happiest of holidays. Enjoy your time with family and friends. It has been a great year for Women in Nuclear (WiN) and we look forward to bigger and better things in 2013.
Guest Blog Nuclear Outreach Nuclear Pride

NA-YGN Chalk River Chapter Hosts International Networking Event

Below is a guest blog from our friends at NA-YGN’s Chalk River Chapter. They recently put on a very successful professional networking event that included delegates from Canadian and American chapters and offered the opportunity to learn more about the activities at Chalk River Labs and network with their peers. Please read on for a fulsome summary.

On November 8th and 9th the North American Young Generation in Nuclear (NA-YGN) Chalk River Chapter and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) hosted 50 delegates from Canadian and American Chapters, originating from several different nuclear sites throughout North America for the inaugural professional networking event: Past, Present and Future in Nuclear.  Overall, the event was a great success and provided delegates with a significant opportunity to learn about the varied research projects currently ongoing at Chalk River and network with peers from other nuclear stations throughout the continent.

Attendees at NA-YGN’s professional networking event

The event kicked off Thursday evening with the Past section, where Joan Miller welcomed the delegates on behalf of AECL as NAYGN’s Executive Sponsor.  Morgan Brown, as the keynote speaker, then gave an entertaining and informative seminar on the history of nuclear science and technology in Canada and, specifically, Chalk River’s role in shaping and development of the Canadian nuclear industry.  The talk touched briefly on the role of the CANDU nuclear reactors in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick and their respective energy distribution grids, and proceeded to lead into the historical reasons why Canada went with a heavy water reactor design.

Delegates were treated to a tour of Chalk River Laboratories.

A tour of Chalk River Laboratories on Friday November 9th was the main focal point of the event – showcasing the Present State of the Nuclear Industry in Canada.  The delegates experienced several aspects of the Laboratories, showcasing the numerous different areas of current nuclear research and development with several industry and academic partners.  Some of the areas showcased included mechanical systems design, nuclear non-proliferation detection equipment, the effects of radiation on biological systems, and the chemical production of hydrogen.  The driving focus behind these tours was to increase the awareness of the important role AECL and Chalk River serves to the Canadian nuclear industry in our partners throughout the industry.

Friday evening served complete the event, with a panel discussion focused on the Future State of the Nuclear Industry in Canada.  Executives from AECL, the Canadian Nuclear Association, and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, were in attendance to provide insight into the future role of nuclear technology in supplying baseload electricity, the future of small modular reactors in the Canadian North, as well as the focus of future public outreach activities and what could be done to increase positive public perception of nuclear technology.  The initial series of questions asked to panel members and the ensuing discussions were quite insightful, with an excellent opportunity provided for delegates to ask questions related to future of the industry following.

Executives from AECL, the Canadian Nuclear Association, and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission participated in a panel on the future role of nuclear.

Overall, the inaugural NAYGN Past, Present and Future of Nuclear event was a great success …

Guest Blog Nuclear Energy

Open Letter from Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission President Michael Binder

This letter by CNSC President, Dr. Michael Binder, is simply too good not to share. Kudos to the CNSC for being such a strong regulator and our member companies Cameco and AREVA for their solid safety track record and impeccable operations. Please read on below.

November 22, 2012

Following the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s (CNSC) recent decision to license a uranium exploration project in Quebec, I’m dismayed that recent statements and discussions over the safety of uranium mining have been based neither on fact nor science. Uranium mining and milling in this country is tightly regulated by the CNSC. Canada is a world leader in responsibly developing this resource. This is largely attributable to a solid safety track record.

Uranium mining is the only type of mining that has a dedicated federal regulator that oversees all aspects of operation on an ongoing basis. Provincial oversight is also strictly applied. In fact, uranium mining is the most regulated, monitored and understood type of mining in Canada.

Activists, medical practitioners and politicians who have demanded moratoriums may have various reasons for doing so, but their claims that the public and environment are at risk are fundamentally wrong. The provincial governments that have decided to ban uranium exploration have done so ignoring years of evidence-based scientific research on this industry.

The CNSC would never compromise safety by issuing a licence or allowing a uranium mine or mill to operate if it were not safe to do so. All monitoring data shows that uranium mining is as safe as other conventional metal mining in Canada.

The numbers speak for themselves. Metal mining effluent data reported to Environment Canada demonstrates that uranium mining operations from 2007 to 2010 was 100% compliant with federal release limits for all seven types of contaminants. Uranium mining operations were the only type of metal mine to have 100% compliance during this period.

Both the CNSC and provincial environmental regulators closely monitor and analyze industry releases to ensure streams, lakes and rivers downstream of mining operations are safe for people, animals, fish and plants.

We also monitor miner safety. The average annual radiation dose to miners is well below the CNSC annual dose limits, which are conservatively established to protect workers. Radiation doses to the public and the environment near uranium mines are negligible.

In Saskatchewan, where Canada’s operating uranium mines are found, the province’s Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety monitors all conventional health and safety issues for uranium mining. All reporting continuously shows that uranium mining and milling sites are among the best performing facilities in accident prevention and lost-time incidents across the province’s entire mining and industrial sectors.

The CNSC has carried out and validated numerous studies over the decades that have repeatedly provided sound evidence that workers and residents near these facilities are as healthy as the rest of the general population. The same is true of people who live near nuclear power plants.

The CNSC’s conclusions on the uranium mining industry are clearly based on decades of studies, research, and a rigorous licencing and inspection framework. That being said, it needs to be voiced again, the CNSC will never compromise safety and would never issue a licence for a mining or milling operation unless the proposed activities were safe.

I invite Canadians to visit our Web site to get the facts about uranium mining and the complete nuclear sector in Canada.

Michael Binder
President
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

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.

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

—-
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