Tag Archives: Safety

CNA Responds Nuclear Energy

Just the Facts, Ma’am. Just the Facts.

You’d think the facts would persuade people like the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) . But that appears not to be the case.

Gideon Forman, their executive director, apparently told health authorities in Haliburton region that kids living near nuclear energy facilities face higher risks of leukemia.  Forman, who is not a medical doctor, cited the widely discredited German study Kinderkrebs in der umgebung von Kernkraftwerken (KiKK), published in 2008. (The title translates to “Childhood Cancer in the Environment of Nuclear Power Plants.”)

Here’s the problem. It’s just not true.

In fact, several follow-up studies have reviewed the KiKK work. Every one of them concluded that the kids’ leukemia risk could NOT be blamed on the nearby nuclear energy facility.

Even CAPE acknowledges in its own literature that the German study proved nothing: “The authors state that the reason for the elevated risk is unexplained, as the levels of radioactive emissions from these facilities are considered too low to explain the increase in childhood leukemia.” (Source:  Cathy Vakil and Linda Harvey, Human Health Implications of the Nuclear Energy Industry, p. 62)

As the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission said in its review of the KiKK studies, “any claims of a link between childhood leukemia and radiation from nuclear power plants are unfounded and not supported by a wealth of evidence resulting from multiple epidemiology studies.”

And as the commission chairman, Dr. Michael Binder, wrote last August in a letter to the Hamilton Spectator  specifically rebutting CAPE’s allegations, “The truth is that studies have shown over and over that people living near nuclear power plants are as healthy as the rest of the population.”

Forman also cited scientific studies to show that “all reactors release radioactive material routinely” but failed completely to put this into perspective.  The truth is that nuclear energy facilities generally add less than 0.1% to the background radiation that occurs naturally.

In fact, Canadians receive over 100 times more radiation dose naturally through the food we eat than from Canada’s nuclear energy facilities.

Those are the facts. Shouldn’t doctors deal in facts rather than fiction?

CNA2013

CNA2013 Video: Evolution of Nuclear Safety Practices

Mr. Tom Mitchell, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ontario Power Generation, provides an update on the safety measures OPG has implemented at its nuclear plants following the Fukushima nuclear event of two years ago. He also offers observations on the nuclear industry’s evolving approach to nuclear safety, including the insights gained from studying the Fukushima experience.

You can watch more CNA2013 conference videos on the playlist we created. Other videos including videos from previous conference years can be found on our YouTube channel.

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The Point Lepreau Generating Station is Seismically Robust and Safe

Below is a press release from NB Power correcting misinformation being circulated about the safety of their facility at Point Lepreau.

We echo the sentiments of NB Power Site VP & CNO, Sean Granville, when he says that our industry is one of most (if not THE most) closely regulated industries in Canada. Nuclear safety is not something we take lightly, it’s part of our culture.

Please read on for the straight facts on the matter.

The Point Lepreau Generating Station is seismically robust and safe

February 6, 2013

Fredericton, N.B. – NB Power takes exception to comments made today about the safety of the Point Lepreau Generating Station (PLGS) by the Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB) Action Committee.

“These comments are misleading and attempt to undermine public trust in nuclear safety regulation and in the Point Lepreau Generating Station,” said Sean Granville, Site Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer. “The nuclear industry is one of Canada’s most closely regulated industries and its safety record is excellent and very transparent to the public. The people of New Brunswick can take great confidence in the safety of Point Lepreau.”

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) regulatory framework relies, in part, on International Atomic Energy Agency guidelines. On the basis of that framework, the CNSC sets licensing conditions for PLGS, which also includes meeting various Canadian standards. The Station meets or exceeds the specifications required under its federal licence. Comments made today by CCNB take highly technical seismic data about Point Lepreau out of context.

“We understand that the CCNB is not in favor of nuclear power and they of course are entirely entitled to hold that opinion,” said Granville. “However, NB Power is fully committed to operating the Station in a safe and responsible manner while meeting all licence and safety requirements.”

As stated by the CNSC, all Canadian nuclear power plants, existing or new, are licensed on the basis of their proven ability to withstand seismic events like earthquakes. Structures and systems have been designed to safely survive earthquakes and the CNSC ensures that all nuclear power plant licensees comply with regulatory requirements. In Canada, reactor sites are geologically screened to ensure they are constructed in a location that is seismically stable.

PLGS is located in an area of much lower seismic hazard risk than Fukushima. It is well within the North American plate and not located at a subduction tectonic plate boundary as is the case in Japan. The Station was designed to withstand potential earthquakes; both the actual structures that form containment and the systems important to safety have been seismically qualified prior to being granted a licence to operate. In addition, a
number of upgrades to the plant were made as part of the recent Refurbishment Project to further enhance seismic safety.

When the CNSC renewed PLGS’s Power Reactor Operating Licence in February 2012, the Commission made the completion of a site-specific seismic hazard assessment a condition of the Station’s licence renewal.

Since early 2012, PLGS staff have worked with experts on the site-specific seismic hazard assessment. Seasonal factors make it impossible to complete all data gathering until the summer of 2013, which means the final assessment report will be issued in 2014. Meanwhile, the preliminary findings offer reassurance about the safety of the Station.

Data included in this study is highly technical information, and NB Power – in reporting to the CNSC – relies on independent, highly qualified experts to conduct this type of work. Additionally, the assessment is reviewed by an independent panel of experts.

Preliminary findings of the seismic assessment received from third-party experts in December 2012 indicate that the current understanding of the earthquake hazard for the Point Lepreau site is not substantially different than that presented in a 1984 study. More information on the preliminary findings is available here.

Based on these findings; we are confident that the original safety case for PLGS remains as strong today as it was when the Station was constructed. The Station is sound and will continue to operate safely. New Brunswickers should be assured that NB Power takes its responsibilities to the people of New Brunswick as its utmost priority and puts the safety of employees and the public above everything else.

– 30 –

MEDIA CONTACT: Kathleen Duguay, Manager, Public Affairs, (506) 647-8057 or kduguay@nbpower.com.

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What Kind of Environmentalist Endorses Nuclear? An Informed and Realistic One.

There’s an interesting article on Slate.com today called The Pro-Nukes Environmental Movement: After Fukushima, is nuclear energy still the best way to fight climate change?

The article says what we’ve been saying for a while: that while renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are part of a clean energy mix, they simply can’t meet the world’s growing energy demands in the next few decades without some unforeseen leap forward in grid-scale energy storage. When the wind isn’t blowing, when the sun isn’t shining, and when you don’t have a way to efficiently store huge amounts of power, where does the power come from? Unfortunately in many circumstances, that need is filled by burning fossil fuels like coal and gas.

Nuclear’s reliable base load power, combined with advances in electrifying our transportation systems, is the cleanest way to get off fossil fuels that are, as this article says, cooking the planet.

But the article does raise some concerns – the same concerns that are always raised when talking about nuclear power: capital cost and waste. It also mentions the nuclear renaissance, which, before Fukushima, was underway as the world was recognizing the opportunity for nuclear to help us quit coal and reduce emissions.

The article concludes by talking about “next generation” technology: reactors that are able to efficiently burn the used-fuel and include even more redundant safe guards (our backups have backups).

I asked our policy director, John Stewart, to touch on the cost issue and explain a bit about next generation technology: How far away is it and what’s the hold up?

Well, first, let’s point out that “current generation” nuclear power is already very good – especially when you’re looking at the carbon issue.  A technology with zero carbon emissions in today’s operation is still going to be at zero in its next generation.  If it’s carbon you’re concerned about, today’s nuclear technology is unbeatable. I’m abstracting, of course, from marginal improvements in the way we build or refuel the plants – we can use cleaner trucks to deliver the uranium fuel to the plant, or lower-carbon concrete technologies when we pour the foundation, but that’s about it.

The reactor “generations” you’re talking about is a classification system developed by the US Department of Energy and described in detail at www.energy.gov.  Reactor technology has been advancing just like technology in many other areas over the past three decades.  In cars or phones or computers, we’ve all been aware of those advances because everyone buys the results.  In nuclear, reactors are advancing but virtually nobody in North America has been buying the results.  The reactors we see are mostly older technology, dating back often to the seventies and eighties.  They work just fine, they’re safe, they’re clean, they’re very economical, but they do not reflect the state of the art, which is mostly being bought and built in places like China and India – or will be over the coming decade or two.

So the short answer about next generation technology is it’s not far away, and the hold up is just demand.  Regulatory processes aside, advanced reactor technology is available – it’s largely a matter of building it.

DOE_ReactorGenerations
Source: http://nuclear.energy.gov/genIV/documents/gen_iv_roadmap.pdf

Conversations about cost have to be clear – are we talking about up-front capital investment, that is the plant construction cost, or are we talking about the average cost of generating a unit of power?  Nuclear’s record is very clear – it is one of the most affordable ways to get a unit of power in the long run.   It’s now selling for about six cents a kilowatt hour in Ontario, a real bargain especially considering how clean it is.  One of the main reasons is that the plants are so durable, lasting for fifty to sixty years.  When a capital asset is amortized over a period that long, capital costs can be very large and they still shrink in importance.  The unit cost of power over that six decades is very low. 

CNA Responds Nuclear Energy Nuclear Pride Nuclear Safety

CNA Endorses OPG’s Applications for Renewal of Darlington Facilities

The Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) welcomes and endorses Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) applications to renew its Darlington facilities. These applications cover refurbishment and ongoing operation of the Darlington nuclear generating facility, and renewal of the Darlington Waste Management Facility’s licence for a 10-year period.

“I’m delivering this message not just on behalf of at least 60,000 Canadians whose livelihoods are supported by our industry, but also for the 13.5 million Ontarians who deserve to enjoy the same affordable clean air energy in the future that they have in the past,” said Heather Kleb, CNA President and CEO.

“Darlington supplies electricity that is extremely reliable, reasonably priced, emits virtually no greenhouse gas from operations, and delivers high-wage, highly skilled jobs. The Darlington Nuclear Generating Station has been one of the largest contributors of electricity to Ontario’s power grid since 1990. We at CNA feel very strongly that the continued service of these facilities is vital for an ongoing stable supply of base load electricity to Ontario homes, workplaces and businesses.

“The Darlington station is an extremely valuable economic resource that has not yet reached the mid-way point of its functional service life. By renewing it, Ontario has a great opportunity to realize more value from this asset. The front-end cost of nuclear plants is spread over several decades of operating life, allowing them to produce electricity at low and predictable unit costs.

“Nuclear is one of the assets that has made Ontario so attractive in the past for investors and knowledge industries. Darlington is helping that to continue.”

A recently released study by Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters determined that nuclear is an integral part of Canada’s innovation, manufacturing and export capacity. Refurbishing ten nuclear reactors will support at least 10,000 jobs for the coming eleven years, plus ongoing long-term jobs in plant operations.

Ms. Kleb added that the safety of operations at Darlington has been demonstrated through 20 years of commercial power generation at this site, and over 40 years in the province.

Ms. Kleb spoke on December 5 at a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) Public Hearing in Courtice, Ontario.

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