CNSC response to the article entitled ''New nuclear power plants carry more risk, report finds'' published in the Ottawa Citizen on May 31, 2010
No evidence that new nuclear plants carry more risk
To the editor,
Mike De Souza’s article in your May 31st edition compels me to comment and correct false impressions your readers may have regarding new nuclear reactors and radioactive waste.
The CNSC’s mandate is to protect the health, safety and security of Canadians and the environment. This includes the licensing and compliance verification covering the possession and use of nuclear materials in Canada, including radioactive waste management facilities.
Any suggestion that next generation of nuclear reactors in Canada could be up to 158 times more hazardous than their predecessors is a misrepresentation of the facts. Frankly, this is nothing more than a comparison of apples and oranges and evidence of alarmist speculation based on junk science sponsored by an anti-nuclear organization. In truth, on the basis of the amount of electricity produced, the amount of radioactivity per given amount of electricity is essentially the same in all reactors.
Nuclear reactors have been operating safely in Canada for over 30 years and the use of enriched uranium fuel is not new. It has been used safely in nuclear reactors around the world for decades. I would also suggest that any new reactor design will undoubtedly incorporate the latest safety features based on modern international standards.
The CNSC does not decide whether or not new reactors are needed. However, if an application is received from a proponent, the Commission will never compromise safety. It would only issue a licence for the construction or operation of a nuclear reactor once it is assured there is no risk to the public or the environment. The same is true for waste management facilities.
I can assure your readers that all used nuclear fuel in Canada is currently held on site in safe, secure and environmentally sound interim storage facilities. These interim facilities are designed to last up to 100 years and are readily maintained, upgraded or replaced.
The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has begun a dialogue with the Canadian public to collaboratively develop and implement an approach for the long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel that is socially acceptable, technically sound, environmentally responsible and economically feasible. The Canadian approach was accepted by the Government and the NWMO is now implementing this approach.
This information demonstrates that issues related to nuclear reactors and waste management in Canada are being dealt with safely and effectively. For more information about these issues, I encourage you to contact us, or visit our Web site at nuclearsafety.gc.ca for facts which could support your articles.
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission