Perspectives on nuclear issues

Nuclear is a fascinating and complex topic. Countless studies, opinion pieces and news articles are frequently released. Below are a number of links of interest that represent some of the voices contributing to the debates over the use of nuclear technology in Canada, including regulatory aspects.

2016 |2015 |2014

2016

  • David Ropeik, an instructor in the Environmental Studies Program of the Harvard Extension School and a consultant in risk communication, recently published an article titled “The Dangers of Radiophobia”. In this article, he explores society’s fear of nuclear radiation, arguing that the level of alarm far exceeds the actual danger and that these fears pose dangers of their own to human health.
  • A recent article in Nuclear Engineering International magazine titled “Expanding the Table” discusses how nuclear safety regulators must maintain their independence to effectively provide impartial nuclear safety oversight to the nuclear industry, and that the strength of relationships and communication with a variety of stakeholders can contribute to an informed dialogue without compromising the regulator’s independence.
  • On June 6, 2016, Canada 2020 hosted its 3rd Annual Global Energy Outlook. The event was headlined by Daniel Yergin, best-selling author and Vice Chairman of IHS and Founder of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates. Mr. Yergin was joined on stage by the Honourable Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources, who posed questions on global energy trends and their impacts on Canada. Minister Carr raised nuclear energy, noting that most people in Canada do not know that 60 percent of Ontario’s electricity comes from nuclear. Mr. Yergin commented that nuclear has to be part of the agenda and that shutting it down is counterintuitive, especially if the current focus is to pursue renewable energy.
  • The Guardian recently published an article entitled Why it's time to dispel the myths about nuclear power that clarifies some of the myths around the Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents.
  • In February 2016, Bill Gates was featured in an interesting video in which he shared his views on combatting climate change. He uses an equation to calculate greenhouse gas emissions and explain the need for clean energy sources.

2015

  • In its December 2015 issue, Nuclear Engineering International published an article by Jacquie Hoornweg entitled "Global Village". It spoke about refurbishment of Canadian-designed CANDU reactors and how the CANDU Owners Group (COG) helped to achieve success through exchanging information, benchmarking, sharing lessons learned, and forming peer working groups. The article also presents the views of key players in the past, present and future refurbishment projects of New Brunswick Power (Point Lepreau Generating Station), Ontario Power Generation (Darlington Nuclear Generating Station) and Bruce Power (Bruce Nuclear Generating Stations). COG was formed in 1984 to promote collaboration on joint projects and information sharing among CANDU operators worldwide.
  • On August 30, 2015, The Japan News published an article entitled “Understand 'residual risk' for nuclear safety”, written by Dr. George Apostolakis, Head of the Nuclear Risk Research Center, Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry. Apostolakis states that no facilities are safe in an absolute sense, as safety is a continuum. He explains that there is always a residual risk. However, these risks can be deemed acceptable or tolerable when there is a benefit to society that outweighs them. Reference is also made to the CNSC’s safety goals as described in REGDOC-2.5.2, Design of Reactor Facilities: Nuclear Power Plants.
  • On July 16, 2015, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) published a public-friendly report entitled “Understanding activities that produce radioactive wastes in the UK”. The NDA is the organization responsible for the decommissioning and clean-up of the United Kingdom’s civil nuclear sites, and its report gives a good overview of radioactive waste, with information ranging from the basics of radioactivity and radiation to waste-producing activities and waste management. The report also includes easy-to-read fact sheets.
  • On June 25, 2015, the Toronto Star published an insert focused on nuclear energy in Canada.  Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) President Michael Binder provided an article titled, “Keeping Canada And Canadians Safe”. The article explores the steps the CNSC takes to ensure that Canada’s nuclear industry remains a safe and reliable one. A number of other articles were also submitted by the nuclear industry.
  • Read the articles:
  • The March 11, 2015 issue of France 24 contained an interesting article titled Four years after Fukushima, ‘new Chernobyl’ fears unfounded. The article reviewed information provided by France’s Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety Institute comparing the two nuclear events. It concludes that the impacts from the accidents are fundamentally different. Fukushima is not a “new Chernobyl”.
  • Environmentalist Bruno Comby, founder of the lobby group Environmentalists For Nuclear, says the anti-nuclear lobby has transformed a very safe energy source into a huge problem by distorting reality. In his interview with NucNet he spoke about risk, radiation and nuclear waste.
  • The Community Vitality Monitoring Partnership Process (CVMPP) recently issued its Study of the Effects of the Uranium Industry Health and Wellness Programs. The study examines the effects of the uranium industry worker health and wellness programs and the extent to which workers access health services and well-being programs at mine operations in northern Saskatchewan. The study also looks at the transfer of knowledge and behaviours of workers to their families and indirectly to their home communities. The goal of the CVMPP is to provide information and insight to stakeholders so that they can actively engage in maintaining and improving the quality of life for residents of northern Saskatchewan.
  • Dr. Kelvin Kemm, a recipient of the Lifetime Achievers Award of the National Science and Technology Forum of South Africa, recently published an article, “The lesson of Fukushima – Nuclear energy is safe”. In his paper, he takes a closer look at the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster. In his conclusion, Dr. Kemm highlights the importance of educating the public and the authorities about the true nature of nuclear power.
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the international body that assesses scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant for understanding climate change, its potential impacts, and options for adaptation and mitigation, has released its Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report. One of the key findings of the report states that continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes.
  • Events, such as the Fukushima Daiichi accident, have heightened public concern over the safety of nuclear energy in many countries, and the subsequent safety reviews and development of new safety requirements to ensure even higher levels of safety for existing and future nuclear power plants. The Technology Roadmap, released by IEA/NEA, aims to assist governments interested in introducing, maintaining or developing nuclear energy technologies to do so in a safe, publicly accepted and affordable manner.
  • An open letter was recently issued, urging environmentalists to recognize and support the role nuclear energy can play in combatting climate change and protecting biodiversity. The letter, signed by leading academics from countries including Australia, the UK, China, France, Switzerland, the U.S., Canada, Singapore, Indonesia, India, South Africa and Turkey, supports an article, written by two university professors, which was published in the journal Conservation Biology and entitled “Key role for nuclear energy in global biodiversity conservation”.
  • In May 2014, the Canadian Nuclear Association published a report entitled “Assessing the Business Case for the National Research Universal Reactor (NRU)”. The document highlights the strategic advantages of having a robust nuclear R&D infrastructure, with the NRU (or a replacement research reactor) as its core. According to the authors, achieving a government restructuring policy for Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and strengthening Canada’s nuclear industry through innovation and commercialization would be difficult without a national research reactor.

2014

  • In 2014, the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management produced a summer issue of the Journal of Nuclear Materials Management (JNMM) dedicated to a tabletop exercise exploring the use of National Nuclear Forensics Libraries (NNFLs). The exercise, called "Galaxy Serpent”, involved participants from approximately twenty nations, focused on the use of NNFLs, which are databases of chemical information about unique nuclear materials under regulatory control. NNFLs are used to identify the origin of a specific nuclear material in the unlikely event that it is found outside of regulatory control. Canada provided a valuable article in this special JNMM issue entitled "Galaxy Serpent Virtual Tabletop Exercise: Canada’s Approach, Findings, and Lessons Learned", which explains the application of chemometrics for identifying nuclear materials.
  • Lisa Thiele, CNSC’s Senior General Counsel, summarizes the legal developments related to nuclear energy for 2014. (PDF)
  • The Nuclear Law Bulletin (No. 92) published an article entitled "Uranium mining and production: A legal perspective on regulating an important resource", written by Lisa Thiele, General Counsel for the CNSC. The article focuses on two areas, first on the regulation of uranium mining from a historical perspective to current standards and international regulation. Second is an overview of uranium trade issues and related international control and coordination. The Nuclear Law Bulletin is an international publication for professionals and academics in the field of nuclear law.
  • In June, a Forbes article challenges the notion that thyroid cancer rates among children living near Fukushima have skyrocketed to more than forty times normal rates.
  • May 2, 2014: At the August 21, 2013 Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) meeting, interveners raised concerns over the application of ASME Section III Code requirements to the design of the operating fleet of CANDU nuclear power plants in Canada. To address these concerns, the CNSC hired an independent third party to evaluate intervener statements and develop inquiries that would be submitted to the ASME Committee for interpretation. The formal interpretation from ASME endorses the independent third party evaluator's position on intervener statements, which is also consistent with CNSC staff interpretation on the same ASME clauses. The independent third party report, including the inquiries to and replies from ASME, is now available.
  • On April 23, 2014, Allison M. Macfarlane, Chairman of the U.S Nuclear Regulatory Commission, gave a speech entitled "Ensuring Safety and Security: How a Technical Agency Operates in a Policy World" (PDF, source: U.S. NRC) at the U.S. Energy Association Annual Meeting and Public Policy Forum, in Washington, DC.
  • On March 5, 2014, Forbes published an article entitled "WIPP Is Still The Best and Only Choice For Nuclear Waste", which helps clarify the safety implications associated to a recent incident at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) facility located near Carlsbad, New Mexico.
  • On February 25, 2014, World Nuclear News published an article entitled “Novel study puts Fukushima doses into perspective”, which reports on the findings of a new health study on the impact of the Fukushima accident published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study's objective was to assess dose rates for people living in the vicinity of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, approximately a year and a half after the March 2011 accident. The findings suggest that for the majority of the population in the Fukushima area, radiation exposure from the power plant accident is comparable with variations in the background dose, and unlikely to exceed 1 millisievert per year, the ordinary permissible dose rate.
  • On January 20, 2014, The Province published an article entitled "Is it safe to eat the sushi? Answers to your questions about Fukushima radiation". The article clarifies common misconceptions, such as the beliefs that British Columbia (BC) fish and beaches are contaminated with dangerous levels of radiation, and that Fukushima radiation caused the massive die-out of sea stars off the BC coast.
  • On January 9, 2014, Scientific American published an article entitled What You Should and Shouldn't Worry about after the Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown. The article provides perspective on some of the concerns most often expressed by members of the public, such as the level of radioactivity of the steam sometimes visible near reactor buildings, the contamination of fish and other seafood and the long term management of the site.

    Scientific American has been a leading source and authority for science, technology information and policy for a general audience since 1845.

  • The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) has released their 2014 NTI Nuclear Materials Security Index. This is a unique public assessment of nuclear materials security conditions in 176 countries, developed with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

    Significantly improving its standing, Canada's overall second-place score was based on its improved transportation regulations, whereby new IAEA guidelines regarding the transport of nuclear materials were incorporated into CNSC regulations, and the ratification of two international agreements — the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism two key nuclear security-related agreements.