Nuclear energy isn't 'clean'

Nuclear energy isn't 'clean'

Postby Oscar » Fri May 11, 2018 10:33 am

Nuclear energy isn't 'clean' - Opinion

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By: Dave Taylor, Winnipeg Free Press, April 25, 2018

Canada’s energy plan is dreadfully tainted by the stain of oil and the contamination of nuclear power.

Our beleaguered minister of natural resources, [Jim Carr] who is responsible for this vague and vacillating vision, is trying to persuade the public that he advocates a clean and green energy future for Canada.

The $2.2 billion to stimulate "clean-tech" energy development from this budget is being tossed around in a shotgun approach.
It is clear that the government of British Columbia and members of our chamber of sober second thought [the Canadian Senate] aren’t satisfied with these federal meanderings.

In fact, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr’s briefings to senators about the Kinder Morgan pipeline were characterized as being far from substantial.

Two senators went so far as to accuse Carr of being "unhelpful" in his explanations and of "blaming others."

Straight answers appear to be hard to come by.

Although there have been a number of positive renewable initiatives developed under his auspices, it has become evident that the Natural Resources Department does not have a clear path forward following the principles of renewable and sustainable energy development.

These are the very ideals our prime minister advocated for Canada at the Paris Climate Summit.

Carr’s department has launched a website with the acronym NICE: Nuclear Innovation: Clean Energy. It’s aimed at involving youth and women leaders in planning for a nuclear future.

Nuclear power generation, however, is neither the future, nor clean.

This energy dinosaur has left us with nuclear waste full of insidious poisons that threaten our environment for millennia.

A large tract of land in Manitoba is being designated for just this purpose.

Essentially, the reactor site at Pinawa will be filled with concrete and become a dead zone, and if the concrete fails and these poisons are not contained, they stand to contaminate the Winnipeg River and all that exists downstream.

The new cheap plan to decommission the site was so poorly put together by Carr’s government contractors that it was slammed by scientists and environmentalists alike and sent back to the drawing board.

The federal regulators are about to grant the same subcontractors a year’s extension to their licence in May by shortcutting the [licence] renewal procedure and eliminating public input.

This so-called "challenge" Natural Resources is promoting has been initiated in conjunction with an organization called the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM), which features new energy ideas from around the world, but conspicuously does not have the word nuclear anywhere on its website.

[Nevertheless] their spokesman, Christian Zinglersen, made it very clear when questioned about this position: "I think it is difficult to find scenarios which point to massive decarbonization efforts in the decades ahead that do not include a substantial share of nuclear power in the global power mix."

He lauds Canada for hosting the CEM Ministerial meeting in 2019 and also views nuclear as a "clean" source of energy.

Carr, at a constituency get-together in a local community centre, seemed to be unaware of this initiative developed by the staff of natural resources.

He kept insisting that Canada is following a clean energy mix but, when pressed, was not able to actually associate the words "clean" and "nuclear" together because, as we all know, Canada’s nuclear industry has not solved its waste problem which befouls its operations.

The plans for a new prototype nuclear reactor in Manitoba, the futile attempt to sell reactors abroad and the sheer gall of policy makers around the world to hide their nuclear aspirations behind the words "clean energy" is an attempt to hoodwink the public.

We need a federal plan where our carbon taxes go toward the future, a future where our economy is based on renewable, sustainable and legitimately clean sources of energy.

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Dave Taylor teaches at the University of Winnipeg and has published many articles on the nuclear industry.

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Background – Dr. Gordon Edwards

Despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s ringing endorsement of the Paris climate accord, accompanied by praise for the bold and inspiring vision of an energy future based on clean, sustainable, renewable energy sources like wind and solar, the reality of Canada’s energy policies and practices tells a different and contradictory story.

The Alberta tar sands, or oil sands, produce a nasty-looking sludge-like substance made up of hydrocarbons and impurities called “bitumen”. Just getting the resource out of the ground requires a lot of energy, so much so that the oil sands operation is by far the greatest greenhouse gas emitter in Canada, just due to extraction of the resource.

As the Canadian Encyclopedia says: One of the easiest ways to understand bitumen is to compare it to its cousin, conventional crude oil. Whereas conventional crude oil flows freely, bitumen does not. At room temperature it looks like cold molasses, and must be either heated or diluted before it flows. Like all petroleum, both conventional crude and bitumen are made up of hydrocarbons (i.e., organic compounds containing only carbon and hydrogen. However, compared to conventional crude oil, bitumen contains more carbon than hydrogen, as well as many more impurities, such as nitrogen, sulphur and heavy metals. In order to produce synthetic crude, these impurities must be removed and the carbon-hydrogen imbalance corrected.”

Not only do the oil sands release huge quantities of greenhouse gases during extraction, but the end product -- when burned -- produces and releases more carbon dioxide than other conventional fossil fuels, due to the disproportionate percentage of carbon.

Currently the Trudeau government is trying to ensure that the Kinder Morgan pipeline is built. This pipeline is designed to carry diluted bitumen from Alberta through British Columbia to the Pacific Ocean, where the bitumen would be loaded onto ships and carried overseas to be refined elsewhere. The BC government is opposing this pipeline on the grounds that there are no proven effective methods to clean up after an accidental spill of diluted bitumen into the BC environment or into BC coastal waters. Both the Alberta government and the federal government are determined to overcome this resistance by hook or by crook and get that pipeline built.

Meanwhile, in Ontario, where 18 of Canada’s 20 nuclear power reactors are located, the provincial government has halted all support for renewable energy in order to favour the nuclear option. Already Ontario ratepayers are paying an extra levy on their monthly electricity bills to cover $30 billion of “stranded assets”. This huge debt, which is all due to various failures of Ontario’s nuclear fleet, is the very thing that decades ago bankrupted the original provincially-owned utility, Ontario Hydro. That utility has since been broken up into several companies, including Ontario Power Generation (OPG), a provincially-owned enterprise that owns all of Ontario nuclear reactors and all the radioactive wastes produced by those reactors.

Ontario’s reactors are nearing their end-of-life unless tens of billions of dollars are spent in “refurbishing” them. Refurbishment means rebuilding the reactor cores (despite intense penetrating radiation fields) and replacing, in each reactor, several kilometres worth of metallic conduits — highly radioactive pressure tubes that have become embrittled (prone to shatter) and heavily contaminated "feeder pipes” that have become corroded and whose “wall thickness” has been reduced by as much as 60 percent. Nevertheless, Ontario has opted to turn off the burgeoning business of wind and solar energy in favour of squandering billions of dollars on rebuilding the ageing fleet of nuclear reactors.

This leaves the Trudeau government in a tough spot requiring courageous leadership. But such leadership is, alas, not forthcoming. Having decided to champion the Alberta oil sands and the Kinder Morgan pipeline on the one hand, and bowing to Ontario’s choice of “used nukes” instead of new renewables, the Trudeau government has “knuckled under” and given Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr a free hand to promote a new generation of nuclear reactors, called Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). Minister Carr portrays nuclear energy as “clean energy”, and presents this highly speculative endeavour as one of Canada’s main “strategies" to reduce greenhouse gases.

To make matters worse, a private consortium of multinational corporations is receiving large sums of federal tax money (close to a billion dollars a year) to adopt quick-and-dirty approaches to radioactive waste management and nuclear decommissioning (i.e. radioactive demolition) activities so as to allow them to proceed as rapidly as possible with building and testing new SMR reactor designs on Canadian soil. This “venture capital" investment will not only be subsidized and tolerated by Canadians, but will also produce even more radioactive waste for our descendants to inherit.

One of the radioactive waste shortcuts envisaged by the consortium is to avoid the necessity of dismantling the radioactive structures of defunct nuclear reactors in order to package the rubble and remove it from the site, but instead to just bury the whole radioactive mess in Portland cement and abandon it beside a major water body such as the Winnipeg or Ottawa Rivers.

Even under the most optimistic estimates, SMRs will not be able to be deployed for decades to come, during which time the buildup of greenhouse gases will continue unabated, even as the existing nuclear option continues to shrivel. In the western world, the number of nuclear reactors is steadily decreasing. Meanwhile billions of tax dollars will be poured into subsidizing this new nuclear adventure of SMRs — a very flimsy platform indeed to offer any hope of arresting, let alone reversing, the inexorable buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the steady accumulation of radioactive wastes on land. Each of these legacies — greenhouse gases and radioactive wastes — will leave our grandchildren’s grandchildren with little manoeuvring room.

Gordon Edwards, President
Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility
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Re: Nuclear energy isn't 'clean'

Postby Oscar » Sat Oct 27, 2018 3:34 pm

NICE: USA, Canada, Japan launch a global campaign to expand nuclear power

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [cleangreensask] MAY 2018 - NICE: USA, Canada, Japan launch a gloabl campaign to expand nuclear power
Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2018 12:30:34 -0400
From: Gordon Edwards <>

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

Please see the May 2018 World Nuclear News article copied below, calling for. a NICE Future, courtesy of Canada, US and Japan. In this case NICE refers to “Nuclear Innovation: Clean Energy”.

The Canadian government has always been among the most pro-nuclear governments in the world. Back in May, Canada joined forces with the USA and Japan in a “NICE campaign” to promote the expansion of nuclear power worldwide, despite the dire predicament that the industry currently finds itself in. Even heads of large nuclear corporations like Exelon are saying that they do not believe that any more nuclear reactors will ever be built in the United States, and that includes the so-called “small” modular nuclear reactors that are now seen as the (conjectural) flavour of the day.

Steven Dolley, S&P Global (credit rating company), 12 April 2018, ‘No new nuclear units will be built in US due to high cost: Exelon official.’ - [ ... e-26938511 ]

Quebec, one of three Canadian provinces that has generated nuclear electricity, completely phased out of nuclear power with the shutdown of the Gentilly-2 CANDU reactor in 2012. In Ontario, of 22 nuclear power plants originally (all ordered prior to 1979), eighteen are still operating — but six of those (the Pickering reactors) will be permanently shut down within a decade. There is no prospect any more for building new base-load nuclear power plants in Ontario, whether of CANDU design or any other design. The remaining dozen Ontario reactors must each be shut down for several years to allow for the cores of the reactors to be rebuilt at a cost of tens of billions of dollars.

In order to afford these massive nuclear expenditures, and to prevent further growth in the current decades-long electricity surplus in Ontario, all subsidies to renewable sources of electricity such as solar and wind have been cancelled by the Ontario government.

Currently, the Canadian government has succumbed to a sales pitch from the nuclear industry that “small modular nuclear reactors” (SMRs) are going to be the wave of the future. In fact, there are no such reactors in operation and no orders have been placed. The interest in SMRs is primarily limited to the nuclear industry, which has produced more than 150 different conceptual models for SMRs to choose from. The demand for SMRs is driven by the sellers, not the buyers. Adam Smith would find this a perplexing state of affairs.

Canada’s experience with small reactors has so far not been encouraging. Two 10 megawatt (thermal) reactors called the Maple-1 and the Maple-2 were designed and built by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) around the turn of the century, both of which were a complete write-off The Maple reactors never functioned safely, were never used, and are slated to be dismantled

A District Heating Reactor dubbed by many the “Mega-Slowpoke” was also designed by AECL before the turn of the century. It was offered free — as an outright gift! — to both the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec and the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, but in both cases the gift was declined. AECL could not even give it away. A model Mega-Slowpoke was built in Manitoba (at the Whiteshell Nuclear Research Establishment but never obtained an operating licence because of unresolved safety considerations.

Gordon Edwards, President
Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility

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Nuclear Innovation: Clean Energy Future (NICE Future)

Viewpoint, World Nuclear News, 22 May 2018

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The Initiative on Nuclear Energy is to be launched on 24 May at the ninth Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) in Copenhagen. Here, Deputy Secretary Dan Brouillette of the US Department of Energy explains the Nuclear Innovation: Clean Energy (NICE).

The United States, Canada, and Japan are launching the Nuclear Innovation: Clean Energy (NICE) Future Initiative. This global effort will make sure nuclear has a seat at the table during discussions about innovation and advanced clean energy systems of the future.

This week, I have the privilege of traveling to Copenhagen, Denmark to participate in the 9th Clean Energy Ministerial. This forum brings together the world's top energy officials to promote and discuss a wide range of policies and programmes that will promote the transition to a global clean energy economy.

But frequently the definition of 'clean energy', as Secretary Rick Perry pointed out last year, does not include nuclear energy - the world's second largest source of low-carbon electricity, following only behind hydropower.

If the world is serious about reducing emissions and growing economies, then the ministerial must consider all options when it comes to carbon-free power, including clean, reliable nuclear energy.

NICE Future Initiative

Innovative nuclear systems will play a critical role in world-wide decarbonisation, including use in many energy intensive applications such as:

• Desalination
• Industrial process heat
• Integrated nuclear-renewable systems
• Flexible electricity grids
• Hydrogen production
• Energy storage (thermal, electrical, or chemical).

NICE Future is gaining momentum; more than a dozen countries have already expressed interest in joining. It's time for the rest of the world to join this important initiative.

The clean power of nuclear

There are currently 449 commercial reactors operating in 30 countries around the world. Collectively, these reactors provide nearly 11% of the world’s electricity - all of it being clean and reliable power.

In the United States, our 99 reactors produce 20% of the nation’s electricity and 56% of our total clean energy.

By utilising our nuclear energy resources, the United States also avoided more than 14,000 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions between 1995 and 2016. That’s the equivalent of removing 3 billion cars from the road.

All the more reason nuclear should have a seat at the clean energy table.

The power of collaboration

The Trump Administration takes an all-of-the-above approach to energy, and when we say "all-of-the-above" we mean it.

As Secretary Perry has stated, we don't have to choose between boosting our economy or protecting our environment. We can achieve both.

We can do this by utilising ALL our energy assets. This approach drives innovation, spurs our economies, and protects the environment.

Nuclear energy has demonstrated itself time and time again as a clean, reliable, and resilient source of electricity. Having nuclear included in the Clean Energy Ministerial will spur even greater support for this technology and help provide its benefits to our allies around the world.

We must work together to make sure ALL clean and innovative technologies are a part of an emission-free future. We must work together to have a NICE Future.
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Re: Nuclear energy isn't 'clean'

Postby Oscar » Sat Oct 27, 2018 3:45 pm

America Joins With Canada And Japan To Promote Nuclear Power

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Dave Keating May 28, 2018, 08:00pm  

The United States hasn’t had much diplomatic success in the area of climate change lately.

When Donald Trump announced his decision to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement last year, the administration assumed other countries would follow. But it didn’t come to pass.

Instead, every country stayed in the accord, and the big players doubled down on their commitment the pact. US efforts to convince other countries such as Saudi Arabia to leave the pact, ahead of a G20 summit last year, failed. By the time of the UN climate summit in Bonn in November, it was clear the US had been seriously diplomatically side-lined.

But at a summit in Copenhagen, Denmark last week, it was clear the US is now trying a different tact.

A ‘Clean Energy Summit’ was organized bringing together energy ministers from across the world. At the event, the US launched new partnerships to promote nuclear power and coal with carbon capture and storage technology as alternatives to traditional fossil fuels.

The summit was one of several summits being held this year trying to attract private investment to match public investment commitments to green technology.

The new nuclear partnership with Japan and Canada, was launched on Thursday. At the summit, the US was able to convince two new partners who are member states of the European Union – Poland and Romania – to join the alliance.

The partnership is called Nuclear Innovation: Clean Energy Future (NICE Future). “If the world is serious about reducing emissions and growing economies, then the ministerial must consider all options when it comes to carbon-free power, including clean, reliable nuclear energy,” said US deputy energy secretary Dan Brouillette.

“Countries will need to use nuclear energy alongside other forms of clean energy to deliver a sustainable energy mix that is affordable to all and that supports economic development,” Agneta Rising, director general of the World Nuclear Association, said at the launch.

The aim of the initiative is to promote nuclear as a solution to climate change, because it generates energy without emitting intensive CO2 emissions.

Separately, the US also promoted a new platform on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) called the Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage Initiative that will focus on obtaining more financing for CCS demonstration projects. Such financing has been hard to come by in Europe, because investors are still sceptical about whether the technology, which stores the carbon underground rather than releasing it into the air, is viable.

The efforts may represent a new phase in America’s climate diplomacy. Rather than trying to gather allies around a negative message around rejecting the Paris Agreement, which failed, the US now is shifting to a more positive message promoting its own version of how to solve the climate crisis.

Environmental campaigners, however, are having none of it. Hundreds of activists disrupted an event organized by the US government in November to promote nuclear and clean coal. They say the recent US moves are greenwashing a pro-coal agenda that is not actually interested in stopping climate change.

Whether these new US initiatives attract more members remains to be seen.

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Dave Keating is a reporter in Brussels who has been covering EU politics and policy for 12 years.
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