SMRs: Exempt from Impact Assessments?????????????

SMRs: Exempt from Impact Assessments?????????????

Postby Oscar » Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:12 am

Federal nuclear regulator urges Liberals to exempt smaller reactors from full panel review

[ https://www.theglobeandmail.com/busines ... n01XCh1qog ] *** SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED ***

SHAWN MCCARTHY GLOBAL ENERGY REPORTER November 8, 2018

Canada’s nuclear regulator has urged the federal government to allow smaller nuclear reactors to avoid lengthy impact assessments, a move that would create an easier and faster path for commercialization of the technology.

So-called “small module reactors,” or SMRs, have been touted as a low-carbon energy option for remote communities. But briefing notes from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) show it is worried that protracted impact assessment hearings could be detrimental to the commercialization of the reactors in Canada. The commission told the government it should retain responsibility to conduct environmental reviews when construction projects are proposed, according to documents obtained under access to information laws.

The SMRs represent the nuclear industry’s latest effort to reduce its high capital costs and would have a capacity ranging from 1.5 megawatts to a utility-scale 300 megawatts.

In one briefing document for internal discussions, the regulator notes the nuclear industry’s concerns about "longer regulatory timelines” that would result from passage of the government’s Impact Assessment Act – Bill C-69, which is now before the Senate. The CNSC encourages the government to exempt small modular reactors from the list of designated projects that would receive a full panel review, and warns that lengthy regulatory delays could kill a promising industry. The documents were obtained by Greenpeace Canada.

Proponents argue the small modular reactors could supply a wide range of electricity needs, from replacing dirty, unreliable diesel generation in remote communities, to providing low-carbon electricity for oil sands operations. They paint a vision of impoverished Indigenous communities getting reliable and affordable power from 1.5-megawatt reactors that would replace diesel, or off-grid mines and oil sands plants using larger reactors to provide low-carbon energy to their operations, and of units that would anchor “energy parks” and complement solar and wind generation.

“The future of the nuclear industry, especially for Canadian participants, is dependent on the success of SMRs,” says the April, 2018, note to CNSC’s then-president Michael Binder, who has since retired. “It is very important to get the project list right so that there is a reasonable threshold on what kind of projects require an IA [impact assessment].” Another briefing note also says CNSC is recommending the government adopt thresholds to ensure proposals to build small reactors do not face a full impact review.

Panel members of a full impact assessment would come from a broad cross-section of the public representing various disciplines, appointed by the government.

Greenpeace researcher Shawn-Patrick Stensil argues the CNSC’s preferred approach would prevent a broad-based review of the safety and environmental risks from untested reactor technology that will produce highly radioactive waste.

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Re: SMRs: Exempt from Impact Assessments?????????????

Postby Oscar » Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:14 am

Civil society groups across Canada urge federal government to rethink small modular reactor deployment, citing risks to the public, environment and future generations

[ http://www.cela.ca/no-to-smrs-in-canada ]

October 30, 2018

Over 20 civil society organizations from across Canada are calling on the federal government to say ‘no’ to nuclear industry pressure to spend taxpayer resources on the development of Small Modular Reactors (SMR).

“So-called Small Modular Reactors are just the nuclear industry’s old promise of producing ‘cheap, safe and clean’ power recycled into a new request for taxpayer dollars. The federal government shouldn’t support these unproven risky reactor designs,” said Brennain Lloyd of Northwatch.

The full text of the letter sent to the Ministers may be found on the CELA’s website at [ http://www.cela.ca/no-to-smrs-in-canada ].

SMRs are compact and unproven reactor designs, producing anywhere from 1 MW to 300 MW of electricity, and proponents say they could be deployed in communities across Canada. Despite claims of being cleaner and safer, they will still produce long-lived radioactive waste and require protection from liability for the federal government in the event of an accident.

In their letter to the Ministers of Environmental and Climate Change, Natural Resources and Science and Sport, the organizations state that the government has not carried out a transparent, public dialogue on possible federal support for SMRs. Instead, they have consulted the nuclear industry only. As a result of these industry consultations, Natural Resources Canada is set to release a policy roadmap for the development of SMRs next week.

“Gambling on untested reactors is foolish when we could invest more in proven technologies like renewables. The Trudeau government would be wise to consider how the federal government has been duped into wasting taxpayer dollars on nuclear industry proposals in the past,” said Shawn-Patrick Stensil, a senior energy analyst with Greenpeace Canada.

The groups say SMRs will just add to Canada’s nuclear waste legacy and divert investment from safer, less costly and more socially acceptable renewable energy technologies.

“We know the nuclear industry is lobbying to exempt SMRs from assessments under the proposed Impact Assessment Act, but these are exactly the type of projects that should be subjected to an environmental review. We urge the federal government to not succumb to pressure to subsidize SMRs with either tax-dollars or cuts to public oversight,” said Theresa McClenaghan, executive director and counsel at the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA).

The full text of the letter sent to the Ministers may be found on the CELA’s website at [ http://www.cela.ca/no-to-smrs-in-canada ].
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