LISTEN: SMRs: Should SK be pursuing small nuclear reactors?

LISTEN: SMRs: Should SK be pursuing small nuclear reactors?

Postby Oscar » Wed Dec 04, 2019 4:26 pm

LISTEN: "Should Saskatchewan be pursuing small nuclear reactors?"

CBC Radio Blue Sky Phone-In December 2, 2019

[ https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1- ... r-reactors ]

The program featured John Root, Executive Director of the Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation at the University of Saskatchewan and Jim Harding, a retired professor of environmental and justice studies at the University of Regina. Mr. Root - and the CBC host - wanted to focus exclusively on this particular machine, the SMR, whereas Jim Harding wanted to discuss energy broadly with a focus on comparing renewables and energy conservation to nuclear technology. Jim has always done this, as have most people involved in this work to create a non-nuclear world. Mr. Root was a bit stumped because he came to talk about SMRs and wasn't able to engage with Jim on the larger questions of energy policy. It was a good discussion.

By the way, some will remember the Uranium Development Partnership (UDP) process created under Brad Wall in 2008/09. One of the recommendations was the creation of a nuclear centre of "excellence" and "innovation", and that is the Sylvia Fedoruk Centre which employs Mr. Root.

Please share these resources widely, thanks.
Oscar
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Re: LISTEN: SMRs: Should SK be pursuing small nuclear react

Postby Oscar » Wed Dec 04, 2019 4:41 pm

'Many issues' with modular nuclear reactors says environmental lawyer

[ https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brun ... -1.5381804 ]

Three premiers have agreed to work together to develop the technology

Jordan Gill · CBC News · Posted: Dec 03, 2019 6:00 AM AT | Last Updated: December 3

Theresa McClenaghan, executive director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association, said she doesn't think modular nuclear reactors are "a viable solution to climate change.” (CBC)

Modular nuclear reactors may not be a cure for the nation's carbon woes, an environmental lawyer said in reaction to an idea floated by three premiers.

Theresa McClenaghan, executive director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association, said the technology surrounding small reactors has numerous pitfalls, especially when compared with other renewable energy technology.

This comes after New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Ontario Premier Doug Ford agreed to work together to develop the technology.

(GRAPHIC: Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp.'s Micro Modular Reactor Energy System is designed to fit in a standard shipping container. The company is partnering with Global First Power and Ontario Power Generation, who are in talks with Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. and the CNSC about preparing a site for a reactor at AECL's Chalk River Laboratories. (Ultra Safe Nuclear))

Small modular reactors are easy to construct, are safer than large reactors and are regarded as cleaner energy than coal, the premiers say. They can be small enough to fit in a school gym. Designs have been submitted to Canada's nuclear regulator for review as part of a pre-licensing process.

The premiers say the smaller reactors would help Canada reach its carbon reduction targets but McClenaghan, legal counsel for the environmental group, disagrees.

"I don't think it is the answer," said McClenaghan. "I don't think it's a viable solution to climate change."

McClenaghan said the technology behind modular reactors is still in the development stage and needs years of work before it can be used on a wide scale.

"There are many issues still with the technology," said McClenaghan. "And for climate change, the risks are so pervasive and the time scale is so short that we need to deploy the solutions we already know about like renewables and conservation."

Waste, security concerns: lawyer

While nuclear power is considered a low-carbon method of producing electricity, McClenaghan said the waste that it creates brings its own environmental concerns.

"You're still creating radioactive waste," said McClenaghan.

"We don't even have a solution to nuclear fuel waste yet in Canada and the existing plans are not taking into account these possibilities."

McClenanghan believes there are national security risks with the plan as well.

She said having more reactors, especially if they're in rural areas, means there's a greater chance that waste or fuel from the reactors could be stolen for nefarious purposes.

"You'd be scattering radioactive materials, potentially attractive to diversion, much further across the country," said the environmental lawyer.
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Re: LISTEN: SMRs: Should SK be pursuing small nuclear react

Postby Oscar » Wed Dec 04, 2019 4:48 pm

Sask. expert opinion mixed on small nuclear reactors

[ https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoo ... -1.5381245 ]

Sask. Premier Scott Moe signs agreement with 2 other premiers to develop scalable nuclear technology

Jason Warick · CBC News · Posted: Dec 02, 2019 2:35 PM CT | Last Updated: December 2

(PHOTO: An illustration shows a NuScale Power Module on a truck. NuScale is one of the small modular reactor companies whose designs are going through pre-licencing approval with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Many are designed to be small enough to transport by truck or by shipping container. (NuScale Power))

Expert opinion is mixed on Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe's claim that small nuclear reactors can help the province meet its carbon emission goals.

Moe, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs signed a memorandum of understanding Sunday to research and develop "small modular reactors" to produce nuclear power.

Moe says the reactors could help Saskatchewan hit its carbon target, which would require a 40 per cent reduction in 2005 emission levels in the next decade.

"I think it's worth pursuing," said John Root, executive director of the University of Saskatchewan's Fedoruk Centre for Nuclear Innovation.

Root said there would also be economic benefits, as Saskatchewan produces much of the world's uranium.

"Why don't we get some value out of the resources we produce right here in the province?" he said.

(PHOTO: John Root, executive director of the University of Saskatchewan's Fedoruk Centre for Nuclear Innovation, said small modular reactors could provide the province with significant volumes of emission-free power. (Jason Warick/CBC))

Nearly half of Saskatchewan's electricity is produced by coal — a cheap but high-emission fuel source. Root said nuclear power is necessary if and when coal is phased out.

He said natural gas is plentiful and cleaner, but still produces carbon and won't go far enough to meet targets. Renewable sources such as wind or solar do not produce emissions and should be part of the mix, but are not reliable as large scale "base" sources of power.

"So what have you got? There's nuclear," Root said.

Nuclear chemist and Saskatchewan Environmental Society board member Ann Coxworth disagrees.

She said it would take several decades for these nuclear reactors to be operational in Saskatchewan.

(PHOTO: Nuclear chemist and Saskatchewan Environmental Society board member Ann Coxworth said there are faster, safer, cheaper ways to produce power and meet Saskatchewan's climate goals than building small nuclear reactors.)

No one has even settled on a proper design for such a reactor, with more than 100 possible models under debate, she said. That would require years of testing and regulatory approvals, and then years more to build. The earliest prototype would be tested in Ontario in the year 2030, she said.

The timeline alone will prevent any meaningful contribution to Saskatchewan's climate change and emissions goals.

"We have much cheaper, safer, faster-to-put-in-place options that would be much wiser to invest in," Coxworth said.

That time and money would be far better spent on energy efficiency measures and renewable energy. She said improvements in power storage capacity are shifting the equation even more toward renewable sources of energy.
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