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The Canadian Nuclear FAQ  

by Dr. Jeremy Whitlock


To The National Post regarding an Op-Ed by Tom Adams (Energy Probe) on 2002 March 20, on the subject of nuclear power economics:

(Published 2002 March 29, with second, third, and last paragraphs deleted)

2002 March 29

To the Editor:

To the Editor, National Post: I wish to respond to comments of mine taken out of context and misrepresented by Energy Probe, in its latest tirade against the nuclear industry ("Last call for AECL subsidies", Tom Adams, 2002 March 20).

It boggles my mind, firstly, why I should be quoted in the first place. In backing up its claim that the nuclear industry "cares little what its power costs to consumers", I would have expected a professional anti-nuclear activist organization to quote an industry official. Hopefully, research at Energy Probe extends beyond trawling the internet newsgroups for juicy quotes from employees with "on-line presence".

Secondly, my original comment expressed entirely the opposite viewpoint, and one that I’m sure most Canadians support: Concerning costs, "the relevant question is: ‘Is nuclear power a net beneficial energy option, all direct and indirect lifecycle factors of the technology taken into account, and in comparison with potential alternatives?’."

Very simply, this is what "cost" means – much more than the dollar value of building a new electricity plant. It means balancing all negative socio-economic and environmental impacts against benefits, from start to finish, and making the best choice among alternative technologies. It does require an open mind, and certainly leaves no room for the seventies’ "No-Nukes" mentality.

Since the first CANDU reactor started supplying electricity, 40 years ago on June 4th, nuclear power in Canada has avoided the emission of over one and a half billion tonnes of greenhouse gases, and saved something like 10,000 lives, due directly to the displacement of coal plants. By not buying fuel for these coal plants, the Canadian public investment in nuclear power has long been paid back, and the returns continue.

I am proud to support, through my profession and my "unofficial on-line presence", one of the most environmentally-friendly solutions to rising electricity demand around the world.


Jeremy Whitlock

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