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The Canadian Nuclear FAQ  

by Dr. Jeremy Whitlock


To the Ottawa Citizen regarding an editorial by Susan Riley criticizing the value of nuclear development to Canadians:

2003 October 24

Canadians have a compelling case for keeping nuclear power as an option for future electricity supply.

Currently CANDU reactors supply 15% of Canada’s (and about half of Ontario’s) electricity, without emitting air pollution or depleting scarce natural resources.

The waste stream is easily managed: a single CANDU reactor powers a city of 300,000 while producing only a 10-foot cube of used fuel per year. The total amount produced in four decades of production from all Canadian reactors would cover a single soccer field to a depth of just over four feet.

A technology exists for the long-term management of this used fuel, found to be technically sound by independent review and currently part of several options before the government.

Economically, nuclear energy has made a worthwhile return on five decades of public R&D investment (estimated to be almost $10 billion, which some observers have doubled in terms of present-day dollars).

Domestic electricity production alone is valued at $2-3 billion annually, and annual exports of nuclear goods and services currently exceed $1 billion, with direct and indirect employment of over 30,000 Canadians.

Add to this about $1 billion saved annually through avoided coal purchases.

The nuclear investment has also made Canada a world-leader in medical radioisotopes, diagnosing and treating disease in over 80 countries.

The people of Ontario will need to decide, over the next decade, how they will add about 15,000 megawatts of new electricity to their grid, as about half of our current system approaches the end of its design life. It is important that all options on the table be considered fully and fairly.


Jeremy Whitlock

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