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The Canadian Nuclear FAQ  

by Dr. Jeremy Whitlock


To the Toronto Star regarding a Dec.6 article on the current amount of nuclear waste in Canada:

2003 December 9

To the Editor,

Peter Calamai’s observations on the nuclear waste issue (“Already enough to fill five hockey rinks”, Dec. 6) miss a couple of important points.

Firstly, this is a very small amount of waste for the amount of electricity produced over 40 years, in comparison with other generating technologies. One CANDU fuel bundle, about the size of a fire log, supplies the equivalent of 100 years of electricity used by an average Ontario home.

Secondly, volume is not the only factor in determining risk. Indeed, it is likely that Mr. Calamai himself has emitted a higher volume of deadly waste in the time period that CANDU reactors have been around.

Of greater importance is the fact that spent nuclear fuel is easily managed and isolated from the biosphere, as demonstrated by current practice at Canada’s nuclear plants.

Extending this isolation to the long-term future is technically achievable, as corroborated by independent scientific and environmental review. What’s lacking is a public mandate, currently an issue before the government's Nuclear Waste Management Organization (whose website, www.nwmo.ca, interested readers should visit).

Mr. Calamai makes other factual errors. Contrary to his assertion, CANDU reactors use almost one-third less natural uranium per kilowatt-hour than enriched-uranium reactors common elsewhere. Also, CANDU fuel had nothing to do with India’s nuclear weapons program.

As Ontarians prepare to decide how thousands of megawatts will be replaced in this province over the next couple of decades, it important that all issues on the table be communicated as factually and objectively as possible.


Jeremy Whitlock

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