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The Canadian Nuclear FAQ  

by Dr. Jeremy Whitlock


To The North Renfrew Times regarding a response letter to the editor published the previous week (appended below) regarding the author's opinion piece appearing on November 17, 2021 in The North Renfrew Times

(published in the 2021 December 15th edition)


Part of the solution

To the Editor,

Re: “Partial truths,” letter to the editor, NRT December 8.

For the record, neither my article (“The Good News About Nuclear Waste”, NRT November 17), nor my follow-up letter (December 1), advocated removing the 160 g of high-level waste from each spent CANDU bundle.

This was simply a comparison with the waste you get from coal for equal energy (one billion grams).

More to my point, this small amount of high-level waste comes out of the reactor encased in an inert, solid, relatively small package (the spent fuel bundle itself) that can be isolated from the biosphere.

The claim that there is “no solution” for disposal of spent fuel is incorrect – as my November 17 article noted, a geological repository is about to accept spent fuel in Finland, and another is currently being sited in Ontario (and, as also noted, this may be the ONLY technology with a true long-term solution).

Finally, I don’t understand the question, “where is the official plan that nuclear is the only thing that will save us?”

I never made this claim. There is, however, hopefully a plan for nuclear to be part of the solution.

Today Ontario’s grid is almost emissions-free due to the integration of nuclear and renewable technologies, which is a key principle behind Canada’s Small Modular Reactor (SMR) Action Plan: to “seek out opportunities to integrate SMRs with other clean energy sources, storage technologies and applications to accelerate Canada’s low-carbon future.” (www.smractionplan.ca)

Several observers (including the previous Minister of Natural Resources) have noted that nuclear is needed to get to “net zero” by 2050, and this is always in conjunction with other solutions.

Working together and understanding all sides, as always, is the way forward.

In summary, the point of my November 17 article was not to aggrandize nuclear power, but address one of the key arguments against it.

Jeremy Whitlock
Vienna, Austria

Original letter to North Renfrew Times (2021 December 8) from G. Csullog :

Partial truths

Re: “Top Concern”, letter to the edtir, NRT December 1.

Regarding Jeremy Whitlock’s statement, “It is a fact, and not “misleading,” that the actual mass of high-level waste per bundle is about 160g, oops - once again he left out the fact that to extract the 160g requires reprocessing (expensive, a lot of waste generated) or disposal of intact fuel (for which, as yet, there’s no solution).

Regarding the statement, “Most Canadians would probably tell you it’s surely many tonnes of green toxic filth for which we have no plan – and this is the point.”

So, where is the official plan that nuclear is the only thing that will save us?

Last time I looked solar and wind power were cheaper options than nuclear and energy storage solutions for wind and solar have come a long way.

While I am not discounting nuclear in the mix, it’s the nuclear industry’s partial truths that irritate me.

If “green toxic filth” is the “top concern,” maybe we should look in the nuclear industry’s backyards like the pile of uranium waste at Port Hope, the HUGE amount of radioactive waste at Chalk River...

I would guess that “green toxic filth” likely has cheaper solutions than nuclear filth.

For those who keep an archive of NRT issues like I do, I refer them to my January 16, 2019 letter to the editor, “Odd Logic” in which, once again, I questioned partial truths about nuclear.

Greg Csullog

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