Boat flotilla protest planned for July 27, 2019

Protect the Ottawa River! ~Join us for this peaceful protest in opposition to Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ proposed radioactive waste dump on the shores of the Ottawa River

This photo is from Chalk River Boat Flotilla Protest V1 in July 2017


Morning conference: 10:00 – 11:30 am on July 27 at Hotel Pontiac, Fort William (all invited)Several speakers will discuss CNL’s proposals for radioactive waste mound at Chalk River, entombment of NPD reactor at Rolphton, and the transport of nuclear waste to Chalk River from other locations 
Media will be invited for conference and flotilla
Following the morning conference, the Flotilla will leave Fort William Dock at 12:00 noon to arrive in the water in front of Chalk River Laboratories by 1:00 pm

If you’d like to help promote this event, you can download the poster here.

Critical comments from former AECL officials and scientists on CNL Disposal projects

Fifteen former AECL officials and scientists have submitted critical comments on the CNL nuclear waste disposal projects. These people point out many serious flaws in the proposals and the environmental impact statements.

These comments were all submitted to CNSC/CEAA. Links are to the CEAA pages for the environmental assessments for the disposal projects
Most of these former AECL employees identify themselves as “residents of Deep River” or “residents of Pinawa” and do not refer to their employment at AECL in their submissions (but see Michael Stephens’ second NSDF submission).   All are retired, but their former job titles or responsibilities – found through internet searching – are shown in parentheses, below.

Comments from AECL officials and scientists on the Near Surface Disposal Facility Project:

Michael Stephens (Manager, Business Operations, Liability Management Unit; Manager, Strategic Planning, Nuclear Legacy Liabilities Program, AECL)

Michael Stephens (2nd submission)

William Turner (Quality Assurance Specialist and Environmental Assessment Coordinator/Strategic Planner, AECL)

William Turner (2nd submission)

William Turner (3rd submission)

William Turner (4th submission)

William Turner (5th submission)

John Hilborn (Nuclear physicist, AECL)

J.R. Walker (Director, Safety Engineering & Licensing; Champion, NLLP Protocol, AECL)

J.R. Walker (2nd submission)

J.R. Walker (3rd submission)

Peter Baumgartner, Dennis Bilinsky, Edward T. Kozak, Tjalle T. Vandergraaf, Grant Koroll, Jude McMurry, Alfred G. Wikjord (all retired AECL Whiteshell Laboratories employees)

Pravin Shah (Manager, Site Landlord Services, AECL)

Greg Csullog (Manager, Waste Identification Program, AECL)

Greg Csullog (2nd submission)

David J. Winfield (30 years’ experience, research reactors and nuclear facilities, AECL)

Comments from AECL officials and scientists on the Nuclear Power Demonstration Closure Project:

William Turner  (Quality Assurance Specialist and Environmental Assessment Coordinator/Strategic Planner, AECL)

William Turner (2nd submission)

William Turner (3rd submission)

Michael Stephens (Manager, Business Operations, Liability Management Unit; Manager, Strategic Planning, Nuclear Legacy Liabilities Program, AECL)

J.R. Walker (Director, Safety Engineering & Licensing; Champion, NLLP Protocol, AECL)

Comments from AECL officials and scientists on the In Situ Decommissioning of the Whiteshell  Reactor #1 Project

William Turner  (Quality Assurance Specialist and Environmental Assessment Coordinator/Strategic Planner, AECL)

William Turner (2nd submission)

William Turner (3rd submission)

Michael Stephens (Manager, Business Operations, Liability Management Unit; Manager, Strategic Planning, Nuclear Legacy Liabilities Program, AECL)

Michael Stephens (2nd submission)

Peter Baumgartner (AECL Whiteshell Laboratories employee)

Peter Baumgartner (2nd submission)

Peter Baumgartner, Dennis Bilinsky, Edward T. Kozak, Tjalle T. Vandergraaf, Grant Koroll, Jude McMurry, Alfred G. Wikjord (all retired AECL Whiteshell Laboratories employees)

Peter Baumgartner, Dennis Bilinsky, Edward T. Kozak, Tjalle T. Vandergraaf, Grant Koroll, Jude McMurry, Alfred G. Wikjord  (2ndsubmission)

Leonard Simpson (Director of Reactor Safety Research, AECL)

J.R. Walker (Director, Safety Engineering & Licensing; Champion, NLLP Protocol, AECL)

Two nuclear waste dumps threaten the Ottawa River

A multinational consortium wants to build two nuclear waste dumps alongside the Ottawa River upstream of Ottawa-Gatineau, one at Chalk River, Ontario and the other at Rolphton, Ontario. Both dumps disregard international safety guidelines and would leak radioactive materials into the Ottawa River, endangering drinking water for millions of Canadians living downstream.


In 1944 Chalk River Laboratories (CRL) were established to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. Starting in 1952 the Labs were operated by “Atomic Energy of Canada Limited” (AECL).  Besides producing plutonium, the labs established a prototype nuclear power reactor (NPD) upstream of Chalk River at Rolphton, and extracted “medical isotopes” from irradiated fuel. These activities and two serious accidents created large quantities of dangerous radioactive wastes. Cleanup costs are estimated at $8 billion.

The Harper government radically restructured AECL in 2015, creating a subsidiary called Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) and contracting a multinational consortium including SNC Lavalin, to operate the subsidiary and reduce the federal government’s nuclear cleanup liabilities quickly and cheaply. All four consortium members face or have faced criminal charges for fraud and corruption*. Annual costs to taxpayers tripled shortly after restructuring.

In 2016, CNL proposed to construct a giant, above-ground mound of radioactive waste (NSDF) at Chalk River and to entomb in concrete the NPD reactor at Rolphton. Both proposals disregard International Atomic Energy Agency safety standards and would permanently contaminate the Ottawa River with radioactive materials such as plutonium, caesium, strontium and tritium, some of which will be remain hazardous for over 100,000 years.  CNL is also moving to bring thousands of shipments of radioactive waste (including highly toxic used fuel rods) to Chalk River from other federal sites in Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

Independent experts, retired AECL scientists, Citizens’ groups, NGOs, 140 Quebec municipalities and several First Nations have been sounding alarm bells about the projects via written comments, resolutions, press conferences, and protests including a boat flotilla on the Ottawa River in August 2017 and a Red Canoe March for Nuclear Safety through the streets of downtown Ottawa in January of 2018.

In April 2018, CNL was granted a 10-year license despite widespread concern over license changes that would make it easier for the consortium to get its nuclear waste projects approved. Canada’s nuclear regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), granted the new license.  The CNSC is also in charge of environmental assessment (EA) and licensing for nuclear waste projects. The CNSC is perceived to be a “captured” regulator that promotes projects it is charged with regulating, according to Canada’s Expert Panel on EA reform. The CNSC’s mishandling of EAs for the consortium’s nuclear waste projects is described in Environmental Petition 413 to the Auditor General of Canada.

* The consortium, known as Canadian National Energy Alliance, includes: SNC-Lavalin,debarred by the World Bank for 10 years and facing charges in Canada of fraud, bribery and corruption; CH2M agreed to pay $18.5 million to settle federal criminal charges at a nuclear cleanup site in the U.S.; Fluor paid $4 million to resolve allegations of  financial fraud related to nuclear waste cleanup work at a U.S. site; Rolls-Royce PLC,  parent company of consortium member Rolls-Royce Civil Nuclear Canada Ltd., recently agreed to pay more than CAN$1 billion in fines for bribery and corruptionin the U.K., U.S. and Brazil.

ACTION ALERT ~ tell the federal government that nuclear energy is not “clean”

ACTION ALERT ~ Tell the federal government that nuclear energy is not clean

The government of Canada is asking for comments on its “sustainable development” strategy. The deadline for comments is Tuesday April 2, 2019.
In its glossary of terms, the strategy includes the following definition:
“Clean energy: Renewable, nuclear, and carbon capture and storage technologies, as well as demand reduction through energy efficiency”

Can you help get the message across to our government that nuclear energy is not clean? It only takes a minute to send a comment using the comment box on this page:

If you prefer, you can submit your comment by email to this address:

Nuclear energy produces hazardous radioactive waste that must be isolated from the biosphere for hundreds of thousands of years. This is the main reason, we don’t think it should be called “clean”. See below for further information on why we think it is wrong to include nuclear in the definition of “clean energy”.

If you agree with us, please consider sending a simple message in the comment box (access through the link above). You should first enter “clean energy” the subject line and then add your comment for example, “Please remove “nuclear” from the definition of “clean energy” in your glossary of terms”. or “I object to the inclusion on “nuclear” in the definition of clean energy in your glossary of terms in the sustainable development strategy”. Of course you could say much more if you have time.

See environmental petition 419 to the Auditor General of Canada for background on why nuclear energy is not clean. Here is a link to the petition:

Here are some excerpts from the petition:
…Nuclear reactors release a wide variety of air and water pollutants. Nuclear reactors routinely emit radioactive gases to the atmosphere during operation. These include fission and activation products such as tritium (the radioactive form of hydrogen); radioactive carbon-14; radioactive noble gases such as argon, krypton and xenon; radioactive halogens such as iodine-131; and a wide variety of radioactive aerosols. Fuel reprocessing facilities, spent fuel storage facilities and other radioactive waste facilities also release radioactive gases. (7) (8)
…The principal radionuclide in liquid effluents from nuclear reactors is tritium. Other liquid reactor effluents include radioactive isotopes of carbon, sulfur, chromium, manganese, iron, cobalt, zinc, strontium, zirconium, niobium and cesium. Radioactive effluents from fuel reprocessing facilities, spent fuel storage facilities and other radioactive waste facilities can greatly exceed those from nuclear reactors during normal operation.
…Liquid and gaseous effluents from nuclear reactors contain a wide variety of radioactive substances thatpose health risks to people living near reactors. These risks vary according to ingestion and absorption pathways, sites of accumulation in the body, and residence times for different radioactive substances.
…Radioactive wastes (spent fuel, resins, filters, chemical sludges, fuel cladding, contaminated metal and concrete reactor components, etc.) steadily accumulate during reactor operations. Most reactor wastes cannot be reused or recycled. Artificial radioactive substances produced by nuclear reactors can have half-lives of thousands to millions of years. Health risks associated with exposure to these substances may impose serious burdens upon future generations if these risks are not promptly addressed by the present generation that benefits from nuclear power.

Dix choses à savoir sur la gestion des déchets radioactifs au Canada

English version follows

(Fiche d’information préparée par les associations Old Fort William Cottager’s Association, Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and area, le Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive et la Coalition contre le dépotoir nucléaire sur la rivière des Outaouais.)

Trois projets pour gérer l’héritage radioactif du Canada menacent de contaminer de matières radioactives l’eau potable de millions de Canadiens :

  • Le projet de dépotoir nucléaire à Chalk River, en Ontario
  • Le projet de mise en tombeau du réacteur nucléaire de Rolphton, en Ontario
  • Le projet de mise en tombeau du réacteur nucléaire de Whiteshell, au Manitoba


  1. Le projet de dépotoir nucléaire abandonnerait un million de mètres cube de déchets radioactifs de faible activité – à moins d’un kilomètre de la rivière des Outaouais- source d’eau potable pour des millions de Québécois.
  • Le site choisi pour le dépotoir nucléaire se trouve à flanc de colline, à moins d’un kilomètre de la rivière des Outaouais, le principal affluent du fleuve Saint-Laurent et la source d’eau potable de millions de Québécois.
  • Il se draine dans une zone marécageuse vers le lac Perch et son ruisseau qui se déverse directement dans la rivière des Outaouais.


  1. Le méga-dépotoir aurait une superficie équivalente à la taille de 70 patinoires de hockey de la LNH.
  • Cette installation s’étendrait sur 16 hectares et s’élèverait jusqu’à 18 mètres de hauteur.


  1. Le site pour le dépotoir nucléaire se trouve sur une ligne de faille sismique majeure, au-dessus d’un substrat rocheux poreux et fracturé.
  • Des études, menées dans les années 90, ont déterminé que les couches rocheuses sous-jacentes au site étaient poreuses et fracturées, et que les eaux souterraines affluaient vers la rivière des Outaouais.
  • Le site se trouve dans la zone sismique de l’Ouest du Québec. Selon Ressources naturelles Canada, un tremblement de terre peut y atteindre une magnitude de 6 sur l’échelle de Richter.


  1. Le méga-dépotoir va contenir des déchets radioactifs de longues durées de vie
  • Les normes de sécurité établies par l’Agence internationale d’énergie atomique (AIEA) prévoient que seuls des déchets radioactifs de « très faible activité » peuvent être enfouis dans une telle instal Selon ces normes, les déchets doivent devenir inoffensifs avant que les revêtements perdent leur intégrité et leur étanchéité.
  • Cependant, certains des déchets faussement classés comme étant de « faible activité» que proposent d’enfouir les Laboratoires nucléaires canadiens ont une demi-vie radioactive de plusieurs dizaines de milliers d’années, alors que les membranes géotextiles du dépotoir ont une durée de vie de 500 ans, selon les promoteur


  1. Les déchets radioactifs seront exposés à la pluie, à la neige et aux autres intempéries de plus en plus imprévisibles avec les changements climatiques en plus d’interagir entre eux à cause de la radioactivité
  • Durant les cinquante années requises pour remplir le dépotoir, les déchets radioactifs seraient exposés aux précipitations de pluie, de neige et à d’autres intempéries (tornades, etc.).
  • Les promoteurs ont prévu une station de traitement pour les eaux contaminées, mais il n’existe aucun moyen d’éliminer le tritium qui rend l’eau radioactive. De plus, plusieurs substances radioactives peuvent être présentes dans l’eau sans qu’il soit possible de les mesurer.
  • Les interactions critiques et dangereuses entre toutes les substances radioactives contenues dans le dépotoir sont inconnus, surtout à cause des radiations, de la chaleur et de l’humidité.


  1. Les projets de mise en tombeau des réacteurs nucléaires de Rolphton (Ontario) et de Whiteshell (Manitoba) vont également contaminer des sources d’eau potable
  • La mise en tombeau des réacteurs nucléaires de Rolphton et de Whiteshell consiste à laisser les réacteurs en place et à les remplir d’un coulis de béton, alors qu’ils sont situés à quelques dizaines de mètres de la rivière des Outaouais, en Ontario et de la rivière Winnipeg, au Manitoba.
  • Les projets contreviennent aux normes de sécurité établies par l’AIEA qui déconseille la mise en tombeau, sauf quand on ne peut faire autrement, à cause d’un accident grave.


  1. Ces trois projets dangereux sont présentés par un consortium d’entreprises privées
  • En 2015, le gouvernement Harper a transféré l’exploitation et la gestion des Laboratoires nucléaires canadiens à un consortium de sociétés multinationales à but lucratif basées aux États-Unis, au Royaume-Uni et au Canada, selon un modèle de partenariat public-privé. Bien que le dépotoir serait administré par le consortium, le site de Chalk River et son méga-dépotoir, tout comme les réacteurs nucléaires cimentés sur place demeurent la propriété du Gouvernement du Canada.


  1. Le processus d’évaluation environnementale en vue de l’approbation de ces trois projets est sous la responsabilité de la même agence qui fait la promotion de l’industrie nucléaire.
  • Depuis les modifications apportées par le gouvernement Harper en 2012 à la Loi canadienne sur l’évaluation environnementale, la Commission canadienne de sûreté nucléaire (CCSN), un organisme non élu, a la responsabilité exclusive de l’approbation des projets nucléaires. Les modifications de la loi, ont notamment aboli l’obligation d’obtenir l’avis d’une commission indépendante pour les projets nucléaires et ont exclu le ministre de l’Environnement de la prise de dé
  • La CCSN a démontré par le passé son incapacité à protéger l’environnement et une tendance à favoriser d’avantage les intérêts de l’industrie nucléaire que la sécurité publique.


  1. 9. Les municipalités en aval ont vivement exprimé leur objection contre le dépotoir nucléaire de Chalk River
  • 135 municipalités et MRC québécoises ont adopté des résolutions contre le projet de méga-dépotoir à Chalk River parce que le site et la technologie proposés leur semblent inadéquats.


  1. Il faut agir maintenant: citoyens, gouvernements municipaux, provinciaux et Premières Nations doivent concerter leurs actions pour s’opposer aux projets et protéger la rivière des Outaouais et la rivière Winnipeg- sources d’eau potable de millions de Canadiens.

Actions proposées:


Fiche d’information préparée par les associations Old Fort William Cottager’s Association, Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and area, le Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive et la Coalition contre le dépotoir nucléaire sur la rivière des Outaouais.


Ten Things to Know About Radioactive Waste Management in Canada


Three projects to manage Canada’s radioactive waste heritage threaten to radioactively contaminate the drinking water of millions of Canadians:
• The radioactive waste dump on the Ottawa River in Chalk River, Ontario
• The entombment of the nuclear reactor on the Ottawa River in Rolphton, Ontario
• The entombment of the Whiteshell nuclear reactor on the Winnipeg River in Pinawa, Manitoba


1. The radioactive waste dump project would abandon one million cubic metres of radioactive waste – less than one kilometre from the Ottawa River – a source of drinking water for millions of Quebecers.
• The site chosen for the nuclear dump will be located on a hillside, less than one kilometre from the Ottawa River, the main tributary of the St. Lawrence River and the source of drinking water for millions of Quebecers.
• The site is surrounded by a swamp which drains into Perch Lake and Perch creek, which flow directly into the Ottawa River.


2. The mega-dump would be about the size of 70 NHL hockey rinks.
• This facility would span 16 hectares and be 18 metres in height.


3. The site for the nuclear dump is located on a major seismic fault, above porous and fractured bedrock.
• Studies in the 1990s determined that the underlying rock layers at the site are porous and fractured, and that groundwater flows into the Ottawa River.
• The site is in the seismic zone of western Quebec. According to Natural Resources Canada, an earthquake in this area can reach a magnitude of 6 on the Richter scale.


4. The mega-dump will contain long-lived radionuclides.
• The safety standards established by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) indicate that only “very low-level” radioactive waste can be buried in such an installation. According to these standards, the waste must become harmless before the geotextile membrane cover loses its integrity and watertightness.
• However, some of the waste that is falsely classified as “low activity” that is proposed to be included in this dump by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories has a radioactive half-life of several tens of thousands of years, while the geotextile membrane has a duration of 500 years, according to the promoters.


5. Radioactive waste will be exposed to rain, snow and all weather conditions that are increasingly unpredictable with climate change and the wastes will interact with each other due to radioactivity.
• During the fifty years required to fill the dump, radioactive waste would be exposed to rain, snow and other inclement weather (tornadoes, etc.).
• Proponents include a water treatment plant for contaminated water, but there is no way to remove the tritium that makes the water radioactive. In addition, several radioactive substances may be present in the water without it being possible to measure them.
• The critical and dangerous interactions between all radioactive substances in the dump are unknown, mainly because of radiation, heat and humidity.


6. Reactor entombment projects at Rolphton, Ontario, and Pinawa, Manitoba will also contaminate drinking water sources.
• The entombment of the Rolphton and Whiteshell nuclear reactors consists in leaving the reactors in place and filling them with concrete grout.  These reactors are located  only several hundred metres from the Ottawa River, in Ontario and the Winnipeg River, in Manitoba.
• Entombment contravenes IAEA safety standards except in the case of a serious accident.


7. These three dangerous projects are presented by a consortium of private companies.
• In 2015, the Harper Government transferred the operation and management of Canadian Nuclear Laboratories to a consortium of for-profit multinational corporations based in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, using a public-private partnership model.  Although the dump would be administered by the consortium, the Chalk River site and its mega-dump, just like the cemented on-site nuclear reactors, remain the property of the Government of Canada.


8. The environmental assessment process for approval of these three projects is the responsibility of the same agency that promotes the nuclear industry.
• Since the Harper Government’s 2012 amendments to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), an unelected body, has sole responsibility for the approval of nuclear projects. The amendments to the act, in particular, abolished the requirement to obtain the opinion of an independent commission for nuclear projects and excluded the Minister of the Environment from the decision-making process.
• The CNSC has demonstrated in the past its inability to protect the environment and a tendency to favour the interests of the nuclear industry more than public safety.


9. Downstream Municipalities Strongly Oppose the Chalk River Nuclear Dump.
• 135 Quebec municipalities and MRCs passed resolutions against the Chalk River mega-dump project because the proposed site and technology seem inadequate.


10. We must act now: citizens, municipal, provincial and First Nations governments must work together to oppose projects and protect the Ottawa River and the Winnipeg River – sources of drinking water for millions of Canadians.
Proposed actions:
• Communicate with elected municipal officials, members of Parliament, deputies of the National Assembly to express your opposition to projects.
• Contact the media and environmental, civic, social and labor groups in your area to raise awareness of the situation and ask them to oppose these foolish projects.
• Demand that radioactive waste be safely managed for future generations.
• Request a deep geological site for medium and high activity radioactive waste.
• Follow us on Facebook and take part in our actions ( and and Citizens of Renfrew County and Area).


Fact sheet prepared by the Old Fort William Cottagers’ Association, Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area,  Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive and the Coalition Against Nuclear Dumps on the Ottawa River.

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors make no economic sense

Are Thousands of New Nuclear Generators in Canada’s Future?


Ottawa is pushing a new smaller, modular nuclear plant that could only pay off if mass produced.

By M.V. Ramana 7 Nov 2018 |

Canada’s government is about to embrace a new generation of small nuclear reactors that do not make economic sense. 

Amidst real fears that climate change will wreak devastating effects if we don’t shift away from fossil fuels, the idea that Canada should get deeper into nuclear energy might seem freshly attractive to former skeptics.

For a number of reasons, however, skepticism is still very much warranted.

On Nov. 7, Natural Resources Canada will officially launch something called the Small Modular Reactor Roadmap. The roadmap was previewed in February of this year and is the next step in the process set off by the June 2017 “call for a discussion around Small Modular Reactors in Canada” issued by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, which is interested in figuring out the role the organization “can play in bringing this technology to market.”

Environmental groups and some politicians have spoken out against this process. A petition signed by nearly two dozen civil society groups has opposed the “development and deployment of SMRs when renewable, safer and less financially, socially and environmentally costly alternatives exist.”

SMRs, as the name suggests, produce relatively small amounts of electricity in comparison with currently common nuclear power reactors. The last set of reactors commissioned in Canada is the four at Darlington. These started operating between 1990 and 1993 and can generate 878 megawatts of electricity (although, on average, they only generate around 75 to 85 per cent of that). In comparison, SMRs are defined as reactors that generate 300 MW or less — as low as 5 MW even. For further comparison, the Site C dam being built in northeastern B.C. is expected to provide 1,100 MW and BC Hydro’s full production capacity is about 11,000 MW.

Various nuclear institutions, such as Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, Canadian Nuclear Association and the CANDU Owners Group are strongly supportive of SMRs. Last October, Mark Lesinski, president and CEO of CNL announced: “Small modular reactors, or SMRs, represent a key area of interest to CNL. As part of our long-term strategy, announced earlier this year, CNL established the ambitious goal of siting a new SMR on a CNL site by 2026.”

Likewise, the CANDU Owners Group announced that it was going to use “their existing nuclear expertise to lead the next wave of nuclear generation — small modular reactors, that offer the potential for new uses of nuclear energy while at the same time offering the benefits of existing nuclear in combating climate change while providing reliable, low-cost electricity.”

A fix for climate change, says Ottawa

Such claims about the benefits of SMRs seems to have influenced the government too. Although NRCan claims to be just “engaging partners and stakeholders, as well as Indigenous representatives, to understand priorities and challenges related to the development and deployment of SMRs in Canada,” its personnel seem to have already decided that SMRs should be developed in Canada.

“The Government of Canada recognizes the potential of SMRs to help us deliver on a number of priorities, including innovation and climate change,” declared Parliamentary Secretary Kim Rudd. Diane Cameron, director of the Nuclear Energy Division at Natural Resources Canada, is confident: “I think we will see the deployment of SMRs in Canada for sure.” Such talk is premature, and unwise.

Canada is a late entrant to this game of talking up SMRs. For the most part it has only been talk, with nothing much to show for all that talk. Except, of course, for millions of dollars in government funding that has flown to private corporations. This has been especially on display in the United States, where the primary agency that has been pumping money into SMRs is the Department of Energy.

In 2001, based on an overview of around 10 SMR designs, DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy concluded that “the most technically mature small modular reactor designs and concepts have the potential to be economical and could be made available for deployment before the end of the decade, provided that certain technical and licensing issues are addressed.” Nothing of that sort happened by the end of that decade, i.e., 2010. But in 2012 the U.S. government offered money: up to $452 million to cover “the engineering, design, certification and licensing costs for up to two U.S. SMR designs.” The two SMR designs that were selected by the DOE for funding were called mPower and NuScale.

The first pick was mPower and, a few months later, the DOE projected that a major electricity generation utility called the Tennessee Valley Authority “plans to deploy two 180 megawatt small modular reactor units for commercial operation in Roane County, Tennessee, by 2021, with as many as six mPower units at that site.”

The company developing mPower was described by the New York Times as being in the lead in the race to develop SMRs, in part because it had “the Energy Department and the T.V.A. in its camp.”

But by 2017, the project was essentially dead.

Few if any buyers

Why this collapse? In a nutshell, because there is no market for the expensive electricity that SMRs will generate. Many companies presumably enter this business because of the promise of government funding. No company has invested large sums of its own money to commercialize SMRs.

An example is the Westinghouse Electric Co., which worked on two SMR designs and tried to get funding from the DOE. When it failed in that effort, Westinghouse stopped working on SMRs and shifted its focus to decommissioning reactors that are being shut down at an increasing rate, which is seen as a growing business opportunity. Explaining this decision in 2014, Danny Roderick, then president and CEO of Westinghouse, said“The problem I have with SMRs is not the technology, it’s not the deployment — it’s that there’s no customers…. The worst thing to do is get ahead of the market.” 

Many developing countries claim to be interested in SMRs but few seem to be willing to invest in the construction of one. Although many agreements and memoranda of understanding have been signed, there are still no plans for actual construction. Examples are the cases of JordanGhana and Indonesia, all of which have been touted as promising markets for SMRs, but none of which are buying one because there are significant problems with deploying these.

A key problem is poor economics. Nuclear power is already known to be very expensive. But SMRs start with a disadvantage: they are too small. One of the few ways that nuclear power plant operators could reduce the cost of nuclear electricity was to utilize what are called economies of scale, i.e., taking advantage of the fact that many of the expenses associated with constructing and operating a reactor do not change in linear proportion to the power generated. This is lost in SMRs. Most of the early small reactors built in the U.S. shut down early because they couldn’t compete economically.

Reactors by the thousands?

SMR proponents argue that they can make up for the lost economies of scale two ways: by savings through mass manufacture in factories, and by moving from a steep learning curve early on to gaining rich knowledge about how to achieve efficiencies as more and more reactors are designed and built. But, to achieve such savings, these reactors have to be manufactured by the thousands, even under very optimistic assumptions about rates of learning. Rates of learning in nuclear power plant manufacturing have been extremely low. Indeed, in both the United States and France, the two countries with the highest number of nuclear plants, costs went up, not down, with construction experience. 

In the case of Canada, the potential markets that are most often proffered as a reason for developing SMRs are small and remote communities and mines that are not connected to the electric grid. That is not a viable business proposition. There are simply not enough remote communities, with adequate purchasing capacity, to be able to drive the manufacture of the thousands of SMRs needed to make them competitive with large reactors, let alone other sources of power.

There are thus good reasons to expect that small modular reactors, like large nuclear power plants, are just not commercially viable. They will also impose the other well-known problems associated with nuclear energy — the risk of severe accidents, the production of radioactive waste, and the linkage with nuclear weapons — on society. Rather than seeing the writing on the wall, unfortunately, NRCan and other such institutions are regurgitating industry propaganda and wasting money on technologies that will never be economical or contribute to any meaningful mitigation of climate change. There is no justification for such expensive distractions, especially as the climate problem becomes more urgent. 

Canada should reject new nuclear reactors as a climate change solution

Ottawa, November 6, 2018— Citizens groups are marching in downtown Ottawa today and petitioning Canada’s Auditor General, urging the Government of Canada to reject new subsidies for nuclear energy and instead to prioritize funding for renewables, efficiency and conservation in its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


In early October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) called for rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented efforts worldwide to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to prevent what scientists now call a near-term risk of dangerous to catastrophic levels of global warming.


“Canada must respond rapidly to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s call for action to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions” said Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada leader.  “Nuclear technology is too slow to develop and investing in nuclear now would take money away from the real solutions that we know can work.”


On Wednesday November 7th the federal government will unveil a “roadmap” towards development and deployment of a new fleet of “small modular” nuclear reactors, which it claims will “make the most of our ongoing transition to a low-carbon economy.”  The roadmap will likely target “off-grid” applications of these reactors, such as remote and northern communities.


A recent in-depth report by the Deloitte Centre for Energy Solutions highlights rapid changes in the landscape for solar and wind power and concludes that  “Solar and wind power recently crossed a new threshold, moving from mainstream to preferred energy sources across much of the globe.”  The old argument against wind and solar, their intermittency, has become irrelevant owing to advances in storage technology.


 “Canada cannot afford to waste time and billions of dollars on new small nuclear reactors. We should look to the City of Seoul whose ten million citizens recently eliminated the need for a large nuclear generating station in 2.5 years with renewables, efficiency and conservation” said Lynn Jones a spokesperson for Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area.


In a petition sent yesterday to the Auditor General, the citizens’ group argues that investments in new nuclear technology at this time would reduce Canada’s ability to respond to the IPCC call for rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented changes by tying up funds that could otherwise quickly and effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


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Important Background resources:
Petition to the Auditor General on investment in new nuclear


One Less Nuclear Power Plant program in Seoul, Republic of Korea
NB. ~ in phase 1 of this project, the citizens of Seoul, population 10 million, eliminated the need for a large nuclear generating station, equivalent in size to the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station with six reactors operating, in two and a half years, with a combination of efficiency, conservation and renewables.
Report from the City of Seoul
Video on the One Less Nuclear Power Plant project


Headline Politics: Elizabeth May Speaks Out Against New Nuclear Technology Investment | CPAC ~ full video of press conference
Photograph and Posters:  Bob Del Tredici

Communiqué de presse: Le Canada devrait rejeter les nouveaux réacteurs nucléaires en tant que solution au changement climatique

Ottawa, le 6 novembre 2018 – Des groupes de citoyens défilent aujourd’hui dans le centre-ville d’Ottawa et ont adressé une pétition au vérificateur général du Canada, exhortant le gouvernement du Canada à rejeter de nouvelles subventions pour l’énergie nucléaire et à donner la priorité au financement d’énergies renouvelables, d’une meilleure efficacité énergétique et de la conservation d’énergie afin de réduire les émissions de gaz à effet de serre.


Au début d’octobre 2018, le Groupe d’experts intergouvernemental sur l’évolution du climat (GIEC) a lancé un appel dans le monde entier pour que tous déploient des efforts rapides, de grande envergure et sans précédent afin de réduire les émissions de gaz à effet de serre et prévenir ce que les scientifiques appellent désormais un risque planétaire presque irréversible de niveau dangereux jusqu’à catastrophique du réchauffement de la planète.


« Le Canada doit réagir rapidement à cet appel à l’action lancé par le Groupe d’experts intergouvernemental sur l’évolution du climat pour réduire considérablement les émissions de gaz à effet de serre », a déclaré Elizabeth May, chef du Parti vert du Canada. « La technologie nucléaire prendra trop de temps à se développer et investir dans le nucléaire détournerait l’argent de solutions réelles qui, nous le savons, peuvent fonctionner. »


Le mercredi 7 novembre, le gouvernement fédéral dévoilera une « feuille de route » pour le développement et le déploiement d’un nouveau parc de réacteurs nucléaires « modulaires », qui, selon le gouvernement, « optimisera notre transition vers une économie à faibles émissions de carbone ». La feuille de route ciblera probablement des applications « hors réseau » de ces réacteurs, dans les communautés éloignées et nordiques.


Un rapport détaillé, publié récemment par le Centre de solutions énergétiques de Deloitte, souligne l’évolution rapide des sources d’énergie solaire et éolienne et conclut que « l’énergie solaire et l’énergie éolienne, qui étaient des sources d’énergie classiques, ont récemment franchi un nouveau seuil, en devenant les énergies préférées dans une grande partie du globe.  « L’ancien argument contre l’énergie éolienne et l’énergie solaire, leur intermittence, est dorénavant sans objet en raison des progrès dans la technologie de stockage d’énergie.


« Le Canada ne peut pas se permettre de perdre du temps et des milliards de dollars pour de nouveaux petits réacteurs nucléaires. Nous devrions nous inspirer de la ville de Séoul dont les dix millions d’habitants ont récemment éliminé le besoin d’une grande centrale nucléaire en utilisant pendant deux ans et demi des énergies renouvelables, avec plus d’efficacité et de conservation énergétique », a déclaré Lynn Jones, porte-parole de Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area.


Dans une pétition envoyée hier au vérificateur général, le groupe de citoyens affirme que les investissements dans les nouvelles technologies nucléaires réduiraient la capacité du Canada à répondre à l’appel du GIEC pour des changements rapides, d’une portée considérable et sans précédent, en immobilisant des fonds qui pourraient être utilisés autrement pour réduire rapidement et efficacement les émissions de gaz à effet de serre.


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Pétition au vérificateur général sur les investissements dans le nouveau nucléaire :


Rapport Deloitte:

Programme “One less nuclear power plant”  à Séoul, en République de Corée NB ~ Au cours de la phase 1 de ce projet, les citoyens de Séoul (10 millions d’habitants) ont éliminé la nécessité de construire une grande centrale nucléaire d’une taille équivalente à celle de la centrale nucléaire de Pickering avec six réacteurs fonctionnant en deux ans et demi avec combinaison d’efficacité, de conservation et d’énergies renouvelables. Rapport de la ville de Séoul

Vidéo en anglais sur le projet One Less Nuclear Power Plant


Headline Politics: Elizabeth May se prononce contre le nouvel investissement dans la technologie nucléaire | CPAC ~ vidéo complète en anglais de la conférence de presse

Red light for Canada’s nuclear reactor roadmap


Government urged to halt push for new fleet of nuclear reactors


(Ottawa, November 5, 2018) Public interest groups across Canada are mobilizing against a federal “roadmap” promoting a new fleet of nuclear reactors, to be unveiled at a government-subsidized nuclear industry conference in Ottawa on November 7.


“The Government of Canada has no mandate from Canadians to subsidize these new nuclear reactor designs,” says Gordon Edwards, President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.  “New smaller nuclear reactors have been discussed for decades, but they’ve never advanced beyond the conceptual development stage, and we don’t think they should.  They are unproven, dangerous and much more expensive than other low-carbon electricity sources like wind and solar.”


Edwards and his colleagues from groups across Canada say First Nations and the Canadian public must be consulted before any decisions are made on new funding for new nuclear reactors.  Recently, when aboriginal communities in the Yellowknife area were invited to a meeting about bringing nuclear power to Canada’s North, representatives of Terrestrial Energy (a small nuclear reactor developer), were booed out of the room and told to “go home”.


Besides the lack of support from the public, and the high cost and risk associated with nuclear technology, public interest groups and NGOs are concerned by the nuclear waste that new reactors would generate and are calling for environmental assessment of the concept. If the government adopts a strategy of promoting and subsidizing small reactors for remote and northern communities, Canada’s North could end up littered with radioactive waste sites.


The groups’ concerns are summarized in a letter sent last week to the Ministers of Environment and Climate Change, Natural Resources and Science and Sport by more than 20 civil society groups from across Canada.


“The Government of Canada must make it a priority to deal with its eight-billion-dollar nuclear waste legacy,” said Ginette Charbonneau of the Quebec-based coalition Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive. “Some of these legacy wastes are highly radioactive and will be a serious hazard to the public for 100,000 years and more. We will pass a huge burden on to future generations if we don’t deal with this now. Responsible nuclear waste management is urgent and should happen before any subsidies for new nuclear development.”


Chalk River Laboratories at Chalk River, Ontario, upstream of Ottawa-Gatineau on the Ottawa River is the likely site of the first new small  nuclear reactor. The Chalk River Laboratories and other federal nuclear sites are run on behalf of Canadian taxpayers by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) which is owned by a multinational consortium of private sector companies including SNC Lavalin and CH2M. According to CNL, “small modular nuclear reactors have increasingly been recognized for their potential as an appealing source of clean and safe energy.”


“We object to the term “clean” to describe nuclear energy” said Ole Hendrickson of Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area. “Nuclear energy is not clean and it should not be eligible for funds for sustainable development” Hendrickson added. The Concerned Citizens’ group will be submitting an Environmental Petition to the Auditor General of Canada seeking clarity on what kinds of energy are clean and what are not.


Robert Del Tredici, a professional photographer and founder of the Atomic Photographers Guild has photographed nuclear installations around the world. He opposes the push for a new fleet of nuclear reactors primarily because of the unsolved problem of what to do with the waste they generate. “Nuclear waste has the ‘reverse Midas touch” Del Tredici said, “everything it touches becomes itself nuclear waste”.


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Contact:  Eva Schacherl, Media Liaison, Concerned Citizens ~ 613-316-9450

Visit the Concerned Citizens website at for backgrounders and additional materials.

Feu rouge contre la feuille de route nucléaire d’Ottawa

Feu rouge contre la feuille de route nucléaire d’Ottawa
Le gouvernement est invité à cesser ses pressions en faveur d’une nouvelle flotte de réacteurs nucléaires
Ottawa, le 5 novembre 2018. Les groupes d’intérêt public du Canada se mobilisent contre la « feuille de route » fédérale visant à promouvoir un nouveau parc de petits réacteurs nucléaires, et qui sera dévoilée le 7 novembre lors d’une conférence de l’industrie nucléaire subventionnée par le gouvernement à Ottawa.
 « Les Canadiens n’ont pas mandaté le gouvernement du Canada pour subventionner ces nouveaux modèles de réacteurs nucléaires », a déclaré Gordon Edwards, président du Regroupement canadien pour la surveillance du nucléaire. « On parle des nouveaux réacteurs nucléaires plus petits depuis des décennies, mais ils n’ont jamais dépassé le stade du développement conceptuel et nous ne pensons pas qu’ils devraient le faire. Ils s’avèrent dangereux et beaucoup plus chers que d’autres sources d’électricité à faible émission de carbone comme l’énergie éolienne et l’énergie solaire ». 
Gordon Edwards et ses collègues d’autres groupes de tout le Canada affirment que les Premières Nations et le public canadien doivent être consultés avant toute décision concernant un nouveau financement des petits réacteurs nucléaires. Récemment, lorsque les communautés autochtones de la région de Yellowknife ont été invitées à une réunion sur l’apport d’énergie nucléaire dans le Nord canadien, des représentants de Terrestrial Energy (un développeur de petits réacteurs nucléaires) ont été hués et invités à « rentrer chez eux ». 
Outre le manque de soutien du public, le coût élevé et les risques associés à la technologie nucléaire, les groupes d’intérêt public et les ONG sont également préoccupés par les déchets radioactifs potentiels des nouveaux réacteurs et ils demandent une évaluation environnementale du concept. Si le gouvernement adopte une stratégie de promotion et de subvention des petits réacteurs pour les communautés éloignées et nordiques, le Nord canadien pourrait devenir encombré de sites de déchets radioactifs.
Les préoccupations de ces groupes sont résumées dans une lettre envoyée la semaine dernière aux ministres de l’Environnement et du Changement climatique, des Ressources naturelles, des Sciences et du Sport par plus de 20 groupes de la société civile au Canada.
« Le gouvernement du Canada doit donner priorité à la gestion des déchets radioactifs, ce qui coûterait huit milliards de dollars », a déclaré Ginette Charbonneau du Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive. « Certains de ces déchets sont hautement radioactifs et constitueront un grave danger pour le public pendant 100 000 ans et plus. Si nous ne réglons pas cette problématique maintenant, nous ferons supporter un lourd fardeau aux générations futures. Une gestion responsable des déchets radioactifs est urgente et devrait avoir lieu avant toute subvention pour un nouveau développement nucléaire. »
Les laboratoires de Chalk River, en Ontario, en amont d’Ottawa-Gatineau, sur la rivière des Outaouais, sont le site probable du premier nouveau petit réacteur nucléaire. Les laboratoires de Chalk River et d’autres sites nucléaires fédéraux sont gérés pour le compte des contribuables canadiens par les Laboratoires nucléaires canadiens (LNC), qui appartiennent à un consortium multinational de sociétés du secteur privé, notamment SNC Lavalin et CH2M. Selon les LNC, « les petits réacteurs nucléaires modulaires sont de plus en plus reconnus pour leur potentiel de fournir une source attrayante d’énergie propre et sûre ».
« Nous nous opposons à la qualification « propre » pour décrire l’énergie nucléaire », a déclaré Ole Hendrickson de Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area. « L’énergie nucléaire n’est pas propre et ne devrait pas bénéficier de fonds pour le développement durable », a ajouté Ole Hendrickson. Le groupe Concerned Citizens soumettra une pétition en matière d’environnement au vérificateur général du Canada afin de clarifier les types d’énergie propres et celles qui ne le sont pas.
Robert Del Tredici, photographe professionnel et fondateur de l’Atomic Photographers Guild, a photographié des installations nucléaires dans le monde entier. Il s’oppose à la demande d’un nouveau parc de réacteurs nucléaires surtout en raison du problème non résolu de disposer des déchets générés. « Les déchets radioactifs ne sont pas transformés en or comme sous la touche de Midas », a déclaré Del Tredici, « tout ce qu’ils touchent devient radioactif ».

Eva Schacherl, liaison avec les médias, Citoyens concernés : 613 316-9450

Réal Lalande, co-coordonnateur Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive : 819 778-0147 et  819 360-4610

Lucie Massé, co-coordonnatrice Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive : 450 479-6550

Visitez le site Internet Concerned Citizens à l’adresse pour des documents d’information et des documents supplémentaires.