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The Great Canadian Nuclear Debate

Dr. Gordon Edwards

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Speaker 1  0:00  

long as I can do that again. Welcome everyone. Bienvenue My name is Ryan Castro zine and I'm a professor at the School of Political Studies and the Institute of environment here at the University of Ottawa. And on behalf of the Center for International Policy Studies, I'm really pleased to welcome you to tonight's public debate. Do we need to scale up nuclear power to combat climate change? This is a great turnout. So thank you to everyone who came out in person and we've got untold hundreds of people 400 registered people online who are watching on the live stream so welcome to those who are watching from home I don't quite know where to look, but welcome to those of you here in the audience. Please do note that the event is being live streamed and filmed for a virtual audience and the plan is to post the recording of the debate on sepsis YouTube channel in the coming weeks. So Devin mom, so turn on glacial mom may for Sookie solar zoom, live transcription profesionales song disappointing. I'd like to start off the evening by acknowledging that the University of Ottawa is located on the traditional unseeded and unser rendered territory of the Anishnaabe, a Algonquin people. Aside from acknowledging the land, I also want to acknowledge that the key themes centered and tonight's debate, climate change and nuclear energy both carry very important implications for indigenous peoples in Canada and for reconciliation. So why nuclear power and why climate change and why a public debate. This is a topic which has only gotten more heated as the world itself has continued to warm. Earlier today, I was reading about how the world's oceans are now warmer than they've been for any year for which we have reliable records and likely warmer than they've been for over 1000 years. Correspondingly, forecasters predict that it's quite likely that the world's average temperature will again break records if not this year, than the next. The science is very clear, climate change is real. It's being exacerbated by human activity. And it's an extremely urgent problem if we want to keep the level of global warming to less than two degrees Celsius from pre industrial baselines. And the world will have to stop emitting carbon dioxide and dramatically reduce emissions of other greenhouse gases. Moreover, we will most likely also have to remove additional carbon from the atmosphere. Both of our debaters today will likely be in agreement that we need to phase out fossil fuels from our energy supply, while simultaneously turning increasingly towards electrification and carbon free forms of electricity. And therein lies the energy and climate challenge since more than 80% of the world's energy supply is currently derived from fossil fuels. So from where should we source this clean energy. And here is where our debaters disagree. I don't think it's controversial to say that nuclear power offer offers tremendous promise and potential, but its promise is not without risk or cost. And that's why we're here today to hear from two experts who have invested countless hours in this topic and arrived at differing positions regarding the role of nuclear power in a swift, just in sustainable energy transition. And it's our role as citizens to take the time to learn about the stuff, to take in the arguments to let them stew to think critically about them, and then apply them to our civic lives however we see fit. So I'm really excited to hear a respectful and well informed debate about this topic, and to hearing our panelists responses to your questions during the q&a. As a few final things to note, before I turn it over to our moderator, this event simply would not be possible without the support of the Center for International Policy Studies. And in particular, it's very hard working coordinator and a budget. He's at the back. Thank you, Anna. Let me you don't know that Anna actually coordinates two of the centers here at the university. So it's very much appreciated. I also want to thank Susan O'Donnell, for her role in helping to organize this event and for coming up with an idea to host an event of this nature. So thank you, Susan. So let me now introduce my colleague, Patricia Fuller who will be moderating tonight's debate. Patricia fuller is a senior fellow at the universe. See vata was Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. She has extensive experience in international relations and public policy. She served as Canada's ambassador to Chile and to ERG y, and has served posts in Mexico and Guatemala, as well as numerous other posts within the federal government here in Canada. Notably, Patricia was Canada's ambassador for climate change from 2018 to 2021. Patricia, I'm gonna turn it on to you. And thank you for agreeing to moderate tonight's panel.

Unknown Speaker  5:32  

Thank you very much, Ryan. Thank you. And thank you to all of you for being here. Welcome. As Ron has said, there is I think, a fairly broad consensus that we need to rapidly scale up clean energy to meet this climate challenge. But certainly divergent views and even chatting with you. And in the few minutes before we got started diverging views on the role that nuclear energy should play in that in that challenge. So we're fortunate to have two experts here and I'll briefly introduce them you have their bios in the in the announcement for the session. Dr. Gordon Edwards is president and co founder of the Canadian Coalition for nuclear responsibility, a not for profit corporation established in 1975. He's a retired professor of math and science at Vanier College in Montreal, and has been a consultant on nuclear issues for government and non government bodies for over 45 years. He's served as an expert witness in US and Canadian courts and tribunals, and is frequently invited to testify before provincial and federal bodies. And Dr. Chris Keefer, is a Toronto based emergency physician, and the President of the grassroots nonprofit Canadians for nuclear energy. He is also the host of the decouple podcast, which explores the science technology and politics of energy transition. And Dr. Kiefer's activism extends beyond nuclear energy to issues of indigenous migrant and refugee health. For example, he co founded one of Canada's first seasonal agricultural workers, health clinics. So two wonderful experts here. This is not the debaters on CBC where we'll have a applause and select a winner. Our our goal here today is to illuminate the issues and all leave this room smarter and more informed about about nuclear energy. And so the format will be five minutes for opening remarks, starting with Chris and then going to Gordon. And then we'll have a dialogue that I will moderate with our two speakers. And then they will provide three minutes of closing remarks, after which we'll have a q&a session with with you the audience here in this room. So with that, we'll keep time here to make the most of the time we have together. And I'll ask Chris to lead off with his opening remarks.

Unknown Speaker  8:40  

Okay, it's wonderful to be here today, in this big, beautiful bright room and see the audience I think fairly integrated. I think this is such a polarizing issue. You'd almost expect them to be aligned on the middle and the pros on one side and the antis on the other. So I think the debate is maturing a lot. And I'm really glad to see that. So you guys might be puzzled, because you've certainly heard of what an anti nuclear activist activist is to be sitting in front of a pro nuclear activist. And you know, that might take a little bit of explaining on my part. Thank you for that generous introduction. But maybe a little more on the on the personal side, I first became really interested in the climate question around the time of the birth of my son who's now four years old. He's mischievous, inquisitive, really lovely, the greatest accomplishment of my life. But we start thinking differently about time when we have children, and the timeframes extend well into the future and climate change is going to have a major impact on on him in his generation. And that really caused me to go deep into investigating questions of climate change and ultimately solutions and energy. You know, why am I passionate about nuclear energy? I think there's a lot of I'll call it misinformation, and we're gonna have some disagreements about that up here too. The nine. Nuclear has played a really massive role in Ontario in terms of air pollution. I've been a physician working through the coal phase out, which occurred between around 2005 and 2014 90% of the electricity, we required to phase out coal, which has been called North America's greatest greenhouse gas reduction was provided by nuclear energy. And we saw smog days in Toronto go from 54 to zero over the course of that. So in my clinical practice, I've certainly seen a huge improvement from air quality. I love living in Toronto, and it no longer being the big smoke, I remember not seeing the stars, I remember the light pollution even off of this model was horrible when I was younger, I do want to extend my respects to Gordon, you've been at this a lot longer than I have. Your stamina is a miracle to behold, I think this is your fourth event this week, you've been working your way across Northern Ontario, I hope to have a fraction of that. As I head to my 40s We have a lot of similarities. I think we're both driven by a genuine concern for health, for the environment and for climate. I think we both agree that across this entire lifecycle, nuclear is an ultra low carbon source of energy. I think the last similarity we have is we both have the gift of the gab. And it's gonna be a bit of a challenge for you, potentially Patricia. So I mean, that brings us to our differences. We have very differing opinions on this matter. I think it's going to be exciting to hear those and explore those tonight's at worst. On my side, I might be being overly complacent about the risks of nuclear power. At worst on Gordon side, you know, he may be spreading fear about a vital tool to fight air pollution, climate change and medicine. So when it comes to this proposition of do we need nuclear do we need to scale it up to fight climate change? For me? It's an unabashed, yes, I am not alone in this opinion. I'm joined by the godfather of climate scientists himself, Dr. James Edward Hanson. The whole number of quite prominent figures, George Monbiot to one of the UK is most famous environmentalists and a guardian writer. But also interestingly, I think very interestingly, by folks that are most well acquainted with the world's greatest nuclear energy accident, which was Chernobyl, Dr. Geraldine Thomas, molecular pathologist at Imperial College London, director of the Chernobyl tissue bank, is actually very much in favor of scaling up nuclear energy because of an assessment of the risks and the benefits and the alternatives. Another one Robert, Dr. Robert Gale, one of the most preeminent hematology oncologists invited by Premier Gorbachev to treat the victims of acute radiation syndrome from Chernobyl, again, assessing the risks, benefits and alternatives is supportive of a scale up of nuclear energy. And so you've heard my framing their risks, benefits and alternatives. And I think that's how we have a mature discussion about this topic. I do that every single day, when I'm discussing treatments and investigations with my patients in the emergency department. And ultimately, we have a sick climate. And we have to look at the treatments that are available. And we need to make some mature decisions about that. I just want to close by saying, you know, Dr. Evers is gonna have his chance to speak in a moment, but from what I understand his position is far more radical and extreme than simply saying we shouldn't scale up nuclear energy. My understanding is he believes that we should phase out nuclear energy as quickly as possible. That's out of line with even folks like Greta Thun Berg, who said regarding the German nuclear closures, that it's a mistake to shut down the nuclear plants while they focus on coal. While the last three German nuclear plants have been shut down and have been replaced by coal. It's a pretty extraordinary story. Mike Schreiner leader of the party of Ontario also supports running or nuclear assets in Ontario, at least till their end of life doesn't support refurbishing them or new nuclear. But I think there's there's something to Dr. Edwards opinion, which is going beyond, you know, a lot of what the mainstream environmental movement is saying. I think I'll probably leave it at that, because I'm running out of time. But again, looking forward to this discussion.

Unknown Speaker  14:16  

Thank you, Chris. All right, Gordon, over to you for your opening remarks.

Unknown Speaker  14:21  

Thank you very much. I'm really happy to be here. Thanks so much for inviting me. Thank you. And I would like to phrase my own views and rather than having somebody else phrase them, it's simply not true that I have ever advocated phasing out things instantly or quickly as possible. I am in favor of phasing out nuclear power for very good reasons, which I like to explain. But I'm particularly concerned about the rush right now, to build a whole new generation of nuclear reactors, when, except for four reactors that were ordered in the southern United states, there has not been a single other reactor ordered in North America since before 1978. So there's been a 30 year of very long drought in reactor sales. And in fact, the the globally, the actual role of nuclear in the world meeting the world's energy needs has been in a rather sharp decline. 25 years ago, nuclear provided 17% of the world's electricity. Today, it's less than 10%. And so going down. And even if they build new reactors fairly quickly, it's going to continue to go down for at least the next 10 or 20 years, because the older reactors, of which most of them, most of them are quite old, are going to be shut down faster than the new ones will be built. So it's really a question here of whether the climate change is an emergency or not. And I believe it is an emergency. And the main reason it's an emergency is because our politicians have been dragging their heels for such a long time, decades and decades. So when you're in an emergency situation, you have to do what gives you the quickest results. It's like triage and medicine, I suppose you have to deal with the patient immediately when they're in a dire situation. Now, with with regard to the climate emergency, the problem is that nuclear power is at least four times more expensive than renewable energies, and at least four times slower to deploy. So that means that in combination, you could build 16 times the renewable energy capacity in the same with the same money in the same amount of time, as building nuclear equivalence. I think that you have to deal with the emergency as an emergency, you have to work fast to reduce carbon emissions. And we can't afford to wait another couple of decades to start making a change. You have to realize that when nuclear reactors are planned, and under construction, under licensing and so on, nothing is being done about greenhouse gases. And so if it takes 15 years, 18 years, even 10 years, it's already too late, because you have just been increasing greenhouse gas emissions all that time. With efficiency, energy efficiency is the number one thing we have to do. As matter of fact, this was clearly laid out. Under President Jimmy Carter, when he was first ascended to office, he set up what's called the Solar Energy Research Institute. And he asked the Solar Energy Research Institute to find out the feasibility of meeting 80% of America's electricity needs, energy needs by solar energy. And when they when his term was done, the report was ready. And it was called a new prosperity. And what it said is that, yes, it is possible for solar energy to meet those needs, without anything new than what we already had at that time. But the key is energy efficiency, we have to have an energy efficient energy conscious energy conserving society, we have to move towards a society that is more sustainable in itself. Canadians are very wasteful, and energy North Americans generally are, and humans as a whole are, but with energy efficiency, and renewables. It's a winning combination. Now, it might be interesting for you to know that the International Energy Agency, you can check this out on the website, predicts that in the next five years 90% of new electricity generation installed worldwide is going to be renewable, not nuclear. So there we can have a very fast answer to the emergency. I use a parallel sometimes that when your house is on fire, you need to pour water on it to put out the fire, you got to get that fire out. You can't sit around at that point trying to devise a fancy sprinkler system for the next house you're going to build. So I think that that just the timing is wrong for renewal for nuclear. You might know that Germany, close its last three nuclear power plants out of 17 in Germany closes last three nuclear power plants on April the 15th. That was 17 reactors that were shut down. And they have since been exporting energy electricity to France, which is the Saudi Arabia of nuclear energy because more than half of France's 54 nuclear reactors have been down during that last year period. And so, Germany has been selling electricity to France selling electricity Switzerland, selling electricity to Austria as a way of overcoming some of the shortages that were imposed by the Ukrainian war launched by Russia. Germany is still on the road towards phasing out coal completely by 2038. And there's no reason to think they're going to miss that target, because they met their nuclear shutdown target very, very well.

Unknown Speaker  20:23  

Thank you, Gordon. That's great for the opening. And I want to ask Chris, to go into one of the issues that you raised, which is the speed of deployment question. So let's delve into that a little bit. You said, Gordon, that's that nuclear energy is four times slower to deploy. And as you point out, we're in an emergency. So Chris, can nuclear energy be scaled up? If and we'll get to the other issues? Don't worry, safety and so on. We'll get to those. But just as a theoretical possibility, can nuclear energy be scaled up at the time scale that we need?

Unknown Speaker  21:05  

So this isn't a theoretical question? This is a question that has been proven. So right here in Ontario, again, 61% of our electricity is from nuclear, how long did it take to build our fleet? We commissioned 20 large CANDU reactors in 22 years. Let's talk about France for a second 56 reactors commissioned in 15 years, decarbonizing their electricity grids, you'll hear a lot about four times faster, we produce a lot of wind and solar. That's true. But Germany is still reliant, its number one source of electricity is coal, and it has replaced its nuclear plants with coal. This is not something to be celebrated. And, you know, Gordon, if it's true that you don't support the immediate shutdown of nuclear, it's curious, I wonder why or if you support the German shutdown, because it is a it is a disaster for the climate. And we're going to be talking about all sorts of different health impacts and things like that. But coal plants are, you know, the big bugaboo of climate change. So, you know, can it be done quickly? Absolutely. It can't. Why has it not been happening recently? We haven't been seeing an increase in demand. Gordon is absolutely right. Energy efficiency is key. However, we're talking about electrifying everything. The consensus there is we need even with efficiency to double or triple our electricity grid. When we were growing our grid rapidly here in Ontario, we quickly exhausted or hydroelectricity at Niagara Falls, we started building a lot of coal, the biggest coal plant in North America in Nanticoke, these big eight boiler units, extraordinary things. And we made a decision in the 70s to try nuclear. And we did an amazing job of it. And we built those nuclear plants instead of coal plants. Pickering was supposed to be another Whopper like Nanticoke, a four gigawatt coal plant. So if you want to talk about climate solutions, and live safe from avoided air pollution, nuclear is certainly on the table. And it can be done quickly, the demand is there now. And that's why nuclear is back on the table. You don't invest in really expensive capital intensive infrastructure, like bridges, like hydro dams, if they're not going to get used, and it's true the last 20 years, you know, you build that thing. And maybe you wouldn't get the cell those kilowatt hours. But now the emerging consensus is we need to grow the grid so that we can not only mitigate climate change, but adapt to it. You know, elderly people mentally ill people die in heat waves, they need air conditioning that requires energy, desalination. I mean, it's endless. What we're gonna need energy for will need more energy to adapt to climate change. This is just the reality

Unknown Speaker  23:38  

that I think we are all in massive agreement on. We need more clean energy. So just so I understand, Chris, you're saying that a nuclear reactor could be built in how many years?

Unknown Speaker  23:49  

So the global average has been eight years around the world. Japan has achieved the numbers of every four years once we get into good practice as we have with our Canada refurbishments. We're currently refurbishing probably our entire fleet, because it looks like we'll be refurbishing Pickering. Those are mega projects. They're hard to do well, but we're learning how to do them. Well, they're ahead of schedule and on budget. And that gives me a lot of confidence that we can move into building nuclear quickly. But the best time to build it was 10 years ago. Second best time is now

Unknown Speaker  24:17  

that's a figure for you eight years is global average. Gordon, let me ask you, perhaps whether you would agree with that as a data point first. And secondly, I think it's important in this debate that we're talking about alternatives. So it's everything has its problems. Everything has its drawbacks. So if you could compare it in terms of deployment to the kind of timeframes to build equivalent energy resources in Canada

Unknown Speaker  24:53  

Okay, there have been no new no nuclear power reactors built in Canada ordered since 1978 So this is ancient history where these reactors were built. The only reactors in North America that had been ordered in recent times is the four reactors in the southern United States, the so called volto reactors. Two of those reactors there AP One, AP 1000, or 1000 megawatt reactors, which is a little larger than the CANDU reactors, and about three times as large as the small modular reactor they're now planning to build at Donington. But two of those reactors were so slow and so costly that they were shut down and abandoned after spending $9 billion on the construction, they were abandoned. Those were in South Carolina, the two others in Georgia, the price went from $12 billion to currently $28 billion. And they still have not really started producing electricity. And that period of time was 13 years. So 13 years for that particular the latest example of reactors in North America. In Finland, they had a reactor that was ordered from a Riva, and it took 18 years to bring that reactor online, even though it was supposed to be come online far sooner. So these are promises that are not being kept in terms of rapidly building these reactors, and they're not being experienced with regard to the small modular reactors we're talking about are unproven or untested. We've had small reactors built in Canada. The maple reactors never worked. Not for a single day, they had to be decommissioned after being constructed because they never worked. There was a slowpoke district heating reactor, a failure. It was never operated either it couldn't get a license to operate. So we've had John T one in Quebec, which was a small reactor never operated for more than 180 days, and then it was decommissioned. After that, these new reactors are novel, some of them are using fluids for cooling that are very hazardous, for example, liquid sodium and in New Brunswick, liquid sodium reactors have been tried in the United States, it led to a meltdown at the Fermi one reactor and they abandoned it. In France, the super Phoenix turned out to be fiasco, liquid sodium cooled, they abandoned it. Anybody who knows about sodium knows that it's explosive on contact with water, and it readily burns in air. And they have problems with sodium fires and safety for that. So these new reactors are not guaranteed to work. They're generally coming in at a at highly elevated prices, the price escalates to two or three or even four times the cost that was originally anticipated, and the delays are legendary. So I don't think that this is a way that we should be going in an emergency. And particularly, we should not be investing in technologies that don't even address the current problems such as in New Brunswick, they're wanting to build a small modular reactor that will use plutonium extracted from CANDU fuel. This has nothing to do with fighting climate change. Because this, this whole move towards using plutonium is a nightmare regarding the weapons connection. If we export such reactors around the world, it means it's many countries that do not now have access to plutonium, will have access to petroleum through our technology, just as we gave a reactor to India, and they use their plutonium from that reactor for their first atomic bomb. I believe that there's more than one existential crisis facing the planet. Climate change is one, but nuclear annihilation through nuclear weapons and the uncontrolled spread of them is another will try to so that's our point

Unknown Speaker  28:57  

at a time here. So I don't know that we've illuminated on the question of timelines, you're saying eight years, you're saying it's always been much longer in North America, but maybe we'll we'll set that aside for the moment and move to the question of cost. And, Chris, I'll ask perhaps I think it'd be useful given that Gordon has mentioned SMRs, you've talked about large scale reactors. So perhaps you could just tell us two things. One is are you advocating for, and we're talking, I guess, in the Canadian context, extension and more large scale reactors or also SMRs? And then, if you could address the question of, of cost, because certainly that is, I think, a fairly widely held conception that nuclear energy would be much more expensive than renewable energy.

Unknown Speaker  29:50  

For sure, for sure. I mean, just to clarify, Gordon's examples are are cherry picking. It's true that the most recent builds in North America but the reasons why is because We had supply chains that were completely inactive and atrophied workforces that were not familiar with nuclear anymore because they hadn't built a reactor, as Gordon was saying, for 20 or 30 years. That's not the case here in Canada, where our workforce is teed up, our supply chain is totally ready because we're rebuilding our CANDU reactors one after the other. So I anticipate the costs will be will be very acceptable. But we'll get to that, in terms of small modular reactors this term, it's not very precise. I don't really like it. Because it's this huge basket as Gordon saying, it's a whole variety of different technologies, which will probably go over most people's heads, you know, sodium cooled, molten salts, all this stuff. You know, when it comes down to it, we're talking about the scale. And I think that's what's important. Do we need both? Yes, because we have small grids in this country as well. We have Saskatchewan, Alberta, Nova Scotia, all places that are burning coal still. Right. And a great place for it to just transition coal workers and coal communities is very similar jobs as we did here in Ontario. You know, I've interviewed some really impressive folks who used to work at Nanticoke, who now work in better, better paying jobs, better working conditions over in a nuclear plant. So when it comes to the cost, though, I think this is really interesting. The the, the inflation adjusted cost of our candy build out here in Ontario was $55.4 billion. Sounds like a lot, right? Well, our Green Energy Act, solar and wind contracts of the last 15 to 20 years have the price tag of $60 billion by the time that their lifespan expires. Okay. The CANDU fleet has produced 3300 terawatt hours to date. By the end of the lifespan of the wind and solar we've installed in the last 15 or 20 years, they'll produce 200 terawatt hours, that's 16 times less for essentially the same cost. And value, the value of the energy that we get out of our nuclear fleet is very high, because we can match it to demand you have to remember that electricity is not a commodity, you don't go and say, Hey, I'd like 150 electrons today from the grocery store and bring it home and use it in your home. It's like healthcare. And wind and solar are very cheap. When when the weather is cooperating. It's kind of like if you had really cheap doctors and nurses in your hospital that would work for almost free, they won't work a night shift, if they're the solar panels, and they won't work and the weather's not nice. And weather is kind of iffy in Canada, if you haven't noticed. And so it's a way that actually it's cheap to build when the weather is right. It's very cheap, but you're paying for a service, not a commodity. And just as healthcare would be very expensive. If you had these ultra cheap doctors and nurses that didn't work very much. But you had to provide that service overnight, you'd have to pay expensive on call doctors to cover the system at the other times. And that's what we ended up doing with wind and solar. And that's why if you look around the world where they've where they've deployed the most wind and solar in places like Germany and California, Germany, highest electricity prices in Europe, California, the the lead deploy of renewables highest cost of electricity in the continental US. So something's not making sense here. The developers are making a fortune private developers mostly, whereas our Crown Corporation or publicly owned nuclear assets are providing the second cheapest source of electricity on our grid after hydroelectricity. I went on too long. I'm sorry, Patricia, that's

Unknown Speaker  33:16  

that's fine. Gordon, if you could respond on the cost data that that Chris presented. And then if you could also address the question of reliability of the grid, because this is certainly comes up, I would say most frequently is one of the arguments for nuclear energy as a dispatchable source of energy that many people say is required in order for grids to be reliable, because, you know, we have to keep in mind cost reliability, security, so please,

Unknown Speaker  33:51  

okay, well, if you look at if you look at the Wall Street people who assess costs of energy, you'll find that the Lazard company has published figures on the cost and nuclear is always at the top level of cost for energy production. So, I think that that we have to realize that I'm a little confused by what Chris Keefer is saying because he's talking about our Crown Corporation. None of the reactors that are currently being touted for Canada are connected to a Crown Corporation in terms of origin. They're all small modular reactors. One of them is a micro modular reactor at CHOC river one is them as a liquid sodium cooled reactor in New Brunswick another as a molten salt cooled reactor. And then there's a boiling water reactor which is American design, which being planned for Darlington, so when when Chris is talking about can do and the Crown corporations this seems to be a misfit with what's actually happening today. These are US and UK companies who are selling their products here in Canada and we are going to be Facing the problems of the waste management and the decommissioning costs of these reactors, because the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has stated that it does not want to deal with those costs until the the reactor is running and at the end of life, then they will address the cost. But that's too late. Because you have to assess those costs up front. Remember that three generations of electricity from a nuclear reactor results in 300,000 generations of toxic waste management. And the cost of these are quite considerable. 26 billion, for example, is estimated for the cost of the existing waste. And these new reactors that are being planned right now are going to have waste which are more difficult, they're going to be a number more radioactive than CANDU fuel, and they're going to be more difficult to manage and CANDU fuel, those costs are not being assessed. So we have a problem there. Turning to renewables. It's true that needs storage. And in fact, storage is a key component of any energy source. Because the transportation sector for instance, if you talk about electrifying everything, you cannot have electrical vehicles without good energy storage, and energy storage technology benefits renewables far more than it benefits nuclear, because nuclear can go 24/7 renewables are admittedly interruptible. But with good surge, they are much cheaper. So anything that improves the transportation sector and improved storage is going to improve the relative position of renewables relative to nuclear. I do want to point out, however, that the big thing about nuclear energy is the what you don't see up front, the Chris is talking about the energy supply and the reliability while it's operating. But there's all the costs that come afterwards. And those costs include the nuclear waste, they include the decommissioning costs, billions of dollars have to be set aside for that. And they also include the threat of radioactive sorry, nuclear proliferation, proliferation of nuclear weapons. Plutonium is produced in every one of these reactors, every one of them produces plutonium not found in nature. So atonium is the key nuclear explosive in the world's nuclear arsenals. If you rely on nuclear to combat climate change, you'll be spreading nuclear throughout the world. And that means that countries that don't have lutonium, now will have their own plutonium supply. It's it would have to be you'd have to be living in Alice in Wonderland, to think that this is not going to result in the spread of nuclear weapons to other countries, particularly with the example of Russia invading Ukraine, and threatening to use nuclear weapons. More countries are now nervous about the fact that they do not have nuclear weapons. Remember, in fact, Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons in exchange for security. So the countries are now more impelled to try and get their own nuclear. In fact, South Korea has recently announced that they may consider that as a strategy for the country.

Unknown Speaker  38:12  

So let's stay for a moment on the issue of the reliability of the grid. So Gordon has indicated that with energy storage, grid reliability can be achieved without nuclear energy. I hope I'm summarizing reasonably the point. So, Chris, how would you respond to that? Do we need it? If we don't need it, then why do it? I think,

Unknown Speaker  38:38  

absolutely. Wind and Solar require storage, unfortunately, that storage is natural gas and coal. Okay, Germany is one of the richest countries in the world. fourth largest economy. 14th wealthiest country in the world, they put 14 Sorry, they put $400 billion into a wind and solar based energy transition. Coal is the number one source of electricity on their grid 31% of their electricity. And even before the Russian invasion, when they replaced Russian gas, which got cut off with even more coal. It was still the number one source on their grid. And this is 1015 years in as they're shutting down their nuclear fleet. I'd really like, you know, give Gordon a few minutes here. But I'd really like to know because he said he's not for the immediate shutdown. And I was putting words in his mouth, what he actually feels about the German situation because there's been a massive return to coal there. A few things because Gordon has covered a lot of territory, I'm not going to worry. I think we have opportunities to touch touch on each subject as we go. Lazard actually just released another report recently, which was the cost of wind and solar plus firming plus batteries. We don't have enough lithium in the world. We don't have enough batteries in the world to back up wind and solar and that's why we use natural gas and coal to do it. Nuclear works great with storage. Actually, a lot of nuclear plants were built with pumped storage next by next next door. And the great thing about nuclear plus storage Is that how long you need to store for is a 24 hour cycle. With wind and solar. It's months. It's seasonal. I'll remind you during our summer heat waves here in Ontario, you might notice but there's no wind blowing that sweat off your brow. Our solar, sorry, our wind fleet was operating at 6% capacity factor for two weeks last year during our hottest heat waves when our grid demand is maxed out. Okay, solar disappears for about four months of the year in the winter. These are not well matched to the Canadian climate, solar performs better in places like Australia or Arizona, frankly. So we have to be realistic about that with the firming costs. factored in Lazard is seeing wind and solar start to approach the price of Vogel, that nuclear plant in the US that's gone. So over budget. So I'd encourage you to look at the latest Lazard data. Dr. Edwards, I think I think you'd learn a lot from it. I think that's all I need to say. I mean, obviously, we brought up the issue of the cost of decommissioning the cost of waste management. You know, it's incredible that nuclear is still the second cheapest source of electricity, when it's actually putting money aside for that, right. So that 26 billion to build a deep Geologic Repository that money has been it's sitting in account and an account gaining interest waiting to be used the decommissioning funds, are there, no other source of electricity factors that in, you know, there's no plan to recycle millions and millions and millions of solar panels, there is no plan to recycle wind turbines. So, you know, this is why it's about risks, benefits and alternatives. And I don't think we should be up here fetishizing a technology or being partisan about it. But we need to assess it based on the goals. And you know, my aim here is to tell you what, what my goals are personally, and hopefully you can see a logic behind, you know, what I'm advocating for.

Unknown Speaker  41:48  

Okay, so Gordon, could you respond on the points of reliability that that Chris has made that that we can't rely on renewable energy for its intermittency in Canada in particular? And also, let's try to clarify on the cost question and the the Lazar report, which includes that firming element, which I understand to be the cost you need to build in for the for storage, or whatever kind of backup power would be needed to make it reliable?

Unknown Speaker  42:22  

Okay, well, I do think that we're kind of confusing backup and storage, backup and storage are not the same thing. Backup is to for another energy source to cover over the rough times. And it's not true to say that, that the storage is, is another energy source. The storage is any system that will store that energy, whether it's pump storage, whether it's batteries, or whether it's something else. Now, one of the things that people often forget about solar energy is it doesn't have to be electrical. For example, in Montreal, we have some old, unused disused grain elevators, these green elevators are massive. And if you fill these with water, there's a couple of architects won a prize for their design for downtown Montreal. If you filled the screen elevators with water and used seasonal solar energy to heat that water to a very high temperature, you could then heat all of Old Montreal, from those from those reservoirs without using electricity. With regard to the demand for more and more electricity as we electrify that too is a little misleading. In Montreal, for example, in Quebec, rather Purbeck we have a lot of electrical resistance eating. Now if that electrical resistance heating were replaced by heat pumps, the amount of saved electricity would be enough to run the entire transportation sector of Quebec. So the fact the fact that you need more electrical applications does not mean you necessarily need a comparable amount of new electricity generation. What you need is to use the energy in a much smarter way. And one of the problems with nuclear is that it sort of opens the door to unlimited excesses. This is what's happened in the past and it's likely to happen again in the future. We have to learn how to live more efficiently we have to learn how to use energy more wisely, and we have to use the energy income we have rather than squander the energy capital, the energy capital which is expressed in fossil fuels, for example, buried in the ground is finite. The energy capital for nuclear is uranium also buried in the ground which is finite. The thing about renewables is that they are renewable and that they are inexhaustible. And if we if there are other renewables that haven't even begun to be tapped, such as geothermal energy. So I think that reliability is a function of experience, we have to develop these technologies. And as we develop them, we will read, for example, lithium, there was a mention of lithium. It's true, there isn't enough lithium for all these batteries. But that's a materials problem. There has recently been discussion of sodium ion batteries as opposed to lithium ion, sodium is far more plentiful and far cheaper than lithium. These sodium ion batteries are more bulky, and consequently, they're not suitable for all jobs. But they will be very suitable for renewable backups. And they don't count. They cost a fraction of the lithium batteries, and they do occupy more space, but they are perfectly reliable and much more affordable. So all of these questions are questions of experience. The nuclear industry has been subsidized from day one, for decade, after decade after decade, there's been subsidized for 60 years, renewables really need to take over even people who are promoting nuclear. They say it's a transition towards a renewable society. That's what they say. But we are not pursuing the renewables. As you know, Premier Ford, for example, cancelled all the renewable contracts and pay $250 million in penalties, rather, instead is pouring billions of dollars into refurbishing the old nuclear reactors in New Brunswick, they did refurbish one of those old reactors, and it's not working well, at all.

Unknown Speaker  46:31  

So let's ask Chris, and then maybe a quick response on this just on the it's related to costs. But then I do want us to go to the safety and waste issues, but just specifically on on the cost. are you advocating for? What kind of subsidy for nuclear energy like they in the recent federal budget nuclear technologies is put sort of in a same bucket, as far as tax credits with other other kinds of energy? What is your position in terms of the cost? What What would it what would it cost the taxpayer if we were to go down the nuclear route?

Unknown Speaker  47:14  

I mean, what what nuclear needs what hydro dams need, what any mega project needs, is access to low cost capital. And that's why I've been here in Ottawa on several occasions, arguing to include nuclear within the green bond frameworks, which is what opens that up. Bonds have built the infrastructure of this country, we're cruising on the infrastructure of this country, we need to build we need to double or triple that infrastructure. You know, Gordon saying that you can heat the City of Montreal in the winter minus 30 minus 40. day long in a weeks of snowstorms with solar, thermal heating, green uninsulated green towers, I guess we'd insulate them, that's not a city I want to live in. It's not a city, I want my son to grow up. And it's not a city where I want homeless people or people who are vulnerable, who can't afford a backup heating system to live in. You know, I get I think that gives you a sense of the seriousness of Dr. Edwards understanding of, of energy systems. And I think that's unfortunate, because he has listened to quite well. You know, the issue, again, with wind and solar is, you know, this backup versus storage debate. What happened in Germany is they had about 100 gigawatts of coal, gas and nuclear, they built 120 gigawatts of wind and solar, but you can't retire those other 100 gigawatts. So they got rid of some nuclear, they built up some more gas, and they really kept the coal going pretty flat out. That costs less. This is why it costs a lot because you have to maintain two parallel systems running side by side. It's true that renewables can spare fossil fuel use, you use less of the fuel, but you can't retire those plants, like we did here in Ontario. Coal phase outs can be done around the world, that's mostly a gas substitution for coal, like we saw, we're seeing in the US and we saw in the UK, gas is getting a bit difficult in Europe right now. Hence the return to coal. But again, we're in this beautiful building. We've got beautiful views. We don't have smog in winter anymore, because we phase out coal here, and it was nuclear energy that can do it because nuclear provides the same services as fossil fuels, reliability, dispatch ability that we all need in terms of keeping our hospitals lit, keeping our homes warm or cool. You know, what is one other factor that if you'll allow me, energy efficiency, absolutely important? Energy rationing, very dangerous. When Japan panicked and shut down its entire nuclear fleet 30% of their electricity generation. It's estimated that 7800 elderly people died every year after that as a result of lack of air conditioning. So there's a real cost to screwing up on energy. Pardon my French they're a real cost in human lives. My hospital we need 100% reliable energy. My son was in an incubator for five weeks. We can't have a system like that. Where there's not that reliability built in so it's it's deadly serious if we're serious about the elect. To find everything agenda, then you don't have a backup diesel generator, you don't have a propane or a natural gas boiler heating your house, that electricity must be ultra reliable or people freeze in the dark, or they die of heat exhaustion in the summer. So this is not an issue that we can take serious we can take. Sorry, it's an issue that we need to take very seriously.

Unknown Speaker  50:21  

So so let's go to the safety issue. And Gordon, you've already referenced the challenge of waste, and that that is an issue which has not been solved by the nuclear industry. What about safety of reactors, if you could just very briefly give your position on safety of the of that's a source of energy?

Unknown Speaker  50:48  

Well, yeah, the safety of reactors is connected directly to the radioactive waste. The radioactive waste is what melted down at the Fukushima reactor is not the malfunction of the reactor itself, the reactors were shut down at Fukushima, at the moment the earthquake hit with 9.1. Earthquake, they were safely shut down. The problem is you can't shut off radioactivity, and the radioactivity inside the reactor, if it cannot be cooled, then it will overheat spontaneously, up to the melting point of uranium fuel, which is about twice the melting point of seal. And that's what caused three nuclear reactors to melt down the releases that came out of that reactor plant, we're only a fraction of what is inside the plant what is inside the fuel because of the containment system, but nevertheless, it contaminated an enormous area of Japan. Chernobyl is a similar situation. Now those those radioactive materials, once they get out into the environment, they last for a long time. For example, today you can check radioactive they're in Germany in spin the Czech Republic in Belgium and several other countries. Hunters who kill wild boars cannot eat meat. And the government actually sends the money to compensate them for being unable to eat the meat because of radioactive contamination with cesium 137 from the Chernobyl accident decades ago. So these were these wastes are basically there. And any reactor which is bombed, or sabotage in war, like we've seen in Russia, invading Ukraine can release what the head of the IAE case, IAEA calls a catastrophe. So if we depend upon nuclear power for our future energy supplies spread around the world, I'm afraid that in any area of conflict, you're going to see massive contamination lasting for generations as a result of conventional war.

Unknown Speaker  52:53  

Okay, let me ask Chris to respond to that specific point of the safety of nuclear waste, particularly in a conflict scenario.

Unknown Speaker  53:03  

So there's a lot to tackle there, as there is in this debate on any topic, it's certainly very worrisome what happened and has been happening in Ukraine with the Russian operation, occupation of the Zapper region nuclear station. Is that does that mean that we should not pursue nuclear I mean, it's interesting, Ukraine's actually signing more deals wanting to do more nuclear because nuclear offers energy security. Germany sacrifices, energy sovereignty, and couldn't stand up to Russia because it'd become so dependent on their natural gas energies complex. The biggest energy disaster in world history was the collapse of the bank cow hydro dam in China. Over 200,000 people died within a week. Okay, so does that mean we should eliminate hydro dams around the world, we should drain all of our hydro dams. I mean, these pose a major threat to population centers around the world, we have to be mature. Again, we need to be like in medicine, talking about the risks, the benefits, and the alternatives. You know, radiation is a really fascinating topic. Right now, in the next one minutes, 2 million ionizing particles will flow through your bodies. Every single second in your body. There are 10,000 radioactive decays occurring from natural sources of radiation. That that adds up to about 860 million radioactive decays in your body every day. 350 billion radioactive decays over the course of one year. So the world is naturally radioactive. So the question always is, thing Well, radiation is invisible, but we can measure it down to the decay of a single atomic nucleus. There's a lot of atoms in a gram of a substance we're talking numbers my son uses daddy a million billion trillion, that kind of thing, right? So we can detect radiation with exquisite sensitivity. The question always to ask folks like Dr. Edwards is, what is the dose? What is that compared to? So the average dose that Europeans outside of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia received from the Chernobyl answer And it was the equivalent of five chest X rays over 20 years. Five chest X rays over 20 years, I have parents coming in with toddlers two year olds who bumped their heads begging me for a CT scan, right of their brain. That's two millisieverts, that's the pool of your entire background dose of radiation, all that natural stuff I just talked to you about over the course of two seconds. So we have really interesting differences in how we how we approach radiation when it benefits us individually in terms of the medical treatment, versus when it benefits us collectively, in terms of a coal phase out that that cool phase oh, by the way, it was estimated by the Ontario Medical Association, that coal burning in Ontario cost 1000 premature deaths every single year 10s of 1000s of hospitalizations and emergency department visits. That's what Germany is facing right now. So the kind of complacency this I'm getting a bit heated here. And I'm sorry for that. Because I really am trying to, you know, keep the the tone we're looking for, but it's an issue. I'm passionate about air pollution kills.

Unknown Speaker  56:01  

So Chris, that that statistic for the radioactivity, what was equivalent to X rays five over

Unknown Speaker  56:10  

over over 20 years, over 20 years. And this was the fallout from from the Chernobyl accident throughout Europe. And then, you know, in the, in the in the effects affected areas outside of the exclusion zone, the Ukrainians, Belarusians, Russians in that area, the equivalent of one full body CT scan over 20 years. Okay,

Unknown Speaker  56:28  

so let's ask Gordon to respond to this. And we are trying to get to the q&a fairly soon. So maybe, Gordon, I could ask that you. In addition to responding on that point, just make any other quick points that you'd like to ask Chris to do the same and sort of do a two minute kind of any other things that you want to respond to? And then we'll we'll go to the audience. So please.

Unknown Speaker  56:53  

Well, I think those latest round of numbers we heard are, I mean, pardon me, but I think they're hogwash. I think somebody has done a mathematical calculation and come up with that answer. The New York Academy of Sciences published a volume saying that over a million people died from Chernobyl radiation, I would like to, I would like to point out that these figures that you have consistently brought up throughout this debate about Germany and Poland has been extremely unfair. And Germany started with 85%, coal burning around 1960. Over the next few decades, they reduced that to about 50%. Then over the next few decades, they reduced it to 40%. And they reduced it to 31%, which is what you're talking about. Now, it has been a steady decrease. And you have been given this audience the impression that that's the opposite. And that's not true. Just as with climate change, the temperature has a little bumps as you go down. And the same thing, if you look at the slide of German coal burning, you'll find that you have a little bumps going down too. And the most recent bump was in relationship to the Ukraine Russia war. And as I said, most of that electricity that they use burning coal at that point, was sold to France, because their nuclear reactors were not working and was sold to Switzerland and to Austria, it's still going down and Germany is got a commitment to completely phase out coal burning by 2038. And many people think that it will be before then they made a commitment years and years ago to phase out nuclear by 2020 22. They extended it by one year, because of the Ukraine Russia war to 2023 they have now shut down them all down, there's no reason to think that their downward trend and coal burning is going to also terminate by 2038. So I don't think it's fair to sort of present to the audience the idea that Germany is ramping up, its coal burning as a result of shutting down nuclear reactors. That's quite false.

Unknown Speaker  59:00  

I mean, I'm happy I'm really happy to be fact checked on this and I can get if anyone contacts me and give you the resources. Germany reactivated five bituminous coal plants since the Russian invasion, and they've extended the operations have two lignite coal plants, which is the dirtiest form of coal. There's a beautiful image, you know, they have these matte it's the biggest open pit mines in Europe, these lignite coal mines, these bucket excavators that move 3040 tons in terms of a single gyration of their of their scoops. They actually have to take down a bunch of wind turbines because they needed the coal from underneath them. Right? They've knocking down old villages and churches just consuming consuming the land. Coal has been going down in Germany. Is that acceptable? Are they climate heroes that they're using it for 31% of their power? We got rid of it in Ontario, we use nuclear if Germany had made the kind of investments they did in renewables. They called the gone

Unknown Speaker  59:52  

just on the safety point the again trying to get to some kind of common understanding the million deaths from Chernobyl Can you

Unknown Speaker  1:00:00  

Yeah, absolutely. So it's really interesting, you'll find that there's a big difference in the mortality estimates out of the Chernobyl data. And you know, as we've seen with COVID, there's a lot of science, scientific literature that you're exposed to. And the question is, what's the quality of that literature? What are the biases that could be present there? So the Yabloko Nesterenko study that Gordon is referencing, it was you have a cough, who was the founder of Greenpeace, Russia, is where two authors, the the peer review the New York Academy of Sciences and retracted the paper, the peer review, was was is basically a collection of abstracts, periodicals. And they attributed every excess deaths since Chernobyl to the Chernobyl reactor in the midst of the Soviet Union, collapsing alcoholism going rampant, the health system falling apart, tuberculosis reemerging, right? There's several other studies, there's the other report on Chernobyl that was commissioned by a member of the European Green Party, maybe a bit of bias, or three scientists attributed about 34,000 deaths to Chernobyl. And then we have a study done by the Chernobyl forum. This is eight UN agencies, plus the participation of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. And it says 28 deaths from acute radiation syndrome that my colleague, Dr. Robert Gale was very involved in treating and 16 deaths from thyroid cancer so far. Okay. There's, there's some modeling on potential future deaths from thyroid cancer up to about 160. Okay, these numbers when I first read them, I thought, this is not believable. But look at the quality of the data, look at the methodology, look at who's commissioning these studies. You know, a lot of the anti nuclear folks will say, Well, that was a conspiracy, eight UN agencies, hundreds of scientists involved in these consensus decisions. And that's why folks like Dr. Geraldine Thomas, who runs who is arguably the expert on Chernobyl, thyroid cancer is pro nuclear, it's so paradoxical, I really encourage you to Google her. She's a fascinating science communicator. But, you know, he threw that number out there. So I've got to respond to it. But it's about looking at the quality of the evidence, because you should be very confused, saying what Dr. Keefer, saying, under 50. That sounds crazy. I've heard a million? Well, I really encourage you to do your own reading, as I have read the studies. You know, in medicine, now, we're trained extensively in something called Evidence based medicine, critical appraisal, where you look at the quality of the studies, and you make the judgments accordingly.

Unknown Speaker  1:02:17  

I suspect there's a lot of people in this room who have read a lot about this topic. So I think we should go to the audience. So just the mic, I think is going to be moved to the side of the room. And so you can go to the bank, you can be ready with your questions. And I would ask that you identify yourself, and we want to make the most of this q&a period. So I'd ask you to identify yourself and state your question succinctly. So go ahead.

Unknown Speaker  1:02:57  

Thank you very much for the event. My name is Sarah Gabrielle Baron. I'm the nuclear critic for the shadow cabinet with the Green Party of Canada. And I'd like some clarification around this idea of radiation that we get it normally from the sun, and we're not hurt from it. When it comes from, you know, X rays, when the radiation that's coming from the nuclear industry are radio nucleotides, they are elements that mimic the natural elements that we use in our body for, for blood for energy for proteins for calcium. And so there, it's like comparing apples and oranges. So if you could both address that, particularly Dr. Gordon Edwards. Well, I'm

Unknown Speaker  1:03:45  

gonna ask both speakers to address all all the questions. So who would like to start on on on that one, but the nuclei? Go ahead and

Unknown Speaker  1:03:56  

write it sir? Yeah. In a nuclear reactor, there are hundreds of new radioactive materials created which were never found in nature before 1939. These are oftentimes radioactive varieties of elements in nature, which are not radioactive elements like iodine and cesium and strontium, these are found in nature. They're not radioactive. But the nuclear industry creates radioactive versions of these isotopes, as a result of splitting uranium atoms is the broken pieces of uranium atoms. And those materials are indistinguishable in the human body. From radioactive or non radioactive the body has no way of discriminating. And so the thyroid cancers that Dr. Keefer was referring to, as a result of radioactive iodine going to the thyroid gland and causing the cancers. There are other substances like cesium which go to the media tissues and make food unavailable. It's like like, for example, the radioactive bores I mentioned sheep farmers in Wales in northern Maine. They couldn't sell their sheepmeat because of cesium contamination. These are not natural radioactive materials. These are materials which are created inside the nuclear reactor. And they're also created inside atomic bombs when they explode. But there's far more in a nuclear reactor than there isn't any atomic bomb. So when we talk about natural radiation, it's not at all harmless. In the United States, they say 20 to 30,000 years, people every year die from radon exposure just in their homes. And it's the number one leading cause of cancer among non smokers. Even smoking, the American Health Physics Society says that, up to 90% of the deaths and there's about turning 40,000 per year in smokers is actually due to polonium 210 and the cigarette smoke a radioactive isotope which, by the way, that's the same isotope that was used to murder Alexander Litvinenko in London, England. Now, that's a naturally occurring radio isotope, but, but we sort of make it more available to the environment through mining uranium, we bring it to the surface and make it much more available. So there's there's natural radioactive materials, and there's artificial radioactive materials, nuclear power and mass produces a lot of artificial ones, to Tony and being just one of the many. So this is this is definitely a problem. And I think I'm amazed that a medical doctor would think that the radiation from a nuclear from the nuclear waste of a nuclear power plant could be described as anything other than totally unacceptable for humans, one on one to abandon one fuel bundle from a Canada reactor coming out of the reactor would kill any human being in 20 seconds at a distance of one meter, simply because of the blast of gamma radiation. That's not normal.

Unknown Speaker  1:06:57  

Okay, let's let Chris respond then to the safety of that radiation.

Unknown Speaker  1:07:01  

Okay, let's go over here. So first of all, the impacts of artificial versus natural sources of radiation are identical, you cannot distinguish them in terms of radionuclides versus cosmic rays. One of the most common radionuclides in our body that's naturally occurring is potassium 40. It's an isotope naturally occurring at potassium. I mentioned 10,000 decays becquerels per second happening in your body 4600 of those decays are from potassium 40. That's the most prominent carry on inside of your cells, sodium outside potassium inside, it's all around your DNA. So radiation is everywhere. high doses are dangerous is Gordon saying absolutely don't get near and irradiated fuel bundle fresh out of the reactor. It's really interesting, though, isn't it that it's so dangerous. And yet in the course of storing expense, civilian nuclear fuel, there's not been a single death attributable to radiation in 70 years. It's because we make dangerous things safe. Right? So I flew here today in an airplane, I try not to fly. But I think most of us have been in an airplane, you're flying through the sky 30,000 feet up 800 kilometers an hour, this little thin tube, pressurized tube in the sky, right. And we don't give a second thought about that it's safe. It's made safe because of an enormous amount of human effort and organization, human factors air traffic controllers, pilot training 10,000 moving parts on that plane to keep it in the sky properly, perfectly maintained. Handling spent nuclear fuel is far simpler than that. You keep it underwater, as you remove it from the reactor, you put it in a spent fuel pool for about 10 years, you put it in a dry cask, a concrete and steel container. The radioactivity, the cool thing about it nuclear fuel is it undergoes exponential decay. So 99.9% of the radioactivity is gone in 40 years, that's still a high dose. Remember, we started off with extremely high dose, but after about 600 years, the penetrating radiation, the gammas are gone. You would have to crush up the fuel and eat it in order to be harmed

Unknown Speaker  1:09:03  

by it. Okay, so let's go to the next question. And I think we have the parliamentary secretary at the microphone, so please, please go ahead and identify yourself.

Speaker 1  1:09:13  

Thank you. So first of all, so my name is reef Virani. I'm a member of parliament and parliamentary secretary. So just work down the road here. Amazing discussion? Thank you for convening it. Want to raise just a couple of points, because these are the types of questions that I get asked if you could, in obviously, putting this to both of the speakers. If you could give us a comparative example of one can do reactor and its energy output in what we would need in terms of number of windmills or wind turbines or number of solar panels to match the megawatt output. So that's the first question. Secondly, if you could compare one Kenya reactor and the let's say it's 200 wind turbines, the carbon footprint and the creation of those two entities. That's an important question. And thirdly, I don't think this is a this has been discussed thus far. But I hear a lot about the derivative benefits of nuclear, which is nuclear medical isotopes. And I put that to both of you about what nuclear represents in terms of addressing cancer cells and medical treatment.

Unknown Speaker  1:10:15  

Thank you. Okay. Yeah, to start on that.

Unknown Speaker  1:10:18  

I'm happy to take that question. Yeah. So, you know, our large candle units are about 800 megawatts. Most industrial wind turbines are about two megawatts, some are getting up to five, with two megawatts we're talking about needing or just divide 800 by by to 400. Now, as we mentioned before, the services of that a nuclear plant provides a dispatchable essentially always on electricity, which can be matched to seasonal demand, because you do your maintenance and outages when in spring and fall when demand is low, and you have them going gangbusters. During those hot summer heat waves were wind isn't there. You can't talk about a an apples to apples replacement. And that's why again, Germany has been despite, you know, building this enormous fleet of wind and solar have not been able to kick the coal habit. You had a question about medical isotopes. You know, this is one of the spin off benefits of nuclear in Canada. We basically invented the medical isotope game after World War Two, we had the only large research reactor and physicians were lining up at the reactor saying, you know, they'd been using radium, which you have to you know, get out of pitchblende. That's very inefficient, it was $30,000 per gram. At that time, we've become a medical isotopes superpower, which is, I think, super cool. Let me just give you a couple examples. In our can do power reactors, which decarbonize Ontario and got rid of coal, we're making an enormous amount of an isotope called cobalt 60. It's used to sterilize 40% of the world's single use medical devices, right things like IV cannulas and endotracheal tubes, blood draw tubes, things that we've all been in contact with. So when we talk about just nuclear save lives or cost lives, you know, it's nuanced. I'm not gonna say there's no deaths as a result of nuclear energy. The numbers are quite small, but millions and millions of lives have been saved, saved by that sterility. On a personal note, you know, I had to leave my father's bedside, he's in the end stages of metastatic prostate cancer. But one of the treatments he got that extended his life was a radioisotope called lutetium 177. It's really neat. They're tagging these these atoms, these medical isotopes to a molecule which will go and bind cancer cells and direct that radiation, right where it's needed to kill those cancer cells. So I mean, this this issue, again, I'm very sorry that I've been a little bit passionate about it, I really mean to sort of maintain a more calm and upbeat tone of voice, but it means a lot to me. And, you know, in terms of why I'm invested in this, it absolutely has a ton to do with the medical aspects, both in terms of permitting modern health care, as well as you know, the personal benefits I've seen in terms of my father's treatment.

Unknown Speaker  1:12:55  

Okay, so, on the question of the carbon footprint of nuclear versus wind power, Gordon,

Unknown Speaker  1:13:02  

I'm sorry, I'm not equipped to really give you exactly the numbers for that, and therefore, I won't venture a guess. But with regard to medical isotopes, medical isotopes are indeed very useful. They were used decades before the first reactor was ever built. And they will be used decades after the last reactor is shut down. Because most of the some of the medical isotopes that have been used have been naturally occurring Madame Curie, for example, to use radium as was mentioned, that radon needles are used, for example, for cancers and so on. That's a naturally occurring material. Other radio isotopes are increasingly being produced in what are called particle accelerators. cyclotrons McGill University produced all of its medical isotopes from a cyclotron before it got a small nuclear reactor as well to do that. But they can still use cyclotrons. They're now using a linear accelerators for some of the cancer therapies and for production of isotopes. The fact of the matter is that with the exception of with cobalt 60 is the only exception that I know of nuclear power reactors have had no role to play in the production of medical isotopes. Until very, very recently, they've all been produced in small research reactors around the world. In fact, there were only five nuclear reactors in the world, there were producing the whole world's supply of technetium 90 9am, the most widely used radio isotopes in medicine, none of them were produced in power reactors. So I have I've prepared a fact sheet on radio isotopes, nuclear medicine, and reactors, and I'll be glad to make it available to any of you drop me a line at CCN cc n I'll send you a copy of that fact sheet. So the fact of the matter is that power reactors and nuclear Anderson have had very little to do with each other. Recently, the some of the power reactor developers in the case of lutetium 179, in particular, have said that they will start producing medical isotopes to Bruce reactors, for example. And the reason they're doing this is primarily for public relations purposes. If you look at the literature, you'll find that that is a very good therapy. It's called targeted Alpha therapy, what it indicates is beta. But there's also targeted Alpha therapy as well. These do not require power reactors. In fact, all the literature if you read about it yourself, you will see that they recommend that research reactors all over the world could be producing these isotopes. You don't need power reactors for that purpose.

Unknown Speaker  1:15:43  

Can I just respond to that as the medical professional in the room? Okay, briefly, please, too. So, I mean, Gordon, you're gonna have to update your fax sheet because you're quite out of the I visited the McMaster research reactor, the produce about 50% of the world's iodine 125, which is not a power react.

Unknown Speaker  1:16:00  

I'm not done yet.

Unknown Speaker  1:16:00  

We need cyclotrons We need research reactors, we need power reactors, and I'll tell you why in a second if you'll give me the courtesy. So in a research reactors, iodine 125 iodine 131. That's great. I don't want 31. Again, to treat thyroid cancers, I don't want 25 as brachytherapy little seeds that we implant in diseased prostate to kill the cancers. cyclotrons are amazing. And it's great that we're diversifying, right we did see that issue in 2007, or 2009. With the NRU going down at a similar rate reactor and Netherlands going down at the same time, it really choked off the world's supply. So we need to build in that resilience cyclotrons have a place but they can't make certain isotopes, right? They fire protons, so certain isotopes need to be enriched or certain Adams need to be enriched with protons and you can make a group of isotopes that way. But there are a number of isotopes that require neutrons to make in terms of the role of Canada reactors. So lutetium 177 is now a fourth line treatment for metastatic prostate cancer. There are trials going on right now to make it a first line treatment because of how promising it is. We are going to need to make a lot of that isotope, and that's what CANDU reactors in particular power reactors offer to make isotopes at scale. It's true you can make technetium in a cyclotron. That's the most widely used radioisotope for medical imaging. But it's technetium you you want. What do you want this molybdenum which I won't get into too much but gives off technetium which has a much shorter Half Life. We've installed molybdenum production at Darlington now and we can produce about 100% of the world's supply out of that Canada reactor. Should that be the sole source? No, because we need resiliency because of what we saw before. So we absolutely need cyclotrons as Dr. Edwards is saying that they do not replace research reactors or power reactors. And I think the big issue here is we all everyone in this room, the thing we can agree on is we all hate nuclear weapons. And I think what lies at the base of Dr. Dr. Edwards desire to rid the world of nuclear reactors, and I'm not sure if that extends to medical reactors, you have to clarify is that this this idea, if we shut down all the power reactors in the world, the bomb will disappear? Okay, maybe that's not far enough. Let's shut down all the research reactors in the world will the bomb disappear? Any student of geopolitics understands that won't occur. So do we need to go to the extent of lobotomizing every nuclear physicist and nuclear engineer because that does put us closer to a bomb in certain circumstances. I mean, this is getting ridiculous, but you see my point, risks, benefits and alternatives. And we need to have a mature and nuanced discussion. I can understand, frankly, why Dr. Edwards might have those opinions growing up as my father did, during the Cold War with the threat of nuclear annihilation, right. They're doing duck and cover drills during the Cuban Missile Crisis. But there is a new threat to a new generation that's coming and that is climate change. And we have to keep all the options on the table.

Unknown Speaker  1:18:48  

Okay, so we do need to move on with questions that I'll have to ask you to be brief on the next one, Chris, please. Okay. All right. So we'll go to the next person at the at the microphone.

Speaker 1  1:18:58  

Thank you very much. First of all, I would like to apologize for my English, my high school exchange student from Italy. So I really apologize if I make any mistake in English. I just wanted to ask to Mr. Edwards. About You mentioned previously the case of the European pressurized reactor that unfortunately experienced high costs and times overrun. My question is, since the APR was a fork, so first of all kinds of reactor and was one of the first reactors to be built in Europe after a few years, we'll say decades of that kind of technology was a generation free plus reactor if I'm not wrong, so yeah, Olkiluoto Hinkley, point C and flamanville free experience high costs and times over run. But is that my question is Is this a technology problem? Or is it on over regulation problem? They have been built in, let's say 20 years around, but we experienced Fukushima Fukushima nuclear accident in between so regulation have been changed during the building floor. Since so my question is, is this a nuclear technology problem? Or is this paranoia overregulation problem that afflicts the nuclear energy industries in general? Also, knowing that one single screw up every single screw of a nuclear reactor needs needs seven certification. So isn't that a problem of like overregulation? Or is it that technology product? That's fine.

Unknown Speaker  1:20:22  

Thank you. Well, I think it's rare to both. But the thing is that if you look at the record, you'll see that nuclear energy costs have gone steadily up and up and up all the time, and nuclear, and renewable costs have gone down and down and down. And in fact, they've gone down every single year, there was only one year in which it went up a little bit, and then it continued to go down. So I think that these costs are related to the nuclear technology, because there are so many precautions that must be taken, which cannot be tolerated in nuclear reactor because of the horrendous consequences of making a fundamental mistake in the design of it. And they've discovered that there. One other thing about nuclear that I should mention, perhaps before anybody forgets about it is that all the materials that go into the nuclear reactor, and the core area are some of the best finest materials in the world, like some of the finest stainless steel you will ever see. And that stuff becomes radioactive waste, they cannot be recycled, they cannot be reused. So this is a problem. When they build the planet, they want to make sure that it's going to operate properly. And we'll we have technicians that can build 1000s of these reactors, as they would mean need to do if they want to fight climate change, will we have the skilled workers that have the experience and the necessary knowledge and the necessary quality control to actually build all those reactors safely in the near future, renewables are a little bit more forgiving. A windmill is not going to explode and spread radioactive contamination all over the place. So therefore, windmills can be put up, and they can be taken down nuclear reactors can be put up, they can still easily be taken down.

Unknown Speaker  1:22:05  

Because very quick response please on this, because and then I'm going to ask the next two questions and be asked together so that we can

Unknown Speaker  1:22:13  

sure I mean, we Gordon mentioned, you know, the precious materials that go into nuclear construction absolutely should be the highest quality needs to be in a lot of regulation there. There's no disagreement there. In terms of how he's characterizing this rare elements that need to go into nuclear reactors, that's actually something that better describes the batteries required and wind turbines dysprosium, for instance, precedent Ium. These are called rare earth elements. They're not rare. They just exist in tiny, tiny concentrations in the Earth's crust, which means that to mine and refine them, you create a lot of horrific waste from the leaching piles. And interestingly, they're often mixed up with thorium and uranium. And so every tonne of rare earth minerals you produce you generate about a ton of radioactive tailings. So the world is a complex place, again, risks, benefits and alternatives. On the material side, a five megawatt wind turbine 900 tons of steel, it's estimated that you know, nuclear equals MC squared Speedlites. A big numbers square that's a big number, what we're doing with nuclear is we're taking that mass achieving a bit off and that's released his energy. What that means is you have an extraordinary amount of energy with very little materials required. So you have about six times more mining required for things like wind turbines and solar panels. Mining is devastating. David, how amazing UK geologist says that humans have become such an anthropogenic force on the world that our mining activities move, sift, sort crushed more rock than the oceans, the rivers, the glaciers, and the winds think about that. And we're going to pursue it based our energy transition and technologies that require six times more mining. This is a real issue. And again, one of the goals identify in terms of having the least environmental impact.

Unknown Speaker  1:24:02  

Okay, so I'm gonna ask you

Unknown Speaker  1:24:07  

to say something about that. Could we take the two questions you could answer something about that specifically

Unknown Speaker  1:24:11  

on the second

Unknown Speaker  1:24:13  

thing is material with the point I was making is the materials in a nuclear reactor cannot be reused, they cannot be recycled. All the materials used in windmills and solar panels can be recycled and can be reused. You don't have to perpetually mine these things. You have to learn how to reuse them. But it is a problem. I don't deny that. And Dr. Keefer has certainly put his hand on a major concern, which is a concern about the mining of minerals in general. But may I please say and I think it's important to keep a balance here. That the main purpose for small modular reactors for the Ontario government when they did their first study, was precisely to accelerate the mining of those rare earths that he's talking about. That was the purpose of the mining And then also has been stated a purpose for small modular reactors is to accelerate the production of dirty oil from the oil sands. So we have to, we have to bear in mind that there, it's not just one side of the coin or the other side of the coin. This mining problem is a general problem that affects all technologies and uranium. Okay, so

Unknown Speaker  1:25:25  

we're gonna stick with the questions in the in the lineup, please. So can I ask the next two people to to briefly state your question and then we'll ask the speakers to address the the two questions together. So please, next to the mic, go ahead.

Unknown Speaker  1:25:44  

I'm Audrey Redman. I'm First Nations Dakota from Saskatchewan. I live live in Ottawa. And thank you Dr. Gordon Edwards for your presentation. I watched that presentation he gave gave out of Kenora. And I guess, and thank you, Chris, for being here to speak. But you have to say, but I think right now, when you're talking about costs, costs, First Nations have paid the costs on this land. And when we talk about energy, we don't really think about how this whole energy crisis started. It started with oil, and it went into cars. No, and and and no one's talking about what we can do to consider. What do we do to stop this? And that's the cost to us. It has to be a sacrifice to us. Because right now, when we're talking about nuclear, we're talking about dangers here. And we're not here because this is safe. We're all here because we know it's dangerous. And we all know some of the facts. We also know where the costs are going. The government right now is putting big money into this industry. And if we think that what we're doing here is having a freedom of consultation. I think we're just fooling ourselves. Because right now, how much US nuclear fuel will be managed. They put this out the description of a deep geological repository and center of expertise for Canada's US nuclear fuel. Well, right there, they said the nuclear fuel waste Act, which was passed by the Government of Canada, and 2002 requires that w n m. Nuclear Waste Management to manage all use nuclear fuel produced in Canada. Currently, Canadian reactors produce about 90,000 us candle fuel bundles for year. If Canada's existing reactors operate to the end of their planned current lives, including planned refurbishments, the inventory of used fuel that will be need to be managed in the facility could be about four point science poor 4.6 million bundles. Depending on future operating experience, the repository will need to be large enough to contain and isolate the inventory inventory of used fuel from nuclear plants in Canada, Canada's plan was developed for managing Canada's US nuclear fuel. So you know, this is the costs that are going that are being put into this, to build up this industry and the cost to the lives. And I think that's what really the question is here. Good. In terms of just this past, fall, just just go in Tennessee in Minnesota, just 400 gallons of nuclear runoff went into the land. They were told about it for three months. This is just found in Minnesota. So right now we're talking about the dangers here. And that's why we're here. Okay, you weren't talking

Unknown Speaker  1:29:41  

about three people behind you in the question. I'm sorry, but we thought

Unknown Speaker  1:29:45  

we want to talk about six NuTonomy. And you want to talk about cost. I think maybe you should talk that in terms of the dangers to the lives and frankly, what that risks. Thank

Unknown Speaker  1:29:58  

you for being here. And I'd ask For all I know,

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