Recent letter highlights misunderstandings about nuclear power: Canadian Nuclear Society

CNS had another letter published in the Hill Times this week in response to another letter that had been published a short while ago.  The Hill Times is a subscription newspaper read by people interested in politics including many politicians and staffers. 

We do not have the rights to republish the original letter but its easy to guess the contents from our response. 

Cran Campbell gives us an insight into what poorly informed people think about nuclear power. The fact is that as people come to understand nuclear power they become more supportive.  Cran, living a long way from a nuclear power plant, thinks that people would not want nuclear power plants in their backyards, but the fact is that the people who have them in their backyards want more of them, as can clearly be seen from the local support for the proposed new builds at Darlington and Bruce.

We have routinely pointed out to readers of Hill Times, that used fuel is not the hazard that Cran has been led to believe.  It is almost entirely a solid ceramic that cannot leak or flow, and this makes it easy to manage.  This is why its management has never led to any harm being done to either people or the environment.  There is no need to remove it from the planet, most of its contents were just dug out of the ground in the first place, but there are long-term benefits to permanently removing it from our lived environment and the industry is working on that.

But the greatest harm is caused by the belief he expresses that Germany’s denuclearization has been a success and that we should learn from it.  It hasn’t been a success and while we can learn from it, the lesson is not the one that Cran thinks.  It hasn’t been a success because it has led to Germany increasing its use of fossil fuels, the effluent from which does do actual harm, unlike used nuclear fuel which does not.  It has also left Germany very dependent on Russian gas.  Cran believes that had Germany’s program been a success it would support denuclearization elsewhere but their increased use of unreliable power, such as wind and solar, has only been possible because they sit in the middle of a very sophisticated multi-generator grid, largely anchored by the French nuclear fleet.  So, what we actually learn is that if you want to deploy unreliable generators you can only do it if you have plenty of reliable capacity to prop it up.  This is one of the reasons why Canada is planning to build new nuclear plants.

The original letter was inconsequential and in the current climate would likely have little impact but it gives an indication of how misinformation has circulated and has progressively been accepted so that people believe it to be true. 

We chose to respond because the fact that people believe these things ends up giving rise to implied discrimination against nuclear power.  Implied discrimination is insidious as people can do it without realizing they are doing it.

We intend to do our best to correct this misinformation whenever we see it and hope that you will also watch for it and correct it.  In this way we can over time remove the implied discrimination and ensure that nuclear can take its rightful place in helping in the nation’s net zero ambitions. 

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