CNS Archives

Book recommendations

Web links (CNS and external) on Canada’s nuclear history



Early Years / Le Début

Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories

Whiteshell Nuclear Research Establishment

Heavy Water

Nuclear Power Demonstration
2012 was the 50th anniversary of the start-up of Canada’s first power reactor – the Nuclear Power Demonstration (NPD) reactor near Rolphton, Ontario. In 2002 the Canadian Nuclear Society, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of nuclear power in Canada, unveiled both a historic plaque and an interpretive sign, in cooperation with the Ontario Heritage Foundation. The following articles on NPD are available on the internet:

Douglas Point Nuclear Power Station

Uranium Mining



Other Energy History Links

CBC Archives
A fascinating collection of video and audio material on nuclear topics is available from the archives of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, available at   If this link fails, go to the CBC Archives and select “Science and Technology” on the side bar (also known as “Science and Innovation”), then “Candu: The Canadian Nuclear Reactor”.

The CANTEACH project is an AECL – CNS Universities Committee initiative, begun in January 2000, to produce technical educational material on CANDU reactors.    Many thanks to McMaster University Engineering Physics professor and CNS member Bill Garland for spearheading and maintaining this initiative.   There are six reports (PDF format), in the extensive Technical Documents Library, describing the evolutionary history of CANDU reactor systems:

  • “CANDU origins and Evolution”, paper in 5 parts, by Gordon L.Brooks and John S. Foster, CTTD-0003;
    • Part 1 of 5 – “An Overview of the Early CANDU Program, Prepared from information provided by John S. Foster”, by John S. Foster and Gordon L. Brooks, 2001 February, (50 kB pdf), CTTD-0003-01-r1. Summary: While the name ‘CANDU’ was not adopted until the 1960’s, the CANDU program can be considered to have started in early 1954. At that time, a team, called the Nuclear Power Group, was established to undertake studies intended to identify a potential Canadian nuclear power system. While the team operated under the auspices of AECL and was located in Building 456 at AECL’s Chalk River Laboratory, its membership was drawn from a cross-section of Canadian utility and industrial organizations supported, as required, with “nuclear” expertise provided by AECL staff.
    • Part 2 of 5 – “Why CANDU”, prepared by Gordon L. Brooks, 2001 February, (30 kB pdf), CTTD-0003-02-r1 .Summary: This monograph is intended to answer, in simple terms, the question of “Why CANDU”; that is, why the CANDU nuclear power reactor is the way it is and why it differs from other commercially developed nuclear power reactors, particularly the light water type of reactors originally developed in the United States and now used in many countries.
    • Part 3 of 5 – “Figure of 8”, prepared by Gordon L. Brooks, 2001 February, with note added by Daniel Meneley discussing the Darlington and CANDU 9 heat transport system, (30 kB pdf), CTTD-0003-03-r2. Summary: This monograph discusses the origins and early evolution of the basic “figure of 8” heat transport system arrangement that has been employed in most CANDU reactors to date.
    • Part 4 of 5 – “Emergency Core Cooling System”, prepared by Gordon L. Brooks, 2001 February, (40 kB pdf), CTTD-0003-04-r1, . Summary: This monograph discusses the origins and evolution of the emergency core cooling systems provided for CANDU reactors.
    • Part 5 of 5 – “The Origin and Evolution of the Second Shutdown System “, prepared by Gordon L. Brooks, 2001 February, (45 kB pdf), CTTD-0003-05-r1. Summary: The historical origins of the second shutdown system, as applied to Bruce-A and all subsequent CANDU reactors, are discussed in two parts. The first deals with the evolution of licensing requirements for a second shutdown system and the second deals with the origins of the fast liquid poison injection system chosen for the second shutdown system. 
  • A Short History of the CANDU Nuclear Power System, prepared by Gordon L. Brooks, (150 kB pdf), CTTD-0010.Summary: This paper provides a short historical summary of the evolution of the CANDU nuclear power system with emphasis on the roles played by Ontario Hydro and private sector companies in Ontario in collaboration with Atomic Energy of Canada limited (AECL).

Old CNS Position Papers 

  1. MEDIA ADVISORY – “Nuclear Energy – Meeting the Challenges” Press release by the Canadian Nuclear Society, June 7, 2004
  2. Power crisis turns forecaster to verse; ‘Please build now,’ haiku implores.   Coal plant closings most serious issue by Steven Theobald, Toronto Star, June 8, 2004
  3. Radioactive waste plan proposed for Ontario by Peter Calamai, Toronto Star, June 9, 2004
  4. Bruce Power’s CEO and Chief Engineer receive top honours for contributions to nuclear industryBruce Power press release, June 9, 2004
  5. Nuclear meltdown: Why are environmentalist groups blowing up over a cheap and clean energy source for Ontario? by Cyril Doll, The Western Standard, June 13, 2005
  6. Oil’s new friend: nuclear Editorial, The Calgary Herald, September 23, 2005
  7. MEDIA ADVISORY – “CNS Conference: A World of Service to Humanity” Press release by the Canadian Nuclear Society, June 12, 2006
  8. Beleaguered industry gets new lease on life The Globe and Mail, June 15, 2006
  9. Manitoba Movers – Dennis Chen The Winnipeg Free Press, July 31, 2006
  10. Ontario’s nuclear revival Nuclear Engineering International, 23 August 2006
  11. Could reactors withstand blast? Report that regulator will impose new safety standards may pose a big hurdle for AECL nuclear sale in Ontario by Tyler Hamilton, Toronto Star, January 19, 2007
  12. County backs new reactor proposal by Stephen Uhler, Pembroke Daily Observer, January 26, 2007
  13. ‘N’ symposium a good idea Editorial, Pembroke Daily Observer, March 3, 2007
  14. New Brunswick to accelerate plan to study possible second nuclear reactor by Kevin Bissett, Canadian Press, Thursday, June 07, 2007
  15. Media advisory – Canadian Nuclear Society meeting in Toronto June 1-4 2008 Press release by the Canadian Nuclear Society, June 2, 2008

Old CNS Response to Media Articles and Reports on Nuclear Science and Technology


It is difficult to communicate the facts of any complex subject, such as nuclear technology, via the popular media (newspapers, television, radio, internet, etc.). This is often due to restrictions of time, space, and publication deadlines. An unfortunate result of this process may be information containing errors and generalizations, resulting in misrepresentation of the subject under discussion. In some cases, conflicting interests or editorial bias can flavour the reports.

Dr. Bernard L. Cohen, professor of physics and radiation health at the University of Pittsburgh, remarked:
“Suddenly, we find our highly complex scientific and technical issues being judged by the man in the street. Our forums for technical discussion are no longer scientific journals but newspapers and TV programs that demand three sentence explanations of every issue, and even these are often edited before reaching the public. … The public gets its input from TV and newspapers, so effectively our scientific and technical decisions are being made by TV producers and newspaper editors.” [The Radiation Controversy, by Dr. R.E. Lapp, June 1979]

Letters by experts are frequently written in response to media articles, but often are not printed or aired. This may be due to the length of the responses, for it is often difficult to respond accurately in a few sentences to a single statement made in a media report.

The Canadian Nuclear Society (CNS) is attempting, with this page, to address this problem by posting factual responses to particular media articles, reports or quotes. The CNS is a technical society representing individuals who work, teach, or have a particular interest in the field of nuclear science and technology. One of the mandates of the CNS is to encourage and enhance public dialogue and education on this subject.

Every effort is made to ensure the CNS responses are timely, factual and devoid of unsupported opinion, and are presented with sufficient detail and references to allow the reader to research the responses further. The responses below have been refereed and approved by the Canadian Nuclear Society.

  1. CNS letter to Maclean’s magazine (8 kB pdf) regarding disposal of spent fuel, May 1998
  2. How our nuclear reactors failed us
    by Paul McKay. Page A1, Ottawa Citizen, August 20, 2003.
    Updated May 10, 2006
  3. Too Cheap to Meter?
    Was this really a promise of the nuclear industry?
    Updated Dec. 14, 2016 
  4. Nuclear Fallout – Parts 1 and 2
    by Todd van der Heyden, CFCF/CTV Montreal, May 15, 2005
  5. CANDU Nuclear Station Reliability
    Are CANDU reactors reliable sources of electricity?
    Updated July 30, 2008

Old Media Articles by CNS Members

The following articles were written by CNS members and published by the media.

The Canadian Nuclear Society assumes no responsibility for the accuracy, opinions or completeness of information in these articles.
La Société Nucléaire Canadienne n’assume aucune responsabilité pour l’exactitude, les opinions ou l’état complet de l’information dans les bulletins suivants.

  1. “CURRENT” EVENTS – How can nuclear technology be applied to generate more electricity for Ontario … and the world? (2051 kB)
    by J. M. Cuttler
    Canadian Chemical News September 2005. Reprinted with author’s permission.
  2. “Readers Respond – The Real Nuclear Numbers (319 kB)
    by N.G. Craik, P.Eng.
    Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of New Brunswick,Engenuity Summer 2006. Reprinted with author’s permission.
  3. Pakistan’s nuclear capability has nothing to do with CANDU
    by N.G. Craik, P.Eng.
    Letter to the editor of the Edmonton Journal, published August 14, 2006. Reprinted with author’s permission.
  4. Letter responding to “The Late (and once great) Ontario Hydro” article in The Beaver Magazine.
    by J. Whitlock, PhD.
    Published in the Aug/Sep 2006 edition of The Beaver.
  5. Reactor Outage was Issue of Compliance, Not Safety
    by J. Whitlock, PhD.
    Letter to the editor of the Ottawa Citizen, published Dec 21, 2007