Towns vie to be the burial sites for Canada’s nuclear waste

Graphic by Tonia Cowan/The Globe and Mail

Saturday, January 14, 2012 – Globe and Mail

As roadside attractions go, “Home of Canada’s Nuclear Waste Burial Ground” isn’t one you’d normally put on a souvenir keychain.

But strange as the title sounds, nine Canadian communities are in the running to claim it – along with the opportunity to host the country’s spent uranium in underground bunkers for the rest of time.

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Companies vie for Chalk River reactor

Photo courtesy of the National Research Council

Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011 – Globe and Mail

Over more than half a century, the reactor in Chalk River, Ont., has produced a Nobel prize and boosted Canada’s stature as a nuclear innovator, acting as a magnet for budding researchers.

It’s also been the source of deep national embarrassment thanks to an unscheduled outage at the aging reactor in 2009 that led to a global shortage of medical isotopes.

Now it’s been effectively orphaned as Ottawa sells off the CANDU reactor arm of its parent company, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.

That divestiture is forcing the federal government to decide whether to continue running it and eventually replace the reactor, operate it until it is too old to repair any more and shut it down, bring in private-sector partners to help run and finance it, or some combination of these options.

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In Fukushima’s wake, Canadian nuclear plants prepare for the worst

Photo by Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Wednesday, May 04, 2011 – Globe and Mail

Canada’s nuclear operators are taking extra steps to make plants safe in response to the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe – the first admission that, despite assurances Canada’s nuclear facilities aren’t vulnerable to that kind of meltdown, Japan’s Chernobyl-scale disaster is forcing them to re-evaluate how the industry prepares for emergencies.

In the weeks after the nuclear plant in Japan was damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission asked all operators to review their safety and emergency procedures. Their responses, due last week, assure the national regulator and the public that Canada’s plants are safe. But they also set out plans to make them safer – an indication of a renewed urgency in preparing for the worst-case emergencies, no matter how farfetched.

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Fukushima’s fallout: Ripple effects on nuclear power in Canada

Darlington Nuclear Plant's is designed to suck any radioactive steam that could be released. to date, this has not been needed. Photos taken April6 2011 during a media tour of the Ontario Power Generation's Darlington Nuclear facility near Oshawa, Ont.
(Photo by Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

Anna Mehler Paperny – Globe and Mail
Thursday, April 07, 2011
The disaster in Japan is forcing this country to re-evaluate the way in which it pursues – and safeguards – nuclear power

The rectangular concrete bay tasked with containing 150,000 bundles of spent uranium looks like a swimming pool, with a temperature – 30 C – to match.

But the tranquil-looking body of demineralized water at Ontario’s Darlington nuclear generator belies the painstaking, energy-intensive effort to keep it cool.

Its fuel-cooling counterpart at 40-year-old Fukushima Daiichi spent weeks emitting high levels of radiation. A blast of liquid gas stemmed a leak this week, barely 48 hours before another powerful quake further complicated efforts to contain the damage.

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In Fukushima’s aftermath, Canada’s nuclear industry girds for change

Greenpeace protesters hold up a banner to disrupt the second day of hearings into four proposed nuclear reactors in Ontario.
(Photo by Anand Maharaj/The Canadian Press)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 – Globe and Mail

Nuclear energy operators should prepare to face greater scrutiny and meet higher demands for safety precautions after the crisis in Japan, according to one of the industry’s major Canadian players.

“I would expect some changes; I just don’t know what those changes are,” says Alun Richards, a spokesman for Areva Canada, the nuclear developer whose operations range from mining uranium ore to building reactors and storing spent fuel.

Areva is preparing a feasibility study into Nunavut’s first uranium mine, at Baker Lake, even as community consultations this month reveal mounting opposition to the proposal.

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Ottawa’s sale clouds the future of Chalk River

Friday, December 18, 2009 – Globe and Mail

So it’s official: After hinting at it for years, Ottawa’s selling off the family reactor business.

But what happens to the other part of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. – the multi-purpose facility in Chalk River, Ont., that was once one of the world’s nuclear leaders but has more recently been plagued by technical difficulties that have given Canada a black eye in the world of nuclear medicine?

Hard to say.

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Canada puts its nuclear pride on the block

Friday, December 18, 2009 – Globe and Mail

OTTAWA and TORONTO — Stephen Harper travelled the world pitching Canada’s “state-of-the-art” – and state-owned – nuclear reactor technology, but finding no takers at home or abroad and facing record budget deficits, the Prime Minister is selling off the Crown-owned Candus.

The Harper government confirmed yesterday it is calling for bids on the reactor wing of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.

With interest coming from a mix of foreign and domestic firms, opposition critics say they’re concerned technology created at public expense is at risk of leaving the country.

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New $1.2-billion reactor needed for isotopes, Ottawa told

Friday, December 4, 2009 – Globe and Mail

Canada has been told to act swiftly and aggressively by building a new billion-dollar multipurpose reactor to secure its isotope supply for the next several decades and to prevent another global isotope shortage.

An expert-panel report commissioned by the federal Department of Natural Resources also recommended adopting supplementary production methods. The panel convened in June in the midst of a global shortage of the radioactive material and as Ottawa was musing about getting out of the isotope-producing business.

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Chalk River workers want to run nuclear facility

Tuesday, December 1, 2009 – Globe and Mail

As the fate of Canada’s nuclear industry hangs in the limbo of unreleased government-commissioned reports, workers at the Chalk River reactor are taking matters into their own hands.

Fearing a looming, but still vague, restructuring of the Crown corporation that operates the reactor, they’ve submitted their own proposal to Ottawa – an ambitious plan that would see Chalk River independent of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.’s reactor business and become a nuclear research giant in its own right.

“The silence” from Natural Resources Canada, says Gordon Tapp, president of Chalk River Technicians and Technologists, “is deafening.”

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The search for a nuclear graveyard

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 – Globe and Mail


Wanted: Friendly, open-minded community in need of jobs and a whack of infrastructure cash. Must be willing to play host to nuclear waste, perhaps until the end of time.More than six decades after joining the nuclear club, Canada is home to 22 nuclear reactors, 18 of them in operation, producing about 15 per cent of the country’s electricity. Canada also has 40,000 metric tonnes of radioactive waste – and counting.

For years, the issue of how to best dispose of this waste has plagued policy-makers, scientists and citizens. Suggestions have included shooting it into outer space or exporting it to the South Pole.

Now, Canada is preparing to get rid of its nuclear detritus once and for all – by burying it.

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