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Carbon emissions still should be a priority

Posted on 10 March 2021 by Contributed


As an Albertan (living in Calgary) I’ve been becoming increasingly concerned with our carbon emissions. Particularly the easily avoided ones associated with electricity production.

In Ontario, nuclear energy provided 90% of the ultra-low emissions power to fully remove coal from the grid. Nuclear energy is the most environmentally friendly form of energy generation requiring a tiny fraction of the mining, processing and infrastructure compared to other sources of energy, (including renewables) due to the energy density of its fuel.

Nuclear is the only form of energy that fully accounts for and contains its waste and all of Canada’s used nuclear fuel would fit inside 1 hockey rink piled 32 feet high.

So why haven’t we already fully embraced nuclear energy across the nation? The most commonly voiced reason is, “there is no solution for the waste.” 

Today, used nuclear fuel is stored on an interim basis at nuclear reactor sites across the country. When it first leaves the reactor, it is stored in a used fuel pool for 7-10 years, and is then transferred to dry storage casks for above ground storage.

The international consensus for permanent storage of used nuclear fuel is deep geological disposal. 

A deep geological repository is a combination of engineered and natural barriers that will safely contain and isolate used fuel.

Public support for Alberta’s eventual inclusion of nuclear in our electricity mix would be helped by an operating Canadian DGR.

Gordon McDowell, Calgary

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