Published: January 29, 2007

Nuclear a viable option

Published: January 29, 2007

Nuclear a viable option
Op-Ed by Dr. Patrick Moore
January 29, 2007

Re: “Nuclear power not for oilsands: Despite federal minister’s musings, too many costs and risks make nuclear reactors a poor choice for extracting northern Alberta’s oil,” Ideas, Jan. 24.

It’s very telling that Hugh Wilkins of Sierra Legal and Mark Winfield of the Pembina Institute expend 12 paragraphs on a baseless criticism of nuclear power while providing only two sentences to describe clean energy alternatives.

Sierra Legal and Pembina are unable to come up with any practical solutions to sustainable development in the oilsands.

Nuclear energy is the only practical means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Alberta’s oilsands. It’s more than a little ironic that organizations like Pembina and Sierra, who claim to favour reducing CO2 emissions, are the same organizations that oppose this greenhouse gas emissions- free power source.

Yes, mining uranium for nuclear fuel creates relatively low greenhouse gas emissions. But so does the production of any and all energy infrastructure, including the windmills and solar panels Pembina and Sierra favour. The point is we can substantially reduce these emissions by building more — not fewer — nuclear energy plants. The energy from these plants can then be used throughout the lifecycle process, including during mining and manufacture, to make the entire process virtually emission free.

Given that seven CANDU reactors, built in South Korea, China and Romania over the past 15 years, have been completed on time and on budget, as was the most recent Pickering unit refurbishment, it’s simply false to suggest, as Wilkins and Winfield do, that nuclear power is any less reliable or any more expensive than other conventional energy sources.

If the oilsands projected expansion in production takes place without nuclear power, the expansion will tap out most of the natural gas supply in northern Alberta — gas that could be sold at a profit to the U.S. for the benefit of all Albertans.

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