Agree to Disagree

By Lindsay Advocate

Is nuclear power, such as that produced at the Bruce Nuclear generating station, really worth it? Photo: Chuck Szmurlo.
Moya Beall.

Nuclear power is not an answer to our climate change challenge

When the former heads of the nuclear regulators from U.S., France, Germany and U.K. issue a statement on nuclear power and climate change, decision-makers should pay attention:

“The central message, repeated again and again, that a new generation of nuclear will be clean, safe, smart and cheap, is fiction. The reality is nuclear is neither clean, safe or smart; but a very complex technology with the potential to cause significant harm. Nuclear isn’t cheap, but extremely costly… not part of any feasible strategy that could counter climate change.”

But, like lemmings racing to the cliff, Premier Doug Ford’s government plunges ahead with one bad energy choice after another (fossil gas, nuclear, dirty hydrogen). But wind and solar, with energy storage, are now the cheapest and quickest to build energy systems in Canada. They have no waste and weapons proliferation issues.

Ask people living in Ignace, South Bruce – home of Bruce Nuclear – and people living along the Ottawa River how they feel about nuclear waste. And unlike nuclear plants, windmills don’t have to be guarded by SWAT Teams.

Ford’s decision to refurbish the ancient Pickering plant, through a single-sourced contract, at an undisclosed price, drives us further into an unsafe future and higher energy bills. With the growth in community population the plant would no longer meet safety standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Hope clings to iodine pills.

Ford also plans to build four small modular reactors (SMRs) at Darlington. SMRs aren’t the answer. NuScale, the only U.S. certified SMR, abandoned its Utah project, after costs doubled to $9 billion, despite huge government subsidies. The project will now focus on alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar. Lesson learned?

Moya Beall is a member of Seniors for Climate Action Now! (SCAN! Kawartha)


Richard Gauder.

Nuclear power a solution for climate change

In God I trust, all others show me data. Does the data show we can meet global Green House Gas (GHG) reduction targets without nuclear power? No.

Nuclear power has merits against the backdrop of climate change. Physics is about numbers, not belief. Gravity doesn’t care if you believe in it or not. The Greenhouse Effect is also physics. The sun warms the earth, some heat escapes, some gets trapped. Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are like extra blankets, keeping more heat in supercharging extreme weather events.

Dr. James Hansen, a renowned NASA scientist, stressed in his 1988 testimony the urgency of climate action. We didn’t listen. Hansen’s latest analysis of global data reveals that renewables alone cannot scale up fast enough to meet global energy demands while reducing carbon emissions at the necessary pace. His data shows that multiple low GHG solutions are required, including nuclear.

Nuclear power has high energy density delivering consistent and stable electricity while cutting emissions. Modern nuclear advancements provide enhanced safety, waste management, and fuel efficiency. Refurbishing existing plants and adopting small modular reactors is more cost-effective and quicker. They outlast renewable energy sources in lifespan.

The extreme weather of 2023, encompassing floods, wildfires, heatwaves, and storms, served as an urgent wake-up call…again. The idea of distinct ‘peeing’ and ‘non-peeing’ sections in a swimming pool is unrealistic. The Earth’s atmosphere doesn’t have separate zones either. We’re all in this together.

The good news is that there’s still time to fix climate change. We just need to stop adding extra GHG blankets, fast. Nuclear can help.

Richard Gauder is a former member and Chair of Durham Region Roundtable on Climate Change, an advisory committee that provides advice to the Region of Durham on climate change matters. He lives in Lindsay.


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