The debate about nuclear energy and whether it will have a future in Alberta has officially begun as Bruce Power Alberta begins the planning to build the first nuclear power plant in western Canada and the Alberta government appoints a committee to research whether nuclear energy should be pursued in the province.
That sounds like two stories, doesn't it, since Bruce Power is not going to get very far if the government research goes against it. Here's what Bruce Power has in mind:
Bruce Power, based in Ontario, purchased the assets of Energy Alberta Corporation and in March filed an application with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to prepare a site for the potential construction of the plant on Lac Cardinal near Peace River.
Peace River sounds kind of nice, but Bruce Power! Are all the boys in Canada named Bruce (who are not named Doug, that is)?
And here is what the provincial government is up to:
The [government-selected expert] panel will be asked to provide a comprehensive examination of: environmental, health and safety issues; waste management; comparing nuclear energy with other electricity generation technologies; current and future nuclear power generation being used in Canada and around the world; and Alberta's future electricity needs.
Naturally, writer Rose Sanchez rounds up opposition:
Mary Griffiths, a senior policy analyst with Pembina, says nuclear energy isn't the answer. Instead the greenhouse gas emissions from the oilsands [?] should be dealt with through carbon capture and storage technologies.
Well, that would be good, we guess, if carbon capture and storage technologies were actually ready to be implemented. Curiously, the Pembina Institute sells wind power. Sanchez doesn't mention this, a bit of a journalistic breach - a reporter should come clean when a source might have a financial interest in zinging a competitor.
Here's a description of a Pembina Institute book called "Nuclear Power in Canada: An Examination of Risks, Impacts and Sustainability."
In addition to the fact that nuclear power is not itself a [greenhouse gas (GHG)] emission free energy source, a future path based on nuclear energy would simply replace one problem (GHG emissions) with a series of different, but equally unacceptable impacts and risks. These encompass everything from facility reliability and waste management to the potential for catastrophic accidents and nuclear weapons proliferation.
<rant> Feh! This sounds like the building-a-plant-produces-greenhouse-gas thing again plus long discredited arguments. You can download the whole book as a pdf on their site if you want. And hey, Pembina, windmills don't magically erect themselves - we have to assume there's some heavy machinery involved that's less than enviro-friendly. </rant>
Ahem! Let's see how what expert panel finds out and wish Bruce Power luck. Alberta seems likely to join the atom club, especially if they lean on the work already done in Ontario and elsewhere to vet nuclear energy.
Thanks to Trails Canada for the map.