Nearly four years ago, I wrote my first letter regarding the proposed Deep Geological Repository for spent nuclear fuel in South Bruce. At that point, launching a multi-billion-dollar DGR project seemed like an uphill battle for the NWMO, to say the least. A crop of yellow protest signs had appeared in farm fields, and opposition to the project was loud. Bruce Power had just begun the first of 6 ambitious refurbishment projects, and much of the world still considered “nuclear” a bad word. That seems like a lifetime ago, and a lot has changed. Here are my top 10.
1. After a mountain of studies, conferences, webinars and a trip to Finland’s DGR, most interested observers have concluded that Canada’s DGR project will be environmentally safe. Radioactive material is not going to leak into the waterways, and local residents are not going to see adverse health effects.
2. Bruce Power and OPG have completed the refurbishments of three of ten generating units. These colossal nuclear projects were conducted safely, on time and on budget, restoring faith in future projects.
3. In light of strong public support, OPG is now seriously considering the refurbishments of four more units at Pickering station.
4. Bruce Power has begun producing a new line of medical nuclear isotopes, which are promising to revolutionize the diagnosis and treatment of certain kinds of cancer.
5. The imperative to de-carbonize electricity production has caused our governments to embrace nuclear energy as a necessary part of any credible plan for Net Zero. The federal government is now firmly in support of sustaining and expanding our nuclear fleet.
6. OPG has already begun construction on a string of new “Small Modular Reactors” at Darlington, and Bruce Power has announced the start of a massive expansion, which would increase their nuclear energy production by 75%.
7. War in Europe has caused the entire world to re-think energy security. Some nations are seeing Canadian uranium as a 2-for-1 deal. De-carbonize, while reducing the dependence on Russian natural gas.
8. In South Bruce, the 2022 municipal election was contested along pro-DGR and anti-DGR lines, with all the anti-DGR candidates defeated by a vote of about two to one.
9. Around the world, interest in new nuclear projects is starting to turn into serious investment.
10.Public opinion has shifted dramatically, with everyone from Greta Thunberg to rock band U2 embracing nuclear power’s importance in the fight against climate change.
Here in Bruce County, we are Canada’s nuclear energy heartland. We are home to one of the world’s largest nuclear generating facilities. We are on the forefront of medical isotope production, with opportunity to become a national centre of excellence. And with the South Bruce Deep Geological Repository, we are poised to become a world leader by safely storing Canada’s spent nuclear fuel in the stable bedrock of South Bruce. When it comes to nuclear energy, our area is well-positioned to emerge on the right side of history.
Tony Zettel, RR5 Mildmay