Tories’ online nuclear consultation is good enough for me

I read the editorial about two weeks ago but only recently read the expert panel’s report and completed the online survey. I thought both were quite good; they seemed reasonably comprehensive, balanced and objective.

Re. May 5 editorial by Lee Giles, headlined Nuclear consultation is a sham:

I read the editorial about two weeks ago but only recently read the expert panel’s report and completed the online survey. I thought both were quite good; they seemed reasonably comprehensive, balanced and objective.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about Giles’ comments.

He and New Democrat MLA Rachel Notley obviously have started out opposed to nuclear energy and now want to see only problems presented and none of the advantages of this source or even to read comparisons with the relative strengths and deficiencies/problems of the other sources of power.

How can that approach make sense to anyone? Where does balance, objectivity and logic come in?

Why not ask yourself why the current major users of nuclear energy – which include Ontario, the United States, Japan and France – are among strongest supporters of this source, whereas those jurisdictions opposed almost invariably have no firsthand nuclear experience.

Is it possible that the first group knows nuclear energy to be clean, safe and reliable, while the second group can avoid having to educate their voters because they still have rivers to dam and valleys to flood? Or perhaps they have limited industry and thus low needs or maybe just lots of cheap coal, no concern about smog or carbon dioxide and the funds to buy carbon offsets. Interesting thoughts, aren’t they!

I worked for 10 years in Ontario, including five in Toronto, and was able to tour the Pickering Nuclear Power Plant and have viewed the Darlington Plant on Lake Huron.

One of my staff members lived in Pickering, not far from the plant. Neither he nor any of his neighbours were aware of any unique medical problems in the area arising from proximity to the plant.

My surprise was about how much power was generated from such a relatively small facility, particularly when compared to the footprint of a typical hydro electric dam and artificial lake, and by the complete absence of atmospheric emissions.

Nuclear energy plants are highly productive and very clean.

They are also becoming increasingly safe.

Indeed, the only real catastrophe in the field, at Chernobyl, should be used primarily as an example of the dangerous construction, maintenance, environmental and safety practices of the Ukraine and not as a means to create fear of nuclear power.

Radioactive waste also creates worry; but that too is often overblown.

Nuclear rods are not very big, so they are not creating immediate mountains of toxic problems.

Currently these spent rods are generally stored on-site at the Canadian plants. Procedures have now been developed to recycle the spent materials which will reduce the size of the problem even more.

The ultimate solution, of course, is to develop permanent nuclear waste storage facilities.

Canada actually has several underground water-free deposits of stable rock in unpopulated and relatively earthquake-free zones that would be ideal waste storage sites; governments just have to be prepared to educate the population and work to overcome the irrational fear generated by a vocal few.

The report and survey are a start.

Nuclear energy makes sense for Alberta.

It would help reduce our atmospheric emissions and we could stop burning non-renewable natural gas to extract oil from the tarsands.

Read the expert panel’s report for an honest, balanced summary of the issues.

Giles failed to provide that.

Fred Brittain

Red Deer

Editor’s note: The point of the editorial wasn’t that nuclear energy is a terrible thing, but rather that the Alberta government’s online consultation is biased and inadequate.

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