Michael Sturdy (July 15 Letter to the Editor) is very much mistaken about the benefits of nuclear power. Although it may produce less CO2 it produces dangerous radioactive waste for which there is no satisfactory disposal, and which remains lethal for many thousands of years. Would he really want to be trucking it from Alberta to Sudbury supposing Sudbury would take it?
Mining the necessary uranium is very energy intensive and does produce considerable greenhouse gas. Mine spills in northern Saskatchewan have contaminated water, poisoned fisheries and adversely affected the health of miners and local communities.
People who understand the reality certainly don’t hope there will be a future demand for “our” reactor technology. Although the Canadian government has heavily subsidized Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd–$6.6 billion of our money from 1956 to 2000–it is still about four times as expensive as natural gas or large-scale wind power. As pointed out by the David Suzuki Foundation, these costs do not include the related costs to society of environment and health damage, accidents, cleanup, waste disposal or plant decommissioning. Plants become less safe as they get older. They emit radioactive material, imposing cancer risks on workers and surrounding communities. Heavy water leaks have contaminated drinking water.
Nuclear power plants take about ten years to build, routinely have huge cost overruns and are so risky that insurance companies have refused to insure them. They also require very large amounts of water to function.
Investing in solar and wind power would be a more cost effective and environmentally responsible course to take.