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The closing-down of the Gentilly-2 reactor will put some people out of work. I wonder how wise this is – we’re going to lose expertise.
Chris, ant6n, walkerp, and 2 others are discussing. Toggle Comments
Expertise in what? The big hope for Gentilly-2 and the reason it was created in the first place was that Canada would be able to export the technology to other countries. Unfortunately, no other countries wanted it and now it just hangs around creating nuclear waste. Nobody needs their expertise.
And there is great opportunity for expertise here, because dismantling nuclear power plants safely is a huge, expensive and complex task and will generate a lot of work that will than create exportable expertise for all the other countries that are shutting down their nuclear power plants.
This is just typical fear of change from a union that wanted to keep on sucking on the subsidized teat. I’m sorry for the people who will be losing their jobs, but we can’t run an economy on economies whose output ends up costing us more in the long run. What about expertise lost in asbestos mining? Should we lament that as well?
What about this crazy tale? Hydro-Quebec burns through millions to keep a different kind of plant shuttered.
Was there no hope Gentilly-2 could even be used to produce medical isotopes? I remember a panic about a shortage of those.
Medical isotopes….there’s an idea. If that came to fruition, it would be only the second place where such things are produced in North America. I think what the union is most upset about is how the case is being handled. The announcement came out of nowhere and sounded rather ideological to appease pressure groups of some sort.
As I said earlier, the announcement was a surprise, deliberately so, so they could move before the powerful international nuclear lobby could get its act together. But it didn’t come out of nowhere. Environmental groups have been fighting Gentilly-2 for a decade now and the broad public consensus in Quebec is very much against it (and rightfully so). The Liberals kept it on life support because they are in the pocket of industry, but the writing was on the wall.
There is very little ideological here. This is a pragmatic decision by the PQ. It’s an easy win with lots of upside at the cost of a few votes and some negative media spin mostly prompted by the nuclear lobby. That CTV article is a perfect example of half the story, deliberately showing only the negative side.
From the Hydro-Québec FAQ page:
Could Hydro-Québec use the Gentilly-2 refurbishment to make it capable of producing medical isotopes?
No. Reactors designed to produce radioactive isotopes are very different from those like Gentilly-2 that are designed to generate electricity.
However, Gentilly-2 does produce cobalt-60, which is used to sterilize medical equipment and treat cancer. During generating station maintenance shutdowns, we load bars of cobalt into the reactor. While it is in operation, neutron radiation transforms the cobalt, producing cobalt-60, which we remove during next planned shutdown.
Well what do you know, an actually helpful FAQ from a large corporation!
As for your question about Bécancourt, Kate, I have no friggin’ clue how that works! The whoel power generation world is such a complex mess. I’ll ask around at work and see if anyone has any insight.
I remind everybody that last year Germany decided to take itself off of nuclear power and this year Japan announced the same measures. The closing of Gentilly-2 is nothing compared to the economic adjustments those countries are going to have to make. Let’s show some courage and move forward!
walkerp, is your position that nuclear power is a dead end and there’s no way it can ever be used safely? What about thorium reactors?
Pretty much. I know there are tempting arguments for it when you see how directly unpolluting it is compared to most other forms of energy generation, but if you step back and look at the long-term problems of nuclear waste storage and the effects of the mining for the raw materials like uranium, it’s pretty freaking nasty. Given that our major and growing health crisis in the first world today is cancer and given the links between radiation and cancer, I also think we need to be really wary of nuclear power.
My true personal opinion is that there is no form of energy production that can satisfy our voracious greed that will not also destroy our planet and our health. It’s just a question of scale. Even solar or wind amassed at a scale to be able to allow us to live the way we do today is going to be harmful. The only real answer is conservation and a fundamental change in the way we live.
That being said, there are alternative energy sources out there that are far, far superior to our current carbon-based fuel dependancy and that is where our money and work should be going in the short term.
A quick google search shows that Thorium has as many detractors as it has backers. I wouldn’t count on it anytime soon.
walkerp, the other needed solution is to reduce the human population of Earth. Changing tax policies to discourage having children, one child policies, etc. If there were fewer humans, less GHG would be emitted and the remaining people could have a higher standard of living. I know this idea is bothersome to many (myself included), but it is logical.
cutting birth rates by a lot won’t increase quality of live for the remaining people, unless we also euthanize people over 70.
Our society already has issues dealing with slightly above replacement birthrates while life expectancy is going up.
ant6n, in Canadian society, yes; but globally, no.
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