Canada's Nuclear Dilemma -- Edwards, 1982

Canada's Nuclear Dilemma:

Footnotes and Bibliography

by Gordon Edwards, Ph.D.

Special Issue:
"Energy, Ethics, Power, and Policy"

Volume 13, Numbers 1 and 2, 1982
University of British Columbia



    . . . back to Introduction

  1. For the military origin of Canada's nuclear industry, see Eggleston (1965); for subsequent developments, see Torrie (1977). Ottawa spent many billions subsidizing CANDU reactors (Ontario, 1978, p.117), heavy water production, and the uranium industry (Wood and Blair, 1981).

  2. The B.C. Medical Association has published an annotated bibliography and a detailed analysis of the health hazards of the nuclear fuel chain (Woollard and Young, 1979; 1980). See also Marshall (1981).

  3. The environment is threatened by both high-level wastes (Bredehoeft et al.., 1978) and low-level wastes (Landa, 1980). See the reports of the Select Committee on Ontario Hydro Affairs (Ontaro, 1980b; 1980c), and Figure 4 of the text.

  4. Besides the issues of safety, waste, and weapons, nuclear power poses problems of public accountability (Canada, 1978c; CCNR, 1977), ethical conduct (Stewart, 1980; CCNR, 1979), and democratic principles (Edwards, 1976; Miyata, 1980; CCNR, 1980b). See also Ayres, 1975.

  5. It is "difficult to avoid the conclusion that the nuclear option, far from guaranteeing energy self-reliance . . . at best promises uncertainty." (Ontario, 1978, p. 135). Amory Lovins argues that a highly electrified society is unaffordable (Lovins, 1977) and therefore irrelevant (Lovins and Lovins, 1980).

  6. In the 1940s and 1950s, Canada supplied uranium and plutonium for the American weapons program (Eggleston, 1965; Wood and Blair, 1981), and gave India, Pakistan, Argentina, and South Korea much of the equipment and know-how to produce atomic bombs (Anderson, 1975; McKay, 1981; Adams, 1980; Inter-Church Uranium Committee, 1981). Canada is also the world's largest exporter of uranium, upon which all nuclear weapons ultimately depend. Although Trudeau has advocated a "strategy of suffocation" to choke off the supply of fissionable material (Trudeau, 1978), 85 percent of Canadian uranium production is sold overseas; 40 percent of that goes to the USSR [Riga, Latvia] for further processing (Eldorado Nuclear Annual Report, 1980).

  7. Announced in the House by Trudeau on May 1, 1980, the review was conducted by an interagency committee under the direction of Reiner Hollbach of EMR. At no time were public interest groups allowed direct input to the committee (CCNR, 1980b). In August 1981, a November 1980 collection of background papers related to the review was published (EMR, 1981b).

  8. As of June 1982 no orders had been processed for the CANDU reactor purchased by Romania in 1978; a $1 billion line of credit has been withdrawn (Globe and Mail, 25 June and 28 July 1981). The proposed sale to Mexico may not materialize due to indefinite postponement of the Mexican nuclear program (New York Times, 23 May 1982).

  9. The EMR LEAP Report states that electricity should provide "at least one-half of total primary energy" by the year 2000 (Canada, 1978a, p. 6 -- c.f. figure 5) necessitating a fourfold increase in coal production and 70 000 MW of nuclear capacity. A Quebec nuclear engineer declared that "such an objective is totally unrealistic." (Royal Society, 1979, p. 212).

    . . . back to Introduction

  10. The Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) suspected in 1977 and knew in 1978 (through Leonard and Partners, 1978) that the industry would be facing hard times in the 1980s (Ontario, 1978, chapter 8).

  11. "In this case, to meet load growth in the 1990s, Canada could
      (i) do without nuclear power
      (ii) import light water technology from abroad or
      (iii) reassemble the industry.
    All these options involve significant costs and risks." (Canada, 1981b, p. 125).

  12. "Capital must be redirected to allow for energy efficient city and town planning." (Ontario, 1978, p. 180).
    "By relatively straightforward efficiency improvements. . .. the expected annual growth rate of total Canadian energy consumption would drop . . . to less than 2 per cent per annum. The effect, by 1990, would be petroleum consumption lower by the equivalent of the annual output of 6 Syncrude oil-sands plants, natural gas consumption lower by 80 per cent of the annual Canadian output of the Mackenzie Valley pipeline, electricity by the equivalent annual output of 15 Pickering sized nuclear plants, and coal by about 10 million tons." (Science Council, 1977, p. 42).
    "A cut in the growth rate . . . by as little as 0.1 per cent per year will, by the turn of the century, provide annual savings equivalent to half of the output of a $6 billion tar sands plant." (Brooks, 1981, p. 62).

  13. Electricity supplied 14 percent of Canada's energy needs in 1969 (Puttagunta, 1975) and 16.8 percent in 1978 (Canada, 1981c, p. 46). However, necessary electrical use (excluding low-temperature heat) accounts for less than 10 percent of energy use in Canada (15 percent in Quebec). See Robinson et al. (1977); Conway et al. (1978); Lajambe (1979); Alternatives (1979; 1980); and Brooks (1981).

  14. Any breakthrough in storage will make small-scale intermittent sources competitive with bulk electricity. In the meantime fuel-efficient and electric hybrid systems will remain economically superior to all-electric vehicles (Lovins, 1980, p. 94). Gibbons (1981) calculates the replacement cost of nuclear electricity at 8.74 per kWh (1981 $), using a rate of return of 7.5 percent per annum (see note 128). At that rate, heating with electricity is equivalent to burning oil at $97 per barrel (assuming 100 percent efficiency for electricity and 65 percent for oil). Thus, electric heat cannot compete at the margin with oil, gas, conservation, or solar-assisted heating. Canada's Nuclear Dilemma 245

  15. Darlington was exempted from environmental hearings on grounds of urgent need. Since then, load forecasts have plummeted (table 3). By December 1979, it was recognized that "the Darlington station will not be required until between 1996 and 2004." (Ontario, 1979a, pp. 2 and 4).

  16. "At a 2 percent to 3 percent growth rate, no further expansion beyond Darlington is required to the turn of the century." (Ontario, 1979a, p. 4). See also Porter et al., (1980, vol. 1, p. 101).

  17. Hydro-Quebec is planning for a 6.0 percent growth rate from 1980 to 1996 (Hydro-Quebec, 1980, p. 35), which is almost certainly too high. EMR estimates a growth rate of 3.8 percent for Quebec electrical demand to the turn of the century (Canada, 1981a, p. 13). At that rate, no nuclear plants will be needed in Quebec this century (ibid ., p. 16).

  18. "Current federal government policy provides for financing at crown corporation rates for 50 percent of the estimated cost of the first nuclear unit in each province.... [Because of] substantial cost over-runs, the actual federal share has fallen well short of 50 percent." (Canada, 1981b, p. 92, emphasis added).

  19. In a press release (26 February 1981) Quebec Energy Minister Bérubé declared his intention to extend "jusqu'en 1985 au moins [le] moratoire sur l'énergie nucléaire" -- a moratorium announced by his predecessor, Guy Joron, in 1977. Hydro-Quebec has announced that it is postponing consideration of Gentilly-3 for at least ten years (Les Affaires, 12 December 1981).

    . . . back to Domestic Over-Capacity

  20. Quebec Liberal Energy Critic Pierre Fortier, president of CANATOM until November 1980, declared "que la question du nucléaire devrait faire l'objet d'un débat global ou l'on envisagerait également toutes les autres possibilités." (La Presse, 21 February 1981). Ex-Energy Minister Bérubé proposed an ambitious framework for such a public debate (Le Soleil, 3 March 1981).

  21. Low work productivity (averaging 1.3 hours per day) and absence of supervision (fed by "fear of and reprisals from . . . a strong and militant work force") are documented in Emerson Consultants (1980, p. 61). Other problems at Lepreau-l have included the installation of faulty steam generators (note 22) and an inadequate emergency cooling system (note 47) as well as cracks in the containment building (note 51). Cost estimates have almost tripled, from $460 million in 1974 to $1.25 billion in 1981 (EMR Press Release, 28 May 1981).

  22. The delivery of 32 defective steam generators from Babcock and Wilcox to Ontario Hydro (Financial Post, 1 September 1979) dramatized "the dangers of dependence on one supplier" (Ontario Hydro Annual Report, 1979, p. 8). To keep B&W solvent, Hydro accepted $10 million in direct costs for repairs and about $400 million in replacement power costs. The delay escalated the estimated construction cost of Pickering B from $1.1 billion to $2.35 billion (Globe and Mail, 5 September 1979 and 14 January 1981).

  23. "Current . . . policy precludes nuclear co-operation with . . . South Africa, the middle east and Taiwan. These exclusions affect the size of the reactor market open to AECL. Other exclusions -- for example, the U.S. military program -- primarily affect the size of AECL's heavy water market. One policy option, therefore, is to modify Canada's exclusion policies." (Canada, 1981b, p. 112).

  24. "AECL's Maritime plants are an important source of income and employment in an economically depressed region. Closure of the plants would generate adverse socioeconomic impacts." (Canada, 1981b, p. 95).

  25. Romania, Korea, Mexico, Yugoslavia, Egypt, Indonesia, Japan, and China have all been subject to diplomatic efforts to sell CANDU reactors.

  26. AECL will lose $130 million or more on the 1974 sale of a CANDU to Argentina (AECL Annual Report, 1977/78, p. F10).

  27. AECL executives were "reluctant and uncooperative in testifying [about] immense expenditures, of public funds....
    "The successful concealment ... of the identities of the ultimate recipients of the funds and the nature of services rendered, leads your Committee to suspect ... illegal or corrupt purposes....
    "AECL management did not follow acceptable business practices....
    "The senior management of AECL, including the Secretary, the Treasurer, and the Internal Auditor, did not properly discharge their responsibilities." (Canada, 1978c, pp. 5-6). Two presidents (J.L. Gray and J.S. Foster) and one chairman of AECL (R. Campbell) were cited for various improprieties.

  28. In 1979, AECL offered Argentina a 600 MW CANDU reactor, a small research reactor, a heavy water plant, a five-year supply of uranium fuel, a long-term supply of heavy water, and extensive co-operation on nuclear research -- all for less than $2 billion. Argentina accepted a more expensive West German/Swiss bid for a similar package, involving a 600 MW heavy water reactor that has not even been designed yet (Globe and Mail, 4 April and 2 October 1979).

  29. In January 1982, to remain competitive with other vendors, Canada offered Mexico a loan of several billion dollars at about 7 1/2 percent interest as an inducement to purchase four CANDU reactors (Globe and Mail, January 1982).

  30. "A broad sustained marketing effort is costly.... Given soft export markets and intense competition, there is no guarantee of success." (Canada, 1981b, p. 115). "It is likely that much more controversial policy changes would be required." (ibid ., p. 108).

    . . . back to Export Opportunities

  31. These are "high risk options in political and public acceptability terms" (Canada, 1981b, p. 126), marking "a retreat from the entire thrust of development of Canadian safeguards policy since 1974." (ibid., p. 111). The relaxation of safeguards for uranium exports (Globe and Mail, 7 July 1981) may herald a new era of relaxed safeguards for reactor sales as well.

  32. "The controversy surrounding AECL's relationship with local agents in Korea . . . resulted in a 1976 policy . . . that no practices be allowed which would be illegal in the importing country, or . .. in Canada. This leaves two . . . choices: observe the 1976 policy . . . and lose a sale; or modify the 1976 policy . . . and conclude a sale." (Canada, 1981b, p. 7).

  33. Romania wants Canada to purchase or promote Romanian farm machinery and textiles at a time when Canadian producers of these goods are in great difficulty (Le Devoir, 28 July 1981).

  34. "Meeting 'crédit-mixte' terms (5 to 6 percent per annum to countries which qualify) offered by competitors may involve subsidies equivalent to 25 to 30 percent of the cost of a reactor sale." (Canada, 1981b, p. 114).

  35. Among the alternatives are energy-efficiency measures (notes 12 and 40), cogeneration facilities (note 44), and solar-assisted heating (Solar Energy Research Institute, 1981).

  36. At present, it is doubtful whether nuclear-generated electricity is cheaper than coal generated electricity (Komanoff, 1981; Gibbons, 1981). In future, "compared with conventional coal plants, [fluidized bed] plants would have lower capital costs due to reduced size, material, and lead time requirements; slightly lower fuel use due to improved efficiencies; and a significant reduction in emissions." (Ontario, 1980a, vol. 4, p. 20). These advantages could tip the balance in favour of coal on both environmental and economic grounds.

  37. Short-term contracts assume "a probable -- but far from certain -- domestic demand for nuclear energy in the 1990s." (Canada, 1981b, p. 125).

  38. In a 1978 press release, the U.S. Department of Energy admonished the electrical industry to "tell it like it is". The National Electric Reliability Council had predicted that demand would grow at 4.5 percent per annum between 1980 and 1982; however, an in-house DOE study using the same data foresaw an increase of only 1.06 percent per annum. See note 40.

  39. Cogeneration in the United States could eliminate the need for more bulk electrical generating facilities until at least the turn of the century (Williams, 1978; Harding, 1978a). Lead times are from 12 to 18 months, and capital costs are about half those of conventional generating stations (per kilowatt installed).
    "Ontario Hydro's chief economist . . . concluded that 'co-generation [is] an economically viable alternative to purchasing power from Hydro'." (Ontario, 1980a, vol. 1, p. 138). For cogeneration potential in Ontario, see Middleton Associates (1977) and Ontario (1980a, vol. 1, p. 138).

    . . . back to Export Opportunities

  40. "Efficiency improvements . . . have the potential to reduce future U.S. primary energy consumption [beyond the turn of the century] to levels at or below current consumption." (U.S., 1980; see figure 2). If U.S. consumers had chosen the least expensive options to meet energy needs in 1978, purchased electricity would have been down by more than 40 percent (Sant, 1979, p. 27). U.S. electrical growth to the turn of the century could average between 0.4 percent per annum and - 1.4 percent per annum (Solar Energy Research Institute, 1981), using standard assumptions concerning GNP growth and population growth.

  41. Beginning with a presumed "energy gap," based on extrapolations of past trends, it is often assumed (without detailed consideration of costs, logistics, implementation, or even feasibility) that nuclear power is destined to fill this gap (Canada, 1978a). Such analyses ignore the possibility of changing patterns of energy use without adversely affecting the economy, thereby preventing the energy gap from developing. See note 40 and figure 2.

  42. Sant (1979); Lovins (1977); Lovins and Lovins (1980); Middleton Associates (1978); Gibbons (1981); Brooks (1978, 1981); U.S. (1980); Solar Energy Research Institute (1981). Half of today's purchased electricity is used for uneconomic heating applications. Electricity consumption might well decline without any loss of electrical service.

  43. The crucial teams in Engineering and Manufacturing (Ontario, 1978, p. 133) are not as large as might be thought (Leonard and Partners, 1978, p. VI-24). What is necessary is to preserve the fundamental skills; for example, those with "the skills to design and build complex equipment like the CANDU fuelling machine" (Canada, 1981b, p. 120) could be reassigned to design and build robotic decommissioning equipment. A careful inventory of such skills should be compiled. Only then can alternatives to nuclear expansion be realistically assessed.

  44. See notes 80, 89, and 113.

  45. The sale of a German heavy water reactor, which has not yet been designed (note 28), indicates that it is not necessary to have an instantly available manufacturing capability in order to secure sales.

  46. "The California Public Utilities Commission directed the state's private utilities to develop 'zero interest loan' programs for residential conservation and solar hot water heaters. Other utilities . . . have impressive conservation financing programs." (Harding, 1980; California Public Utilities Commission, 1980). The key concept is that "energy conservation measures are financed by the energy cost savings they generate" (Quebec, 1980).

  47. In 1976 it was discovered that, contrary to earlier assurances, none of the existing CANDU ECCS could be counted on to prevent massive core damage following a loss-of-coolant accident (AECB, 1978a). Improvements were ordered at each existing plant (Ontario, 1978, p. 213) and a new high-pressure ECCS was designed and installed in all new CANDUs. The new design may not be able to prevent core damage either (AECB, 1978a, p. 35; Lisak, 1979a). The high-pressure design may also be less reliable (i.e., more frequently unavailable) than the low-pressure design (Edwards and Hatfield, 1980/ 81).

  48. It is difficult to assess the safety implications of partial unavailability, whereby a safety system is impaired but not completely inoperative (Ontario, 1980d, pp. 23-26 and 32).

  49. Douglas Point was derated to 70 percent of full power because of an inadequate ECCS and a leaky containment (Ontario, 1978, p. 213). Bruce A would also have to operate at 70 percent for ECCS to be fully effective in an emergency (AECB, 1978a, p. 40); however, AECB allowed the plant to operate at 88 percent because of a superior containment system. In April 1981, Toronto City Council asked AECB to derate the Pickering A reactors to 70 percent because they have only one fast SDS each, whereas all new plants are required to have two fully independent SDS. There have been six loss-of-regulation accidents at Pickering (Ontario, 1978, p. 79) -- these are power surges requiring the action of an SDS to prevent the destruction of the core (Edwards, 1980, pp. 17 - 19).

    . . . back to Reactor Safety

  50. Gentilly-1 (250 MW) is a highly unstable experimental power reactor owned by AECL, which operated less than 200 days over several years and leaked large quantities of radioactivity into the St. Lawrence River (Lisak, 1979b). It has been inoperative since 1977.

  51. Patterns of hairline cracks (some of them several feet long) have been patched with epoxy. The two reactors had "a large number of these cracks . . . in the same location," suggesting that the problem is due to a basic design flaw (Schatz, 1980).
    According to the regulatory body, "No cracking (or potential through cracking) is permitted for the design basis accident." (AECB, 1978b, p. 14; 1980a, p. 1-5).

  52. The "single mode/dual mode" licensing criterion (table 5) has been in force for over 10 years. For details, see AECL (1977b, p. 15); Ontario (1978, p. 78); Ontario (1980d p. 19). Since 1976 (note 47) AECB has been attempting to replace this criterion -- presumably because it does not quite work. The first attempt, known as the IOWG proposal (AECB, 1978a, pp. 46-65 and 82-88), involved a substantial relaxation of standards. It was abandoned as a result of intense public pressure in the wake of the Three Mile Island accident (Ontario, 1980d, pp. 35-36). A second attempt was made in the fall of 1980, when AECB issued a Draft Licensing Guide containing no mention of the single mode/dual mode criterion (AECB, 1980b). Instead, a very complicated set of new criteria was proposed (commentary, table 5). In June 1981, AECB issued a construction licence for Darlington on the basis of these new criteria, which had not yet been formally adopted by the Board.

  53. "The only way that potentially large amounts of radioactivity could be released is by melting the fuel in the reactor core." (Rasmussen et al., 1975, Executive Summary, p. 6).

  54. The U.S. Price-Anderson Act limits liability to $560 million. According to the Rasmussen report, off-site property damage can run as high as $14 billion following a "worst case" accident (Rasmussen et al., 1975).
    In this context, a New Zealand Royal Commission concluded: "It is clear that . . . the personal, social and economic consequences .. . could be disastrous to a degree unparalleled in our history." (Burns et al., 1977, p. 234).

  55. Every homeowner's insurance policy voids coverage in the event of radioactive contamination . The Nuclear Liability Act provides for a compensation board to adjudicate claims in excess of $75 million (AECB, 1974). Canadians owning radioactively contaminated homes are generally unable to obtain compensation for the decline in their property values (Sanger, 1981), or for the threat to their health (Woollard and Young, 1980, p. 283).

  56. Ontario (1978a, pp. 78-79). This is in rough agreement with the Rasmussen probability of   1 in 20 000   per reactor per year for a meltdown in a light-water reactor (Rasmussen et al., 1975, Executive Summary, p. 8).

    • The probability of at least one meltdown occurring in   r   reactor-years of operation is:   1 - (1 - p) r ,   where   p   is the probability of a meltdown per reactor per year.

    • This is approximately equal to   p r   (p times r)   provided that   pr   is significantly less than   1   (say   pr < 0.1 ).

    Thus, when   r = 33   and   p = 1/10 000 ,   pr = 1/300   is a very good approximation to the correct answer (for the lifetime probability of a meltdown in a single CANDU reactor).

  57. Rasmussen et al. (1975, Executive Summary, p. 7).

  58. Rogers (1979) purports to show that a CANDU core will not melt as long as the heavy water moderator is in place. Under questioning, however, Rogers revealed that his study is only indicative and not conclusive: "Certainly from my analysis I couldn't say definitely that the UO2 fuel won't melt." (Ontario, 1978/81, 23 July 1979, p. 11). Enormous damage to the core would result even without melting (AECL, 1977b, p. 16; Rogers, 1979).

  59. Rasmussen et al. (1975, Executive Summary, p. 7).

    . . . back to Reactor Safety

  60. Ontario (1978, p. 78). Once a reactor core has begun melting, it cannot readily be resolidified: "Even the continued addition of water would not avert containment melt-through.... The upper surface of the melt is likely to be covered with a solid crust [but] at least some of the mass will remain in a fluid state for considerable time . . .
    "spalling of the concrete [will] result in a very rapid penetration of the melt into the concrete.... The best estimate for the time required to penetrate the containment foundation mat is 18 hours."
    Quotations are all from Rasmussen et al. (1975, Appendix VIII).

  61. Before the Three Mile Island accident, Jon Jennekens (now President of AECB), said: "Our American colleagues have always felt there should be evacuation plans. We in Canada do not subscribe to that view.... the best precautionary measures ... [is] to simply ask people to go within their homes and close their doors and windows." (Ontario, 1977/78, 28 February 1978).
    Following the Three Mile Island accident, Mr. Jennekens was questioned again:
    "(Q) You feel that the contingency plans that were drawn up 20 years ago were of such high quality that there has been no need to change them?
    "(A) I'm convinced that the resources . . . available over the last 20 years . . . are quite effective and do not need to be augmented." (Ontario, 1978/81, 25 April 1979).

  62. Of 45 000 persons requiring hospitalization following a "worst case" accident, only 3 300 are expected to die if bone marrow transplants are readily available (Rasmussen et al., 1975, Appendix VI).
    "Any radiologic emergency plan ... must not overlook population density for at least 20 miles around.... The public health and safety of tens of thousands, if not millions . . . are at risk." (MacLeod, 1980).
    Evacuation plans will be complicated by a "shadow" phenomenon; more people will actually evacuate than those who are told to (Zeigler, 1981).

  63. The clean-up of Three Mile Island will cost at least $1 billion (New York Times, 19 March 1981). The Kemeney Report estimates from $1 billion to $1.86 billion; but if the plant "cannot be refurbished, the total cost will be significantly higher" (Kemeney et al., 1979, p. 32).

  64. Rasmussen initially thought that the probability of a meltdown is less than one in a million. After detailed analysis, he concluded that the true figure is about 50 times greater -- mainly because of the much higher probability of a small loss-of-coolant accident. The Lewis Committee (Lewis et al., 1978), the Kemeney Commission (Kemeney et al., 1979), and the Rogovin Report (Rogovin et al., 1980) have all reinforced Rasmussen's concern about small LOCAs. Because the CANDU involves more small piping than a light water reactor, the probability of a small LOCA is correspondingly higher.

  65. The Lepreau Safety Report (1979) states that the probability of a small pipe break is between   1 in 10   and   1 in 100   per reactor per year (Edwards and Hatfield, 1980/81). Using the formula given in note 56 with   p = 1/100   and   r = 30 ,   the probability of a small LOCA over a 30-year lifetime is   0.26 .   -- about one in four.
    The Three Mile Island accident was "a small-break loss-of-coolant accident" (Kemeney et al., 1979, p. 27).

  66. Much of the small piping in a CANDU is located inside the core of the reactor, where a small pipe break could be devastating. Such an accident occurred in Switzerland in 1969; the plant was a complete write-off (Patterson, 1976, pp. 185 -87).

  67. A "seismic event during refueling could cause mechanical interaction between refueling machines and feeder lines and calandria, resulting in LOCA as well as damage to the calandria." (Argonne National Laboratory, 1975, p. 15). The coolant and the moderator could be lost as a result, eliminating two of the most important "heat sinks" (note 58).

  68. Since refuelling machines operate in pairs, pipe breaks at both ends of the core are likely (note 67). The resulting lack of pressure difference may prevent emergency coolant from flowing through the core (AECB, 1978, p. 78). This accident scenario has never been studied (Z. Domaratzky, Director of Reactor Licensing, AECB, private communication, July 1981).

  69. Structural materials (mainly metal and concrete) become highly radioactive as a result of "neutron activation" (IAEA, 1979). The calandria shell of a used CANDU will have to be stored for 700 years before its activity will decay to "innocuous levels". (Unsworth, 1977, p. 65).

    . . . back to Decommissioning

  70. Manion and LaGuardia (1976). The U.S. Comptroller General (U.S., 1977, p. 5) advises a cooling-off period of 65 - 110 years. Radiation levels after 100 years are estimated to be 30 millirad per hour by Glauberman and Manion (1977, p. 217), because of nickel-59 (with an 80 000-year half life). Stephens and Pohl (1977, p. 1) argue that the residual dose rate will be closer to 1 rad per hour, because of niobium-94 (with a 20 000-year half life).

  71. Edwards (1978a, pp. 13-14). The dose rates two years after shut-down, according to Glauberman and Manion (1977, p. 216), are in the order of 100 000 rads per hour.

  72. IAEA (1979) mentions 65 reactors decommissioned since 1960; but most have only been 'mothballed' (stage 1) or 'entombed' (stage 2) without actually being dismantled (stage 3) (Unsworth, 1977, pp. 3-4). André Crégut, head of France's decommissioning program, believes that total dismantlement is essential (New York Times, 17 June 1978).

  73. U.S. (1978). IAEA (1979) uses 10 percent. The chief of nuclear engineering for Consolidated Edison has remarked, "who knows what it will cost -- $500 million, $1 billion? It's like figuring the cost of a 747 going to the moon. . ." (New York Times, 21 September 1980).
    "When a large portion of the structure is too 'hot' to approach . . .
    "when dust . . . or rainfall . . . present a spreading, deadly hazard,
    "when thousands of tons of radioactive metal and masonry . . . have to be cut up into chunks . . . and then sealed away . . .
    "when even the most . . . experienced engineers don't know how to begin . . .
    "it becomes obvious that the burial costs of a dead power plant can equal or exceed the already alarming cost of its construction" (Harding, 1978b, quoting Howard Morgan, a member of the Federal Power Commission during the Kennedy administration).

  74. Unsworth (1977) says dismantling a CANDU reactor can be completed in five years at a cost of $30 million (1975 $). Not included are costs associated with removing spent fuel and contaminated heavy water, acquiring special equipment required for decontamination, and disposing of bulky radioactive equipment (e.g., the fuelling machines) as well as 400 truckloads of radioactive rubble.

  75. Sissingh and Alpay (1981). "After 32 years, the reactor would be disassembled under water by a remote-controlled plasma arc cutter . . . using teams of workers rotated to keep the radiation doses within permitted limits." (Globe and Mail, 11 June 1981).

  76. Louis H. Roddis Jr., President of Consolidated Edison, commenting on the 1970 repair of a faulty cooling pipe at Indian Point #1 nuclear plant: "In the seven-month effort . . . 700 men were used [including] every welder ... qualified in a certain welding technique. A similar repair effort . . . in a conventional plant, would have required two weeks and would not have involved more than twenty-five men." (New York Times, 19 November 1972).
    At Chalk River, 600 men were required to "mop up" following a 1958 accident because of high radiation fields (Hughes and Greenwood,1960).

  77. Raising capital will be a problem . Only $3 million was set aside for decommissioning a defunct nuclear reprocessing plant in upstate New York, but official estimates for the job range as high as $600 million (U.S., 1977, p. 15).

  78. The construction manager of the French Phénix breeder reactor, André Crégut: "By the time I retire I want to have a clear conscience that everything I built can be taken apart properly . . . knowing that it will take hundreds, perhaps thousands of years before they cease to be dangerously radioactive." (Harding, 1978b; New York Times, 17 June 1978).

  79. The Elk River reactor (58 MW), was dismantled in the early 1970s at a cost of $6.2 million -- about equal to its construction cost -- without any blasting (U.S., 1977, p. 9). In a large power reactor, however, blasting may have to be considered. Glauberman and Manion (1977, p. 220) refer to "controlled explosive demolition of heavily reinforced activated concrete."

    . . . back to Decommissioning

  80. "Around 100 of these plants will have shut down by the end of this century. Decommissioning of nuclear plants will therefore become a routine industrial activity during the next 20 years" (IAEA, 1979, p. 8).

  81. "New Reactor Problems To Cost 500 Million" (Globe and Mail, 15 August 1978). The bulk of the cost will be replacement fuel. The problem is not expected to occur in newer plants.

  82. Reactor designers should participate so that in future they might design reactors "with this long term problem in mind" (Ontario, 1978, p. 102). Replacing steam generators -- a task far less ambitious than total decommissioning -- costs over $100 million (excluding the cost of new equipment or replacement power) and requires a work-force of over 1000 (Brown and Oncavage, 1980; Virginia Electric, 1979, p. 6).

  83. United Kingdom (1976); Ontario (1978).
    Robert Uffen, Dean of Engineering at Queen's University, once Vice-Chairman of the Board of Ontario Hydro, came to much the same conclusion (Uffen, 1977; Canada, 1977/78, Issue No. 28).

  84. Cohen (1977); Bredehoeft et al. (1978).

  85. Resolution passed by the B.C. Medical Association in 1978.

  86. The original deadline of 1985 (Ontario, 1978, p. xiii) has since been extended to 1990 (Ontario, 1980a, p. xix).

  87. Ottawa's analysis (Canada, 1977) was largely based on AECL's commercial perceptions (Edwards, 1978a). The research program was launched in June 1978 without regard for extensive criticisms contained in over 300 briefs presented to the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Resources and Public Works; the Committee consequently aborted its hearings (Canada, 1977/78, especially Issue No. 37). The waste disposal problem "is an important factor in public opposition to further nuclear expansion.... One straightforward option, therefore, is to issue a clear indication of confidence by the government that the waste management question is on its way to solution." (Canada, 1981b, p. 91).

  88. Vastokas et al. (1977) and Miyata (1980) describe how AECL earned the distrust of the citizens of Madoc and Atikokan. See also Ontario (1980b, pp. 23 - 27).

  89. Edwards (1978b). On high-level waste: "As the program is currently managed, there is very little chance that any technical solution -- no matter how well conceived -- will be publicly accepted." (Ontario, 1980b, p. 25). On low-level waste: "We are strongly of the opinion that [low-level wastes] are just as significant . . . and we recommend that they be studied also." (Canada, 1977, p. 4). "A minimum period of ten years will probably be needed to address the true long term aspects of uranium tailings management." (AECB, 1981; see also Ontario, 1980c).


    . . . back to Nuclear Waste

    . . . back to Table of Contents

  90. [ Nuclear Sunset ] [ Cost Disadvantages ]
    [ Industry Sub-Directory ] [ COMPLETE DIRECTORY ]