Climate change will not wait for miracles

This message was sent today to the Canadian Nuclear Association, the lobby for the nuclear industry in Canada:

The top five reasons why the Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick (CRED-NB) is not buying your small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) fantasies

5. With 120 other groups across Canada, CRED-NB signed a public statement calling SMRs a “dirty, dangerous distraction” from climate action. Nobody believes we can build an SMR that could produce electricity commercially in this country before 2040. It will take that long to turn the SMR drawings into engineered designs that could safely contain the dangerous radioactive gasses nuclear energy emits. If an SMR is actually built, only then will we learn if it works to produce energy. Climate change will not wait to see if miracles can happen. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel said we have until 2030. Let’s not waste the time we have.

4. Your proposal to build a machine in New Brunswick to extract plutonium from spent nuclear fuel is dodgy at best. You call it “recycling,” a ridiculous label for a process that could only re-use less than one percent of the spent nuclear fuel. The scientists that we consulted say your process would produce new and dangerous forms of liquid nuclear waste and be wildly expensive. Nine eminent US non-proliferation experts have raised alarms about your plan, calling for a weapons non-proliferation international review. We also want a review, but you are dismissing our concerns. What are you afraid of?

3. Nuclear power is the most expensive way to produce electricity. New Brunswick Power’s Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station – the only operational nuclear power plant outside Ontario in Canada ­­– is a financial fiasco. The New Brunswick Auditor General reported that the Lepreau nuclear plant is responsible for $3.6 billion of NB Power’s $4.9 billion debt. That’s a nuclear debt load of more than $4,500 on every person, including babies, living in our province. Enough already!

2. We want renewable energyNew research by the Conservation Council of New Brunswick found little social licence for SMRs in our province. Most New Brunswickers want our electricity to come from clean, renewable sources that do not create radioactive waste. Building new nuclear reactors will take billions of public dollars and many decades. We want the subsidies to go instead toward wind and solar energy, energy efficiency, and building the Atlantic Loop to share electricity across the region. We can build, right now, a robust electricity transmission system that will meet our needs. We want sustainable infrastructure connected to renewable energy generation, not nuclear white elephants.

1. We read peer-reviewed research. Our opposition to SMRs is based on science. You – a lobby for the nuclear industry – are responsible for stoking the climate crisis over many decades, since the beginning of commercial nuclear power generation, with your empty promises of electricity too cheap to meter. Now you’re promising to help end the climate crisis! We’re not buying it anymore. We have science on our side, and the science says SMRs are a waste of time and money and the nuclear industry is dying for good reason. Let’s all get real and work together for the next two decades on an orderly wind-down of nuclear power in New Brunswick and across Canada. Let us introduce you to some of the many scientists who have charted a path to net zero without new nuclear. You can put your SMR fantasies to rest – it’s time.

Author: CRED-NB

Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick