2005 June 5
To the Editor,
Elaine Dewar's article "Nuclear Resurrection" (May/June 2005)
provides an interesting outsider's view of a crucial industry
that Canadians know little about, but unfortunately leaves
the waters muddier than before she waded in.
Canada's wartime introduction to nuclear energy is
fascinating history, but irrelevant to the ebb and flow of
the present industry. Today's dynamic is a politicized
struggle of economics and environmental realities, and a
widespread public apprehension rooted in mushroom-cloud fears
and ineffective communication.
Canadians need to know, for example, that this country's
nuclear industry makes back its total historic R&D public
investment in annual economic activity. Unfortunately, Ms.
Dewar quotes, without reference, an anti-nuclear activist's
figure of $17.5 billion in public money over five decades, a
number that has been inflation-adjusted by a factor of at
three and overlooks the "benefit" part of any shrewd
investor's cost-benefit analysis.
Active support of a large-scale energy technology with no air
emissions is an ethical and necessary role for government,
and this is certainly not the kind of "political
interference" I am quoted as opposing. Rather, this is a
time for concerted action by our leaders.
Most unfortunate is Dewar's cynical conclusion that nuclear
technology should be supported, if only to provide the brains
to keep nuclear waste from visiting doom upon future
generations. This ignores the essence of Canada's geologic
nuclear waste technology, which is to isolate the material in
perpetuity without institutional intervention. In this we
are guided by Nature itself, which, as any frustrated uranium
prospector will tell you, has been doing just this with
similar material for millions of years