This is a new development. We always assumed
that we could just offer the site and not pick up a huge tab for the
The attractiveness of the site was suppose to be
our stake. Now, it seems, that is not enough.
Would additional government funding for
Iter would compete with funding for developing
Building the $12 billion project in Canada would
yield economic payback, but the same argument is made for the competing
Darlington was suppose to be the most
attractive site. If it is, then we shouldn't have to contribute very
What do you think?
|Dec. 28, 2002. 01:00 AM|
reactor bid needs funds, official says|
sought from Ottawa and Ontario Darlington plan suffers setback
OTTAWAŚCanada's bid to build a $12 billion nuclear
fusion reactor east of Toronto is doomed unless the federal government
puts up several hundred million dollars in support, says the head of the
Murray Stewart said the federal government would have to commit
substantial support before April for Canada's bid to have a chance against
competing reactor sites from Europe and Japan.
The public-private bid team is also asking Ontario to increase its
promised $300 million stake in the International Thermonuclear
Experimental Reactor (ITER), Stewart said an interview yesterday.
But exact amounts were still being negotiated, he said.
These developments mark a major setback from earlier reports that a
proposed reactor site next door to the Darlington nuclear power station
had a lead in the international competition.
Darlington produces 20 per cent of Ontario's electricity.
Stewart, head of ITER Canada Host Inc., said the Darlington
proposal lost ground as countries like France, Spain and Japan came
forward with substantial financial backing from their national
As well, the scrapping of all fusion research in Canada in 1999
hurt the country's chances.
"In the minds of the others it's not logical to put the ITER
project in one of the few countries in the world that doesn't support
fusion research," said Stewart.
The federal backing being requested would be at least as large as
the current Ontario support, Stewart acknowledged. Ottawa would also need
to pledge renewed funding for fusion research by Canadian scientists.
The 13-storey reactor would try to produce the same nuclear fusion
that occurs naturally in the sun and other stars.
The fusing together of isotopes of hydrogen, such as tritium, is
the opposite of nuclear fission, the atom-splitting technique that's
behind conventional nuclear power stations like Darlington.
As an experiment, the reactor would generate only a trickle of
electricity by using the super-conducting magnets that squeeze ionized
gases to reach temperatures of 100 million degrees C.
But a full-scale fusion reactor has long been touted by scientists
as a cheap and environmentally friendly source of electricity.
This view got a boost earlier this month when an independent panel
of experts at the National Academies in Washington urged the U.S. to
rejoin the international negotiations to select an ITER site.
The United States pulled out in 1998 over congressional concerns
about the costs of the experiment, then substantially higher.
But now the United States needs to play an active role in ITER as
part of an expanded fusion program, said the American experts.
Construction of the complex facility is projected to take at least
10 years at a cost of $6 billion-$7 billion divided among the ITER
partners Ś currently Canada, Japan, the European Community and Russia.
Operating costs are estimated at $400 million annually over a
lifespan of 20 years.
Canada's share of between $1.1 billion and $1.2 billion would come
from constructing buildings at Darlington, supplying vast amounts of
electricity needed by the magnets, and tritium worth between $500 million
and $700 million, Stewart said.
He said federal funds wouldn't need to flow before 2005 because of
the time required to work out and ratify the international cost-sharing
after a site is selected, supposedly by mid-2003.