----- Original Message -----
From: Jerry Cuttler
Cc: Donna Pawlowski
Sent: Saturday, July 10, 2004 11:12 PM
Subject: Comments on June 2004 NWMO Newsletter
Thank you for informing me about this newsletter.
After reading it carefully, I find it difficult to understand how we can establish social acceptance of any solution if the public does not have factual information about the key aspects of the issue. Were the following facts about used CANDU fuel given to the public or to the representative samples of citizens?
a) Only 1% of the energy in nuclear fuel is released in CANDU reactors. The other 99% of the energy could be released by recycling the used CANDU fuel in advanced nuclear reactors that future generations of Canadians will build (if nuclear power is not phased out in Canada, as is being advocated by anti-nuclear activists.) At the present time, it's not economical to recycle the fuel.
b) The containers that now hold used fuel bundles are designed and constructed to be very robust. They would last more than a thousand years, if Canadians decided to leave them unopened in a used fuel storage area above ground.
c) After many decades of storage, the radioactivity of the used fuel (stored in the containers) decreases greatly.
d) Only high doses of radiation are harmful. Low doses of radiation actually reduce risk, that is, they are really a health benefit.
e) Without recycling, just one CANDU fuel bundle (only 10 cm diameter x 50 cm long) provides all the electrical power that an average household uses for 100 years, and the used fuel is easily stored in robust, sealed containers.
So "the problem" of the used fuel is not really a significant problem. (It is really a problem only for anti-nuclear activists.) There are no difficult trade-offs that need to be considered.
Compared to the problem of managing our municipal wastes and the problem of managing air pollution from our fossil-fired power plants, managing used CANDU fuel is relatively simple. Why do you think the anti-nuclear activists are concerned?
Canadian scientists and engineers have given our grandchildren a very important legacy. It is the technology to release an enormous amount of pollution-free energy at an affordable cost. And we are putting our used CANDU fuel bundles in robust sealed containers, so our grandchildren can recycle this fuel when it is economical to do so.
Dr. Jerry M. Cuttler
A major research project undertaken to gauge Canadian values and expectations for the long-term management of used nuclear fuel is complete. The National Citizens Dialogue brought together representative samples of citizens for full-day sessions to learn about used nuclear fuel and discuss many of the difficult trade-offs that need to be considered about its long-term management. It is the first time that such a process has ever been applied to the discussion of used nuclear fuel in Canada.
The project was conducted in partnership with the Canadian Policy Research Networks, an independent, not-for-profit public policy research organization with a mission to create knowledge and lead public debate on social and economic issues important to the well-being of Canadians.
Five hundred participants in 12 communities across the country were provided with factual background information. Then, in small groups and larger facilitated sessions, they discussed the consequences of various choices, and explored the values underlying their opinions.
Several common themes and characteristics for a desirable for approach to long-term nuclearwaste management in Canada emerged. Among them:
• Safety from harm.This was clearly identified as an overarching requirement. It does not emerge from a sense of fear and doom, but rather a sense of responsibility to this and future generations.
• We must deal with the problems we have created.People place a high value on living up to one’s responsibilities. They do not want to impose their problems on their children or grandchildren.
• Adaptability.Citizens do not presume we have the best answers today. They want to be open to new learning and to be able to adapt to it.
• Sound stewardship.People feel a duty to use all resources with care, leaving a sound legacy for future generations. They want to look at the long-term implications of decisions.
• Transparency and accountability.Citizens want to know that those entrusted with responsibilities to protect the public are doing a good job.
• Knowledge.People want investment to create new knowledge and to enhance awareness to make better choices.
• Inclusion.The best decisions are based on a wide range of views. People don’t want to replace experts, but they want a voice, especially in decisions that impact the safety and security of health and the environment.
CPRN will deliver its final report on the National Citizens Dialogue in July 2004. The findings are an important contribution to the social and ethical framework being applied to the assessment of management approaches.