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On January 22, 2015 Mr. Corneliu Chisu, P.Eng., Member of Parlaiment for Pickering Scarborough East, made the following conference address in which he advocated implementation of Fast Neutron Reactors and supporting spent fuel processing at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station site to be known in the future as the Pickering Advanced Recycle Complex. This address is of fundamental importance to the Canadian nuclear industry, electricity generation in Ontario and reduction of world CO2 emissions.


Ladies and Gentlemen, Good morning. It is an honor to appear before this distinguished audience, and to be included among such a group of eminent speakers.

I commend the organizers for putting together a great program and I would like to thank Candu Owners Group (COG) and especially Mr. Mark Elliott from OPG for the invitation to take part in this event.

I am Corneliu Chisu, the Member of Parliament for Pickering Scarborough East one of only five ridings in the country with a nuclear Power Plant.

The Pickering station, with a current output of about 3000 MW of electricity, is scheduled to be shut down around 2020. As the Pickering MP and a Professional Engineer and an engineering physicist by education, it concerns me greatly. Our science, industry, and economy will suffer.

And this is happening at a time when the global need for decarbonisation requires a radical shift in electricity generation mix. The 'business as usual' option is not sustainable on the grounds of energy security, affordability and environmental impacts.

The Government of Canada is committed to addressing greenhouse (GHG) emissions while keeping the Canadian economy strong.

Both you and I know that nuclear power is currently the only option that can globally deliver massive low-carbon base load electricity at competitive prices.

For nations with a history of nuclear operations, used fuel management is now a high-profile concern with a requirement for safe and efficient methods of transporting, packaging, storing and eventual disposal of waste streams.

I am encouraged by the fact that on January 13 Natural Resources of Canada Minister Greg Rickford and U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz signed an Implementing Arrangement among the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of Natural Resources of Canada (NRCan) and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) to increase collaboration in the area of civilian nuclear energy research and development (R&D).

Through the International Nuclear Energy Research Initiative (INERI), the Implementing Arrangement establishes a framework for R&D collaboration between the United States and Canada aimed at improving the cost, safety, efficiency and proliferation resistance of nuclear energy systems in the civilian sector.

The Implementing Arrangement signed provides for technical areas of collaboration in nuclear safety, reactor lifetime management, advanced reactor technologies, nuclear materials and fuels, modeling and simulation, and used fuel recycling and disposition technologies.

The signing continues a long and productive history of Canada-United States collaboration on a wide range of energy issues and shared interests in greater energy security and sustainability, and environmental responsibility.

Having said these, let me become very practical, I see a solution in Pickering --- an exciting solution ---related to the thrust of our gathering here today.

You and I are here today to explore future options for managing irradiated CANDU fuel and to investigate technologies that can effectively manage Canada's current and projected inventory of used nuclear fuel in the long-term.

I consider this conference to be the first open and frank discussion on the way to establish a sincere dialog between politicians, scientists, engineers, civil society and the nuclear industry in order to resolve in the best possible way the issue of spent nuclear CANDU fuel in our country.

We need to examine our nuclear industry not just for its capability to produce copious non-carbon energy, but also for its ability to reduce and eliminate the long-term radiotoxicity of its spent fuel in a complete fuel cycle of re-use, compared to our current economical but wasteful practice of “use-once-and-discard”.

Here is an opportunity to preserve Canada’s leadership in this field which produced technical wonders such as the CANDU nuclear reactor.

I think that it is the time again to demonstrate the unique Canadian ingenuity and technical leadership in the nuclear industry, which also included pioneers such as Walter Zinn and Chuck Till.

The realization of our nuclear future requires the implementation of a responsible, energy-producing and profitable, closed fuel cycle. This implementation, done right, can resolve what to do with spent irradiated fuel, a problem which has been abrogated by the energy producers in the nuclear industry worldwide, and shunted aside for others to solve.

Just like the launching 60 years ago of the USS Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine, represented a cusp in the development of the nuclear industry, the major step that resulted in the commercial production of thermal reactors, we are now at the cusp of the next step, which would be the use and re-use of a source of energy at our site, that of the spent fuel, through commercial application of the closed fuel cycle using, for example, fast-neutron reactors, and reducing or eliminating the quantity of environmentally dangerous long-lived high level nuclear waste.

In Pickering --- my community --- we will have 15,000 tons of used CANDU fuel in 2020. We need to implement a closed fuel cycle as a logical development of Canada’s continuing innovation and leadership in nuclear science, in nuclear application and in the nuclear industry.

This workshop will explore some different design options for closing the fuel cycle. Since I am most familiar with the fast reactor option, I mention this in particular. However, I am here to learn about the other options during this workshop.

This solution can be put in place in Pickering today. I said “put in place” rather than “developed” because all of the steps needed have already been developed, and developed to a large extent by Canadian brainpower.

The first electricity ever made using nuclear power was created just before Christmas in 1951 at the Argonne National Laboratories in Idaho using the EBR-I fast-neutron reactor. That reactor was the brainchild of Canadian Walter Zinn.

The closed fuel cycle was subsequently worked out and demonstrated by another Canadian, Chuck Till along with Chang Yoon, who we are so pleased to have here with us today, again at the Argonne Labs, using the EBR-II fast-neutron reactor and fuel cycling in a unified combination they called the IFR, for Integrated Fast-neutron Reactor.

If we were to choose this option, now would be the time for us to repatriate those achievements and adopt them in Canada, and use them in Pickering to recycle Pickering’s 15,000 tons of spent CANDU fuel.

Let’s call the Pickering site PARC, spelled P, A, R, C, for the Pickering Advanced Recycle Complex at the existing site of the Pickering nuclear station. The site is large enough and already licensed for nuclear activities, and is in a civic environment friendly to nuclear activities.

PARC would begin by recycling the 15,000 tons of used nuclear fuel into usable fast neutron reactor fuel rather than burying this resource.

PARC would eliminate the need to transport large quantities of high level radioactive waste through our streets by recycling right at the reactor site.

PARC would eliminate the long-term radiotoxicity of the spent fuel, of plutonium and the other transuranic actinides.

PARC would produce over 100 times more non-carbon energy from the used fuel than was extracted by our CANDUs already. It would produce $1 billion of electricity from every single ton of spent CANDU fuel.

Such fuel is certainly not waste.

PARC would introduce a rapidly-load-following reactor technology, one with the ability to complement Ontario’s intermittent wind and solar energy production.

PARC would stimulate the thermal reactor CANDU technology by demonstrating the elimination of long term nuclear waste, a major public objection to nuclear power.

PARC would be crucial in further nuclear technology development for pursuing actively new nuclear application such as small modular reactors (SMRs) for remote applications such as deployable reliable energy sources for developing the resources of our great country.

How do we start?

Again, just for example, assuming this is the chosen option, PARC would begin by building a recycle facility to turn used CANDU fuel bundles into usable fast neutron fuel. The technology to do this is well understood today. I think that the Argonne National Laboratories in Chicago and Idaho Falls have shown us the best way to go about that.

South Korea now wants to emulate that. That tells us something. France, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Russia operate reprocessing facilities which tackle the task in different ways.

The construction of a fast neutron reactor would follow. Metal cooled fast reactor technologies are available. There are already over 400 reactor-years of experience all told with fast-neutron reactors worldwide.

We can obtain, for example, a PRISM reactor from General Electric-Hitachi. The PRISM reactor was designed based on the very successful EBR-II that operated without incident for 30 years before being decommissioned. But there are certainly also other solutions.

The PRISM reactor is being offered right now to the UK to help that country use up and eliminate its stockpile of plutonium. The PRISM is ripe and ready to tackle our spent CANDU fuel in Pickering.

An example of the fuel recycling facility is currently functioning and being further developed for recycling of larger quantities at the Argonne Laboratories.

Canadians have expertise in hot cell construction and operations at the AECL in Chalk River, now called the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, and expertise in extensive fuel preparation in companies such as CAMECO nearby in Port Hope and in Saskatchewan.

So we can build.

That’s why I said the facilities could be put in place today. The components are all available now; they don’t have to be researched endlessly and developed. This is just one example. We are going to hear about the other promising options at this workshop.

To take a page out of Admiral Rickover’s book, the father of the nuclear submarines, he accomplished his task in three years with much fewer technological tools and their reactors have functioned safely in the last 60 years. We have six years to accomplish the PARC in Pickering before the reactors shut down.

It is do-able. It is nuclear waste management at its best.

(Summary statement)

So let me reaffirm my strong belief that nuclear energy will continue to a play a major role in this century and beyond, not only in Canada but in the world.

Recycling of nuclear fuel is essential to that premise. It can be done today --- not tomorrow ---today! --- with existing proven technology. It will produce carbon-free energy for many centuries, and at the same time hugely reduce the long-term concern of radiotoxicity.

The usual approach is to say that these techniques are decades in the future. I know that is not true, they are available today, and I have told you why.

Your work here in these two days at this conference is crucial for the creation of the needed joint federal-provincial financial and technical effort that is required constitutionally in Canada to put this vision of our nuclear future in motion, beginning in Pickering.

We need to move forward, we have a responsibility for our future generation and for development of our country.

We have six years to finish the Pickering PARC putting existing technology in place. ---- For that I need your help, and the commitment and energy of many of you in this room.

You have my commitment. I need you to find the best way to accomplish this, starting now, today, not tomorrow.

The message I want to leave you with is simple, our energy future is bright and our energy future is safe; and that future is nuclear.

This web page last updated January 27, 2015.

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