Speech at the Women in Nuclear (WiN) Conference

September 29, 2010

Speech by Denise Carpenter, President and CEO, Canadian Nuclear Association
at the Women in Nuclear (WiN) Conference
September 29, 2010

Thank you, Susan (Susan Brisette, President, WIN Canada).

It is a pleasure for me to be here today.

I am a proud member of WIN, proud to support the role that women can play as advocates for our industry and the professional opportunities that WIN provides women to grow and succeed.

I understand that this is the first time you’ve held your Conference outside of the National Capital Region. What a great idea. After all, Ajax is right between Pickering and Darlington and is therefore very much a nuclear community.

Combine this backdrop with your Conference theme, “Learning From Each Other” and I’d say you have all the makings for a very successful dialogue in the coming days.

A global village

The theme of your Conference, “Learning from Each Other” is very relevant. And the time to do so is now.

When I became President of the CNA almost one year ago – I had one goal: To build a village. And when I set out to start building, it didn’t take long for me to recognize that our industry has the people, the will, the experience and the tools for construction. We have significant opportunities which I will talk to you about this morning to showcase our village, and even more importantly, to do it with one effective voice.

WIN is a key component of that village. Women are natural teachers and communicators. We share stories, we support our communities, and in my opinion, that can strengthen and empower our village.

Let me tell you a bit about the work we have been doing at the CNA. My hope is that you share these stories with your colleagues, your stakeholders, your families. Wherever and whenever you can – let’s continue strengthening our village.

Our Activities

The CNA been working with our members – 95 organizations representing – to promote the benefits and dispel the myths of nuclear energy in Canada.

We have been active with Governments, encouraging all levels to recognize the value our industry brings to Canada: a clean energy source, revolutions in nuclear medicine, highly-skilled jobs. The list goes on.

We are sharing best practices and search for partnerships with other Associations. As we all know, the nuclear industry covers such a wide spectrum that we share common goals with the likes of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, to the Canadian Electricity Association to the Mining Association.

The year 2010 marks a significant milestone for us. It was 50 years ago – in August in 1960 – that the members of the Canadian nuclear industry created the Canadian Nuclear Association to promote the peaceful use of nuclear technology in Canada.

We launched an anniversary video to mark the occasion and we dedicated our annual CNA Factbook to our long and proud history of nuclear in Canada. Both are available here today, and on our website (WWW.CNA.CA).

Our history after all, is impressive. From our early days at Chalk River to today, our industry is responsible for developing innovative new products and services that have improved the quality of life of Canadians and people around the globe.

We invented CANDU technology.

We have created a world-leading uranium industry.

We have achieved a record of safe, reliable and affordable nuclear power generation. Nuclear energy is responsible for 15% of Canada’s electricity production and for over 55% of Ontario’s alone.

Nuclear is clean. As Canada and the global community work to address the challenges of Climate Change, nuclear energy provides a clean energy solution for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Nuclear goes well beyond electricity generation. It is also the basis for vital cancer-fighting medical technologies, diagnosis and treatment, medical sterilization and food irradiation, desalination of water and other emerging technologies.

The nuclear industry employs 71,000 people today across Canada, contributes about $6.6 billion a year to the Gross Domestic Product and accounts for $1.2 billion a year in exports.

In July 2010, the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters released a report stating that the refurbishment of nuclear facilities at Bruce and Darlington will create 25,000 jobs in the next decade, injecting $5 billion annually into Ontario’s economy.

These are just a few examples. But there is no doubt that we are a significant contributor to the Canadian economy, creating opportunities for many Canadians at a time when economic challenges exist.

Our Priorities

Our vision today is to seize the opportunities being presented by a global energy expansion. We want to build and sustain a strong, vibrant and growing nuclear industry.

How do we want to get there?

We want Nuclear power recognized as a clean energy solution to address the challenges of climate change.

We also want the world to know that nuclear is an enabler for renewable energy. No other base load electricity can compare when we look at the possibilities of fuelling energy needs of the future.

Canada remains a global leader in nuclear technology.

We have a robust research and development program to create highly-skilled jobs in Canada – and to keep our bright minds at home.

We are poised to increase economic benefits for Canadians.

Nuclear is affordable. When we look at the overall cost from a cradle-to-grave life cycle point of view, it provides competitive costs with coal, natural gas and large hydro, and much lower than the two most promising renewables, namely wind and solar. Nuclear projects are also large, and generate positive economic impacts for communities in the way of skilled jobs and infrastructure. These projects also provide significant income taxes to provinces and municipalities.

Let me acknowledge here that yes, we also face challenges. For example the Government of Canada’s decision to restructure AECL.

As the Government finalizes this process, we have been clear that we support a structure that will advance the industry and the hundreds of Canadian companies that are part of the CANDU supply chain to make it more competitive.

We must also emphasize that research is at the heart of our industry. For Canada to remain a competitive player in the global nuclear industry we also need a strong research community, an essential resource for a world-class industry.

Global Opportunities

Two weeks ago at the World Energy Congress, I saw that the global community is recognizing the benefits of nuclear.

In fact, Ernst & Young released a report during the Congress stating that Canada remains a key player in the global nuclear energy expansion. It stated:

  • Canada is among 15 countries worldwide considering nuclear reactors – the largest since the 1980s.
  • Globally there are 438 operating reactors, 65 under construction and another 120 being pursued – not including the refurbishment of existing reactors.
  • Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick are all investing in nuclear energy, and the Prairie provinces have considered it.

Nuclear energy, on a global scale, has become an increasingly viable option within the energy industry over the past couple of years and looks to stay the course.

The Report states that nuclear is a clean energy resource, and perhaps a resurgence of nuclear energy is mainly due to the demand for a more secure energy supply and zero-emissions power.

Along the same vein, in June 2010, the International Energy Agency released their Technology Roadmap – jointly prepared with the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency.

The Roadmap states that unlike most other low-carbon energy sources, nuclear energy is a mature technology that has been in use for more than 50 years. The latest designs for nuclear power plants build on this experience to offer enhanced safety and performance, and are ready for wider deployment over the next few years.

It also indicates there is great potential for new developments in nuclear energy technology to enhance our role in a sustainable energy future.

And the report states we need two things to turn this potential into reality:

  • We need governments to set clear and consistent policies on nuclear to encourage private sector investment.
  • We must continue to educate the public on the benefits of clean energy and support innovation and technology in the sector. We are well positioned to be attractive to the global market for investment and as a supplier of products, technologies and know how.

Gaining greater public acceptance will be key, and this will be helped by early implementation of plans around some of the challenges we face. Disposal of spent fuel for example, or the continued safe and effective operation of nuclear plants.

That is where we – and where our voice – comes in.

Ontario Energy Plan

And let’s not forget about opportunities right here in our backyards.

Minister Duguid has stated nuclear is here to stay in Canada. That the Ontario Government does not envision a scenario where we’re going to reduce our nuclear baseload.

We just heard Mr. Dickson (MPP) speak about their recently launched consultation process towards a Long-Term Energy Plan. All of us in this room have the opportunity to input our views and I encourage all of you to go to the Ministry of Ontario’s website to participate.

Last February, OPG announced a two-part investment strategy for its nuclear generating stations in Durham Region:

  • OPG is proceeding with the planning phase for a mid-life refurbishment of the Darlington Nuclear Station;
  • And they are continuing safe operation of the Pickering Nuclear Station for about a decade with a $300-million investment.

OPG will then move from operation to a project phase to put Pickering Nuclear into a safe layup and safe storage state, with eventual decommissioning of the station.

The Bruce Power refurbishments to four units at Bruce A are also ongoing. Units 3 and 4 were restarted earlier this decade. Units 1 and 2 are expected to synchronize with Ontario’s electricity grid in mid to late 2011 for another 25 years of production.

With these activities will come opportunities to use our voice, to influence to clarify and correct.

Responding to Our Critics

Canadians deserve a balanced, realistic account of where their energy comes from – and when we hear about groups such as Greenpeace, Pembina, and the World Wildlife Fund as we did this summer in their “Renewable is Doable” Report, we have to say enough is enough. They advocated shutting down every nuclear reactor in Ontario to replace it with renewable energy.

Let’s take every opportunity we can to remind our critics that Ontario residents have been living with nuclear power since 1962, and we know that replacing nuclear power generation with renewables and gas is not the answer.

Let’s also remind them that nuclear is clean energy and virtually emissions-free. Canada saves about 90 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year through generation of clean nuclear electricity.

Let’s remind them that it’s affordable. Study after study shows new nuclear power plants can deliver kilowatts at a cost similar to that of a large, new hydro plant or any future coal plant fitted with carbon capture technology. As for future costs, every new generating facility or transmission line that is built is more expensive than legacy infrastructure. But no credible study sees the addition of a single nuclear plant as the cause for a drastic increase of rates.

Let’s remind them that it’s stable, available power that can complement renewable sources such as wind energy. Wind turbines operate only when the wind blows which means when they do not, other sources such as natural gas-fired generators need to be used to offset the changes from the windmills.

But maybe above all, let’s remind them that enough is enough. We live in a country that is rich in resources and technology, and rather than advocating the elimination of one energy source altogether, we should work together and embrace the mix that includes reliable and affordable nuclear power. There’s room for all of us to work together.


I am not a feminist, I’m a realist. I believe in the power of women. I believe in our ability, as community members, activists, leaders, and teachers, to influence and impact change and work toward a better future.

Learning from each other, we can build a village; a village founded on partnership, mutual respect and collaboration. Together, we can work toward change, ensuring the vitality and prosperity of our nuclear industry for years to come.

I wish you a successful conference and look forward to the outcome of our dialogue as we move forward.

I would be happy to take your questions.

Thank you.

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