Today, a national network of public interest groups – including seven groups from New Brunswick – issued a media release declaring that last week’s federal government announcement to fund new nuclear reactors is a “dirty, dangerous distraction” from real climate action in Canada.
Their release today challenges many of the statements made by ministers Seamus O’Regan (Natural Resources) and Navdeep Bains (Innovation, Science and Economic Development) at last week’s announcement of $20 million in funding to Ontario company Terrestrial Energy to continue its development work on its proposed small modular nuclear reactor (SMNR).
The public interest groups are challenging the government to release the research and data that support its decision to fund nuclear reactors as part of a climate action strategy. Their media release references numerous research articles that contradict statements made by ministers O’Regan and Bains during last week’s announcement.
New Brunswick’s Coalition for Responsible Energy Development (CRED-NB), based in Rothesay, is one of the groups listed in the media release. CRED-NB is working to help people understand the costs and risks facing the province with the possible construction of more nuclear reactors at Point Lepreau.
Other New Brunswick groups opposing the federal funding for new nuclear energy are Extinction Rebellion New Brunswick (Moncton), the RAVEN project at the University of New Brunswick (Fredericton) Sustainable Energy Group (Woodstock), Saint John Chapter of the Council of Canadians, Leap4Wards (Saint John) and VOICES for Sustainable Environments and Communities (Petitcodiac).
They are joined in the media release by groups across Canada, including the West Coast Environmental Law Association, Greenpeace Canada, Friends of the Earth Canada, Canadian Environmental Law Association, Northwatch, Sierra Club Canada Foundation, Mining Watch Canada, the Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) and the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, to name a few.
Terrestrial Energy, the nuclear company receiving the federal handout last week, is an American-based corporation with an Oakville, Ontario office. The company has ties with many politicians and former nuclear champions in the US and Canada. Stephen Harper, former prime minister of Canada and Michael Binder, the former president and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) are listed as its Canadian “advisors.” Its CEO, Simon Irish has “20 years of global investment banking and investment management experience in New York and London.”
New Brunswick is waiting for the federal announcement of funding for two new nuclear reactors for the province that were pledged by Premier Blaine Higgs during the recent election campaign. The Telegraph-Journal reported that Liberal cabinet minister Dominic LeBlanc said he was planning to be in Fredericton last week to meet with Premier Higgs and hoped “to arrange a time to announce the nuclear deal.”
Calling these “next generation” nuclear reactors a dirty, dangerous distraction from tackling the climate crisis is a direct challenge to the government. Environmental groups are being denied any opportunity to meet with Minister O’Regan to express their opposition to funding new nuclear energy in Canada and so must make their opposition known through the media.
In their media release, the groups charge that the federal government is trying to save the nuclear industry rather than save the environment and protect human health.
The new nuclear reactors exist only as computer models and will not be built in time to help Canada meet its 2030 target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The reactors have been called “PowerPoint reactors” rather than detailed engineering.
“Using nuclear industry speaking notes to make a government announcement is not acceptable,” said Susan O’Donnell, lead investigator of the University of New Brunswick’s RAVEN research project, one of the groups on the media release. “We expect real climate action from our political leaders to meet our 2030 GHG emissions targets. It is unacceptable to promote and fund untested nuclear technology when existing, proven, renewable energy and retrofit technologies available today do not have the required level of public support and investment.”
The group’s media release states “Nuclear energy is not green, not clean, too costly and too slow to build.” The network of environmental champions from across Canada cite research to back their claim that the proposed nuclear reactors are dirty, dangerous distractions from real climate action.
CRED-NB is partnering with the international group Beyond Nuclear, and the Canadian Environmental Law Association to host a webinar with international experts to discuss the risks of the new reactors. The free webinar will be held tomorrow, Oct. 21 at 3:00 pm Atlantic time. To register for this free event, visit the CRED-NB page.
Brian Beaton is a writer and the calendar coordinator for the NB Media Co-op.