Federal gifts for the nuclear and mining industries – by Mark Winfield (Policy Options – January 25, 2023)

Policy Options

The government needs a more transparent and evidence-based approach to decision-making when assessing choices for decarbonization.

Canada’s nuclear industry got an important pre-Christmas gift from the federal government in the form of the announcement of its decision not to conduct an assessment under the 2019 Impact Assessment Act of a proposed small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) at the Point Lepreau site in New Brunswick.

The Lepreau SMR proposal has been highly controversial, given its reliance on technologies where the performance, costs and risks are essentially unknown. Moreover, serious questions have even been raised about whether the project, intended to reprocess fuel from the Lepreau CANDU reactors, would violate the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

It would have seemed precisely the kind of situation where a very thorough, public review is needed before a project can proceed. The federal government has chosen otherwise.

The Lepreau decision capped a string of federal decisions and multi-billion-dollar announcements around technologies claimed to be essential to decarbonizing Canada’s economy. There was the $970-million investment through the Canada Infrastructure Bank in another SMR project at Ontario Power Generation’s Darlington facility.

For the rest of this article: https://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/january-2023/federal-gifts-for-the-nuclear-and-mining-industries/