Thursday, 31 May 2012

Fossil fuels now provide some 90% of Japan's electricity as nuclear plants remain shut down

Fossil fuels now provide some 90% of Japan's electricity as nuclear plants remain shut down: "The overall picture saw fossil fuels provide 90% of Japan's electricity from January to April 2012, compared to 64% in for the same period in 2011. Historically, nuclear power has normally provided about 30%.
Data on the environmental cost of this rush to fossil fuels is not yet public, but the economic impact has seen Japan's trade balance dip into the red and sent its companies scrambling to secure LNG supplies. "

A Review of the Supply of Molybdenum-99, the Impact of Recent Shortages and the Implications for Nuclear Medicine Services in the UK

And here is the link to "A Review of the Supply of Molybdenum-99, the Impact of Recent Shortages and the Implications for Nuclear Medicine Services in the UK" and response to its recommendations: ... recommendation number one is investment to upgrade existing reactors and to build new research reactors

Phasing out use of HEU

Phasing out use of HEU: .... note that NRU runs on LEU but uses HEU to produce medical isotopes... I am not aware of any programs to convert that to LEU at NRU... from the article: "Timothy Meyer, Head of Strategic Planning & Communications with TRIUMF, Canada’s national laboratory for nuclear science, explained the implications for medical science in an exclusive interview with Uranium Investing News. “From our perspective, the increasing global pressure to move away from any and all supply chains that employ HEU is driving innovation and the development of alternative technologies. For instance, the government of Canada provided $35 million to four Canadian teams in 2012 for a two-year effort to develop methods for producing technetium-99m – the highest-demand medical isotope produced by the NRU [National Research Universal] reactor in Chalk River, Ontario – without employing nuclear reactors or uranium.” Technetium-99m is used in 85 percent of all nuclear medicine procedures, estimated globally at 20 million per year."
Some also suggesting perhaps smaller university research reactors could perhaps alleviate future medical isotope shortages: ..."In 2009 and 2010, the world experienced a severe shortage of these tremendously important medical isotopes. The single Canadian National Research Universal (NRU) nuclear reactor producing 99Mo and other isotopes, including Cobalt-60 used in cancer treatment, was shut down for over 18 months. Also in 2010, 6 months of production time was lost in the Netherlands’ Petten reactor, which supplies 60% of Europe’s 99Mo supply. These reactors were two of only five reactors producing medical isotopes for the entire globe. While the United States consumes 50% of the world’s annual 99Mo/99mTc supply, it produces none of these medical isotopes outside of research, and instead the U.S. medical community relies entirely on shipments from outside the country, mainly from Canada. As a direct result of the shortage, fewer of these low-risk, non-invasive radioisotope diagnostic imaging procedures were performed, especially in North America, many were delayed by days to months, and the radioisotope costs of these procedures more than doubled.
Due to politics and capitalism, it’s unlikely that the U.S. will produce its own domestic supply of medical isotopes in the near future. While other countries, including Canada, subsidize and support nuclear reactors capable of producing these isotopes, the U.S. instead views such things as an “industry issue.” Admittedly, it’s expensive and risky to build larger-scale reactors capable of generating a country’s-worth of medical isotopes, even though these reactors are also hugely useful to a variety of other research fields. Two incredibly expensive reactors recently built in Canada were eventually abandoned with mechanical problems. General Electric recently quashed its own private attempt at medical isotope production citing that it was not currently economic with Canada’s NRU reactor up and running. Imagine the derision of taxpayers if a government-funded nuclear reactor capable of producing medical isotopes was built and paid for but never produced a single isotope. It gets very complicated.
The reactor here at OSU isn’t big enough to produce medical isotopes for our entire country. But small reactors like the TRIGA Mark II are becoming hugely important in other countries as we try to avoid potential future shortages and meet increasing worldwide radioisotope demands. Although the U.S. has not yet begun contributing to the global medical isotope supply, its small reactors, perhaps especially at Universities, may also be incredibly important as support in the future when larger reactors inevitably fall short."
More on perhaps troubled future of medical isotopes: 

History of Canada’s participation in Manhattan Project from CNSC

A bit of history of Canada’s participation in Manhattan Project from CNSC:

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Nuclear management in Ontario: the central lesson: knowledge transfer is critical

Nuclear management in Ontario: the central lesson: knowledge transfer is critical ... this is a good read (makes you pause to think whether political appointee for such positions is a good thing??? a countries course must be determined based on the best benefits to the country as a whole not for the benefits or ideology of one particular political party that happens to be in power at the time): From the article: "A few days ago I tried to give some perspective to a newspaper article about the performance of the Pickering nuclear station. The newspaper article painted a grim picture, which I tried to explain by pointing up the decision, by utility chairman Maurice Strong, to reverse direction on nuclear policy. In the space of about ten short years during the 1970s, Ontario had become the most nuclearized jurisdiction in North America. As a jurisdiction we became one of North America’s economic powerhouses; our biggest industry, car manufacturing, relied then and relies today on cheap, reliable power.
During those ten years, Ontario became the proving ground for a unique reactor technology based on natural, unenriched, uranium fuel and heavy water moderator. This technology, CANDU, became, within ten short years, the biggest energy provider in the province, outperforming all other generation types combined. Suddenly, with this success under its belt, Canada was a force to be reckoned with in the international civilian nuclear arena. We began competing with some pretty formidable adversaries, all of whom were pushing enriched uranium, light water moderated/cooled machines. All had the backing, through various diplomatic and commercial mechanisms, of the United States government, by far the mightiest of the two superpowers.
The international sales effort was already underway when Strong took over as chair of Ontario Hydro. More importantly, so was the next wave of nuclear construction in Ontario. The Darlington project was nearing completion, and there were plans to build another station at the site. As a political appointee, Strong held his job at the pleasure of a political party, the NDP, that was then and is today anti-nuclear.
The fledgling NDP government was under severe criticism for also being anti-business. So, under the guise of cutting costs in government, Strong summarily reversed the nuclear policy that had transformed Ontario Hydro, the province of Ontario, and Canada. He cancelled the second Darlington station and set about getting rid of a large part of the nuclear workforce. Jeremy Whitlock of AECL has, as usual, provided an outstanding assessment of the Strong years, which he calls “The Lost Years.” It should be required reading.
As Whitlock points out, Ontario Hydro’s electricity demand forecast, on which the case for the second Darlington station was based, proved about exactly right. And as I have pointed out, that demand was met not by clean, cheap nuclear power but by fossil power.
Strong’s ideologically motivated decimation of the nuclear workforce ensured that Ontario Hydro would have great difficulty in refurbishing the older CANDUs at Pickering A and Bruce A. This is why seven of those CANDUs were taken out of service by 1997."

More trouble brewing at SNC-Lavalin as CANDU workers respond to company bullying

More trouble brewing at SNC-Lavalin as CANDU workers respond to company bullying: ..."In an action more befitting of a third world country, SNC-Lavalin's Candu Energy has unilaterally stripped employees of working conditions and imposed new conditions on the highly skilled nuclear workforce. "SNC-Lavalin is trying to bully our members into working under lowest terms of employment of any company in the nuclear industry, this tactic may work in Libya but not in Canada" says Peter White, President of the Society of Professional Engineers and Associates (SPEA).
SPEA represents the design team for CANDU reactors who support and service CANDU in Ontario, New Brunswick, Quebec and abroad working at Candu Energy, formerly known as Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL). These conditions will result in the continued exodus of CANDU technical expertise from the company that was once internationally recognized as a leader in the nuclear industry. More than two hundred highly skilled employees with many years of experience have already fled the company. CANDU reactors are the only nuclear power reactors used in Canada and have been exported to countries around the world that are looking for safe, reliable, low emission generation. "SNC-Lavalin is acting more like Montgomery Burns of Simpsons' fame and if they keep this up in future they will only be able to recruit Homer Simpsons." said White. "Our members have built CANDU into a leader in the nuclear industry and now SNC-Lavalin is prepared to throw that away in one fell swoop."
"At a time when SNC-Lavalin can least afford another blow to their tarnished reputation, their newest division, Candu Energy, seems determined to drag it lower," said White. "They appear to believe that driving away their most valuable assets, their employees, which will result in the loss of the design expertise, is the best way to run a business."
SPEA has given notice to SNC-Lavalin and the Canada Labour Board that it may respond to SNC-Lavalin action through strike activity or other legal actions to protect the interests of its members. "We are reviewing our options on an on-going basis. At this point we will refuse all over time which will impact work at nuclear stations" added White."

Sunday, 27 May 2012

In contrast to Japan South Korea looks increasingly to nuclear energy to satisfy its energy needs

In contrast to Japan South Korea looks increasingly to nuclear energy to satisfy its energy needs: ..."Radiation readings in Odaka are well below anything that could be considered a health risk, but people are still not coming back. Indeed, the long shadow cast by Fukushima has extended over a much wider area than any scientific assessment of radiological hazard would argue is necessary. In Minamisoma, 20km north of the stricken reactor, a community centre above the town is decked out for indoor play because no one wants to let their children venture out of doors. The parents refuse to believe that radiation readings are low enough – barely above normal background, on my dosimeter – that their children's health would be improved by letting them play outside in the fresh air. Watching the kids cooped up in a big wooden hall, I could only conclude that unnecessary fear of radiation is just as much a hazard as the real thing.
On a wider scale still, unnecessary fear of radiation now presents a serious hazard to the world's climate. Japan's precipitous exit from nuclear power generation – the day I arrived in Tokyo was the first non-nuclear day in Japan for 42 years – has pushed the country's fossil fuel demand through the roof, with imports of oil and gas up by more than 100% since last year, their ballooning cost driving a record trade deficit of $32bn. As carbon emissions rise in lockstep, Japan's leaders are now backing off from their international climate change commitments, which the country has no chance of meeting. Given that wind, solar and geothermal account for less than 1% of Japan's electricity generation, the country will be massively dependent on fossil fuels for decades to come if the reactors stay switched off. The only alternative is blackout.
Given the trauma of the March 2011 tsunami disaster, Japan's nuclear shutdown is understandable – if regrettable from a global warming perspective. But a flight across the Sea of Japan to its neighbour South Korea shows a very different model in evidence.
In the same week that Japan mothballed its very last reactor, Korea broke ground on two new-build nuclear power stations – a pair of APR-1400 units now being constructed at Shin Ulchin, on the east coast. They are two of eight new stations planned to add to the country's existing nuclear fleet of 23, currently supplying 45% of the nation's electricity. To mark the occasion the country's president, Lee Myung-bak, paid a visit to the site, praising a "huge milestone" for South Korea's engineers, who had helped the country achieve "the dream of independent nuclear technology"."

Friday, 25 May 2012

Unit 3 Olkiluoto reactor in Finland

A cool animated video by Areva about the construction and operation of the unit 3 Olkiluoto reactor in Finland: ... also see this link to the actual photos of the installation of the reactor vessel:

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Post Fukushima, intensified interest in Nuclear Power in the MENA region continues

Post Fukushima, intensified interest in Nuclear Power in the MENA region continues:
Read more: "There are a number of key challenges facing countries in the MENA region that are driving plans towards nuclear power generation, ultimately making this the most exciting region for nuclear contractors globally. In particular, countries in the region face:
Increasing energy demands due to population and economy growth
Energy independence
Reduction of reliance on fossil fuels
Increasing revenue on fossil fuel exports
Reduction of carbon emissions
As a direct result of these challenges there are significant plans in place to deliver considerable nuclear generation capacity in the region by 2030. The Middle East Nuclear New Build Report 2012 has summarised these announced plans below:
UAE: the leader for nuclear power in the region – with a four unit NPP under contract with KEPCO. Its program has moved extremely quickly and the Braka project is looking to bring four 1400 MW APR1400 reactors online, starting in 2017.
Turkey: has a four unit NPP under a Build Own Operate contract and is aiming to reach a minimum of 5% of national electricity to be produced by nuclear power by 2020. The project entails the engineering procurement and construction of 4 VVER 1200 reactors by Rosatom. With the site selected and engineering work initiated, first concrete is scheduled for late 2013.
Jordan: having located significant uranium reserves, Jordon is aiming to develop a nuclear program that provides 6% of total energy by 2020. Jordon also has ambitions to become a major net exporter, and has announced its NPP EPC contractor, AREVA NP. Construction of the single unit 750 to 1000 MW plant at Majdal is scheduled to start in 2013
Saudi Arabia: In April 2010, Saudi Arabia announced its intentions to develop King Abdullah City for Nuclear and Renewable Energy, (KACARE), in response to the Kingdom’s growing energy demands, the production of desalinated water and to reduce reliance on hydrocarbons. In June 2011 these plans were developed with the announcement of 16 nuclear power reactors to be constructed over the next 20 years. The project will be offered for international bidding with the first two reactors targeted for 2021. By 2030 new NPP would generate 20% of Saudi Arabia’s electricity demand."

New nuclear power plants for UK

New nuclear power plants for UK: "While Germany intends to phase out nuclear power, and France’s new president, François Hollande, says he hopes to reduce his country’s reliance on it, the British government appears to be moving in the opposite direction with its proposals, which are intended to attract $175 billion in investment to build new reactors and renewable energy plants. "

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Low-dose study finds no effects

A must read: Low-dose study finds no effects" the MIT study exposed one group of mice to low-level radiation for five weeks and compared the effects of this with another group exposed to the same amount of radiation in one burst as well as a third control group exposed only to normal background levels. The researchers saw the low-dose rate group showing "no significant change" in the levels of various kinds of DNA damage compared to the control."

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Point Lepreau engineers in strike position

Point Lepreau engineers in strike position: "Michelle Duncan, a union spokesperson, said since the federal government sold Atomic Energy of Canada Limited to SNC-Lavalin, there's been an exodus of Canadian nuclear specialists."... "In New Brunswick, the Opposition Liberals said in June that the possible sale of AECL could have major repercussions for the province as it grapples with cost overruns at its Point Lepreau nuclear power plant.
The provincial Tory government has been looking to Ottawa to cover roughly $1 billion in additional costs incurred during the Lepreau refurbishment, which is being overseen by AECL.
Ottawa said last June it will retain responsibility for liabilities related both to Point Lepreau and the Bruce power station in Ontario, which is also being refurbished but is three years behind schedule and at least $2 billion over budget.
AECL has been struggling to modernize its technology to keep up with rivals Areva, Westinghouse, Hitachi and others.
The company lost $800 million last year, and has not sold a new reactor since the 1990s. However, some reports said AECL's business was hindered by a cap on new contracts that the government had ordered during the sale process, to avoid having the company burdened with new liabilities."

Rolls-Royce delivers the final components of a multimillion dollar package of automated handling, transportation and storage technology to AECL

Cool! Rolls-Royce delivers the final components of a multimillion dollar package of automated handling, transportation and storage technology to AECL:
More found here:

Thursday, 17 May 2012

NRU is back up and running after the planned one month shutdown

NRU is back up and running after the planned one month shutdown, come over for your neutron experiments!... this is the link to the news of startup from AECL but not a lot of info there as far as what was learnt from the vessel inspections.... "AECL reports that the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor was returned to operation, as planned, from its extended outage during the early morning of May 16.
The purpose of the 2012 planned outage was to perform annual vessel inspections and to complete maintenance work designed to enhance the reliability of NRU.
Prior to the start of the outage, facility users and the isotope community were notified well in advance and took steps to adjust their activities.
The NRU is currently operating at high power, producing medical isotopes and available to provide vital research and testing support to the science community, universities, and industry from across Canada and around the world."

Dr. Ted Hsu holds Facebook town hall with Canadian researchers

Really glad someone is doing something out there to advocate the need for funding basic research in Canada: Dr. Ted Hsu holds Facebook town hall with Canadian researchers: this is the direct link to the Facebook town hall

The Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for Science and Technology, speaks about research funding cuts at the annual Research Money conference

The Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for Science and Technology, speaks about research funding cuts at the annual Research Money conference: does this means support for research or just another way of supporting industry!!!??? no one says stop supporting industry but that should not come at the expense of supporting science oriented research... ""Canada's long-term economic competitiveness depends on encouraging research that can be commercialized and used to fuel the high-growth companies of tomorrow," said Minister of State Goodyear. "By focusing on the drivers of growth and job creation, the measures announced by our government are strengthening the entrepreneurial spirit of this great country."
Economic Action Plan 2012 builds on Canada's advantageous economic position and adopts a new approach to enhance support for greater business innovation. This includes providing $400 million to help high-growth firms access risk capital, supporting private and public research collaboration, encouraging innovation through procurement and refocusing the National Research Council of Canada."

Dr. Ted Hsu, the Member of Parliament for the riding of Kingston and the Islands, speaks against recent funding cuts to NSERC

Dr. Ted Hsu, the Member of Parliament for the riding of Kingston and the Islands, speaks against recent funding cuts to NSERC: "Dr. Hsu’s statements in the House of Commons on this subject. On May 3, 2012 (14:57):
“Mr. Speaker, the budget's language says to cut funding for research at NSERC but to protect industry collaborations, scholarships and discovery grants. However, there is not much left to cut at NSERC. So, the RTI grants will be cut, the source of funding to repair and purchase medium-sized equipment.
Researchers are furious. It is like sending a carpenter to work without a hammer.
Why did the minister force cuts to funding used to fix and buy needed equipment?”
As well as on May 10, 2012 (13:28):
“Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague speaks about the CFI program. It is indeed a good program, but the problem that we have had for many years now is that we need funds to operate the infrastructure that we buy. We need to train technical people. That is why there was a program called the MRS program at NSERC, and that was just frozen. It has ended. There is no new money allotted for places like the Brockhouse Institute. The neutron scattering groups are going to be losing their MRS funding, so they are not going to have the money to use the infrastructure that we have. That is a problem.
Why did the government choose to cut that money?”
Finally, he spoke at length on the subject of basic research funding in Canada. You will find his speech in its entirety, available here:

CAP is asking your opinion about the recent cuts to NSERC RTI and MRS Programs

CAP is asking your opinion about the recent cuts to NSERC RTI and MRS Programs: Please participate in this important process and ensure that your viewpoints are heard by completing the related questionnaire accessed by logging in to member services at This is excerpts from the letter sent to CAP members: "NSERC recently announced a moratorium on the MRS program ( and that the RTI program would be phased out ( as part of the Government of Canada's efforts to return to balanced budgets.
The CAP is now soliciting your input on all of these recent developments, as was indicated in my recent letter to the membership.
You can participate in this important process and ensure that your viewpoints are considered by responding to the questionnaire accessed by logging in to member services at and then selecting the 2012 NSERC Survey link on the left. We have tried to make the survey fairly comprehensive in order to obtain maximum value. It nonetheless takes only ten minutes or so to complete. It is vital that we get input from a significant proportion of members to enable the CAP to formulate a set of recommendations that accurately reflects the views of its membership at large.
J. Michael Roney, P.Phys.
President, Canadian Association of Physicists"

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Meanwhile elsewhere in the world: The Starting Grants given by the European Research Council (ERC): a tremendous boost to the careers of young scientists

Meanwhile elsewhere in the world: The Starting Grants given by the European Research Council (ERC): a tremendous boost to the careers of young scientists:    "The ERC program has unique features among all those funded by the European Community for supporting research and innovation. It is fully in the hands of the scientists, with very modest administrative support. It is devoted solely to fundamental research, and all proposals are of the bottom-up sort. There is a call once a year and the proposals are reviewed by a panel of experts who are high-level scientists of different European nationalities. The winners receive an award of order 1.5 million euros, to be spent over the five years of the contract. Allowed costs cover personnel (usually PhD students and postdocs, and even partial or total salary of the Principal Investigator), as well as equipment and other items needed for the project.
The evaluation is based both on the high scientific level of the candidate and on the excellence of his or her project. These two criteria are weighted equally by the panel. Four members of the jury scan each proposal for the selection at the first step. At the second step a restricted number of applicants make an oral presentation in front of the members of the jury, who listen to all the candidates selected for this second round, ask questions for 15 to 20 minutes, and are therefore able to evaluate the degree of maturity of the candidate. About 20 % of the applications are ultimately selected. The number of proposals keeps growing each year; the global funding of this very popular program has been increased several times."

Federal cuts called a 'disaster' for Canadian science

Federal cuts called a 'disaster' for Canadian science:
"NSERC officials would not discuss the cutbacks, but the council’s media office told Postmedia News by email that the major resources and instrument programs were “affected” by recent government cuts that reduced its budget by $15 million this year and $30 million in coming years. The council will honour existing funding commitments, but the media office says funds for “the major portion” of the research tools and instruments program “no longer exist.”
As for the major resources support program, the media office says “savings will be achieved by reducing the scope of the program” that now funds dozens of facilities across Canada.
It says there is now "insufficient funding to hold competitions and meet the needs of the research commuunity.” It goes on to say the major resources support program “will not be accepting applications for the foreseeable future."" ... "Anholt questioned whether the people making the cuts realize the value of the facilities being put at risk.
NSERC’s rules have long stipulated that the major resources support program can only fund facilities and programs of “unique national or international” importance, he says.
“Now all of a sudden they’re not of national importance,” Anholt says of facilities that will lose funding.
“It makes no sense,” says Pierre Francus at Quebec’s Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique."
Meanwhile the minister in charge of the Harper government's research policy says scientists exaggerating risks of cuts to federal research programs: and insisting the government is spending more on science but has he missed the point, read: ""The loss of these programs is nothing short of a disaster for science in Canada," chemist David Bryce at the University of Ottawa said in a May 3 letter to the government signed by 47 senior scientists across the country.
Bryce has had no response from Goodyear or his colleagues in the Harper government who received copies on the letter.
And he said Goodyear's comments on Tuesday suggest the minister of state has missed the point.
"We are not complaining that there isn't enough money being spent on science," said Bryce, who agrees that the government has invested billions of dollars in science and technology.
The problem, he said, is that the NSERC has frozen two "very key" programs that affect thousands of scientists and help train young researchers and engineers.
"These two program don't cost a lot of money, but have a huge impact," Bryce said. "That's why we don't understand why they've been cut."
As he put in the May 3 letter: "These are programs so foundational to research in Canada that one would think that eliminating them was inconceivable."
NSERC officials will not discuss the cutbacks, but the council's media office told Postmedia News by email last week that the two programs were "affected" by recent government cuts. The council will honour existing funding commitments, but said funds for "the major portion" of the research tools and instruments program "no longer exist." It suggests that scientists can apply to alternative programs for money to buy equipment.
As for the major resources support program, NSERC's media office says there is now "insufficient funding to hold competitions and meet the needs of the research community." It goes on to say the major resources support program "will not be accepting applications for the foreseeable future.""

Monday, 14 May 2012

Cameco buys German nuclear fuel company Nukem for $136-million

Cameco buys German nuclear fuel company Nukem for $136-million: "Under the agreement, Cameco will pay Advent International and other Nukem shareholders $136 million and assume $164 million in net debt.
However, the company said Nukem is expected to significantly reduce the balance of the debt before the deal closes.
The agreement also includes provisions that will see Advent receive a share of Nukem’s future earnings if the company reaches certain performance targets until the end of 2014."

Minister of Natural Resources Visits AECL's Chalk River Laboratories

Let us see what the government comes up with for the future of Chalk River Labs after all these restructuring and inquiring expressions of interests: Minister of Natural Resources Visits AECL's Chalk River Laboratories: "“The Government recognizes the value of the Laboratories to the nuclear sector,” said Minister Oliver. “I was happy to have the opportunity to see first-hand the work underway at the Labs.”
“ChalkRiverLaboratories has a long history of achievement in nuclear science and technology development,” said Ms. Gallant. “They have been key to nuclear innovation inCanadaand are an economic cornerstone of our region.”
The Government of Canada is currently conducting a review of AECL’s Nuclear Laboratories as part of the ongoing restructuring of the Crown corporation. The Government is in the process of analyzing expressions of interest in the Laboratories that were received in response to a public call for submissions in February of this year."

Friday, 11 May 2012

Canadian Association of Physicists reacts to funding and related issues at NSERC and NRC

Canadian Association of Physicists reacts to funding and related issues at NSERC and NRC: This is excerpts from the letter that was sent by the CAP's president to CAP members: "I am writing to let you know that the CAP Executive is very concerned by recent developments with regard to research funding and related issues at NSERC and the NRC. Upon becoming aware of the recent NSERC decision to ramp down the RTI program and place the MRS program under moratorium, I called a special meeting of the CAP Executive to decide on our course of action. Last week I spoke with Isabelle Blain, NSERC VP Grants and Scholarships, to express our dismay with the decisions in light of the statements in the 2012 budget briefing that “programming in support of basic research, student scholarships, and industry-related research initiatives and collaborations are preserved” and to better understand how NSERC arrived at such a course of action. We understand that the decision to remove the RTI and MRS programs was the outcome of a budgetary process spanning all federal government departments and agencies and that there were specific reasons for the RTI and MRS programs being vulnerable to that process. It is evident that there is an expectation within government that the CFI grants can partially compensate for the loss of these programs and that researchers will use other NSERC programs, including Discovery Grant funding to further mitigate the loss of the RTI. The CAP Executive believes that these measures will be insufficient to prevent the damage to basic research in Canada that will be caused by these developments.
We are following this up with a formal communication to NSERC via the established CAP-NSERC Liaison Committee channels. To help us in formulating our messages, within the upcoming week the CAP Executive will be asking all full members to complete a survey on these matters as well as on the changes to the Discovery Grant evaluation system. I strongly encourage you to participate in this survey so that we have the broadest possible input from the community.
At this time, if you work in a university we urge you to contact and provide information to your VP Research about the specific damage the loss of these programs will mean to your research. Please copy the CAP office ( on such communications, as it will provide us with more detailed information about the impact of these cuts. We believe that the VPs Research from across Canada can have an effective impact on government policy and that they should be engaged to help solve the problems brought about by these changes. The CAP will be contacting them in an effort to encourage them to act collectively on this pressing matter and your letters will help us in that effort.
Regarding the National Research Council, the federal government’s intention to refocus the NRC more toward the applied and commercialization end of R&D through a variety of initiatives was announced some time ago, although the details were not publicly available. Through communications with university-based researchers collaborating with NRC scientists and those using NRC facilities, we are aware that the implementation of changes has been underway for some months. A letter to the Prime Minister was sent from the CAP President that touched on these matters and expressed the need to preserve the expertise of the NRC Institutes. We are now considering ways to follow up on this. To assist in this initiative, if your research depends on NRC resources or an NRC Institute, the CAP Executive invites you to inform us of how your research might be affected by the changes underway at NRC by emailing the CAP office (
I am also contacting other Canadian scientific associations to understand how these changes at NSERC and NRC have been affecting their constituents and to determine what coordinated action can be taken on these matters of common concern.....
Prof. J. Michael Roney, PPhys.
President, Canadian Association of Physicists"

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Science could be expensive, but the payoffs more than justify the costs

Science could be expensive, but the payoffs more than justify the costs: The added issue for Canada is the fact that there is no science advisory mechanism in Canada that is based on public discussions, guided by the experts and debated by the MPs... this leads to decision makings that are not in the best interests of people, scientific research or their future... basic scientific research is elemental and essential for any society that wants to build its economy based on knowledge... Also isn't it clear that no single thing we value and rely on today (technology, medicine, education, odd little things like iPhones) would not be ours today without supporting science that was essential to make them happen in the first place, and lets not forget the desire to understand the nature from a fundamental point of view... not everything needs to yield a profit that benefits a small elite or a short term gain in the budget... How many time in the history of science there have been earth-shattering discoveries that were made while researchers working on basic questions coming to life-changing revelations that change the very fabric of our daily life. Shouldn't this be encouraged and funded??? Since science can help economy, save the planet, cure diseases, provide us with new and exciting ways of life in the long run, shouldn't it be considered more important than the economy??? this is must read article: "At the dawn of the 20th century, physicists were grappling with a whole new way of thinking about the world. Einstein forced people to rethink the meaning of space, time and energy, while the mysteries of the atom were redefining the laws of nature. Planck, Bohr, Einstein, Heisenberg, Schrödinger and others could never have imagined then that their revolutionary ideas about the physics of the very small would effectively redefine the world in which we live. From the insides of the atom came the quantum revolution, spawning the myriad digital applications we take for granted today, from the laptop that I am using to type this essay to our cellular phones and ultrafast fiber optic cables. In his article, Weinberg shares his concern for the future of "big science," that is, large science projects with billion-plus-dollar budgets. The recent example of the James Webb Space Telescope, the planned successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, brings this point home. Last July, the House Appropriations Committee voted to cancel the Webb telescope altogether, citing concerns about cost increases. (What wasn't clarified is that these cost increases were the result of previously insufficient funding for the project: when choking, it's natural to grab as much air as possible to survive.) Funding has been restored, but the feeling of uncertainty about the future of the project remains.
Meanwhile, in the world of the very small, Europe has been carrying the flag for a while with the Large Hadron Collider, the giant particle accelerator in Geneva, Switzerland. No longer able to compete solo against the Europeans, U.S. scientists have joined the project, which is a de facto worldwide collaboration to push the frontiers of knowledge. However, given Europe's recent economic woes, it's not clear that the current level of funding will continue, even with U.S. support.
How can we guarantee that higher energy accelerators and more powerful telescopes will continue to be built so that the science of the very small and of the very large can move forward? (Mid-scale science is poised to continue, in spite of frequent cuts. The same with creative small-science projects.)
In my view, it is unacceptable to cut the funding for big science. A world focused exclusively on the immediate, the pragmatic and the useful is efficient, but horribly dull. Imagine a world without news of mind-boggling discoveries about the universe or the mysteries of matter; a world without the Higgs, exploding stars, colliding galaxies or giant black holes. Even worse, imagine a world without all that we still don't know, and won't be able to discover without new tools for exploration. Then there are the potential spinoffs we would miss, the unpredictable discoveries, the revolutions that won't happen."

More on recent NSERC cuts to Canadian Neutron Beam Centre

This is the link to the write up about the recent NSERC cuts to Canadian Neutron Beam Centre at a local newspaper: "The Canadian Neutron Beam Centre (CNBC) is operated by the National Research Council (NRC) at Chalk River.
However, the program also receives about 30 per cent of its operating funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).
Officials learned last week that, faced with cuts in the 2012 federal budget, NRSERC is cancelling the Major Resource Support program that provides the funding to the CNBC as well as other facilities across Canada.
NSERC funding is intended to support basic science research at the university level, and the money provided to CNBC – roughly $1.5 million a year – supports the program to allow university-based researchers to access “beam time” at the NRU reactor.
Dominic Ryan is a professor at McGill University and president of the Canadian Institute for Neutron Scattering (CINS), which represents over 500 researchers and students who make up the neutron-beam community.
Ryan said he learned that the funding for the CNBC would be cancelled early last week.
“To hear that we were getting gutted like that was quite a shock,” he said.
“It’s not a good week.”
Ryan said the loss of the funding represents “another step down” in the level of basic science research being done at Chalk River, with the government “chipping away” at its support for the science community.
“If you chip away enough, eventually the whole thing comes down,” he said."

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Neutron scattering helps advancing understanding of Shape-memory alloys (SMAs)

Neutron scattering helps advancing understanding of Shape-memory alloys (SMAs) used in aerospace and other everyday applications! did you know the major funding for VULCAN instrument used in this study came from Canada Foundation for
Innovation and prominent Canadian scientists such as Dr. Tom Holden were instrumental in design and construction of the instrument? see for background information on this instrument... And this is the link to the diffraction study using this instrument to study SMAs: ...""These are materials that can change phase and change their structure in response to mechanical and thermal conditions in their environment. We're trying to take advantage of that to use them in aerospace and other applications," says NASA's Othmane Benafan. In mechanical systems, components made from SMAs micro-engineered to deform precisely in response to heat or pressure would avoid the need for complex hydraulic or pneumatic actuators. They would change shape predictably and then return to their original configuration as conditions around them returned to normal (that's where the shape memory comes in).
Othmane and Santo Padula II, materials scientists at NASA; Doug Nicholson, a Ph.D. student at UCF; and his advisor Raj Vaidyanathan make up the team. They're examining the microstructure and micromechanics (i.e., atomic structure and atomic-level behaviors) of a sample of the SMA nickel titanium using the VULCAN Engineering Materials Diffractometer. "VULCAN's unique multi-axial load frame enables simultaneous testing of samples under tension, compression, and torsion, a capability not available anywhere else," says Ke An, lead scientist at VULCAN. "That's very important for problems under complex loading, which are real-world applications.""

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

"India will indeed build a thorium reactor"!

"India will indeed build a thorium reactor"! "late last week, V Narayansamy, minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office told the the upper house of Indian Parliament (called the Rajya Sabha) that India will indeed build a thorium reactor, according to India’s Deccan Herald newspaper" ... "India will start construction around 2016-17 of a water cooled, thorium-fueled reactor that deploys “heavy water” as its coolant, the paper reports." hmmm interesting that it will use heavy water as its coolant, does it ring a bell, CANDU??? where is Canada in this race, where will it be in 2-3 decades???
Also see: ""The basic physics and engineering of the thorium-fuelled Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR) are in place, and the design is ready," said Sinha.
Once the six-month search for a site is completed – probably next to an existing nuclear power plant – it will take another 18 months to obtain regulatory and environmental impact clearances before building work on the site can begin.
"Construction of the AHWR will begin after that, and it would take another six years for the reactor to become operational," Sinha added, meaning that if all goes to plan, the reactor could be operational by the end of the decade. The reactor is designed to generate 300MW of electricity – about a quarter of the output of a typical new nuclear plant in the west.
Sinha added that India was in talks with other countries over the export of conventional nuclear plants. He said India was looking for buyers for its 220MW and 540MW Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs). Kazakhastan and the Gulf states are known to have expressed an interest, while one source said that negotiations are most advanced with Vietnam, although Sinha refused to confirm this."
 And Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL) introduces schoolchildren to basics of nuclear energy production: early age education, popularizing the science and demystifying are the only way to build public support and acceptance, well done! "The idea behind inviting the students to the otherwise protected site is on various counts. First and foremost, UCIL aims to popularize nuclear science among teenagers and secondly, the corporation wants to demystify the process of nuclear energy generation.
"Prolonged agitation by villagers against Kundakulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu (recently) stems from lack of knowledge about the fundamentals of nuclear energy and misgivings about the pollution issues related to enrichment exercise," said a senior UCIL scientist, suggesting effective integration session with the students, to address the misconceptions.
Although young scientists from Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) visit the UCIL plant frequently for hands-on study of the subject, but it is for the first time when UCIL will open its gates for school students." 

Candu engineers enlisting customers in union battle with SNC-Lavalin    "If we roll over and accept all the concessions we'll be finished in two years anyway because all the good people will leave because there's places for them to go," union vice-president Michael Ivanco added in an interview.
The Society of Professional Engineers and Associates said it's meeting with clients, stakeholders and SNC-Lavalin shareholders who fear projects could be delayed by a strike or lockout.
"We have to be very strategic about how we proceed," Peter White, president of the 870-member union, said Monday.
The union won a mandate last week to launch a strike as early as Sunday, but has not served 72-hours notice as required by the Canada Labour Code.
It fears the potential loss of expertise at Candu as a result of a contract it says includes concessions. The union hopes the customers will then express their own concerns about the threats of a loss of expertise to Candu Energy and SNC-Lavalin.
Proposed changes include a shift to a defined contribution pension plan, wage increases below the industry average and reduced travel compensation when overseeing reactor work.
"If we roll over and accept all the concessions we'l be finished in two years anyway because all the good people will leave because there's places for them to go," union vice-president Michael Ivanco added in an interview.
"Since SNC took over all we're doing is losing good people and no one's coming here from anywhere else.""

"The union said the hiring of recent graduates and use of SNC-Lavalin (TSX:SNC) engineers can't replace engineers with nuclear expertise." couldn't agree more, nothing replaces years of experience and build up of the knowledge and if there is no succession planning, then all that will go to waste... 

Friday, 4 May 2012

More on NSERC funding cuts

More on NSERC funding cuts, this is a must read! it includes excerpts from a (draft) letter "which is being signed by the leaders of various research facilities and labs. We are told that the “letter will also be sent to appropriate members of government and members of parliament.” It wouldn’t hurt if it also lands on the desks of Canada’s university presidents and VP-Rs." "We are writing to express our deep concern over the elimination of the Major Resources Support (MRS) and Research Tools and Instrument (RTI) programs of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). The cutting of these programs will have drastic and potentially irreversible effects on fundamental science and engineering research across Canada.
Quoting from NSERC itself, “the objective of the MRS program is to facilitate the effective access by Canadian academic researchers to major and unique national or international (based in Canada) experimental or thematic research resources by financially assisting these resources to remain in a state of readiness for researchers to use.”
Quoting from NSERC itself, “Research Tools and Instruments (RTI) grants foster and enhance the discovery, innovation and training capability of university researchers in the natural sciences and engineering by supporting the purchase of research equipment and installations.”
These are programs so essential to research in Canada that, prior to hearing of their termination, to think they would even be considered for elimination was inconceivable. The federal government, through cuts to NSERC, has now slashed these programs. Along with NSERC’s Discovery Grant, the RTI and the MRS programs are those which support fundamental research. The loss of the RTI and MRS programs means there are now no NSERC funding streams dedicated to the purchase of scientific equipment or to operate nationally and internationally unique resources. The loss of the MRS program in particular means that millions of dollars of equipment purchased through taxpayers’ money is as the risk of sitting idle and gathering dust due to a lack of operating funds. A list of projects funded through the MRS program in 2010-2011 is provided as an appendix to this letter.
NSERC suggests that the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) may pick up the slack in these two areas. However, the reality is that CFI is a different organization with different objectives. CFI programs do not compensate for the loss of two core programs at NSERC.
Similarly, investments by the government in industrial and/or targeted research programs at NSERC do not compensate for the loss of the two core programs which enable fundamental research. Action must be taken to reinstate the core RTI and MRS programs at NSERC. The loss of these programs is nothing short of a disaster for science in Canada."

No more NSERC Major Resources Support (MRS) Grants!

Wow! more funding cuts for science in Canada, this one is the elimination of the NSERC Major Resources Support (MRS) Grants! and that means the funding of Canadian Neutron Beam Centre is cut by %30!!! .... this is the link to NSERC announcment:
For those who were/are not familiar with MRS grants, their objective is: "The objective of the MRS program is to facilitate the effective access by Canadian academic researchers to major and unique national or international (based in Canada) experimental or thematic research resources by financially assisting these resources to remain in a state of readiness for researchers to use." from the link above:

Canada's Nuclear Industry in Jeopardy as SNC-Lavalin Faces Potential Strike

Wow! "Scientists, engineers, technologists and technicians vote overwhelmingly to strike - action could commence May 7th"!!!   "SNC-Lavalin faces more bad news as the union representing the majority of staff at its newly acquired nuclear reactor design company voted to authorize strike action. The Society of Professional Engineers and Associates (SPEA) held a strike vote yesterday: an unprecedented 95% of employees participated in the vote, with over 94% voting to authorize strike action.
"This vote is a stinging indictment of SNC-Lavalin's cavalier management style and brinkmanship bargaining. They claim employees are their greatest asset, and yet they attempt to extract a series of unacceptable concessions," said SPEA President, Peter White. "Their quest to maximize short term profits at the expense of employees is placing a major Ontario-based industry in jeopardy."
SNC Lavalin officials predict that Candu Energy's revenue stream will double over the next five years, not including Canadian opportunities, like an Ontario new build. These revenues are at risk because of an ongoing exodus of experienced staff from the newly privatized company, which SNC-Lavalin purchased from the federal government in October of last year.
"This is a watershed moment for the CANDU nuclear industry. Hundreds of experienced nuclear employees have already fled this company since the federal government announced the sale of AECL's commercial business to SNC-Lavalin last summer. Many more are poised to leave. We are fighting for the survival of the CANDU industry. We already face serious shortages of expertise in key areas. These shortages could become critical to ongoing projects if SNC-Lavalin doesn't change its approach." added White."

Here is the story on reuters: "The union representing 870 scientists, engineers and technologists at SNC Lavalin Group Inc's nuclear reactor division have voted 94 percent in favor of a strike mandate, the latest challenge for the hard-hit Canadian construction and engineering company.
SNC, which acquired Candu Energy from the Canadian government last year for C$15 million plus royalties, is currently caught up in allegations of bribery and improper payments that are now being investigated by police.
The Society of Professional Engineers and Associates said on Friday that it can call a strike after giving 72 hours notice and could be in position to walk off the job as soon as May 7.
The unionized staff, who design and maintain electricity-generating nuclear reactors in Canada, China, Argentina, Romania and Korea, have been without a contract since Dec. 31, 2010."

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Nuclear power as a climate change solution

Nuclear power as a climate change solution, this is the link to a great presentation by former no-nuclear environmentalist Ben Heard---now yes-nuclear environmentalist---posting the entire ppt file of his presentation at the SAREIC conference, comparing the environmental and health impacts of leading energy sources in an easy to understand and follow manner, quite a good resource:

More competition for DOE SMR funding

More competition for DOE SMR funding: ... "The race to win $452 million in cost shared funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for licensing and technical support to bring a small modular reactor (SMR) to market by 2022 got a new entry April 19. Westinghouse has partnered with Ameren to submit a proposal based on the reactor vendor’s design of a 225 MW SMR.
The proposal won enthusiastic support from elected officials, including Governor Jay Nixon, with the promise of high paying manufacturing jobs to build the components for the reactors in Missouri. Governor Nixon called it a “transformational economic development opportunity.”
A consortium composed of Westinghouse, Ameren, and regional electrical utilities will prepare the proposal to DOE. The cost share agreement covers a five year period and would involve equal spending by the winning team and the government up to $904 million. The government may make two awards splitting the funds among developers.
The Westinghouse SMR is a 225 MW light water reactor design based on the firm’s 1100 MW AP1000 which achieved design certification from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) last December. Westinghouse is building four units in China and in 2012 began construction of four units in the U.S. – two in Georgia and two more in South Carolina. "

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

More on wind farms, read and decide for yourself

More on wind farms, read and decide for yourself: these are just a few publicly accessible articles out there...

Broken down and rusting, is this the future of Britain's 'wind rush'?

Council considers bond to protect landowners, municipality from abandoned wind turbines:

Something for municipalities to worry about: decommissioning costs of turbines:

14000 Abandoned Wind Turbines In The USA:

NV Energy windmill program generates rebates, little electricity: