About 16% of Canada’s electricity generation comes from the 19 nuclear reactors at Pickering, Darlington, Bruce, and Point Lepreau.

For years, politicians, regulators, environmentalists, and the public have been contemplating whether it makes sense to refurbish some reactors to extend their lives, particularly as climate change has become a greater concern.

Today, World Nuclear News reports that Bruce Power signed an agreement with SNC-Lavalin for up to C$400 million of work “for Bruce Power’s engineering needs including field services and an incremental program to refurbish six Candu units. The company will be responsible for the tooling to remove pressure and calandria tubes, the installation of new components and the deployment and maintenance of a number of reactor inspection tools.”

WNN also reports that Intrinsik Environmental Sciences have estimated that refurbishing the reactors at Darlington could avoid almost 300 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions between 2024 and 2055.

All the familiar issues with nuclear are at work here: what sort of power would be used in the alternative? Could energy storage and demand management do the same job? Is it technically and financially feasible to extend the operation of existing nuclear facilities?


In keeping with tradition, Massey College held a potluck dinner for Thanksgiving. Many thanks to all who contributed and came out.

{ 1 comment }

Fields Institute 6/6


On July 17th I hurt my left ankle running to a climate change consultation.

At my second Judo class in September, I had my upper left ribs bruised by a classmate putting all his effort into a hold down. This made a number of subsequent classes quite uncomfortable in terms of both warm ups and grappling.

Today’s class was the first time I didn’t feel significant pain from either injury.

I also feel like Judo practice is affecting how I move all the time. In particular, the instructors are very effective both with words and demonstrations at showing how having your legs in the right position can help you leverage your way out of a difficult position.

Certainly I need to do a lot to strengthen my abs, but I am generally very happy about how these classes are going.


Fields Institute 5/6


Dr. Jennifer Welsh’s lecture tonight about the challenges faced by liberal democracies — including the psychological, political, and social stresses arising from extreme wealth and income inequality — was highly interesting and I took detailed notes, both for a forthcoming response here on my blog and for incorporation into my PhD research project.

I was happy to get some photos at the lecture, which was expertly MCed by CBC Radio’s Anna Maria Tremonti.


This is a thoroughly intriguing development:

First Nations communities from Canada and the northern United States signed a treaty on Thursday to jointly fight proposals to build more pipelines to carry crude from Alberta’s oil sands, saying further development would damage the environment.

The treaty, signed in Montreal and Vancouver, came as the politics around pipelines have become increasingly sensitive in North America, with the U.S. Justice Department intervening last week to delay construction of a contentious pipeline in North Dakota.

The document itself calls “[t]he expansion of the Tar Sands… a truly monumental threat bearing down on all Indigenous Nations in Canada and beyond”.

The document identifies risks from pipeline spills, train derailments, and tanker accidents. On climate change, it identifies “effects that have already started to endanger our ways of life and which now threaten our very survival”. The document calls for signatories to “officially prohibit and to agree to collectively challenge and resist the use of our respective territories and coasts for the expansion of the production of Tar Sands, including for the transport of such expanded production, whether by pipeline, rail or tanker”

According to CBC News it has been signed by 50 aboriginal groups in North America, including the Standing Rock Sioux tribe which is resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline, as well as opponents of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline and Energy East.

Related: Is environmentalist solidarity with indigenous peoples opportunistic?


Fields Institute 4/6


Fields Institute 3/6


Repairing hearing


in Science

Surprisingly, the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis may permit the development of a therapy to repair damaged cilia in human ears. A solution containing repair proteins from the anemones has been shown to repair human tissue in vitro.

{ 1 comment }