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Alberta

Alberta supports the development of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

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Alberta signs small modular nuclear reactor MOU

Alberta has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan to support the development of small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs).

Premier Jason Kenney signed the MOU, previously signed by the three other provinces, on April 14. He joined New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe at a virtual event where the premiers shared the findings of a study that examined the feasibility of SMRs in Canada.

“Alberta has always been committed to clean, affordable energy. Small modular reactors are an exciting new technology that could be used in the future to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions, for example by generating power for Canadian oilsands producers. Nuclear is the cleanest form of electricity production, and with SMRs is now more affordable and scalable for industrial use. We are excited to be part of this group that will help develop Canadian SMR technology.”

Jason Kenney, Premier of Alberta

“Today’s announcement confirms the commitment of our provinces to advancing SMRs as a clean energy option, leveraging the strength and knowledge of each of our jurisdictions. This study confirms the feasibility of small modular reactors in Canada and outlines a path forward to deploy this new clean, safe, reliable and competitively priced power. This new technology will help attract investment, create high-skilled jobs and contribute to our growing economy.”

Scott Moe, Premier of Saskatchewan

“Our government believes the best way to ensure that Canada becomes a leader in advanced small modular reactor development and deployment is through continued engagement and partnerships. New Brunswick has already attracted two tremendous vendors in ARC Clean Energy Canada and Moltex Energy who are now developing their capacity and generating local economic development in the province. New Brunswick is well-positioned to be a world leader in the SMR field.”

Blaine Higgs, Premier of New Brunswick

“It is important that our provinces take these next steps together to continue leading the development of cutting-edge small modular reactors for the benefit of future generations. Ontario is home to a world-class nuclear industry, which we will leverage as we continue our critical work on this innovative technology in order to provide affordable, reliable, safe and clean energy while unlocking tremendous economic potential across the country.”

Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario

With the addition of Alberta to the MOU, all provinces involved have agreed to collaborate on the advancement of SMRs as a clean energy option to address climate change and regional energy demands while supporting economic growth and innovation.

The SMR Feasibility Study, formally requested as part of the MOU in December 2019, concludes that the development of SMRs would support domestic energy needs, curb greenhouse gas emissions and position Canada as a global leader in this emerging technology. SMRs are nuclear reactors that produce 300 megawatts of electricity or less. They can support large established grids, small grids, remote off-grid communities and resource projects.

The study, conducted by Ontario Power Generation, Bruce Power, NB Power and SaskPower, identifies three streams of SMR project proposals for consideration by the governments of Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan.

Stream 1 proposes a first grid-scale SMR project of approximately 300 megawatts constructed at the Darlington nuclear site in Ontario by 2028. Subsequent units in Saskatchewan would follow, with the first SMR projected to be in service in 2032.

Stream 2 involves two fourth generation advanced small modular reactors that would be developed in New Brunswick through the construction of demonstration units at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station. By fostering collaboration among the various research, manufacturing, federal and provincial agencies, an initial ARC Clean Energy demonstration unit plans to be ready by 2030.

Moltex Energy Inc.’s waste recycling facility and reactor is preparing to be ready by the early 2030s. Through ongoing support and collaborations, these advanced technologies could start being deployed as early as 2030 in support of the industrial needs in areas like Saskatchewan, Alberta and around the globe.

Stream 3 proposes a new class of micro-SMRs designed primarily to replace the use of diesel in remote communities and mines. A five-megawatt gas-cooled demonstration project is underway at Chalk River, Ont., with plans to be in service by 2026.

The report identifies the potential for all three streams to create employment and economic growth benefits for Canada, as well as opportunities to export technology and expertise to address global issues such as climate change and energy reliability.

The next action identified in the MOU is the development of a joint strategic plan, to be drafted by the governments of Alberta, New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan. The plan is expected to be completed this spring.

The partner provinces will continue to work together and across the nuclear industry to help ensure Canada remains at the forefront of nuclear innovation while creating new opportunities for jobs, economic growth, innovation and a lower-carbon future.

Alberta

Panel says Grassy Mountain coal mine in Alberta Rockies not in public interest

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A joint federal-provincial review has denied an application for an open-pit coal mine in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, saying its impacts on the environment and Indigenous rights aren’t worth the economic benefits it would bring.

“We are not confident about the technical and economic feasibility of some proposed mitigation measures,” the report says.

“We find that this was particularly true for effects on surface water quality, westslope cutthroat trout (and fish and fish habitat more generally), and vegetation.”

Riversdale Resources had proposed the Grassy Mountain project in southern Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass region. The area has seen mining in the past.

The mine, said Riversdale, would create about 500 jobs during two years of construction and 400 over the 23-year life of the mine. The company said it would pay $1.7 billion in royalties and $35 million in municipal taxes over that time.

It was supported by many in the town of Crowsnest Pass.

But concerns were raised during a hearing about the chance the mine could contaminate headwaters of the Oldman River with selenium. The element commonly found in coal mines is toxic to fish in large doses.

The review panel also heard the mine would damage ecosystems and impair the cultural and physical heritage of three local First Nations.

“The mitigation measures proposed are not sufficient to fully mitigate these effects,” says the report.

The panel advises federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson to turn the mine down. It has also denied the project’s permit applications under provincial laws.

The Grassy Mountain mine is the first of a number of coal projects that have been proposed for the mountains and foothills of Alberta’s western boundary. At least eight companies have taken large exploration leases.

Earlier this week, Wilkinson announced that any proposals from those exploration leases would be subject to a federal environmental review. He said concerns about selenium prompted the move.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 17, 2021.

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Alberta confirms two patient deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant at Calgary hospital

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EDMONTON — A health official says two patients at Calgary’s Foothills hospital have died from the Delta variant of COVID-19 — and one had been fully immunized.

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the two patients, a man and a woman, were in their 80s, had significant co-morbidities and likely acquired the virus in the hospital.

One patient had received two doses of an mRNA vaccine, while the other had not been immunized.

They were among 23 hospital patients and staff who became infected with the Delta variant, one of the variants first identified in India.

Health experts have stressed that it is still possible to contract COVID-19 even with full immunization, but that the chances of severe outcomes drop significantly with vaccination.

The Delta variant is being watched carefully in Alberta, given it is now the dominant strain in the United Kingdom and, with its rapid transmission, is threatening plans there to reopen the economy and lift health restrictions.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 17, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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