June 16, 2024

The Queens County Citizen

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Fitzgibbon promised 'discussions' on nuclear power

Fitzgibbon promised 'discussions' on nuclear power

With Quebec soon to present a “robust” bill on energy, Finance and Energy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon believes the development of the nuclear sector must be considered. He promised a dialogue with the population to decide “whether we want it or not.”

As long as there is no debate on the risks and benefits of nuclear power, “Quebecers will oppose nuclear power,” he declared this Wednesday during a panel on nuclear power that took part in the economic publication Barometer of the BCF organization.

According to him, the fear is justified because there is no “narrative” on the issue of nuclear power in the province: “I think it is a discussion that must happen and we decide collectively whether we want it or not. We don't want it. »

Since the closure of the Gentilly-2 power plant 10 years ago, the fuel situation has changed drastically, he said. Electricity demand is driven today by the electrification of several sectors of activity, including transportation, and Quebec's desire to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

“Nuclear has to be considered. “Not tomorrow morning and not before the election, but I think there needs to be a discussion,” he said, adding that this type of energy “is going to be part of an integrated resource plan, because today — and this is a personal opinion — decarbonizing the planet is not going to happen without nuclear power.”

According to him, there are two specific issues that need to be addressed. First of all, there are fears regarding the safety of nuclear power plants. In 2011, with the Fukushima nuclear disaster, “anxiety resurfaced,” he recalled.

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The other element relates to the disposal of uranium waste. On this point, he cites the example of Ontario, which, in cooperation with indigenous communities, “discovered geological deposits where they are going to put uranium”.

Is Quebec looking more at building large power plants with CANDU reactors or favoring the construction of small modular reactors (SMR), power plants with a capacity of less than 300 megawatts (MW) deployed in remote areas? He replied that no specific route has been considered so far.

On the subject of PRMs, the minister pointed out that the technologies are still unproven: “There is no operational reactor and what is the cost? If it costs $0.20 a KW, we might not get anything. »

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