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CANDU is a must for the 1990s.

CANDU is a Must for the 1990s

Recent opinion polls have indicated to both provincial and federal governments that Canadians are greatly concerned about the continued growth of our economy and the adverse effects of fossil fuel emissions on the environment. The agenda of the new federal government can therefore be expected to emphasize the development of a strong science and technology base to address these environmental concerns. Investment in such a base will hopefully enhance our industrial competitiveness as we strive to move away from resource-based economies.

Attainment of these objectives will demand an increased role for nuclear power which currently contributes nearly 15% of Canada's and 45% of Ontario's electrical supply. This follows from the realization that the Canadian-designed CANDU reactor is an environmentally-sound energy source. Nuclear energy does not generate emissions which contribute to acid raid or the greenhouse effect. Secondly, Canadian nuclear technology is one of Canada's few enduring high technology success stories as measured in terms of jobs for Canadians, its pool of technical expertise and the international recognition for scientific and engineering excellence in fields as diverse as medicine and agriculture. Finally, there is the realization that Canada's industrial competitive edge has been based for the most part on low cost, readily available electricity.

Nuclear power from CANDU reactors is safe, proven, economical and sustainable for centuries. It can continue to enhance Canada's competitiveness if it is not terminated by poorly-timed decisions which threaten to curtail any further development based on the mistaken premise that nuclear power is a mature technology no longer in need of long-term support. A similar vision was presumably held in the mid-1970s by many North American automobile executives prior to the invasion of better engineered, more reliable and initially less expensive cars from Japan.

Technology cannot be maintained by curtailing investment in future improvements. The governments of other nations, including France and Japan, have made strong commitments to their nuclear industries. Japan alone will authorize expenditures of $3.4-billion on nuclear projects and R&D in 1989/90. In the face of this level of competition the Mulroney government must stand and be counted as strongly endorsing continued development of nuclear power -- lack of federal support will ensure a quick demise for Canada's most successful high technology venture. John H. Rolston, FCIC Atomic Energy of Canada, Chalk River Laboratories, Chalk River, Ont.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Chemical Institute of Canada
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Rolston, John H.
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Article Type:column
Date:Jul 1, 1989
Next Article:Structures on tap.

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