The Independent Assessment of Nuclear Developments in the World

Home > WNISR in the Media > JBCCS—Cree Radio (Canada): Report: World Uranium Symposium

JBCCS—Cree Radio (Canada): Report: World Uranium Symposium

Saturday 25 April 2015

Report: World Uranium Symposium

24 April 2015

Written by Scott Forward

This report is to bring an update from the World Uranium Symposium, happening in Quebec City from April 14-16th. The Symposium’s goal is to address issues arising from the nuclear fuel chain, mining of uranium and the byproducts of the production of uranium. The Symposium plays host to local, national, and international representatives from health, research, industry, education, civil society, policy makers, and indigenous peoples.

Uranium has become a popular topic of conversation in the North. With projects like Matoush Uranium so close to home, people are looking for answers about the industry, not just from a mining perspective, but also what the results from that mining will be. There is a myriad of information circulating about the benefits of uranium production - in particular, that it is a source of cheap/clean power that could play a role in solving energy problems. On the subject of power, the presenters had a number of interesting points to make.

World Nuclear Industry Status Report

The day opened with a presentation by Mycle Schneider, an international energy and nuclear policy consultant and member of the International Energy Advisory Counsel. Schneider’s presentation tells us that the nuclear power industry would have us believe that we are witnessing a rise to prominence of nuclear power. Their argument, that we are seeing a rise in the amount of reactor production. Nations (in particular China) are choosing nuclear power as the primary means of production, and that switch to nuclear power will be necessary to keep up with world power needs; they also argue that it is a clean form of energy.

Schneider warns though, with a closer look at data, this dialogue by the nuclear power industry doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Instead of a rise in production, we see that the production of reactors and new power plants peaked in the early 80’s and has since fallen off significantly. What about the rise in reactor production touted by the industry? It turns out, by beginning their measurements at a historical low in reactor production (2005), they are simply manipulating date ranges to make it appear as though there is a rise in reactor production. In reality, when accounting for the increase from 2005 in reactor production, we still have a net aging in the global infrastructure of nuclear power.

Far from a rise to prominence, the picture painted by the status report is that production of reactors is slowing; many construction projects are being cancelled or delayed indefinitely -some as long as 40 years. The result from this aging of nuclear power infrastructure is an escalation of costs. As Schneider points out, the 20 largest European utilities have lost over [half] a trillion dollars and that EDF, a large producer of nuclear energy in France, has seen stock values plunge by 70%.

The concern is, with the financial health of nuclear energy companies in disarray, where will the responsibility of maintaining these facilities lie? These facilities need large numbers of staff (which are often let go during tough financial times) in order to be maintained when integrity of structures becomes compromised. Is there a worry that, as costs continue to escalate and profits downturn, nuclear energy producers won’t be able to afford to keep their facilities safe? Should we be worried, as the global age of reactors continue to rise, that we are placing our trust in technology nearly three decades old?

The take home message of the presentation was simple: we are seeing a shift away from nuclear energy and probably traditional utilities in general. When we look to renewable modes of energy production, such as wind and solar, we aren’t seeing the chaotic fluctuations in cost in the maintenance of infrastructure, environmental impact, or the ability to produce energy. To listen to a full copy of the presentation, I invite you to listen to the link.


What They Say…

“The Report sets forth in painstaking detail the actual experience and achievements of nuclear energy around the world.”

Peter A. Bradford

Former commissioner
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
(in his foreword to the 2013 report)
“A vital public service... Uniquely independent, thorough, and timely assessment."

Amory B. Lovins

Chairman, Rocky Mountain Institute
“This annual publication has over 20 years evolved into the most reliable, strikingly original, comprehensive and penetrating assessment of the global nuclear industry.”

Praful Bidwai

Financial Chronicle
Delhi, India
"Amid the hype and PR, the smoke and mirrors, of the 'nuclear renaissance', the Status Report offers a hard-edged reality check."

Walt Patterson

Associate Fellow Chatham House
London, UK
“Fantastic piece of work. Must reading for any observer of nuclear energy."

Henri Sokolski

Executive Director Nonproliferation Policy Education Center
Washington DC, USA
“Reliable research based on cold, hard facts, unlike the hype and amnesia of industry sources.”

Scott Ludlam

“Félicitations pour la dernière édition du WNISR. Formidable comme d'habitude!”

Fulcieri Maltini

International Consultant Former Director of the Nuclear Safety Account, EBRD
“Thought-provoking as usual.”

Will Dalrymple

Editor Nuclear Engineering International
"The authoritative report on the status of nuclear power plants worldwide is the World Nuclear Industry Status Report."


Bangkok, Thailand
“Such an illuminating report.”

Sam Geall

Deputy Editor China Dialogue
London, UK
"An astounding collection of facts and figures, a myth-busting international overview… An eye-opening piece of work!"

R. Andreas Krämer

Chairman Ecologic Institute
Berlin, Germany
“I really appreciate you letting us excerpt your report! It’s incredibly well researched and comprehensive, so thank you!”

Stuart Luman

Associate Editor Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists