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  1. Enough Canadians have similar “safety” concerns as Americans do about nuclear power that I wonder when I hear talk like this, i.e. that nuclear could power the extraction of oil out of the sand there, if it will ever get off the ground. (I am Canadian, living in the US on a green card at present).

    The resource is very large, but the reserves (i.e. what the official reserves as recognized by whatever international body recognizes these things are “only” roughly comparable to those of Saudi Arabia, 170 billion barrels, say. The rest, I think ten times as large, is buried too deep for current techniques, although the sky would be the limit if the price goes high enough. The problem with this resource is, of course, CO2 emissions when it is burned, which I hope will tax this extraction business out of existence, unless they can figure out how to keep the CO2 from entering the atmosphere, or how to economically remove it from the atmosphere. Chilchinisky at Columbia is developing a process for air capture of CO2 she has been touting that she says can turn any industrial plant, i.e. coal fired electricity generation station, etc, into a net carbon sink because her air capture process can use the waste heat to remove more than enough CO2 to compensate for all the CO2 the coal plant emits as it produces the electricity. She wrote the cap and trade section of the Kyoto agreement, so I took her seriously enough to ask her for details about all this but its under wraps until the pilot plant is unveiled in California first quarter 2010, she says.

    I’d like to hear you discuss the MAPLE reactors that it looks like Canada will not put into service. They were built to replace the aging Chalk River reactor that was producing such a large percentage of the world’s medical isotopes that Canada is the biggest single supplier, only the regulator will not approve startup because “safety” cannot be guaranteed, according to the regulator. It is astonishing.

    I first heard about this (as a former nuclear agnostic only recently following nuclear developments with some enthusiasm) on Canada’s national public radio science show Quirks and Quarks. The link to download the mp3 file of the segment of the show concerning the reactors is:


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