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30 Fairmont Park Lane S
Lethbridge, AB
T1K 7H7
Phone: (403) 328-1804
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
The Editor
The Lethbridge Herald
P.O. Box 670
Lethbridge, AB, T1J 3Z7

Expert Panel Discussion Paper 

Dear Editor, 

Joan Wierzba (“Pro-nuclear panels fix is in”, May 6) seems to have misunderstood the purpose of the expert panel setup by the provincial government. The panel is to prepare a report on nuclear electricity as a basis for future public discussions – not to decide whether Alberta should permit the use of nuclear energy as Ms. Wierzba states. 

Frankly, the panel is well suited to meet the goals set out by Alberta Energy. The panel member’s qualifications are available on the internet. A Ph.D. in chemical engineering, long time MP and now a businessman, chair’s the panel. A Professor of Energy Policy from the U of A and a Professor of Strategic Mangement involved in sustainable development at U of C are very appropriate choices to consider the business and environmental case for energy alternatives. Finally, Dr. John Luxat, a Professor in Nuclear Safety Analysis at McMaster University, is the fourth member of the team. Surely that is a skill we would want on the panel, even if his knowledge of nuclear reactors and safety admittedly leads him to favor it as an energy source.  I know John. He is very thoughtful and has the broad knowledge of nuclear energy issues needed by this panel.  Their report is scheduled for completion this fall.  

After that a process for gathering input from Albertans will be determined.  I participated in Alberta’s Royalty Review Process on behalf of the Canadian Nuclear Society. That panel listened very carefully to Albertans. They documented public input and their work in a very complete transparent open way.  I’m anticipating our government will build on that experience to consult with Albertans on nuclear energy. Certainly, Ms. Wierzba’s suggestion that health and environmental experts be part of such a panel makes a lot of sense. 

Finally, I note that Ms. Wierzba remembers “misshapen radioactive monster plants growing from contaminated soil” after the Three Mile Island accident.  I studied that accident as part of my work and remember no such thing. Releases of radioactive material turned out to be very small. Nevertheless, I refreshed my memory by looking for evidence on that fount of all kinds of information, the Internet.  I did find a reference to monster plants in connection with TMI as the reactor “plant” itself was deemed a “monster” in one article. Could that be a confusing factor? There was a lot of hysteria at the time of TMI. Science fiction is replete with monsters developing from radiation. It is no small chore to separate fact from fiction after so many years. 

Yours truly,


Duane Pendergast


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