SASKATOON—What do you get when you cross a nuclear reactor with a hydraulic shovel-full of tar sands? The answer, according to the Canadian Energy Research Institute, is “Green Bitumen.”
The brainchild of the nuclear industry, this novel concept of deploying small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) to replace natural gas is being sold as a solution to the tar sands’ reputation for producing the largest carbon footprint on the planet. Nuclear is being touted as an environmentally friendly, “clean” energy source for the extraction process. But in order to make that claim, one must overlook the substantial carbon emissions in the nuclear “fuel cycle,” from mining to ultimate disposal; the risks of weapons proliferation; the toxic radioactive footprint; and the legacy of highly radioactive waste left behind for many generations to come.