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Existing Nuclear and Imaginary Nuclear feat. Mark Nelson

Dreams of advanced nuclear and the SMR revolution around the corner which will solve all of Nuclear's problems such as economics, safety and load following are very popular within the Nuclear Energy community. These technologies are exciting and an inevitable addition to the nuclear energy mix but are they the quickest nuclear route to deep decarbonization? Are they a substitute for our existing cutting edge large scale nuclear technology like the recently unveiled Barakah station in the UAE or our "old" reactor designs like CANDU which can burn used nuclear fuel and thorium?  I am joined by Mark Nelson, the managing director of Radiant Energy Fund and a leading researcher and speaker on the status and prospects of Nuclear Energy to wade into this controversy. Mark is a former generation fellow at the Breakthrough Institute and was a senior analyst at Environmental Progress. He holds degrees in mechanical, aerospace and nuclear engineering.  This is gauranteed to be a controversial show and I look forward to the debate it will spark. Please follow us and join the debate on Twitter @decouplepodcast and on our Decouple Podcast Facebook page. 


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Transcript Follows:


DECOUPLE PODCAST: EPISODE 13, AUGUST 18, 2020

“EXISTING NUCLEAR AND IMAGINARY NUCLEAR, FEAT. MARK NELSON” TRANSCRIPT


CHRIS KEEFER:

All right, folks, welcome back to Decouple.

Today, I'm joined by Mark Nelson. He is the managing director of the Radiant Energy Fund. He's a leading researcher and speaker on the status and prospects of nuclear and alternative energy around the world. Mark is a former generation fellow at the Breakthrough Institute and was a senior analyst at Environmental Progress. He has interned at Los Alamos National Laboratory and holds degrees in mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering. Mark, welcome to Decouple.


MARK NELSON:


Thanks, Chris. Good to be here.


So, Mark, I'm really excited to have you on as you are both a passionate kind of policy wonk as well as someone with engineering training, which I think can inform your opinions in a way that's, you know, as a physician, I just I'm able to advocate and talk about nuclear.

But I'm just stoked to have someone with a strong engineering background to help bring some of that, too, to our conversation.


Yeah. It's a different way of viewing the world. And I think we'll see that in my points of view for sure.


So, Mark, I looked to get into some controversies in the show, you know, address things that are kind of bubbling within the community. And I brought you on because I want to explore what seems to me to be a source of tension within the pro nuclear community between those who support traditional large scale nuclear and I guess others who see this kind of technology as something of the past and pin their hopes on small, modular and advanced reactors.

So our goal when it comes to climate change is essentially it's a race, right? It's the most rapid road to deep decarbonization possible. And I think it's really important that we

analyze these strategies, have a conversation among ourselves to figure out what's most likely to get us to that goal.

You know, whether or not it's an either/or proposition between traditional nuclear and SMR and advanced or what mix and what a deployment of that mix, you know, makes the most sense.

Mark, are you comfortable with those terms that I'm using in terms of traditional large scale nuclear vs. small, modular, advanced nuclear? Do you have a better way to kind of differentiate that other terms or concepts that you prefer?


I think that these terms are really comfortable for people to talk about. Where they get uncomfortable is when they're actually used in engineering. So, for example, there are places where small modular reactors are being proposed that are not modules, they are not small, the way most people are using the word small. In fact, they're the cutting edge world's largest reactors from about, you know, 1965 or so.


So can you just paint a picture for us? Can you give some examples?

Again, when we're trying to differentiate these two concepts, which I understand from what you're saying, is not quite as simple as they sound, but I think from talking with you in the past, it seems that some if this is fair, but you're an advocate for kind of traditional large scale reactors. Can you explain what that means in terms of maybe the generation or some examples of that kind of reactor that are currently under construction or being deployed?


Sure. I've long been allergic to the use of ‘Generation 1,’ ‘2,’ ‘3,’ ‘4,’ because almost always what people mean is Generation 4 means it doesn't exist yet. Generation 3, 2, 1? That means we've done it already. The trouble is, except for the real nerds of nuclear history, almost nobody talking about Generation 4 knows what actually happened in Generation 2 and 1, what reactors did or didn't exist, what things were and weren't tried, why things did or didn't succeed at various stages of development.

I think I think I just want to be clear that the number one thing that unites pro-nuclear folks and anti-nuclear folks is a bias towards things that don't exist. As in, once things exist, they're not called innovative. They're called delayed once things exist.

You can't attach your dreams easily to a factory that already exists to produce nuclear reactors. If that makes sense, though. So instead, you attach your dreams to a factory that doesn't exist to produce nuclear reactors. And that factory isn't going to have labor issues. It isn't going to have issues with the metal, is it? It isn't going to have issues with stoppages for various problems. It certainly isn't going to have any issues with quality control. You know, it's just gonna be a beautiful factory.

Right.

I mean, heck, I'll tell you, a lot of the people I talked to are convinced that factory-built nuclear is the future. And aren't aware that that's how we build our nuclear now. And to have never stepped foot in a factory, much less put in a decent shift.

So, again, talking about traditional large-scale nuclear, I feel like it's a clumsy phrase, but maybe that's what we're stuck with through this conversation.


Would things like the new reactors in the UAE, United Arab Emirates, the Barakah complex, will that sort of be something that describes what you advocate?


Yeah, it would be. And I think when you talk about large-scale nuclear, I guess what I'm more concerned about is that there needs to be a continuous building tradition. And almost all of our advanced technologies today come from a continuous building tradition. I want to explain a little bit what I mean by that. There's this [moment] where each little kid growing up first realizes that big metal machines are required in the making of metal, like in a metal factory. Right. Chris, do you have in your head an image of a big bucket filled with molten metal pouring it out?


Yeah, I. I went to medical school in Hamilton, so that's kind of Steeltown for Canada. So I got it. Oh, do you know what I have to say. Never stepped foot into it, but I've seen the pictures.


And did you ever wonder, wait, if there's no liquid metal in the bucket, where did the bucket come from?


Yeah.


Or like how, if that's the big bucket making the steel, then what made the bucket?

If you go back in time all the way, what you've got in steel is a series of larger and larger buckets with more steel being poured out, okay. And it's a continuous history of knowledge, knowledge transfer — unstated, unwritten things — but also written things, documents, people passing on knowledge before they retire. Institutions making standards that those who are in the business understand and know how to apply. Like there's a continuous series of knowledge unbroken all the way back past before Carnegie. And I just wanted that image in your head because that's effectively the problem we have in nuclear, where we've forgotten how to do big construction projects at all. And there's an idea if we take the construction out of the construction and we set up a factory regardless of whether we can operate a factory well or not — Chris, let's just leave that aside whether or not we know how to operate a factory — there's that thinking that what's going wrong in large nuclear is the sheer size of the power output or the sheer size of the reactor vessel or the sheer size of the project. And the way to solve that is to get smaller. That way will either be able to — I mean, charitably speaking — I think the claim is that if we make the reactors and the projects really small, then our mistakes will be really small

and our successes will be repeatable. I think that's the way I’d put it. Those are the claims that I'm hearing. A lot of times the claims are a little more confused than that.

But I think that's the good part of the SMR vision.


I mean, what I've heard is sort of a comparison to the Henry Ford manufacturing line and that kind of legacy though I don't know whether to call it economies of scale, because I think that actually favors really big things.

But economies of repetition and supply chain that, you know, Ford made cars that were affordable to his workers. And, you know, we can have a similar process with, you know, mass manufacturing and bending notes. You know, Khrushchev would say bringing out small modular reactors like sausages or something like that.

I think that's the vision that I've had sort of painted for me, I think.


Got it. Well, I'm glad you put it that way, because what I find is that our metaphors stretch to the breaking point when we talk about things that don't exist yet. So, I mean, I live in Silicon Valley. People use really broken metaphors all the time. Sometimes they use the metaphor correctly, but the existing comparison is bad. So, for example, it's a cliche in Silicon Valley that you hear some new business being pitched as the Uber of X, Y, Z. Right. Well, Uber itself was just an arbitrage play with, you know, the legal definition of job versus contractor. That's what it was. Uber can't magically make more cars fit into the same amount of roads. They can't. In fact, it makes it worse. But until it gets cracked down on, it can undercut either existing taxi cartels or labor laws around what a company owes people who work for it. Right. So then you get new businesses where they're correctly or incorrectly called the Uber of X. Now, you thought maybe it'd be better if we didn't get too far afield. But I did want to bring up this problem where our metaphors are often extremely faulty, either because we're comparing it to something bad or we're missing the history that matters for that product. So you mentioned Henry Ford, right? Do you know this story of how Henry Ford almost destroyed Ford versus his competitors?


I’m pretty shady on my industrial history. So fill me in, Mark.


Well, let's just not get too far afield. I guess I want to make the point that people have a lot of metaphors floating around that turn into clichés when they don't actually know manufacturing history, much less the history of nuclear manufacturing. What they're convinced of, though, is

that they have an image of things getting stamped out in a factory and that that solves America's productivity crisis in construction.


Meanwhile, we've basically deindustrialized and shifted all of our factory capacity over to China.


Yeah. So we're gonna have to figure out how to do factories again for a product we don't make. And we're still. And, you know, Henry Ford's cars were driven out of the factory. No modular reactor is going to be turned on, on the truck, on the way to a side or something, right. So

already the imagery that you had in your head, it starts to be really weird. For example, there's a prominent SMR company that proposes building the biggest swimming pools we've ever built in world history. And that is going to solve the construction problem in U.S. nuclear. First, you build something beyond our construction capacity, certainly. And then you put in a module for a factor

from a factory, from a country that doesn't setup that many factories nowadays. I mean, it's not completely true. We set up automobile factories to onshore manufacturing in a time of cheap energy. You know, a lot of the Japanese car manufacturers make their cars over here. Right. Right. But then you have the parts issue. And it turns out the parts issue is one of the things that messed up the AP 1000 reactors in Georgia. And then it turns out land, concrete and rebar messed up. AP one thousands in Georgia. But there's concrete and rebar in every single advanced nuclear project. This doesn't mean we don't build SMRs. It just means that if you think people are anti-nuclear, either in finance or in regulation or in public culture, because we haven't shrunk our reactors down small enough, it's an absolute fantasy. Moreover, it's an extremely dangerous one because it thinks that there's some way to avoid the immensely hard work in the public culture, in the regulation and in the construction industries to get our confidence and capabilities back.


So, Mark, let's explore a little bit where this kind of “small is beautiful” ethos comes from. I think Amory Lovins is a big intellectual in this. This kind of idea of decentralized, democratic kind of small is beautiful scales of power generation. You know, as a physician who works in a large Canadian urban health center, which is publicly funded, directed by a community board of directors and in a pretty democratic and representative fashion, I think that really led me to thinking that big can be beautiful as well. I don't know if this analogy between a hospital and a large nuclear plant is reasonable, but for you, what are some of the benefits of what we'll call traditional large scale nuclear power?


Well, you're gonna hate me, Chris, but I have to tell you, big and small exist on different levels. For example, in the U.S., if you took the U.S. as a whole and certainly every single energy modeler who imagines a supergrid in the U.S. is taking the U.S. as a centralized whole. Right. Let's just say a supergrid in the U.S. makes the USA one unit.

That's the whole point of a supergrid. Right. So at the point that you're taking the USA as a unit, a one gigawatt reactor starts to look like a small modular reactor at the point that you would build, say, a hundred of them. That's small. However, if you're looking at the scale of really small entities like, you know, the small is beautiful backyard energy or whatever, then it's impossibly large. But then so is an actual SMR itself.


All right. You know, something I've referred to in the past when discussing renewables and this kind of again, decentralized, small is beautiful thing is the, you know, I call it the green leap forward.

And that's kind of based off of Mao's Great Leap Forward, where the idea was to have a steel smelter in every backyard and industrialization in a decentralized fashion. And obviously, it was an abject failure in China. And, you know, the idea of running an energy

system by putting a solar panel on every roof, you know, flies in the face of efficiencies and economy of scale and just is incredibly wasteful of, you know, materials, et cetera.

Do you feel that the very small scale of what is being proposed in terms of SMRs will suffer from that similar waste or, you know, overuse of materials when they could be used more efficiently?


Of course. Well, OK. I should not say [that absolutely], no. There are some SMR folks out there who are claiming that their reactor will have this incredible price point and everything. But let me put it this way. No SMR will ever, ever beat an already built, existing, optimized American large water reactor, in production price for electricity going forward. That is, I've never heard anybody say that any advanced reactor is going to be, you know, designed, manufactured, installed, turned on, trouble-shooted and fueled and operated into the future for less than the, you know, thirty, thirty-five dollars a megawatt-hour coming out of the already existing nuclear reactors in the US that are being shut down. Right. So when we go into looking at whether they could ever be as cheap from the beginning as our existing reactors, I think it's important to note that where our existing reactors came from, sizewise, was doing the same thing we'd done before. But more efficient for the long run. That's how the reactors got scaled up. Now there are people who say, well, we got too big for our britches. We scaled up too hard. But I think it's particularly ironic that the reactor being proposed in the U.K., as the U.K.’s SMR, is the same size as the it's literally a 440 megawatt three tube pressurized water reactor that fuels straight out of the early 1960s. And the reason that those reactors got larger is because with very little increase in footprint, concrete, staffing, material usage, you could make them, say, four times more powerful.

Right. Which is the whole point of nuclear. You scale up a little bit in volume. And your main concern, of course, that the only thing that really scales after that is your ability to cool the core. Now, there are people who say, well, that's it. It's cooling the core.

But in order to be saying that, you have to imagine that people are afraid of Fukushima, not because they're afraid of radiation and the unknown creepy governments and all that, but they're afraid of individual isotopes [from a meltdown].


Right.


Or that it's just really “cesium” that gets to people, not the fear that there's some big cover-up that's going to hurt their children. We're not in a fear that there's some creepy connection between Fukushima, nuclear war, whatever. You know, it's that fear of that one meltdown that's gonna get you.


And the idea being that these small modular reactors are just kind of ultra, super duper, incredibly safe when compared to the larger nuclear.

And that's, you know, the public, particularly the Greens and Enviros are just gonna be unable to criticize because of, you know, how, again, super duper safe these smaller units are with more coolable cores. Is that the idea?


That's the dream. I think what small reactor and advanced reactor folks are now running into is that they've been lulled into an ambush, that the moment their pet design is gonna get an inch closer to the finish line. That is the point at which you have to put ten billion dollars into it or something. At the point that it gets close. That's the point at which the people who said, oh, we like the idea of reactors that don't exist, suddenly make it clear that they very much like reactors that don't exist, Chris. They like reactors to not exist. It's not that they liked advanced because of advanced reactors existing in the future. They liked advanced because they don't exist today, but act to discredit what we do have today. So that makes sense. Yeah. And I think that there's an advanced reactor going to the NRC that's being legally ambushed now by folks they thought would be totally satisfied with their reactor being so small, so self-contained, so passively cooled that it literally was untrue, that they should be legally ambushed this way. And yet there it is, because the goal is to stop nuclear. It's to stop nuclear at all. It's not to stop existing nuclear. It's to stop all nuclear. Chris, I've heard tenured professors who don't like nuclear claim that nuclear medicine is killing people and is a scam. These are tenured professors at the finest institutions in the world. And then they say things like, oh, yeah, you know, the reactor at Flamanville, it has a crack in it, which is a misunderstanding of the carbon gradient issues that the forge at that was making the steel for those reactor vessels a complete misunderstanding. But this is an extremely smart professor. They didn't want to understand. They didn't want to know why advanced nuclear is better. They like that advanced nuclear doesn't exist and they plan to keep it that way.


Hmm. Interesting. I'm not sure. I'm not sure if you heard the sound of my face when you talked about those tenured professors opposing nuclear medicine.


But I mean the logic is perfect. If you have people that are capable of dealing with nuclear medicine and making nuclear isotopes, you're a bit closer to the real fear, which is nuclear war. Only thing you can do to get rid of nuclear war, Chris, if you can't get rid of the bombs, is to get rid of every one of the reactors. All the enrichment, all the reprocessing, nuclear medicine to boot.


As opposed to just not bullying small countries and being an imperialist.


We'll leave that aside. I'm just telling you that if any advanced-nuclear-SMR folks think that no one's gonna come at them because they're better than existing nuclear, they're misunderstanding that the reason they're better is ‘not existing.’ And the moment they try to exist, they're gonna be worse, even.


Yeah. So let's shift gears a little bit to one of the big criticisms of large-scale nuclear. And I think we've partially addressed this.


But, you know, in the West, you know, this isn't exclusive in the world, certainly. But in the West, it seems like we've gotten really bad at building large-scale nuclear. I guess that doesn't mean that all this crap to be really good at building small-scale nuclear. But, you know, what are the ways that we can deal with this and make it more appealing to the public financially anyway?


Chris, you didn't need to add the word nuclear. You could have said in the West we’ve gotten bad at building large-scale, and you could just stop there and we could have put in almost any word from physical infrastructure, right? Yes. OK. If I asked you, here's a question for you, for

your listeners. Is Vogtle the catastrophic, long-delayed, super over-budget AP1000 dual-reactor project in Georgia? Is Vogtle doing better or worse than typical, in the typical American reactor construction project in history?


One would assume worse.


No, it's actually doing better than almost all. Like the most recent 40 other reactors, we're almost always much slower and more expensive than what Vogtle is turning out to be. And because it's because of inflation or something that those clouds are here, partly it was that the heyday of reactor building was the heyday of double digit inflation in the West. Right. So there's part of it. But I mean, that's a huge story about why renewables look so cheap in comparison at the moment when you don't look at electricity prices, when you just look at levelized cost of energy. A lot of the reason that renewables are cheap isn't just that they have short billed times, it's that almost all industrial wind and solar in world history has been built in times of extremely low inflation.

I mean, they're always like that. It's also the schedule. You know that Vogtle reactors entered official construction eight years ago and they’re crossing fingers here. We should get the first one online next year. That's nine years. It's not great, Chris. Nine years is not good enough. But considering that the previous generation of American reactors took anywhere from 10 to 30, I think we have something that looks almost — if you squint — like a starting point.


Right.


And this is before we attempt to do the heavy manufacturing on shore. Right? Those were not American-made reactor vessels.

The Vogtle ones or the previous...where were they made?

Japan.


It's incredible what you can do with shipping.


Right. And Japan sits there ready to take on orders, if they can get them, for more large reactor vessels. And if we think we're going to beat existing players, who know how to do metallurgy properly, by just starting small enough, I don't — I mean, I guess I can see where people are

coming from. They say, look, reset. Hit the hard reset. We're starting from the beginning. Let's grow it from scratch. But the thing is, we're not really starting from the beginning. We're gonna be competing against folks around the world who have the option of taking the engineering know-how and the construction abilities of existing players, the same way those players got it from us. You mentioned the Barakah plants, right? You know that those user manuals are almost copy-pasted straight from Palo Verde in Arizona from two to three decades earlier?


Mark, I did not know that.


Yeah. I mean, Palo Verde’s folks get poached for high-paid gigs over in the UAE because it's the same reactor.

It's the same reactor as translated through a couple generations of engineers, [from Connecticut’s former Combustion Engineering firm] via South Korea.

But the South Koreans got it from somewhere.

And the South Koreans got the gig building four APR1400s like those at Palo Verde, basically instead of building one hundred and twenty NuScale, right? And that shouldn't surprise us. Now, if people say, well, that's just so we can get going. Well, what does it mean to get going, Chris? At the moment, nuclear reactors that exist today that are already built and require no construction. Right. And are producing electricity at anywhere from twenty five to forty dollars a megawatt hour going forward costs, [including] long term investment costs, are shutting down and they are providing exactly the electricity we're claiming we're going to provide for most of the advanced nuclear concepts. I know that some of them claim they're going to do high temperature [industrial] heat. Let's leave that aside. That means they're not competing in the electricity market.

So the question I have for you is, if we're losing reactors that exist today, we need to know why we're losing them. And if that applies to new much more expensive reactors. Wouldn't you think that's fair?


That's definitely fair. And indeed, as you know, that's that's something that we're facing in Ontario, where we have, you know, ultra low emissions, nuclear power, which contributes to us having some of the cleanest electricity in the world. And we are about to lose about 17 to 20 percent of that through the closure of a you know, I guess it's I'm sorry. It's a large facility, three gigawatts made up of, you know, 550 megawatt units. But in any case, you know, we're starting a campaign to save this plants, you know, in the context of the climate crisis and in the context of that being replaced by natural gas and the impacts on air pollution, etc..

And, you know, there's many people that are encouraging us to not try and preserve this plan, or refurbish it and wait.


Can I stop you there? If your experience is like mine, whenever I'm out in the world with my colleagues trying to save a nuclear plant, there's a truckload of folks sitting on great philanthropic salaries claiming that we don't have to save the old because there's going to be advanced nuclear.


I get exactly that.


Yeah, Chris, how very curious. Could you expand on what you're experiencing there?

Absolutely. So we are being...it's being strongly suggested to the group of pro-nuclear activists that I'm a part of that we do not support, you know, saving this plant and preserving that enormous amount of electricity, but rather that we pin our hopes on small modular advanced reactors, I guess, which don't exist yet, you know, and that they may come online. And I mean, it's not even being promised that they're going to replace the output of Pickering, but we're basically being told to abandon our plans to try and save an existing large traditional plant, which could be refurbished and I think have another 30 or 40 years of life, but to abandon that campaign in favor of pursuing our SMRs. And indeed, that's the real reason I had you on the show, Mark, is I really wanted to explore that with you. As I was aware that you were someone who had opinions on this topic.


Well, here's an opinion. If you brought me on here for hot takes, here's my hot take. I think that the vast majority of pro-nuclear people could be easily bought off by anti-nukes by a promise of future advanced support and have the existing nuclear ripped out right under their nose. And they wouldn't say a word. That's what I think.

Yeah, I mean, that's that's essentially what's being advocated for. Like, you're describing our exact situation and that's coming from people who are, you know, supposedly pro-nuclear, who are the representatives of large utilities. You know, the nuclear relations representative is saying, don't save this nuclear. Put your faith in something that's oh, yeah, definitely. We'll be ready in a decade.

And I'm guessing they're [not] putting 30 billion Canadian dollars in escrow to build advanced nuclear to show good faith. Is that what they're doing, Chris?

What's escrow?

Oh, it's just, okay: so I'm saying when you're getting pushback saying, don't save existing nuclear, something new of indeterminate size, indeterminate time in the future is gonna be built. I'm going to guess that they're not putting 30 billion dollars to build that nuclear in an account lockbox, saying, hey, we're really serious about new nuclear, we're gonna spend 30 billion. We just don't have the design yet. Right. Is that a threat, really?

No, no.

There's nobody else who will pay for it, or some other executive in the future at that company will find financing.


To be honest, Mark, I don't know what the economic policy of this utility is, but I doubt it's a very large sum, but I honestly don't know.


So here's what I suggest is probably happening. They're not doing that. They're saying somebody else in the future will spend money. That is the hard part. Right? It’s the spending money, not drawing up CAD models. The hard part is spending money. Somebody else has got to spend money. Meanwhile, they're gonna just tear out existing nuclear, knowing that somebody else will have to make a decision and put their own heinie on the line to get nuclear built. And it won't be them. That's what I'm hearing when you tell me about your Canadian problem. And I'll tell you, everywhere in the world, I hear the same thing. Rip out the existing nuclear that produces for a price that beats out everything else, any other competitor. Right. I'm in the low-carbon space. And then somebody else will put in a truckload of money once we have a reactor that doesn't have the same economies of scale and production. I mean, production of electricity, not production of the reactor, mind you.


Yeah, no, absolutely. That's a good summary.


That's what you're hearing?


So in other words, you get a snow job there in Canada where people are going to claim that they aren't going to get into the habit of easily ripping out reactors and not investing in a new day. They regret that they have to close it. Right. They probably say it's part of community trust to be able to close reactors. Right. It's important to the community trust. Be able to close them. Right. And let me guess, they're telling you not to talk to the communities about it.


We haven't got that far yet. We'll see what happens. I mean, I think I think part of the problem here, and I've heard this before, is that, you know, we hear about this so-called nuclear lobby or big nuclear. But in reality, you know, the companies that run nuclear plants are utilities, which also run, you know, I think in the States, coal or, you know, in Ontario, they also have a whole bunch of gas plants that they've built, which are absolutely what's going to replace the output of Pickering.

And again, turn us from my absolute climate leader to middle of the pack, going the exact wrong direction that we need on deep decarbonization and climate change and making air pollution worse like we were in Ontario. Toronto was called. That's our major city in Canada. We record the big smoke because of our terrible problems with air pollution. And we know it's 25 percent of our electricity was from coal. And indeed, the power plant we're trying to save. Pickering was scheduled in the 70s to be a four gigawatt coal plant, which is absolutely massive. And instead, you know, a nuclear power plant was built and God knows how many lives were saved by the avoidance of air pollution and how many gigatons of carbon were not released. Maybe gigatons is too big. But suffice it to say

that, you know, three or four gigawatt nuclear plant replaced a lot of a lot of carbon emissions.


Wait, let me get this straight. How many reactors are there at Pickering?

I think there's eight. Several of them are not running right now.

Are they smaller than six hundred megawatts?


550, I believe. Five hundred.


Right. Have they ever had a meltdown? And can they have a proper, like, full core meltdown, as far as you know?


I'm not I'm not a CANDU expert, but as far as I know, Canada's kind of took a lot of the boxes on advanced nuclear in terms.


Yeah. Here's what I would say. Chris, you have Pickering — it’s literally an SMR dream. And the reason no one calls it that, is because the point of SMRs is to not exist. And Pickering suffers from a fatal flaw here…..It exists. Even worse, it makes electricity. Even worse, it makes it cheaply. That’s why it does not get to count as an SMR. You see the problem?


I mean, do you know more? I imagine you know more about CANDU reactors than I do. But could you just really briefly go into what makes the CANDU reactors at Pickering, you know, advanced or, you know, ultra safe for that kind of thing?


Yeah. I mean, if I start reading off the features of a CANDU, the darn thing is gonna sound like an advanced reactor, which reveals the lie. That what counts as advanced is the same thing that counts as alternative medicine in your field. You know the joke, right? What do you call ‘alternative medicine’ that's been proven to work?

You call it ‘medicine.’ What do you call ‘advanced nuclear’ that already exists? ‘Nuclear.’


Right.


What do you call ‘advanced nuclear’ that's already been tried? ‘Nuclear.’


Right.


The point of the advanced nuclear label is to not exist. And the people who think that that works for them are not realizing that it works because their product is so far from existing.


Yeah. So, again, just if you will, hit me with some of the features. Yeah. I'll just let you do it.


CANDU Reactors were designed at a time when a number of competitors required lengthy refueling outages. So one of the most important features of the CANDU was that you didn't have to turn it off to refuel it. Now, there's been a bit of convergence where other reactors around the world do such a good job of staying in production that they only rarely have to turn off, so the CANDU advantage here is reduced. But still many, many CANDUs around the world have the best operational records of almost any reactor anywhere. When I last checked, Romania, as a country, had the best historical capacity factor of all their reactors. And of course, those are CANDUs. Right. So. You had online refueling, which if you kept all your other ducks in a row, led to extremely good operation. Another thing about CANDU is that because the power density of the core is quite low, the sort of runaway thermal problem that you see in more compact reactors just can't really happen. There's been issues in the past with a single fuel tube getting a little bit hot and melting, a little slumpy. But that's a problem that, well, just like experience gives you the ability to do, was found and replaced, wasn't it? Another thing that's really nice about CANDU. The way I've heard an engineer put it, you can put sticks and stones in it and that damn thing would still operate. In other words, it's the ultimate flex fuel reactor. I don't know when we're going to use thorium again in a reactor yet. We've had thorium reactors before. I've almost never met a thorium person, who's put their life into thorium, who even knew we've used thorium in reactors. But let's just leave that aside. If we start using thorium on a big scale, you know where it's gonna be used first, Chris: CANDU (and CANDU derivatives). Why? Because the neutron economy is best. It's just that simple. It's the ultimate flex fuel reactor. Right. And so when you start putting those things together, along with the immortality of CANDUs, I mean, the scandal at Pickering is that these things are functionally immortal. You just have to refurbish once every 30 or 40 years, right.

Well, so you've got flex fuel, unmeltable, always on, easy-to-run reactors.


Right. And when you talk about flex fuel, that also includes the promise of using used nuclear fuel or spent nuclear fuel, or what some called nuclear waste, as fuel in the CANDU. Is that correct?


Absolutely, absolutely. So this is like the pipe dream of advanced nuclear, right?

Pickering is the damn pipe dream. Chris, an immortal reactor that already exists that that can burn anything there is. You know, there are people around the world putting up [proposed] designs that are more or less the same, but 30 years old, 40 years old, as “SMRs” only because they're under six hundred megawatts. And yet we don't call Pickering SMR because it's a fake buzzword.


Right. Interesting. So, Mark, let's shift gears slightly. I think one of the reasons that, you know, the other reasons you haven't mentioned that SMRs are in vogue is I think because large scale nuclear has almost always been driven by kind of leading role played by government. You know, whether that's a social democratic government or communist government, a socialist government, a state capitalist government. And I think given that we've had such a kind of neo liberal transformation of our politics, some folks like

libertarians and just I guess so-called economic realists are thinking, well, because isomers are smaller. This is going to attract private capital and we won't need big government to get involved. What's your opinion on that?


In the end, what brings in private capital is making a return. So in the end, that's going to come from selling either intellectual property or, you know, electricity or heat. So if existing reactors are not selling electricity, I think we would need to ask ourselves whether private capital is just in as an IP play, intellectual property play, and the reactors would be built by governments anyway. In which case, it's not clear what was gained at all. I know certainly in the UK the claim is, for an SMR concept there, that, totally, private capital will jump in if it's guaranteed, if the cost overruns are guaranteed by the government, or if the government puts in a big chunk of money.

It's not unique to SMR. that would apply to…..

And in fact, you know what the irony is, Chris, at the moment? The thing that [institutional] private capital needs out of an investment project is 20- and 30-year time horizons, and 10, maybe 20 billion dollars at a time.

As in, exactly the features of large light water reactor projects are coming into perfect alignment with the demands of investors. What I find is that the advanced nuclear story of, “oh, investors are looking for really tiny projects that are essentially charitable offerings to the world,” is absolutely false, is out of touch with current finance needs. It's out of touch with institutional financing. It's just, it's more fantasy. I think there's the dream of reactors so small that an individual business person can build one as a gap, as just a laugh. And I mean, whatever.

If that's true, the next step is going to be to start to scale it up both in production and in size. We've heard that story. I mean, hell, did you know that the RBMK started as an SMR? You knew the Chernobyl reactors, that design, that entire design started as an SMR. You know, the CANDU started as a tiny little boy? Did you know that every single one of our existing larger reactors started as tiny little things?


I mean, it makes sense, right? If you're developing and you're exploring the technology that I think that would apply to a lot of manufacturing processes.


Right. So the claim that we're gonna go back in time and get real shrinky-dink to solve all our ills. The fact that we can't manage labor and management relationships, the fact that we have issues with, you know, you know, keeping unions in this country, if we're talking to the US, we have issues, you know, pouring concrete. Right. Which has got to be right. Whether you have SMRs or not. And the fact that we're gonna solve that all by doing what we know for a fact will

make high electricity production costs? And we're doing it without knowing whether there are going to be design kinks that we have to work out over decades like our existing tech!


You're making a compelling argument here, Mark.

You know, you were just mentioning this kind of fantasy of having nuclear reactors that are so small that you could have them in your backyard kind of thing.

And I think you're you're sort of saying that tongue in cheek. But, you know, on a broader level, the idea of, you know, smaller modular reactors fitting into this decentralized, democratized, community endorsed model, I think is quite attractive to some folks. But something that strikes me is that these are going to require many more sites in terms of builds. And, you know, for those who think that nuclear will never be safe enough, it just seems to me that this provides many more opportunities for environmentalists and greens that will never be convinced, you know, of the advanced features and safety of of new reactors just gives them more places to protest these. And I think from what I've heard, some people really seem to be bought into this idea that, well, you know, we can convince people if they're kind of small and fuzzy


Chris can I, can I just make a correction? I think it'd be great if we could get reactors in people's backyards. I pissed off a bunch of people at a conference a few years ago. Some, you know, famous nuclear folks [were] there at this conference. And a bunch of people, almost every single speaker, was using the word innovation all over their presentation. And I noticed that there was a presentation from some Chinese engineers that did not use the word innovation. Instead, they were talking about the advantages and disadvantages of various technical options of their swimming-pool-type district heating reactor. And they and they're talking about their timeline for where they're going to start developing this in big cities in the north of China. You know, they're talking about the size and the features. Not once in this presentation did they ever use the word innovation. Instead, they were literally doing the innovation. They had a spectacularly innovative business model, design, use case, and they just never used the word innovation. And then I, you know, I stood up in that in that conference room in Tokyo and I said, did you guys notice that everyone who used the word innovation, had nothing to propose? And everyone who had something to propose didn't use the word innovation. And you know, it caused a giant mess.

I shouldn’t have said it.


You're a pretty classic shit stirrer. As a fellow shit-disturber, I can appreciate that.


I mean, the Chinese [team] did a whole presentation the next day where they said ‘we were misrepresented by Mr. Nelson. He said we aren't innovative. But we are.’ And I was just like, this is a wreck. I shouldn't have said anything. But the reason why I bring that up, Chris, is that those are the types of plausible innovations you can make if you're good at construction, if you're good at doing. We are bad at doing. And the idea that if we throw out what we already know and start with everything new and that's how we'll learn how to build and work together properly as a team, I think that's absolutely ludicrous and furthermore dangerous. And I think one of the reasons that a lot of anti-nuclear groups have been so quiet about advanced nuclear is because the advanced nuclear folks are doing their job for them. And they only have to step

in [using] a little bit of budget and just tighten the legal screws when there's any danger of one getting to licensing.

As far as the locations, what we're finding across the world is that people will protest even existing locations for nuclear reactors where the communities involved love them.

And that's still being used as a pressure point to try to stop nuclear development.


Right.

And then there's the gross irony as well, that, you know, these folks who protest the proposed nuclear plant just vaporize and disappear as soon as a coal plant is built to replace that, at least historically. I think Ralph Nader is a really good example of that in Ohio.


Because what they fear is something even worse to them than climate change. It goes way beyond the kids who are worried about climate change who are constantly ambushed and disappointed by the boomers, by older folks about nuclear, because the kids hear the older folks say, “yeah, you're all going to die from climate change.” And they think, oh, that means [the older folks] will be interested in helping us solve it.

But in fact, what the old folks mean is, “Well but climate change is different. Really, the real apocalypse is nuclear.”

And that’s the little shifty game they play. They're never gonna stop playing it as long as they live. And we're not going to solve it with a new reactor design. We're not going to solve it. With, just, like making sure that we factory-build different parts. I can't even. I don't...I shouldn't come back to this. But the idea when people are saying, “oh, factory-built!” and I just stare because our nuclear plants are built in factories except for getting them in the ground, which is the part that has to be done onsite with every type of reactor.

Like a reactor, a large reactor vessel is also built in a factory.

And pressurizer and like, you know, the pipes and the pressurizes, the steam generators, it's all. And some people have said, no, no, what you mean by modular is that, you know, it's like Lego. You only have to click it together on site. Bullshit. Nothing. Look, I'm an engineer. Things don't click together. I mean, look, Tesla built a car factory and they almost went bust, realizing they had to strip robots out of their factory to get quality under control. And that, you know, they're snapped together idea is probably one of the worst parts of the car, according to consumers.

As in, we had the highest amount of attention on these Tesla vehicles and the best engineers in the country, around the world, even, all concentrated on getting these damn cars built. And it still took an immense amount of pain and it still wasn't nuclear reactors.

But they were factory built. It's just...you could drive them off the site. The “factory-built” does not stop us from having construction issues. And it means that anybody claiming they will [not have construction issues] are either telling an untruth or they are so clueless, they don't understand construction at all.

And I think that's extremely dangerous and we're saying, yeah, those are the guys that private capital is going to back for sure.


Mark, I wanted to...I think one of the most compelling arguments that I've heard and I want to kind of pose this to an engineer or someone with an engineering background is that if we build 300 megawatt reactors, then we can take advantage of the existing sunk capital costs in coal and gas plants.

We know that a large, expensive nuclear is not just the reactor vessel, but it's all of the turbines and bells and whistles and so that maybe if we build the smaller reactor type, we can just remove the coal burning part of the plant and plug in the reactor. And that's going to be a huge way of dealing with the economics of nuclear and taking advantage of this on capital costs and convincing and gas plant owners that we don't need to trash and retire their plants, but rather we can take them over with a carbon free technology from an engineering perspective. Is that is that's something that's possible.


Maybe I will say that at the point that you're talking about the non-nuclear part of a nuclear power plant. That's the part that is easy. Low interest rates lead banks to love. If you just needed the steam turbine that goes into these big nuclear plants...have you personally heard of delays and problems with the big steam turbines?

No, but no, no, no. And there is very small. That's the part that you could get finance for [now]. Like the part that's hard is the nuclear part and the part that there's plenty of financing for, you know, till the cows come home is the parts that we're claiming we keep in a coal plant. I love I do love innovation despite all this stuff [I’m saying]. I love advanced nuclear. I do.

I wrote my master's thesis on an advanced nuclear plant that was...whose concept is so beautiful to me that it shines like a beacon to me, even to this day. But I know that the idea of a plug and play or drop in place reactor sounds good, but what do you do when you start building and you realize that a few things are just a little off compared to what you thought for dropping in a reactor? I know I'm being vague. But the problem is it's a lot of unknowns. I'm not saying it shouldn't happen.

In fact, you know, it's a cool idea, but it's... So many coal plants are dying that I don't think our limitation is ever going to be that we don't have enough options to do that at any given point in the future. And at the point that we're dropping in small reactors to take advantage of spots on the grid, you realize that what people are really talking about are the advantages of centralized

generation hooked up to a good spot on a grid, which is pretty much what we're talking about with the coal plants right now. In fact, it might be smarter just to use the site, bulldoze it to

nothing and then put it. I guess what I'm saying is it's possible, but that's not the problem with nuclear. The problem with nuclear is that it's not popular. And the problem with us is that we can't build.


So in terms of making nuclear popular, you know, there's figures I'm not sure about Cory Booker but Andrew Yang, you know, with his thorium or molten salt reactors, like he's someone who I think for a lot of youth has made nuclear kind of cool again. You know, again, obviously, he's talking about a technology that... I think doesn't exist. I'm not sure about the IFR. I'm not super well educated on this. But like, how do you think in terms of politics that we can make, you know, large scale nuclear power? Sorry, forgive me for this, but make it great again?I mean, in the eyes of the public, like in terms of the politics of it.


Sure. Here's one of them. Only nuclear power can produce fruits and vegetables 24 hours a day, 365 in dark, cold northern cities. OK, only nuclear. Now people can say no, you just you just do it with solar on the grid. But that's that's, of course, at the point that you're growing plants and vegetables. It becomes obvious to everyone but the consultants and the PR people that what powers a vertical farm year-round is year-round power. It doesn't matter how many subsidized solar panels you build. What powers a vertical farm in a cold northern city is 24 hours-a-day electricity. Right. I mean, that's the whole point of indoor growing as opposed to putting it in California's Central Valley.


I mean, not to mention the you know, the climate change imperative, you know, is to electrify everything as much as possible. And, you know, that includes....


Oh, sure. A lot of the experts only allow you to talk about electrifying everything after they've told you that nuclear can't work because they have a, you know, they have an order of operations problem.

If the experts say electrify everything, it doesn't fit nicely with the message that we need a mix or that we need to take a lot of regular generation off the grid and let older nuclear plants die.

If, Chris, if you electrify everything, why on earth would you say it's an advantage for a nuclear plant to run up and down with the grid? If you electrify everything, your year-round demand is so vast that baseload is back, baby. I mean, baseload is always there. You know, what California is discovering is that when you turn off reliable plants, eventually the sun goes down, you'll lose some wind and you have blackouts. You're no longer First World, you know.


I mean, this is something that I always find fascinating about the, I call them, I guess, renewaphiles. I don't mean to denigrate, but folks that love renewables, I think that's an accurate moniker. You know, is that, well, when they're overproducing, we can make hydrogen. And, you know, the time that they're overproducing is is so small. And why not have a firm technology that when demand drops, then you can make hydrogen.


Right. You know, actually, there's a battle going on in Netherlands where the government is wobbling back and forth on whether nuclear gets to be included in the definition of clean hydrogen, whereas, of course you should include nuclear. That's the best way to make hydrogen. You turn the hydrogen plant on, you turn the nuclear plant on, and you run it until it falls apart 100 years later. I mean, you just do it, you just run it, right.


But isn't it better just to kind of, you know, turn on and off your hydrogen plant every time that the sun goes down and the wind fails?


Yeah. So that's the sort of thing that only energy modelers and economists and consultants could ever love. Anybody who's been in a factory knows that almost every factory that makes its money is working 24 hours a day. And that from the history...and in fact, to, you know, to bring this back full circle, Chris, what happened to Henry Ford is that he built a factory for Fords [so big], that he couldn't justify running [the whole thing] 24 hours a day. He couldn't justify running at full output. And it just about destroyed him.

He had the cheapest per car costs in the world...if only he could run 24 hours a day. But he couldn't.

He sized it too large for his market and it just didn't work. oh, and by the way, I have to give you a correction. The renewaphiles, they don’t say, at least not at first, “Turn down the renewables when there's too much.” They say turn down the nuclear.


Of course, you know, it's a mess. You know, I think there's some advanced reactor designs that are the kind of sell himself as like, well, we can really back up renewables and we have a lot of flexibility or we can heat some molten salt and kind of power down


Chris there are entire nuclear companies whose sales pitch is, don't worry, we won't make too much nuclear. [n.b.:They use the word “flexible” as a way to disclose this].

Yeah. Which which. Anybody coming from actual industry is it is it's like bordering on fraudulent. Yeah, it's definitely not walking the talk on the urgency of deep decarbonization.

No, of course not. But it assumes a world view where there's no way to make nuclear popular. Right? Because if nuclear is popular, you just tell the wind, you tell the easy-come, easy-go power plants, to turn off. You don't tell the nuclear to turn off. Right. Like if nuclear were popular, in fact, you know, that's what Ontario seems to be doing. The wind has to turn off. I mean, it gets paid anyway, right. But the wind turns off. Not the nuclear.

Why? Because the nuclear is needed all year round.

And is there when you need it. So it's prioritized, obviously. Right. That's what happens with good industrial policy. So you have people designing an entire reactor around bad popularity and bad industrial policy, and they expect that to make nuclear popular.

And they expect it to be a successful commercial venture. That is what's going to kill nuclear even if the public turns out to like it. Right. Oh, you asked what makes nuclear popular? Here's what makes nuclear popular. Loving your nuclear plant. Loving what it does. Appreciating the incredible output. Understanding that you can have the best fruits and vegetables in the city where you live 24 hours a day, 365 because of nuclear.


I think another thing that would make nuclear popular is painting the goddamn cooling towers and reactor domes. Yes. That's that's like I look at Pickering and I'm like, it's just all gray man. Like, I mean a few layers of paint and some cool designs would make this thing pop and just look fucking beautiful


So here's one of my favorite stories from touring a nuclear power plant in the Netherlands. Greenpeace protesters snuck into the nuclear plant, got up on the dome and painted a giant crack in it. Then once they came down, they were, you know, arrested and led off and they were fine. But not just that: the nuclear plant sued and said, ‘you messed up our paint job. You have to repaint it. You have to pay for repainting.’ And the judge sided with them. They were. And when I heard this story, the plant managers were chuckling because they said we needed to repaint anyway. And [Greenpeace] paid for it.


Well, hopefully they repainted with something a little more decorative or interesting.

No they didn’t. We've got to get there. You know, I think you've touched on something bigger. We love what is beautiful. We make beautiful what we love. Yeah. And that people will love nuclear when nuclear tastes good. When it looks good. When it smells good. When it sounds good. Like those are the things that are going to make nuclear loved. It's already physically right. It just doesn't have the five senses going for it.

No. I mean that's absolutely it. Like, I used to have a lot of driving through kind of rural areas of southwestern Ontario.

And, you know, I drive by these wind farms and, you know, I think, God, this is so fucking ugly. But, you know, so we've got to...people who protest this are ridiculous. This is part of what we need to do just to preserve the environment and lower emissions, et cetera. I mean, I didn't really think about nuclear much because you just don't see it because it’s so energy-dense. You know, the plants are tiny. But, yeah, I mean, just starting to shift my perception of the aesthetics and just being like, yeah, this thing that kind of like hides in the landscape and pumps out, you know, enough power to power the largest city in Canada on, you know, a couple square kilometers. Like, that's that's fucking cool, right?


You know that every single nuclear plant in Britain is located on the beach but doesn't block the beach?


No. No.


Yeah. Every single nuclear plant in Britain is designed and built such that the beach stays permanently accessible. And when I go to Britain, people are like, “Yeah, none of my neighbors like nuclear. But just between me and you, I like it. And I think we need it” or whatever. And then you realize everybody actually kind of likes nuclear in the UK except for some very vocal groups.


And the bathing opportunities, I mean, people go to these spas in Japan where they can kind of bathe in mildly radioactive water. They go to the Praia Negra in Brazil where theres tonnes of thorium in the sand.


So it's not it's not radiation itself that causing people to fear it and say “I wouldn't go to the beach.” But it's also true that just saying, well, coal has radiation, doesn't matter. I'm sorry. It just doesn't matter for people's perception of new good health. The radiation [fear] is a placeholder, it’s a displaced worry about a post-apocalyptic wasteland from nuclear apocalypse. Even the nuclear waste, Chris, the spent fuel, people are like, what if we don't know how to read anymore?

Yeah. In ten thousand years

Let me be clear: we've had a stable literate culture for a very long time. What is it exactly they're imagining? Chris, they’re imagining global thermonuclear war. So if you say to them, well, [the waste] won't be too dangerous. And what's in their head is global thermonuclear war.

You're not going to win. They were never worried about the waste [itself].


I mean, I think what they're what they're imagining is this like Stone Age culture that emerges afterwards. But yet, can, you know, dig six hundred meters down into the ground with like, modified rock tools and expose basically....


They're not imagining that, Chris. They stop at the point where there's a global wipeout of human culture. Right? You know, they are not actually thinking if somebody was using stone age tools, it's that they're thinking of the apocalypse. And then they try to concern troll about, I don't know, ten thousand, twenty, or fifty thousand years away. Right? You know, I don't care. No one cares.

I mean, if they cared, they’d go for nuclear. We know this. It's just that what they're imagining is a global death and their own death.

And that's the same reason why advanced nuclear just won't solve that, because nuclear is death to a lot of people. And until nuclear tastes good, looks good, sounds good, feels good….

like the texture of nuclear should feel really good. I don't know what that means. I know that in the case of vertical farms, it means you're arugula is the freshest.

Right.

But for everything else we have, we have an amazing opportunity not to rebrand nuclear, but to make it look and feel and taste as good as we happen to know it is from the numbers.


Mark, I wanted to kind of close with one last question. You know, there's some countries that are still leaders in nuclear energy like China and Russia.

I think they're responsible for most of the new builds, as I think South Korea is sort of...I don't know. We'll see what happens there. But are these countries doing a lot with SMR’s?


Yeah..a ton.

I mean, one of the most interesting things is that I hear people who claim to be industry connected, say, oh, they're not selling advanced nuclear. Of course, that's false. It just means that the advanced nuclear and the innovation folks in the US have no understanding of the dynamics of the global energy industry because they're not actually connected to be in advanced nuclear you practically have to be disconnected from the actual existing nuclear industry. And what I'm saying is that Russia and China help us help each other a lot. I mean, it's Russian engineers and designers helping out with the with the scale up of the Chinese sodium fast reactor program. Right. It's just like they're doing it and if you wanted to go to China today, well, there are reasons not to travel at the moment, I understand, if you wanted to go to China today and start ordering SMRs, they'll play ball. Like, they're ready.

Mm hmm. Right. And Russia, too. They're ready.

They have the capacity to be ready because they have a, you know, an already existing industry and construction experience, as you were saying.

Precisely, if you go to Russia today, Chris, and say hi. I am from Canada. We need electricity. We want reactors from you. Then Russia can say, do you want SMRs at sixty dollars or seventy dollars a megawatt hour? Or do you want our existing large ones that at thirty or forty.

Well what would you choose, Chris?


Yeah. I mean for me I'm like we have large centers, concentrated population centers, called cities, that use an enormous amount of power. So to me it makes sense to build something big that can power a centralized city. Right.


I mean, you know, the size of reactor that that China first built for Pakistan.

I think it was small.

I mean, it was smaller as a PWR than even Rolls Royce is proposing as an SMR for the UK. Right. And now they're building bigger ones. Why? Because now that they've got some PWR experience, they really like them in Pakistan.

So they've built small [until] now. They build big because it's cheaper.

It makes cheap electricity, rather. That's the really important thing. It makes cheaper electricity. Right.


Mark, this has been an absolutely fascinating conversation. I love controversy. I love strong opinions. And I think what I like about your opinions is they're again backed up by a knowledge of engineering and production and manufacturing and, yeah, building big projects.

So, again, Mark, I really thank you for coming on the show. It's been a lot of fun, and I look forward to having you back one day.


Well, thanks, Chris. I think you complement me a little too much. I'm in the West, too. So it's not like I've been out on nuclear builds as an engineer. I'd say that what I try to do is learn from the mistakes of others before making them myself. I think that's what I try to do the most of. So if I can accept one part of the compliment it’s that I look to the mistakes and successes of others first before guessing at what I can or can't do.

Right. OK, Mark. It's been a slice man.

Yes. Thanks, Chris. [You] better get back to saving people's lives.


Yeah. You know, we talk about upstream medicine, right? You know, the social determinants of health.

And I want to keep Toronto air clean so I have less asthma attacks and heart attacks and strokes at my hospital because of smog pollution, which we might get from natural gas, replacing one of our big nuclear generating stations.


Well Doctor Keefer, saving Pickering may be just what the doctor ordered. So I'll stay interested and curious as you push on those buttons.


All right, Mark, this is the third time saying goodbye, but so long and farewell.


So hard to leave. Goodbye, Chris.