President and CEO, OCNI
Bill Walker, President and CEO of The Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries (OCNI), discusses how the organization is helping to promote Canada’s nuclear industry and the steps they’re taking to help strengthen the nuclear supply chain.
As the newly appointed President and CEO of OCNI, what are you looking forward to most in this role?
As the former Associate Minister of Energy, I followed nuclear very closely. Also, having worked at Bruce Power, I’ve always been involved in the industry. I believe the impact that nuclear has on our world is highly significant. There’s so much opportunity with our small modular reactors, the isotopes that positively impact health care, and the great jobs nuclear creates in our provinces, across the country, and around the world. Additionally, our supply chain, manufacturers, and businesses truly support this industry that hugely impacts our world. We can’t overcome the challenges we’re having with the environment without nuclear playing a critical role, so I’m excited to be working more closely with this incredible industry.
How is the medical isotope sector revolutionizing health care?
The medical isotope sector is significantly impacting the lives of people every day across the world. Canada, specifically Ontario, is fortunate to have been a world leader in the isotope sector, providing isotopes for individuals globally. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Cobalt-60 allowed us to sterilize medical devices and equipment, which exemplified the use of isotopes.
I’m a huge fan of isotopes because I see the impact that they have on people’s lives. There’s the energy side of nuclear, but there’s also the health care side that impacts lives every day. Isotopes are a subset that can be naturally harvested from nuclear facilities that provide us with clean energy. Isotopes will truly have a game-changing impact, and Canada is already positioned to continue leading the medical isotope sector.
How is OCNI working to strengthen Canada’s leadership in the global nuclear sector?
We work with several organizations domestically and internationally to share the best practices, lessons learned and provide leading examples of how Canada continues to be a leader in the global nuclear industry.
CANDU technology has been worldwide for many years and has proven to have significant benefits to people. We’re the leaders in CANDU technology, and people have trust in what Canada can provide. With that, Canada has built the reputation and leadership to support other countries to form supply chains and globally demonstrate the benefits of nuclear energy that have never been considered. Those who never considered nuclear power are now giving it a second look because of shared global environmental challenges.
Canada has been a world leader in nuclear, and we’ll continue to be a world leader. We’ll take our technology and talent from Canada across the world to make a difference every day, wherever we can.
Why is Canada uniquely positioned to become a global leader in developing and deploying small modular reactor (SMR) technology?
As we just discussed, our track record of being a world leader in CANDU technology immediately comes to mind. People know Canada excels at providing safe, reliable, and cost-effective energy through this technology.
Today, most people are looking at environmental benefits and the added element of health care benefits that we can provide through nuclear. Those same people are looking to us, particularly OCNI and the Canadian nuclear industry, to take on this new opportunity. We have a great track record and integrity, and we can now evolve with small modular reactors, which will have a much different impact in places like small, remote communities. Small modular reactor technology will allow Canada to provide clean, safe, and affordable energy to these communities.
Why does the nuclear industry play a crucial part in helping Canada achieve a net-zero future?
All the information you’re reading out there says that net-zero emissions will only be accomplished by 2050 if we truly embrace nuclear. But, as I mentioned earlier, even people who’ve never been supporters of nuclear — and who may never fully support nuclear — realize that if we genuinely want to tackle climate change and positively impact our environment, nuclear power plays a vital role.
Nuclear energy will continue to provide safe, reliable, affordable, and GHG-free energy. However, we need more. Countries and nations once seen moving away from nuclear are now re-establishing and reviewing whether that’s the best thing to do. Nuclear has to be a part of the solution to achieving a net-zero future if we’re ever going to get close to the 2050 goal Canada has set for itself.