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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - June 7, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta It's worth as much as a pound Shortage of heavy water is becoming painful By JACK TO AC Y TORONTO (CP) Canada has much of tlie world's ura- nium but a severe shortage ot heavy water ic becoming "painful" to the men who oversee the country's nuclear power program. Canada has pioneered the development ot heavy-water- reactor teclmology since the start ot the atomic energy era. The Idea has been to use natural uranium as fuel with heavy water acting as a mod- erator to keep the heat-pro- ducing chain reaction going. The hot heavy water also turns ordinary water into steam in a he at-exchanger to drive the electricity-producing Now, with Ontario Hydro's huge new Pickering genera- tors turning out the kilowatts, it has been necessary to bor- row heavy water from other reactors to keep Pickering going. L. K. Hay wood, a vice-presi- dent of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., who has been in charge of the Crown com- pany's heavy-water program since last year, used the word "painful" to describe the shortage to editorial writers attending a seminar organized by the Canadian Nuclear As- sociation. Mr. Hay wood, who served an electrical officer with .lie Hoyal Navy in the Second World War, was in charge ot Ihe nuclear laboratories at. Chalk River, Ont., when he was made responsible for all matters concerning supply and demand for heavy water. COST 830 A POUND He told the editors Canada has had to get tons of heavy water .from foreign sources. Only 163 tons of Ihe valuable worth as much as a been produced in Canada for this country's own nuclear ef- fort. Actually, Canada did pro- duce heavy water during 1943-56 at the Trail, B.C., plant of Consolidated Mining and Smelting Co. Ltd. but this was for the United States At- omic Energy Commission. Now, with heavy-water re- actors expected to produce five per cent of Canada's elec- Ir icily by 1974 and 10 per cent by 1980, the heat is on to pro- duce more of the substance at home. Mr. Kay wood said Canada would have produced tons of heavy water by April 30 of this year, if all contracts first signed in 1964 had been fulfilled. The disappointment was the plant at Glace Bay, N.S., which despite an expen- diture of more than mil- lion has produced no heavy water and still is three years away from production. The plant, originally built by Deuterium of Canada Ltd., now has been leased from the Nova Scotia government by SECL which will rehabilitate and operate it. Mr. llaywood said it should be producing 400 tons a year by 1979. STILL BELOW CAPACITY The 163 tons that were pro- duced came from a Canadian General Electric plant at Port Hawkesbury, N.S., built long after the Glace Bay plant's construction started. It still is operating below its design ca- pacity of 400 tons a year. An BOO-tons-a-year plant op- erated by Ontario Hydro at Bruce on the shore of Lake Huron is expected to start producing later this year. Meanwhile, the motto of AECL people is "Don't waste a drop; it's heavy water." The shortage is expected to last until the spring of 1974 and a surplus is expected by 1977. The demand for heavy water in Canadian-style reac- tors at home and abroad is expected to reach tons a year by 1976 and new capacity will have to be considered. Canadian nuclear power plants in Ontario are at Rol- phton, Douglas Point, Bruce and Pickering, with another at Gentilly, Que. NATURE HAS PLENTY Actur.lly, there's lots o! heavy water in nature. It's costly because of the sophisti- cated plants needed to sepa- rate it from ordinary water where it is found in the pro- portion of about 140 parts per million. One gallon of heavy water is obtained for every gallons of ordinary water fed through the process- ing plant. The concentration of heavy water varies around the world. During 1907-69 the heavy-water content was sam- pled at 100 sites across Can- ada. Results ranged from a high of 157 parts per million in the waters off Nova Scotia to a low of 131 in the Cana- dian Arctic. NUCLEAR HEAVY WATER Concentration is important because a difference of one part per million corresponds to 15 cents a pound in produc- tion cost. This was one of the factors in locating two plants in eastern Nova Scotia. While the shortage lasts, AECL people are using 27 years of technology in hand- ling heavy water to conserve the supply. Sophisticated methods o f analysis have been developed and AECL people are begin- ning to worry about the third decimal place in calculating purity. A shipment of impure heavy water is short weight in AECL eyes. Heavy-wafer and light-wa- ter systems are segregated so the costly substance will not be diluted. Even the air in parts of buildings containing heavy water is dried to squeere out any of the liquid that may have evaporated. W.dneldav, June 7, 197? THE IETHBRIDGE HERALD 37 ASKED TO RESIGN Dr. Peter Swann, controversial director of the Royal Ontario Museum since 1946, been asked to resign from the position or be fired. The ulllmalum was made by (he museum's board of directors after Dr. Swann asked for a decision on a new contract immediately rather than in September when ihe current one expires. Wirephoto) Patience pays off for retarded group KINGSTON, Ont. An-1 planse is pretty heady stuff for any rock group. But it's particularly heady for the. Peacemakers. All the members of the band, which has played in Ontario and Quebec, are retarded. They are residents of Rock- wood mental retardation unit of Kingston Psychiatric Hospital and part of a program designed .to help retarded persons lake their yjace in the community in- stead ot the hospital. Charles (Chuck) Smiley was the moving spirit behind the Peacemakers. Former chief so- cial worker at Hockwood, Smiley organized the group with the help of Queen's University students. The students taught several Rockwood youths how to play guitars, drums and other instru- ments and tutored them in sing- ing- It took a lot of patience on the part of the university students and a lot of practice on the part of the Rockwood residents. The band members, many o whom could neither read nor write, listened to popular records, memorized the times and lyrics, and duplicated the sound. The applause they received a heir first concert spurred them on. So did the request for auto- graphs. Some band members requested writing and reading ris I ruction so they could sign their autographs for admirers. Since the original Peace- makers group was formed, two members have returned to their families and a third lives in an approved boarding home and has a full-time job. Other hoys living at Hock- wood have replaced them In the >and. Mr. Smiley has moved on as well. He now is a community organization specialist. But the program he started is continuing, and growing. The Peacemakers are helping it along. They perform for social clubs, churches and business or- ganizations creating a spirit of good will while they bring a knowledge of mental retarda- tion to their fans. The program's main aim Is to get the Rockwood residents in- volved in and accepted by the community. And it is working. "The Peacemakers have been able to show the community that the retarded enjoy doing what normal young people said Mr. Smiley. Control spending government urged EDMONTON