Ep 393: Joe McBrearty - President and CEO, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories
Adam Smith [00:00:42] Welcome to the Titans of Nuclear Podcast. I'm Adam Smith, and we have a very special episode today. Today on the show, we have Joe McBrearty, the President and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories. Joe, welcome to the show.
Joe McBrearty [00:00:57] Thanks very much. I certainly appreciate the opportunity to join everyone today. I think this is a great opportunity for us at CNL to be able to tell the world a little bit about Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, and in particular, our campus at Chalk River which is just north of Ottawa, what we do and how we interface with the nuclear world and how we are working on technology and research and development to advance not only nuclear energy, nuclear science, but also radiopharmaceuticals to help combat disease.
Adam Smith [00:01:34] Yep, you guys up in Chalk River kind of cover the whole spectrum of nuclear activities.
Joe McBrearty [00:01:39] We do. I mean, there's a long, very storied history back all the way to the Second World War, starting around the mid-1940s. Chalk River was the birthplace of the CANDU reactor, which is deployed not only within Canada, but internationally with just a great safety record, very reliable reactors. And between that and the production of radio isotopes to support radio diagnostics or therapeutics in cancer and other health issues, it really has left a huge mark on the world. But sometimes, it's just that we're not as well known as some of the other laboratories or nuclear entities that exist out there today. So, hopefully being on the podcast today will help spread a little bit of that word, and I certainly appreciate the opportunity to join you.
Adam Smith [00:02:34] Absolutely. Now, just for my benefit and the benefit of our audience, the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories is essentially the Canadian equivalent of the National Laboratory system of the US, correct?
Joe McBrearty [00:02:48] Correct. I mean, I think that's a really good way to put it. The US National Laboratory system is a bit more broad, but it's actually a very good comparison because actually, just a few years ago, the Canadian government actually decided to change the operating model, what had been known as a government-owned, government-operated laboratory, to what the US National Laboratory system uses, government-owned, contractor-operated. So, we are actually a private company, a private joint venture, that operates a federal entity. And part of that is designed to bring business acumen, business practices, and much more, say, financial and operational rigor to the laboratory system.
Adam Smith [00:03:37] Yeah, you're focused on commercializing your research efforts or your research findings, essentially.
Joe McBrearty [00:03:43] And that's a very good way to sum it up. Because of the type of research that we have done throughout the years and what we are doing today, we actually operate more as a bridge. And so, a lot of research that is done at universities and colleges is what we refer to generally as more basic science. It's more a very low technology readiness level. It's more advancing very new concepts. But we are kind of in the middle between those universities and the commercialization of product. So, your point on trying to drive commercial success really is a key part of our DNA to be able to take academic ideas, something on the blackboard... And I know that's an old term for most people, but I still am old enough to remember blackboards.
Adam Smith [00:04:38] It plays still. It works. We get it.
Joe McBrearty [00:04:40] I think people would understand. They've seen an old black and white movie. And so, to be able to take those theories and that very bench-level testing to a bit more of a lab scale and a bit more of a pilot production capability before it goes to industry. Because industry really wants to be able to see something that has been tested before they want to invest a lot of money into it.
Adam Smith [00:05:05] Okay. That's very interesting for, basically, that structure where you are the bridge between the academic world and the commercial world, and you get to have your foot in basically both areas.
Joe McBrearty [00:05:17] And you do. You know, I have a little bit of history with the US National Laboratory complex. The complex is very mature and has the ability to take the ideas which are frankly very esoteric that people don't think are ever going to come to fruition and be able to invest the time, the energy, the money, to be able to show that they really will work in maybe not necessarily the first idea of what people had, but some sort of follow on revision of that idea to actually get to a useful commercial product for industry.
Adam Smith [00:05:58] Interesting. Sounds like you've had quite the career path then. Can you give us a little bit about your background, your career path, and how you ended up within the broader energy and nuclear space?
Joe McBrearty [00:06:13] Sure. I appreciate that question because I think it's important for folks who are actually trying to get into the nuclear industry in particular, because it can be a little overwhelming or a little odd. Because it's not always seen on the evening news or in sitcoms. Not necessarily. If it is, it's not in a good way.
Joe McBrearty [00:06:34] I actually started off in the US Navy as a nuclear submarine officer and spent 30 years in the nuclear submarine program all the way up through command of a submarine and a few other facilities. And then I went to the US Department of Energy, where I was fortunate enough to be able to lead or be the Chief Operating Officer for the DOE's Office of Science. And the Office of Science really drove 10 national laboratories in the United States for more basic research. But the experience that I was able to gain there really, I think, set the foundation for me to be able to translate that up to this laboratory, which is really undergoing a rebirth.
Joe McBrearty [00:07:21] As I said earlier, 70 years of just incredible history here, but it needed to be revitalized. It really needed a different focus, especially as we were looking at the impacts of climate change, the real impacts here of the last few years of energy security. Energy security has always been a big deal, but it hasn't come to the front edge of the market recently until what's occurred over the last couple of years in Europe and Central Asia. And so, the ability to see how the nuclear program works, how it can be done, how it can be done in a reliable, a safe, and a very cost effective manner, and then translate that into research and then come here. Really, I'll tell you, I felt just very blessed to have that opportunity and really the opportunity to work with, simply, outstanding people throughout my entire career. Because trust me, if it was not for them, I would probably not be here.
Adam Smith [00:08:27] Standing on the shoulders of giants is, I believe, the phrase that people use?
Joe McBrearty [00:08:32] Correct. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And then sometimes those folks just don't get the recognition that they deserve. There are just tens of thousands of people working in this industry. And it really is... It's a safe industry. Yeah, there have been a couple of major incidents, but when you break those down, there were very specific reasons for them. But what the nuclear industry in particular has learned... It has learned how to address issues in the past, learn from those, and be able to reflect advanced and more proactive measures to be safe, be reliable, but also to be cost-efficient.
Adam Smith [00:09:18] Yeah. When you compare nuclear to the full spectrum of energy technologies, I think it has, by far, the best safety track record of all time. So, I think you're absolutely right. The industry is not only just naturally careful, but it has learned to be increasingly careful and has established all sorts of safety systems and passive safety systems so if something does go wrong, we can step away from it for 72 hours and everything's fine.
Joe McBrearty [00:09:49] Absolutely. And I think one of the things that hurt the nuclear industry very early on... And I'll say some of this is because it comes from a bunch of people in the US operating submarines in a very secretive, cloistered society... They never really felt like talking about what they do very much. It was always a little hush-hush. And we learned that was a bit of an Achilles heel for us when the Three Mile Island incident occurred back in the '70s. Probably, most of the people listening to your podcast weren't born in the '70s; I was. When you look at our ability over the last few years, it's really to be able to communicate.
Joe McBrearty [00:10:32] But we still have issues, I would say.. We're not still there yet that we can communicate as clearly and without pushback as some other clean, renewable energy industries. But when you look at... And I think you brought up a good point when you talk about safety, lessons learned, reliability. When you look at the different generations of nuclear technology... We'll just stick with reactors for this point... And how that's evolved to the latest crop of small modular reactors or advanced reactors, where safety is really at the core of... Pardon the pun there, I guess... Is really at the center of how we do business. Because we have to be able to earn and keep the public's trust. We really do.
Adam Smith [00:11:30] Yeah, I definitely agree with that. Public perception is one of the hardest things to influence, but it's one of the most important factors with any project development. It's just that you have to have everyone on board. And the better we can educate people, the easier that becomes for the industry.
Joe McBrearty [00:11:51] Absolutely. And times have changed, right? So, back in the early advent of nuclear energy, the public was not as informed. And I would say that we have learned that is not the right way to do business. And here, in particular, in Canada, we have learned a lot of lessons with what has occurred with indigenous communities and First Nations in the past. And that really is not a track record that the country should be happy with. I think it's getting better. But one of the things as an industry that we need to do, and I think we are doing it, is to be able to reach out and listen to what indigenous communities and First Nations, what their concerns are. Because many of the potential deployment possibilities for small modular reactors are in their territories.
Joe McBrearty [00:12:48] When you look in particular, if you want to look at really an area that could really use autonomous power that is clean and is not necessarily always the best for solar or wind... When you look in the North or when you look at isolated areas that need not only electricity but heat, potentially hydrogen production, kind of the whole nine yards when it comes to energy production, but also energy security, it offers that whole package. But people have to want it. And you have to be able to have the conversation to understand what their concerns are. And I think that will probably remain.
Joe McBrearty [00:13:36] I think one of the crucial areas of the nuclear industry, as with most industries, is to make sure people are educated about it, that they understand. But equally as important, that we listen to them. We understand what their needs are, what their concerns are, and why they have those concerns and just not talk at them. The governments and industry have been very good for probably millennia at talking at people because they want to sell something, versus actually listening to what people need and what they want.
Adam Smith [00:14:12] Do you have some sort of... I guess I would call it like a dialog program or a marketing program at CNL for those conversations?
Joe McBrearty [00:14:21] We certainly do. As a nuclear entity, as an entity... And we haven't really talked about this very much, but the vast majority of our budget at CNL is actually for environmental remediation and cleanup.
Adam Smith [00:14:35] Interesting.
Joe McBrearty [00:14:36] So, most people think of CNL as a laboratory, but we are a laboratory that is committed and has been tasked by the federal government to basically conduct the largest environmental cleanup in Canadian history. So, it is the legacy work. The nuclear legacy and liabilities that exist not only here at Chalk River, but in some areas around Toronto in the Port Hope area, and in what we call the Northern Transportation Route coming from the Northwest Territories all the way down to Toronto. We are the ones who are responsible for the decommissioning and the demolition of the federal reactors. So, those are reactors here at our site. We have a site out in Manitoba called Whiteshell. And so, to get to your question, do we have those conversations? Absolutely.
Joe McBrearty [00:15:30] And those conversations, especially when you're talking about how are you going to deal with nuclear... You can call them byproducts, you can call them whatever, it's basically nuclear waste at the end of the day... How do you take that and convince folks that there are legitimate and technically satisfactory ways to deal with it? And how do you convince them to do it in their area? And so, those are all processes and parts of a very, very complex and, I think, very rigorous licensing process that we go through, that every nuclear entity in Canada goes through with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
Joe McBrearty [00:16:13] And so, we are today in the process of going through multiple regulatory approvals for different either waste remediation or environmental remediation projects or future energy projects. So, a lot of conversation. It is central and core not only to what our federal client, AECL, needs, but it's also central and core to us to make sure that we can actually do our mission and we can do it in partnership with local communities, whether they're municipalities or whether they're indigenous.
Adam Smith [00:16:50] Interesting. So, that's just one part of the CNL business. There's also, from my understanding, there is the R&D on the energy generation side, there's the medical isotopes. Do you find that you have a particular draw to one of those sections or some sort of passion project that really excites you at CNL?
Joe McBrearty [00:17:07] So, there are multiple. Early in my career, I would have probably talked mostly about nuclear energy production. So in reality, the small modular reactors that we talk about today, even though we say that it's all new technology and it's a new concept, that technology really has existed for 70 years, they've just been floating around on submarines and aircraft carriers and out of people's minds. But the concept of autonomous power, I think, was really for me a key component of why I got interested in this and why I've continued it.
Joe McBrearty [00:17:45] But over the last few years... And this really for me started with some activities when I was in the US Department of Energy... Was really the radiopharmaceutical and radioisotope portion of the nuclear industry spectrum. And when you look at the possibilities of these new therapies for cancer, therapies for chronic disease, either what we call targeted beta therapy... They use a product called lutetium-177. Actually, I think Bruce Power is working on that. But there's another one called targeted alpha therapy, which we are working on. It basically takes a molecule of actinium. Now, I really didn't know what actinium was for most of my life, and I got exposed to it... I mean, not exposed to it.
Adam Smith [00:18:39] Not literally.
Joe McBrearty [00:18:40] Got involved in the program when I was in the US. And the potential positive benefits of this treatment are enormous. Not only from the standpoint of where it could save people, but also from the standpoint of very little collateral damage to the patient. There's a YouTube video out there. I think it's done by Triumph. The name of the video is "The Rarest Drug on Earth." There's so little of this particular isotope to be able for, in particular, cancer treatment. What we're looking at here is to be able to produce more of it, either through decay of some actinides or production via an accelerator, a path.
Joe McBrearty [00:19:35] So, when I look at that, when you ask the question, "What have I become passionate about?" When I look at friends or family members who suffer and don't have a solution to that from a medical perspective, and we actually have that capability to provide it from our industry, we should jump on that. Obviously, I would be a bit parochial here, but I think that should be near the top of the government's priority list in combating chronic disease. And if you have that capability, if you can give folks that chance of a new chance at life, you should really be able to do that.
Joe McBrearty [00:20:22] And so for me, that really is kind of a passion. It's not an easy process. You have to get funding, you have to get through regulatory approvals. You actually have to have all the technology work. It's not something that you go out and pull something out of the drawer and it works, and boom, you're good. It is a process, and it is, I think, a project which could revolutionize oncology. I really do. For me, that's really, really important.
Adam Smith [00:21:03] What would you say has been the biggest holdup? You kind of named a few. Like, getting everything to work, getting the technology to work, the regulatory side. It seems like this has been around. This isn't new technology is what it sounds like. It just sounds like there hasn't been a lot of development of it.
Joe McBrearty [00:21:21] There has been in certain respects. There has been. There are different methods to be able to produce it. But one of the issues is there's not much. So, the principal production path today is decay of, as I said, some actinides, and they are in very small quantities. That's a limited production path. But the other more aggressive paths are actually radiation or irradiation of targets, of certain targets, to be able to produce actinium. But there are some concerns with that. Whenever you produce one thing, you always get a lot of other little guys floating around who you don't want. So, you have to be able to not only produce something in specific quantities that are cost-effective and also actually are something that business or venture capitalists or banks or whomever want to invest in to provide the necessary financial uplift. So, that's one issue.
Joe McBrearty [00:22:28] The second issue is being able to get any kind of new drug to the market. We are not a pharmaceutical company. So, we are actually partnered with a pharmaceutical company to try to do some of that effort. But trials of any new medication take a long time. And it's timing of not having too much or not having enough. It's the right amount at the right time for folks to not only want to invest in it, but for the medical community to want to start to demand it. And once you can get through the different phases of testing and prove that it works... Because it takes years to be able to get to a product that is profitable... I'll just say that because it's a business... For companies to be able to actually produce. And it has to be tested enough and then marketed enough that the medical community, whether they're physicians, whether it's hospitals, or whether it's large insurance companies or whatever it is, to be actually interested in it and want to promote it and use it.
Joe McBrearty [00:23:51] And so, the pharmaceutical industry is full of many things that were tried and never quite made it. And so, there's significant monetary investment that's necessary for this. But we do believe that this is a game changer when it comes to saving lives. So, that's why I think we're really important. I'm really excited about it. I'm not as concerned about the regulatory approvals because there are accelerators throughout the country. And it's a relationship with CSC where we provide our projects and they assess them. They provide what the regulatory environment has to be to be able to do things safely.
Joe McBrearty [00:24:45] And so, I would say it's a healthy tension always between industry and the regulator. Because you can't be too close to the regulator because then people go, "Well, are they actually doing the right thing?" But you also can't be completely at opposite ends of the spectrum. Their job is to make sure we do something. And if you do it, you do it right, you do it safely. You're not going to endanger the public, not going to endanger the environment. And that's where they're always going to come from.
Adam Smith [00:25:23] Got it. Yeah, it sounds like you have a couple different issues from the medical isotope production side of things. Is actinium the only medical isotope you guys are looking at?
Joe McBrearty [00:25:39] Actinium is the only one that we are looking at at this point in time. But as I mentioned, lutetium-177 is also being produced in the Canadian nuclear complex, which as I said, is a targeted beta emitter. It's a little bit different than a targeted alpha, but the effect is similar. So, there are different organizations looking at different things. But the actinium one, we believe at this point in time is key. That said, as a research laboratory, we are always looking for the next, in that case, the next radioisotope that we could use. We have our own biological research facility where we can do limited trials on animals. So, we have some capabilities to actually look at the effects of radiation, the effects of these different isotopes on living things.
Adam Smith [00:26:41] Interesting. It sounds like you guys have quite a bit going on up there at Chalk River.
Joe McBrearty [00:26:46] There's a fair amount. It does keep us busy on a daily basis, yes.
Adam Smith [00:26:51] So, I guess you guys are so busy, you guys must be forward looking a little bit. What is happening at Chalk River? And could you talk a little bit about the Vision 2030 Plan?
Joe McBrearty [00:27:02] Sure, sure. And thanks for bringing that up. So, we're in the middle of, for us, a 10 year contract, and we're about at the midpoint. The vast majority of the first portion of the contract was really focused on environmental remediation. And that program will continue, probably, for 60 or 70 years because there's so much that has to be cleaned up. But we began to think, "Okay, how do we, working with the federal government and trying to think of what are the needs of the nation, how do we focus on what we can do to better the country? And where are the key areas that Canada, and frankly, the rest of the world want to focus on? And how can we influence? We're not going to be doing some types of research that other laboratories are going to do, but what's kind of in our bailiwick to be able to perform?"
Joe McBrearty [00:28:01] And so, we stepped back and looked at it and we said, "Okay, climate change." Kind of a big thing for people. It does make a little bit of news. "How do we as a nuclear laboratory fit into that?" Well, I think, obviously, we fit in pretty well because we supply, we support all of the CANDU technologies. We support light-water reactor work, which is a boiling water or a pressurized water reactor. But we also have a program supporting new small modular reactors. So, in concert with a company called Global First Power, which is a JV between OPG and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation or USNC, we are working with them to site the first microreactor on a campus here in Chalk River.
Joe McBrearty [00:28:49] So, that process is already underway. Global First Power is working closely with providing license input and EIS input into the CNFC to be able to get a license, and at the same time, working through technical challenges with us. What we're doing, on the other hand, is providing services. And really, at the end of the day, we're a material chemistry laboratory. We're a materials laboratory. We happen to do a lot in the nuclear world, but we're really a materials laboratory. And so, we provide technical support, analysis, whether it's fresh fuel or materials or irradiated fuel or materials, we provide that type of service to the entire industry. Not only the CANDU industry that's operating today, but also through the new SMR vendors, whether it's high-temperature gas, boiling water, pressurized water, molten salt, the whole nine yards. So, we do that through really a cost-sharing program.
Joe McBrearty [00:29:55] Another area that I think is really important and is gaining traction even more within the Canadian ecosphere is hydrogen. So, CNL has always had a very strong hydrogen program. Not only from the potential for hydrogen production, but more importantly now, the hydrogen safety. So, as nations want to go to hydrogen as a fuel source... hydrogen doesn't behave like gasoline. It doesn't even behave completely, truly, like natural gas. It has different chemical properties and it has to be handled a little bit differently. You have to figure out what's the best method to transport it and what's the best method to store it. So, we actually have a very strong hydrogen program tied to the government and tied to industry to be able to support that.
Joe McBrearty [00:30:47] Secondly, we also have some of the very limited expertise in the world on tritium management. So tritium, a heavy isotope of hydrogen, in many cases has been used in heavy-water reactors. The water gets tritiated. But tritium, for most fusion reactors... Fusion reactors for the future require deuterium and they require tritium in some form or fashion. And the ability to handle it, manage it, safely do it, have the safe radiological engineering, is something that we have as a piece of expertise.
Joe McBrearty [00:32:11] So, the other thing that we are doing here is development of what we call a Clean Energy Research and Development Initiative. And so, that's starting for us today in the laboratory, in really, bench testing. But eventually, what we intend to do is to be able to take that out into a demonstration park where it will show how, in a microgrid, a nuclear reactor or small modular reactor, hydrogen, wind, and solar all work together. So, they can actually show in this little microgrid, not only for energy production for electricity, but also the autonomous power sources that you would really like to be able to deploy into the North or into a remote area.
Joe McBrearty [00:33:03] So, the real advantage of this National Laboratory concept, if you want to get into this, is the ability to test and to demonstrate. We're not necessarily looking to make a profit of a demonstration reactor, but if you want to actually be able to convince folks where you want to put one of these things, that it's safe, that it operates, that it can do all the things that you claim it can do and it can do it safely, then you really need to be able to demonstrate it and you really need to be able to test it. And that's what a National Laboratory brings to the equation.
Adam Smith [00:33:43] Earlier you had mentioned that most of this technology has been operating in submarines since the '70s, essentially, or even before that probably.
Joe McBrearty [00:33:53] '50s. Let's go back to the '50s.
Adam Smith [00:33:56] Yeah, since the '50s. What testing or what additional analysis do we need? It feels like 70 years to try this technology out should be sufficient operating history.
Joe McBrearty [00:34:07] So, the reactors are a bit different. And I'll just leave it at that because the Navy's very, very touchy about descriptions of its power systems. But even the technologies, as with most of the technologies that are being researched today, the technology itself is not brand new. So, high-temperature gas reactors have been around for a long time. Boiling water reactors have been around for a long time. But some of the stuff that's new are the materials that you're using, the types of fuel that you're using today. You have the potential to use TRISO fuel. You have the potential to use high-assay, low-enriched uranium or LEU+. So, the fuels will be different. To be able to ensure that the fuels and the materials will react and act safely under these new conditions is really pretty important to be able to do.
Joe McBrearty [00:35:03] The technology exists; the theory is there. These have generally been done on a much larger scale. They're large-scale, high-temperature reactors. They're large-scale, PWRs and BWRs. But we're using, probably, different types of materials, some different types of materials. They're smaller. They're designed to be, basically, for the most part, I won't say completely portable, but easy to build, built in a factory and placed. So, all of that type of stuff requires some sort of study. It require some sort of demonstration. And most reactors today... I won't say all of them, but most reactors have not really acted as their own autonomous little grid.
Joe McBrearty [00:35:48] Operating on a warship is a little bit different than operating on land where you have the populace right next to you. And you have to be able to demonstrate to the regulator and to demonstrate to the communities and the folks that you want to, as I said earlier, deploy these machines to, that they are safe. And so, while the technology may not be brand new, it's still different enough in some of these cases that it's smaller and it should be tested.
Adam Smith [00:36:28] That makes sense. That makes sense. I get it. It's probably a little bit different when you're out at sea and you have a continuous cooling source rather than setting it on the ground somewhere in rural Canada.
Joe McBrearty [00:36:42] Well, it is different. And like I said, the uses are different. And to be able to play on a grid is a bit different. And to play with other, I would say, more transitory or less stable energy sources, solar, wind, etc., you actually want to make sure that you have, I would say, almost a package deal. You could say, "This reactor, this solar, this wind all worked well together. You can produce hydrogen from it. You can produce heat, electricity. And it works, and it's economical." Because at some point, if the process is not economical, the proponents are not going to continue to go down the path. So, you have to be able to help the proponents get the most cost-effective design which is safe.
Adam Smith [00:37:36] Yeah, it's all about... At the end of the day, it comes down to, "Can we do this economically and will someone invest in this?" And that's really what will expand the industry. It's exciting times with all of these different technologies and ideas coming out into the industry.
Joe McBrearty [00:37:55] It is. I mean, I've gone through several nuclear renaissances or almost renaissances. You get to a certain point and then something happens. Whether it was TMI or Chernobyl or Fukushima, the faith in the industry goes away. Or, very cheap natural gas, there was no need. But I think you actually are at this tipping point from a climate standpoint, but also from an energy security standpoint, that people are looking at options. And reactors have traditionally been associated with just producing electricity. Well, if you actually want to reduce greenhouse gases and all that stuff, a large percentage of the stuff that you have to decarbonize is process heat. And so, you need to be able to have something that will be able to safely handle, from a reactor physics standpoint and reactor operations standpoint, something with changing heat loads.
Adam Smith [00:39:03] Yeah. Well, we can produce electricity. We can produce heat to heat your homes in the winter. We can cure cancer with it. It's an all-around just amazing technology.
Joe McBrearty [00:39:13] It is. Bit just to close on a practical note or a pragmatic note, folks do worry about what do you do with the byproducts? And it's always been a bit, as I said earlier, a bit of an Achilles heel for the industry to talk about this, because they're there. They are there. Now, there are some theories to reprocessing and you could get rid of some of that. But the amount of other types of waste are still there.
Joe McBrearty [00:39:41] The story really is there isn't that much when you compare it to the other energy sources. The other part of that story is we know exactly where it is. It's safe, it is highly-engineered. We are highly-regulated. And sometimes... I don't want to say we're our own worst enemy sometimes, but we are so safe about these things, we're so open about issues that can occur, people don't understand the context. But when you look at how stuff is stored or disposed of in this particular industry, nobody can touch us. Nobody can. And I think it's a testament to the engineering design, the rigor, and just the basic principles that this industry follows.
Adam Smith [00:40:38] Well, to wrap things up, Joe, I wanted to see if you had any sort of message that you wanted to share with our listeners or the broader energy community just on your thoughts on nuclear and our prospects.
Joe McBrearty [00:40:52] Sure. I mean, I think it's bright. I really do. I think nuclear will continue to advance throughout the world. I think developing countries will look at this power source once it's cost-effective. I mean, you can't just throw something out there and say, "Pay all the startup costs." That this is an autonomous, it's a clean, it's a reliable, stable base power. It can be used in concert with wind, solar, natural gas, the whole nine yards. When I sit back and look at it, I really do think that nuclear... This is our time. I do think that we can advance it.
Joe McBrearty [00:41:38] At the end of the day though, the one thing that... As an operator, and I've been an operator for really, my entire life. You've got to do it safely. And so, sometimes in all the thrill and the sales of, "We're going to do this, we're going to say this. We're going to do all these things," we forget about the tens of thousands of people who are, day in and day out, operating these plants and these sites. And it comes down to those folks who do it on a day in and day out basis to make sure it's done safely. Because the reputation of the industry really comes down to the individual.
Joe McBrearty [00:42:14] My message to folks is this is an industry that's rigorous. The training that folks go through from day one at anything in the nuclear industry is really not comparable to many other things. And when you look at the rigor that's in there... And really it's high-consequence stuff; we know that. But it's also incredibly important that we do things the right way. And we have done it. And sometimes, the 70 years of history is lost on folks, that it's been done safely.
Adam Smith [00:42:54] Joe, thank you for coming on the show. This has been great.
Joe McBrearty [00:42:57] Thank you very much. I certainly appreciate it. Thank you for the time. And certainly, if your listeners have any questions, they can contact our public affairs folks or visit our website. We'd love to continue the conversations.
Adam Smith [00:43:11] And I would highly encourage everyone to do so. I went through it earlier and they have quite a bit of great information on some of the topics that we just discussed.