Alternatives to HEU to produce medical isotopes

Dr. Dale Dewar, a long-time no nukes activist in SK, shares information about an alternative to using highly enriched uranium to produce Mo-99, the medical isotope that had Canadian Parliament declare itself a nuclear outlaw when it voted to restart the Chalk River reactor despite safety concerns expressed by Canada’s nuclear regulator.

While I don’t pretend to know the science of it, I would think it important that our Parliamentarians explore and contemplate any and all alternatives.

The Society for Nuclear Medicine published this little blurb (below) about a patent to develop a method that was not dependent upon highly enriched uranium (HEU) to produce Mo-99, the precursor of Tc-99m used in so many medical tests. Scientific American published a lengthy article in Feb 2006 arguing that all scientific and nuclear power reactors should change from HEU to decrease the international threat of nuclear terrorism (bombs). Good article. Buried by the nuclear industry community because the nuclear industry is actually based upon weapons production – all the rest, nuclides, power, are secondary.

An alternative method of producing Mo-99?

A method of producing molybdenum-99 comprising:

providing a target comprising molybdenum-100; and

directing a photon beam onto the target to isotopically convert at least a portion of the molybdenum-100 of the target to molybdenum-99 having specific activity of at least 1.0 curies/gram, the photon beam having intensity of at least 50 microamps/cm2 and photons of energy of at least 8 MeV.

More to think about.

Dale Dewar, BSc, MD, CFPC, FCFP

More to think about indeed!

Radioactive Wall in SK

It seems Premier Wall is eager to increase activity in the uranium industry, according to his year-end interview with the Regina Leader Post

It will be a little different, because we are — I am — excited about uranium as part of that story, and value-added opportunities. And I know the NDP, they were just never very comfortable, they’re very conflicted by this, the party itself. So we never have done a good job of making the case nationally or internationally about what uranium means, economically and environmentally.

This is an important piece. I’ve asked ministry officials for some numbers and, I can tell you, the amount of greenhouse gasses displaced by our uranium, which is used to power plants, is a pretty important number. It’s near half a billion tones of GhGs. That message needs to get out in the context of the whole discussion about greenhouse gasses.

It seems, also, that Mr. Wall doesn’t get — or is willfully ignorant of — the fact that nuclear power is not a quick fix to our climate crisis. In fact, those who are wise about uranium say that nuclear power is a Con trick. Nuclear energy is of practically no significance to humanity’s energy needs.

Nuclear Power is a Con Trick

In order to claim more importance for nuclear power, the nuclear industry repeatedly overstates nuclear energy’s share of electricity generation. If one examines closely what contribution nuclear energy makes to total worldwide energy consumption, it becomes evident that nuclear power is of practically no significance for mankind’s energy needs. In 2001, nuclear electricity supplied only 2.3 percent of worldwide energy needs. Renewable energy’s contribution to world energy supply is already significantly greater. The human race can easily do without nuclear power’s marginal contribution. The risks of nuclear accidents, production of highly radioactive waste and the costs necessary for its disposal, bear no rational relationship to the slight short-term gain in energy that nuclear power provides. Nuclear power is both hazardous and superfluous.

So, Mr. Wall, do your homework!

 

Peacing things together

Too many people I converse with believe the human capacity for peaceful co-existence is not possible.  I disagree.  We do have a deep capacity for peace, but it has not been fostered in our competitive, consumerist and corporatist culture, one that mines uranium and builds bombs. From the John Lennon and Yoko Ono 1969 Bed-In, a version of Give Peace a Chance edited with images of the violence perpetrated against peaceful protesters.

 

And once you have one John Lennon piece, you might as well add another.  Imagine is probably my all-time favourite song.

 

 

Our capacity to imagine is weakened by the fast-paced and regulated lives we live, but when we do allow ourselves time and space to imagine all that Lennon talks about we can more easily climb on board Yusuf Islam’s (Cat Stevens’) Peace Train.

 

Here’s wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.  My gift to you: Sarah McLachlan’s version of John Lennon’s, So this is Christmas.

 

Peace out!

 

With love,

Berlynn@Politics’n’Poetry

Nuclear Power is a Dead End

Over the next week P’n’P will feature posters from the International Nuclear Power Fact File Poster Campaign.  The first is Nuclear Power is a Dead End.

dead end

Nuclear Power is a Dead End
Uranium will only last a few decades – what then?

Nuclear power – like the wasteful consumption of finite reserves of fossil fuels – is at a dead end. This is because the uranium, which is needed to operate nuclear power stations, is a scarce resource. “Fast breeder” reactors, with which it was hoped to stretch out the reserves for some time, have proven to be a failure on technical and commercial grounds. In just a few decades the nuclear power industry’s fuel reserves will run out Since oil and natural gas reserves will be used up in the foreseeable future, as well as uranium reserves, the human race can only meet its long-term energy needs by using forms of renewable energy and increasing energy efficiency.

Shut down nuclear power plants.

 

Olympics Sponsor Wants Nuclear Outlaw, AECL

The folks at Native Unity share their grave concerns about the use of weapons grade uranium at the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) facility at Chalk River, Ontario, citing a noted Canadian no nukes activist.

Gordon Edwards, of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, raised serious concerns about the “Maple” reactor delays at Chalk River.

“An important aspect of the isotope-production fiasco on Algonquin territory is being ignored. AECL Atomic Energy of Canada Limited uses 95 per cent highly enriched “weapons-grade” uranium HEU to make the main isotope (Molybdenum-99). This can be made using low-enriched uranium LEU which is NOT weapons-usable material, but is more expensive. Somebody wants to make isotopes and bombs cheaply.

He continued, “It’s easier to make a very powerful bomb with weapons-grade uranium like the one dropped on Hiroshima in 1945”. The only stockpile of weapons-grade uranium in Canada is at Chalk River, less than 200 kilometers up the Ottawa River from Canada’s capital. The Canadian public and Members of Parliament are told they are for “essential and life saving” medical isotope production. However, there’s enough there to build two or more atom bombs and the stockpile is increasing.

Why is the Canadian company, MDS Nordion, that sells the isotopes, ordering more of the risky weapons grade uranium from the U.S.? Why do Canada and the U.S. allow this hazardous material to be transported over regular highways, rails and air? The U.S. warns the towns where these materials are being transported. Not in Canada !

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Prime Minister Harper is considering the privatization of more of AECL.  AREVA’s interest was known 18 months ago, just after Harper took office.  And now it is apparent that a sponsor of the Olympic Games (coming  to Canada in 2010), General Electric, has also expressed its interest.

General Electric Co. might be a suitor if Canada decides to sell a stake in state-owned Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., as Prime Minister Stephen Harper hinted this week, a company spokeswoman said.

“If and when the federal government indicates it would like to change its model for AECL, we would be interested in talking,” said Kim Warburton, a spokeswoman for GE Canada, reiterating comments in September by General Electric Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt.

Areva SA, one of the world’s biggest builders of nuclear power plants along with GE, may also be among the bidders if the government decided to sell, analysts said. Atomic Energy’s commercial reactor and nuclear services businesses alone may fetch more than C$1 billion ($1 billion), said Catharina Saponar, head of European utilities and energy equity research at Nomura International Plc in London.

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Why our governments and we, the world’s citizens, allow an unethical industry to kill the planet’s ecosystems and creatures so that corporate giants can rake in more profits is completely beyond me!

Pro-Nuke Propaganda Machine & Other Radioactive Tidbits

I’ve updated my previous post in a vain attempt to keep on top of the Chalk River “crisis.”  I am happy to see it has legs and thank all those who have contributed their information to the collective pool.  I thought I’d post a bit of a round-up on what else is going on in the nukes world.

Supply and demand: who’s calling the shots?
19 December 2007This year’s World Nuclear Association market report comes at a very interesting time for nuclear power and more particularly for the world uranium market. By Steve Kidd

The new World Nuclear Association (WNA) market report, The Global Nuclear Fuel Market – Supply and Demand 2007-2030, continues the long tradition of biennial reports from WNA and its predecessor organisation, the Uranium Institute, from the time of the latter’s foundation in 1975. As such, the report very much represents the views of industry participants on the likely future of the nuclear fuel market, but without being perceived as a lobbying document on behalf of the industry.

Here’s that lobby document. But you can’t have it unless you come up with £375!  (And if anyone has it, would you please share it?)

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A chorus of Nuclear Optimism

IRVINE, Calif., Dec 19, 2007 (PrimeNewswire via COMTEX) — URRE | charts | news | PowerRating — “Despite the roller coaster in the 2007 uranium spot price that saw the resource rise from $72 at the beginning of the year to a zenith of $136 and a recent sell-off leading to yesterday’s price of $90, preeminent minds in the space have glittering expectations for uranium prices,” stated SmallCap Sentinel analyst D.R. Clark. “And these optimistic forecasts aren’t coming from random voices, they’re issued by a top CEO and a respected independent research firm.”

The informational report “Uranium for the SmallCap Investor” has been made available at http://www.SmallCapSentinel.com and will address the rise of interest in uranium related equities such as Uranium Energy Corp. (AMEX:UEC), Denison Mines Corp. (AMEX:DNN), Uranium Resources, Inc. (NASDAQ:URRE) and Uranerz Energy Corp. (AMEX:URZ).

“Earlier this month, Salman Partners’ Senior Mining Analyst Ray Goldie and Research Associate Patrick Donnelly predicted that uranium prices could reach $200/lb in the next three to five years due to a lack of new mine supply, citing Russian uranium concerns,” Clark added. “This comes on the heels of a recent interview in which Uranium One CEO Neal Froneman made a bold declaration that uranium could hit $150 in 2008 and then supported the forecast with a battery of information,” Clark noted.

$200/lb? Maybe, if all the mines get shut down!  w00t!

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Areva Share Sale Threatens Reactor Builder’s Revival (Update2)
By Anne-Sylvaine Chassany

Dec. 19 (Bloomberg) — Areva SA, the world’s largest builder of nuclear reactors, is heading for a meltdown from a share sale French President Nicolas Sarkozy is considering for early 2008.

Speculation about a buyout or a merger with Alstom SA, the biggest maker of coal-fired power plants, has helped drive a 32 percent rise in nonvoting certificates of the state-owned company this year. So has an increase in the spot price of uranium, which hit $138 a pound in June.

The Areva securities represent less than 5 percent of the company’s capital and are trading at 39 times estimated earnings. Five of nine analysts who cover the company recommend selling before the shares are diluted in an expanded pool of investors. Two analysts say “hold” and two “buy.”

“Areva’s certificate is largely overpriced, disconnected from the company’s fundamental value given its current contracts and midterm prospects,” said Clemence Bounaix, who helps manage 5 billion euros ($7.2 billion) at Richelieu Finance in Paris and has sold most of its Areva certificates. “Investors are playing a very bullish scenario in a long-cycled industry.”

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Does no one take note that an investment in the uranium industry is an unethical investment?

American Uranium Forms Advisory Board and Makes First Appointment
2007-12-19

December 19, 2007 American Uranium Corporation (OTCBB: AUUM) is pleased to announce the formation of an Advisory Board to the CEO and Board of Directors of the Company and the appointment of its first member Tom Pool.

Since 1995, Mr. Pool has been Chairman of International Nuclear, Inc. in Golden, Colorado. He is respected globally as an analyst for the development of new production facilities, evaluation of strategies, and assessment of production costs. He is proficient with preliminary and detailed feasibility studies for new project development and financing. He is also experienced with valuations of uranium projects, deposits and property brokerage.

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What a coup for AUC!  They’ve grabbed one of the loudest shills and pro-nuke propagandists in the world to advise them on how to  better wreak havoc on Earth and hoodwink the citizens!  Double w00t!!

Manufactured Nuclear Crisis and Harperian Lies

900 ft Jesus at In the House and Senate has done a great job of telling the Chalk River reactor story using details from Hansard to make her points, the most important being that Tony Clement, Minister Responsible for Natural Resources has lied. Twice. Or four times, depending on whether or not any of the statements are true. 900 ft Jesus suggests that Harper and his band of neo-cons hoodwinked Parliament. Of that, there is no doubt in my mind.

This decision to re-open the plant should not have been made the way it was. Yes, there is an emergency need for isotopes – with some doubt as to how critical it actually is – but lowering safety standards isn’t the answer, nor is bullying people who are sincerely trying to do their job and protect Canadians in the process.

JimBobby Sez also says that the need for isotopes was not at all as great as was suggested. It appears to be a manufactured crisis. Europeans were gearing up to increase supplies, as it did when a labour dispute disrupted the Chalk River supply in 1998. But, this shutdown would have meant a financial loss for the multinational corporation MDS-Nordion, the company that manufactures the isotopes. According to the US Federal Register / Vol. 61, No. 181 / Tuesday, September 17, 1996 / Notices 48921 Nordion signed an agreement for an additional isotope with a Belgian supplier should the supply from Chalk River be interrupted. In 1996!

Nordion has established a European subsidiary by acquiring the radiopharmaceutical department of the Institut National des Radio-elements (IRE) in Fleurus, Belgium, but IRE (fully owned by the Belgian Federal Government) remains the owner of Mo-99 production. IRE and Nordion have signed a mutual Mo-99 backup agreement to avoid a complete shortage of Mo-99 in case of an unscheduled shutdown of the Canadian NRU reactor. DOE has been informed that the current contractual backup arrangement requires IRE to supply Nordion with the excess capacity of its facility for up to eight weeks in the event of a shutdown.

Eight weeks! In her grilling by Parliament, Ms Keen said that the Chalk River facility could have been up and running in two weeks. So, what was the big deal? Ms Keen’s outright refusal to bend to Harper’s will, which went so far as to include the use of an Order in Council to have the Nuclear Safety Commission change its mind, forced him to abuse both her and Parliament.

Harper scored a big point in undermining Canadian democracy. With the Christmas break coming, Harper gambled that the Members would not want to return to Ottawa to deal with the issue. Parliament could have insisted upon more information before making a decision and would have had to return during the holly daze. They chose to remain dazed. Our elected officials look like the fools they are for supporting Harper’s lies. He has learned much from his corporatist friends and his tutors in the USA.

As to the brouhaha following Canada’s vote to become a nuclear outlaw, where Clement suggested the problems at AECL were taken care of by the resignation of the AECL Chair, Michael Burns, Le Revue Gauche points to the news report quoting Mr. Burns saying that tendered his resignation on November 29! Two weeks before the “crisis!”

Mr. Burns said he submitted his resignation, which becomes effective on Dec. 31, after a little over a year in the job because of delays in getting a series of proposed reforms instituted at the Crown corporation. He would not elaborate on the nature of the reforms. He also acknowledges he had become “a bit of a burr under the saddle.”

“There were a number of initiatives that I got started and was waiting [for them] to happen,” he said. “And next year looked as if there was just going to be more waiting. Anybody who knows me knows that I don’t wait well. My view was that I had done all I could. … Nobody asked me to leave but nobody begged me to stay, either.

“When I resigned, there was no isotope crisis,” Mr. Burns said.

On November 29 there was no isotope crisis! News searches confirm that the “worldwide shortage” was not news before Burns resigned. So how did a crisis develop so quickly? And why?

Might it have something to do with Harper’s plan to support the nuclear industry through the Nuclear Energy Division of Natural Resources Canada and his questionable sustainable future climate change plan?

The Minister of Natural Resources Canada is responsible for ensuring the best energy future for Canada through developing policies and programs which enhance the economic and environmental well-being of Canadians. (Sustainable Development Strategy – Moving Forward)

Might it have had anything to do with the nuclear industry’s failed attempt to get $58 billion out of the US government coffers?

When the budget-battle dust settled, Congress officially gave nuclear little to crow about. The only indication that lawmakers support loan guarantees for particular energy sources is in a paragraph-long “report” that accompanied the omnibus bill. This nonbinding paragraph spelled out the limit for loan guarantees for various energy sources. It set a ceiling of $38.5 billion, with capped amounts of $18.5 billion for new nuclear reactors, $2 billion for new nuclear fuel uranium enrichment facilities, $6 billion for coal-based power generation with carbon capture and storage, $2 billion for coal gasification, and $10 billion for renewable energy development.

Significantly, the funding levels in the report “are recommended obligation levels and not an appropriation of funds,” Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.) wrote in a December 17 “dear colleague” letter. Visclosky is chairman of the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee.

In his letter, the congressman pointed out that the omnibus bill merely restated 2005 energy legislation provisions, which require the Department of Energy to obtain approval from the House Appropriations Committee for any plan to solicit loan guarantee applications.

Given the projected costs of building new reactors, the measure is hardly a victory for the nuclear industry. Cost estimates have escalated to as much as $12 billion to $18 billion for the kind of twin unit facilities most utility applicants favor. Under this recommended program, a successful nuclear loan guarantee applicant could do little more than fund one or two projects.

Although the report’s loan guarantee language appears to favor nuclear power and fossil fuels over clean renewable energy sources, the nuclear industry got less than it asked for — and more than it deserves.

Might it have something to do with the financial losses MDS-Nordion would have incurred had the reactor been shut down?

Nordion had initially pegged the loss in operating income at between US$8 million and $9 million in the first quarter of 2008, as North American hospitals scramble to find isotopes crucial to life-saving medical diagnostics until production resumes in January.
But in a conference call Thursday, the company said it now expects to be able to ship products to customers earlier than previously stated, which will have less of an impact on MDS Nordion’s first-quarter results.

Might it have had something to do with deflecting criticisms for Canada’s poor showing at the Bali climate change conference?

The EU and developing countries want industrialised nations to start talks on a further set of emissions targets.

But this is being resisted by a number of parties led by Canada.

Or, might it have had something to with creating a smokescreen for the Mulroney/Schrieber scandal which could be disastrous, according to one observer.

Unless the Conservatives can find a way to avoid an inquiry, the probe assures that the Mulroney issue will dog the government well into 2008 and perhaps beyond. Mr. Harper will become the hostage of events and of testimony that will threaten to tarnish his party’s brand.

All of the above? A full and public inquiry into this debacle might give us the answers.

UPDATE: The Harper Index has more. So does Impolitical.  This story has legs.

Fiacco Lies on a Prairie-to-Ports Gateway & an Inland Port

Veering ever-so slightly off my no nukes agenda to slip in an I told you so.  Mayor Fiacco would not reveal the plans for this before the municipal election and now that he is safely back in office he can reveal his real plan.  Today P’n’P learns of the plan for a Prairie-to-Ports Gateway & Inland Port which is part of the NAFTA Highway, the Security and Prosperity Agreement, the ecological devastation called the Tar Sands, and North American Union.

This gateway involves moving the rails from central Regina to the west side where industrial development is taking place and will likely increase dramatically without our approval.  It will increase land and air traffic which means more air and noise pollution.  It will move us closer to BushCo’s & HarperCo’s dreams of not only continental unity but also a continental currency.  At a time when we need to be doing our utmost to curb green house gas emissions, our City is promoting increased consumption and an increased use of fossil fuels!

Thanks for what amounts to lies, Mayor Pat, and for selling us out to the corporatist extremists. We’ll see you at the polls in less than two years.  And we will remember.

Prairie-to-Ports Gateway & Inland Port

Prairie-to-Ports Gateway & Inland Port

The Prairie-to-Ports Gateway & Inland Port, or “Prairie Gateway” is a virtual combination of services and a cluster of numerous transportation, distribution and assembly players working and investing together. This is the best way to maximize the existing transportation assets across an integrated region, with many transportation, production, storage, trans-loading, assembly, product identification and research resources working as a team. This base will draw additional investment, labour and technology as a catalyst for a host of new ancillary business service companies.

What is an Inland Port?

An Inland Port is defined less on the physical aspects of one location and more on the intelligent logistics and coordination of a multitude of services.  It has the following qualities:

  1. Is an organization or coalition made up of key transportation stakeholders
  2. Serves the regional trading area businesses and economy
  3. Facilitates growth for both import and export trade logistics
  4. A mechanism for cooperation, marketing the regions trade processing abilities
  5. Provides national coordination and collaboration among ocean port users

Why Saskatchewan?

Like the Kansas City Smart Port regional model, the Prairie-to-Ports Gateway & Inland Port will be anchored by “connecting” the three major cities of Saskatoon, Moose Jaw and Regina. This will promote regional asset and system optimization. It is proposed that Saskatchewan’s central continental location and lower costs would be of sufficient appeal to attract international investor attention. The high level of cooperation among the principal transportation centres of Saskatchewan, through the tri-cities will generate distinct advantages, including:

  1. Integrate and maximize the unique sub-regional advantages of each community to generate even greater synergies than each community could achieve by working separately;
  2. Provide a value-enhancing alternative to the various less coordinated and smaller scale and scope terminals, hubs or trans-loading sites existing in other parts of Canada;
  3. Foster freight movement productivity through modernization of regulatory reform (i.e. highway road weight limits) and preservation of freight-corridor efficiency on road, rail and air.

US attempt to sneak $25 BILLION in support to nuke industry

From Democracy Now, Amy Goodman interviews Harvey Wasserman, a no nukes activist in the USA:

The House is set to vote on Tuesday on the $500 billion 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. Unveiled on Sunday, the measure covers budgets for all cabinet departments except the Pentagon. It’s expected to pass both houses of Congress this week.

Hidden in the bill is a major energy package that would boost government financing for the nuclear industry. It would provide loan guarantees of up to $25 billion for new nuclear reactors. A massive grassroots campaign forced these taxpayer-financed loans out of the national energy bill earlier this month, but last week Republican Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico slipped them back into the budget vote.

Harvey Wasserman has been at the forefront of raising awareness about the dangers of nuclear power. He helped found the grassroots anti-nuke movement in the early 1970s, advises the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. He’s senior editor of the Ohio-based freepress.org and editor of nukefree.org. Harvey Wasserman has also co-authored two books on the 2004 election. They are How the GOP Stole America’s 2004 Election and Is Rigging 2008 and What Happened in Ohio: A Documentary Record of Theft and Fraud in the 2004 Election. …

HARVEY WASSERMAN: Well, we beat Pete Domenici. With Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, Keb’ Mo’, Ben Harper, we put out a music video on nukefree.org. We raised 120,000 signatures and presented them to Congress in October. And Domenici was forced to pull these nuke loan guarantees out of the energy bill, but then slipped them back into the appropriations bill.
And the nuclear power industry is a fifty-year proven failure, and they can’t get independent financing to build their own new reactors, which they want to do now. And so, they’ve gone to the government. This is one issue where we’re in agreement with Forbes magazine and the Cato Institute, which is backing the opposition to these loan guarantees, because if nuclear power, after fifty years of huge government subsidies, can’t make it in the marketplace, why should the taxpayers fund another $25 billion worth of reactor construction?

We’re on the brink of a tremendous energy revolution in solar, wind, tidal, geothermal. You know, we’re looking almost at a solartopia of a renewable-based economy, which will be much more controllable at the grassroots, much more democratically oriented. And that’s why the nuclear power industry is desperately holding on here.

Go.  (Interview at about 9:30; text on site)