Kinda says it all, eh?
Kinda says it all, eh?
This landed in my Inbox today so I decided to share it here. Very good unravelling of what pronuker Lingenfelter is really saying when he says what he does.
By Jim Harding, Ph.D.
Leadership candidate for the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party (NDP), Dwain Lingenfelter, came out with his nuclear power policy proposal on March 10, 2009. As he wants to become premier of our fair province it’s in the public interest to look closely at his statement. In a nutshell it’s a superficial document showing no fundamental insight into the history or makeup of the nuclear industry or its sustainable energy alternatives.
Ignoring Nuclear Weapons
Lingenfelter says that the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and NDP have supported the export of uranium “For nearly fifty years”, and then adamantly declares “I support that policy.” I realize the role of hyperbole in politics, but does Lingenfelter really know what he’s saying? Uranium has actually been exported from Saskatchewan for 55 years and all of it from its startup in 1953 until the end of the 1960s went for the production of nuclear weapons. Some estimate that Uranium City, along with Elliot Lake in Ontario, contributed the uranium for one-third of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.[i] So is Lingenfelter saying he supports the nuclear arms race, acknowledged by scientists and clergy alike to be a threat to the survival of humankind and the evolutionary web of which we are a part?
Furthermore, all this uranium mining for nuclear weapons was done in secret, totally outside political processes of transparency and accountability. Lingenfelter ends his nuclear power policy proposal saying, “These decisions (about nuclear power in Saskatchewan) cannot be made without full, public input and understanding”. Sounds good, but all past decisions that got us into this nuclear mess, which Lingenfelter implies he supports, were made without any public input and understanding. No CCF or NDP convention ever supported Saskatchewan uranium going into nuclear weapons; in fact Tommy Douglas was willing to speak at Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) rallies held at the height of the Cold War. So why does Lingenfelter want to associate himself with the completely undemocratic and secretive practices involved in the military origins of uranium mining here?
Without looking back honestly and somewhat shamefully at this legacy, as did Tommy Douglas when I last spoke to him about this, we remain trapped by history. But Lingenfelter, nevertheless, wants to barge on. Wanting to affirm political continuity he notes that past NDP Premier Calvert (belatedly) supported uranium refining in Saskatchewan, and, again Lingenfelter declares, “I support that decision as well.”
Apparently there’s going to be no reflection to learn any lessons from history, e.g from the failure of the previous Blakeney NDP government to get a uranium refinery at the Mennonite community of Warman in 1980. This plan failed because of massive cross-party and grass-roots opposition and the refusal of the proponent Eldorado Nuclear (privatized into Cameco in 1988) to undertake an acceptable social impact analysis, which was to include “interpretation of the concept of stewardship and the extent and depth to which this concept occurs locally, the degree to which it may serve to bind the community, and the impact of the refinery particularly with respect to radioactive waste disposal.”[ii]
Hedging on the Nuclear Renaissance
Lingenfelter tries to normalize the nuclear industry by saying 31 countries use nuclear power and highlighting some of the countries that most depend upon it. What he doesn’t mention is that the role of nuclear power has slipped from 18% to 14% of global electrical capacity since 2005, and that his examples of France and Japan don’t at all show that, as he says, “ many highly developed countries rely heavily on nuclear energy.” France accounts for nearly half (47%) of all of Western Europe’s nuclear power, and Japan accounts for 50% of all nuclear power in Asia. These countries are actually the exception to the rule, which is to move towards more non-nuclear and renewable energy sources.[iii] And both France and Japan are paying a price for their heavy reliance on nuclear. Japan had to shut 7 of its nuclear plants down after they were damaged during a 2007 earthquake.[iv] France’s nuclear reactor corporation, Areva, is facing a multi-billion dollar damage suit due to huge cost-overruns and failure to meet its construction schedule where it is building a reactor in Finland.[v] Areva is the only company of the three that Bruce Power says it is considering to build nuclear plants in Saskatchewan which is actually involved in building the promised “new, improved” generation of nuclear power plants. Scarry!
Lingenfelter doesn’t seem to embrace the industry-created myth of there being a “nuclear renaissance”,[vi] but he doesn’t want to have “a closed mind toward nuclear power.” (I’ll show later, from previous statements by him on the topic, that he actually does have a closed mind regarding nuclear power, i.e. being pronuclear regardless of the consequences or positive alternatives.) As a way to promote nuclear power he downplays the potential of renewable energy, commenting that “even the EU, whose member countries are global leaders in the area of renewable energy, envision producing only 20% of their energy from renewable sources by 2020.”
Lingenfelter seems unaware of global trends. Once transportation and heating, along with the electrical sector, are retooled for sustainability, this will push renewable energy well past 20% of total energy. Globally, renewable electrical capacity surpassed nuclear in 2005 and is already at 20% of electrical capacity and rising. The United Nation Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change projected that at best nuclear would hold at 16-18% of global electrical capacity by 2030, whereas renewables would double from 18-35% by then.[vii] These projections are already outdated with the role of nuclear declining, the steep rate of growth in wind power and energy efficiency, and the solar revolution still to come. In 2007 three countries (China, Spain and the U.S.) each created more wind power capacity than nuclear power created worldwide.[viii]
Lingenfelter’s critique of the potential of renewables is not made in good faith, for, under several NDP governments with which he was associated there was no concerted effort to convert to sustainable, renewable energy. Even now, after the Calvert NDP finally dipped its toe into the renewable energy stream, only 3% of our electricity comes from wind. We are still behind Ontario, Quebec and Alberta.[ix] Southern Saskatchewan is one of the highest inland potential wind power areas in Canada. If we had the wind capacity now on-stream or planned in Alberta we would already get 20% of our electricity from just this one renewable source.[x] We’d be a world leader. The NDP, from Blakeney to Romanow to Calvert, was apparently too trapped by history to have such foresight.
However, “better late than never”! And there’s also co-generation, biomass, small hydro, and most vital, energy efficiency and demand-side management (DSM), all of which the NDP, with its fixation on enlarging the non-renewable export economy over the decades, has mostly ignored, and which Lingenfelter doesn’t seriously explore. I encourage him and other NDP candidates to look at the Pembina Institute’s study, done in Alberta, where Lingenfelter has resided for some years, which shows two renewable energy scenarios. One (pale green) shows how renewable energy and efficiency could meet all new electrical demand in that province. The other (aggressive green) shows how the 70% of electricity provided by coal plants could be provided by renewable energy and efficiency over 20 years.[xi] With less electricity provided by coal plants, and a much smaller grid, Saskatchewan’s conversion to renewable energy would likely be easier.
It would, of course, be a wonder if Lingenfelter has not internalized the worldview of the non-renewable energy corporate sub-culture that is so pervasive in places like Calgary and Huston, and profits so hugely from their heavily subsidized resource-extraction and transmission megaprojects. By downplaying renewable energy Lingenfelter is ensuring continued dependence on “conventional” energy, by which he means large thermal plants fueled by non-renewables. And it’s common for those who support nuclear to say it has to be part of the energy mix. This is deceptive and needs careful scrutiny. If Bruce Power built one or two 1,000 MW nuclear plants on the North Saskatchewan River there’d be no possibility of a mix of conventional and renewable energy. We would remain trapped by history. Bruce Power supports the continuation of coal, which is now responsible for 57% of Saskatchewan’s electrical capacity.[xii] If you added 1,000-2,000 MW of nuclear on to our relatively small grid (now 3,500 MW) you’d make us all totally dependent on these two toxic, water-devouring thermal energy systems. These are major contributors to climate change and/or radioactive contamination of the planet. You’d squeeze out the potential for a sustainable mix from renewable sources. And everyone on the grid would be even more vulnerable due to nuclear power’s track-record of unreliability and its history of public-bailouts for atrocious construction and refurbishing cost-overruns.
Optics and Electioneering
Lingenfelter’s statement is more about optics and election strategy than a thoughtful, forward-looking energy policy. He must know from the polls that with more informed public debate starting to occur, support for nuclear power is starting to decline. Women were already against nuclear power in the Regina Leader Post poll of May 2008. More opposed nuclear power than supported it (40.5% to 38%) when the question referred to citing such a plant at Lake Diefenbaker. And in that poll only 25% supported a private corporation like BP undertaking an electrical generating mega-project. Fourty (40) percent thought SaskPower should call the shots.[xiii] Only a minority (45% in Bruce Power poll[xiv], and 38% in Prince Albert poll[xv]) have bought the promotional myth that “nuclear is clean”, which suggests the green-washing of nuclear hasn’t been very effective. We may soon be adding “nuclear is clean” to the list of failed nuclear promotional slogans, such as “too cheap to meter” and “the peaceful atom”.
Lingenfelter knows of the swelling grass-roots concern about how the Sask Party and Bruce Power are trying to manufacture consent for nuclear power in the province. He knows that many people across the province, including within the Sask Party base of support where the NDP must win seats if it is ever to win back government, are getting perturbed about Premier Walls’ cozy relationship with nuclear corporations. He may even sense that this could be the Sask Party’s Achilles Heel. And, he knows that with his contestants for NDP leadership already positioning for this controversy, which will almost certainly shape the outcome of the next provincial election, he must be more visible on the matter.
So what does Lingenfelter propose? He proposes a “blue ribbon panel of independent experts, showing the people of Saskatchewan that such a (nuclear) project could be sustainable, from both the financial and environmental perspective.” But sustainability is about inter-generational justice. It is not sustainability to leave a long-lived radioactive waste stream, and toxic nuclear plants for future decommissioning, while proliferating weapons fuel and technology. And we’ve already seen how past NDP-appointed inquiries have been used to legitimize pronuclear policy, similar to the Sask Party’s flawed Uranium Development Partnership.[xvi]
Does Lingenfelter really want Saskatchewan to be another guinea pig for the nuclear industry? There is a lot of economically-opportunistic talk of us having to add-value to uranium because it is here. Wind, solar, biomass, and small hydro are all here too. And these can be harnessed without ecologically-destructive uranium mining, increasing the probability of catastrophic nuclear accidents, or creating a radioactive waste stream as a burden for our future kin. So let’s break from our destructive history and, yes, add some value to these renewable resources. And let’s do this based on human values that are committed to protecting and restoring environmental health, and reducing the risks of global warming and nuclear proliferation, as well as achieving cost-effectiveness.
History Haunts Us
Lingenfelter titled his nuclear power policy proposal “Failing the People – The Wall Government and Nuclear Power.” We don’t want to be cannon-fodder for any politicians. So before we get carried away over Lingenfelter’s critique of the Sask Party’s really bad process we should review his own declarations on the subject. Speaking to the Saskatoon Business Association in 2005, while Vice President of Nexen Oil, Lingenfelter criticized the Calvert NDP government for allowing “mining of uranium for use in reactors throughout the world, but then take a position that it is too dangerous to use fuel and to deal with the waste locally.” He then went on to promote Saskatchewan as a “champion” of nuclear power, “promoting our province as a potential source of clean nuclear power and seeking active investment.”[xvii] This sounds strangely similar to what Brad Wall is now doing, with his ministers having also bought in, hook line and sinker, with the green-washing of nuclear. And Wall’s government is actively seeking investment deals with AECL, Bruce Power, Cameco, and Areva; any nuclear corporation it can find.
Lingenfelter went further in 2005 than Wall does now by promoting Saskatchewan as a site for a nuclear waste facility, which is something both AECL and Cameco have endlessly pushed. However, the most stunning thing about Lingenfelter’s nuclear power policy proposal is that there is no mention, whatsoever, of the accumulating nuclear waste problem that will plague our future kin. Again, not willing to embrace the challenges of sustainability, or face the collective errors in our history, Lingenfelter seems destined to repeat them. Not mentioning nuclear wastes will not make them go away.
Polls are selectively drawn on by the nuclear industry and pronuclear politicians in the Sask Party and NDP alike. What is not mentioned by Premier Wall or his nuclear backers, or by Lingenfelter, is that Saskatchewan people are opposed to taking nuclear wastes from elsewhere (Ontario, United States, France, etc.). The findings on this from a 2008 poll done for the Regina Leader Post are very revealing, with 32% strongly opposed to a nuclear waste facility compared to only 16% strongly in favour. Overall 48% oppose a nuclear facility compared to 44% in favour, and the opposition is more forthright. Those strongly opposed to a nuclear facility are also a larger group than those who strongly supported a uranium refinery. (This support for a uranium refinery is consistently used to try to legitimize expanding the nuclear fuel system here.) And youth between 18-34 years “are most opposed” to a nuclear waste facility in Saskatchewan.[xviii] It’s also noteworthy that 50% of those polled in Prince Albert picked “waste disposal” as the “main drawback” of Bruce Power’s proposed nuclear plants. This concern was fairly consistent across all demographic groups.[xix]
The governments of Manitoba and Quebec have already passed legislation banning nuclear wastes from elsewhere, and based on the polling here it is highly likely that Saskatchewan people would support such legislation. Ontario, with almost all the nuclear power plants in Canada, would then have to seriously start to confront its nuclear waste problem, rather than relying on some future political fix, such as shipping it to us, which is what we have in store if we allow Brad Wall’s ill-conceived nuclear plan to proceed. Having to face the consequences of our actions is always required to bring about more responsible behavior.
The kind of leadership we all hope we get from the Obama Presidency sizes up history and uses reason and compassion to alter course. Lingenfelter is trapped in a history he won’t honestly explore. His nuclear power policy proposal is about political jockeying, not about using judgment and leadership to make things better. It’s not about helping Saskatchewan make the needed transition from being the second highest per capita Canadian source of GHGs, the main global source of the nuclear fuel system and all its radioactive wastes, and, yes, a continued link to nuclear weapons through the Depleted Uranium (DU) chain.[xx]
It is time to change the course of history, not layer on even more rhetoric to try to ignore its lessons. With an all-time low membership (e.g. only 5,000) the Saskatchewan NDP is now in deep crisis. The unsustainable, non-renewable resource extraction mind-set that Lingenfelter wants to salvage is a big part of the problem. Some may think that the party can find a new direction by electing a young, more progressive, non-nuclear leader. And the NDP leadership contest will certainly be news-catching until it’s over in June. Then what will all the progressives who have joined the NDP, to elect someone other than Lingenfelter, do? Will they stay on, as have many who have fought and lost these battles in the past?[xxi] Will they close ranks around “Link” to elect “the lesser evil”, and thereby muzzle themselves on the nuclear power controversy? Will they, once again, reject nuclear power here but continue to support exporting uranium to become radioactive toxic waste in reactors elsewhere? Or will they recognize that this turning of direction, so that we aren’t trapped by history, will have to come from a larger, grass-roots, coalition-building process that is non-partisan in the narrow sense of loyalty to political institutions and ideologies?
Lingenfelter isn’t alone in not knowing Saskatchewan’s nuclear history. When a friend of mine was doing graduate research in past NDP Premier Woodrow Lloyd’s archives, he came upon a 50-page booklet issued in 1946 for the adult study-action groups animated by the newly elected CCF government’s Adult Education Division.[xxii] This division had previously issued study booklets on such topics as Co-operative Farming, Women’s Role, Family Welfare, Good Health, Community Housing, Community Organizing and Rural Electrification. The one my friend found was called “Atomic Future”.[xxiii]
It begins by saying that atomic power will bring us “a new world, glorious beyond our dreams…we can use atoms to make our climate warmer. We can make Spring come a month earlier and Autumn a month later. In fact we can make our Prairies as warm as California if we wanted to.” It reads like socialist science fiction. There is no “biosphere”, no “ecosystems” or “habitats” anywhere in the 50 pages. The planet is all for us, to exploit for our purposes. Such anthropocentric and technocratic thinking was widespread in the early CCF and continues on in the NDP. And the “social gospel” vision of exploiting resources under public (and then private) control for creating plenty was pronuclear from the start. When I read this booklet many things fell into place, including how past NDP Premier Blakeney, who spearheaded the expansion of the uranium industry, could be so narrow minded about public ownership of uranium mining, with no apparent regard for the fact that uranium is a long-lived radioactive toxic heavy metal[xxiv] which has only two purposes: to build thermonuclear or radiological weapons, or to produce electricity that could be produced cheaper through much safer means without increasing the risks of nuclear weapons proliferation while creating a long-lived radioactive toxic waste stream.[xxv]
The naïve nuclear vision has turned into a nightmare, and it has run its course. History gets very messy when people hang on to undiscerning, inherited beliefs. Look at what happened with the Presidency of George Bush in this regard. I’m not saying that Lingenfelter, or any of the others in the NDP who cling to a history they won’t explore, can’t change worldviews. Millions of people across the planet are probably in the process of doing this daily, especially since the capitalist financial meltdown. But this change can’t happen without honest reflection and reevaluation, of which there is no sign in Lingenfelter’s nuclear power policy proposal.
But there are signs of such reevaluation in every community in Saskatchewan. And it is happening across political and religious lines. So let’s get on with the challenge of moving towards a sustainable society. We have a special moral responsibility when it comes to phasing-out the nuclear industry. And we will be working in the spirit of those who laid the ground for Medicare. It will be an interesting and tumultuous journey.
March 26, 2009
[i] See Carole Giangrande, “Saskatchewan Uranium and the Weapons Link”, The Nuclear North: The People, the Regions and the Arms Race, Toronto: Anansi, 1983, chapter III.
[ii] Quoted by Mervyn Norton, “Nuclear Debate worth close look”, Saskatoon Star Phoenix, March 19, 2009
[iii] See “2008 World Nuclear Industry Status Report”, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Nov./Dec. 2008.
[iv] It’s ironic that the heat in the mountain range where this occurred could provide much geothermal energy to supply Japan’s electrical needs. Mind set is everything!
[v] See Jim Harding, “Public Cost of Nuclear Power High”, Special to the Saskatoon Star Phoenix, March 6, 2009.
[vi] See Jim Harding, “Is There Really A Nuclear Revival?”, Coalition for a Clean Green Saskatchewan, 2009.
[vii] UN Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, Fourth Assessment Report, 2007.
[viii] See Amory Lovins, The Nuclear Illusion, Rocky Mountain Institute, 2008 for details on worldwide growth of renewables.
[ix] Canada currently has 2,246 MW of wind capacity, about one-tenth that of Germany.
[x] 800 MW on a 3,500 MW grid.
[xi] “Greening the Grid: Powering Alberta’s Future With Renewable Energy”, Pembina Institute, 2008.
[xii] See “Saskatchewan 2020: Clean Energy. New Opportunity” – Report on Bruce Power’s Feasibility Study, Nov. 2008, p. 17.
[xiii] “Uranium Refinery and a Nuclear Power Plant and Related Issues”, Sigma Analytics, May 2008.
[xiv] “Saskatchewan 2020”, p. 13.
[xv] See “Public Opinion Poll To determine Support for Attracting Bruce Power To Develop in The Prince Albert Region”, DEMAR Consulting Associates INC, March 12, 2009. The methodology of this poll is fundamentally flawed and the design greenwashes nuclear power.
[xvi] See historical details “Uranium Blowback” and “Dark Side of Nuclear Politics”, in Canada’s Deadly Secret, 2007, chapter 4 and 14.
[xvii] See Jim Harding, Canada’s Deadly Secret, p. 226-27
[xviii] See Jim Harding, “Beneath Saskatchewan’s Nuclear Poll”, Prairie Messenger, March 5, 2008.
[xix] Public Opinion Poll, p. 11
[xx] DU (U238) left from Saskatchewan uranium enriched abroad remains available for military purposes in spite of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) being signed by Canada. See Canada’s Deadly Secret, pp. 253-55.
[xxi] Remember that during its period in opposition, specifically from 1983-1991, the NDP party policy was for phasing out uranium mining. (See Canada’s Deadly Secret, pp. 59-62.) Now, again in opposition, its policy supports expanding into uranium refining.
[xxii] There is some irony about this as I was raised in Saskatchewan because my father Bill Harding returned here from Alberta in 1946 to be Assistant Director of Adult Education.
[xxiii] Dyson Carter, Atomic Future. Study-Action Outline No 6, Regina: King’s Printer, 1946.
[xxiv] Uranium takes 4.5 billion years to decay into lead, which is still a toxic heavy metal.
[xxv] Medical isotopes can be created without using nuclear reactors, in fact, this is being encouraged since reactors like the NRU, which is still making medical isotopes at Chalk River, produce weapons-grade uranium as a byproduct.
The Star Phoenix has boostered the nuclear industry in SK, no doubt. In fact, in 2007 it cited AREVA as one of Saskatchewan’s top 100 companies. Funny, that, because that top company just layed off a shwack of employees. (This is SK, remember, with a population of just over a million. Definitions of shwack vary across the country!)
For those who want to know more about how AREVA’s going down the tubes, here’s an excellent essay by Harvey Wasserman:
The myth of a successful nuclear power industry in France has melted into financial chaos. With it dies the corporate-hyped poster child for a “nuclear renaissance” of new reactor construction that is drowning in red ink and radioactive waste. Areva, France’s nationally-owned corporate atomic façade, has plunged into a deep financial crisis led by a devastating shortage of cash. Electricite de France, the French national utility, has been raided by European Union officials charging that its price-fixing may be undermining competition throughout the continent. Delays and cost overruns continue to escalate at Areva’s catastrophic Olkiluoto reactor construction project in Finland. Areva has admitted to a $2.2 billion, or 55%, cost increase in the Finnish building site after three and a half years. The Flamanville project—the only one now being built in France—is already over $1 billion more expensive than projected after a single year under construction.
Widely portrayed as the model of corporate success, reactor-builder Areva is desperately short of money. As it begs a bailout from its
dominant owner, the French government, Areva’s mismanagement and overextension in promoting and building new reactors has
wrecked its image in worldwide capital markets. According to Mycle Schneider, Paris-based author of “Nuclear Power in France—
Beyond the Myth,” Areva shares have plunged by over 60% since June 2008, twice as much as the CAC40, the standard indicator of
the 40 largest French companies on the stock market.
EdF and Areva are at the core of what has been labeled as the global “nuclear renaissance.” Their escalating money problems underscore
an epic failure that has been a significant factor in the current global economic crisis. After a half- century of massive government
subsidies in the US, UK, France and elsewhere, atomic energy still staggers under an unsustainable load of high construction costs and
uncompetitive prices for the electricity it generates.
EdF’s recent $17.5 billion takeover of nuke utility British Energy came with a warning from EdF officials that England’s commitment to
wind turbines could undermine the future of nuclear power. The statement evoked widespread astonishment and scorn from the
JASON KENNEY IS A FASCIST IDIOT!!!
rabble.ca reports that Jason Kenney has refused British MP, George Galloway, entry into Canada.
Alykhan Velshi, MP Kenney’s Director of Communications… explained that the decision is that of Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), and that Mr. Kenney’s role is only to decide to adhere to or to overturn their decision. He has chosen not to overturn it.
Kenney “has chosen” to adhere to fascism, “suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship.” Galloway is an outspoken, anti-war advocate and, in Kenney’s mind must be censored, i.e. kept away from his speaking tour throughout Canada. I guess Kenney, being the war-monger that he is, thinks it’s ok to stifle opposition to war.
Galloway, however, remains polite:
This decision, gazetted in Rupert Murdoch’s Sun, is a very sad day for the Canada we have known and loved – a bastion of the freedoms that supporters of the occupation of Afghanistan claim to be defending.
On a personal note – for a Scotsman to be barred from Canada is like being told to stay away from the family home.
This is not something I’m prepared to accept.
Again, a little something from the Inbox for you, dear Reader. What I can’t figure out is why the Canadian Tax Payers Federation isn’t in a big huff about all this!
Tax-payers are already paying, or will pay for:
- the research and other costs of developing the tar sands (roads,
– the water reservoirs (dams) needed for the nuclear reactors (billions of dollars)
– most of the costs of a nuclear reactor (billions of dollars)
– all the costs of the power transmission lines (billions of dollars)
– radioactive waste disposal costs (billions of dollars for eternity) and
– we are paying for lobbyists in Washington.
Taxpayers should be aware of how much money we are, or will be, contributing to the nuclear and to the tar sands companies – – unless we take a stand. The best place to take a stand is on whether or not we want nuclear reactors here. It is not us that needs them as an energy source. If we don’t want nuclear reactors and we stop them, the huge energy source needed for tar sands development does not exist – – unless the Government is willing to use up natural gas supplies for tar sands processing. That would mean running us out of a relatively clean energy source to develop a very dirty energy source, and notwithstanding the fact that most of the infrastructure for heating our homes is for natural gas. The reactors have to have access to large volumes of water. We stopped (at least temporarily) the construction of the HighGate Dam on the North Saskatchewan River near the Battlefords. We would have paid billions of dollars for the HighGate Dam or “reservoirs” as the Government likes to call them.
The assumption of the Government is that these projects are going to proceed:
Wall Heads to Washington
Tuesday, 03 March 2009
The province will have some representation at an Energy Council in the US this week.
Premier Brad Wall will be giving a major speech at the council, which goes from tomorrow until Saturday. Wall plans to talk about carbon capture and clean investments in the province, as well as nuclear opportunities.
March 8, 2009 FINANCIAL POST
… Wall spent part of his trip to Washington scouting D.C. lobby firms, with the intention of hiring one to protect the province’s interests on Capitol Hill.
“We hope to get a firm that’s not just got some ability to open some political doors. We need to continue to open financial doors and attract capital to the province,” he said.
“They would be boots on the ground in the Capitol.”
During meetings with several prominent U.S. lawmakers – including senators Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham – Wall also discussed Saskatchewan’s interest in developing small nuclear reactor technology as a way to replace the burning of natural gas in the production of oilsands oil.
“There are challenges and risk to these technologies, but we will cause ourselves innumerable more problems if our default position is to do nothing,” Wall said.
Of course, certain risks come with having a higher profile in Washington – especially regarding energy and the environment.
Alberta had early success promoting itself as a safe and secure source of foreign oil, but is now struggling to combat anti-oilsands sentiment among U.S. lawmakers under pressure from the environmental lobby.”
This landed in my Inbox and so I duplicate it here for the benefit of PnP’s readers, whomever you may be.
Bruce Power feasibility report viewed with skepticism.
By C. Pike
Pike writes from Waseca, Sask.
Western Reporter, March 5, 2009
Nearly every newspaper I picked up in mid-January had tucked inside A Report on Bruce Powers Feasibility Study.
Feasibility study, my left foot. It was practically a motherhood and Saskatoon pie manual put together by an Ontario company wanting to make a lot of money while pretending to be the fairy godmother to the people of Saskatchewan, with a nuclear gift. Pandora’s box, more likely.
The report contains pictures of spacious prairie land; a little girl watching the combines, a farmer in a field of canola, a grain elevator – which-has likely been torn down.
I expect the pictures were chosen by the public relations people. I could not help but yield to a childish impulse while I made a sketch (not to scale) of a nuclear power plant on those pictured food growing acres.
Isn’t it interesting that a company from Ontario, now a have-not province – and we shouldn’t gloat – flees the sinking ship to scurry to the have province? Isn’t it interesting that a project, more or less on the back burner for some time, is presented during a recession, with a glowing offer of jobs, jobs, jobs? Hmmm. Glowing. Isn’t that a radioactive thing?
The manual tells us that it has “community officials excited.” Well, it has developers excited, developers who don’t live here, excited about making money.
We are told that the majority favors nuclear. Was that poll in the areas where the nuclear power plant might be built? No one around here, near the North Saskatchewan River, has come forward to say they were polled.
According to the Saskatoon Star Phoenix, the majority appears to be 52 percent. And did those 52 percent indicate they understood anything about nuclear power plants?
Bruce Power claims on page 13 that they will “examine the possibility of establishing a clean energy hub to generate electricity and hydrogen through wind and solar. People in Saskatchewan overwhelmingly support the use of wind (94 percent) and solar (95 percent).”
I’m no mathematician but doesn’t 94 percent and 95 percent eclipse 54 percent? Therefore, why can’t our politicians get cracking on wind and solar power using some of the money in the coffers of our have province, and not leave it to Bruce Power to throw it in as a come along.
Solar in particular is becoming more and more efficient and amazing. The Scandinavians are doing wonderful things with this renewable resource; renewable and not liable to blow us up or come back to haunt future generations with deadly waste from uranium.
Bruce Power offers to help drive economic growth in Saskatchewan. I wish it could always be realized that growing food has and should be said to do the same.
It is claimed that there will be 2,000 workers to build a nuclear power plant, and 1,000 permanent workers.
And so I quote again from the manual, page 16: “A new nuclear facility of just over 1,000 MW would have the same reduction on greenhouse gases as taking half of Saskatchewan’s vehicles off the roads today.”
That’s nice. But what will all those thousands of workers and suppliers be driving? Bicycles?
Page 15 informs us that the plant will operate for 60 years. Sixty years and then what? Oh well, I won’t have to worry. Let people yet unborn decide what to do with a giant pile of concrete and a heap of nuclear waste. The manual tells us nothing about that.
Has Bruce Power been meeting with aboriginal chiefs and councils to offer them large sums of money if they will take the nuclear waste? The 21st century version of blankets, beads, and smallpox.
Bruce Power claims to look forward to “consult with impacted communities and aboriginal peoples.” Aren’t we one and the same?
And I can’t resist being vulgar over that word “impacted.” In the cattle-raising community, an impacted cow is one that has been constipated, a cow which just might have been fed the wrong diet.
I see that on the last page of the manual there is an outline of what an environmental assessment does and there is the word “radioactivity” and there are the words “human health.”
Why should I, or anyone else, those of us whom a certain politician has called people of “ignorance and scare-mongering,” welcome someone from away without asking questions? Questions like, is this plant being built in Saskatchewan to send power to Fort McMurray?
We should try to educate ourselves and so should politicians. There is a lot of information out there besides the Scouts honor kind put out by Bruce Power.
A fact-finding group has been accused by local media of not inviting them to their initial planning meetings. I’ll bet you Bruce Power never invited the media to their planning meetings.
There will indeed be public meetings, grassroots meetings which anyone can attend. Will you?
Someone years ago wrote, “the shepherd tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his own are the same.”
And I have added to that, “and so does the wolf.”
Well, thanks to intrepid reporter, Greg Weston, of Sun Media, P’n’P has learned that
industry insiders say lobbyists had long been trying to get rid of Keen for reasons that had nothing to do with medicine. Their clients were companies that stand to make huge money from the next generation of Canadian nuclear power reactors called the Advanced Candu, or ACR-1000. Rightly or wrongly, it seems, the iron-fisted Keen was getting in the way.
Keen would not agree to conduct a special review of AECL’s new toy design. But, exit Keen and enter Binder and everything changed!
Almost immediately after Binder took over from Keen, the supposedly independent, quasi-judicial safety commission reversed itself and agreed to conduct a pre-project review of Atomic Energy’s new ACR-1000 reactor design.
Seven months later, the commission concluded its review, finding the new Candu complies with “regulatory requirements and meets the expectations for new nuclear power plants in Canada.”
It’s like, well, it’s like MAGIC! Or something, eh?
Thanks to BCer in Toronto for pointing me to the article!
This is significant! The new manager at the Canadian Cancer Society in Lloydminster is taking a stand against a nuke reactor! There’s a meeting in Lloydminster on March 19 at the Wayside Inn.
New manager and new fights for Cancer Society
Posted By Allison Wall
The Lloydminster Canadian Cancer Society is taking an unprecedented stand against a possible nuclear power facility near Paradise Hill.
Although the Saskatchewan government recently issued a release encouraging Bruce Power to continue laying groundwork for a possible facility in northwest Saskatchewan, the Canadian Cancer Society Lloydminster unit has developed a policy to educate the public about the health risks associated with nuclear facilities.
“The start is to educate people about it before they can make a decision on it … and people can voice their opinions,” said Wendy Clague, new manager of the Society’s Lloydminster unit.
The policy is the first of its kind for the Cancer Society in Canada.
“I spoke today with the division in regards to this policy,” she said. “At this point, the national Canadian Cancer Society doesn’t have policy right now on this issue. However, with a unit such as Lloydminster to bring it up to the division, the division will have to go forward to the national level.”
Increased cancer risk has been associated with nuclear power facilities in some studies – a fact that made some at the meeting uneasy.
“We know there are many benefits to nuclear power, but we also know that nuclear facilities create many situations that affect the human health, plant life and the earth itself,” said Don Retzlaff, a guest at the Canadian Cancer Society Lloydminster unit annual general meeting. “There has been a considerable amount of research in the United States and Europe that indicated that nuclear power plants can create serious health problems.”
Retzlaff said statistics in United States and Europe have indicated a sharp increase in breast cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer and pancreatic cancer, particularly in women and children.
“In Germany and Ireland, women and children living within 50 kilometres of a nuclear facility have a one in six chance of developing leukemia,” said Retzlaff.
In October, a group of six city officials from Lloydminster, along with representatives from North Battleford and Prince Albert, toured a Bruce Power facility in Ontario.
“I think we have the responsibility as council, to be able to have all the information that we can get and get it compiled to the community knows what’s going on,” said Mayor Ken Baker.
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> Nuclear reaction
> Meeting draws hundreds in nuclear debate
> Posted By Graham Mason
> More than 400 people crowded into the Kinsmen Hall in Paradise Hill Monday night to hear what former University of Regina professor Jim Harding had to say about the dangers of nuclear power.
> The meeting was organized by a group called Save Our Saskatchewan, which was formed last month by residents concerned about the prospect of a Bruce Power nuclear plant being stationed somewhere in the region along the North Saskatchewan River.
> Harding criticized the company for downplaying the environmental cost of building and fueling the plant while grouping it with wind and solar energy.
> “When you say something is green, it doesn’t make it green,” Harding told the crowd. “It’s true that a nuclear power plant doesn’t emit carbon, but everything else does along the nuclear fuel chain.”
> “The promotions are one-sided, they dis-inform by omitting.”
> He accused the company and provincial government of deception in selling nuclear power to the public.
> “Unfortunately, some of us aren’t people of our word, words are manipulated so much. There’s so much spin going on here that we all have to start taking a deep breath and wonder whether we’re hearing anything at all,” said Harding. “They’re just asking each other to come to each other’s events to animate support to make it look like public opinion supports this.”
> No representatives from Bruce Power attended the meeting, but in a telephone interview with the Booster, company spokesperson Steve Cannon responded to the criticism.
> “At this point it’s too early for anybody to be making a decision of any kind,” said Cannon. “What we’re asking is that people in Saskatchewan take a step back from some of the rhetoric and just look at the facts of it.
> “If, at the end of the day, you have good facts, good information, and you still don’t support the technology – we respect that, we understand that.”
> Cannon said Bruce Power would continue talking to landowners before making any decision on a final site for an environmental assessment, reiterating no specific site has yet been chosen.
> ”I know some people have tried to draw that inference because we’ve been speaking to landowners but that’s just not the case,” he said.
> Daron Priest farms in an area near one of the landowners contacted by the company.
> “One of the proposed sites is very close to our farm, and I’ve got some real concerns and even more so tonight after listening to the speakers,” said Priest. “There are a lot of concerned people I think.”
> Meggan Hougham, secretary of SOS, was pleased with the turnout in Paradise Hill.
> “There was a good discussion and lots of good questions and we couldn’t have been happier,” said Hougham. “(The group is just) local people in response to hearing a power plant was proposed for the area just concerned and they wanted to do something about it.
> Harding told the audience the only truly green option was renewable energy such as wind and solar, which don’t require toxic metals as fuel or water as a coolant.
> “(Bruce Power’s) own polls show overwhelming support for going the renewable route,” said Harding. “When did you ever get an energy source that could be a health policy, a water policy, as well as an energy policy?”
> Cannon said the environmental cost of nuclear is diminished by its long lifecycle.
> “Where does a wind turbine come from, where does the steal come from, the process to build solar panels, to build windmills, the material is all mined, it’s all refined, it’s the same type of thing,” he said.
> According to the company, construction of the plant would create 20,000 direct and indirect jobs, and when complete, the plant will provide 1,000 full-time jobs and 900 indirect jobs over 60 years.
> Even though this would be Bruce Power’s first reactor built from the ground up, Cannon said the company is up to the task.
> “We’re well versed in what this would require,” he said. “We’ve already restarted two reactors and we’ve got another project underway now to restart two more and in a way that’s even more challenging and complex than if we built right from scratch.”
> He admitted that the power output of the proposed plant was more than enough to meet the province’s domestic needs, but pointed out that there was a demand in neighbouring jurisdictions. He also dismissed Harding’s claim that nuclear power spelled a major health risk.
> “It does a disservice to the highly educated people who work in the industry and live near the facilities to believe that we would ever choose to live here and work in an industry that poses a cancer risk for us, it’s just not the case,” said Cannon. “It’s a scare tactic to be quite frank, but it’s a question that people have and we understand it.”
> “I think people just have to do research on that and find out the true facts for themselves,” he said.
> A public meeting on nuclear power will be held in Lloydminster March 19 at the Wayside Inn.
Published on Wednesday, March 11, 2009 by the Chicago Tribune
Nuclear Waste Has No Place to Go
Obama budget kills Nevada storage site for used radioactive fuel rods piling up near power plants
by Michael Hawthorne
In a pool of water just a football field away from Lake Michigan, about 1,000 tons of highly radioactive fuel from the scuttled Zion Nuclear Power Station is waiting for someplace else to spend a few thousand years.
[Zion Nuclear Power Station in Illinois has been shuttered for years, but its waste lives on. The lack of a permanent solution for such waste poses a serious challenge to the industry’s plans to build more reactors. (David Trotman-Wilkins / Chicago Tribune)]Zion Nuclear Power Station in Illinois has been shuttered for years, but its waste lives on. The lack of a permanent solution for such waste poses a serious challenge to the industry’s plans to build more reactors. (David Trotman-Wilkins / Chicago Tribune)
The wait just got longer.
President Barack Obama’s proposed budget all but kills the Yucca Mountain project, the controversial site where the U.S. nuclear industry’s spent fuel rods were supposed to end up in permanent storage deep below the Nevada desert. There are no other plans in the works, meaning the waste for now will remain next to Zion and 104 other reactors scattered across the country.
Obama has said too many questions remain about whether storing waste at Yucca Mountain is safe, and his decision fulfills a campaign promise. But it also renews nagging questions about what to do with the radioactive waste steadily accumulating in 35 states.
With seven nuclear plant sites, Illinois relies more heavily on nuclear power and has a larger stockpile of spent fuel than any other state. Besides Zion near Lake Michigan, plants storing waste are sited along the Illinois, Rock and Mississippi Rivers.
Customers of ComEd and other nuclear utilities have shelled out $10 billion to develop the Yucca Mountain site in spare-change-size charges tacked on to electric bills. Most of that money will have been wasted, and experts forecast that billions more will be spent on damage suits from utilities that counted on the federal government to come up with a burial ground.
Reversing course from previous administrations satisfies critics in Nevada, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but triggers another round of maneuvering and regional bickering in Congress.
“We are drifting toward a permanent policy of keeping extremely toxic waste next to the Great Lakes, and that cannot stand,” said U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).
More than 57,000 tons of spent fuel rods already are stored next to reactors, just a few yards away from containment buildings where they once generated nuclear-heated steam to drive massive electrical turbines. More than 7,100 tons are stored in Illinois, including at the Zion facility in Chicago’s northern suburbs.
The lack of a permanent solution poses a serious challenge to the industry’s plans to build more than 30 new reactors. Existing nuclear plants already produce 2,000 tons of the long-lived waste each year, most of which is moved into pools of chilled water that allow the spent-but still highly lethal-uranium-235 to slowly and safely decay.
But containment pools never were intended to store all of the spent fuel that a reactor creates. The idea was that the cool water would stabilize the enriched uranium until it could be sent to a reprocessing plant or stored in a centralized location.
Instead it keeps piling up. And though industry officials insist the waste is safely stored in fenced-off buildings lined with concrete and lead, concerns remain that a leak or a terrorist attack could create an environmental catastrophe.
As power companies run out of space in their containment pools, they increasingly are storing the waste above ground in concrete and metal casks; the Zion plant’s spent fuel rods eventually are to be moved into casks a little farther away from Lake Michigan.
“We continue to ask the federal government to provide a clear solution for what the long-term storage of spent fuel will be,” said Marshall Murphy, spokesman for Exelon Nuclear, which owns Illinois’ plants.
Until now, the solution was Yucca Mountain, a dusty mountain of volcanic rock about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas that Congress chose in the late 1980s as a permanent repository. Federal officials spent the last two decades-and billions of dollars-preparing to bury spent fuel in a series of fortified tunnels drilled into the mountain.
Without further funding the project will wind up as a very expensive hole in the ground.
The repository’s apparent demise is part science and part politics. Recent studies have shown that water flows through the mountain much faster than previously thought, raising concerns that radioactive leaks could contaminate drinking water supplies. More than anything else, though, the project is opposed by two powerful politicians: Reid and Obama, who is calling for more study to find a better solution.
Chicago-based Exelon Corp., the parent company of ComEd and Exelon Nuclear, is seeking to extend the life of its reactors, most of which were built in the 1970s. It also wants to build a new reactor at the Clinton Power Station south of Bloomington. Company officials have said that won’t be possible without an alternative to Yucca.
Copyright © 2009, Chicago Tribune