Canada Reaches Nuclear Agreement With Uranium-Rich Kazakhstan

From Nuclear Street News

Canada Reaches Nuclear Agreement With Uranium-Rich Kazakhstan

Rate This
PoorPoorFairFairAverageAverageGoodGoodExcellentExcellent
Tue, Nov 12 2013 10:27 AM
  • Comments 0
  • Likes

Canada plans to enter a civilian nuclear agreement with Kazakhstan, home to 12 percent of the world’s uranium deposits and an ambitious fuel cycle industry.

Azerbaijani newspaper AzerNews reported Monday that the agreement will be signed in Kazakhstan during a first-ever visit by Canada’s foreign minister this week. Agreements on the peaceful use of nuclear energy between nations typically lay out diplomatic expectations regarding nonproliferation, nuclear safety and other issues. They often precede additional treaties and agreements that lead to trade in nuclear technology and services.

Next year, Canada’s Cameco will begin a feasibility study on a 6,000-tonne-per-year uranium conversion facility at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant, according to the World Nuclear Association. The company also owns 60 percent of Kazakhstan’s Inkai uranium mine. Pending the study’s findings, a joint venture between Cameco and state-controlled Kazatomprom could begin construction of the conversion equipment in 2018.

Kazakhstan holds the world’s second largest uranium reserves, AzerNews reported. The country’s mines accounted for more than 36 percent of the word’s uranium production in 2012, according to the WNA. Kazakhstan also signed an agreement with Areva in 2008 to build a new fuel fabrication facility at Ulba. Bolstered by demand from China’s rapidly expanding reactor fleet, Kazatomprom aims to supply up to one-third of the world’s fuel fabrication market by 2030.

Ado in Saskatoon

Some Senators at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon want the Chair of the Board of Governors to resign. She serves on the Board of the nuclear giant, Cameco.

The senators also say lawyer Nancy Hopkins’s position as a board member for Cameco Corp. puts her in a conflict of interest chairing a search committee for a new university president.

In a letter sent to the university’s secretary and board vice-chair earlier this year, environmental lawyer and senator Stefania Fortugno points to equity Hopkins has at stake that rides on Cameco’s performance. Fortugno questions whether Hopkins’s role is connected to the university’s increasing focus on nuclear research.

“Any time that the University of Saskatchewan enlarges the role of the nuclear sciences on campus, through the appointment of faculty chairs, or establishing a new $30-million nuclear research centre and allocates scarce educational resources to the same, the share prices of Cameco Corporation correspondingly increase,” the letter says.

Cameco is everywhere in Saskatoon; it’s frightening. I’m with the Senators on this one.

Cameco, poisoning minds and kids

Not only is Cameco  poisoning northern Saskatchewan through its uranium mining practices, but it is also poisoning the minds of children who happen to take in the Much More Munsch display at the Children’s Discovery Museum in Saskatoon.  As corporate sponsor Cameco gets to demonstrate how generous it is to the community while in the north it contaminates plants and wildlife, lakes and rivers, the earth and its people.

Interestingly, Munsch’s publicist claims Munsch has nothing to do with that traveling display.  How Munsch can possibly extricate himself from the merchandizing and characterizing around it is beyond me!  The brochure for the display even thanks him and Martchenko (his illustrator) for their collaboration on it!  After several emails, I’ve decided to quit trying to understand it, to boycott Munsch, and to post this here.

In other Cameco news, today we learn that the company is also going to poison China, by increasing sales to that country so that the Chinese government can fuel  a reactor in order to meet China’s increased energy demands.

Cameco Corp., the world’s second- largest uranium producer, agreed to supply the fuel to China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Co. through 2025 to meet rising demand in the world’s fastest-growing nuclear market.

Cameco plans to sell 29 million pounds of uranium concentrate to China Guangdong Nuclear, subject to the approval of the Chinese government, the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based company said in a statement yesterday. That’s equivalent to about 13,000 metric tons.

I guess we can call it fair if kids in both countries are poisoned, eh?

Nuking it up in SK

Well, well, well, aren’t we just the hub of nuke activity here in the gap!  Bruce Power‘s all set to give us a nuker.

Bruce Power, the private operator of nuclear plants in Ontario, is on track to complete its feasibility study on nuclear power in Saskatchewan by the end of this year, Hawthorne said. The company announced it would embark on the study in June.

“We will make those findings open and transparent to the public”

Areva’s meeting with folks in Saskatoon.

AREVA Public Information Meeting

Nov. 27th, 7:30 pm, Hilton Garden InnThere will be a public information meeting hosted by AREVA Resources Canada Inc. (the nuclear industry) in the Estevan Room at the Hilton Garden Inn.

At 7:30 pm, there will be a presentation on AREVA’s present and upcoming activities, followed by the opportunity to ask questions and talk about their projects. There will also be information displays where people can discuss issues one on one.

And little Braddy Wall-mart has set up a nukers’ play group.

Like the Regulatory Modernization Council, the Uranium Development Partnership is the result of political interference. Dragging its credibility down even further is the fact that at least 9 of its 12 members appear to be pro-development:

Nothing but fun, fun, fun in this nuclear winter playground!

cameco-dig-your-own-grave

Agreement? Great Lakes Are Not A Dump!

Well, it seems the government of Ontario has at least a sniff of what’s in the wind, calling the plot to place a nuclear plant on the shores of Lake Erie, a mere “tactic aimed at forcing the government’s hand.”  I guess the power giant – a consortium of Cameco Corp., TransCanada Corp., the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System and others — is feeling emboldened, now that it has the ear of Saskatchewan’s Premier Wall-Mart. ( Look! There’s even a link to an update on the Saskatchewan 2020 Feasibility Study they’re conducting. So far, they say that the Pollara Research and Communications Company (do drop me a note if that link ever actually works) found that Saskatchewan residents favour nuclear energy!  Imagine that!  A nuke company finds support among the people in the place where they want to do nuke work.  Surprising, isn’t it?  Only to cynics, perhaps.)

P’n’P reported on the Lake Erie thing a while back, directing readers to the greatlakesnotadump website, started by progressives in Michigan.  Perhaps some cross-border lobbying helped the McGuinty government see the light of day.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t given McGuinty and his buds clear vision as of yet because they still plan to do more promotion of the nuke industry.  They must think they have money to blow or something, because we all know that the nuke industry cannot survive without huge subsidies from governments.  Maybe it’s something like a cocaine or heroin addiction in that once you start, you just can’t quit, no matter the cost, human or otherwise.

Otherwise, why carry on?

Smitherman rejects Nanticoke nuke plan

Says Bruce Power idea `designed to influence government policy’
Nov 01, 2008 04:30 AM


Energy Reporter
Ontario’s energy and infrastructure minister poured cold water yesterday on the idea of building a nuclear plant in Nanticoke, along the shoreline of Lake Erie, calling a plan announced by Bruce Power a tactic aimed at forcing the government’s hand.

“I want to make very clear that this is an unsolicited action on the part of a private interest. We didn’t solicit it, we don’t endorse it, tacitly or otherwise,” George Smitherman said in an interview.

“It’s designed to influence government policy.”

Privately owned Bruce Power, which already operates six Candu reactors at nuclear facilities near Kincardine, confirmed yesterday a story first reported in the Toronto Star that it wants to build a new plant near the existing Nanticoke coal-fired generating station in the Haldimand-Norfolk region.

The plant would consist of two nuclear reactors capable of generating between 2,000 and 3,000 megawatts of electricity. The company said it filed an application yesterday for a site preparation licence from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and will move forward with an environmental assessment that’s likely to take three years.

“Bruce Power will use the (environmental assessment) as a planning tool to weight the merits of building a clean energy hub on approximately 800 hectares within the Haldimand Industrial Park,” the Tiverton-based company said.

It has negotiated an option for the land from owner U.S. Steel Canada Inc., formerly Stelco Inc. “Although this is a major step forward, we will not make a decision to proceed with a project until we have consulted thoroughly with the people of Haldimand-Norfolk and have significantly progressed the EA,” said Bruce Power president and chief executive Duncan Hawthorne.

The company, citing research out of Trent University, said a nuclear plant in the region would create 1,000 new jobs and contribute $550 million a year to the local economies during construction.

The plan has support from the mayors of Haldimand and Norfolk and both communities’ town council. Local MP Diane Finley, federal minister of human resources and skills development, backs the plant, along with the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters and Canadian Nuclear Workers Council.

The McGuinty government has consistently said it will build a new nuclear plant only in communities that already have one. Earlier this year it chose Ontario Power Generation’s Darlington site as the new plant location. A process is underway to select a reactor technology.

But proponents say Haldimand county would be an ideal location for a second plant because of its willing community and access to high-voltage transmission lines after the massive Nanticoke coal plant, which employs about 600 workers, is shut down in 2014.

Smitherman, however, said Ontario already has its hands full with projects under way.

“I remain singularly unconvinced that there is the capacity to build new nuclear at Nanticoke while we still have very ambitious plans for a new build at Darlington and tons of refurbishment work (at older nuclear facilities),” he said. “We couldn’t do it if we wanted to.”

Bruce Power is a joint venture of Saskatoon-based uranium giant Cameco Corp., TransCanada Corp. of Calgary, the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System and other partners.

An Open Letter to Albertans

This, from the Inbox, an open letter from Dr. Jim Harding, author of Canada’s Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System (Fernwood, 2007).

FYI and use. Also please forward to others. Cheers, Jim Harding
Subject: OPEN LETTER TO ALBERTANS

OPEN LETTER TO ALBERTANS – from a Saskatchewan Neighbour

I have just been to speak at community events discussing nuclear power in Peace River, Grand Prairie, Whitecourt, Edmonton and Red Deer, and will soon return to Lethbridge and Calgary. I have learned much about Alberta and its vibrant grass roots and, being there the week before the provincial election, I learned much about your reputation for having a one-party political system. And I learned more about the ecological and human impacts of the tar sands than I reckoned for. It was disappointing to see such a low voter turnout when AB is facing energy and the environmental challenges with such Canada-wide and global implications.

It was a bit like coming home, for I lived in Calgary as a child when my father worked for the Calgary Stampede. I would like to let Albertans know what I learned as I connected the dots on the nuclear controversy in your province.

1. DO THE REASONS GIVEN FOR ALBERTA GOING NUCLEAR MAKE SENSE?
ENERGY ALBERTA

When Energy Alberta Corporation (EAC) floated its trial balloon about building two AECL nuclear power plants near Peace River, it initially said the electricity was for the tar sands. It even said it already had a buyer for 70% of the electricity, a claim it later had to retract. After this PR kafuffle EAC did a 180-degree turnabout and said all its electricity would be sold into the AB grid. Tar sands companies confirmed they didn’t need the electricity, as the potential for co-generating electricity from waste heat in the tar sands (and elsewhere in AB) is largely untapped.
BRUCE POWER ONTARIO

Ontario’s nuclear company Bruce Power has now bought Energy Alberta’s option, meaning money passed hands without any energy being created. Bruce Power is a consortium of the uranium giant Cameco, Trans-Canada Corporation – which is into pipelines, and a few other interests. Bruce Power continues with the claim that nuclear power is needed to make up for a projected shortfall in AB’s electrical supply over the coming decade, although it also says it will explore using excess electricity to produce hydrogen to help process bitumen in the tar sands..

When the more reasonable ways to deal with electrical demand and supply are disclosed (see below), some expect Bruce Power will again shift ground and argue the excess nuclear-generated electricity can be exported into the U.S. market, adding to AB’s lucrative non-renewable energy export economy. The sceptics note that a transmission line to Montana is already in the works.

There are several problems with this export scenario. First, sending electricity along expensive grids for distant end uses is not at all efficient, though it may be profitable for some, perhaps Trans-Canada. The way to conserve electricity and reduce dangerous emissions is to produce it as close to the end use as possible. Second, AB is apparently not ideally located for accessing the larger U.S. grid, which is why we sometimes hear (from those who wish to become the mega-exporters) that Saskatchewan would be a better location to access the “hungry” eastern U.S. market. This would be equally irrational in terms of energy efficiency and environmental preservation. Third, if co-generation from the tar sands and elsewhere were systematically developed it would produce excess electricity for the AB grid. Some are already concerned about the impact of this excess electricity on the provincial market, without even considering adding nuclear.
AREVA FRANCE

The French nuclear state monopoly Areva is also lobbying for nuclear power in AB, especially at Whitecourt. It recently argued that AB needs nuclear power to maintain economic growth from the tar sands when natural gas runs out by 2030. (Sometimes the nuclear industry also tries to make homeowners think they’ll “freeze in the dark” because the tar sands will use up all the natural gas.) The natural gas industry has responded that this is nonsense: that they are working on efficiencies (combined cycle) and, anyway, new gas reserves will come on stream when the price rises. While the National Energy Board (NEB) has created scenarios of Canada having to import natural gas by 2030, this assumes we will continue to be an energy export branch-plant to the U.S. Also, the NEB scenario was created before a recent gas find in B.C.’s Big Horn basin, which is as large as in the whole McKenzie Delta. And remember, natural gas has the lowest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of all the fossil fuels and is therefore considered one of the transition fuels to a sustainable society.

2. WILL ALBERTA NEED NUCLEAR POWER BECAUSE OF A COMING SHORTAGE OF ELECTRICITY?

What about the nuclear industry argument that their toxic hardware is needed to address a future shortfall of electrical supply. AB’s electrical grid presently has nearly a 12,000 Megawatt (MW) capacity. (This means it could produce this much electricity if working at 100%). Bruce Power and Areva parrot projections by the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) that if the present increases in electrical demand continue there will be a shortfall of 5,000 MW by 2017, and then argue this will necessitate nuclear power.

EFFICIENCY, CO-GENERATION, GEO-THERMAL AND RENEWABLES

The Nuclear Energy Agency projected that 1,000 Gigawatts (GW) of nuclear electricity capacity would be needed in the world by 1990. The actual amount was one-quarter of this, or 260 GW. The nuclear industry regularly inflates future electrical demand as an economic growth strategy, and in the case of Ottawa-owned AECL, as a way to maintain government bailouts. And they are typically wrong, for a shortfall of electrical supply can easily be handled by a four-prong strategy that is much better for the environment and pocket-book. First, energy efficiency and conservation can greatly reduce demand for electricity (demand side management or DSM). Such energy savings can also be designed to reduce the electrical capacity required to meet peak loads. Second, waste heat in AB which can be used to co-generate electricity (especially in the tar sands) is likely the most underused in all of Canada. Third, geo-thermal electricity from all the geological heat along the mountain ranges hasn’t been seriously considered, and it has been suggested that interested parties can’t locate drilling crews because they are all tied up in the tar sands boom. And finally, even if somewhat unintended, AB is already helping lead the way towards a renewable energy path.

Renewable energy capacity in AB is already above 1,600 MW. (This includes 900 MW hydro and nearly 200 MW from biomass). Wind power is already at 545 MW capacity and will soon grow to 1,000 MW, which is equivalent to a large nuclear power plant. Renewables will then be 15% of the AB grid capacity, and only starting. Conservative estimates are that 3,000 MW of wind power is quite realistic. Some estimates go as high as 8,000 MW. By itself wind power could make up any shortfall in AB’s electrical supply, but that will be totally unnecessary if efficiency and co-generation are systematically implemented.

Then there is the potential of decentralized solar electricity. Since Germany decided on a phase-out of nuclear power in 2000 it is phasing in 1,000 MW of solar electricity a year. AB homes, buildings and farms can now be designed to be net producers of electricity that can go back into the public grid. When such an integrated sustainable energy strategy is in place across Canada the dirtiest coal-fired plants can be phased out, and we can accelerate the decommissioning of dangerous nuclear power plants.

3. WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?

Coal presently accounts for nearly half of AB’s electricity capacity (5,840 MW). While coal-fired plants emit the largest amount (45%) of GHGs in AB, planned tar sands’ expansion are likely going to make it AB’s major source of these. In any case, nuclear power is not being promoted in AB to replace coal plants. And nuclear power to expand tar sands production would just perpetuate the major role of heavy oil in creating global warming. Producing heavy oil creates 3 times the GHGs as does conventional oil, and the tar sands are expanding at such a rate that they could produce 3 times today’s GHGs within a decade. These emissions would make AB (and, if developed by then, SK) tar sands the world’s greatest single source of GHGs, outpacing even Harper’s much scaled-down emission reduction targets after he scuttled the Kyoto Accord. It would certainly be ironic if Harper – with his roots in the Reform-Alliance Party backlash to Trudeau’s National Energy Plan – ended up clashing with AB over its growing GHGs.

This all shows the absurdity of the claim that nuclear power is a way to reduce AB’s GHGs. Replacing natural gas with nuclear-generated electricity would somewhat reduce GHGs in the tar sands’ production process. However, if you calculate the GHGs produced all along the nuclear fuel cycle, from uranium mining to enriching to nuclear plant construction-decommissioning and nuclear waste management (especially as the grade of uranium-bearing ore starts to lower), the GHGs begin to approach those of the fossil fuels. Co-generation would create similar GHG reductions without creating the additional GHGs along the nuclear fuel system.

Though expanding nuclear is not an answer to global warming, it would increase the radioactive contamination of the planet. This would hardly be fair for the generations to come. And let’s not forget the expansion of nuclear power is linked to nuclear proliferation and the threat of more nuclear weapons being built, tested and used. Depleted uranium (DU) weapons linked to ecological contamination and rising cancer rates have been used in the Middle East since 1991.

Nuclear is far more expensive than the practical and safer alternatives. When pro-nuclear biases are removed from the Ontario Power Authority’s (OPA) 2005 cost-comparisons, nuclear is closer to 21 cents a kWhr, compared to natural gas and wind costs of around 7-8 cents. Photoelectric (solar) will soon be cost comparative with gas and wind. Co-generation, coming around 4 cents, continues to be the least-cost alternative for reducing GHGs. Energy efficiency that reduces demand for electricity has seven times the “bang for the buck” in reducing GHGs as producing more electricity capacity. So it’s pretty clear which is the responsible way for AB to go.

4. SO WHY IS ALBERTA BEING TARGETED BY THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY?

The Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) remains extremely dependent on federal government handouts and bailouts, and the Harper minority government has substantially increased the level of subsidies over previous Liberal governments. Harper’s 2008 budget provided yet another $300 million in subsidies to the AECL, in part to help it get ready to come to AB. In September 2007 the federal Auditor General estimated it will take more than $1 billion for the AECL to stay in the nuclear research and sales market. It would take $850 million over ten years just to replace, refurbish and clean up the Chalk River infrastructure, and another $400 million (on top of the $300 million already spent) to complete the design work for the reactor (ACR-1000) proposed for AB. Also, two hundred and sixty ($260) million dollars will be required to partly clean up Port Hope, Ontario where nuclear fuel is processed for export and fuel rods are fabricated for Ontario’s Candus. And on and on it will go until this industry is finally phased-out.

THE SASAKATCHEWAN AECL CAPER

You can see the AECL’s dilemma. They desperately need sales to justify these huge costs to the Canadian taxpayer. After decades of subsidies they totally failed to establish a viable export market for their traditional Candu design, the kind built in Ontario. So, in the late 1980s a private consortium called Western Project Development Association (WPDA), not unlike AB’s EAC and also backed by the AECL, came knocking at our door in SK, trying, but failing, to convince us we needed their toxic technology. They told us we’d have a shortfall of electricity, and risk freezing in the dark by 2000, but that they could save us from such a fate with a new 450 MW nuclear reactor (the Candu-3 design). They told us we’d need another such reactor by 2004. And, of course, they told us SK businesses would benefit by creating a Candu-3 export industry that the industrializing-developing world apparently craved. Business and professional groups who thought they’d profit quickly got on side. Seventy-five million dollars later, with not one Candu-3 built anywhere, the AECL left and went back to Ontario to consider their next survival plan. (They also tried to sell us their Slowpoke reactor, which cost us all $45 million to no end.) In 2008 your sceptical SK neighbours continue to get reliable electrical supply and we don’t have any nuclear power plants.

Does this sound familiar?

Having failed in the export market and with this SK caper, the AECL is coming to Canada’s “energy superpower” with a new ploy. Initially using the tar sands to get their foot in the door, they will use federal subsidies, federal-provincial Conservative party connections, and promotions about lucrative economic development within targeted regions and towns (e.g. Peace River, Whitecourt) to try to convince enough AB people that you have no alternative to nuclear power. This is their version of a “self-fulfilling prophecy”.

The AECL might survive a little longer if this strategy were to work. The Bruce Power consortium would profit. Cameco would increase sales in the uranium bull market. Trans-Canada could benefit from the construction of massive electrical grids, as it already does from natural gas pipelines. Meanwhile SNC-Lavalin in partnership with G.E., and France’s Areva, are waiting in the wings to get a bargain basement deal if (when) Harper privatizes the AECL. And the taxpayer would continue paying extra for any such nuclear expansion and these prospective buy-outs.

5. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE BRING THE NUCLEAR WASTE ISSUE INTO THE LIGHT?

As AB people come to understand full costing, and that they are already paying for nuclear through back door subsidies, they will become more sceptical of nuclear power. Realizing that their children will be paying for decommissioning and endless nuclear waste storage, with none of the benefits of electricity, could be the clincher.

Canadians have lots of common sense about nuclear power. Eighty-two (82 %) of us don’t believe nuclear power should expand unless the nuclear waste problem is fully resolved. This involves addressing the threat to future generations from long-lived nuclear wastes (spent fuel): the most toxic of all substances Plutonium-239, with a half-life of 24,400 years; Iodine-129 with a half-life of 17 million years; and Carbon-14 with a half-life of 5,600 years, which if leaked would get into the global carbon cycle. (The half-life is how long it takes for half the material to decay into other, also dangerous, radioactive elements.)

The Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA), AECL, Cameco, Bruce Power and the industry-run Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) have engaged in a decade-long “public acceptance” campaign to get Canadians to believe that industry and government will come up with some solution to the accumulating nuclear waste. Trust us again, they say. Their “plan” is about putting the burden of nuclear wastes on the next and then the next generation, as past nuclear proponents have done to us. It is called “adaptive phased management”, which means “no plan.”

THE GLOBAL NUCLEAR ENERGY PLAN (GNEP)

When George Bush created the GNEP in 2006 he was looking for a way to get uranium-producing countries like Canada to take back nuclear wastes. (He also wants to keep a monopoly on nuclear technology, an admission that nuclear power leads to nuclear weapons and that the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is ineffectual.) The U.S. nuclear waste program at Yucca Mountain, Nevada is not going well from an economic, political or ecological standpoint. Australia’s neo-conservative Howard government came on side with Bush, but the electorate saw through the hidden agenda and Howard has been defeated and replaced. Now only the Harper government is onside with Bush’s plan, but Harper’s Ministers have been muzzled from talking about this because of its sensitivity with an upcoming federal election. Meanwhile, since the Chalk River medical isotope fiasco, Harper has replaced the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) head with someone who will pre-license and fast-track nuclear power in AB. Apparently, if the regulator stands in the way of profitable energy growth, diminish its authority.

Since Canada (SK) is the major world producer of uranium, we are the main candidates for taking back nuclear wastes under the GNEP. And being the front-end uranium-supplier of both the U.S. and French integrated commercial-military nuclear systems, it is no coincidence that the AECL wants to redesign its reactor so that it can use slightly enriched uranium (SEU) and spent fuel from the U.S. and French light water reactors. It is no accident that both AECL-backed Bruce Power and France’s nuclear giant Areva are knocking on AB’s door in the hope that its energy-driven boom will provide the cover for building a nuclear plant.

While there would be profits to be made, the real bonanza would be creating a technological rationale and location for bringing nuclear wastes to Canada. If a reactor was built on the Peace River or further south there would immediately be a build-up of nuclear wastes on site, and AB would then “qualify” as a place to send nuclear wastes from Ontario, the U.S. and abroad. Bruce Power is building up nuclear wastes at its Ontario reactors for which it has no permanent dump. And Cameco (part of Bruce Power) along with the AECL has been lobbying hard for over a decade for nuclear wastes to be brought back to the northern areas where uranium mining occurs, promoting the deep burial of nuclear wastes in the Cambrian Shield.

The nuclear industry has always expanded incrementally through half-truths and outright lies (e.g. about cancer-causing radiation, wastes, weapons, costs, etc.). Once you address all their promotional falsities you have to look deeper for their motives. In AB’s case it’s mostly about the wastes.

PROTECTING THE PEACE RIVER BASIN

With such plentiful efficiency and renewable energy alternatives and the catastrophic ecological challenges of the tar sands already at hand it’s hard to see why populist AB, with all its suspicions about government bailouts, would want to be cajoled into the nuclear path. Perhaps the real clincher, however, will be water. With the Athabasca River and those downstream already under assault from the tar sands, why would anyone want to risk having the Peace River system and the rich agricultural land of the region contaminated with tritium (radioactive hydrogen) and other radioactive isotopes? It seems unlikely that Lac Cardinal, a shallow and ecologically-important wetlands system that I visited, could handle the cooling of two huge reactors, as proposed by Bruce Power. Heats waves and droughts in France and the U.S. that will get worse with climate change have already forced nuclear plants to shut down or scale down. So much for this being a secure energy system. The reason why Energy Alberta and Bruce Power have not openly targeted the Peace River system for cooling nuclear plants is because this would awaken all those who depend on this amazing, sacred river system and water basin. I am certain that when the Indigenous and Settler people who depend upon the Peace River finally do awaken to the threat, the push towards sustainable energy will ratchet up in AB.

If AB makes the right choice and “votes” for sustainability and the protection of water, air and land, it will play a crucial role in helping Canada move in the right direction. The dangers and challenges of the tar sands clearly haunt the AB conscience. I can’t see why any reasonable and caring person would want to take on the added burdens of another ecologically destructive energy system, when there are such positive and practical alternatives.

So I ask you to please do what is right for future generations and us. Do it for our children and their children, and for the natural eco-systems we are finally learning to understand, respect and protect. Please keep AB nuclear free.

Yours Sincerely, Jim Harding, Ph.D.*

March, 2008

*Author of Canada’s Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System (Fernwood, 2007). This is a non-profit publisher and all author royalties go to support local groups working for a sustainable society.

Updated: Wall deflecting for Harper?

Brad Wall, the Premier of Saskatchewan, steps into the uranium issue at an interesting time.  He’s off to the First Minister’s meeting, having completely changed his tune on equalization.

The media and national politicians have their eyes directed towards the Harper government’s most recent attack on the President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), Linda Keen. The attacks, both in the House in December and in the correspondence made available to the media, are unfounded. They are personal and partisan and based on an issue which the Harperites continue to convolute and obfuscate. Keen’s letter to Lunn notes that a special meeting with Lunn took place after a conference call and Minister Lunn stormed out partway through. The formal directive on which Mr. Lunn bases his attack, was received by the CNSC after the issue appeared on the Order Paper in the House. How could Keen have possibly acted earlier, especially when there are laws dictating how she must act? Isn’t it obvious, then, that the attack on Ms Keen comes because she refused to bend the law and succumb to the will of the Harperites? Oh, and did I remember to mention that the meeting was about the MDS-Nordion million-dollar medical isotopes issue?

Today, the federal Liberals call for Lunn’s head on a platter and question the release of a report on AECL which was delivered to the government in September 2007. And, also today, the new premier of SK pulls a Ralph (as in Klein) and demonstrates how little he knows about the nuclear fuel cycle. From CBC Sask:

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall wants the province to get some environmental credit for the uranium it mines, but an environmental group is highly skeptical.

Wall argued Tuesday that nuclear power offsets the amount of fossil fuels burned in the world.

Say what?

Most people who have thoroughly researched the nuclear fuel cycle will have to acknowledge that huge amounts of GHGs are emitted at every stage of that cycle, from cradle to grave — and there is no grave for radioactive waste! It often moves from storage facility to storage facility.

I can’t help but wonder if Mr. Wall is able to pay his staff so very well because of kickbacks from the pro-nuke lobby? Granted, Mr. Wall’s staff are new to this government thing and will, of course, support Mr. Wall’s partisan agenda. And memories of the Devine regime remind SK-dwellers that, in the right wing world, partisan politics and the lining of one’s own pockets trumps morals any day. I wish I could pull from my memory each and every one of the issues on which Devine and Mulroney colluded and obfuscated. Are we seeing history repeat itself?

Mr. Wall would be well advised to acknowledge that the supply of uranium is limited to only a few short boom years. We need to look ahead, beyond short-term gain, to the future of our children’s children. So, instead of wasting time and energy on a backwards and dying industry, why not invest in something modern like a solar power plant to produce energy? The USA and Spain are already there. We could be in on the leading edge, especially with our sunny days!

These plants focus sunlight onto pipes which carry a ”hot oil,” Therminol 66. One class of solar collectors raises the temperature of the oil to 345 degrees Celsius (650 Fahrenheit). A large thermal reservoir can store a large amount of solar energy, enough for two weeks. The oil is never burned, however; it is continually recirculated though the pipes and the storage containers. The heat drives steam generators and turbines in order to generate electricity. Variations can be used with fibre optics to light buildings and heat water. Though it wasn’t the case a decade ago, there is now a lot of expertise and experience on solar power plants, enough to safely and economically put the hoped-for nuclear renaissance to its grave, once and for all. Solar is an industry waiting to grow!

Wake up and turn on the lights, Mr. Wall, this is the 21st century, after all.

UPDATE: (with thanks to ReWind.It at Bread’n’Roses.) The CBC reports that the recent isotope crisis has moved the US government to explore alternatives to obtaining medical isotopes from Canada:

The National Academy of Science, a group of scientists based in Washington that advises Congress on a number of issues, has been asked to consider four questions — all relating to the supply of medical isotopes, and whether the U.S. should consider producing its own.

DOTmed.com reports that it goes a little deeper than just Chalk River:

At the request of NIH Director Elias Zerhouni, the National Academies have begun a year-long review of the state-of-the-science in nuclear medicine. This study results from the uncertainty about future federal funding for nuclear medicine research that accompanied the drastic reduction in support for the Medical Applications and Measurement Sciences (MAMS) program that had been supported by the Department of Energy for decades. The MAMS program was virtually eliminated in the Administration’s 2006 budget and was again not included in the 2007 proposal.

Experts at the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) have been asked to provide findings and make recommendations around four issues having to do with nuclear medicine:

* future needs for radiopharmaceutical development for the diagnosis and treatment of human disease,
* future needs for computational and instrument development for more precise localization of radiotracers in normal and aberrant cell physiologies,
* national impediments to the efficient entry of promising new radiopharmaceutical compounds into clinical feasibility studies and strategies to overcome them and
* impacts of shortages of isotopes and highly trained radiochemists on nuclear medicine research, and short- and long-term strategies to alleviate these shortages if they exist.

No wonder the Harperites are all worked up! Their buddies might end up going elsewhere for medical isotopes.

UPDATE 2: Jason Kenney’s been shooting off his mouth, thinking  he knows something.  There was no crisis, Jason!  But I guess this tells us something about the sorry state the Harper government is in on the issue.  POGGE has the stuff.

I missed that the Auditor General’s report on AECL had been released.  (Damned real world! Or was it the Obama /Clinton thing?)  According to this report, Minister Lunn may well have known  months agothat the reactor at Chalk River was experiencing difficulties.

Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn may have known in September that the Chalk River reactor needed improvements to protect public safety, months before it was shut down, according to an auditor general report released Tuesday.

Auditor general Sheila Fraser said she presented a report on Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) to the corporation’s board on Sept. 5, 2007.

The cover page of the audit says: “We would like to draw your attention to a significant deficiency related to the unresolved strategic challenges that the Corporation faces … it is our view that this report contains information that should be brought to the attention of the Minister of Natural Resources. Accordingly, following consultation with the Board, we will be forwarding a copy of the report to the Minister.”

The report goes on to highlight “three strategic challenges” AECL faced, including “the replacement of aging facilities at Chalk River Laboratories (CRL).”

Never a dull moment in the nuke world, is there?

Nuke News

Lots to keep tabs on.  Little time for it until all and sundry are back to work/school.

From WNN:

Operation resumes at Rabbit Lake
03 January 2008

Cameco announced on 2 January that normal mining activities had been resumed following flooding in late 2007 at its Eagle Point mine in northern Saskatchewan, Canada. The company announced on 28 November that underground activities at the mine, part of the Rabbit Lake uranium operation, had been suspended as a precautionary measure when the mine experienced an increase of water flow at a time when the capacity of the surface water-handling system was also temporarily reduced due to an equipment upgrade. Cameco said that operations had resumed “well ahead of schedule”, after sealing off the source of the water inflow. An old exploration drill hole was identified as the source of the water inflow. The hole was plugged by installing an inflatable packer. Cameco said that it will install a permanent plug and grout a substantial length of the drill hole with cement to replace the inflatable packer in the next couple of weeks.

No mention of ecological issues.  Hmm…what’s in the Financial Post:

Cameco resumes Rabbit Lake operations faster than expected
Posted: January 03, 2008, 1:31 PM by Peter Koven

Uranium miner Cameco Corp. has been besieged by operational problems in the last couple of years, but there was some good news Wednesday. The company said its Rabbit Lake mine in Saskatchewan is up and running after water inflow problems forced a closure in November. That was a faster clean-up than expected.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Fraser Phillips reduced his 2008 production estimate on Cameco after the closure was first announced, and assumed no first quarter production from Rabbit Lake. But now that operations are up and running, milling operations and uranium production are expected to resume later this quarter, slightly ahead of his expectations.

Despite the company’s well-documented problems, Mr. Phillips noted that Cameco “remains the leader” in the uranium industry, with the largest and highest quality assets. “However, continuing delays and uncertainty around Cigar Lake are cause for concern.

 

Hmm…Cameco is not a  miner, it is a corporation, but nice try NP/FP, to personalize the mega-polluting inanimate thing.   Doesn’t seem to be any mention of environmental issues in this piece, either.

Will anyone report on that so we can know the full story?

Bedfellows: Oil, Gas & Uranium

 

It just keeps getting more and more interesting, how these pronukers and oil barons collude and collaborate. I found the following buried in a Globe and Mail article:

 

 

Bruce Power Corp. announced that it has agreed to purchase assets of Energy Alberta Corp., a small company that has proposed building a reactor in Alberta to supply electricity and, possibly, hydrogen.

 

Bruce Power said it would forge ahead with plans to build a Candu reactor near Peace River, Alberta, with the launch of a full environmental assessment.

Isn’t it just so convenient that the Energy Alberta Corporation (EAC) is being consumed by the Bruce Power Corporation (BPC)? EAC is the little unknown Alberta company that introduced itself in 2005 with a mission to “to provide clean, emission-free energy, utilizing advanced and proven nuclear technology to supply oil sands operators and the province of Alberta with a reliable flow of electricity at a competitive cost.” [Note: EAC's corporate mission statement has been revised since P'n'P first reported on this issue.] EAC teamed up with the federal crown corporation, Atomic Energy of Canada Corporation, in its bid to build a new-fangled and untested CANDU nuclear reactor in northern Alberta.

 

BPC bills itself as “Canada’s first private nuclear generating company.” Basically, it’s an all-male consortium with representatives from the uranium giant, Cameco, which purchased “nearly a third of Bruce Power LP” in 2003 according to Friends of Bruce. Also represented on the Bruce Power board is TransCanada Power Corporation, a pipelines and energy business which includes gas transmission, power generation, gas storage and their plans for the Keystone Pipeline which is proposed to run from the Alberta Tar Sands and south into the USA. The Communications, Energy, Paperworkers (CEP) Union of Canada, an affiliate of International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions, has called on the feds to refer the matter to the Standing Committee on Natural Resources for broader discussion and on Canadians to take actions to stop this proposed pipeline.

“There is no way this pipeline benefits Canada in any way,” says CEP President Dave Coles. “It’s all about boosting the bottom line of multinational oil companies.”

“This ruling is not in the public interest economically, socially or environmentally. CEP studies submitted to the NEB — that show the loss of 18,000 potential new jobs — have been ignored. Environmental concerns have been similarly ignored as has the issue of Canada compromising the energy needs of its own citizens to feed U.S. markets.”

“Clearly, this is the wrong decision for Canada, and it brings into question the role of the Board and the need for a domestic energy policy to protect Canadian interests. This discussion belongs in the political arena, and the federal government should take the necessary steps to make that happen.”

 

Interestingly, there is now a vacancy at the National Energy Board.

 

The tar sands giga-project is the single largest industrial project ever undertaken in the history of humanity, according to Oil Sands Truth. The community-based organization is working to shut down the tar sands project as part of Canada’s plan to tackle climate change and stop environmental devastation. Apparently, the MSM forgot to send a reporter to their end of November conference, Everyone’s Downstream, which brought together representatives from First Nations communities, environmental organizations, northern communities and migrant workers’ rights groups as well as the general public.

 

The proponents of the plan to nuclearize northern Alberta have been working tirelessly. Wayne Henuset of EAB was in Saskatoon in October, speaking at a Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce luncheon about Nuclear Power in the Oil Sands. All the players are moving ahead as though this project will not be stopped. We can be sure that Saskatchewan’s new premier, Brad Wall, will be eager to help his friends in the energy industry by supplying them with all they need.

 

To those who love this planet, it is essentional that we come together and stop this project. Greenpeace has named the threats of this project and they are huge:

 

 

I believe the capacity of the human spirit to overcome problems is greater than the threats we face. All we need to is to live into our intention to love this planet. Take action now!

 

 

Uranium CEO hit the payroll jackpot!

Interesting bit here, from Larry Hubichs Blog: Saskatchewan CEOs hit the payroll jackpot.  At the top of the heap, the CEO of the uranium giant, CAMECO.

This article in the Friday, Nov. 16, 2007 Regina Leader-Post reveals that a number of Saskatchewan based CEO’s hit the payroll jackpot last year.

According to the article, which quotes the Financial Post Business magazine, the following CEO’s received compensation last year as listed below:

Gerald Grandey, CEO of Cameco Corp.: $7.6 million
William Doyle, CEO of Potash Corp. of Sask.: $3.6 million
Mayo Schmidt, CEO of Sask. Wheat Pool (Viterra): $3.3 million

That 7.6 million, if divided among the people who live in Saskatchewan’s north (where the uranium mining takes place), would mean an extra $200  per year in the pockets of the residents.  And, given the price of groceries, that might mean something.