For Brad Trost and Maurice Vellacott, two MPs who are disgrace to Saskatchewan, Politics’n'Poetry gives you this:
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.
It seems as though the editorial board of Regina’s daily newspaper can’t be bothered to so much as appear to provide balanced coverage of the uranium industry in Saskatchewan.
In a meeting with the Leader-Post editorial board this week, NWMO president and CEO Ken Nash made the point that the safe storage of nuclear waste should be a legacy to the future generations that will inherit it and who might even have the technology to retrieve and recycle it 100 years from now.
Besides the ridiculous spin Mr. Nash and the Leader Post place on the issue — that it’s our responsibility to pass the problem we’ve created on to the next generation because they might be able to fix it — they have not solicited the opinion of anyone else in reaching their decision. Interestingly, Saskatoon anti-nuclear activists and others indicate that the Leader Post‘s sister publication in Saskatoon, the Star Phoenix, has refused to meet with representatives of the anti-nuclear movement. Their editorial is misleading in that it slants toward support for storing nuclear waste in Saskatchewan for economic and xyz reasons, but ends with a call for more study.
Before turning our back on another chance – particularly in a chronically underemployed region of the province – without testing out the risks and science behind it would be unconscionable.
In their not-so-subtle propaganda, the editorial boards of two of Saskatchewan’s daily newspapers demonstrate blatant bias to the nuclear industry and choose to ignore the research already conducted, research that says that for social and technical reasons nuclear waste should not be stored underground. But, oh, they obviously enjoy the appearance that they’ve done their research otherwise, why issue such a fatherly statement?
Now is a good time for everyone to learn more about the issue, even if the facility is ultimately located elsewhere. –<<a href="“>SP>
All this is to say that the public is being misinformed about a deadly substance, courtesy the mainstream media.
There oughta be a law.
Pinehouse to Regina 7000 Generations Walk Against Nuclear Waste
please think about where you can join us. Talk to your friends and family to see if they’re interested to support this walk by walking/driving/providing food /water/transportation etc.
Together in Community,
-Debby Morin Committee for Future Generations committeeforfuturegenerations@ gmail.com Max Morin 306-865-9299
Let’s Be Active Participants in the Lives of Our Children’s Children
You can help by collecting signatures on the petition, see http://www.cleangreensask.ca to print one off
July 26th Nuclear Waste Forum in Pinehouse at 1:00pm
July 27th Walk starting from Pinehouse
August 3rd Prince Albert – Rally of Support & music at the Memorial Square, City Hall at 12:00-2:00pm
August 7th Saskatoon- Benefit of Support for Walk Against Nuclear Waste – music & more 7:00-9:30pm at St. Thomas-Wesley United Church 808 20th St West at Ave H
August 8th Saskatoon – Rally of Support & music at City Hall Square 12:00-2:00pm
August 16th Regina – March the Green Mile to the Saskatchewan Legislature, arrive @ noon
See attached for daily schedule and communities where the walk will be stopping,
For more details http://www.facebook.com/sayno2nuclear waste Things are evolving quickly so check it periodically.
Also dedicated walk page on the Clean Green website with audio interviews and more http://sites.google.com/site/c leangreensaskca/Home/learn-mor e/nuclear-waste/northerners-sa y-no-to-nuclear-waste
This is going to be an event to remember! Join in, lend a hand. For the Saskatoon part of the walk, benefit and rally email or call firstname.lastname@example.org 653-1686
A point of clarification about the attached Itinerary: Some sections have groups walking simultaneously. See the 4th column called Section / Km for these details. For example, July 27th 4-27 = 4 groups with staggered starting places along the route, each walking 27 Km.
most sincerely, Karen Weingeist for the Coalition for a Clean Green Saskatchewan
Regina’s Making Peace Vigil and the Saskatchewan Singers of the Sacred Web invite you to join in the Elm Dance on Thursday, August 4 at noon on Scarth Street at 11th Avenue.
From its Latvian roots this intimate folk song has grown into the Elm Dance and is danced by circles of activists around the world, from Novozybkov, 100 miles downwind from Chernobyl, to the uranium mines of northern Saskatchewan.
Danced with reverence for human and more than human life, and in solidarity with trees who breathe in what we breathe out, the dance begins always with the dancers saying together this statement of intention: ’We do this dance as a way of strengthening our intention to participate in the healing of this beloved planet, its humans and all beings.’
On this anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima we dedicate this dance to all places and beings damaged by uranium mining, nuclear weapons, and nuclear power generation, including most recently Fukushima, Japan.
You can read the piece that landed in my Inbox this a.m., below. To summarize, “The Government of Saskatchewan has demonstrated its commitment to oil sands exploration and development.”
Some additional info:
—– Original Message —–
From: Oilsands Quest Inc.
Sent: Friday, July 15, 2011 6:22 AM
Subject: Oilsands Quest receives approval for 15-year leases for Axe Lake lands
Oilsands Quest receives approval for 15-year leases for Axe Lake lands
CALGARY, July 15, 2011 /CNW/ – Oilsands Quest Inc. (NYSE Amex:BQI) (“OQI” or “the Company”).
Oilsands Quest is pleased to announce that it has received approval from the Government of Saskatchewan to convert portions of the Axe Lake permits to 15-year leases. These leases, the first oil sands leases in Saskatchewan, are one of the key elements the Company needs in place to proceed to development of a commercial oil sands production facility.
“These leases mark a key milestone in our path forward,” said Garth Wong, Chief Executive Officer of Oilsands Quest. “In the past, some potential investors have expressed concern about the short term permits under which the Axe Lake lands were held. The 15-year leases will give us the certainty of land tenure we need to underpin commercial development at Axe Lake. The Government of Saskatchewan has demonstrated its commitment to oil sands exploration and development, and we appreciate its confidence that Oilsands Quest will be able to deliver on the value of these assets both for our investors and for the people of Saskatchewan.”
The two leases, OSA00001 and 0SA00002 will be governed under the terms of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulations, 1969 and will expire on March 31, 2027.
Please see http://www.oilsandsquest.com/our_projects/july15-2011-map.html to view a map showing Oilsands Quest’s land leases and permits.
About Oilsands Quest
Oilsands Quest Inc. (www.oilsandsquest.com) is exploring and developing oil sands permits and licences, located in Saskatchewan and Alberta, and developing Saskatchewan’s first commercial oil sands discovery. It is leading the establishment of the province of Saskatchewan’s emerging oil sands industry.
For further information:
Investor Line: 1-877-718-8941
“Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2009,” a report in the July 2010 issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, compared data gathered in Fallujah to data from the Middle East Cancer Registry. The infant death rate in Fallujah during the period of study (2005-2009) was found to be four times the rate in Egypt and Jordan and nine times the rate in Kuwait. Furthermore, the death rate in Fallujah has increased in recent years; and “the results for cancer show some alarming rates in the five-year period. Relative risk based on the Egypt and Jordan cancer rates are significantly higher for all malignancy, leukaemia lymphoma, brain tumours and female breast cancer.”
It points to Saskatchewan uranium:
The authors of the report, though cautious in identifying the cause of the high rates of defects, deaths and cancers, concluded by drawing attention to the use of DU in armaments used by invading US forces. The report states their study does not identify the agent(s) causing the increased levels of illness, they wish to draw attention to presence of DU as one potentially relevant agent.
The largest single source of uranium for the US military is Saskatchewan, according to a 2008 article by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).
We sold our uranium to the USA. They used it.
Not only was the US using Saskatchewan uranium for DU munitions during its occupation of Iraq, but as late as 1990 Canada was itself processing DU which was then being sent to a US weapons manufacturer. A section of the 1970 Treaty in the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) prohibits the sale of Canadian uranium for use in weaponry.
But do we care?
Overlooked by most Canadian media, the medical study from Fallujah adds to mounting evidence for a global ban on the production of DU munitions, and to considering their use a war crime.
No, we let them die and live off the revenues of our death-inducing exports.
Fuck, sometimes I hate being from SK!
Lots of stuff going on since I last posted here. Besides the Rider’s being in the Western Semi-final today, I mean.
Dr. Jim Harding, ardent no-nukes activist and author, has started a website
to provide an archive of material related to the nuclear industry, renewable energy and other issues related to sustainable development.
The great part is that he’s also doing a blog, filling us in on things such as proposed uranium mines, watershed gatherings in the north and the need for a nuclear waste ban in Saskatchewan, to name a few.
The most recent, the call for the nuke waste ban has come about again because there’s talk about trekking spent radioactive waste from Ontario and into northern Saskatchewan for permanent storage. Besides this being yet another case of ecological racism, it’s yet another case of Chernobyl on Wheels. Tens of thousands of Europeans persistently lined the shipments’ route to express their outrage over the issue.
What happened is that once people became educated about the issue, they became outraged. And in searching for a way to express it, they organized themselves. It’s what Saskatchewan residents did when the Wall government tried to shove the Uranium Development Partnership upon us. A result of that was citizens coming together to form The Coalition for a Clean Green Saskatchewan, a province-wide combination of citizens and organizations working together for, as the name says, a clean and green future for our province.
After a lull, the group is preparing to take on the next challenge to the goal of a green future, the transport and storage of nuclear waste. Various documents are moving about, being shared across the province, the continent and around the world as the industry moves forward in its greed.
The most recent document to cross my desk is one by the Assembly of First Nations. The Nuclear Fuel Waste Dialogue: Recommendations to the Nuclear Waste Management Organization was prepared following consultations and discussions with First Nations communities. I’m certain it will prove to be a very useful document for it’s something to which governments, citizens and First Nations communities can point and refer in their discernment and educational processes regarding the storage of nuclear waste on their lands.
So, lots going on. Lots to do. More later.
Grab a coffee or tea. Find a snack. Lots of linky news today so this could take a while!
First up: A Calgary nuke company, Kirrin Resources, is not going to expand its exploration for uranium in Quebec. That’s good news for Quebec’s citizens. Not so good for Saskatchewan though. A few days ago, the company said they’re moving into Saskatchewan.
Kirrin Resources Inc. said it will enter into a 70-30 joint venture with Majesta Resources Inc. on the 36,287-hectare Key Lake Southwest property after agreeing to a deal worth roughly $3.3 million.
Next? A guy who thinks he knows something about nuclear reactors because he once worked at one, is now a nuke promoter. Read it and weep.
The IFR uses higher energy neutrons — “fast” neutrons — to cause the fuel atoms to split and release their energy. This particular kind of fast reactor can use all the various isotopes of uranium in its fuel load. Therefore, costly enrichment procedures are not needed to make reactor fuel. This reactor also can use the various trans-uranic elements as fuel. This is important. All of the extremely long-lived fission byproducts of pressurized water reactors just happen to be fuel material for this fast neutron reactor.
The non-usable material in used-up IFR fuel has a half life of about 500 years. This is still a long period of time but much more manageable than a period of billions of years. Further, the volume or mass of this material will be considerably less.
It gets better.
Better? Ya, right! Where do they find these guys? How much do they pay them?
The Obama administration has embarked on a high-stakes gamble: devoting billions of dollars to an expansion of nuclear power in the hope of winning Republican votes for a climate bill. But in its eagerness to drum up bipartisan support for one of the hardest sells on Obama’s policy agenda, is the administration turning a blind eye to the financial risk?
Bradford, the former nuclear regulator, observes that if the Georgia reactors alone defaulted, taxpayers could be left with a bill of as much as $8.3 billion. “If the Tea Party folks ever figure that out, the [DOE] building is going to be three floors deep in tea bags,” he says. “This administration desperately needs someone to point out that this emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.”
Citizens in the USA ain’t necessarily buying Obama’s nuke dreams. A US blogger, Greenhoof, calls Obama’s nuke promotion a “greenwashing.” That’s a good word, one I need to consider using more often. S/he tells it like it is:
President Obama has justified his proposed $55 billion in taxpayer-backed loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors by misrepresenting nuclear reactors as the largest “carbon-free” energy source in the United States. That’s like saying McDonald’s should be put in charge of a nationwide obesity campaign because it’s the largest restaurant in the U.S. that sells salads.
The argument that nuclear is “carbon-free” conveniently omits the entire process of mining uranium, which produces greenhouse gases, along with other pollutants. In Virginia, where a study has just been commissioned to determine its safety, uranium is mined in open pits. This destroys topsoil and increases runoff, which contaminates drinking water with cancer-causing toxins.
More stuff: Here’s a little tidbit from Australia, another uranium-producing nation with a strong no-nukes movement.
James Neal Blue who helped devise the Predator unmanned aircraft that are in use in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, is the director of a company that bought the Four Mile uranium mine in Australia. Blue is the chairman of Quasar Resources, which is affiliated with General Atomics, a major United States weapons and nuclear energy corporation. General Atomics reportedly holds $700 million in Pentagon contracts. The Four Mile mine is located next to the Beverly Uranium mine, with is owned by another affiliate of General Atomics.
I guess all those pro-nukers like to play in one big tub, eh? Here’s more on that Ozzie deal.
More CA news: A Canadian reporter did the math on the Canadian government’s contribution to the nuclear industry and it’s not good! “Over two years, we’re talking more than $1.1 billion” being spent, about half of it going to the AECL. Remember the Chalk River Fiasco?
Finally, this, from Kazakhstan:
Leading energy and mining firms from Russia, China, Japan, France and Canada have already invested billions here. Kazakhstan, meanwhile, is seeking to leverage its ore into a larger role in the global nuclear industry and has taken a stake in the U.S.-based nuclear giant Westinghouse.
Only the nation’s fledgling environmental movement has dared object, pointing out that Kazakhstan has yet to recover from its days as the Soviet Union’s main atomic test site.
The Soviets conducted 456 nuclear blasts in northeastern Kazakhstan, more than anyone else anywhere in the world. Much of the region remains contaminated, residents suffer elevated rates of cancer and other radiation-related illnesses, and babies continue to be born with deformities.
“Nothing good can come of the world’s push for nuclear energy, and we should understand this better because of our past,” said Mels Eleusizov, a veteran environmentalist who complains that the uranium industry is shrouded in secrecy, with no independent monitoring.
Indeed, nothing good can come from nukes and nukers, no matter how you wash it.
Sorry for the length. Lots going on these days…
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.