Saskatchewan exports death

Jim Harding documented the uranium trail to the deathfields of Iraq in his book, Canada’s Deadly Secret .  The Dominion now reports on increased birth defects and cancers in the children of Iraq:

“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!

Poster:  SK targeted for nuke dump -- say NO

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.

GNEP: A Risk for Canada

From the Inbox:

Begin forwarded message:


From: Northwatch

Date: September 13, 2007 8:15:53 AM GMT-06:00

Subject:Fwd: Global Nuclear Group a Risk for Canada: Critics

 

Embassy, September 12th, 2007
NEWS STORY

Global Nuclear Group a Risk for Canada: Critics

By Christopher Guly

It’s an international group few Canadians had heard about until last week when news broke that the country had received an invitation to join.

But signing onto the U.S.-led Global Nuclear Energy Partnership could lead to dire consequences, say critics of the Bush administration’s nuclear-power expansion plan, which is being promoted as a way to reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation.

Critics also called on the Canadian government to hold a national debate on the benefits and drawbacks of joining the partnership, rather than making a decision they allege could have significant ramifications for the country behind closed-doors.

It was revealed last week that Canada has been invited to join the one-year-old partnership, which aims to spread nuclear power to ensure energy security and fight climate change while ensuring the technology can’t be used by third parties to develop nuclear weapons.

The federal government has not yet announced whether it will do so, or whether it would send a representative to attend a GNEP meeting in Vienna on Sunday, despite Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier saying in Australia last week that the government would “have a decision in the near future about our participation.

Australia has also received an invitation to the group, which lists the United States, China, Japan, France and Russia as members, and Australian Prime Minister John Howard indicated that his country, which is the second-largest producer of uranium after Canada, would join.

During an address last week to the 2007 World Nuclear Association’s annual symposium in London, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Dennis Spurgeon said that “candidate countries” could be invited to participate in the GNEP for several reasons, including expressing an interest to join as a member or observer and nomination by GNEP partner countries.

At the conclusion of last week’s APEC ministerial meeting in Sydney, Mr. Bernier acknowledged that as the world’s top uranium producers, Canada and Australia “have considerable interests in whatever the United States and the international community have in mind in terms of future uranium development and production and marketing.”

Interest in GNEP since 2006

According to censored documents obtained by The Canadian Press through an access-to-information request, the federal government has been “very interested” in the GNEP since 2006 when Canadian and American officials began discussions “to consider possible parameters of Canadian involvement.”

However, when asked about Canada joining the GNEP at last week’s APEC summit, Mr. Harper said the government had not “felt pressured to make a determination by any particular timeline.”

He said that Canada’s priorities were to ensure the country’s uranium and nuclear industries “are not left out of any of the international opportunities that other countries may take advantage of,” and that any international agreement “fully respects the non-proliferation agreements…and objectives that Canada and other major countries have long subscribed to.”

But Liberal Natural Resources critic Mark Holland accused Mr. Harper in a statement of “having closed-door discussions [at the APEC meeting] to potentially broker a deal that would have all the waste generated from the uranium Canada sells to the world brought back on our doorstep for disposal.”

“The debate needs to happen here at home before we make promises internationally,” Mr. Holland added. “Mr. Harper is handling this critical issue with the same secrecy and lack of transparency that has been the hallmark of this government.”

In addition to calling for a national debate, Mr. Holland’s statement raised a major concern: that nuclear fuel exported from Canada for use by other countries would be repatriated for disposal in Canada after being used.

Last week, Liberal leader Stéphane Dion warned that Canada could become a “global nuclear waste garbage dump” if it signs onto GNEP, and called for a debate in Parliament before the government commits to joining.

“This is an enormous legacy problem and an issue that could last centuries, and I don’t believe the Conservative government has the mandate or the responsibility to just arbitrarily choose Canada to be a toxic dumping ground for other nations’ waste,” NDP environment critic Nathan Cullen said.

Should the government bypass Parliament and have Canada join the GNEP, Mr. Cullen vowed opposition members would seek to “un-sign” the agreement.

“If they think this is a good idea, they should put it in the public,” he said. “If they don’t, then it’s going to be open to all kinds of challenges, both in Parliament and in the courts.

Plan Would Boost Nuclear Exports

There’s no question, however, that the government is taking a long look at the potential economic benefits.

Canada signing onto GNEP would be a “wet dream” for the country’s nuclear industry, said Dave Martin, energy co-ordinator for Greenpeace Canada.

“It would mean a dramatic increase in nuclear exports and reprocessing, which is something they’ve wanted for a long time,” he explained from Toronto.

“But the cost in terms of proliferation and security risks is going to be enormous.”

In a statement, Greenpeace Canada said that although the international initiative is promoted as an anti-proliferation measure to prevent the reprocessing of radioactive waste to obtain plutonium for nuclear bombs, GNEP would worsen proliferation through the spread of nuclear power and the increase of plutonium reprocessing.

“I don’t think there’s any way to keep the genie in the bottle,” said Mr. Martin.

On the eve of Mr. Harper’s Tuesday address to Australia’s Parliament, Green Party leader Elizabeth May and Australian Greens Leader Sen. Bob Brown issued a joint statement accusing both countries’ leaders of “obstructing real action on climate change while promoting dangerous policies on nuclear energy and uranium exports,” and said that last week’s APEC summit “had made the world a more dangerous place.”

“For a long time, the two biggest threats to the survival of the planet have been nuclear war and climate change–and now they’re together, and that’s what’s troubling,” Ms. May said, adding the Green Party plans to raise the issue in the next election.

She said that with plutonium being transferred around the world as fuel, the world would be less secure in terms of terrorist threats and the risk of nuclear accidents.

Rather than joining the GNEP, Canada should re-embrace its traditional role supporting nuclear disarmament, in Ms. May’s view.

Waste Storage a Tricky Issue

One obstacle to membership in the GNEP, Mr. Martin pointed out, is that Canada has a long-standing policy against repatriating radioactive waste–which contains plutonium–from the sale of uranium and CANDU reactors, designed and marketed by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.

“Historically, AECL wanted to be able to offer to take back that waste from countries not wanting to deal with the long-term management of the waste,” he said.

But while Canada reprocessed uranium to provide the U.S. and United Kingdom governments with plutonium for their respective nuclear-weapons programs, the complex practice ended in the late 1960s.

“It’s very expensive and very messy, and produces a large volume of highly radioactive liquid and acidic waste. From an environmental standpoint, it’s extremely problematic,” said Mr. Martin.

“Radioactive waste remains toxic for about a million years and needs to be sequestered from the environment for that period of time, which is arguably impossible.”

Ms. May said the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, created five years ago under former prime minister Jean Chrétien’s watch, proposes to store nuclear waste in a specific underground–as yet unknown–location.

“The final decision as to whether to permanently dispose of that waste would be made in 300 years,” she said. “That’s like having an envelope waiting for us from Oliver Cromwell saying, ‘Open now, you have further instructions.’”

In June, Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn said the government accepted the NWMO’s recommendation for managing used nuclear fuel in which it would be kept at a reactor site for 30 years, then transported to a centralized storage facility in “an informed and willing community” before being buried deep underground.

But last week, the Globe and Mail reported that Mr. Lunn acknowledged that spent fuel could also be reprocessed in Canada.

“There is no question that as the technology evolves, it’s something we’ll see in the years ahead,” the paper quoted Mr. Lunn as saying.

As for the GNEP, he said, while it’s not practical to require uranium-producing countries to accept nuclear waste from nations that use the reactor fuel, “there could be some advantages for Canada to be an official member of the GNEP.”

In tackling climate change, Canada has to consider various energy options, including “clean coal” and “clean and safer nuclear solutions,” Liberal Industry critic Scott Brison said recently while attending a World Economic Forum meeting in China.

And AECL nuclear engineer Jeremy Whitlock explained that a “reliable” base-load power supply to run an electricity grid requires a conventional source, such as nuclear.

“If you have that foundation, you can be branching out and building wind farms,” said Mr. Whitlock, past president and the current chair of the Canadian Nuclear Society’s education and communication committee.

But Mr. Cullen said countries like Germany are using alternative sources, where 20 per cent of its energy comes from wind power.

“You get where you aim, and where this government is aiming is on reliance on dirty fuels and nuclear.”

editor@embassymag.ca

_______________________________________________


Canada’s Deadly Secret

Finally, the true story of Saskatchewan’s uranium will be out there for all to read, thanks to dedicated no-nukes activist, Jim Harding. Canada’s Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System, has been a long time coming and chronicles 30 years of intense struggle. It comes at a time when the nuclear industry is trying to make a comeback: a uranium refinery proposed for SK, nuclear plants for the AB oilfields, and Bush’s global nuclear pact which would force us to accept nuclear wastes from abroad.

Helen Caldicott, who wrote the Foreward to Jim’s book, says,

“Harding exposes the role the government played in perpetuating nuclear propaganda through the disinformation of campaigns of its covert Uranium Secretariat and penetration of the public education curriculum…He also explores the deadly corporate planning processes that reveal the growing partnership between the oil and nuclear industries.” Harding “unveils the dark side of nuclear politics in his home province, which bears the distinction of of being the largest uranium-producing region in the world and he challenges us to explore how Canada has consistently been complicit and instrumental in the expansion of the global nuclear system.”

Jim is a retired professor of environmental and justice studies. He is a founding member of the Regina Group for a Non-Nuclear Society and International Uranium Congress and was director of research for Prairie Justice Research at the University of Regina, where he headed up the Uranium Inquiries Project. Jim also acted as Prairie Corresponent for Nuclear Free Press and consultant to the NFB award-winning film Uranium.

Fernwood, a non-profit publisher, cannot compete with the nuclear industry’s expensive PR, but we can build grass-roots networks here and abroad to counter the pro-nuke propaganda. If you can help to organize a reading in your area, post here, and I’ll let Jim know.

Upcoming SK Book Launches

1. Sat. Sept. 29th, PCTC, Fort Qu’Appelle, 7:00 p.m. (as part of the KAIROS Prairie Conference).

2. Tuesday Oct. 16th, McNally Saskatoon Bookstore, 7 p.m.

3. Sun. Oct. 28th, Regina Exchange, 7 p.m. (as part of a Non-Nuclear Benefit).

4. Sun. Nov. 11th, Regina Unitarian Hall, morning service (still to be confirmed).

New job for former Liberal MP

So, get a load of this! The former Liberal MP for Desenthe-Missinippi-Churchill in northern SK, Gary Merasty, whose resignation took effect this past Tuesday, is a new VP at the multinational uranium giant based in Saskatoon. Yes, that’s right! CAMECO scooped him from federal politics into nuclear politics. The Star-Kleenex reports:

Cameco Corp. says Gary Merasty is well-suited to take on the uranium company’s newly created position of vice-president of corporate social responsibility because of his past experiences in First Nations and federal politics.

I think this could really be interpreted to read something like,

CAMECO Corp. needs a face that will make them look good, especially in the First Nations’ communities whose lands and lives are being devastated by uranium mining in northern Saskatchewan. And it’d be helpful if this person had some political connections, too.  Mr. Merasty fits the bill.

Gary Merasty:  willing participant in the promotion of ecological racism.  (For an excellent discussion of environmental justice, including ecological racism, read this.)

A Simple Statement on Nuclear Power

A petition from the Nuclear Information Resource Service (NIRS):

“We do not support construction of new nuclear reactors as a means of addressing the climate crisis. Available renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies are faster, cheaper, safer and cleaner strategies for reducing greenhouse emissions than nuclear power.”

Sign ItI signed because I agree that:

We’re getting a little tired hearing nuclear industry lobbyists and pro-nuclear politicians allege that environmentalists are now supporting nuclear power as a means of addressing the climate crisis. We know that’s not true, and we’re sure you do too. In fact, using nuclear power would be counterproductive at reducing carbon emissions. As Amory Lovins of Rocky Mountain Institute points out, “every dollar invested in nuclear expansion will worsen climate change by buying less solution per dollar…”

The Not Sponsored by CAMECO Gala

Corporate sponsorship in Saskatoon SK has been a tool of CAMECO, the multinational uranium giant, to enter into the hearts of Saskatchewan residents. But not everyone is buying into it, thank goodness!

Here’s a great event taking place in Saskatoon on the 22nd of September: the NOT Sponsored by CAMECO Gala! There will be live music, dancing, awards, prizes, satire, and Atomic Mutant Monster Videos, along with a cash bar. Suggested donation for all this fun? only $7 at the door (Cosmo Senior Citizens Center 614 11th St E. in Saskatoon)!

Not sponsored