Manufactured Nuclear Crisis and Harperian Lies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prairie-to-Ports Gateway & Inland Port

Prairie-to-Ports Gateway & Inland Port

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

What is an Inland Port?

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

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

Why Saskatchewan?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

US Backing Down on Bali Agreement

Surprised?

The US backtracked yesterday on the climate change agreement reached after marathon talks in Bali, saying it had “serious concerns” about the new global consensus and that developing countries had to do far more if there was to be any pact in two years’ time.

The reality check followed the drama and euphoria of the weekend when the US was shamed into joining the rest of the world in working towards a new climate change agreement to come into force after 2012. All 190 countries have agreed to take the talks further.

But the White House press secretary, Dana Perino, poured cold water on the Bali result, saying the talks had not adequately addressed the responsibilities of developing countries. “The US does have serious concerns. Negotiations must [now] proceed on the view that the problem of climate change cannot be adequately addressed through commitments for emissions cuts by developed countries alone.”

In a clear signal that the US would agree to nothing unless China and India, the two largest developing countries, agreed to significant cuts, she said that account had to be taken of the size of countries’ emissions as well as their level of economic advancement. China’s emissions are on a level with those of the US but on a per capita level, each American emits far more than a Chinese. “For these negotiations to succeed, it is essential the major developed and developing countries be prepared to negotiate commitments that will make a due contribution to the reduction of global emissions,” she said.

Not really surprising, eh? In fact, it makes Environment Minister John Baird’s behavior at the plenary make sense. He wasn’t expecting the US to agree to anything. But they did do so, we now see, just to shut everyone up. They had to; they need NAU, GNEP and the Tar Sands to go ahead as planned.

Edited to add Monbiot’s point that this is an echo of the Kyoto round.

Nuclear Outlaw: Open discussion

Michael Burns, the CEO of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) has resigned. He was the fellow who assured the House of Commons that before the reactor at Chalk Lake was up and running it would be safe.” Now that he’s decided to leave, does it mean that the Chalk River facility is not safe? Nearby residents are wondering if they should leave town.

Harper’s assurances that there will be no nuclear accident are ringing rather hollow right now. I can’t help but wonder if Parliament has been hoodwinked. I wonder if Parliamentarians are feeling the same way. AECL shut itself down. Someone suggested that AECL lied to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), saying that the upgrades (a condition of license renewal) had been completed. CNSC kept it shut down because the upgrades had not been completed. Harper blamed the CNSC for keeping it shut down, grilling Linda Keen in the House as though she was wrong for doing the job she is supposed to do.

So, one of my questions is WTF is Harper up to, besides the obvious partisan stuff? The other is, how do we encourage research into alternatives for nuclear isotopes and begin the move away from what could quickly become a nuclear incident on Canadian soil?

Please chime in!

(Go here and here and here and here and here if you are looking for additional information.)

 

Harper consults Homer

 

 

Dillman Will Not Die for Uranium (and I don’t blame her)

From The Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium news that Donna Dillman has ended her hunger strike after 66 days.   Politics’n’Poetry thanks her for her determination and courage in shedding light on the dangers of uranium mining in such a personal way.  Premier McGuinty should carry some shamed for ignoring this issue, especially in light of recent goings-on in the nuclear industry in Canada and around the world.  (And, actually, Donna, you should know  that P’n’P’s blog statistics show that the Government of Ontario has been visiting P’n’P to read up on the Sharbot Lake situation.)

Readers of P’n’P can send their thanks to Donna via this email <uraniumnews@mail.ccamu.ca>.  Tell her, “Well done, sister!”

CCAMU TO HOLD PUBLIC HEARINGS ON URANIUM MINING

DILLMAN TO END HUNGER STRIKE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium (CCAMU) announced today that they would hold public hearings throughout Eastern Ontario in the New Year on the environmental and health impacts of uranium mining.

“We have been asking the government to hold an inquiry into uranium mining and they have failed to respond” said Wolfe Erlichman of CCAMU. “In the absence of action, on behalf of the McGuinty government, we are going to hold a citizen’s inquiry and invite the Premier to attend. We will even go to his home town to accommodate him.”

A number of NGO’s including Greenpeace, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, David Suzuki Foundation, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, Voice of Women and Sierra Club of Canada have endorsed the hearings or will participate as expert witnesses.

CCAMU will be calling for public and expert submissions to take place at hearings to be held in Kingston, Ottawa and Peterborough in February/March. In response to the hearings Donna Dillman, who has not eaten since October 8th 2007, said she will end her hunger strike.

“I began this hunger strike to shine a light on the problem of uranium mining in eastern Ontario with the hope that Premier McGuinty would call a moratorium on further mining and exploration” said Dillman. “We have not yet got a moratorium but these hearings are a great opportunity to inform and educate Ontarians about some of the detrimental effects of uranium mining and to keep the pressure on the McGuinty government.”

“Donna has made an incredible personal sacrifice in pushing for this moratorium. It is time for the environmental community to take some of the heavy lifting from Donna before she suffers any serious health impacts” said Gideon Foreman Executive Director of Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

“These hearing s will be an opportunity to further expose the unfolding economic, health and environmental disaster associated with the global nuclear agenda” said Bruce Cox Executive Director of Greenpeace Canada. “Mr. McGuinty is wrong when he says we need to mine uranium here to keep the lights on. This uranium is bound for export.”

Donna Dillman has not eaten since October 8th, 2007-a full 66 days ago. Ms. Dillman has been calling on Premier McGuinty to announce a moratorium on further mining and exploration in Eastern Ontario until a full public inquiry on the health and environmental impacts of uranium mining can take place.

On Tuesday of this week Ms. Dillman stopped drinking juices and had been surviving solely on water. She ate her first bite of food in front of the supporters who had gathered in MPP Peter Tabuns’ office, just after the press conference held in the Queen’s Park press gallery. Four other women, Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu, Rita Bijons, Sharon Howarth and Karen Buck, had joined Dillman on her hunger strike this past Tuesday, to show their solidarity. They broke their fast today, just after Dillman ate a small amount of mashed squash. It has been recommended by her health practitioners that she slowly resume a diet of solid food, given the length of time her stomach has been without it.

Contact: Lynn Daniluk
613-267-0539
Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium
uraniumnews@mail.ccamu.ca