US Backing Down on Bali Agreement


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 <>.  Tell her, “Well done, sister!”



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
Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium

The Uranium-Backed War on Indigenous Peoples or Why Canada Did Not Support the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples

A somewhat lengthy petition calling for peace in the Republic of Niger landed in my inbox the other day and I had neither the time nor the energy to look at it. That changed yesterday, when I learned that a Canadian uranium mining company, NWT Uranium, has a letter of agreement to join forces with a New Mexico uranium mining company, Nu-Mex.

“We believe that this transaction will be of great benefit to NWT Uranium and its shareholders,” said Marek J. Kreczmer, President and CEO of NWT Uranium. “Nu-Mex has the ability to earn a majority interest in two highly prospective uranium properties and it was these potential assets that drew us to the combination.

The deal is “subject to approval by NWT Uranium shareholders, the Ontario Court of Superior Justice and the TSX Venture Exchange, and requires a favorable fairness opinion.” The two pieces of interest for NWT, Nose Rock and Dalton Pass, are on or near Navaho lands in New Mexico. In the WWII and post-WWII years and up until the late 70’s, the Navaho peoples embraced the uranium industry, welcoming the work, until they noticed the ill effects of the development.

Along the way, though, government and industry gave little attention to the pervasive, irreversible, and now well-documented impacts of this massive development. Government and industry were at best ignorant, but most often arrogantly dismissive, of the emerging epidemic of lung cancer and respiratory disease among underground miners; the wide assault on the region’s land, water and air quality that continues to command public concern and regulatory attention today; the abandonment of tens of thousands of drill holes, thousands of mines, and several dozen mills with little or no reclamation; and the economic dislocation of communities that had given up traditional, agricultural-based economies for the prospects of massive infusions of cash and employment from uranium development. The “bust” that followed the 35-year “boom” is by now a quarter-century old itself, and the communities that once hosted uranium mining, often with open arms, are now hard-pressed to point to anything, other than a few paved roads, that was sustainable from that era.

Fortunately, the state’s governor is taking action to prevent similar mistakes.

Of interest to Nu-Mex are the holdings of the Canadian company, NWT. The North Rae and Daniel Lake uranium projects are in the Ungava Bay area of northern Quebec, home to not less than 7 Inuit communities. That the governments of Quebec or Canada were as concerned for their people as the governor of New Mexico.

North Rae and Daniel Lake are located on the eastern side of Ungava Bay, approximately 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of the town of Kuujjuaq, near the southern shore of Ungava Bay. With a population of approximately 2,000 people, Kuujjuaq is the largest community in northern Quebec.

North Rae is six to 12 miles (10 to 20 kilometers) from tidewater, which places it in a favorable context with respect to mine development. Daniel Lake is also favorably located, approximately nine miles (15 kilometers) east of George River, which is navigable and flows into Ungava Bay 25 miles (40 kilometers) to the north.

Awfully close to a large body of water, don’t you thing? That global warming will raise water levels seems not to be an issue for NWT or Nu-Mex. That the Inuit have opposed this threat to their traditional way of life is not surprising. And it only gets more interesting! NWT has nearly 32 million shares in a company that holds several properties in the republic of Niger. Niger Uranium Limited , listed on the AIM Exchange in London, England, is extremely active in Niger.

It is clear, however, that the unfettered increase in uranium mining is causing great problems in Niger. From the petition, a bit of history:

Since its independence, the state of Niger has been in latent conflict with the Tuareg population living on the Nigerien territory. This situation escalated in 1990 with a massacre of this population group in Tchin-Tabaraden and resulted in an armed conflict. After the conclusion of a treaty of peace, which was intended to make allowances for certain claims brought forward by the Tuareg organizations in 1995, this conflict calmed down. Today, it seems that the implementation of the treaty has failed. This caused new dissatisfaction among the population in the north of Niger. A new Tuareg movement “Mouvement des Nigériens pour la Justice” (MNJ, Movement of Nigeriens for Justice) has formed whose central claim is that the peace accords signed in 1995 be met.

Another issue is that the exploitation of the uranium deposits in the regions inhabited by the Tuareg remains an unsolved problem. The local population has practically no benefit from the proceeds gained out of these mineral resources, while the ecological consequences of the uranium production seriously endanger the population and their environment.

We observe that the current crisis is seriously threatening the democratic process in Niger, in particular as the government seems to fall back on out-dated, dictatorial methods in order to gag the press and to impede the freedom of expression of the citizens.

Two members of the NWT Uranium, Inc. Board of Directors are apparently oblivious to the situation:

…North and Kreczmer assured us the country is stable. “When I first went to Niger in November 2004, and that was during the last election, it honestly looked like a lot of fun. Everybody had a little piece of rag tied around their wrist or tied to the antenna of their car to represent their political affiliation.” Kreczmer added, “My experience working in Africa is that because this country relies so heavily on foreign aid, the World Bank has great influence.”

The Republic of Niger has North’s vote on confidence … North feels Niger is going to become more aggressive in developing its uranium properties. He talked about how the President of Niger told his minister of mines, “Get out there and advertise Niger as being open for business. We want people to come in here and invest. We want to give them mineral rights, and we want them to do what Mali is doing.” From the looks of it, the first to jump on the Niger bandwagon were Northwestern Minerals and North Atlantic Resources, but they won’t be the last.

“My experience with Niger is that it’s a peaceful, democratic country with no civil unrest. Let’s put it this way. They have less civil unrest than France.” *

The Tuareg population have documented several horrific human rights violations. Homicides, arbitrary, racist and inhumane detention of civilians as well as expulsion of citizens from their communities by the military appear to be the norm. Dismemberment of corpses is not unheard of. Land mines, restricting the movement of the nomadic Tuareg, are in use despite the fact the Nigerien government signed the Ottawa Convention which bans their use.

The government of Niger wants to double its uranium production and exports so has issued more than 122 licenses to foreign companies. The areas granted exploration rights have generally been agricultural, providing an economic base for the local population. Uranium mining and exploration are harming the health of local populations. Radioactive waste is not being stored properly; open pit mining threatens fauna, flora, water, air and the entire food chain of the people living in the region. The Nigerien media has criticized these activities. As a result, prominent and outspoken editors and writers have been arrested. Some have been threatened with death by members of the Nigerien military.

And this — all this, in Canada, the USA, Australia, Niger, etc. — occurs despite a 2004 Declaration of the Indigenous World Uranium Summit which called for a Moratorium on Uranium mining:

[A] worldwide ban is justified on the basis of the extensive record of “disproportional impacts” of the nuclear fuel chain on the health, natural resources and cultures of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration calls attention to “intensifying nuclear threats to Mother Earth and all life,” and asserts that nuclear power — the primary use for uranium — is not a solution to global warming.

“Our Mother Earth needs protection from the destructive forms of uranium if we are to survive,” said Manny Pino, a member of Acoma Pueblo and professor of sociology at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona. “Everyday we are at risk from radioactive materials that threaten our future generations. Indigenous people all over the World are saying these threats must end, and they are taking united actions to achieve that goal.”

As is the norm, the concerns of the world’s Indigenous peoples continue to be ignored. Stephen Harper could not support the recent United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, not because it contravenes Canadian laws, but because it would mean a loss of control of “vast resources on land claimed by aboriginal communities” and indicate a lack of support for the nuclear industry which forms part of the Harperian plan to curb GHGs.

Petiton Sources:

– Reuters press agency:,

– Agence France Presse:

– Website of the MNJ:

– Eye witness accounts

Other Sources

– * Finch, James. “Exposed: The World’s Best Kept Uranium Secret.” EzineArticles 09 April 2006. 14 December 2007 <>.

Chalk River, Isotopes & AECL

Chalk River is the example for why the nuclear powers that be are not to be trusted, ever. In trying to understand this issue, I called upon professionals who work in the field and have studied the issue. Excerpts from their email messages are below. Some of the language is scientific and medical, so it’s a bit to digest, but it’s worth it to know. All I can say is, this is a nice try by the nuke industry and the Harperites.

It is important to realize that isotopes were being used for diagnosis and therapy long before the discovery of nuclear fission, and that even after the discovery of fission cyclotrons and other types of particle accelerators were widely used to produce isotopes for medical and scientific research purposes.

See for example

But AECL has deliberately worked over the years to create a market for specialized isotopes that are produced in nuclear reactors, chiefly cobalt-60 and molybdenum-99. Cobalt-60 is a “hard” gamma emitter and is used outside the body to irradiate tumours and to sterilize medical instruments, for example. It has a half-life of 5.3 years and so loses about 13% of its inventory in one year through radioactive decay.

Molybdenum-99 has a half-life of 66 hours, and it decays into a metastable (short half-life) isotope called technetium-99m (the “m” has to be included) which has a half-life of only 6 hours. The technetium-99m is used internally for many many diagnostic purposes. Tc-99m can easily be attached to various molecules which can then be injected into patients. The gamma rays given off by Tc-99m are a lot “softer” than those from cobalt-60 so they give a good “picture” without giving too high a dose to the patient. Because of its 6-hour half-life, Tc-99m does not pose a long-term radioactive waste problem. The Mo-99 is used as a “cow” which can be “milked” to give Tc-99m over a period of many days. Just a few micrograms of Mo-99 is enough to produce enough Tc-99m to be used to diagnose
10,000 patients. However, the supply of Mo-99 has to be uninterrupted or they will run out of Tc-99m in a short time.

The downside to this is that Mo-99 (called “moly” for short) is only produced, now, in a very high-intensity neutron field, which means a nuclear reactor that uses weapons-grade uranium (over 95% enriched!!). AECL’s Maple-1 and Maple-2 reactors were designed specifically to produce Mo-99 using weapons-grade uranium as fuel. NGO’s in the US went to court to stop the shipment of HEU (highly enriched uranium) to Chalk River because there is a US law which is supposed to halt all shipments of weapons-grade materials to other countries. AECL has been told by US authorities that they must develop technologies to produce Mo-99 that do not use HEU; but MDS-Nordion (a private company that markets the Mo-99 that is produced by AECL) shows little sign of taking this seriously. See:

“Mr. Malkoske said Nordion never agreed to convert to low-enriched uranium at any cost.

“‘It is not written in stone,’ he says. ‘Technically, it seems feasible to me, but what’s it going to cost to do this? Everytime you add costs you pass that on to the health-care community, you increase the cost of nuclear medicine.

“‘What we said we would do . . . is do a technical and economic feasibility (study) and if it was economically feasible then we would convert. We didn’t say we were going to convert at any cost. That could kill our business.'”

Another problem: in the past, HEU irradiated fuel has been returned to the USA (Savannah River) from Chalk River where it has been recycled into the bomb program (which uses HEU as “driver rods” in plutonium-production reactors to produce the plutonium needed for warheads). So in this sense, Mo-99 is like a piece of candy that is produced as a byproduct of the nuclear weapons business. Without nuclear weapons it would be too expensive to produce the HEU in the first place, and without the cash credit obtained by returning the HEU to the USA the costs become prohibitive also. I am not sure whether this practice of returning the irradiated HEU is still going on.

Yet another problem is that the Maple reactors cannot be operated safely and so they are at least 6 years behind schedule. The reactors do not operate as the AECL designers said they should, and the difference is a matter of safety — instead of being “self-braking” when the power of the reactor is increased, the Maple reactors accelerate in power when any attempt is made to just increase the power a little bit. This makes the reactors too unsafe to operate.

The NRU (National Research Universal) reactor started up in 1957. It was about 10 times more powerful than the earlier NRX (National Research eXperimental) reactor that started up in 1946. The Gov’t of Canada was reluctant to spend the money to build the NRY reactor, but AECL argued that they could help defray the cost be selling plutonium produced in the reactor to the USA. And that’s what they did — sold plutonium that was of course used in the American bomb program. But the main purpose of the NRU was to produce isotopes of various kinds by using ingenious “loops” that would allow you to insert non-radioactive materials into the loops without shutting down the reactor or opening up the core of the reactor so as to irradiate those materials and make them radio-active. The NRU was also used to test various fuels and components of CANDU reactors. But it is 50 years old now and should have been retired years ago. Since the Maple reactors are not running, NRU has had to be the workhorse, delivering the Mo-99 to the market.

Which raises another question: who makes the profits from this?

In 1988, the Gov’t of Canada privatized the only really proftable part of AECL’s operations, which was the radio-isotope production. AECL sold Nordion International Inc. (formerly the AECL division known as the Radiochemical Company) to the Canada Development Investment Corporation (CDIC) for eventual privatization. In 1991, CDIC sold Nordion to MDS Health Group Ltd. for $165 million, and it was reported that AECL received $150.5 million from CDIC, and that this “together with interest earned thereon between the dates of receipt and disbursement, has been distributed to the shareholder (i.e. gov’t of Canada) by way of dividends”.

So AECL is responsible for designing and building and operating the reactors to produce the isotopes that MDS-Nordion sells for a profit. This also means that the radwaste and the decommissioning of the reactors is a public responsibility through AECL whereas the profits are a private matter for MDS-Nordion.

As of now, it would be difficult to replace the Mo-99/Tc-99m isotope business with something else, but I believe that if nuclear weapons were phased out the entire isotope business as currently practiced would be unaffordable. In that case I have little doubt that some other more cost-effective isotope production scheme would be found to replace the Mo-99/Tc-99m that the medical people are currently addicted to. I’m not saying this would be easy nor that the replacement is obvious, but I do believe that necessity if the mother of invention.

Dr. Gordon Edwards
President, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility


So, if we then follow the money, the collusion of the industry and the Getting Old Government of Canada doesn’t seem quite so far-fetched, does it?

Does someone else smell a rat? Or at the least supreme stupidity?

While many of us may believe radionuclides in general have been, for all their value, a questionable dead-end for sustainable health care, how can we believe that the only source for Canadian medical radionuclides is a fifty year old nuclear reactor currently operating outside Atomic Energy Control Board safety standards?

Apparently two newer nuclear power plants have been or are in the process of being built over the past ten years but are hampered by cost overruns and safety concerns.

This is an emergency now? Just as the nuclear industry is endeavoring to sell itself as essential to international “green energy”? And is under greater and greater attack from critics to prove itself? (After all, it takes more than twenty years and billions of dollars to begin to produce non-polluting energy – provided we deal with the wastes.) How better to enrage and engage civil society that to get people at the health care end? Especially when we talk about “life-saving” measures?

Chalk River has been a safety concern for years with arguably the most radioactively contaminated site in the world (exceptions may be several sites in Russia).

This is entirely too much like the “anthrax” scare that hit the US Congress after 9/11 albeit on a different scale. Call me paranoid but we are extremely suspicious.

Dale Dewar, BSc, MD, CFPC, FCFP


And, finally, this bit:

Subject: I warned Linda Keen. . .


In a document now entitled “Alarm over inexperienced Bruce operator”, a letter from me to CNSC president Linda Keen dated November 19/2002 and found at

We suggest that CNSC should recognize that no nuclear reactors can be considered acceptably safe, or adequately regulated, if they cannot be taken out of service without thereby creating catastrophic or unacceptable consequences. We believe that recognition of this “obvious truth” would naturally lead CNSC to require minimum reserve levels (planned and actual) and maximum grid shares of nuclear power, or at least maximum grid shares of power provided by essentially identical nuclear reactors. We realize that these activities, like ascertaining the financial solvency of a licensee, would bring CNSC to examine matters that have traditionally not been considered part of a nuclear regulator’s job. But we believe that it is unacceptable not to do so.

At the time, I didn’t even think of the similarly unacceptable situation at NRU, but the principle obviously applies, and it has now come around to bite Ms. Keen and her agency on the behind.

Norman Rubin
Senior Consultant, Borealis Energy Research Association
Director of Nuclear Research and Senior Policy Analyst, Energy Probe

So, ya, like I said earlier, nice try, Steve. 😉

UPDATE: Check out this and this for additional information.

UPDATE 2:  AECL top dog resigns.  (Thanks to The Jurist for the lead.)

Tar Sands Time Out!

Quite awhile ago, P’n’P reported that even former Premier of Alberta, Peter Lougheed, thought the tar sands development had problems. Recently, P’n’P reported that the tar sands is the biggest industrial project in human history. Even the Brits are getting involved in the biggest environment crime in history!

At Bali this week we have seen our Prime Minister, Steven Harper, and his Minister Responsible for the Environment, John Baird, completely embarrass Canada and Canadians on the world scene by sabotaging climate talks and including representatives of the oil and gas industry in their delegation to the world conference. And now, Mr. Harper is trying to sell nukes as safe! (Like we didn’t see that coming?) P’n’P was feeling pretty depressed yesterday.

Well, today is also a good news day. Today, an action alert from the Sierra Club landed in my inbox. In it, a link to Tar Sands Time Out, a campaign calling for a moratorium on the development of the tar sands, backed up with a whole lot of important information about the tar sands and its impact on people, the environment and other creatures. Also included is a link to detailed action items as well as conclusions from an independent report regarding the tar sands:

Action Alert! Tar Sands are NOT more important than the health and safety of communities in Canada!

A recent health study, peer-reviewed and released to the public late last week shows damming evidence that the governments of Alberta and Canada have been ignoring evidence of toxic contamination on downstream communities.

The report, conducted by Alberta scientist Dr. Kevin P. Timoney draws attention to several areas of deficit in knowledge on contaminants downstream but draws clear conclusions that “people and biota of the Athabasca River Delta and western Lake Athabasca are exposed to higher levels of some contaminants than are those upstream.”

Conclusions drawn from the Timoney study include:

• People most at risk of health effects are those who eat an abundance of food of the land and from the water (wild game and fish);
• Mercury levels in fish used for human consumption present a serious concern. If US EPA standards are applied, all walleye, all female whitefish and ~90% of male whitefish exceed subsistence fisher guidelines for mercury consumption.
• When scientific data and traditional knowledge on fish deformities are considered together, they indicate that rates of fish abnormalities may be higher than expected, may be increasing, and may be related to declines in water quality.
• Overall the primary contaminants of concern may be arsenic, mercury and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) concentrations of these contaminants already high, appear to be rising.
• Alberta sponsored report on cancer risk due to lifetime arsenic exposure was reviewed and was found to have used questionable statistical methods and assumptions and underestimated levels of arsenic in water and sediment and the fish consumption rate of many Fort Chipewyan residents
• Data on river and Lake Athabasca has become privately held in recent years.
• A peer reviewed epidemiologic and toxicologic study of disease rates and levels of exposure to environmental toxins in communities of the lower Athabasca River is needed.

Well, today P’n’P is taking action. First, we are forgiving Harper and Baird for being human. Everyone makes mistakes. However, forgiving does not equal accepting the mistakes or forgetting. P’n’P will ensure all the country remembers this when the government falls (and may it be blessedly soon!). And now, off to read more about this campaign.

Petitioning the government(s)

To: All Members of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan’s policies are holding back decentralized energy production and still emphasize an economy based on exporting polluting and toxic non-renewables such as oil and uranium. We are not only known as the main world region for exporting radioactivity (uranium), but for having Canada’s highest per capita greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions. Saskatchewan has an important choice to make in the near future. Will we expand the costly and dangerous nuclear fuel system with a uranium refinery and perhaps a nuclear waste dump? Will we support nuclear power for the Alberta tar sands? This will do nothing to avert global warming, though some big business would make huge profits. But it will rob capital and labour from truly making the urgent conversion to a sustainable, renewable energy system. And, it will condemn future generations to accumulating radioactive wastes while failing to help make the necessary transition needed to avert catastrophic climate change. We ask that on the basis of the following facts, Saskatchewan abandon plans for nuclear expansion, and phase out its existing nuclear program:

• Nuclear Energy is not “Green”
The Canadian Nuclear Association falsely claims that nuclear is “clean,” and produces no GHGs. This is not true: From mining to milling to enrichment, from reactor construction to decommissioning and spent fuel transportation and storage, nuclear uses vast amounts of fossil fuels. Saskatchewan uranium exported to its biggest customer – the U.S. – is enriched by two dirty coal plants. The expansion of nuclear would require mining more and more of the lower grade ore, which would require even more fossil fuels.

• Nuclear Radiation is Forever
There is no safe level of radiation, which the nuclear industry spreads in our environment in the form of uranium tailings to reactor wastes. Plutonium remains toxic for 800 generations, which is five times the period it took humans to populate the planet after our ancestors left northern Africa some 50,000 years ago. And not one spent fuel rod has yet been permanently disposed of anywhere in the world. In addition, any expansion of nuclear power increases the chances of a catastrophic nuclear accident.

• Saskatchewan Uranium Used in Weaponry
And while nuclear is not a magic bullet for global warming, it is used in very toxic bullets. We now know that all of the depleted uranium (DU) left from the enrichment of uranium exported from Saskatchewan to the U.S. is available to the U.S. military for weapons use. Depleted uranium (DU) left from enrichment of Saskatchewan uranium is raw material for the U.S. to make DU bullets, which have been used in several war zones since 1991, and are already responsible for rising birth deformations and childhood cancers in Iraq. Saskatchewan’s uranium mining industry, the government and other supporters are therefore directly complicit in what is being called a low level nuclear war. Saskatchewan’s exports breach the intent, if not the text of international law and future generations of victims will surely find “us” guilty as charged.

• Nuclear Energy is Non-Renewable
Uranium is a NON-renewable resource, and will run out fairly quickly. So we may as well make the full transition to sustainable energy right now, without creating toxic wastes for our children’s children to have to suffer. To reduce GHGs to avert cataclysmic climate change we need to quickly shift to no-or- low-carbon energy sources, which means all the renewables: wind, solar, tidal, etc. Even without a level playing field in the energy market, wind and co-generation are already least-cost options to coal. If we stop nuclear from robbing scarce capital from making the conversion to renewables, the other renewable sources will quickly become both practical and economic. That’s the right thing to do!

• Nuclear Energy is Non-Economical
The nuclear industry is not cheap. Several studies (e.g. New Scientist) have found that the true costs of nuclear are underestimated by a factor of 3. If the huge subsidies going to nuclear (75 billion dollars so far in Canada) were removed, the cost of electricity from nuclear plants would rise 300%.

• The Nuclear Job Myth
Being extremely capital-intensive, nuclear, including its front-end uranium mining, produces very little employment per amount invested. (Each job in uranium mining involves $750,000 or more of capital.) Uranium mining has delivered a pittance of the royalties originally promised to the province and one-half of the jobs promised to northern Indigenous people. And it is making the North an unsustainable region (a Nuclear Sacrificial Area). Meanwhile, study after study has confirmed that a renewable energy sector produces many more jobs: wind, like solar, produces 5 times the employment per amount invested.


Sask residents click here to sign

Live in another part of Canada?

Quebec residents’ petition here

Ontario residents’ petition here

If there are other petitions across the country, please leave info in the comments below and I will update. Hmm…now I’m thinking we need a national petition, too.

ACTION: Support Sharbot Lake Hunger Striker

The dangers of uranium mining are well known, yet the denial industry is in full swing. One woman is trying to make a difference for future generations. Please take the time to help her. From CCAMU – The Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium


Donna Dillman began her hunger strike outside of the gates of the uranium protest site near Sharbot Lake, on October 8th at 12pm. She is calling for a moratorium on uranium mining in Eastern Ontario and is asking people to show their support by contacting local politicians, media outlets, internet blogs and any organization you feel may be of help.

Having waited ten days for Premier McGuinty to get back to her on the question of exports, Donna Dillman, who has been refusing food for 63 days, has now formally requested a meeting with the Premier. “He committed to supplying a response to my inquiry about why we have to put the health of a million people at risk, upstream of Ottawa, when we currently export most of the uranium mined in Canada,” Dillman said in a speech at the Climate Change rally on Saturday.

The 53 year-old grandmother, from near the Sharbot Lake uranium drilling site, continued, “I’d hoped it would not come to this, but, as I speak, diamond drills are being readied to penetrate the ground for uranium ore samples upriver of my children and grandchildren. When that happens, radon gas, the second highest cause of lung cancer, will be released into the air.”

Go here to send a message to McGuinty. Need more info? Here is what P’n’P has blogged to date. Go here for the full meal deal.

Thanks to World Report for the lead.

Update: Sharbot Lake Hunger Striker

Media Release

For immediate release

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

On Wednesday, December 5th in the media gallery at Queen’s Park, Donna Dillman made a heartfelt plea for the Premier of Ontario to call for a moratorium on uranium exploration and mining in Eastern Ontario.

Dr. Gordon Edwards, President of The Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, Bruce Cox, Executor Director of Greenpeace and Marilyn Crawford, member of Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium, backed up her demand with presentations to the gallery.

As a society, it is time we grew up and realized that we live on a finite planet, that we must learn to live on Earth as if we want to stay,” said the 53 year-old grandmother, on her 59th day with no food. Dillman quit eating on Thanksgiving Monday, October 8th. She moved to the steps of Queen’s Park a week ago, after living on the side of the road at the uranium exploration site just north of Sharbot Lake (between Kingston and Ottawa).

Stating that her grandson turned four last week she added, “What will the Fisher Price toys and the RESPs mean if his soil is unusable, his water undrinkable and his air unbreathable.”

The day after she arrived at Queen’s Park, Dillman met with Premier McGuinty and was told that uranium exploration upriver of Canada’s Capitol was required because we need to keep the lights on in Ontario. She informed both McGuinty and Honourable Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines, who was also at the meeting, that 80% of the uranium currently mined is exported, mostly to the US.

Dillman came away from the meeting stunned that neither politician was aware that that was the case. McGuinty committed to checking it out and to getting back to her. One week later, despite her request that he act quickly, as she would like to rejoin her family and eat again, he has not contacted her. The Canadian Nuclear Association website at states that, “About 85% of our uranium production is exported to countries around the world.”

Edwards spoke to the health effects and risks of uranium and its daughter products. He also quoted from an Interim Report on Nuclear Power, by the Royal Commission on Electric Power Planning, Toronto, 1978, which states,

An independent review committee should be established to study this problem in depth and prepare a public report for AECB and the Ontario Environmental Assessment Board. The future of the nuclear program should be assessed in light of the committee’s findings and progress in mill tailings containment technology.”

He then pointed out that such an assessment has not yet been done and commented that, “The US Surgeon General has determined that the second largest cause of lung cancer (after smoking) is radon gas. Radon gas is released whenever uranium is disturbed and is the first issue arising from exploratory drilling.”

An impassioned plea from Cox for the Premier to heed the requests of the hundreds of thousands of people from around the world followed Edwards’ statement.

Crawford listed an extensive number of supporters that included international experts Dr. David Suzuki, Dr. Rosalie Bertell and author Helen Caldicott; local, national and international organizations and all surrounding municipal councils. The press conference ended with Crawford’s presentation of a 3500 name petition on neon yellow paper, an inch thick, to NDP MP and Environment Critic, Peter Tabuns. Tabuns presented the names to McGuinty in the afternoon sitting when he challenged the Premier to call a moratorium and to change direction in regard to his plans for a nuclear powered future for Ontario.

As she enters her third month without food, with support building daily, Dillman is committed to continue the fight to have the Ontario Government exercise its duty to protect its citizens against serious health and environmental risks from exploration and mining, via an immediate moratorium.



Donna Dillman



Lynn Daniluk