Reading the biz pages to find the news on nukes really works.
[A] newly elected provincial government [is] intent on moving the industry forward. The right-leaning Saskatchewan Party is not as fettered by internal conflict over the issue as its left-leaning NDP predecessor, and everything short of the nuclear waste storage idea appears to be back on the table.
“Who knows what opportunities lie ahead in this area for the province?‘‘ Premier Brad Wall said recently. “I believe we can lead in this area, certainly in research and development.‘‘
Saskatchewan first looked at developing the uranium industry in the 1940s and s under then premier Tommy Douglas as a means of diversifying its agricultural economy. In the 1970s the mining industry expanded rapidly thanks to several big finds in the north.
The province enjoyed a comfortable relationship with the industry until people began to question where the uranium was ending up, said Bill Waiser, a historian at the University of Saskatchewan.
“They were beginning to question the morality of it,‘‘ Waiser says. “There are ecological concerns about it and `Are we facilitating the arms race unintentionally?‘‘‘
With a new government in power and a premier who talks about nuclear opportunities every chance he gets, people on both sides of the debate are watching the situation closely.
While the previous NDP government had expressed interest in refining uranium in the province, Steve McLellan, CEO of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, figures the business-friendly Saskatchewan Party will take a “hard look‘‘ at attracting a company to do it.
“We, particularly, are quite optimistic,‘‘ McLellan says. “Anything that adds value to things that are mined here is great for business.‘‘
Some, like former NDP deputy premier Dwain Lingenfelter, say Saskatchewan‘s wide open spaces make it ideal for every step of the cycle, including power generation and waste storage. While conventional reactors are widely seen as producing too much power for the province‘s needs, Lingenfelter argues Saskatchewan could become a power hub and supply energy to the rest of Canada and the United States.
“The first thing that has to happen is the government in the province has to say to the world that they‘re interested, which hasn‘t happened to this point,‘‘ says Lingenfelter, who is now an utive with the Calgary-based oil company Nexen.
“I think it takes more than governments saying, `Yeah, we are sort of in favour of it, but we will see how it goes.‘‘‘
Wall has expressed interest in research being done around small-scale nuclear reactors that would produce power at a level more suitable to the province‘s needs. He‘s also talked about the idea of developing a research reactor such as the one in Chalk River, Ont., which produces medical isotopes.
Ann Coxworth, with the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, acknowledges that the current political situation in the province does not favour the anti-nuclear movement.