So much for journalistic integrity…

The editorial board at the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, a CanWest newspaper, published nothing less than a rant on the issue of nuclear power in Saskatchewan, denouncing nuclear-free activists as an “anti-nuke gang,” a “bunch of radicals” who prevented the “dream of developing greater nuclear capacity in the province” from coming to fruition in the 1980’s.

Well, yes, frankly, it is true that the no-nukers did stop the development of a refinery just south of Saskatoon back then. And thank goodness for that! But they didn’t manage to stop the mining of uranium. And they surely did not stop industry from propagandizing throughout the province. In fact, they’ve done it so well that even the daily newspaper is singing the praises of nuclear power, quoting political deviants and corporate friends. Go ahead and read it for yourself.

Then go here and send your letter to the editor. If you need more information about uranium and the nuclear system, feel free to use the search function in the sidebar of P’n’P. We’ve managed to build up quite a collection of info from independent researchers, organizations and informed opinions over our almost two years of blogging.

Oh, and if you’d like a more balanced, though still not thorough, story about the possible reactor check out the CBC’s coverage. It’s report provides various reactions from people who live and vacation at Lake Diefenbaker, where the SaskPower study suggests the reactor might be placed.

The recommendation alarms people like Scott McKenzie, who has been vacationing in the Lake Diefenbaker area for seven years and plans to make it his home.

“It shocks me a little to begin with,” McKenzie said. “One is always worried about a catastrophe, an accident or something like that.”

However, Russ Boyle, who is building a house near the lake, doesn’t share McKenzie’s concerns. In fact, he wouldn’t mind if a nuclear facility was nearby.

I’d venture a guess that if the truth about nuclear power were placed in the hands of the people, there would be no doubt that the majority would oppose it.

I guess that’s what we’ll have to do.

10 thoughts on “So much for journalistic integrity…

  1. Speaking of nuclear idiots, I presume you do know the difference between a uranimum refinery (which *was* proposed near Warman) and the nuclear reactor you have conjured from your imagination?

  2. Oh crud! This is what happens when one writes while she is still enraged by the raging pro-nuclear idiots!

    I thank you for drawing attention to my own idiocy and have corrected the text above.

  3. Lets talk about the truth of Nuclear power. Now this is far from an authoritative list of things to think about:

    1) Rewnewables, particularly solar and wind, are by their nature unreliable; the greatest need for power is typically at night when the sun isn’t available (for an obvious example). That means that you need some sort of storage mechanism, no storage mechanism is going to be terribly efficient (storing it in hydrogen, for example, requires either refrigeration or compression to maintain the H2, both of which consume power). Granted, this is an issue for nuclear too, just pointing out complexities in the “Nuclear sucks” discussion. The only real good sources of power (with respect to varying production in response to load) are Hydro (stop the flow of water) and fossil fuel burners (turn off the burners). The latter, even if you’re not convinced by climate change, emits enough particulate pollutants to be dangerous. And I’m not convinced that hydro is all that eco-friendly, unless you like the idea of turning the Grand Canyon into the Grand Reservoir (I’m exaggerating, of course, but I’ve always wondered about that balance).

    2) Everyone is worried about nuclear waste. Part of the problem is that generally nuclear designs have been wasteful. What I mean is that in France, where they’ve embraced nuclear for the most part, they reprocess spent nuclear fuel and reuse it. They actually get 4 times as much energy out after reprocessing. This means that a family of 4 who powers their life with nuclear is responsible for 1 cup of waste in its lifetime. As a comparison, getting all their electrical power from coal would mean they would be responsible for approximately 68 tons of solid waste and 77 tons of carbon dioxide. A nuclear plant would produce enough waste to fill a standard pickup truck each year (you’d crush the truck under the weight but its an interesting visual).

    3) Safety is a bit of an “hot” topic, too. A few things to think about. A lot of designs have in the past been, to be blunt, fundamentally stupid. Using graphite rods to control the reaction; graphite can be explosive (I think this was part of the problem at Chernobyl which had other, worse design flaws). Or heavy water controlled reactors that use jet pumps to force the water up into the reactor (the power gets cut off… now what?). Cando reactors (aside from having 2 or 3 levels of isolation between the reactor and generators) use gravity fed heavy water such that if anything bad happens, the reactor floods and the whole thing shuts down. As I understand it, many of these flaws have been addressed in current designs. Other issues exist, like durability so its certainly not clear cut.

    4) Similarly, the US armed forces have run 250 reactors since the 1950s and have had no nuclear related incidents (insert conspiracy theory here). The point is that if commercial entities could run like the Navy (or who ever) there would be less risk. A good part of the equation is the people.

    Give this a read for a more authoritative review: http://www.wired.com/science/planetearth/news/2007/12/nuclear_qa (yes, I got most of those ideas from that article).

    My point is this. Yes nuclear is big and scary, but its risks are possibly over stated (and according to some largely theoretical or based solely on fear). Fossil fuel burning power generation is demonstrably deadly — in the US alone, twenty four thousand people die each year as a direct result of coal pollution, not to mention the many times more who suffer from lung cancer and respiratory problems.

    Most sane, rational people (I include myself here) agree that renewable sources like hydro (especially tidal/oceanic) and solar (if we can fix the efficiency and cost issues) are ideal long term solutions (come on, who doesn’t like the idea of practically free energy). I think (and I’ll admit I’m making a guess) that even if all the stars aligned (and we had all the necessary technology available to us today, which we don’t) it would take many decades (40+ years?) for them to represent the main sources of energy.

    But now we have a problem. We have an ideal approach that isn’t currently feasible, for which we have no reliable date when it would become so (I would consider having generation in place in this estimation). Even with the most aggressive approaches we’re probably looking at several decades to get those technologies into mass use (where clean renewables are 80% of the power generation, not fossils). It is worth discussing whether potential harm of nuclear generation over that time is greater or less than the actual harm caused by fossil generation.

    There are other issues, what happens when VBP (very bad people) get a hold of nuclear material, for example. All I want to say is that there should be room for a rational discussion about this. There is a lot of propaganda on both sides of the issues. I think that sane and rational people are capable of discussing this.

    But I suspect that when you said, “the truth about nuclear power”, you didn’t mean the facts.

  4. It’s interesting how those with vested interests in the nuclear industry can so quickly dismiss other, more economic and more feasible alternatives to the archaic and potentially devastating nuclear power.

    Solar thermal power has been proven so effective that new plants are springing up all over the world. But the ones you really want to note are those in Spain (check this link as well as it documents the pioneering work the Spaniards have done) and the USA. Saskatchewan is an ideal location for a solar energy (as well as wind) and the investment costs would be far less.

    Furthermore, nuclear energy is more costly. Not one plant has come in under the estimated cost, which is typical this day in age. But also, in comparison to coal, nuclear is more costly. And, as we all know, the nuclear industry cannot survive without huge inputs and cash outlays or tax credits from government.

    Nuclear is the old way. It’s time for something new.

  5. Good comments Raging Idiot…however, you have discounted the large amount of uranium host rock that must be mined, processed, and than stored in your waste comparison. It is far more than “a cup full”. I have also in the past suggested solar for Saskatchewan; however, I wonder if the intensity of solar radiation throughout most of the year is high enough to make it effective? I am sure there are studies out there on this. However, you do need a baseload in any energy generation system and Raging Idiot is correct in that solar and wind cannot guarantee such a baseload.

    What would be nice is to see a real public debate on the issue of nuclear power, the costs (environmental and economically) and the alternatives, without misleading arguements and skewed facts from both sides.

  6. > And, as we all know, the nuclear industry cannot survive without huge inputs and cash outlays or tax credits from government.

    Then again neither can solar or wind. I’ve followed this somewhat and all non-trivial developments have been heavily subsidized.

    I live in Quebec where almost all electricity is hydro. It is generated in the far north and then transmitted great distances to customers. In the case of hydro this is required since you are limited to geography. However I don’t see why they just don’t build nuclear plants in isolated areas and do the same thing. Part of the argument is always “not in my backyard” so why not place them so that they are in no one’s backyard?

  7. Sigh. Let’s clear up some misinformation here:

    Solar power in Saskatchewan…has no one taken a basic geography course? It’s called angle of incidence. The fact that we’re somewhere around 45 degrees above the equator means the sun strikes us at a 45 degree angle. Have you ever stood outside in the summer at noon, and then around 7 or 8 pm when the sun is setting? Which is warmer? Obviously noon since the angle of the sun is very direct upon us.

    Now, take the example of Saskatoon and someone on the Equator. Using a solar receptor in Saskatoon is like standing outside at 7 – 8pm watching a sunset, where as using one on the equator or 20 degree’s above and below it is like standing outside at noon. What I’m trying to say is that you’re all completely out of your minds to build a solar collector in Saskatchewan. Good God.

    Wind, ok I like that idea. The only problem is that the purpose of this plant is to power the oil sands, and many other industrial projects in the province. Wind power does not generate the massive amounts of power needed by industry. It’s like trying to take 10,000 double a batteries together with the hope that you’re going to power a massive mining machine, or some kind of refinery. It just won’t work, nor will that power travel effectively over long distances. It’s great for power urban area’s since the most current we need from our outlets is 220 or 240 volts, but for big industry, it does not serve our purposes.

    A couple other things to remind the readers here of regarding nuclear power:

    -Most reactor incidents, leaks, etc. happen in places of extreme earthquake activity (Japan, but even there, they mostly use nuclear power even with massive _earthquakes_ happening all the time!) or in plants with extremely old designs. In the U.S., huge numbers of their reactors are 50 year old designs because environmentalists have made funding for nuclear power a death knell for politicians, and plants are often litigated to death by environmental groups. THEY are responsible for the poor condition of the nuclear industry.

    New reactors, like the latest advanced CANDU one’s are PHYSICALLY INCAPABLE of a meltdown. The materials used to create the reactor core are made of materials that do not lose their neutron’s when bombarded. Neutron’s fuel the reaction that can become a runaway one when coolant is lost. As the runaway occurs, it melts the core and that material falls in on the reaction, starving it of fuel. Even if that for some reason failed, there is triple redundancy everywhere, including containment vessels that a 747 jet full of jet fuel cannot break through, and are specifically designed to prevent a meltdown.

    In addition (sorry, this is my last point) leaks are extremely easy to detect. The second any leak occurs outside the plant area, operators can know and react immediately. The same is not the case for coal or oil plants which emit not only toxic particles into the air and soil, but can also have toxic leaks that are difficult to detect.

  8. Solar is out of the question this far north, that’s why the european tree huggers aren’t using it. Bird shredders clutter up the landscape, are inefficient, and prone to mechanical failures. Nuclear power of modern design is safe, efficient, and clean; to state otherwise is to demonstrate your ignorance of the facts and the science.

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  10. Again, the pro-nukes are on with the old stories, recycled from who knows when? The 70’s and 80’s?

    New developments in solar technology make it significantly less expensive than it once was. And it’s happening in northern climates. Check out what the folks at ARISE or True North or the large scale solar farmers in Ontario are up to. At one of those sites you’ll see something about sales of solar equipment to Germany.

    Basic geography: Hamburg, Germany 53° 33′ N 9° 59′ E, Regina, Canada 50° 26′ N 104° 40′ W

    But go ahead and spread your lies. We all know that nuclear power is not clean, is not green and the waste produced will last for 800 generations. Plutonium-239 has a half-life of 24,400 years and it has already contaminated the U.S. Rocky Flats plant, the North Sea, and the Irish Sea. It is also detectable in the gonads of North American males and in the teeth of children living near England’s Windscale/Sellafield reprocessing plant. Is this really what we want for our families’ futures?

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