The Nuclear Link

So, it’s true. Dwayne Lingenfelter, aka Link the —-, is running for leadership of the SK NDP. And he’s about as pro-nuke as they come in these here parts. He and Premier Wall and his 12 male disciples on the Saskatchewan Uranium Development Partnership could have a grand ole circle jerk, dreaming on ways to make Saskatchewan the nuclear energy hub of the continent! So, here’s hoping the Saskatchewan NDP get themselves together and elect someone other than this neoliberal has-been who ran away to work for the Alberta oilpatch.

And here’s some more required reading, about what Saskatchewan’s uranium has done/is doing to the world.

The horror of U.S. depleted uranium in Iraq threatens the world

November 1, 2008

American and British use of DU is a crime against humanity which may, in the eyes of historians, rank with the worst atrocities of all time. War vets who’ve returned from Iraq are sitting on DU death row. All this, a net result of the White House’s reaction to 9/11.

I’m horrified. The people out there — the Iraqis, the media and the troops — risk the most appalling ill health. And the radiation from depleted uranium can travel literally anywhere. It’s going to destroy the lives of thousands of children, all over the world. We all know how far radiation can travel. Radiation from Chernobyl reached Wales and in Britain you sometimes get red dust from the Sahara on your car.

The speaker is not some alarmist doomsayer. He is Dr. Chris Busby, the British radiation expert, Fellow of the University of Liverpool in the Faculty of Medicine and UK representative on the European Committee on Radiation Risk, talking about the best-kept secret of this war: the fact that, by illegally using hundreds of tons of depleted uranium (DU) against Iraq, Britain and America have gravely endangered not only the Iraqis but the whole world.

For these weapons have released deadly, carcinogenic and mutagenic radioactive particles in such abundance that — whipped up by sandstorms and carried on trade winds — there is no corner of the globe they cannot penetrate — including Britain. For the wind has no boundaries and time is on their side: the radioactivity persists for over 4,500,000,000 years and can cause cancer, leukemia, brain damage, kidney failure and extreme birth defects — killing millions of every age for centuries to come. A crime against humanity which main the eyes of historians, rank with the worst atrocities of all time.

Yet, officially, no crime has been committed. For this story is a dirty story in which the facts have been concealed from those who needed them most. It is also a story we need to know if the people of Iraq are to get the medical care they desperately need, and if our troops, returning from Iraq, are no to suffer as terribly as the veterans of other conflicts in which depleted uranium was used.

‘Depleted’ uranium is in many ways a misnomer. For ‘depleted’ sounds weak. The only weak thing about depleted uranium is its price. It is dirt cheap, toxic waste from nuclear power plants and bomb production.

However* uraniuniis one of earth’s heaviest elements and DU packs a Tyson’s punch, smashing through tanks, buildings and bunkers with equal ease, spontaneously catching fire as it does so, and burning people alive.

‘Crispy critters’ is what U.S. servicemen call those unfortunate enough to be close. And, when John Pilger encountered children killed at a greater distance he wrote: “The children’s skin had folded back, like parchment, revealing veins and burnt flesh that seeped blood, while the eyes, intact, stared straight ahead. I vomited.”

The millions of radioactive uranium oxide particles released when it burns can kill just as surely, but far more terribly. They can even be so tiny they pass through a gas mask, making protection against them impossible. Yet, small is not beautiful. For these invisible killers indiscriminately attack men, women, children and even babies in the womb — and do the gravest harm of all to children and unborn babies.

Doctors in Iraq have estimated that birth defects have increased by 2-6 times, and 3-12 times as many children have developed cancer and leukemia since 1991. Moreover, a report published in The Lancet in 1998 said that as many as 500 children a day are dying from these sequels to war and sanctions and that the death rate for Iraqi children under 5 years of age increased from 23 per 1000 in 1989 to 166 per thousand in 1993.

Overall, cases of lymphoblastic leukemia more than quadrupled with other cancers also increasing “at an alarming rate”. In men, lung, bladder, bronchus, skin and stomach cancers showed the highest increase. In women, the highest increases were in breast and bladder cancer, and non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

On hearing that DU had been used in the Persain Gulf in 1991, the UK Atomic Energy Authority sent the Ministry of Defense a special report on the potential damage to health and the environment. It said that it could cause half a million additional cancer deaths in Iraq over 10 years.

In that war the authorities only admitted to using 320 tons of DU — although the Dutch charity LAKA estimates the true figure is closer to 800 tons. Many times that may have been spread across Iraq by this war. The devastating damage all this DU will do to the health and fertility of the people of Iraq now, and is beyond imagining.

We must also count the many thousands of miscarried babies. Nobody knows how many Iraqis have died in the womb since DU contaminated their world. But it is suggested that troops who were only exposed to DU for the brief period of the war were still excreting uranium in their semen 8 years later and some had 100 times the so-called ‘safe limit’ of uranium in their urine.

The lack of government interest in the plight of veterans of the 1991 war is reflected in a lack of academic research on the impact of DU, but informal research has found a high incidence of birth defects in their children and that the wives of men who served in Iraq have three times more miscarriages than the wives of servicemen who did not go there.

Since DU darkened the land, Iraq has seen birth defects which would break a heart of stone: babies with terribly foreshortened limbs, intestines outside their bodies, huge bulging tumors where their eyes should be, or a single eye-like Cyclops, or without eyes, or without limbs, and even without heads. Significantly, some of the defects are almost unknown outside textbooks showing the babies born near A-bomb test sites in the Pacific.

Doctors report that many women no longer say “Is it a girl or a boy?” but simply, “Is it normal, doctor?” Moreover, this terrible legacy will not end. The genes of their parents may have been damaged forever, and the damaging DU dust is ever present.

What the governments of America and Britain have done to the people of Iraq, they have also done to their own soldiers in both wars. And they have done it knowingly. For the battlefields have been thick with DU and soldiers have had to enter areas heavily contaminated by bombing.

Moreover, their bodies have not only been assaulted by DU but also by a vaccination regime which violated normal protocols — experimental vaccines, nerve agent pills and organophosphate pesticides in their tents.

Yet, though the hazards of DU were known, British and American troops were not warned of its dangers. Nor were they given thorough medical checks on their return — even though identifying it quickly might have made it possible to remove some of it from their body. Then, when a growing number became seriously ill, and should have been sent to top experts in radiation damage and neurotoxins, many were sent to a psychiatrist.

Over 200,000 U.S. – troops who returned from the 1991 war are now invalids with ailments officially attributed to service in Iraq — that’s British government’s failure to assess fully the health of returning troops, or to monitor their health, means no one even knows how many have died or become gravely ill since their return.

However, Persian Gulf veterans’ associations say that, of 40,000 or so fighting fit men and women who saw active service, at least 572 have died prematurely since coming home and 5000 may be ill.

An alarming number are thought to have taken their own lives, unable to bear the torment of the innumerable ailments which have combined to take away their career, their sexuality, their ability to have normal children and even their ability to breathe or walk normally. As one veteran puts it, they are “on DU death row, waiting to die”.

Whatever other factors there may be, some of their illnesses are strikingly similar to those of Iraqis exposed to DU dust. For example, soldiers have also fathered children without eyes. And, in a group of eight servicemen whose babies lack eyes seven are known to have been directly exposed to DU dust.

They too have fathered children with stunted arms and rare abnormalities classically associated with radiation damage. They too seem prone to cancer and leukemia.

Tellingly, so are EU soldiers who served as peacekeepers in the Balkans, where -DU was also used. Their leukemia rate has been so high that several EU governments have protested the use of DU.

Despite all that evidence of the harm done by DU, governments on both sides of the Atlantic have repeatedly claimed that as it emits only ‘low level’ radiation, DU is harmless. Award-winning scientist, Dr. Rosalie Bertell who has led UN medical commissions, has studied ‘low-level’ radiation for 30 years. She has found that uranium oxide particles have more than enough power to harm cells, and describes their pulses of radiation as hitting surrounding cells ‘like flashes of lightning’ again and again in a single second.2

DU radioactivity persists for over 4,500,000,000 years killing millions of every age for centuries to come. This is a crime against humanity which may rank with the worst atrocities of all time,

Like many scientists worldwide who have studied this type of radiation, she has found that such ‘lightning strikes’ can damage DNA and cause cell mutations which lead to cancer.

Moreover, these particles can be taken up by body fluids and travel through the body, damaging more than one organ. To compound all that, Dr. Bertell has found that this particular type of radiation can cause the body’s communication systems to break down, leading to malfunctions in many vital organs of the body and to many medical problems. A striking fact, since many veterans of the first Persian Gulf war suffer from innumerable, seemingly unrelated, ailments.

In addition, recent research by Eric Wright, Professor of Experimental Hematology at Dundee University, and others, has shown two ways in which such radiation can do far more damage than has been thought.

The first is that a cell which seems unharmed by radiation can produce cells with diverse mutations several cell generations later. (And mutations are at the root of cancer and birth defects.) This “radiation- induced genomic instability” is compounded by “the bystander effect” by which cells mutate in unison with others which have been damaged by radiation — rather as birds swoop and turn in unison. Put together, these two mechanisms can greatly increase the damage done by a single source of radiation, such as a DU particle.

Moreover, it is now clear that there are marked genetic differences in the way individuals respond to radiation — with some being far more likely to develop cancer than others. So the fact that some veterans of the first Persian Gulf war seem relatively unharmed by their exposure to DU in no way proves that DU did not damage others.

That the evidence from Iraq and from our troops, as well as the research findings of such experts, has been ignored may be no accident.

A U.S. report, leaked in late 1995, allegedly says, the “potential for health effects from DU exposure is real; however it must be viewed in perspective . . . the financial implications of long-term disability payments and healthcare costs would be excessive.”3

Clearly, with hundreds of thousands gravely ill in Iraq and at least a quarter of a million UK and U.S. troops seriously ill, huge disability claims might be made not only against the governments of Britain and America if the harm done by DU were acknowledged. There might also be huge claims against companies making DU weapons and some of their directors are said to be extremely close to the White House.

How close they are to Downing Street is a matter for speculation, but arms sales make a considerable contribution – to British trade. So the massive whitewashing of DU over the past 12 years, and the way that governments have failed to test returning troops — seemed to disbelieve them, and’ washed their hands of them — may be purely to save money.

The possibility that financial considerations have led the governments of Britain and America to cynically avoid taking responsibility for the harm they have done, not only to the people of Iraq but to their own troops, may seem outlandish.

Yet DU weapons weren’t used by the other side and no other explanation fits the evidence. For, in the days before Britain and America first used DU in war its hazards were no secret.4 One American study in 1990 said DU was “linked to cancer when exposures are internal,

[and to] chemical toxicity-causing kidney damage”. While another openly warned that exposure to these particles under battlefield conditions could lead to cancers of the lung and bone, kidney damage, non-malignant lung disease, neurocognitive disorders, chromosomal damage and birth defects.5

In 1996 and 1997 UN Human Rights Tribunals condemned DU weapons for illegally breaking the Geneva Convention and classed them as “weapons of mass destruction”, “incompatible with international humanitarian and human rights law”. Since then, following leukemia in European peacekeeping troops in the Balkans and Afghanistan (where DU was also used), the EU has twice called for DU weapons to be banned.

Yet, far from banning DU, America and Britain stepped up their denials of the harm from this radioactive dust as more and more troops from the first Persian Gulf war and from action and peacekeeping in the Balkans and Afghanistan have become seriously ill. This is no coincidence.

In 1997, while citing experiments by others in which 84 percent of dogs exposed to inhaled uranium died of cancer of the lungs, Dr. Asaf Durakovic, then Professor of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at Georgetown University in Washington, was quoted as saying, the “

[U.S. government’s] Veterans Administration asked me to lie about the risks of incorporating depleted uranium in the human body”. He concluded, “uranium does cause cancer, uranium does cause mutation, and uranium does kill. If we continue with the irresponsible contamination of the biosphere, and denial of the fact that human life is endangered by the deadly isotope uranium, then we are doing disservice to ourselves, disservice to the truth, disservice to God and to all generations who follow”. Not what the authorities wanted to hear and his research was suddenly blocked.

During 12 years of ever-growing British whitewash the authorities have abolished military hospitals, where there could have been specialized research on the effects of DU and where expertise in treating DU victims could have built up.

And, not content with the insult of suggesting the gravely disabling symptoms of Persian Gulf veterans are imaginary, they have refused full pensions to many. For, despite all the evidence to the contrary, the current British House of Commons briefing paper on DU hazards says “it is judged that any radiation effects from possible exposures are extremely unlikely to be a contributory factor to the illnesses currently being experienced by some Persian Gulf war veterans”. Note how over a quarter of a million sick and dying U.S.: and UK vets are called some’.

Britain and America not only used DU in this year’s Iraq war, they dramatically increased its use — from a minimum of 320 tons in the previous war (1991) to a minimum-of 1500 tons in this one (2003).

And this time the use of DU wasn’t limited to anti-tank weapons — as it had largely been in the previous Persian Gulf war — but was extended to the guided missiles, large bunker busters and 2000-pound mega-bombs used in Iraq’s cities. This means that Iraq’s cities have been blanketed in lethal particles — any one of which can cause cancer or deform a child.

In addition, the use of DU in huge bombs, which throw the deadly particles higher and wider in huge plumes of smoke, means that billions of deadly particles have been carried high into the air — again and again and again as the bombs rained down — ready to be swept worldwide by the winds.

The Royal Society has suggested the solution is massive decontamination in Iraq. That could only scratch the surface. For decontamination is hugely expensive and, though it may reduce the risks in some of the worst areas, it cannot fully remove them. For DU is too widespread on land and water. How do you clean up every nook and cranny of a city the size of Baghdad? How can they decontaminate a whole country in which microscopic particles, which cannot be detected with a normal Geiger counter, are spread from border to border? And how can they clean up all the countries downwind of Iraq, and indeed, the world?

So there are only two things we can do to mitigate this crime against humanity. The first is to provide the best possible medical care for the people of Iraq, for our returning troops and for those who served in the last Persian Gulf war and, through that, minimize their suffering. The second is to relegate war, and the production and sale of weapons, to the scrap heap of history- along with slavery and genocide. Then, and only then, will this -crime against humanity be expunged, and the tragic deaths from this war truly bring freedom to the people of Iraq, and of the world.

Britain and America not only used DU in this year’s Iraq war, they dramatically increased its use — from a minimum of 320 tons in the previous war (1991) to a minimum of 1500 tons in this one And this time the use of DU wasn’t limited to anti-tank weapons — as it had largely been in the previous Persian Gulf war — but was extended to-the guided missiles, large bunker busters and 2000 pound mega-bombs used in Iraq’s cities.

Pre-Emptive Nuclear Strike a Key Option

Go here.  Now!

They’re crazy!

Pre-Emptive Nuclear Strike a Key Option, NATO Told

by Ian Traynor

The west must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the “imminent” spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, according to a radical manifesto for a new NATO by five of the west’s most senior military officers and strategists.

Calling for root-and-branch reform of NATO and a new pact drawing the US, NATO and the European Union together in a “grand strategy” to tackle the challenges of an increasingly brutal world, the former armed forces chiefs from the US, Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands insist that a “first strike” nuclear option remains an “indispensable instrument” since there is “simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world”.

Talk about defeatist!  Talk about lowering the world’s expectations!!  Talk about effing stupid!!!

Now, look at the authors:

The Authors:

John Shalikashvili

The US’s top soldier under Bill Clinton and former NATO commander in Europe, Shalikashvili was born in Warsaw of Georgian parents and emigrated to the US at the height of Stalinism in 1952. He became the first immigrant to the US to rise to become a four-star general. He commanded Operation Provide Comfort in northern Iraq at the end of the first Gulf war, then became Saceur, NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe, before Clinton appointed him chairman of the joint chiefs in 1993, a position he held until his retirement in 1997.

Klaus Naumann

Viewed as one of Germany’s and NATO’s top military strategists in the 90s, Naumann served as his country’s armed forces commander from 1991 to 1996 when he became chairman of NATO’s military committee. On his watch, Germany overcame its post-WWII taboo about combat operations, with the Luftwaffe taking to the skies for the first time since 1945 in the Nato air campaign against Serbia.

Lord Inge

Field Marshal Peter Inge is one of Britain’s top officers, serving as chief of the general staff in 1992-94, then chief of the defense staff in 1994-97. He also served on the Butler inquiry into Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and British intelligence.

Henk van den Breemen

An accomplished organist who has played at Westminster Abbey, Van den Breemen is the former Dutch chief of staff.

Jacques Lanxade

A French admiral and former navy chief who was also chief of the French defense staff.

All boys who want to play with more toys!  Nuff said!

Uranium market looking fragile

I just don’t get how people such as David Berman in the Financial Post can actually say, “the world needs uranium, and lots of it” given all we know about its hazards, the fact that the US nuclear weapons arsenal is huge, that there is no proven safe storage for nuclear waste and that it is not a solution for climate change.

 

But look beyond the most recent gyrations, you will find that the entire global uranium market is looking fragile these days, with many stocks down 50%. Production problems aside, investors have a bigger issue to deal with: Is interest in uranium stocks fizzling?

Yesterday, Uranium One Inc. joined the casualty list when it cut its production estimates for 2008 by 38%. The reason relates to delays at its Kazakhstan mines, where there is a shortage of sulphuric acid used for extracting uranium. The stock (UUU/TSX) fell 17.6% to $10.49, bringing its total loss for the year to 34%.

Leonie Soltay, an analyst at Wellington West Capital Markets, put a brave face on the setback, arguing the delayed production is good for uranium prices, since lower production keeps the supply-and-demand dynamics tight. She also pointed out that the company is becoming a must-have name for investors who want unhedged international uranium production.

“We believe any short-term weakness should be treated as a buying opportunity by long-term investors,” Ms. Soltay said in a note to clients, in which she lowered her price target to $13 from $16.

These stock-price reversals seem strange given that the world needs uranium, and lots of it. According to the World Nuclear Association, planned nuclear power reactors have leapt 37% since the start of the year.


And who is planning these reactors? The uranium industry, of course, as part of its 2002 plan for a nuclear renaissance.

Interesting, isn’t it?

Open Letter to SK Political Leaders

OPEN LETTER TO THE LEADERS OF THE NEW DEMOCRATIC,

SASK AND LIBERAL PARTIES OF SASKATCHEWAN

 

Why Are You Ducking The Nuclear Question?

 

There is something surreal about this election, for none of you has had to fundamentally justify your pronuclear policies. Saskatchewan is now the major front-end uranium supplier of the global nuclear system, and this issue demands public scrutiny.

 

Last year Premier Calvert travelled to France to get support from Areva to build a uranium refinery here. Saskatchewan exports all its uranium, and some argue a refinery would add value before export, and strengthen the provincial economy. Meanwhile, Calvert is on record as opposing nuclear power here, and in this election has highlighted a commitment to expand non-polluting renewable energy use at home. What’s good for the goose (us) is, apparently, not good for the gander (those who import uranium from us).

 

David Karwacki and Brad Wall haven’t pointed out this huge disconnect, perhaps because they wish to hide their own. In the televised leaders’ debate about the future political direction of the province there was not one mention of “uranium” or “nuclear”, even when directly asked a question about global warming.

Sask Party literature quotes the Suzuki Foundation that Saskatchewan has the highest per capita greenhouse gases (GHGs) in Canada. Yet Mr. Wall won’t come out and say whether or not he supports nuclear power replacing coal plants here. And Mr. Wall doesn’t quote Suzuki on how heavy oil development in the tar sands (which all of you want to further develop in Saskatchewan) is soon to become the world’s largest single source of GHGs?

 

As the leaders of your parties you are letting each other off the hook on nuclear and energy policy. This is patently irresponsible in view of the Saskatchewan economy becoming more dependent on the production of non-renewable energy that contributes to radioactive contamination and global warming. That the media has not asked you the hard questions is disconcerting. So let us ask you a few.

 

Is Nuclear Sustainable?

Any short-term economic spin-offs from a uranium refinery would depend on the continuation of billions in public subsidies that have kept the nuclear industry afloat. Without these subsidies the market cost of nuclear would likely triple. Despite this help nuclear is quickly losing ground to renewable energy sources, which already produce more electricity globally than nuclear. Aren’t you concerned that our growing dependency on a non-renewable energy economy will cripple our future?

 

All of you acknowledge the need for a sustainable economy, yet seem unwilling to evaluate your pronuclear policies in those terms. The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) estimates at today’s low usage, where nuclear provides only 16% of electricity and 3% of primary energy worldwide, uranium reserves would run out in 85 years. Meanwhile, each job from nuclear costs one million or more dollars in capital.

 

How do you justify diverting scarce capital into a costly uranium refinery, or nuclear power plant, when there is such urgency to create truly sustainable, non-polluting, renewable energy systems to avert catastrophic climate change? Especially when these sustainable alternatives are cheaper, create far more and much safer employment, and can get on-stream quickly enough to make a difference?

 

We are not picking on Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan is not alone in having a huge economic dilemma over sustainability. Even though asbestos has proven to be highly carcinogenic, and is continuing to kill thousands of people exposed to it, the world’s largest asbestos mine in Quebec has not yet been shut down. Short-term economics there, too, dwarf human health, the environment and morality. The consequences of spreading radioactivity from uranium and nuclear across the planet are, of course, far more devastating, and include the added dangers of catastrophic nuclear reactor accidents and the spread of radiation weaponry.

 

Is Nuclear Environmentally Healthy?

You all seem to have accepted some version of the nuclear industry propaganda that it provides the “clean” magic bullet for global warming. But the nuclear fuel system contributes to GHGs. Saskatchewan uranium is enriched at two dirty coal plants in Kentucky, and let’s not forget the huge quantities of energy used in uranium mining. For example, the Globe and Mail reports that the Cigar Lake mine requires the largest cement plant in Saskatchewan to try to stabilize its underground tunnels.

 

The private nuclear plants proposed for Alberta will be used to enhance the production of heavy oil, the dirtiest of all fossil fuels. The Battleford area is most likely being targeted for a uranium refinery because of potential demand in the tar sands. We ask you in all sincerity: what does this proposed twinning of nuclear and heavy oil say about the nuclear industry’s “environmental ticket”?

 

The new Candu design proposed for Alberta would use reprocessed spent reactor fuel (nuclear waste). This would increase the pressure to make Northern Saskatchewan and/or Alberta an international nuclear waste dump. Again, as with uranium mining, it would primarily be Indigenous land that would be sacrificed for this military-industrial venture. What is your position on Saskatchewan becoming a nuclear waste dump?

 

We hope each of you has reflected on the more-than-disturbing fact that the plutonium in nuclear wastes is toxic for at least 8000 generations – which is five times the period it took humans to migrate from North Africa around the whole planet. The continued production of nuclear wastes in return for small economic payoffs today places unjustified burdens on future generations. Please tell us: in what sense can expansion of this industry be considered the moral, let alone sustainable path to follow?

 

How is promoting nuclear as “clean” more credible than tobacco industry’s claims that its product was benign? The Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) has publicly stated that harm from low-level radiation has not been proven; meanwhile the U.S. Surgeon General now considers low-level radiation from radon gas to be the second leading cause of cancer after smoking. Uranium mine tailings will release radon into the larger environment for millennia. Is appeasing the corporate community blinding you to these vital matters of worker and public health?

 

The August 13th MacLean’s reported a study that found that children 9 and under, living near nuclear facilities were 24% more likely to die of leukemia. (This study, reviewing 17 studies, covering 136 nuclear sites in 7 countries, including Canada, was published in the European Journal of Cancer Care.) The International Society of Doctors for the Environment (ISDE), representing 100,000 doctors from 40 countries, recently endorsed a non-nuclear energy policy in part due to the risks that nuclear presents for human health. The doctors are, of course, concerned about the prospects of huge radiation releases from future nuclear meltdowns like Chernobyl and the risks from nuclear proliferation that come with any expansion of the nuclear industry.

 

You are so willing to debate the pros and cons of a universal drug plan. Why are you not willing to debate the implications of nuclear expansion for the life or death of children? With all your talk of health promotion averting rising healthcare costs, how do you justify supporting what is clearly a cancer causing industry?

 

Is Nuclear Peaceful?

Lastly, why is it that you never discuss nuclear weapons when you support uranium mining and nuclear expansion? Each of you may prefer to hide behind the outdated notion that uranium from Saskatchewan is only used for “peaceful purposes.” Can we consider such a toxic cancer-causing substance as uranium to be “peaceful” in any sense?

 

About 85% of the uranium exported to the U.S. remains available for use in weapons after the enrichment process that creates reactor fuel. This depleted uranium (DU) is used to produce nuclear bombs and other DU weapons that are presently killing civilians in the Middle East. Each of the 300,000 uranium bullets fired during the U.S. “Shock and Awe” invasion of Iraq likely had a bit of Saskatchewan within it. The extremely carcinogenic uranium aerosols from these exploding bullets are now in the air and on the land virtually forever, and are already responsible for vast increases in birth deformations and childhood cancers in the region. How does this violence of the so-called peaceful atom truly make you feel?

 

All of you, we are sure, would endorse human rights. Are you aware that it is a war crime and a crime against humanity to make and use weapons that indiscriminately kill civilians? It is no longer possible to hide behind the reassuring rhetoric of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, so, we ask: what is your position on Saskatchewan uranium being a major source for these horrendous uranium weapons? Be honest. Do you believe that the end justifies the means: that short-term economic benefits of uranium here justify spreading radiation and cancer across other people’s homelands?

 

Can you turn your heart and head away from such suffering, and from our complicity in it? Do you really support economic growth at any cost? Do you place short-term benefits and votes here, above concerns for global impacts and future effects? Surely if the labour movement is willing to make the sacrifices to make the conversion to sustainable jobs, business should also be willing to come on side. But where is the political leadership on the necessity for such conversion? Why are you not raising these vital questions? Do you think the continuation of political amnesia is really good for our wellbeing and for our democracy? Or for our grandchildren, who will reap the burdens of inaction on preventing radioactive contamination and climate change?

 

We are looking for some sign that those of you wanting to lead our Province actually care about what the nuclear and uranium industry is doing to people and the planet, and about getting serious about averting cataclysmic climate change. This is too big an issue for you to duck during this election. So, why the general silence on these vital issues of sustainable energy, environmental and human health, and the travesties of radioactive war? Have we so lost our way, and become so amorally parochial, that such considerations no longer matter enough to be raised and debated during an election in our province?

 

We are sure many others would also like a detailed and heartfelt response.

 

Yours truly,

 

Bill Adamson, retired Professor of Pastoral Theology, past President of St. Andrews Theological College, University of Saskatchewan, member of the Saskatchewan Conference of the United Church.

Dale Dewar, Associate Professor, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan; past President, Physicians for Global Survival.

Jim Harding, retired Professor of Environmental and Justice studies; author of “Canada’s Deadly Secret”, past Councillor, City of Regina.

Jim Penna, retired Professor of Philosophy, Saint Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan; past Trustee, Saskatoon Separate School Board.

Dick Peters, Regional Coordinator, for KAIROS Prairies North Region, Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives.

Michael Poellet, Ph.D., for Inter-Church Uranium Committee Educational Co-operative (ICUCEC).

Graham Simpson, Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Saskatchewan; past Board member, Saskatchewan Council for International Co-operation (SCIC).

Sylvia Thompson, retired United Church of Canada Diaconal Minister, for Saskatchewan Non-Nuclear Clearing House (SNNCH).

Karen Weingeist, concerned citizen, for Coalition for a Clean Green Saskatchewan.

Dave Weir, for Regina Non-Nuclear Network.

 

Contacts: Jim Harding (306) 332-4492, Jim Penna (306) 373-0309 or Dave Weir (306)352-3195

 

American Native Women Mark Autumn in Nuclear Shadows

This article, about diabetes and radiation in the communities around Los Alamos National [Nuclear Weapons] Laboratory, does not discuss the known link between radiation and diabetes. Still, it’s worth reading because it shows what man-made radiation from weaponized Uranium has done to the health of our indigenous peoples. And, it shows the strength, power, and wisdom of women getting together in solidarity.

Some links that show the connection between radiation and diabetes follow the article.

from Women’s eNews

Native Women Mark Autumn in Nuclear Shadows
Run Date: 10/04/07

By Laura Paskus
WeNews correspondent Marking the start of autumn, women from six native communities gathered near Los Alamos National Laboratory to discuss their concerns about nuclear contamination, type-II Diabetes and the near extinction of traditional midwifery. Gathering 4 Mother E.A.R.T.H.POJOAQUE, N.M. (WOMENSENEWS)–Along the edges of the low, earthen wall that sets off the dancing grounds, vendors and activists assembled their tables.

Children ran back and forth through the grass and yellow-blooming chamisa while tribal elders, Anglo teens with dreadlocks and mothers of all ages and hues mingled.

This was the most recent Gathering for Mother Earth, which last month marked the first day of autumn for the 11th year in a row in the shadows of the U.S. facility that makes triggers for nuclear warheads.

Sponsored by Tewa Women United, an inter-tribal, inter-generational group of native women, the event took place off a winding, sandy road in the juniper-studded hills in the shadow of Los Alamos National Laboratory, the U.S. maker of nuclear warhead triggers.

At one table, Shannya Sollitt, told Women’s eNews about her highest hopes for the Los Alamos Peace Project, the name she gives her own personal efforts–such as designing and distributing postcards for voters to send to elected officials. Sollitt said she dreams of persuading the federal government to reallocate the billions of dollars it spends on its nuclear weapons arsenal toward the development of renewable and sustainable technologies.

Read the full article here

Diabetes and Radiation Connection:

http://lonestaricon.com/2006/Archives/09/news07.htm

http://nourishedmagazine.com.au/blog/articles/uranium-mercury-and-diabetes

http://tinyurl.com/28bq4e

http://www.berkeleycitizen.org/diabetes.html

http://www.energygrid.com/health/2007/01ac-uranium.html

Help the US become Radiation Free by 2033!
www.radiation.org

Nuclear Smoke and Mirrors from Alberta to Australia

From the inbox, an essay by Dr. Jim Harding:

 

NUCLEAR SMOKE AND MIRRORS FROM ALBERTA TO AUSTRALIA:

The AECL’s Advanced Candu and Bush’s Global Nuclear Partnership

 

By Jim Harding*

 

A few weeks before Stephen Harper went to the APEC meeting in Australia, ready to discuss George Bush’s Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), the Energy Alberta Corporation (EAC) in consort with AECL announced its plan to build two Advanced Candu Reactors (ACRs) near Peace River, Alberta. Harper, EAC’s Wayne Henuset and AECL’s mandarins won’t want the public to connect the dots too quickly. Harper’s minority government might not weather a heated controversy over Canada importing nuclear wastes while having a huge unsolved nuclear waste problem of its own. That controversy erupted in the Australian election campaign after the Howard government indicated it would consider buying into Bush’s plan to have supplier countries take back and reprocess spent fuel.

 

The Seaborn Panel, the 9-year federal review of Canada’s nuclear wastes, never investigated Canada importing nuclear wastes, and reprocessing these wasn’t even on its radar screen. Rather, it concluded that deep geologic disposal of irradiated nuclear fuel is not acceptable to the Canadian public and recommended that the management of irradiated fuel be addressed by a body at arms length from the both the nuclear industry and government. Instead, the Chretien government mandated the industry-owned agency, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), to deal with the issue. Under the NWMO’s announced plan, irradiated fuel is to be stored at existing reactor sites for at least a generation, i.e. 30 years, before being moved to a centralized location and possibly being reprocessed before the high-level radioactive residues are buried in a deep geologic repository. Such reprocessing would create a highly radioactive corrosive liquid even more dangerous than the solid spent fuel rods, and the extracted plutonium will remain extraordinarily toxic for over 800 generations.

 

The large nuclear reactors (ACR-1000) that EAC wants to build in Alberta are justified as an environmentally-friendly alternative to the natural gas that is currently used to heat the tar sands. The fact that the tar sands are the dirtiest of all fossil fuels discredits the nuclear industry’s PR about being the clean, magic bullet for averting global warming. That’s bad enough. If it became widely known there was a hidden agenda about an international nuclear waste dump in Canada, then all the hype about clean nuclear energy providing economic development might begin to fall on deaf ears. Besides, the ACR-1000 reactor is only a design on paper and hasn’t been reality tested. Without the $200 million granted to AECL from the Harper government for design work, adding to the $17 billion dollars of subsidies since 1952, there’d be no chance at all of this project ever seeing the light of day. (Such large handouts of federal taxpayer’s money could become a contentious issue, given Alberta’s populist ideology of self-reliance.) Serious design flaws have already been noted by the 2004 Safety Assessment done for the U.S.’s Nuclear Reactor Regulation (NRR); most notably the risk of a Loss of Coolant Accident (LOCA) and core meltdown after a power surge resulting from a large or multiple pipe breakage.

 

AECL’s 180 degree About-Turn

The original Candu designers prided themselves on using heavy water (the “d” in Candu) as a moderator and coolant, so that natural uranium (the “u” in Candu) can be used as fuel. No enrichment of uranium is required. But the new ACRs will use light water as a coolant, and for that reason they will require slightly-enriched uranium (SEU) as a fuel. Why the flip-flop?

 

The basic motivation is to reduce costs, but there is a darker side to what AECL calls the ACR’s “fuel adaptability”. AECL’s Technical Summary for the ARC-1000 says it is “ideally suited to burn other fuels such as mixed oxides (MOX) and thorium.” MOX is a code word for a blend of uranium and plutonium. But “other fuels” can also be used and these include irradiated fuel elements from Light Water Reactors (LWR) such as used in the U.S., France, Japan and elsewhere. According to Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, the ARC-1000 would be able “to make use of the “DUPIC” process, whereby spent LWR nuclear fuel is repackaged and used to fuel a Candu reactor.” The reason for this, he says, is that “the amount of fissile material (U-235 plus plutonium) in spent LWR fuel is more than enough to match” the requirements for SEU.

 

AECL is trying to put a responsible spin on this. It’s scientistic handlers used to assert that due to international safeguards there was no chance of uranium exported for nuclear power being diverted for weapons. Now they’ve created a new argument to market their “peaceful atom.” An AECL paper by nuclear engineer Jeremy Whitlock argues that the new Candu design will provide “unique synergism with LWR technology”, that it “can be used to disposition ex-weapons plutonium”, and, furthermore, that all this will be a “positive contribution to world peace.” The U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) disagrees, saying in its January 2006 statement on Bush’s GNEP, that “all reprocessing technologies are more proliferation-prone than direct disposal” of nuclear wastes. 

 

AECL’s Unparalleled History of Botched Designs

The only advantage of the new Candu would be to the fledgling AECL. But don’t hold your breath waiting for the ARC-1000 to be up and running, for the list of botched AECL designs is lengthy. There was the Organic Cooled Reactor in Manitoba, which was an expensive dead end. There was the Candu Boiling Light Water Reactor in Quebec, which (without even including design costs) was a $126 million disaster. Then there was the Slowpoke Energy System, for which design work cost $45 million, which didn’t work properly. Next came the Candu-3, for which design work cost $75 million, which no one wanted. And the Candu-9, with design costs still secret, which was a no-go in South Korea. More recently AECL built the Maple Reactor at Chalk River, which threatens to become another technological and financial fiasco since the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is refusing to even license it for operation.

 

The Candu industry has been a sinkhole for the Canadian taxpayer. Each Candu reactor built so far has required refurbishing costs equal to the original construction costs after only half of its projected operating life.  And after 50 years in business, AECL has only sold 12 reactors abroad. In 1996, to try to justify its huge taxpayer subsidies, it set a goal of 10 sales by 2006. But only 3 sales occurred, including the Romanian Cernavada plant from a 1980 deal, which required another $328 million Canadian guarantee; and two plants at Qunshin in China that received $1.5 billion in Canadian Account financing. During this decade AECL lost sales to Turkey, Australia and South Korea.  With this dismal record, AECL has done a design flip-flop, turning its back on natural uranium fuel to try to cash in on the worldwide nuclear waste crisis. But we must be on guard. While AECL is opportunistically promoting ACR’s which can use irradiated nuclear fuel from other countries, after 60 years they still haven’t cleaned up their radioactive mess at the Manitoba Whiteshell Lab, and their plan for cleaning up their contaminated Chalk River Lab, costing millions more for the taxpayer, remains obscure.

 

Enter George Bush and his GNEP

Beholding to huge federal subsidies, AECL is also beholding to U.S. President George Bush with his $405 million brainchild, the GNEP. The only thing “global” about this plan is the U.S. pretence to world hegemony, which seems delusional after the Iraq debacle. And the only partners to this proposed “global” plan would be countries already in the nuclear weapons club, along with their uranium suppliers. The agreement would make it mandatory for uranium suppliers to take back spent fuel from reactors abroad. The bargaining chip would be allowing enrichment facilities and nuclear power plants that use spent fuel in these countries. Some chip. We’d get to throw more public money down the nuclear drain, create and store even more dangerous nuclear waste, and have less capital to create truly sustainable, renewable energy systems to avert even more catastrophic climate change.

 

Bush’s plan would be unworkable without the major uranium exporting countries – Canada and Australia – involved. Luckily for Bush, both countries are governed by neo-conservative parties that also oppose Kyoto. Bush is presenting the GNEP as a means to control nuclear proliferation, while making nuclear power available globally, by not allowing enrichment facilities, or spent fuel to remain, that could be used to produce weapons. (This finally admits that the Non-Proliferation Treaty is not an effective guarantee against proliferation from nuclear power plants.) The converse of this is that GNEP members would preserve a near monopoly on nuclear technology and weapons. No wonder, in the context of discussing billions living in inhuman conditions, climate change and the potential for nuclear holocaust, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Dr. ElBaradei, in a Sept 03/07 interview with Der Spiegel, said “we are moving rapidly towards an abyss”. With a real sense of urgency, he said that, “in order to seem credible to the nuclear wannabe states we must demand steps towards nuclear disarmament from those who have nuclear weapons – an obligation that is stipulated in the non-proliferation treaty but is not complied with.” He goes on to deplore what he calls “this two-faced approach” since “If practically all nuclear powers are modernizing instead of reducing their arsenals, how can we argue with the non-nuclear states?”

 

More pragmatically, the GNEP would provide “a way out” for the nuclear powers, none of which has any fundamental solution to their own mounting nuclear waste problem. As the world’s major supplier of uranium, Canada, under the GNEP, could be required to take nuclear wastes back from the largest users of nuclear power – the U.S., France and Japan. The elements therefore exist for a dangerous nuclear expansion strategy in Canada. First, a Candu redesign requiring some uranium enrichment that can be used as a justification for importing nuclear wastes to reprocess as fuel, and then the tar sands as a justification for building this new generation of nuclear plants. And, finally, lest we forget, we have the huge Saskatchewan uranium industry supplying the raw material to the nuclear powers, which, under the GNEP, would require that nuclear wastes be brought back to Canada.

 

Nuclear and Kyoto: The Big Disconnect

The first I heard of Canada “repatriating” spent fuel was when AECL and Saskatchewan’s uranium multinational, Cameco, advocated this in the early 1990s. At the time they were both working towards an integrated uranium-nuclear industry. Now Cameco operates the Bruce Candu plants and a uranium refinery in Ontario, and, with a sympathetic Prime Minister from Alberta, AECL is trying to base itself in its north. It seems the AECL and Cameco were flying this trial balloon of us taking back nuclear wastes long before George Bush or Stephen Harper were elected. Could the tail be wagging the dog?

 

It’s no accident that the GNEP is spearheaded in countries refusing to support the Kyoto Accord. Kyoto sets targets for reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs), which mostly come from fossil fuels. However, business and government interests in oil-dependent countries (including countries like Canada, i.e. Alberta, dependent on exporting oil) don’t want anything to slow down their profit and royalty-gushing ventures. Meanwhile efficiency, geothermal, wind and solar electricity are proving to be the most cost-effective ways to quickly lower GHGs, which doesn’t sit well with the nuclear industry’s comeback strategy of stressing itself as the clean alternative to fossil fuels. Furthermore, the 2001 Climate Change Conference in Bonn rejected nuclear as a solution to climate change partly because nuclear will steal capital from the cheaper, less risky, more effective renewable alternatives. So the nuclear industry is primarily looking to the countries outside Kyoto for support. It helped when George Bush’s 2005 Energy Bill gave another $13 billion subsidies to the industry, and a privatized electrical market allowed U.S. nuclear plants to displace “stranded costs” on to the consumer. And it certainly helped AECL when the Harper government, continuing the Liberal practice of bailing out the nuclear industry, provided millions to design the ARC.

 

Harper’s government has tried to low-key its involvement with Bush’s GNEP, but we know from a Canadian Press Access to Information request that his government has been seriously involved in discussions about this since at least March 2006. While his aides, seemingly aware that this issue is politically explosive, tried to downplay the “secret agenda” item at the APEC forum, Natural Resources Minister Lund has been more candid. In reference to reprocessing spent fuel for new Candus, in the September 5, 2007 Globe and Mail, Lund is quoted as saying: “as the technology evolves, it’s something we’ll see”. The next day this was “corrected” and it reported that the Canadian government hadn’t yet decided on supporting such reprocessing. At the end of the APEC meeting, Harper’s Foreign Minister Bernier said that the Canadian government had just about decided about the GNEP. This is more smoke and mirrors, as Harper had already funded the ARC, which AECL promotes as being able to use reprocessed spent fuel, and his government has enthusiastically supported the ARC being built in the tar sands. All this from the man who so righteously attacked the Liberals for being unaccountable for far less consequential and less expensive matters.

 

Meanwhile the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) is forthright about its support for enriching uranium and importing nuclear wastes. CNA President Murray Elston even uses the high price of raw uranium as a reason to support nuclear waste as the fuel of future choice. He continues the practice of the CNA providing disinformation to the public, saying in the Sept. 5, 2007 Globe and Mail that, “nuclear military powers have been reprocessing and transporting nuclear waste for years, and have proven it can be done safely.” Plutonium contamination at the U.S. Rocky Flats plant, France’s nuclear conglomerate Areva contaminating the North Sea, radioactive contamination of the Irish Sea along with detectable levels of plutonium in children’s teeth emitted from England’s Windscale/Sellafield reprocessing plant, and various weapons countries losing nuclear weapons grade uranium is apparently “safe” to the CNA.

 

Lessons from AECL’s Saskatchewan Shenanigans

We saw a similar process as what is now happening in Alberta in my home province from 1989-91, when AECL had another private company front the proposed building of a Candu-3 in our North. (AECL also tried but failed to sell its Slowpoke 3 to the University of Saskatchewan at the time.) AECL used every manipulative trick in the book, including inflating energy growth to make us fear we’d freeze in the dark without nuclear power. (They forecast a shortfall of electricity in Saskatchewan by 2000 unless a Candu reactor was built.) They wined and dined local politicians and businessmen on trips to Ontario’s Candus, as they are now doing with Albertans.  And they tried to bribe us – during a slump in the economy – with the economic opportunities of a Candu-3 export industry based in our province. And they made no mention of the huge taxpayers subsidies that made it possible for them to float such grandiose schemes.

 

Under Grant Devine’s Tories, who privatized the uranium crown Cameco, AECL got the public utility Sask Power on side for a while, though their figures never jibed. At one point, as many jobs were promised from constructing one Candu-3 as came in total from the massive Ontario Darlington 8-reactor complex. There was lots of nuclear hype that got favourable coverage by the well-oiled and parochial provincial media. But, as with so many other AECL projects, the Candu-3 was never built, anywhere, as Saskatchewan people and third world countries alike rejected the contrived plan. And we are doing fine in 2007, with no black outs and no nuclear plants; though the Tory-like Sask Party and its Premier-in-waiting Brad Wall seem to think we should have one even if its not needed. We have a few wind farms, and, yes, uranium exports remain the bulk of primary energy production and export. The NDP government which spearheaded uranium expansion in the 1970s publicly opposes nuclear power without wanting to admit that they have been willing and essential pawns in the nuclear expansion strategy, which we now see taking shape with Bush’s GNEP and Harper’s compliance.

 

Saskatchewan and Alberta people are now interlocked in this geo-political drama. We will have to be vigilant about creating a future based on sustainable, renewable energy while phasing out the uranium-nuclear industry; or see both our provinces become the dangerous playground of a nuclear industry that expands by economic bribery and political bailout.

 

* Jim Harding is a retired professor of environmental and justice studies and author of the just released Canada’s Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System (Fernwood, 2007). 

Dispelling the myths

International “Nuclear Power Fact File” Poster Campaign

Check out the posters.  (You can click on the arrows to move through the series.)

Print, post, and otherwise share them around. Dispel the myths lies that global capital likes to promote about nuclear power. 

Oh, and here’s one I adapted a while back.

Nuclear Power is a Dead End
Uranium will only last a few decades – what then?

Nuclear power – like the wasteful consumption of finite reserves of fossil fuels – is at a dead end. This is because the uranium, which is needed to operate nuclear power stations, is a scarce resource. “Fast breeder” reactors, with which it was hoped to stretch out the reserves for some time, have proven to be a failure on technical and commercial grounds. In just a few decades the nuclear power industry’s fuel reserves will run out.  Since oil and natural gas reserves will be used up in the foreseeable future, as well as uranium reserves, the human race can only meet its long-term energy needs by using forms of renewable energy and increasing energy efficiency.

Nuclear Power is a Con Trick
Nuclear energy is dispensable for power supply

In order to claim more importance for nuclear power, the nuclear industry repeatedly overstates nuclear energy’s share of electricity generation. If one examines closely what contribution nuclear energy makes to total worldwide energy consumption, it becomes evident that nuclear power is of practically no significance for mankind’s energy needs. In 2001, nuclear electricity supplied only 2.3 percent of worldwide energy needs. Renewable energy’s contribution to world energy supply is already significantly greater. The human race can easily do without nuclear power’s marginal contribution. The risks of nuclear accidents, production of highly radioactive waste and the costs necessary for its disposal, bear no rational relationship to the slight short-term gain in energy that nuclear power provides. Nuclear power is both hazardous and superfluous.

Nuclear Power Gambles with our Lives
Risk of Worst-Case Scenario Nuclear Incident in Europe: 16 Percent

An accident could happen in any power station as a result of technical defect or human error, releasing large quantities of radioactivity into the environment. According to the official “German Nuclear Power Station Risk Study – Phase B”, a German nuclear power station in operation over some 40 years has a 0.1 percent probability of a worst-case scenario nuclear incident. In the European Union there are more than 150 operational nuclear power stations. The probability of a worst-case scenario nuclear incident is around 16% in Europe. That equates to the chances of throwing a 6 with the first cast of the dice. Worldwide there are some 440 operational nuclear power stations. The probability of a major worst-case scenario incident within the next 40 years is in the region of 40 percent. As the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl shows, a major worst-case scenario nuclear incident can be expected to cause several thousand fatalities.

Nuclear Power is a Waste
No one wants such a legacy

Every nuclear power station converts uranium fuel rods through nuclear fission into highly radioactive nuclear waste. Nuclear waste constitutes a life-threatening hazard because of its radioactive emissions. People, animals and plants need to therefore be shielded from it for several hundreds of thousands of years. Nuclear power stations have been in operation for some 50 years but to date no one knows how nuclear waste can ultimately be stored. Worldwide there is not one safe and secure disposal option for the highly radioactive waste produced by nuclear power stations In the short period of time that nuclear power has been used, it is leaving behind – in the shape of the resultant nuclear waste – a dead hand of historical dimensions for the Earth. If prehistoric man had already had nuclear power stations we would even today still be having to maintain a watch over his waste.

Nuclear Power is a Bomb Factory
Nuclear power promotes proliferation of nuclear weapons

Those countries which have developed and built nuclear bombs in recent decades began with a civil nuclear program. However, these civil programs were often only a cover for their military interests and provided them with access to the technologies and know-how for the design of nuclear bombs. This fact shows that the export and further proliferation of nuclear technology significantly increases the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation.

Nuclear Power Cannot Save the Climate
Climate change can only be prevented by using renewables

The nuclear industry concedes that coal, oil and gas cannot be replaced by nuclear power. In order to replace a mere 10 percent of fossil energy in the year 2050 by means of nuclear power, up to 1000 new nuclear power stations would have to be built (at the moment there are about 440 nuclear power stations worldwide). Construction of these plants would – if ever realised – take several decades. Existing uranium reserves would then be rapidly exhausted. Even the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) admits that nuclear energy could not be expanded swiftly enough to stop climate change. The solution is quite different: various world energy scenarios show that the climate problem can only be solved by the use of renewable forms of energy in conjunction with efficient and economical energy technologies.

Nuclear Power Makes Less Jobs
Jobs? Wind power beats nuclear!

Nuclear power is capital intensive while renewable forms of energy are labour (job) intensive. For example, in Germany in 2002 some 30,000 people were employed in the nuclear industry. On the other hand, more than 53,000 people are presently employed in the German wind power industry alone. Overall, the renewable energies industry in Germany has already secured 120,000 jobs despite its as yet only small share of power generation. Further expansion of renewable energies is adding new jobs on a daily basis. Millions of new jobs could be created worldwide within the space of a few years by expanding the use of renewable forms of energy.

Alternatives to Nuclear Energy
100% of energy from sun, wind, water and biomass

In 2002, the German parliament presented an energy scenario according to which the entire German energy supply requirement could be achieved through the use of renewable forms of energy. If that is possible in Germany – a country with a small geographical area, high population and energy density and a high standard of living – it is possible anywhere. Meanwhile even the energy industry concedes that, by the year 2050, more energy could be provided from renewable sources worldwide than mankind is using today. The energy needs of this earth can be met through a mix of solar thermal power plants and solar electricity stations, wind farms, hydroelectric power stations and the various uses of biomass. In order to restrict growth of the energy requirement, economical energy technologies must come into play. Added to this, the rapid expansion of a world solar energy industry is an important step towards preventing wars over scarce resources such as oil, gas and uranium.

Shut down nuclear power plants.

Harper nuking Canada

Begin forwarded message:


Subject: [Rad-waste] Unresolved questions remain about environmental implications and costs. (nuke waste)

 

Nuclear energy endorsement may be linked to tar sands and climate change pressure

Unresolved questions remain about environmental implications and costs.

Ottawa, June 18, 2007 ­ Why is the minority Conservative government proceeding on nuclear energy at a time when it is fighting to regain public support after a difficult spring?

Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn announced Friday the Harper government’s endorsement of nuclear power and its approval of going ahead with storing high-level radioactive waste underground.

“Really, what this will allow is a permanent storage and a deep geological depository,” Lunn said. “This is an important decision for the government of Canada. As you know, the nuclear industry is very, very important.”

For years, the lack of long-term disposal plans has hobbled the nuclear industry, which has lobbied heavily for burying waste deep. Canadians, however, have always said no when asked to have nuclear waste disposal sites in their communities. At the news conference, Lunn dismissed concerns raised by environmentalists about the risks of nuclear energy as well as economic concerns about safe storage plans.

“This is just the beginning of a long process but they (the industry) will be able to begin that process today. It will allow the fuel to be retrieved as technology moves forward and, more importantly, allow it to be monitored continuously as it’s going through the storage process.”

The announcement makes sense for three key corporate sectors: tar sands, nuclear and construction/development. With the government under pressure to do something about greenhouse gas emissions related to the growth of oil extraction in the Alberta tar sands, nuclear seems an ideal option.

In the June 8, 2007 issue of Executive Intelligence Review, Rob Ainsworth, of the arch-right-wing Canadian LaRouche Youth Movement reports, as have others, of “a project in the Alberta tar sands to construct two 1,100-megawatt reactors, providing power to the area, as well as heat and steam for industrial purposes.” It takes an enormous amount of energy to extract oil from tar sands, and nuclear is been touted as a way to greatly reduce the amount of oil burned to support the process.

Every aspect of nuclear power development is both enormously expensive for governments and profitable for the corporations involved. “Most of the top engineering and heavy construction firms serve the energy sector in one form or another,” writes Vance Cariaga in Investor’s Business Daily. “Some go straight to the wellhead by offering design and management services for oil and gas production. Others build hydrocarbon processing plants, liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and nuclear power facilities.”

The licensing of more reactors would also be a great boon, at potentially greater public expense, to Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd, which has received subsidies of $17.5 billion over 50 years, according to the Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout.

The Conservatives’ announcement allows existing reactor sites to continue accumulating waste indefinitely, and it initiates a search for an “informed community” willing to host a “deep repository” for burial of wastes. It will also explore moving wastes to a central location for temporary, shallow underground storage and recycling of nuclear fuel.

As Susan Riley writes in today’s Ottawa Citizen, “Apart from the experimental nature of the proposed solution, many hurdles remain ­ notably, finding a community desperate enough to become a nuclear dumping ground. It has been long supposed that some remote northern town would be the lucky winner, given the technological preference for disposing of the waste deep in the Canadian shield. But recent research suggests the sedimentary rock underlying much of southern Ontario would also be suitable. That said, the prospect of a bidding war between Oakville and Rosedale appears unlikely.”

With these plans, the Harper government has made an unequivocal commitment to nuclear power and ignores difficult issues of radioactive wastes that have never been resolved by scientists or the Canadian public. Nuclear power remains vulnerable to human carelessness, as well as deliberate acts of terrorism or other sabotage. Even the best-designed radioactive waste repository will leak and expose future generations to radiation. The federal environmental assessment panel concluded in 1998 that from a social perspective, the safety of deep geological disposal has not been adequately demonstrated, has never been officially contradicted or disproved.

“From a technical perspective, safety of the AECL concept has been on balance adequately demonstrated for a conceptual stage of development, but from a social perspective, it has not,” the report stated. “As it stands, the AECL concept for deep geological disposal has not been demonstrated to have broad public support.”

Nuclear power has left unresolved environmental problems in Canada. Uranium mining has killed Saskatchewan lakes. Processing uranium has created a permanent toxic legacy in the town of Port Hope, Ontario. CANDU reactors routinely release radioactive carbon dioxide and radioactive water contaminated with tritium during their operations, polluting air and water and jeopardizing human health, as confirmed last week in a report commissioned by Greenpeace Canada.

The government announcement reflects recommendations in a report by the government-appointed Nuclear Waste Management Association, which is largely made up of nuclear industry or ex-industry personnel. The Sierra Club of Canada’s Emilie Moorhouse said, “Its interests are not public health. Its interests are the promotion of this industry.”

Related individuals, organizations and significant events
Intensity-based targets promote oil industry frame

Harper Conservative vs. Public Values Frame
Long process / Unstoppable expansion
Green / Unresolved public safety questions
Economical / Massive subsidies

Links and sources
Feds back underground disposal of nuclear waste , Canadian Press, June 15, 2007
Susan Riley, Going nuclear by stealth , The Ottawa Citizen, June 18, 2007
The Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility
Canadian LaRouche Youth Movement.
Rob Ainsworth, Will Canada Join the Rail and Nuclear Renaissance? , Executive Intelligence Review, June 8, 2007
Vance Cariaga, Heavy Construction Firms Busy Helping Thriving Energy Sector , Investor’s Business Daily, May 22, 2007
Tyler Hamilton, Hot granite and steam could clean up oil sands, Toronto Star, May 30, 2007
Environmental Assessment Report on High Level Waste Disposal Concept, 1998
Chinta Puxley, Radioactive tritium in Great Lakes puts kids at risk: study , London Free Press, June 13, 2007
Canadian Nuclear Subsidies: Fifty Years of Futile Funding, Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout

Posted: June 18, 2007 at http://www.harperindex.ca/ViewArticle.cfm?Ref=0057

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Unethical investment

From the inbox, something we’ve known for a long time:  nuclear power is too risky to be an ethical investment, according to The Ethical Funds Company.

The Ethical Funds Company says nuclear power is too risky

 

Vancouver, BC – January 19, 2007 – Nuclear power carries too many risks to qualify as a sustainable investment, according to a new report published by The Ethical Funds Company, Canada’s leading manager of socially responsible mutual funds.

 

The Ethical Funds Company has published its review of major nuclear risks in One is Too Many: Considering Nuclear in a Time of Climate Change.

 

“We were motivated to conduct this review by recent claims that nuclear power can serve as a primary strategy for fighting climate change,” said Bob Walker, Vice President, Sustainability, at The Ethical Funds Company. “In our view, these claims do not take into account the significant environmental, social and political challenges and risks associated with nuclear power.”

 

The Ethical Funds Company’s case for excluding nuclear power from its investment portfolios is based upon five issues: 

 

1. Financial sustainability. The electricity industry is currently moving towards privatization of power generation. In order to attract investment on the open market, nuclear power plants will need to compete with other kinds of electricity generation. Cost analysis indicates that despite decades of government support – and in the absence of future subsidies – nuclear power cannot compete with coal, natural gas or some renewable sources of electricity. 

 

2. Nuclear power safety. Analysis indicates that with an expanded industry we can expect as many as four nuclear “core” damage incidents by mid-century. Examples of this type of incident include Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986. One accident, in our view, would be unacceptable.

 

3. Waste disposal. After 20 years of study, the nuclear power industry has not yet resolved the issue of nuclear waste disposal. One of the world’s most advanced sites, Yucca Mountain in Nevada, has been delayed on technical grounds and because of local opposition. 

  

4. Nuclear weapons proliferation. Nuclear weapons capability is connected to nuclear power capability. Governments and nuclear strategists acknowledge that an expanded nuclear industry increases the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation. This is a risk, society and future generations should not be asked to bear.

 

5. There are better options. A multi-strategy approach to climate change is now gaining traction among academics, business leaders and policy-makers. This strategy involves using a combination of conservation initiatives, existing renewable energy technologies and carbon capture and storage. Nuclear power need not be part of our future energy mix.

 

“There are technically achievable, more sustainable and less risky options for fighting climate change,” said Walker. “Massive investment in nuclear power could divert resources from these options and leave us with environmental and social challenges for our children and grandchildren to clean up. All these factors continue to make nuclear power as unacceptable to us now, as it was 20 years ago.”

 

 

About The Ethical Funds Company

Launched in 1992, The Ethical Funds Company is Canada’s leading manager of socially responsible mutual funds. In addition to evaluating all investments according to their financial, social and environmental performance and outlook, The Ethical Funds Company promotes corporate accountability – making good companies better – and gives investors a voice in encouraging sustainable business practices.

 

 

For more information, please contact:

 

Bob Walker

Vice President, Sustainability 

The Ethical Funds Company

Tel: 604.714.3833

http://www.ethicalfunds.com/

 

Jane Mitchell 

Public Relations 

The Ethical Funds Company

Tel: 604.714.3843

http://www.ethicalfunds.com

 

®Ethical, and The Ethical Funds Company are registered marks owned by Ethical Funds Inc.

SK NDP & the Big U

That’d be Uranium, not University.  I’ll bet the SK NDP government expects SK taxpayers to be happy with this Globe & Mail report:

A surefire way for mining companies to attract attention and raise cash lately is by being linked to the radioactive metal used to fuel nuclear reactors.

Spot uranium prices have doubled this year, touching $72 (U.S.) a pound this week on speculation of supply shortages when and if new nuclear plants get built as part of what has been dubbed the “nuclear renaissance.”

Investors have responded by throwing cash at anything and everything associated with uranium.

I’ll bet the NDP Old Boys Club (OBC) at the Ledge, will spew on about the increases to the Province’s revenues.  And that’s a good thing, they’ll say.  They’ll say that money will trickle down to the masses through increased spending on health, education, and social programs.  And that’s a good thing, they’ll say.

It doesn’t matter, apparently, that uranium leaves devastation in its wake.  Or that SK uranium continues to kill and maim in the Middle East, that the connection between SK uranium and the military industrial complex exists despite treaties.  Or that there’s no safe place to store the dangerous waste it creates.  Or that there are repeated reports of the ongoing harm it causes plants, animals, water, and people.

The OBC’ll say, Talk to the hand ‘cos the face don’t wanna hear it no more!  Or something like that.

Is it that they’re unclear on the idea that deriving revenue from something that causes such great harm is immoral?  Doesn’t the OBC get that?  Prebble doesn’t count; he’s not a member of the OBC.

The grassroots gets it.  The Party doesn’t.  And Prebble is leaving politics to work with the grassroots he never abandoned.  He seems the only one who knows that it is the grassroots in this province that makes it or breaks it for the NDP.  Watch the provincial Greens make strides in the next provincial election.  A few visits from Elizabeth May will ensure that those who truly care about the environment will vote Green.

Sad to say, but, in its home province, the only hope for the NDP is an upsurge in support for the Liberals at the expense of the Sask Party.  Unless the government introduces proportional representation.  And the chances of either are slim to nil.

With thanks to Jeremy at While the Earth Burns for the lead.