From the Media Co-op, Uranium’s Chilling Effects
Not only is Dale Smith a soft-spoken fisherman and wild rice grower, he is also a dedicated community activist who is taking two of the world’s largest uranium mining companies to court. Smith recently filed a lawsuit together with 38 people and organizations to fight back against a $200 million agreement that he says will effectively muzzle opposition to future uranium mines.
“What I’m seeing and experiencing now is that there’s a silencing,” Smith, a lifelong Métis resident of the northern village of Pinehouse, told The Dominion. “I don’t think people really truly understand the significance of what happened to my community.”
The uranium industry is rapidly expanding its sphere of control in northern Saskatchewan, and the impacts of its widening footprint aren’t limited to the lands and waters. Residents of affected communities are speaking out against an increasing corporate influence that is altering local governance and diminishing opportunities for critical public participation.
Pinehouse residents became very active when the threat of the community becoming a nuclear waste disposal site became real. The Committee for Future Generations worked hard to involve citizens and the greater public in their struggle to exclude Pinehouse from the list of possible locations. And they succeeded. But the Town of Creighton saw the matter in a different light and welcomed the possibility of more jobs in the area. It is on the shortlist.
Regardless where the Nuclear Waste Management Organization decides to dump the waste the question remains, can it be done safely over the course of the waste’s lifetime, which far surpasses the life of any one generation of humans.
From the Committee for Future Generation’s research files regarding the hazards of Nuclear Waste:
Hazards of Nuclear Waste
A Global Threat
Fukushima Fallout Damaged the Thyroids of California Babiesby CHRIS BUSBY
A new study of the effects of tiny quantities of radioactive fallout from Fukushima on the health of babies born in California shows a significant excess of hypothyroidism caused by the radioactive contamination travelling 5,000 miles across the Pacific. The article will be published next week in the peer-reviewed journal Open Journal of Pediatrics.
Counter that with this and one can see how people might be torn:
Ontario nuclear reactor shutdown triggers medical isotope shortage
TORONTO — The Canadian Press
An unplanned shutdown of the aging Chalk River nuclear reactor has the country on the verge of a major shortage of medical isotopes, the president of the Canadian Association of Nuclear Medicine said Friday.
Dr. Norman Laurin said the forced shutdown of production at the Chalk River facility comes at a time when two of the world’s three other major producers of medical isotopes are also out of operation.
The Doctor incorrectly identifies the problem as being the shutdowns. A thorough reading of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility’s documents suggests that the larger problem is AECL. Before nuclear fission was discovered, there were other ways to make the radioisotopes necessary for imaging.
…radio-isotopes have been used in nuclear medicine, industry and scientific research, for a very long time, starting around 1900 — half a century before the first nuclear reactors were built.
At first, the radio-isotopes utilized were naturally-occurring ones such as radium-226, radium-224, radon-222, polonium-210, tritium (hydrogen-3), carbon-14, et cetera. Even today, “radium needles” and “radon seeds” are used to shrink cancerous tumours, and polonium-210 is used in industrial devices to eliminate static electricity. These naturally occurring radioactive substances have nothing to do with the operation of nuclear reactors.
Later, in the 1940s, when the first particle accelerators were built (beginning with the cyclotron of Ernest Lawrence in California) a host of artificial radio-isotopes became available — produced not by the fissioning of uranium, not by neutron bombardment inside a nuclear reactor, but simply by colliding a beam of accelerated subatomic particles with various target materials.
And as Politics’n’Poetry has discussed in the past, other new, non-nuclear ways have since been developed. But the nuclear industry’s stranglehold on the market prevails.
Politics’n’Poetry has discussed the Chalk River facility in the past. Visitors may want to refresh their memories regarding it. Of particular interest is the paper presented by Dr. Gordon Edwards to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, the body that licenses reactors. Have these been addressed? Ask your MP.
It seems there’s a shortage of isotopes every time the aging facility has to shut down. Isn’t it time to invest in alternatives?
Even with the irresponsible Fords hogging the headlines with their right winginess, Toronto City Council managed to do something good! From Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump
City of Toronto Joins Call to Stop Proposed Nuclear Waste Dump beside the Great Lakes
TORONTO, ONTARIO November 14, 2013—A growing number of communities, organizations and citizens are opposing Ontario Power Generation’s plan to build an underground nuclear waste dump (a Deep Geological Repository) approximately 1km from the shore of Lake Huron. Public hearings on the matter were closed on October 30, 2013 by a Joint Review Panel and a Federal government decision is expected in 2014.
Today the City of Toronto unanimously passed Councillor Mike Layton’s motion for a resolution opposing OPG’s proposed nuclear waste repository. Toronto joins Mississauga, Oakville, London, Hamilton and many others organizations, citizens and communities in Ontario, Michigan and Ohio in formally opposing OPG’s plan. ‘It is vitally important to human health, the environment and to the Great Lakes economy that the Great Lakes be protected from the threats of any potential radioactive contamination’ said Councillor Layton, the initiator of the motion. The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, an organization of over 100 Canadian and American cities, including Toronto, is formally opposing OPG’s plan. ‘Today the City of Toronto took action to protect the drinking water of our citizens as well as the 40 million people living in the Great Lakes region. We would strongly encourage OPG to explore alternative sites outside of the Great Lakes Basin’ said Councillor Crawford.
Michigan State Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood and Representative Sarah Roberts, who are rallying the public and Michigan politicians to oppose the nuclear dump, note ‘Placing a permanent nuclear waste burial facility so close to Lake Huron is ill-advised. If a radioactive leak were to occur, it could be devastating to our economies and to our valuable drinking water sources.’
U.S. Congressmen Dan Kildee, Sander Levin, Gary Peters and John Dingell have written a letter to the Joint Review Panel expressing serious concern. U.S. Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow also have urged US Secretary of State John Kerry to ‘encourage the Canadian government to reconsider placing a nuclear waste dump near the shores of Lake Huron.’
‘We are delighted that Canada’s largest city is showing leadership and taking action to protect this irreplaceable fresh water resource’ said Beverly Fernandez, Spokesperson of Stop The Great Lakes Nuclear Dump, a non-profit citizens group that launched a campaign to raise awareness about OPG’s plan and a petition that now has almost 42,000 signatures opposing OPG’s proposal. ‘It absolutely defies common sense to bury the most toxic waste humans have ever produced, that remains lethal and dangerous for 100,000 years, approximately 1 km from the drinking water of 40 million people in two countries,’ Fernandez said.
Stop The Great Lakes Nuclear Dump is a non-profit organization comprised of concerned Canadians who believe that the protection of the Great Lakes from buried radioactive nuclear waste is responsible stewardship, and is of national and international importance. In order to protect our precious natural resource, the Great Lakes, our group believes that radioactive nuclear waste should not be buried anywhere in the Great Lakes Basin. We are urging citizens to sign our online petition and to send a message to the Minister of the Environment to stand up for the protection of the Great Lakes.
London is the largest city in Southwestern Ontario, situatedabout 100 kilometers due east of Sarnia and about 150 kmsouth of Kincardine — where Ontario Power Generation (OPG)wants to dump all of the nuclear waste from all of Ontario’s20 nuclear power reactors (except for the irradiated nuclearfuel) into a Deep Geological Repository (DGR) that is destinedto become, in actual fact, a Deep Underground Dump (DUD).OPG has the stated intention of abandoning the nuclear wastethere, in a limestone/shale formation, less than a mile fromLake Huron. (Mm-mm-good. Lots of water nearby. Just thething for spreading nuclear waste far and wide. Share thewealth, I always say…. Hmmm.)London is a pretty conservative little city, a retirement havenfor many, and it is one of many municipalities that has passeda resolution against the proposed Lake Huron nuclear wastedump. And the London Free Press editorial staff has seldomif ever advocated protesting against anything, which makesthe accompanying article all the more remarkable.–Gordon Edwards.
from: London Free Press
Lakeside nuclear waste a risk worth protesting
It’s our source of drinking water and a natural wonder of the world.
But soon land near Lake Huron could become the host for buried nuclear waste whose radioactive risks would last 100,000 years.
Ontario Power Generation is seeking federal approval to bury enough nuclear waste to fill 80 Olympic-sized swimming pools on the Bruce Power site. Its computer models predict the waste can be safely contained beneath layers of shale and limestone 700 metres below ground and one kilometre from the lake.
Kincardine and other nearby communities would be paid $35 million by 2035.
But not everyone shares in the optimistic forecasts of Ontario Power Generation, a company owned by the province that provides about 60% of Ontario’s electricity, much of that through nuclear generating plants.
Environmental groups point out the Great Lakes were formed by glaciers only 10,000 years ago so it’s problematic predicting what will happen to them the next 100,000 years, whether seismic forces powerful enough to create the lakes might someday rip them apart.
Even if shale and limestone make a solid vault, environmentalists ask about the shafts that would be bored through them to place the nuclear waste — can those shafts be effectively plugged?
Taking the questions together, at their core is this critical inquiry: Will burying nuclear waste pose a risk to Lake Huron and all of us who count on the great, natural body of water to sustain us?
That question has sparked a flurry of activity across the border. Both U.S. senators for Michigan, Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin, have sent a letter to United States Secretary of State John Kerry asking him to intervene and demand an inquiry by a panel of Canadian and American scientists set up to protect the Great Lakes, the International Joint Commission.
With so much at stake, it only makes sense that we in Southwestern Ontario look after our backyard.
Do some research.
Write to your MP.
Attend a public meeting set for London Nov. 20 at the Central Library.
Don’t take the health of our lake or our need for reliable electricity for granted
Canada Reaches Nuclear Agreement With Uranium-Rich Kazakhstan
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Canada plans to enter a civilian nuclear agreement with Kazakhstan, home to 12 percent of the world’s uranium deposits and an ambitious fuel cycle industry.
Azerbaijani newspaper AzerNews reported Monday that the agreement will be signed in Kazakhstan during a first-ever visit by Canada’s foreign minister this week. Agreements on the peaceful use of nuclear energy between nations typically lay out diplomatic expectations regarding nonproliferation, nuclear safety and other issues. They often precede additional treaties and agreements that lead to trade in nuclear technology and services.
Next year, Canada’s Cameco will begin a feasibility study on a 6,000-tonne-per-year uranium conversion facility at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant, according to the World Nuclear Association. The company also owns 60 percent of Kazakhstan’s Inkai uranium mine. Pending the study’s findings, a joint venture between Cameco and state-controlled Kazatomprom could begin construction of the conversion equipment in 2018.
Kazakhstan holds the world’s second largest uranium reserves, AzerNews reported. The country’s mines accounted for more than 36 percent of the word’s uranium production in 2012, according to the WNA. Kazakhstan also signed an agreement with Areva in 2008 to build a new fuel fabrication facility at Ulba. Bolstered by demand from China’s rapidly expanding reactor fleet, Kazatomprom aims to supply up to one-third of the world’s fuel fabrication market by 2030.
Quebec’s new government has confirmed it won’t proceed with the multibillion-dollar refurbishment of the province’s lone nuclear reactor and will instead shut it down.
A spokesman for incoming premier Pauline Marois gave the confirmation Tuesday, one day after the first public screening of a new film on the reactor that raises questions about its safety for people living nearby.
The government of outgoing Premier Jean Charest decided in 2008 to rebuild the Gentilly-2 nuclear plant at a cost of about $2 billion, but stopped work after the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011.
The PQ has committed since 2009 to close the generating station, which is located in Bécancour, Que., across the St. Lawrence River from Trois-Rivières.
Oh boy, ohboy, ohboy! That’s some hot commodity!
The Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, Radioactive Waste Management Associates (Bellows Falls, Vermont), Beyond Nuclear (Takoma Park, Maryland), and the Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination (Michigan) have issued a media release as part of their co-ordinated attempt to block BP’s shipment of radioactive waste through the St. Lawrence Seaway and to Sweden.
Several prominent non-governmental organizations are accusing Bruce Power (BP) of misleading the public, the media and decision-makers about the kind of contamination inside the cargo of 16 radioactive steam generators it plans to ship to Sweden, by neglecting to state that it is mainly plutonium.
BP has applied to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for a licence to transport the radioactive cargo through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway en route to Sweden. CNSC staff has acknowledged that the proposed shipment exceeds by at least 6 times the maximum amount of
radioactivity normally allowed on a single vessel.
BP has trivialized the danger of this proposed shipment by referring to the cargo as “low level radioactivity.” But according to BP’s own figures, about 90 percent of the mass of radioactive material inside the steam generators is plutonium — a highly toxic, long-lived radioactive poison. On its web site, Studsvik – the Swedish company that plans to melt down most of the
radioactive metal and sell it as scrap for use in any number of commercial products – calls the innards of the steam generators “highy radioactive”
“Highly radioactive” seems too mild a phrase for the extremely dangerous nature of this substance. No wonder communities on both sides of the border are organizing to stop this!
The plutonium inside the steam generators gives off very little highly penetrating radiation, and therefore cannot be detected from the outside. But it gives off alpha radiation, which is 20 times more biologically damaging than beta or gamma radiation per unit of energy when deposited in living tissue. Any accidental spill will pose a serious long-lived contamination problem.
“Simple arithmetic shows that the amount of plutonium-239 inside the 16 steam generators is enough, in principle, to give more than 52 million atomic workers their maximum permissible ‘body burden’ of 0.7 micrograms,” said Dr. Marvin
Resnikoff of Radioactive Waste Management Associates in Vermont.
“And if the other plutonium isotopes inside the steam generator (plutonium-238, plutonium-240, plutonium-241 and plutonium-242) are factored in, the number of workers that could be overdosed is doubled,” added Dr. Edwards.
BP’s planned shipment of 1600 tonnes of radioactive waste through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence has been met with concerted opposition from over 100 municipalities and aboriginal communities along the route, as well as from
more than 70 NGOs. In response to this public outcry, CNSC held a public hearing in September with 79 intervenors. The outpouring of concern at that hearing led CNSC to extend the comment period for intervenors to give added input until November 22 — an unexpected and unprecedented development.
Most of the intervenors want Bruce Power to cancel the shipment and return to the original plan as laid down in a 2006 Environmental Assessment : to store the steam generators on site indefinitely as radioactive waste along with all the other radioactive waste materials produced by the Bruce reactors.
“Radioactive waste should be isolated from the human environment, not transported halfway around the world, and certainly not dispersed into consumer products,” said Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear.
I should think that consumer products made from nuked materials would be unacceptable the world over! Shouldn’t they? Wouldn’t they?
Oops! A nuker lost his job as head honcho at Kazatomprom, a state-owned nuke company in Kazakhstan. And there’s a Canuckian connection:
Dzhakishev went on trial in January, charged with stealing 99.8 million tenge (about $679,000) during the opening of the Kazatomprom’s representative office in Vienna. He was ousted as head of the company last May and later arrested on suspicion of embezzling state shares in uranium deposits, including one co- owned by Canada’s Uranium One Inc., by transferring them to offshore companies. An investigation into the charge continues.
It’s an interesting case, to be sure. A series of YouTube vids were investigated.
Kazakhstan’s Prosecutor General’s Office in November ordered a probe into video clips posted on YouTube of Dzhakishev answering investigators’ questions. In the clips, Dzhakishev says his removal from Kazatomprom facilitated an alleged Russian strategy to block the company’s plan to supply nuclear fuel to Japan, consigning Kazakhstan to the role of a supplier of raw materials.
Dzhakishev will spend 14 years in jail, but Mr. Google’s not revealing a thing about the allegations he made regarding the Ruskies’ strategy. Dear Reader, please let me know if you find any more about it.