U.S. firm sheds liability for Canadian nuclear peril

Gee, thanks, Steve.  Our country is so safe with you at the helm.  NOT!!!


From The G&M:


U.S. firm sheds liability for Canadian nuclear peril

Nuclear plant supplier GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy shielding finances from the risks of an accident at a Canadian nuclear station


Martin Mittelstaedt

From Saturday’s Globe and Mail Published on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2009 12:37AM EST

One of the world’s largest nuclear plant suppliers has ordered its Canadian division to hermetically seal itself off from its U.S. parent, going so far as to forbid engineers at the U.S. wing from having anything to do with Canadian reactors.

The move by GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy is spurred by concerns about liability – if an accident at a Canadian plant spreads damage across the border, Americans might be able to sue the parent company. The result is a Canadian company cut off from the technical advances of its parent, a leading player in the industry.

The company also won’t allow any equipment built or designed by the U.S. parent to be used in Canadian reactors for the same reason.

The efforts of private sector companies in the nuclear industry to shield their finances from the risk of atomic accidents aren’t well known. GE Hitachi revealed its precautions earlier this month at a parliamentary committee reviewing a bill that proposes raising insurance coverage for victims of a nuclear power plant mishap to $650-million from $75-million.

GE Hitachi favoured the increase, saying the existing insurance level is so low it believes U.S. judges would scoff at it and allow U.S. courts to hear lawsuits seeking damages in connection with accidents that happened across the border.

That would put GE, with annual revenue of $180-billion (U.S.), at risk of becoming a juicy target for liability lawsuits if components from the U.S. parent company were found to be involved in causing the incident. “From a shareholder point of view, that’s a big concern,” Peter Mason, president of GE Hitachi’s Canadian arm, said in an interview.

GE Hitachi said is not acting to isolate its Canadian subsidiary beyond the legal protections usually provided by separate incorporations because nuclear accidents are likely. “The nuclear industry has got a great track record,” Mr. Mason said, adding that the company’s steps have been driven by legal advice and not by Canadian reactor safety concerns. “You sit down with any lawyer and they paint the worst-case scenario, which I think is what environmentalists do as well,” he said.

But Shawn-Patrick Stensil, a spokesman for Greenpeace, said the company’s internal assessment of its financial risks has to be linked to the odds of an accident. “If they’re that scared that they need to hermetically seal the branch plant here in Canada because they’re worried about an accident, it shows they believe it’s a realistic possibility,” he asserted.

In addition to isolating the Canadian branch to protect itself legally, GE Hitachi – along with Babcock & Wilcox Canada Ltd., another major nuclear supplier, and Bruce Power, the operator of two nuclear stations in Ontario – urged the federal government at the hearings to sign the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage. It is an international pact ratified by the U.S. that stipulates legal jurisdiction for a nuclear incident lies only in the courts of the country where the accident occurs.

If Canada were to ratify the convention, it would free companies from cross-border liability worries by preventing U.S. victims of Canadian nuclear fallout from suing over it in their own courts, and preclude Canadians from doing likewise in Canada over damages from a U.S. nuclear station mishap.

Fallout from any accident would be most likely to cross the international boundary along the shores of the Great Lakes, which have 10 U.S. and five Canadian nuclear generating stations.

Mr. Mason said worries over liability were among the reasons GE Hitachi was unwilling to submit a bid on building a new nuclear station under a recent request by the Ontario government. He said Canada isn’t the only country it avoids because of liability concerns. It won’t sell in China for the same reason.

We interrupt no-nukes blogging to bring you this important message:


rabble.ca reports that Jason Kenney has refused British MP, George Galloway, entry into Canada.

Alykhan Velshi, MP Kenney’s Director of Communications… explained that the decision is that of Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), and that Mr. Kenney’s role is only to decide to adhere to or to overturn their decision. He has chosen not to overturn it.

Kenney “has chosen” to adhere to fascism, “suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship.”  Galloway is an outspoken, anti-war advocate and, in Kenney’s mind must be censored, i.e. kept away from his speaking tour throughout Canada.  I guess Kenney, being the war-monger that he is, thinks it’s ok to stifle opposition to war.

Galloway, however, remains polite:

This decision, gazetted in Rupert Murdoch’s Sun, is a very sad day for the Canada we have known and loved – a bastion of the freedoms that supporters of the occupation of Afghanistan claim to be defending.

On a personal note – for a Scotsman to be barred from Canada is like being told to stay away from the family home.

This is not something I’m prepared to accept.

Nor are we, Mr. Galloway, nor are we.  I’ve already fired my missive off to Kenney, with cc’s to Iggy, Layton and Duceppe.  Go and write yours now!

UPDATE:  More here and here.  And pogge’s post, here, is related.

Barriere Lake Solidarity

P’n’P urged support for Barriere Lake a while back, but the comments section there turned into a free-for-all mudsling. Here’s hoping a similar fate does not befall this post.  From the inbox:

From: Barriere Lake Solidarity <barrierelakesolidarity@gmail.com>

[Please forward widely!]

This morning at 7:30am, 70 members of the Algonquin community of Barriere Lake and 30 non-native supporters peacefully blockaded highway 117 in Northern Quebec, while a Christian Peacemaker Team observed the action.

The Government-backed minority faction currently in power had fed information about the blockade plans to the Quebec police, who established a significant presence before the blockade was set up. They issued threats of mass arrest, dismantled the blockades, and followed protesters down the highway in a high-speed chase until the access road to the Barriere Lake reserve, where Algonquins and their supporters are maintaining a presence.

Community spokesperson Marylynn Poucachiche has been arrested for obstruction and mischief and is currently detained.

Once again, the community needs the public to make it clear right now that this treatment is unacceptable, that the Algonquins have suffered enough division at the hands of the government, and that the signed agreements need to be honoured.

On October 6th, the first peaceful blockade of Highway 117 – a tactic of last resort, after months of being ignored or dismissed by the Canadian and Quebec governments – was met with violent repression, including tear-gassing and pain compliance. In the last few weeks, forestry companies were discovered cutting new logging roads without consent from Barriere Lake’s legitimate leadership – a violation of the November 2007 ban on new forestry operations in the Trilateral territory.  Despite decades of struggle and these recent developments, the community refuses to back down.

“Instead of doing the dirty work of the federal government, Quebec should implement its agreements and immediately lobby the federal government to deal fairly with our community,” said Norman Matchewan, a community spokesperson. “Charest’s brutal treatment of our community shows his government has absolutely no respect for the rights of Indigenous peoples, which should be an urgent matter of debate during the provincial election.”

The Algonquins were promising to maintain the blockade until Canada and Quebec committed in writing to honour their agreements and Canada appoints an observer to witness and respect the outcome of a new leadership selection in Barriere Lake in accordance with their Customary Governance Code.

** What you can do right now to help: **

We need people to let the government know that they support the demands Barriere Lake has been fighting for for decades.

Please take 15 minutes to phone or fax a letter, see below for a model letter, or modify and send a sample letter.

You can do that here:.http://barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com/2007/10/blog-post.html

* Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada ( fax: 613-941-6900 )
* Lawrence Cannon, Transportation Minister and MP for Pontiac ( 613 992-2940 Fax: 613 944-9376 )
* Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs ( 819 997-0002   Fax: 819 953-4941 )

Use some of the following points (along with your own):

* Release Marylynn Poucachiche and drop all charges

* The government should immediately cease the use of police repression in lieu of negotiators

* The Federal and Provincial government should honor the agreements they’ve signed with Barriere Lake

* Express support for the Barriere Lake community’s struggle for the right to choose its own leadership

* The federal government should immediately stop interfering in Barriere Lake’s internal affairs

** More information: **

Demands, and a list of groups that have endorsed them:

Video of the October 6th blockade: http://blip.tv/file/1391794

A quick visual introduction to the community:


More information on how to support the Barriere Lake Algonquins:


Sample Letter (to sign and fax)

Re: Algonquins of Barriere Lake

Dear Ministers:

I am writing to you regarding the situation of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake.

First of all, I strongly condemn the use of a police riot squad on October 6, 2008, during a peaceful protest of Algonquin families on Highway 117.

I have seen the disturbing video footage of Algonquin families, including children and elders, being tear-gassed and physically assaulted by the Quebec police for merely asking that duly signed agreements entered into with their First Nation by both the federal and Quebec governments be honoured and that they be permitted to resolve their leadership issues internally without federal interference.

This is clearly a political matter and should be resolved through the use of good faith negotiations not with a police riot squad tear-gassing and physically assaulting peacefully protesting Algonquin families.

I understand the anger and frustration of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake at the unacceptable delays in implementing the duly signed agreements with the federal and Quebec governments.

This will confirm that I fully support the following demands made by the Algonquins of Barriere Lake:

1. That the Government of Canada agree to respect the outcome of a new leadership re-selection process, with outside observers, recognize the resulting Customary Chief and Council, and cease all interference in the internal governance of Barriere Lake.

2. That the Government of Canada agree to the immediate incorporation of an Algonquin language and culture program into the primary school curriculum.

3. That the Government of Canada honour signed agreements with Barriere Lake, including the Trilateral, the Memorandum of Mutual Intent, and the Special Provisions, all of which it has illegally terminated.

4. That the Government of Canada revoke Third Party Management, which was imposed unjustly on Barriere Lake.

5. That the Province of Quebec honour signed agreements with Barriere Lake, including the 1991 Trilateral and 1998 Bilateral agreements, and adopt for implementation the Lincoln-Ciaccia joint recommendations, including $1.5 million in resource-revenue sharing.

6. That the Government of Canada and the Province of Quebec initiate a judicial inquiry into the Quebec Regional Office of the Department of Indian Affairs’ treatment of Barriere Lake and other First Nations who may request to be included.

7. The Government of Quebec, in consultation with First Nations, conduct a review of the recommendations of the Ontario Ipperwash Commission for guidance towards improving Quebec-First Nation relations and improving the policing procedures of the SQ when policing First Nation communities.

I strongly encourage both of your governments to honour the signed agreements made with the Algonquins of Barriere Lake and name negotiators to quickly identify and resolve the differences between the First Nation and your governments.

In closing, you can be sure I will be closely watching the Barriere Lake situation and will not accept police violence and repression as a negotiating tactic by your respective governments.


Collectif de Solidarité Lac Barrière

Ardent Activist Passes On

It is with deep sadness that Politics’n’Poetry reports on the passing of Maisie Shiell, one of Saskatchewan’s longest-serving no-nukes activists. Though I never had the pleasure of meeting Maisie, I have read a lot of her work, some of it posted at ICUCEC. A family member announced her passing to our local no-nukes listserv. It read, in part:

Maisie has fought her last fight and left us to carry on the Message. She wrote a press release to The Citizens of Saskatchewan. She walked to her bed at 9 p.m. May 20th and drew her last breath at 2 a.m. May 21st.

She has challenged me and changed me. Constantly seeking the “Truth.” She never gave in to others expectations.

How the government has handled the mining of the high grade uranium in our province upset her to the end of her life.

And, today, this tribute from Dr. Gordon Edwards:

Maisie was so fierce, so determined, so forceful,
so totally engaged, so rooted in honesty and integrity
that she made industry apologists go white in the
face and reel from the onslaught of her irrefutable facts
and her unwavering focus on what is right and what is wrong.

Maisie was so sweet, so kind, so smart, so enthusiastic,
so admirable, so unshakably ethical, that even the target
of her pointed finger couldn’t help but recognize
that here was a superb human being.

Talk about emotional integrity.

Maisie taught us all a lesson in what it
means to be fully committed to a just cause.

She also earned our undying love and respect.

Sleep well, Maisie.

Gordon Edwards

Indeed, sleep well, Maisie.

Confirmed: The SPP is a plan by and for the corporate masters

See short update, below.

Thanks for passing this nugget along, Larry! Not only is it a non-democratic document created in secrecy but it is now confirmed to be created and implemented for business, which we all knew, anyway. But still, it’s nice to have that validation, innit?

CLC/CTC > It’s time to move from candid admission to a people’s agenda

April 23, 2008

All cosmetic gloss of democracy vanished at the New Orleans Summit when the president of Mexico most candidly summarized his day by saying: “This morning, the Business Leaders gave us a specific agenda to follow . . . We are here to support them through.” [emphasis mine]

If anyone out there still had doubts about the true nature of the Security Prosperity Partnership (SPP), this honest confession sets the record straight. The Prime Minister of Canada, the President of the United States and the President of Mexico take their orders from big business. The results: the well-being of working families in our three countries and Canadian control of Canada’s petroleum resources, are on the chopping block. Harper, Bush and Calderón are business’ agents.

UPDATE: Those who need to learn a bit more about the SPP ought to take a look at Creekside, where Alison, the Goddess of Opposition to the SPP, has posted repeatedly about its failings.

The Joint Statement by the leaders is here: and the juicy piece, from which the above is taken, is here.

Well, Canada, what now?

So, the Liberals stood up Canadian women for a pink party at Stornoway.  The NDP has a turncoat who needs to be removed from the party.  And the anti-choice crowd is partying like they have not partied since before the Morgentaler decision of 1988.  Me, I don’t feel too festive.

I am angry.  I am angry with Parliament, for all the stupidity they’ve engaged in over the past 2+ years, but exceedingly so for this latest attack on women.  It could send a woman into a tailspin.  Fortunately, I’m stronger than that and have bounced back quickly and with more gusto than before.  I am angry with myself, too, for not taking seriously this attack by the anti-choicers, for not catching the pattern of Harper’s attacks.  Never underestimate Steve Harper is the lesson I have learned here.  He is as mean and scary as they come.

So, peeps, what’s next?  How do we take back what is being taken from us?  How do we take back our democracy?

Enemies of Women’s Rights

This is for Stephen Harper, Stephane Dion, and Peter Stoffer, the three obvious enemies of women’s right to reproductive freedom, as indicated by their vote — or the lack thereof — on Bill C-484 in Parliament today.

Middle Finger for Dion

Who was it who said, Polite women seldom make history?

Updated to add Stoffer, an NDP MP, to the list.  Here’s hoping he’s disciplined…

Chalk River: Crisis ‘foreseeable and preventable’

UPDATE! I’m out of town and not blog-reading.  Here’s updated material from JimBobby and TGB which I read *after* I posted what’s below!

It becomes clearer, with each bit of information, that Parliament was seriously hoodwinked on the Chalk River issue by Harper. From the Inbox:

—- Original Message —–

From: Gordon Edwards
Sent: Friday, January 18, 2008 1:47 PM
Subject: Isotope suppliers could have met 250% of world market needs
Clarification on isotopes:
It is important to realize that technetium-99m is not used
for therapeutic purposes but for diagnostic purposes, so
it is completely untrue that “lives” were at risk during the
so-called Chalk River isotope crisis. In fact it was a major
inconvenience and upset hospital schedules considerably,
but it put no lives at risk. And in fact the inconvenience
was avoidable.
Frank von Hippel is a very careful and credible researcher.
In a 2006 article he said that 250% of world demand for
short-lived radioisotopes like molybdenum-99 (the source
material needed for making technetium-99m available) could
be met by the world’s isotope suppliers and that even
without Canada, 100% of demand could be met.
Thus all the talk about a “crisis” was actually foreseeable
and preventable. If AECL and Nordion had plainly informed
their customers that the MAPLE isotope-production reactors
were seven years behind schedule (because those reactors
were seriously flawed in both design and construction) and
that Canadian supply depended on a 50-year old geriatric NRU
reactor that was not up to modern safety standards, then the
customers could have arranged for other suppliers to be prepa-
red to take up the slack. Result: no crisis.