Nuclear Power: Hope or Hoax?

Thanks to Jim Penna for spreading the word that Gordon Edwards’ entire January 2008 talk Nuclear Power – Hope or Hoax?, delivered at the University of Alberta (Edmonton), is now available online from Rainbow Bridge TV in 9 episodes.

And, thanks to mattt @ bastard.logic, we have learned that The Nation has an article challenging the idea that a nuclear renaissance is underway. From What Nuclear Renaissance?:

The notion that nukes make sense and are the version of green preferred by grown-ups is being conjured by a slick PR campaign. The Nuclear Energy Institute–the industry’s main trade group–has retained Hill and Knowlton to run a greenwashing campaign.

Part of their strategy involves an advocacy group with the grassroots-sounding name the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition. At the center of the effort are former EPA chief Christine Todd Whitman and former Greenpeace co-founder turned corporate shill Patrick Moore. (Moore is also a huge champion of GMO crops, which are notorious for impoverishing farmers in developing economies and using massive amounts of pesticides.) The industry also places ghostwritten op-eds under the bylines of scientists for hire.

All the major environmental groups oppose nuclear power. But the campaign is having some impact at the grassroots: the online environmental journal Grist found that 54 percent of its readers are ready to give atomic energy a second look; 59 percent of Treehugger.com readers feel the same way. In other words, people who understand climate change are feeling downright desperate.

But even the Oz-like magic of corporate spin, public subsidies and presidential speechifying have their limits. In late December the man whose name is synonymous with sound money turned his back on nuclear power.

Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Nuclear Energy Company scrapped plans to build a plant in Payette, Idaho, because no matter how many times its managers ran the numbers (and they spent $13 million researching it), they found that it simply made no sense from an economic standpoint.

An Open Letter to Albertans

This, from the Inbox, an open letter from Dr. Jim Harding, author of Canada’s Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System (Fernwood, 2007).

FYI and use. Also please forward to others. Cheers, Jim Harding
Subject: OPEN LETTER TO ALBERTANS

OPEN LETTER TO ALBERTANS – from a Saskatchewan Neighbour

I have just been to speak at community events discussing nuclear power in Peace River, Grand Prairie, Whitecourt, Edmonton and Red Deer, and will soon return to Lethbridge and Calgary. I have learned much about Alberta and its vibrant grass roots and, being there the week before the provincial election, I learned much about your reputation for having a one-party political system. And I learned more about the ecological and human impacts of the tar sands than I reckoned for. It was disappointing to see such a low voter turnout when AB is facing energy and the environmental challenges with such Canada-wide and global implications.

It was a bit like coming home, for I lived in Calgary as a child when my father worked for the Calgary Stampede. I would like to let Albertans know what I learned as I connected the dots on the nuclear controversy in your province.

1. DO THE REASONS GIVEN FOR ALBERTA GOING NUCLEAR MAKE SENSE?
ENERGY ALBERTA

When Energy Alberta Corporation (EAC) floated its trial balloon about building two AECL nuclear power plants near Peace River, it initially said the electricity was for the tar sands. It even said it already had a buyer for 70% of the electricity, a claim it later had to retract. After this PR kafuffle EAC did a 180-degree turnabout and said all its electricity would be sold into the AB grid. Tar sands companies confirmed they didn’t need the electricity, as the potential for co-generating electricity from waste heat in the tar sands (and elsewhere in AB) is largely untapped.
BRUCE POWER ONTARIO

Ontario’s nuclear company Bruce Power has now bought Energy Alberta’s option, meaning money passed hands without any energy being created. Bruce Power is a consortium of the uranium giant Cameco, Trans-Canada Corporation – which is into pipelines, and a few other interests. Bruce Power continues with the claim that nuclear power is needed to make up for a projected shortfall in AB’s electrical supply over the coming decade, although it also says it will explore using excess electricity to produce hydrogen to help process bitumen in the tar sands..

When the more reasonable ways to deal with electrical demand and supply are disclosed (see below), some expect Bruce Power will again shift ground and argue the excess nuclear-generated electricity can be exported into the U.S. market, adding to AB’s lucrative non-renewable energy export economy. The sceptics note that a transmission line to Montana is already in the works.

There are several problems with this export scenario. First, sending electricity along expensive grids for distant end uses is not at all efficient, though it may be profitable for some, perhaps Trans-Canada. The way to conserve electricity and reduce dangerous emissions is to produce it as close to the end use as possible. Second, AB is apparently not ideally located for accessing the larger U.S. grid, which is why we sometimes hear (from those who wish to become the mega-exporters) that Saskatchewan would be a better location to access the “hungry” eastern U.S. market. This would be equally irrational in terms of energy efficiency and environmental preservation. Third, if co-generation from the tar sands and elsewhere were systematically developed it would produce excess electricity for the AB grid. Some are already concerned about the impact of this excess electricity on the provincial market, without even considering adding nuclear.
AREVA FRANCE

The French nuclear state monopoly Areva is also lobbying for nuclear power in AB, especially at Whitecourt. It recently argued that AB needs nuclear power to maintain economic growth from the tar sands when natural gas runs out by 2030. (Sometimes the nuclear industry also tries to make homeowners think they’ll “freeze in the dark” because the tar sands will use up all the natural gas.) The natural gas industry has responded that this is nonsense: that they are working on efficiencies (combined cycle) and, anyway, new gas reserves will come on stream when the price rises. While the National Energy Board (NEB) has created scenarios of Canada having to import natural gas by 2030, this assumes we will continue to be an energy export branch-plant to the U.S. Also, the NEB scenario was created before a recent gas find in B.C.’s Big Horn basin, which is as large as in the whole McKenzie Delta. And remember, natural gas has the lowest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of all the fossil fuels and is therefore considered one of the transition fuels to a sustainable society.

2. WILL ALBERTA NEED NUCLEAR POWER BECAUSE OF A COMING SHORTAGE OF ELECTRICITY?

What about the nuclear industry argument that their toxic hardware is needed to address a future shortfall of electrical supply. AB’s electrical grid presently has nearly a 12,000 Megawatt (MW) capacity. (This means it could produce this much electricity if working at 100%). Bruce Power and Areva parrot projections by the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) that if the present increases in electrical demand continue there will be a shortfall of 5,000 MW by 2017, and then argue this will necessitate nuclear power.

EFFICIENCY, CO-GENERATION, GEO-THERMAL AND RENEWABLES

The Nuclear Energy Agency projected that 1,000 Gigawatts (GW) of nuclear electricity capacity would be needed in the world by 1990. The actual amount was one-quarter of this, or 260 GW. The nuclear industry regularly inflates future electrical demand as an economic growth strategy, and in the case of Ottawa-owned AECL, as a way to maintain government bailouts. And they are typically wrong, for a shortfall of electrical supply can easily be handled by a four-prong strategy that is much better for the environment and pocket-book. First, energy efficiency and conservation can greatly reduce demand for electricity (demand side management or DSM). Such energy savings can also be designed to reduce the electrical capacity required to meet peak loads. Second, waste heat in AB which can be used to co-generate electricity (especially in the tar sands) is likely the most underused in all of Canada. Third, geo-thermal electricity from all the geological heat along the mountain ranges hasn’t been seriously considered, and it has been suggested that interested parties can’t locate drilling crews because they are all tied up in the tar sands boom. And finally, even if somewhat unintended, AB is already helping lead the way towards a renewable energy path.

Renewable energy capacity in AB is already above 1,600 MW. (This includes 900 MW hydro and nearly 200 MW from biomass). Wind power is already at 545 MW capacity and will soon grow to 1,000 MW, which is equivalent to a large nuclear power plant. Renewables will then be 15% of the AB grid capacity, and only starting. Conservative estimates are that 3,000 MW of wind power is quite realistic. Some estimates go as high as 8,000 MW. By itself wind power could make up any shortfall in AB’s electrical supply, but that will be totally unnecessary if efficiency and co-generation are systematically implemented.

Then there is the potential of decentralized solar electricity. Since Germany decided on a phase-out of nuclear power in 2000 it is phasing in 1,000 MW of solar electricity a year. AB homes, buildings and farms can now be designed to be net producers of electricity that can go back into the public grid. When such an integrated sustainable energy strategy is in place across Canada the dirtiest coal-fired plants can be phased out, and we can accelerate the decommissioning of dangerous nuclear power plants.

3. WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?

Coal presently accounts for nearly half of AB’s electricity capacity (5,840 MW). While coal-fired plants emit the largest amount (45%) of GHGs in AB, planned tar sands’ expansion are likely going to make it AB’s major source of these. In any case, nuclear power is not being promoted in AB to replace coal plants. And nuclear power to expand tar sands production would just perpetuate the major role of heavy oil in creating global warming. Producing heavy oil creates 3 times the GHGs as does conventional oil, and the tar sands are expanding at such a rate that they could produce 3 times today’s GHGs within a decade. These emissions would make AB (and, if developed by then, SK) tar sands the world’s greatest single source of GHGs, outpacing even Harper’s much scaled-down emission reduction targets after he scuttled the Kyoto Accord. It would certainly be ironic if Harper – with his roots in the Reform-Alliance Party backlash to Trudeau’s National Energy Plan – ended up clashing with AB over its growing GHGs.

This all shows the absurdity of the claim that nuclear power is a way to reduce AB’s GHGs. Replacing natural gas with nuclear-generated electricity would somewhat reduce GHGs in the tar sands’ production process. However, if you calculate the GHGs produced all along the nuclear fuel cycle, from uranium mining to enriching to nuclear plant construction-decommissioning and nuclear waste management (especially as the grade of uranium-bearing ore starts to lower), the GHGs begin to approach those of the fossil fuels. Co-generation would create similar GHG reductions without creating the additional GHGs along the nuclear fuel system.

Though expanding nuclear is not an answer to global warming, it would increase the radioactive contamination of the planet. This would hardly be fair for the generations to come. And let’s not forget the expansion of nuclear power is linked to nuclear proliferation and the threat of more nuclear weapons being built, tested and used. Depleted uranium (DU) weapons linked to ecological contamination and rising cancer rates have been used in the Middle East since 1991.

Nuclear is far more expensive than the practical and safer alternatives. When pro-nuclear biases are removed from the Ontario Power Authority’s (OPA) 2005 cost-comparisons, nuclear is closer to 21 cents a kWhr, compared to natural gas and wind costs of around 7-8 cents. Photoelectric (solar) will soon be cost comparative with gas and wind. Co-generation, coming around 4 cents, continues to be the least-cost alternative for reducing GHGs. Energy efficiency that reduces demand for electricity has seven times the “bang for the buck” in reducing GHGs as producing more electricity capacity. So it’s pretty clear which is the responsible way for AB to go.

4. SO WHY IS ALBERTA BEING TARGETED BY THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY?

The Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) remains extremely dependent on federal government handouts and bailouts, and the Harper minority government has substantially increased the level of subsidies over previous Liberal governments. Harper’s 2008 budget provided yet another $300 million in subsidies to the AECL, in part to help it get ready to come to AB. In September 2007 the federal Auditor General estimated it will take more than $1 billion for the AECL to stay in the nuclear research and sales market. It would take $850 million over ten years just to replace, refurbish and clean up the Chalk River infrastructure, and another $400 million (on top of the $300 million already spent) to complete the design work for the reactor (ACR-1000) proposed for AB. Also, two hundred and sixty ($260) million dollars will be required to partly clean up Port Hope, Ontario where nuclear fuel is processed for export and fuel rods are fabricated for Ontario’s Candus. And on and on it will go until this industry is finally phased-out.

THE SASAKATCHEWAN AECL CAPER

You can see the AECL’s dilemma. They desperately need sales to justify these huge costs to the Canadian taxpayer. After decades of subsidies they totally failed to establish a viable export market for their traditional Candu design, the kind built in Ontario. So, in the late 1980s a private consortium called Western Project Development Association (WPDA), not unlike AB’s EAC and also backed by the AECL, came knocking at our door in SK, trying, but failing, to convince us we needed their toxic technology. They told us we’d have a shortfall of electricity, and risk freezing in the dark by 2000, but that they could save us from such a fate with a new 450 MW nuclear reactor (the Candu-3 design). They told us we’d need another such reactor by 2004. And, of course, they told us SK businesses would benefit by creating a Candu-3 export industry that the industrializing-developing world apparently craved. Business and professional groups who thought they’d profit quickly got on side. Seventy-five million dollars later, with not one Candu-3 built anywhere, the AECL left and went back to Ontario to consider their next survival plan. (They also tried to sell us their Slowpoke reactor, which cost us all $45 million to no end.) In 2008 your sceptical SK neighbours continue to get reliable electrical supply and we don’t have any nuclear power plants.

Does this sound familiar?

Having failed in the export market and with this SK caper, the AECL is coming to Canada’s “energy superpower” with a new ploy. Initially using the tar sands to get their foot in the door, they will use federal subsidies, federal-provincial Conservative party connections, and promotions about lucrative economic development within targeted regions and towns (e.g. Peace River, Whitecourt) to try to convince enough AB people that you have no alternative to nuclear power. This is their version of a “self-fulfilling prophecy”.

The AECL might survive a little longer if this strategy were to work. The Bruce Power consortium would profit. Cameco would increase sales in the uranium bull market. Trans-Canada could benefit from the construction of massive electrical grids, as it already does from natural gas pipelines. Meanwhile SNC-Lavalin in partnership with G.E., and France’s Areva, are waiting in the wings to get a bargain basement deal if (when) Harper privatizes the AECL. And the taxpayer would continue paying extra for any such nuclear expansion and these prospective buy-outs.

5. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE BRING THE NUCLEAR WASTE ISSUE INTO THE LIGHT?

As AB people come to understand full costing, and that they are already paying for nuclear through back door subsidies, they will become more sceptical of nuclear power. Realizing that their children will be paying for decommissioning and endless nuclear waste storage, with none of the benefits of electricity, could be the clincher.

Canadians have lots of common sense about nuclear power. Eighty-two (82 %) of us don’t believe nuclear power should expand unless the nuclear waste problem is fully resolved. This involves addressing the threat to future generations from long-lived nuclear wastes (spent fuel): the most toxic of all substances Plutonium-239, with a half-life of 24,400 years; Iodine-129 with a half-life of 17 million years; and Carbon-14 with a half-life of 5,600 years, which if leaked would get into the global carbon cycle. (The half-life is how long it takes for half the material to decay into other, also dangerous, radioactive elements.)

The Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA), AECL, Cameco, Bruce Power and the industry-run Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) have engaged in a decade-long “public acceptance” campaign to get Canadians to believe that industry and government will come up with some solution to the accumulating nuclear waste. Trust us again, they say. Their “plan” is about putting the burden of nuclear wastes on the next and then the next generation, as past nuclear proponents have done to us. It is called “adaptive phased management”, which means “no plan.”

THE GLOBAL NUCLEAR ENERGY PLAN (GNEP)

When George Bush created the GNEP in 2006 he was looking for a way to get uranium-producing countries like Canada to take back nuclear wastes. (He also wants to keep a monopoly on nuclear technology, an admission that nuclear power leads to nuclear weapons and that the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is ineffectual.) The U.S. nuclear waste program at Yucca Mountain, Nevada is not going well from an economic, political or ecological standpoint. Australia’s neo-conservative Howard government came on side with Bush, but the electorate saw through the hidden agenda and Howard has been defeated and replaced. Now only the Harper government is onside with Bush’s plan, but Harper’s Ministers have been muzzled from talking about this because of its sensitivity with an upcoming federal election. Meanwhile, since the Chalk River medical isotope fiasco, Harper has replaced the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) head with someone who will pre-license and fast-track nuclear power in AB. Apparently, if the regulator stands in the way of profitable energy growth, diminish its authority.

Since Canada (SK) is the major world producer of uranium, we are the main candidates for taking back nuclear wastes under the GNEP. And being the front-end uranium-supplier of both the U.S. and French integrated commercial-military nuclear systems, it is no coincidence that the AECL wants to redesign its reactor so that it can use slightly enriched uranium (SEU) and spent fuel from the U.S. and French light water reactors. It is no accident that both AECL-backed Bruce Power and France’s nuclear giant Areva are knocking on AB’s door in the hope that its energy-driven boom will provide the cover for building a nuclear plant.

While there would be profits to be made, the real bonanza would be creating a technological rationale and location for bringing nuclear wastes to Canada. If a reactor was built on the Peace River or further south there would immediately be a build-up of nuclear wastes on site, and AB would then “qualify” as a place to send nuclear wastes from Ontario, the U.S. and abroad. Bruce Power is building up nuclear wastes at its Ontario reactors for which it has no permanent dump. And Cameco (part of Bruce Power) along with the AECL has been lobbying hard for over a decade for nuclear wastes to be brought back to the northern areas where uranium mining occurs, promoting the deep burial of nuclear wastes in the Cambrian Shield.

The nuclear industry has always expanded incrementally through half-truths and outright lies (e.g. about cancer-causing radiation, wastes, weapons, costs, etc.). Once you address all their promotional falsities you have to look deeper for their motives. In AB’s case it’s mostly about the wastes.

PROTECTING THE PEACE RIVER BASIN

With such plentiful efficiency and renewable energy alternatives and the catastrophic ecological challenges of the tar sands already at hand it’s hard to see why populist AB, with all its suspicions about government bailouts, would want to be cajoled into the nuclear path. Perhaps the real clincher, however, will be water. With the Athabasca River and those downstream already under assault from the tar sands, why would anyone want to risk having the Peace River system and the rich agricultural land of the region contaminated with tritium (radioactive hydrogen) and other radioactive isotopes? It seems unlikely that Lac Cardinal, a shallow and ecologically-important wetlands system that I visited, could handle the cooling of two huge reactors, as proposed by Bruce Power. Heats waves and droughts in France and the U.S. that will get worse with climate change have already forced nuclear plants to shut down or scale down. So much for this being a secure energy system. The reason why Energy Alberta and Bruce Power have not openly targeted the Peace River system for cooling nuclear plants is because this would awaken all those who depend on this amazing, sacred river system and water basin. I am certain that when the Indigenous and Settler people who depend upon the Peace River finally do awaken to the threat, the push towards sustainable energy will ratchet up in AB.

If AB makes the right choice and “votes” for sustainability and the protection of water, air and land, it will play a crucial role in helping Canada move in the right direction. The dangers and challenges of the tar sands clearly haunt the AB conscience. I can’t see why any reasonable and caring person would want to take on the added burdens of another ecologically destructive energy system, when there are such positive and practical alternatives.

So I ask you to please do what is right for future generations and us. Do it for our children and their children, and for the natural eco-systems we are finally learning to understand, respect and protect. Please keep AB nuclear free.

Yours Sincerely, Jim Harding, Ph.D.*

March, 2008

*Author of Canada’s Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System (Fernwood, 2007). This is a non-profit publisher and all author royalties go to support local groups working for a sustainable society.

Nukes too costly

From the inbox, something Premier Brad Wall might want to think about as he and his minions consider Saskatchewan’s nuclear future. The only way the nuke industry makes money is through government subsidies, i.e. taxpayers’ money. Is this where we want our taxes spent, on an industry that is not economically sustainable?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Michael Mariotte
January 28, 2008
301-270-6477

NIRS STATEMENT ON CANCELLATION OF IDAHO NUCLEAR REACTOR

Today, MidAmerican Nuclear Energy Company announced that it is cancelling
its plans to build a new nuclear reactor in Payette County, Idaho.

The company cited the poor economics of nuclear power for its decision,
saying that its “due diligence process has led to the conclusion that it
does not make economic sense to pursue the project at this time.”

MidAmerican was planning on Warren Buffett’s Berkshire/Hathaway company to
provide major financing for the project. Buffett is a major owner of
MidAmerican.

Which leads NIRS to the obvious conclusion: if Warren Buffett cannot figure
out how to make money from a new nuclear reactor, who can?

“This cancellation is the first of the new nuclear era,” said Michael
Mariotte, executive director of Nuclear Information and Resource Service,
“but it won’t be the last. Even before any new nuclear construction has
begun in the U.S., cost estimates have skyrocketed and are now 300-400%
higher than the industry was saying just two or three years ago.”

“The extraordinary costs of nuclear power, coupled with its irresolvable
safety and radioactive waste problems, killed the first generation of
reactors, and are going to end this second generation as well. But it would
be tragedy if the U.S. wasted any money on new reactors, when resources are
so desperately needed to implement the safer, cheaper, faster, and
sustainable energy sources needed to address the climate crisis,” Mariotte
added.

–30–

Thanks, Sandra.

Fiacco Lies on a Prairie-to-Ports Gateway & an Inland Port

Veering ever-so slightly off my no nukes agenda to slip in an I told you so.  Mayor Fiacco would not reveal the plans for this before the municipal election and now that he is safely back in office he can reveal his real plan.  Today P’n’P learns of the plan for a Prairie-to-Ports Gateway & Inland Port which is part of the NAFTA Highway, the Security and Prosperity Agreement, the ecological devastation called the Tar Sands, and North American Union.

This gateway involves moving the rails from central Regina to the west side where industrial development is taking place and will likely increase dramatically without our approval.  It will increase land and air traffic which means more air and noise pollution.  It will move us closer to BushCo’s & HarperCo’s dreams of not only continental unity but also a continental currency.  At a time when we need to be doing our utmost to curb green house gas emissions, our City is promoting increased consumption and an increased use of fossil fuels!

Thanks for what amounts to lies, Mayor Pat, and for selling us out to the corporatist extremists. We’ll see you at the polls in less than two years.  And we will remember.

Prairie-to-Ports Gateway & Inland Port

Prairie-to-Ports Gateway & Inland Port

The Prairie-to-Ports Gateway & Inland Port, or “Prairie Gateway” is a virtual combination of services and a cluster of numerous transportation, distribution and assembly players working and investing together. This is the best way to maximize the existing transportation assets across an integrated region, with many transportation, production, storage, trans-loading, assembly, product identification and research resources working as a team. This base will draw additional investment, labour and technology as a catalyst for a host of new ancillary business service companies.

What is an Inland Port?

An Inland Port is defined less on the physical aspects of one location and more on the intelligent logistics and coordination of a multitude of services.  It has the following qualities:

  1. Is an organization or coalition made up of key transportation stakeholders
  2. Serves the regional trading area businesses and economy
  3. Facilitates growth for both import and export trade logistics
  4. A mechanism for cooperation, marketing the regions trade processing abilities
  5. Provides national coordination and collaboration among ocean port users

Why Saskatchewan?

Like the Kansas City Smart Port regional model, the Prairie-to-Ports Gateway & Inland Port will be anchored by “connecting” the three major cities of Saskatoon, Moose Jaw and Regina. This will promote regional asset and system optimization. It is proposed that Saskatchewan’s central continental location and lower costs would be of sufficient appeal to attract international investor attention. The high level of cooperation among the principal transportation centres of Saskatchewan, through the tri-cities will generate distinct advantages, including:

  1. Integrate and maximize the unique sub-regional advantages of each community to generate even greater synergies than each community could achieve by working separately;
  2. Provide a value-enhancing alternative to the various less coordinated and smaller scale and scope terminals, hubs or trans-loading sites existing in other parts of Canada;
  3. Foster freight movement productivity through modernization of regulatory reform (i.e. highway road weight limits) and preservation of freight-corridor efficiency on road, rail and air.

Nuclear Outlaw: Open discussion

Michael Burns, the CEO of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) has resigned. He was the fellow who assured the House of Commons that before the reactor at Chalk Lake was up and running it would be safe.” Now that he’s decided to leave, does it mean that the Chalk River facility is not safe? Nearby residents are wondering if they should leave town.

Harper’s assurances that there will be no nuclear accident are ringing rather hollow right now. I can’t help but wonder if Parliament has been hoodwinked. I wonder if Parliamentarians are feeling the same way. AECL shut itself down. Someone suggested that AECL lied to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), saying that the upgrades (a condition of license renewal) had been completed. CNSC kept it shut down because the upgrades had not been completed. Harper blamed the CNSC for keeping it shut down, grilling Linda Keen in the House as though she was wrong for doing the job she is supposed to do.

So, one of my questions is WTF is Harper up to, besides the obvious partisan stuff? The other is, how do we encourage research into alternatives for nuclear isotopes and begin the move away from what could quickly become a nuclear incident on Canadian soil?

Please chime in!

(Go here and here and here and here and here if you are looking for additional information.)

 

Harper consults Homer

 

 

Bedfellows: Oil, Gas & Uranium

 

It just keeps getting more and more interesting, how these pronukers and oil barons collude and collaborate. I found the following buried in a Globe and Mail article:

 

 

Bruce Power Corp. announced that it has agreed to purchase assets of Energy Alberta Corp., a small company that has proposed building a reactor in Alberta to supply electricity and, possibly, hydrogen.

 

Bruce Power said it would forge ahead with plans to build a Candu reactor near Peace River, Alberta, with the launch of a full environmental assessment.

Isn’t it just so convenient that the Energy Alberta Corporation (EAC) is being consumed by the Bruce Power Corporation (BPC)? EAC is the little unknown Alberta company that introduced itself in 2005 with a mission to “to provide clean, emission-free energy, utilizing advanced and proven nuclear technology to supply oil sands operators and the province of Alberta with a reliable flow of electricity at a competitive cost.” [Note: EAC’s corporate mission statement has been revised since P’n’P first reported on this issue.] EAC teamed up with the federal crown corporation, Atomic Energy of Canada Corporation, in its bid to build a new-fangled and untested CANDU nuclear reactor in northern Alberta.

 

BPC bills itself as “Canada’s first private nuclear generating company.” Basically, it’s an all-male consortium with representatives from the uranium giant, Cameco, which purchased “nearly a third of Bruce Power LP” in 2003 according to Friends of Bruce. Also represented on the Bruce Power board is TransCanada Power Corporation, a pipelines and energy business which includes gas transmission, power generation, gas storage and their plans for the Keystone Pipeline which is proposed to run from the Alberta Tar Sands and south into the USA. The Communications, Energy, Paperworkers (CEP) Union of Canada, an affiliate of International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions, has called on the feds to refer the matter to the Standing Committee on Natural Resources for broader discussion and on Canadians to take actions to stop this proposed pipeline.

“There is no way this pipeline benefits Canada in any way,” says CEP President Dave Coles. “It’s all about boosting the bottom line of multinational oil companies.”

“This ruling is not in the public interest economically, socially or environmentally. CEP studies submitted to the NEB — that show the loss of 18,000 potential new jobs — have been ignored. Environmental concerns have been similarly ignored as has the issue of Canada compromising the energy needs of its own citizens to feed U.S. markets.”

“Clearly, this is the wrong decision for Canada, and it brings into question the role of the Board and the need for a domestic energy policy to protect Canadian interests. This discussion belongs in the political arena, and the federal government should take the necessary steps to make that happen.”

 

Interestingly, there is now a vacancy at the National Energy Board.

 

The tar sands giga-project is the single largest industrial project ever undertaken in the history of humanity, according to Oil Sands Truth. The community-based organization is working to shut down the tar sands project as part of Canada’s plan to tackle climate change and stop environmental devastation. Apparently, the MSM forgot to send a reporter to their end of November conference, Everyone’s Downstream, which brought together representatives from First Nations communities, environmental organizations, northern communities and migrant workers’ rights groups as well as the general public.

 

The proponents of the plan to nuclearize northern Alberta have been working tirelessly. Wayne Henuset of EAB was in Saskatoon in October, speaking at a Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce luncheon about Nuclear Power in the Oil Sands. All the players are moving ahead as though this project will not be stopped. We can be sure that Saskatchewan’s new premier, Brad Wall, will be eager to help his friends in the energy industry by supplying them with all they need.

 

To those who love this planet, it is essentional that we come together and stop this project. Greenpeace has named the threats of this project and they are huge:

 

 

I believe the capacity of the human spirit to overcome problems is greater than the threats we face. All we need to is to live into our intention to love this planet. Take action now!

 

 

Nuclear Guardianship: We Need to Know

What we need to know as responsible citizens and what we need our politicians, the law-makers, to know

The Nuclear Guardianship Library

is intended to contribute to the political, technical and moral understandings required to keep radioactive materials from further contaminating the biosphere, in order to protect present and future generations.  We hope to provide opportunities for ongoing, in-depth discussion among citizens, specialists, and policy makers on the responsible care of radioactive materials.

The moral issues remain the same.

 Our most enduring legacy to future generations will be the radioactive materials generated over the last fifty years by nuclear power and weapons production, including structures and equipment contaminated at every step of the fuel cycle as well as all categories of waste. The toxicity of these materials, with their proven capacity to cause cancers, immune diseases, birth disorders, and genetic mutation, constitutes an unprecedented and monumental assault on organic life. To safeguard ourselves and future generations, all these contaminants must be kept out of the biosphere now and for thousands of years.

We who are living now, whether “pro-nuclear” or “anti-nuclear,” need to consider together how we are to isolate the radioactive materials we have produced. We need to consider our responsibility for their ongoing containment, and the immediate steps this guardianship requires of us.

A People’s Policy on Radioactive Waste  (Draft July 23, 2002)

PREAMBLE

The amount and danger of long-lasting environmental poisons produced in recent decades is unprecedented in human history. Since the beginning of the nuclear age, policy regarding all levels of radioactive waste has been set by the nuclear industry, the military and governments. Monetary gain, secrecy and militarism have consistently taken precedent over concerns about intergenerational equity, environmental and public health and spiritual well-being.

Any policy regarding nuclear waste must begin with an immediate halt to its production.

Future survival requires that we take full responsibility for nuclear waste and keep it within our sphere of control. Policy decisions must consider the health, safety and habitat of ALL living things and recognize the need for this most dangerous substance to be completely isolated from the environment for as long as it remains hazardous.

Presently, there is no scientifically sound, environmentally just or democratically defined solution to the disposal or storage of radioactive waste. Yet each day approximately ten tons of high-level radioactive waste (HLRW) is generated, which is one million times more radioactive than the original fuel. It is insanity to continue to use nuclear reactor technology that benefits only one or two generations while creating poisons that will threaten the next 12,000.

Lunn’s Costly New Fossil Fuel Plan

Another that almost slipped by the radar: Oil and Nuclear Power: Gary Lunns Costly New Fossil Fuel Plan :: PEJ News :: Stories, Features, Opinion and Analysis :: Peace, Earth & Justice News

Replacing CO2 spewing fossil fuels with radiation emitting nuclear power plants is simply replacing one irresponsible technology with another. The poison will have changed and that is all. The great irony here is that there is only enough viable uranium in the world to keep the industry going for 30 to 40 years which is hardly a sustainable answer to our energy crisis! (See Greenpeace Europe’s wonderful website for all the gory details.)

Gary Lunn and his boss, Stephen Harper, want to use nuclear energy to extract oil from the Alberta Tar Sands (it was cute when they changed the name to ‘oil sands’ to make it sound more valuable). So we are to waste billions on power plants to try get oil to fuel more power plants. To do this we need to build multiple oil pipelines across ecologically sensitive areas out to the most precious and delicate coastal environment you can imagine and ship oil down the coast in numbers we’ve never even imagined before.

Remember this?

“I can see those tankers sailing down, with Alaskan oil all schlurping ‘round
Now take a sip from Trudeau’s cup and leave our coast all fuddled-duddled up!”

That was Rolf Harris singing Vancouver Town in the ‘70s. We need to say No loud and clear in the next election, in fact we need to say no now because those with money and power are not waiting. They will roll right over us if we let them.

Thanks to While the Earth Burns for the lead.

A Simple Statement on Nuclear Power

A petition from the Nuclear Information Resource Service (NIRS):

“We do not support construction of new nuclear reactors as a means of addressing the climate crisis. Available renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies are faster, cheaper, safer and cleaner strategies for reducing greenhouse emissions than nuclear power.”

Sign ItI signed because I agree that:

We’re getting a little tired hearing nuclear industry lobbyists and pro-nuclear politicians allege that environmentalists are now supporting nuclear power as a means of addressing the climate crisis. We know that’s not true, and we’re sure you do too. In fact, using nuclear power would be counterproductive at reducing carbon emissions. As Amory Lovins of Rocky Mountain Institute points out, “every dollar invested in nuclear expansion will worsen climate change by buying less solution per dollar…”

Harperian Lies?

Harper’s Getting Old Government of Canada (GOGC) is getting good at doublespeak, most recently on the nuclear issue. On the one hand, the GOGC says that the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) is not on the table at the APEC meetings in Sydney, Australia this week and that Canada has not yet made a decision on joining in Bush’s radioactive partnership. On the other hand, as a Canadian Press reporter suggests, Canada will send a representative from Foreign Affairs to a GNEP meeting in Vienna in just over a week.

…Harper’s minority Conservative government clearly does not want to engage the Canadian public in any discussion about the initiative.

At a pre-APEC briefing last week, one of the prime minister’s most senior officials, flanked by his director of communications Sandra Buckler, carefully skirted a question on the GNEP.

“It doesn’t feature on the APEC agenda, per se,” said the official. “Whether the initiative has disappeared off the global agenda or the U.S. agenda, I really can’t say.”

The next day, in response to a separate and unrelated media inquiry, a spokesperson from Foreign Affairs confirmed Canada has been invited to a Sept. 16 meeting in Vienna to discuss the initiative.

“Canada has been invited to join the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership and to participate in the next meeting scheduled to take place on September 16 in Vienna,” said the official.

“Canada is reviewing the proposed GNEP Statement of Principles and a decision on Canadian participation will be made shortly.”

That carefully neutral response – which left Canadian attendance in doubt barely a fortnight before the Vienna meeting – stands in contrast to earlier draft “talking points” obtained by The Canadian Press under an Access to Information request.

Those heavily censored documents show much greater enthusiasm.

“Canada is very interested in examining potential areas for partnership in the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) given that we are the world’s largest uranium producer,” said one undated talking point from 2006.

The same memo continues: “Canadian officials . . . have begun discussions with their counterparts in the U.S. to consider possible parameters of Canadian involvement.”

As recently as April 7 this year, Peter Harder, the then-assistant deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, was corresponding with Robert Van Adel, the president of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., about the partnership plan.

As Van Adel wrote, the initiative “if implemented, would have significant technical and commercial implications for Canada, which need to be assessed.”

Internal government correspondence also indicates the nuclear initiative was on the agenda at the 2006 meeting between Harper, President Bush and then-Mexican president Vicente Fox in Mexico, and again at the 2006 G8 meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Greenpeace is not amused. Nor am I, nor should any Canadian who cares about democracy and democratic process be.