Propagandizing in SK

It seems as though the editorial board of Regina’s daily newspaper can’t be bothered to so much as appear to provide balanced coverage of the uranium industry in Saskatchewan.

In a meeting with the Leader-Post editorial board this week, NWMO president and CEO Ken Nash made the point that the safe storage of nuclear waste should be a legacy to the future generations that will inherit it and who might even have the technology to retrieve and recycle it 100 years from now.

Besides the ridiculous spin Mr. Nash and the Leader Post place on the issue — that it’s our responsibility to pass the problem we’ve created on to the next generation because they might be able to fix it — they have not solicited the opinion of anyone else in reaching their decision. Interestingly, Saskatoon anti-nuclear activists and others indicate that the Leader Post‘s sister publication in Saskatoon, the Star Phoenix, has refused to meet with representatives of the anti-nuclear movement. Their editorial is misleading in that it slants toward support for storing nuclear waste in Saskatchewan for economic and xyz reasons, but ends with a call for more study.

Before turning our back on another chance – particularly in a chronically underemployed region of the province – without testing out the risks and science behind it would be unconscionable.

In their not-so-subtle propaganda, the editorial boards of two of Saskatchewan’s daily newspapers demonstrate blatant bias to the nuclear industry and choose to ignore the research already conducted, research that says that for social and technical reasons nuclear waste should not be stored underground. But, oh, they obviously enjoy the appearance that they’ve done their research otherwise, why issue such a fatherly statement?

Now is a good time for everyone to learn more about the issue, even if the facility is ultimately located elsewhere. –<<a href="“>SP>

All this is to say that the public is being misinformed about a deadly substance, courtesy the mainstream media.

There oughta be a law.

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Making up for lost time

Lots of stuff going on since I last posted here.  Besides the Rider’s being in the Western Semi-final today, I mean. 😉

Dr. Jim Harding, ardent no-nukes activist and author, has started a website

to provide an archive of material related to the nuclear industry, renewable energy and other issues related to sustainable development.

The great part is that he’s also doing a blog, filling us in on things such as proposed uranium mines, watershed gatherings in the north and the need for a nuclear waste ban in Saskatchewan, to name a few.

The most recent, the call for the nuke waste ban has come about again because there’s talk about trekking spent radioactive waste from Ontario and into northern Saskatchewan for permanent storage.  Besides this being yet another case of ecological racism, it’s yet another case of Chernobyl on Wheels. Tens of thousands of Europeans persistently lined the shipments’ route to express their outrage over the  issue.

What happened is that once people became educated about the issue, they became outraged.  And in searching for a way to express it, they organized themselves.  It’s what Saskatchewan residents did when the Wall government tried to shove the Uranium Development Partnership upon us.  A result of that was citizens coming together to form The Coalition for a Clean Green Saskatchewan, a province-wide combination of citizens and organizations working together for, as the name says, a clean and green future for our province.

After a lull, the group is preparing to take on the next challenge to the goal of a green future, the transport and storage of nuclear waste.  Various documents are moving about, being shared across the province, the continent and around the world as the industry moves forward in its greed.

The most recent document to cross my desk is one by the Assembly of First Nations.   The Nuclear Fuel Waste Dialogue: Recommendations to the Nuclear Waste Management Organization was prepared following consultations and discussions with First Nations communities.  I’m certain it will prove to be a very useful document for it’s something to which governments, citizens and First Nations communities can point and refer in their discernment and educational processes regarding the storage of nuclear waste on their lands.

So, lots going on.  Lots to do.  More later.

More Nuke News

Not a lot of people liking President O’s greenwashing of nukes.  This most excellent article in the Guardian dispels the myth that nukes are green.

The argument that nuclear is “carbon-free” conveniently omits the entire process of mining uranium, which produces greenhouse gases, along with other pollutants. In Virginia, where a study has just been commissioned to determine its safety, uranium is mined in open pits. This destroys topsoil and increases runoff, which contaminates drinking water with cancer-causing toxins.

The uranium-enrichment process also emits greenhouse gases and is highly wasteful. Eighty percent of the ore that goes through the enrichment process ends up as waste. And this is to say nothing of the lye, sulfuric acid, and other caustic agents that must be used to turn the uranium into reactor-ready fuel.

While on the surface, the steam billowing from the cooling tower of a nuclear reactor is less harmful than the toxic smoke that spews from a coal plant, nuclear reactors still create byproducts that are dangerous to human health and welfare. There’s also the huge problem of radioactive nuclear waste, which can stay hot for hundreds of thousands of years. Storing the radioactive waste isn’t just a security threat; there’s potential for radioactive chemicals to leak, as they are in Vermont and at other aging reactors around the country.

It’s clear to me that the US Prezzie doesn’t read P’n’P.  Perhaps you could invite him to do so via this handy form?

The folks at nuclear news have that article available, as well as a fantastic sidebar, The Very Secret Costs of Nuclear Power.  From their site:

Well it is impossible for anyone to estimate the real costs of nuclear power, as only a narrow range of costs are discussed, even where the nuclear industry is supposedly privately owned.

1. The nuclear weapons industry is so connected with nuclear power, and the costs on the nuclear weapons industry are huge.

2. Where the nuclear industry is state owned – e.g. in France, Russia, China, South Korea, taxation, and the costs of electricity are manipulated, and figures given out for nuclear costs are not really reliable.

Secrecy about the nuclear industry is essential anyway, for security reasons. But it is also convenient, as no-one really knows how much it costs for state-owned nuclear facilities to manage nuclear waste. Well, there are ‘cheap’ options used, as we learn from time, with nuclear waste dumping occurring secretly, and without regard for the environment or the people, (usually poor communities, indigenous and rural people.) Eventually someone has to pay for the long-term costs.

Back at home, the nukers are bragging about their exploration in Quebec’s Otish Mountains.

Ditem Explorations /quotes/comstock/11v!dit (CA:DIT 0.08, 0.00, 0.00%) is pleased to report that the 2010 exploration program on the Company’s Otish Mountains uranium property in Quebec is underway. A fully operational camp has been established to accommodate geophysical and drilling crews. Drilling on the first hole began yesterday.

They don’t get that they’re involved in ecological racism. And that sux!  The Quebec no-nukers have been working tirelessly to put an end to nuking the environment.  Check it out.  And here’s a thorough piece from the Dominion about the nuke activity in northern Quebec.

One further focus for criticism is the province’s much-hyped development strategy, known as the “Plan Nord,” which involves targeting government money at selected infrastructure projects favouring principally the resource extraction sector in northern Quebec. According to research conducted by The Dominion, last year’s provincial budget earmarked $130 million for extending Highway 167 by 268km into the Otish Mountains, northeast of the James Bay Cree town of Mistissini. It is in an area without residential communities, but where Vancouver-based Strateco Resources has discovered some of Quebec’s most concentrated uranium deposits.

Finally, here’s another story about Canada’s outrageous and extravagant spending on AECL flowing from the Chalk River Fiasco.

As a result, Ottawa allocated $824-million in the current fiscal year to the problem-plagued nuclear flagship as the government prepares to restructure it and sell its commercial division, according to supplemental estimates released late yesterday.

That’s a 50-per-cent increase from federal spending on AECL in the prior fiscal year. In today’s budget, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will likely provide hundreds of millions more to support AECL’s operating budget and design work on the advanced Candu reactor and refurbish Chalk River laboratories.

Our tax dollars are being sunk into what the PM himself called a “sinkhole” so that the feds can sell it for next to nothing?  WTF?  It seems that PMS definitely needs to hear from you on this ridiculous, costly venture!  Imagine, were that kind of money to be spent on real green technology…

Canadian uranium search will kill off the last Bushmen of Africa

Canada is now a superpower in the African mining sector.
According to the Ministry of Natural Resources Canada , only the Republic of South Africa, with over 35% of assets and investments, is just ahead of Canada in the African mining industry.

Canadian uranium search will kill off the last Bushmen of Africa thanks to Canada’s Xemplar Energy Corporation.

The Topnaar, a subtribe of the Nama minority, are southern Africa’s original hunter-gatherer San or Khoi-Khoi tribes — often referred to derogatively as Hottentots — who were pushed from their habitats around the Orange River in southern Namibia and northern South Africa in the mid nineteenth century by agriculturalist-settlers. Just like the Boers, the Topnaar also undertook a Great Trek north, led by their famous leader Jan Jonker Afrikaner. There are only about 60,000 Nama people left in all of Namibia. From DNA testing of 19th-century workers’ graves on Boer farms in South Africa in a Johannesburg University study, it has been established that these so-called ‘Bushmen’ indeed are the true forebears of the first Nation of southern Africa…

Canada has so much to be proud of these days, eh?  Ecological racism all over the planet…

Also being threatened is the ecologically-sensitive Garub-water hole — the main watering site for the giant Namib desert’s mysterious wild horses, the Shagyas, located inside this nature reserve about 120 km east of the Namibian harbour of Luderitz. The origin of the park’s protected desert horses is lost in time, the subject of endless speculation. Their DNA however links them to the Arabian Peninsula’s Shagyars horses.

Kill off people.  Kill off animals.  Just don’t kill off the right of Canadians to feed their greed.  Eh?

The Uranium-Backed War on Indigenous Peoples or Why Canada Did Not Support the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples

A somewhat lengthy petition calling for peace in the Republic of Niger landed in my inbox the other day and I had neither the time nor the energy to look at it. That changed yesterday, when I learned that a Canadian uranium mining company, NWT Uranium, has a letter of agreement to join forces with a New Mexico uranium mining company, Nu-Mex.

“We believe that this transaction will be of great benefit to NWT Uranium and its shareholders,” said Marek J. Kreczmer, President and CEO of NWT Uranium. “Nu-Mex has the ability to earn a majority interest in two highly prospective uranium properties and it was these potential assets that drew us to the combination.

The deal is “subject to approval by NWT Uranium shareholders, the Ontario Court of Superior Justice and the TSX Venture Exchange, and requires a favorable fairness opinion.” The two pieces of interest for NWT, Nose Rock and Dalton Pass, are on or near Navaho lands in New Mexico. In the WWII and post-WWII years and up until the late 70’s, the Navaho peoples embraced the uranium industry, welcoming the work, until they noticed the ill effects of the development.

Along the way, though, government and industry gave little attention to the pervasive, irreversible, and now well-documented impacts of this massive development. Government and industry were at best ignorant, but most often arrogantly dismissive, of the emerging epidemic of lung cancer and respiratory disease among underground miners; the wide assault on the region’s land, water and air quality that continues to command public concern and regulatory attention today; the abandonment of tens of thousands of drill holes, thousands of mines, and several dozen mills with little or no reclamation; and the economic dislocation of communities that had given up traditional, agricultural-based economies for the prospects of massive infusions of cash and employment from uranium development. The “bust” that followed the 35-year “boom” is by now a quarter-century old itself, and the communities that once hosted uranium mining, often with open arms, are now hard-pressed to point to anything, other than a few paved roads, that was sustainable from that era.

Fortunately, the state’s governor is taking action to prevent similar mistakes.

Of interest to Nu-Mex are the holdings of the Canadian company, NWT. The North Rae and Daniel Lake uranium projects are in the Ungava Bay area of northern Quebec, home to not less than 7 Inuit communities. That the governments of Quebec or Canada were as concerned for their people as the governor of New Mexico.

North Rae and Daniel Lake are located on the eastern side of Ungava Bay, approximately 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of the town of Kuujjuaq, near the southern shore of Ungava Bay. With a population of approximately 2,000 people, Kuujjuaq is the largest community in northern Quebec.

North Rae is six to 12 miles (10 to 20 kilometers) from tidewater, which places it in a favorable context with respect to mine development. Daniel Lake is also favorably located, approximately nine miles (15 kilometers) east of George River, which is navigable and flows into Ungava Bay 25 miles (40 kilometers) to the north.

Awfully close to a large body of water, don’t you thing? That global warming will raise water levels seems not to be an issue for NWT or Nu-Mex. That the Inuit have opposed this threat to their traditional way of life is not surprising. And it only gets more interesting! NWT has nearly 32 million shares in a company that holds several properties in the republic of Niger. Niger Uranium Limited , listed on the AIM Exchange in London, England, is extremely active in Niger.

It is clear, however, that the unfettered increase in uranium mining is causing great problems in Niger. From the petition, a bit of history:

Since its independence, the state of Niger has been in latent conflict with the Tuareg population living on the Nigerien territory. This situation escalated in 1990 with a massacre of this population group in Tchin-Tabaraden and resulted in an armed conflict. After the conclusion of a treaty of peace, which was intended to make allowances for certain claims brought forward by the Tuareg organizations in 1995, this conflict calmed down. Today, it seems that the implementation of the treaty has failed. This caused new dissatisfaction among the population in the north of Niger. A new Tuareg movement “Mouvement des Nigériens pour la Justice” (MNJ, Movement of Nigeriens for Justice) has formed whose central claim is that the peace accords signed in 1995 be met.

Another issue is that the exploitation of the uranium deposits in the regions inhabited by the Tuareg remains an unsolved problem. The local population has practically no benefit from the proceeds gained out of these mineral resources, while the ecological consequences of the uranium production seriously endanger the population and their environment.

We observe that the current crisis is seriously threatening the democratic process in Niger, in particular as the government seems to fall back on out-dated, dictatorial methods in order to gag the press and to impede the freedom of expression of the citizens.

Two members of the NWT Uranium, Inc. Board of Directors are apparently oblivious to the situation:

…North and Kreczmer assured us the country is stable. “When I first went to Niger in November 2004, and that was during the last election, it honestly looked like a lot of fun. Everybody had a little piece of rag tied around their wrist or tied to the antenna of their car to represent their political affiliation.” Kreczmer added, “My experience working in Africa is that because this country relies so heavily on foreign aid, the World Bank has great influence.”

The Republic of Niger has North’s vote on confidence … North feels Niger is going to become more aggressive in developing its uranium properties. He talked about how the President of Niger told his minister of mines, “Get out there and advertise Niger as being open for business. We want people to come in here and invest. We want to give them mineral rights, and we want them to do what Mali is doing.” From the looks of it, the first to jump on the Niger bandwagon were Northwestern Minerals and North Atlantic Resources, but they won’t be the last.

“My experience with Niger is that it’s a peaceful, democratic country with no civil unrest. Let’s put it this way. They have less civil unrest than France.” *

The Tuareg population have documented several horrific human rights violations. Homicides, arbitrary, racist and inhumane detention of civilians as well as expulsion of citizens from their communities by the military appear to be the norm. Dismemberment of corpses is not unheard of. Land mines, restricting the movement of the nomadic Tuareg, are in use despite the fact the Nigerien government signed the Ottawa Convention which bans their use.

The government of Niger wants to double its uranium production and exports so has issued more than 122 licenses to foreign companies. The areas granted exploration rights have generally been agricultural, providing an economic base for the local population. Uranium mining and exploration are harming the health of local populations. Radioactive waste is not being stored properly; open pit mining threatens fauna, flora, water, air and the entire food chain of the people living in the region. The Nigerien media has criticized these activities. As a result, prominent and outspoken editors and writers have been arrested. Some have been threatened with death by members of the Nigerien military.

And this — all this, in Canada, the USA, Australia, Niger, etc. — occurs despite a 2004 Declaration of the Indigenous World Uranium Summit which called for a Moratorium on Uranium mining:

[A] worldwide ban is justified on the basis of the extensive record of “disproportional impacts” of the nuclear fuel chain on the health, natural resources and cultures of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration calls attention to “intensifying nuclear threats to Mother Earth and all life,” and asserts that nuclear power — the primary use for uranium — is not a solution to global warming.

“Our Mother Earth needs protection from the destructive forms of uranium if we are to survive,” said Manny Pino, a member of Acoma Pueblo and professor of sociology at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona. “Everyday we are at risk from radioactive materials that threaten our future generations. Indigenous people all over the World are saying these threats must end, and they are taking united actions to achieve that goal.”

As is the norm, the concerns of the world’s Indigenous peoples continue to be ignored. Stephen Harper could not support the recent United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, not because it contravenes Canadian laws, but because it would mean a loss of control of “vast resources on land claimed by aboriginal communities” and indicate a lack of support for the nuclear industry which forms part of the Harperian plan to curb GHGs.

Petiton Sources:

– Reuters press agency: http://www.reuters.com/, http://africa.reuters.com/NE/

– Agence France Presse: http://www.afp.com/

– Website of the MNJ: http://m-n-j.blogspot.com/

– Eye witness accounts

Other Sources

– * Finch, James. “Exposed: The World’s Best Kept Uranium Secret.” EzineArticles 09 April 2006. 14 December 2007 <http://ezinearticles.com/?Exposed:-The-Worlds-Best-Kept-Uranium-Secret&id=176018>.

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?