Saskatoon newspaper pulls in a ringer to smooth it over

Apparently, the Saskatoon Star Phoenix has experienced a bit of grief over their nasty editorial of May 8. They’ve pulled in a ringer, Murray Mandryk, from their sister paper, the Regina Leader-Post, to quell the fires. Here’s his piece, reproduced in its entirety here because it is a voice of reason. That said, his focus is too narrow. We need an open, honest and thorough debate about Saskatchewan’s energy policy, not just about nukes.

Neither party fit to oversee reactor
Murray Mandryk, Saskatchewan News Network; Regina Leader-Post
Published: Friday, May 09, 2008

If ever an issue in Saskatchewan needed open, honest and thorough debate, it’s the building of a nuclear reactor.

That neither side in the legislative assembly has been willing to provide us with the even the most basic information about the reactor — information already compiled at the taxpayers’ expense — is more disconcerting than talk of a reactor, itself.

This issue is all about trust. It’s about answering basic questions such as: Where will it be built? Who will build it? How much will it cost taxpayers? What are the potential environmental impacts? What are the benefits? What are the potential risks, especially to the water supply?

Instead, what we have had is duplicity and deception from the NDP and Saskatchewan Party both.

Let’s review what neither side wanted us to know:

The NDP government received in February 2007 a rudimentary study that determined the preferred location for a nuclear power plant is the east side of Diefenbaker Lake, near Elbow. The negatives are its proximity to populated areas and fact that the lake provides the water used by 40 per cent of Saskatchewan households.

But what’s alarming about this 53-page, $60,000 study is that, until a copy of the report was leaked to the CBC, the former New Democratic government didn’t think we needed to know about it. In fact, it wouldn’t even confirm in its last eight months in office that such a study existed.

According to former premier Lorne Calvert, there was no need to do so because his government was focused on wind power and had no intention of building a reactor. Yet deputy NDP leader and former Crown corporations minister Pat Atkinson, who admitted Wednesday she hadn’t even read the study, said her government actually never had ruled out building a nuclear power plant.

As farfetched as her response seems, it is consistent with the words of former deputy premier Clay Serby, who said in October 2005:

“We should never say never about anything.”

But lest anyone is left with the impression that secrecy and duplicity begin and end with the New Democrats, let’s check the Saskatchewan Party’s equally unimpressive handling of the nuclear file to date.

Despite an initial commitment from Premier Brad Wall that any previous studies on nuclear power generation would be made public, the government no longer sees it as a priority to tell us that the preferred site to build a nuclear plant is one that provides water for 40 per cent of province’s population. Far more important, we’re told, are the confidentiality agreements signed by the NDP government to keep this report secret in the first place.

However, the confidentiality provision didn’t apply to Saskatchewan Party ministers such as Lyle Stewart (Enterprise and Innovation), Nancy Heppner (Environment) and Bill Boyd (Energy), all of whom had access to this document for the past six months.

Unfortunately, like Atkinson, they never read it, either. Heppner even claimed she couldn’t find a copy. Let’s be thankful someone found one for the CBC.

Through the magic of this newfangled Internet, the report now can be shared with Atkinson, Heppner, Boyd and even the rest of us among the uninformed masses.

Of course, his complete lack of basic information about a site for nuclear power generation was not the kind of impediment that would prevent Boyd from meeting in Alberta with officials from Bruce Power to make a case that Saskatchewan is a better home for a 4,000-megawatt nuclear plant than is Alberta’s Peace River region.

Boyd tells us not to be alarmed because these discussions are exceedingly preliminary. But Crowns Minister Ken Cheveldayoff then tells us Thursday there isn’t time to hold a referendum on nuclear power because his government will have to make a decision before the next election, slated for 2011.

Through all of this, we’re still supposed to trust the good judgment of these people — politicians who don’t think voters need to have the most basic information on nuclear power in Saskatchewan or even feel any need to read this information themselves.

Far more frightening than a nuclear power plant in Saskatchewan is the thought of either side of the legislature being in charge of running it.

UPDATED: Nuke reactor @ Diefenbaker Lake?

Good grief! Let’s put the deadliest poison we can find in the ground — uranium — and move it to a lake so we can pollute more people and ecosystems! Oh ya! Fun-fun, eh?

Hello, people! The nuclear system is not one we want to build up in Saskatchewan! We want a moratorium, like B.C. has just declared. Let’s be smart about our environment and about our children’s future!

Here’s the CBC piece (reproduced below) that has me riled. Here’s the SaskPower report, the one the SaskParty couldn’t find.

UPDATE: A confidential source has revealed that a physicist from Chalk River (and we all know about that scandal) says that the new reactors — 4 of them are proposed — are cleaner and greener than any coal plant in operation. What the physicist failed to mention was the environmental devastation wreaked by a nuclear power plant, the fact that there is no disposal for the deadly waste products, and the huge economic costs of building a nuclear plant.

Lake Diefenbaker region preferred site for nuclear plant: SaskPower report
Last Updated: Wednesday, May 7, 2008 | 11:51 AM CT Comments11Recommend11
CBC News

SaskPower’s preferred location for a nuclear power plant is near Lake Diefenbaker in central Saskatchewan, CBC News has learned.

The information is contained in a consultant’s report prepared by Stantec Consulting Ltd. for the Crown utility last year.

CBC News has obtained a copy of the report, which was written in February 2007. The report says a power plant at Elbow, near Lake Diefenbaker, would be preferable to other potential sites.

“Potentially, the Lake Diefenbaker region could be the site of a Candu 6 plant configured with two steam turbine generators instead of the standard 750-megawatt, single-steam turbine unit,” the report said. “Plant output from this option would be split equally between Saskatchewan and Alberta.”

The report cites the area’s large water supply, which is needed for generating nuclear power.

It also mentions that the site would be near populated areas, reducing the need to transmit power over long distances.
More study needed, report says

However, the report also cautions that roughly 40 per cent of Saskatchewan people get their drinking water from the Lake Diefenbaker watershed.

The Lac La Loche area was also considered in the report, because it’s near a potential oilsands development in northwestern Saskatchewan. The proposal was for a cogeneration plant that would produce electricity and steam, with the assumption that the electrical output would be half that of a CANDU 6.

The study looked at environmental and cost factors, cooling-water requirements, exclusion zones, seismology, transmission systems, weather and geotechnical conditions.

Ultimately, the Lac La Loche area was not seen as the best choice.

The report recommends a further, more detailed study on Lake Diefenbaker before any final decision is made on the location of a power plant. It doesn’t make any recommendations about whether or not SaskPower should proceed with a nuclear plant.

The report was commissioned by the previous NDP administration.

Before he was elected premier, Brad Wall promised to make the report public, but the government has not yet done so.

On Wednesday, a government spokesperson confirmed the authenticity of the report. However, the government had decided not to make it public, the spokesperson said.

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.

New government considers options for Saskatchewan‘s nuclear future

Reading the biz pages to find the news on nukes really works.

New government considers options for Saskatchewan‘s nuclear future Sask-Nuclear-Future

[A] newly elected provincial government [is] intent on moving the industry forward. The right-leaning Saskatchewan Party is not as fettered by internal conflict over the issue as its left-leaning NDP predecessor, and everything short of the nuclear waste storage idea appears to be back on the table.

“Who knows what opportunities lie ahead in this area for the province?‘‘ Premier Brad Wall said recently. “I believe we can lead in this area, certainly in research and development.‘‘

Saskatchewan first looked at developing the uranium industry in the 1940s and 󈦒s under then premier Tommy Douglas as a means of diversifying its agricultural economy. In the 1970s the mining industry expanded rapidly thanks to several big finds in the north.

The province enjoyed a comfortable relationship with the industry until people began to question where the uranium was ending up, said Bill Waiser, a historian at the University of Saskatchewan.

“They were beginning to question the morality of it,‘‘ Waiser says. “There are ecological concerns about it and `Are we facilitating the arms race unintentionally?‘‘‘

With a new government in power and a premier who talks about nuclear opportunities every chance he gets, people on both sides of the debate are watching the situation closely.

While the previous NDP government had expressed interest in refining uranium in the province, Steve McLellan, CEO of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, figures the business-friendly Saskatchewan Party will take a “hard look‘‘ at attracting a company to do it.

“We, particularly, are quite optimistic,‘‘ McLellan says. “Anything that adds value to things that are mined here is great for business.‘‘

Some, like former NDP deputy premier Dwain Lingenfelter, say Saskatchewan‘s wide open spaces make it ideal for every step of the cycle, including power generation and waste storage. While conventional reactors are widely seen as producing too much power for the province‘s needs, Lingenfelter argues Saskatchewan could become a power hub and supply energy to the rest of Canada and the United States.

“The first thing that has to happen is the government in the province has to say to the world that they‘re interested, which hasn‘t happened to this point,‘‘ says Lingenfelter, who is now an utive with the Calgary-based oil company Nexen.

“I think it takes more than governments saying, `Yeah, we are sort of in favour of it, but we will see how it goes.‘‘‘

Wall has expressed interest in research being done around small-scale nuclear reactors that would produce power at a level more suitable to the province‘s needs. He‘s also talked about the idea of developing a research reactor such as the one in Chalk River, Ont., which produces medical isotopes.

Ann Coxworth, with the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, acknowledges that the current political situation in the province does not favour the anti-nuclear movement.

Saskatchewan’s Wall doling out dough

Well, people of Saskatchewan and the world, it’s looking like we have a real nuclear war accelerating in this province!  Our new premier, Mr. Brad Wall, is appointing high-falutin’, exhorbitantly high-paid, pro-nuke managers and assistants all over the place.  And, he has the nerve to cry about the cupboards being bare!

Here’s what Eye on Saskatchewan has to say about some of the Wall shenanigans:

Shortly (and I really mean shortly) after been sworn in as the new Premier, Brad Wall claimed that Calvert and the NDP left the cupboard bare and that some belt tightening would have to be done. Wall claims that the “province’s books are not in good order, and that the future looks pretty stark.” Wall also would not rule out job cuts in the future when he was pressured by reporters.

Let us call that one “Heads”

Today,it was announced in the Leader Post, that Iain Harry will be joining Premier Wall’s team at measly $12,500 a month; Reg Downs ,Wall’s chief of staff at $13,693 a month; Terri Harris, deputy chief of staff at $10,900 per month; Ian Hanna, premier’s communications adviser at $9,600 per month; Kathy Young, executive director of communications at $9,900 per month; Terri Gudmundson, executive director of house business at $9,600 per month; James Saunders, senior policy adviser at $8,155 per month and Joe Donlevy; who was chair of the Saskatchewan Party election campaign, as special adviser to Wall at a salary of $12,500 per month.

Let us call that one “Tails”

So this is where I could use a little help….. could someone please flip the coin so that I can figure out if the cupboards are bare and we need to prepare the Saskatchewan people for possible jobs cuts…. or is the cupboard full enough that we can pay exorbitant salaries for our friends and widen the gap between the rich and the rest of us, forgetting middle and working class families!

Oh, while your flipping that coin, could you also let me know why the CFIB, CTF and NSBA were so upset and concerned over the severance pay of the Legislature staff and yet they are not saying a word about these salaries?

Let us always remember and never forget that what Brad Wall has learned about politics, he learned from the Grant Devine and Brian Mulroney administrations.

Uranium CEO hit the payroll jackpot!

Interesting bit here, from Larry Hubichs Blog: Saskatchewan CEOs hit the payroll jackpot.  At the top of the heap, the CEO of the uranium giant, CAMECO.

This article in the Friday, Nov. 16, 2007 Regina Leader-Post reveals that a number of Saskatchewan based CEO’s hit the payroll jackpot last year.

According to the article, which quotes the Financial Post Business magazine, the following CEO’s received compensation last year as listed below:

Gerald Grandey, CEO of Cameco Corp.: $7.6 million
William Doyle, CEO of Potash Corp. of Sask.: $3.6 million
Mayo Schmidt, CEO of Sask. Wheat Pool (Viterra): $3.3 million

That 7.6 million, if divided among the people who live in Saskatchewan’s north (where the uranium mining takes place), would mean an extra $200  per year in the pockets of the residents.  And, given the price of groceries, that might mean something.

New port security measures threaten privacy, human rights, say workers

From the Council of Canadians:

New port security measures threaten privacy, human rights, say workers

November 8, 2007
Posted by Stuart Trew

The Canadian section of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union has filed a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada insisting that Transport Canada’s Marine Transportation Security Clearance Program (MTSCP) and the Application for Transportation Security Clearance form required under the MTSCP violates the Privacy Act.

According to the complaint: “The Security Clearance Form requires responses to invasive questions about a number of matters, including country of origin and city of birth; whether the employee has a passport, and if so, the passport number (leading to the possibility of cross-referencing for additional information); whether the employee attended a post-secondary institution, and if so, which institution and when; all addresses that the employee may have lived at for the past 5 years; all activities for the past 5 years, such as school or previous employment; all travel with stays in countries for more than 90 days during the last 5 years; whether an employee has a criminal conviction; and information about an employee’s spouse.”

Furthermore, “The Security Clearance Form requires the employee to consent to the release of the information contained on the form to governments of countries that he or she may have lived in or travelled to. If consent to disclose is not given, the Security Clearance will not be granted and the employee would not be able to work in designated areas.”

According to an article from Lloyd’s List posted on the Longshore and Warehouse union’s website, “Effective from December 15, security clearances will be required by workers at the container ports of Montreal, Halifax, and Vancouver, as well as at the ports of Fraser River and North Fraser River in British Columbia. The regulations will also be applied at the control centres in Canada of the St Lawrence Seaway.”

On top of the privacy complaint, the union is “raising various issues with the Canada Industrial Relations Board at hearings in Vancouver,” said Tom Dufresne, president of the Canadian Maritime Workers Council, speaking with Lloyd’s List. “Dufresne also said the regulations are ‘discriminatory’ against workers not born in Canada.”

The MTSCP is coming into force in Canada as similar new port security measures, including biometric ID cards and fingerprint scanners, are causing anxiety south of the border. The goal of both sets of measures is to streamline port security across North America as spelled out by initiatives within the Security and Prosperity Partnership’s Security Annex. But the result will be more racial profiling, say critics, of which there are plenty.

As University of Toronto professor Deborah Cohen wrote in the Toronto Star last month: “It is not just union leaders who have come out against it. The B.C. Maritime Employers Association, leaders from the cruise ship industry and port security directors from Canada’s largest ports have all critiqued the proposed regulations. Three city councils in the port-dependent province of British Columbia passed motions calling for the federal government to restructure the program, and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association recently condemned the potential abuse of civil and labour rights that the program sanctions.”

Uranium, Indigenous Rights and Corporatism

This story provides some clarity for me around the reasons why the Harperites refused to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. It provides opportunity for indigenous peoples to boot corporate pigs off their lands! And PMS won’t be wanting that!

OWE AKU & BLACK HILLS SIOUX NATION TREATY COUNCIL
DEFEAT URANIUM CORPORATION
(From Owe Aku International Human Rights and Justice Program, New York City) As explained in the following article, Owe Aku, a grass roots Lakota organization, just utilized the principle of free, prior and informed consent as set forth in the recently passed United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

JUDGE ISSUES RULING…N.A.E.G. EXCLUDED FROM PINE RIDGE
Pine Ridge, SD… On October 29, OST Chief Judge Lisa Adams issued an exclusion order to remove the Native American Energy Group (N.A.E.G.) from the Pine Ridge reservation, declaring that the company has been trespassing on tribal lands. The finding gave NAEG 30 days to vacate the reservation.

The Judge also noted that N.A.E.G. ignored a tribal resolution that accepted the OST Environmental Technical Team’s recommendation that the Tribe not enter into any working relationship with N.A.E.G. Further, the order stated that OST Member, Eileen Janis, failed to inform N.A.E.G. about OST ordinances prohibiting exploration and mining for uranium.

Environmental Nightmares provides more info about the current struggles of the Lakota peoples. The Lakota Nation is, for those with short memories or too young to remember, the nation of Leonard Peltier who has been held as a political prisoner in the USA for 30 years for allegedly murdering 2 FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota Reservation located in the Black Hills. Another twist in the story is the extradition of John Graham, a citizen of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations of the Yukon, Canada, to the USA on charges of murdering Anna Mae Aquash.

…the B.C. Court of Appeal upheld the extradition of former AIM member John Graham to stand trial in South Dakota in the chilling murder more than 30 years ago of Canadian Mi’kmaq Anna Mae Aquash.

…Mr. Graham and his many supporters argue, however, that he is being framed by the FBI, as they believe well-known native activist Leonard Peltier was.

…In a case that continues to arouse emotions today, the main evidence used to extradite Mr. Peltier was a sworn affidavit by native Myrtle Poorbear that later proved to be false. Many, including Amnesty International, have called for Mr. Peltier’s release.

Graham’s daughter says,

John Graham is a political prisoner. I will fight until John Graham, my dad, is free to live his life in peace and to exercise his right to protect Mother Earth.

Interesting how things happen. Searching out this piece I learned that the John Graham Defense Committee will hold a benefit this Friday, November 16, in Vancouver. Even more interesting is that John Graham has a history of advocating for environmental and aboriginal rights, most particularly in SK where he was an organizer of no nukes activities in the First Nations and Metis communities.

How convenient for the pro nukers that, at a time when the uranium industry wants to expand, former indigenous leaders in opposition to it, sit in US prisons.