The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is writing a “generic” environmental impact statement (GEIS) for all “in-situ” uranium mining proposals. They’re accepting comments through September 4th.
Please act now to tell the NRC a GEIS is a bad idea for communities and our water.
If adopted, the GEIS would:
- restrict public comment on future uranium licenses
- prevent the environmental review now required for individual mining proposals
- force a one-size-fits-all approach on communities faced by this type of uranium mining
100% certain water pollution
In-situ mining is the intentional pollution of ground water with toxic chemicals that strip uranium from the ground without actually moving earth.
Imagine a company injecting a toxic solution into the ground with a huge syringe in one place, and sucking it out of the ground (along with dissolved uranium) with a huge straw in another place, and you have the general idea.
Mining companies hope they can clean up the toxics not sucked from the ground after the mining is complete. To date, no in-situ mine has restored pre-mining water quality.
In-situ mining uranium mining is on the rise
In-situ mining is the most common form of new uranium mining proposals in the U.S. As the price of uranium continues to rise, more and more corporations are trying to get in on the profits by applying for licenses for in situ mining.
Thank you for your support,
Roger Featherstone & Alan Septoff, EARTHWORKS
Well, I guess Dubya is flexing some muscle over PM Steve these days.
And, apparently, it’s all because of Maude Barlow and the Council of Canadians, the ones some radio personality around here is writing off as an extremist radicals. Now, I don’t know about you, but from my recollection of Maude Barlow the last time she was through here, she’s a pretty tame duck. And she tends to talk a lot of sense, most particularly on water and globalization, I had thought.
Now there’s this issue of North American Union aka Security & Prosperity Partnership aka deep integration. The idea’s been around for a long time, just not so brilliantly orchestrated or articulated. We’ve had “structural adjustment,” the Free Trade Agreement and NAFTA, just a few bits of the language global economics and capitalist ideology have thrown our way as they continue in their lust for more, their disgusting and immoral misuse of resources and promotion of rampant consumerism.
And PM Steve is priming Canadians to accept it while big business works behind the scenes to quietly make it happen. PMS (and a PM or two or more before him) also kowtows yet again to the President of the United States of America, allows the US Army to dictate security in our country! Again, I don’t know about you, but I know I don’t like it when a mucky-muck from another country, most particularly an aggressively violent other country is “protected” by a 25 km security perimeter from seeing what Canadians really think of him and his policies. I mean, is he worried that Maude might kill him? Now that is laughable!
What really gets my goat though is when friends of the mucky-mucks have the complete and utter stupidity to issue a challenge, as reported in the Ottawa Citizen:
“You can be sure it [security] will be pretty strong. I wouldn’t advise anyone to try to get through the 25 kilometres.”
Yet again, I do not know about you, but when I get challenges or threats sent my way by anyone, I get persnickedy. So, I’d like to try breaching the security area. I would. I hope some fine Canadian or group of Canadians charters a bus or organizes a train full of Canadians to get me and a whole lot of others to bring attention to this undemocratic and unethical attack on human rights and human security.
In the meantime, I guess I’ll write the letter The Council of Canadians are asking for (see below). And I’ll talk to a shwack of folks, too. If enough of us make noise, we might just succeed in getting that meeting cancelled. If not, I will see you on the bus or train.
ACTION ALERT: Stop SPP talks, consult with Canadians now July 12, 2007Dear activists,As reported on the front-page of the Ottawa Citizen and in numerous other media reports, “Police have derailed plans for a public forum on the Security and Prosperity Partnership that was to take place six kilometres from where the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. will gather next month for a summit.” (See Ottawa Citizen Police nix meeting near world leaders, July 12, 2007)The news report states, “The forum was scheduled for August 19, the day before Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon are due to start two days of meetings on the security partnership, a controversial initiative aimed at more closely aligning the three countries in a variety of areas.”
Frederic Castonguay, the municipality of Papineauville’s general manager, “confirmed he had been called by Mr. Guy Cote (of the Quebec provincial police), who told him that the police and U.S. army need the community centre as a base of operations for summit security.” Despite the fact that the Council of Canadians had paid its $100 deposit for the space, Mr. Castonguay said the police, “didn’t want us to rent it to anyone because they need the room there to put equipment and special vehicles. There was no choice.”
The Council of Canadians in coalition with other organizations, including the Canadian Labour Congress, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Communications, Energy & Paperworkers Union of Canada, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Common Frontiers-Canada and the Quebec Network on Continental Integration, had planned to hold a public forum on the Security and Prosperity Partnership in the nearby community with Maude Barlow and a panel of writers, academics and parliamentarians. This public forum was intended to promote broader public awareness and citizen engagement on this important issue. An alternate location for the public forum is now being sought.
Linda McQuaig wrote recently in the Toronto Star, “Given the centrality of (national security and energy, as well as trade), one would have thought that any changes – especially changes that would make Canada more like the U.S. – should involve wide consultation with the Canadian people. But exactly the opposite is happening. The public has been completely shut out of the SPP process…No public consultations have been planned for Montebello. Indeed, security measures will ensure the leaders hear as little as possible from the people.”
For more information on the Council of Canadians campaign against the Security and Prosperity Partnership, along with a wide range of analysis and background materials on this issue, please go to IntegrateThis.ca.
Prime Minister Harper,
As a member of the Council of Canadians, I am calling on you to stop talks on the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, including the upcoming leaders summit this August 20-21 in Montebello, and to consult with Canadians on this critical issue.
I was outraged to read that a public forum near Montebello with writers, academics and parliamentarians wanting to speak on this issue was blocked because the police and U.S. army wanted the community centre it was to be held at as a base of operations for summit security.
I am opposed to the SPP, which includes the no-fly list (the SPP states, “Develop comparable standards and procedures…for passenger screening”); pesticide residues (it says, “Work to resolve differences in pesticide maximum residue limits that may be barriers to trade…”); the tar sands (it calls for, “Greater economic production from the oil sands”); and civil rights (it calls for, “sharing of terrorist watch list data and the establishment of appropriate linkages between Canada, the United States and Mexico.”)
I also believe that the North American Competitiveness Council should be disbanded. Corporations such as Manulife Financial, Home Depot and Wal-Mart should not be shaping economic policy between Canada and the United States.
I urge you to keep the promise you made in your Throne Speech that “significant international treaties will be submitted for votes in Parliament.” I believe that the Security and Prosperity Partnership should be subject to public hearings, as well as brought to the House of Commons for a full debate and vote.
I look forward to your response.
For more information about the Security and Prosperity Partnership, visit IntegrateThis.ca. We’ll post new information about the Montebello summit as it becomes available. Visit often for up-to-the-minute updates
Begin forwarded message:
Subject: [Rad-waste] Unresolved questions remain about environmental implications and costs. (nuke waste)
Nuclear energy endorsement may be linked to tar sands and climate change pressure
Unresolved questions remain about environmental implications and costs.
Ottawa, June 18, 2007 Why is the minority Conservative government proceeding on nuclear energy at a time when it is fighting to regain public support after a difficult spring?
Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn announced Friday the Harper government’s endorsement of nuclear power and its approval of going ahead with storing high-level radioactive waste underground.
“Really, what this will allow is a permanent storage and a deep geological depository,” Lunn said. “This is an important decision for the government of Canada. As you know, the nuclear industry is very, very important.”
For years, the lack of long-term disposal plans has hobbled the nuclear industry, which has lobbied heavily for burying waste deep. Canadians, however, have always said no when asked to have nuclear waste disposal sites in their communities. At the news conference, Lunn dismissed concerns raised by environmentalists about the risks of nuclear energy as well as economic concerns about safe storage plans.
“This is just the beginning of a long process but they (the industry) will be able to begin that process today. It will allow the fuel to be retrieved as technology moves forward and, more importantly, allow it to be monitored continuously as it’s going through the storage process.”
The announcement makes sense for three key corporate sectors: tar sands, nuclear and construction/development. With the government under pressure to do something about greenhouse gas emissions related to the growth of oil extraction in the Alberta tar sands, nuclear seems an ideal option.
In the June 8, 2007 issue of Executive Intelligence Review, Rob Ainsworth, of the arch-right-wing Canadian LaRouche Youth Movement reports, as have others, of “a project in the Alberta tar sands to construct two 1,100-megawatt reactors, providing power to the area, as well as heat and steam for industrial purposes.” It takes an enormous amount of energy to extract oil from tar sands, and nuclear is been touted as a way to greatly reduce the amount of oil burned to support the process.
Every aspect of nuclear power development is both enormously expensive for governments and profitable for the corporations involved. “Most of the top engineering and heavy construction firms serve the energy sector in one form or another,” writes Vance Cariaga in Investor’s Business Daily. “Some go straight to the wellhead by offering design and management services for oil and gas production. Others build hydrocarbon processing plants, liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and nuclear power facilities.”
The licensing of more reactors would also be a great boon, at potentially greater public expense, to Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd, which has received subsidies of $17.5 billion over 50 years, according to the Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout.
The Conservatives’ announcement allows existing reactor sites to continue accumulating waste indefinitely, and it initiates a search for an “informed community” willing to host a “deep repository” for burial of wastes. It will also explore moving wastes to a central location for temporary, shallow underground storage and recycling of nuclear fuel.
As Susan Riley writes in today’s Ottawa Citizen, “Apart from the experimental nature of the proposed solution, many hurdles remain notably, finding a community desperate enough to become a nuclear dumping ground. It has been long supposed that some remote northern town would be the lucky winner, given the technological preference for disposing of the waste deep in the Canadian shield. But recent research suggests the sedimentary rock underlying much of southern Ontario would also be suitable. That said, the prospect of a bidding war between Oakville and Rosedale appears unlikely.”
With these plans, the Harper government has made an unequivocal commitment to nuclear power and ignores difficult issues of radioactive wastes that have never been resolved by scientists or the Canadian public. Nuclear power remains vulnerable to human carelessness, as well as deliberate acts of terrorism or other sabotage. Even the best-designed radioactive waste repository will leak and expose future generations to radiation. The federal environmental assessment panel concluded in 1998 that from a social perspective, the safety of deep geological disposal has not been adequately demonstrated, has never been officially contradicted or disproved.
“From a technical perspective, safety of the AECL concept has been on balance adequately demonstrated for a conceptual stage of development, but from a social perspective, it has not,” the report stated. “As it stands, the AECL concept for deep geological disposal has not been demonstrated to have broad public support.”
Nuclear power has left unresolved environmental problems in Canada. Uranium mining has killed Saskatchewan lakes. Processing uranium has created a permanent toxic legacy in the town of Port Hope, Ontario. CANDU reactors routinely release radioactive carbon dioxide and radioactive water contaminated with tritium during their operations, polluting air and water and jeopardizing human health, as confirmed last week in a report commissioned by Greenpeace Canada.
The government announcement reflects recommendations in a report by the government-appointed Nuclear Waste Management Association, which is largely made up of nuclear industry or ex-industry personnel. The Sierra Club of Canada’s Emilie Moorhouse said, “Its interests are not public health. Its interests are the promotion of this industry.”
Related individuals, organizations and significant events
Intensity-based targets promote oil industry frame
Harper Conservative vs. Public Values Frame
Long process / Unstoppable expansion
Green / Unresolved public safety questions
Economical / Massive subsidies
Links and sources
Feds back underground disposal of nuclear waste , Canadian Press, June 15, 2007
Susan Riley, Going nuclear by stealth , The Ottawa Citizen, June 18, 2007
The Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility
Canadian LaRouche Youth Movement.
Rob Ainsworth, Will Canada Join the Rail and Nuclear Renaissance? , Executive Intelligence Review, June 8, 2007
Vance Cariaga, Heavy Construction Firms Busy Helping Thriving Energy Sector , Investor’s Business Daily, May 22, 2007
Tyler Hamilton, Hot granite and steam could clean up oil sands, Toronto Star, May 30, 2007
Environmental Assessment Report on High Level Waste Disposal Concept, 1998
Chinta Puxley, Radioactive tritium in Great Lakes puts kids at risk: study , London Free Press, June 13, 2007
Canadian Nuclear Subsidies: Fifty Years of Futile Funding, Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout
Posted: June 18, 2007 at http://www.harperindex.ca/ViewArticle.cfm?Ref=0057
Rad-waste mailing list
The inbox is the source of all activity these days. Check this out and then the following:
psst…pass it on…
Greet Federal Environment Minister John Baird
5:00 p.m. Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Canadian Italian Club
2148 Connaught Street, Regina
Bring banners, placards and noise-makers to make noise in support of a green Canada which meets its commitments to the Kyoto Protocol.
“Green is the colour,
The climate is the game
We’re all together
and reducing is our aim
So let’s all work to stop climate change
Saskatchewan Green Greeters is our name”
(adapted w/o permission)
The Pembina Institute has published a new report dissing nuclear as the fix-all for climate change. Hardly news, is it? But, coming from the folks at Pembina, it might be heard.
From the news release, Nuclear Power No Solution to Climate Change, December 14, 2006:
Nuclear power offers no solution to the climate change crisis.
[N]uclear power, like other non-renewable energy sources, is associated with severe environmental impacts. These impacts include:
large amounts of radioactive and hazardous wastes at each stage of the nuclear energy production process
Severe impacts on surface and groundwater water quality through the discharge of radioactive and toxic pollutants
Releases to the air of smog and acid rain causing, radioactive and hazardous pollutants [and] greenhouse gases.
…The study finds that nuclear energy production faces additional challenges as a long-term energy supply, including a limited fuel supply and a dramatic increase in fuel prices. World prices for uranium, the fuel source for nuclear energy, have increased more than sixfold since 2001.
Now that explains why Saskatchewan’s NDP government is so eager to build up the uranium industry. Of course, this brand of NDP has no moral compass guiding their movements. They conveniently ignore reports such as this and those that state it is SK uranium, depleted, that is killing and maiming citizens and soldiers on all sides in the Middle East conflicts.
Anyway, here’s some background information to the report.
Nuclear Power in Canada: Key Environmental Impacts
Solid and Liquid Wastes
Uranium mining and milling
- An estimated 575,000 tonnes of tailings per year, of which 90–100,000 tonnes can be attributed to uranium production for domestic energy purposes. Uranium mill tailings are acidic or potentially acid generating, and contain a range of long-lived radionuclides, heavy metals and other contaminants. Tailings generation would increase proportionally with the use of lower grade uranium ores, as larger amounts of ore would have to be processed to produce the same amount of uranium concentrate.
- Up to 18 million tonnes of waste rock, which may also contain radionuclides, heavy metals, and be acid generating. Of this total, up to 2.9 million tonnes can be attributed to uranium mining for domestic energy purposes.
It is estimated that there are more than 213 million tonnes of uranium mine tailings in storage facilities in Canada, and 109 million tonnes of waste rock.
Refining and conversion operations
It is estimated that nearly 1,000 tonnes of solid wastes and 9,000 m3 of liquid wastes are produced per year as a result of uranium refining, conversion and fuel production for domestic energy generation purposes. Information on the precise character and fate of these wastes could not be obtained.
Power plant operation
- Approximately 85,000 waste fuel bundles are generated by Canadian nuclear reactors each year. As of 2003, 1.7 million bundles were in storage at reactor sites. It is estimated that these wastes will have to be secured for approximately one million years for safety, environmental and security reasons.
- Approximately 6,000 tonnes of lower level radioactive wastes are generated each year in Ontario as a result of power plant operations, maintenance, and refurbishment.
- Power plant maintenance and refurbishment also result in the generation of substantial amounts of additional hazardous wastes, including heavy metals and asbestos.
- Very large amounts of low, intermediate and high-level radioactive wastes will be produced as a result of the eventual decommissioning of refining, conversion and fabrication facilities as well as power plants.
- Severe contamination of surface water and groundwater with radionuclides, heavy metals and other pollutants has arisen from uranium mine tailing management facilities and mine and mill operations. Discharges to surface waters from uranium mines and mills in Canada in 2003 included over 1,500 kg of uranium, 860 kg of molybdenum, 70 kg of arsenic, 185 kg of nickel, 40 kg of selenium, and 10 tonnes of ammonia.
- Effluent from uranium mines and mills was found by Health Canada and Environment Canada to be ‘toxic’ for the purposes of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act in 2004.
- Routine and accidental releases of radionuclides to surface waters occur in the course of power plant operations, with tritium oxide and carbon-14 being key radioactive pollutants of concern. Groundwater contamination with tritium has occurred at the Pickering generating facility in Ontario.
- Ontario’s nuclear power plants are found to be the leading source of discharges of hydrazine, an extremely hazardous pollutant, to surface waters in Canada. Nuclear generating facilities have also been sources of discharges of metals (copper, zinc, and chromium) and ammonia to surface waters.
- Nuclear power is a major consumer of water. Uranium mining operations involve extensive dewatering, in the range of at least 16–17 billion litres per year, with the implication of impacts on groundwater and surface water storage and flows.
Generating facilities require large amounts of cooling water. The Darlington and Pickering facilities in Ontario are alone estimated to use approximately 8.9 trillion litres of water for cooling purposes per year more than 19 times the annual water consumption of the City of Toronto. Adverse thermal impacts of cooling water discharges on fish populations in the vicinity of nuclear power plants have been observed.
- Atmospheric releases of a range of radionuclides occur at all stages of nuclear power production. Atmospheric releases of radon gas result from mining and milling operations and from tailings management facilities. Windblown dust from mine sites and tailings management facilities (TMFs) contains a range of radionuclides. Atmospheric releases (principally uranium) also arise from refining and conversion activities.
- Routine and accidental releases of radiation and radionuclides occur from power plant operations, including tritium oxide, carbon-14, noble gases, iodine-131, radioactive particulate and elemental tritium.
- The incineration of low and intermediate-level radioactive wastes from power plant operations and maintenance in Ontario has resulted in further atmospheric releases of radionuclides, particularly tritium. A wide range of hazardous air pollutants have been released by the Bruce Western Waste Management facility. A new incinerator installed in 2003, has reduced emissions of hazardous, but not of radiological, pollutants
- Windblown dust from mine sites and TMFs contains a range of heavy metals. In addition, releases of a number of hazardous air pollutants, including dioxins and furans, hexachlorobenzene, heavy metals (principally lead) ammonia and hydrogen fluoride arise from uranium refining and conversion operations.
- Ontario nuclear power plants are the only National Pollutant Release Inventory reported source of releases of hydrazine to the air in Canada.
- Uranium mining and milling operations are found to be significant sources of releases of sulphur dioxide (SO2), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Releases of NOx, particulate matter (PM) and sulphuric acid arise from refining and conversion activities.
- The road transportation of uranium from mill sites in northern Saskatchewan to the Blind River refinery in Northern Ontario and then on to the Port Hope conversion facility in Southern Ontario produces additional releases of NOx and PM. Further transportation related releases of criteria air pollutants would arise from the long-term management of waste nuclear fuel and other radioactive wastes arising from facility operations, maintenance and decommissioning, particularly if the management strategies for these materials require the movement of wastes from reactor sites to centralized facilities.
- Total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with uranium mining, milling, refining, conversion and fuel fabrication in Canada are estimated at between 240,000 and 366,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.
- Total emissions associated with the sector, including the emissions associated with power plant construction, are in the range of 468,000 and 594,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, equivalent to the emissions of between 134,000 and 170,000 cars per year.
Total annual GHG emissions associated with domestic power production alone are estimated at between 267,000 and 289,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. Other recent estimates suggest total GHG emissions associated with nuclear power in Canada are in the range of at least 840,000 tonnes per year.
Nettie Wiebe has been in Regina this week, speaking at various events. Today she was one of the guest speakers at Making Peace With Earth, a conference linking peace and environmental issues. Nettie took an interesting approach, being a farmer. She spoke about peace and ecology in terms of human security. And she focused on food as a key component of that human security. This woman is our new Tommy Douglas. She gets it. She gets social justice. She gets environmental issues. She gets women’s issues, agricultural issues, peace issues. She just gets it all.
Notes from Nettie’s Speech
Food is about human security; we cannot live without it. Food is also about community. Yet, we rarely hear a word about it in our news of war, devastation, and destruction.
To feel secure as a human we need to be able to go to bed at night knowing that when we rise in the morning our basic needs will be met. We need also to feel safe in our environment. And, we need to be able to participate, in a meaningful way, in the shaping of our future.
In Palestine, however, people have been separated from not only the olive trees, but also from their water systems, by the building of the wall. Trees have been uprooted, water systems have been destroyed, cisterns have been dug up. This kind of destruction is just as lethal as property destruction.
Peace in the Middle East will not happen unless food, water and land are returned to proper production and people can return to it and live securely.
In Afghanistan, many have always been poor. The land doesn’t look farmable. However, there are fertile river valleys. In fact, pre-conflict (1970s) Afghanistan was the world’s major exporter of dried fruits and nuts. And they also exported olives and dates and were near self-sufficiency in grains.
All that was destroyed by war. When war came, poppy production grew in leaps and bounds until the Taliban took over, turning the land back to grains.
The huge anti-drug initiative spearheaded by the USA is supported by Canada. However, the government in Afghanistan and Afghan soldiers ar actively supporting poppy growing. And, there are now rumours that the Taliban are telling farmers to grow poppies in protest to the invasion.
The area in which Canadian troops are active in Afghanistan is the area in which “reconstruction” is occurring. Canadian soldiers are guarding the building of a 100 meter wide and 4 kilometer long stretch of road in a fertile valley. Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from this farming area in the middle of the growing season!
When they came home, they returned to complete destruction. Crops were devastated, animals were gone or dead and, worst of all, the road permanently cut off the water supply. The road that Canadians are helping to reconstruct has devastated farming and the security of the people living their. Some engineer gave no thought to human security when designing the road, focussed instead on how to move military equipment from point A to point B.
The Canadian government has promised grain to help the people of the region, but food aid is not a long-term solution. And since when has the Canadian military become an expert on building roads? Incidently, the area is full of roads. But the roads are winding roads and not suitable for the transport of military equipment.
This is not the road to peace.
The Road to Peace
The new highway in the fertile Afghan valley is not the road to peace. The road to peace is stopping the destruction, is negotiating, not handing out candy. The road to peace is rebuilding imaginations so that dreams can live, grow and thrive. The road to peace is in coming to sit at the table — not in a drive-by, fast food agenda. The road to peace is a long, winding, and uncertain road that runs through all those Afghan villages. It is not a road we can rebuild and run.
We have a responsibility in Afghanistan, but it’s not a military one. We have a responsibility here, at our own tables, to remember that what we do in the world gathers around other tables; it reflects us. As such, we should gather humbly, thoughtfully and ask for peace.