Viewer Beware!

A pro-nuke video featuring “former” anti-nuclear activists is making the rounds.

Pittsylvania Co., VA– Two local groups aimed at bringing uranium mining to Pittsylvania County will be showing a movie this weekend to inform the public of its benefits.

Read about it here.

PANDORA’S PROMISE asks whether the one technology we fear most could save our planet from a climate catastrophe, while providing the energy needed to lift billions of people in the developing world out of poverty. In his controversial new film, Stone tells the intensely personal stories of environmentalists and energy experts who have undergone a radical conversion from being fiercely anti to strongly pro-nuclear energy, risking their careers and reputations in the process. Stone exposes this controversy within the environmental movement head-on with stories of defection by heavy weights including Stewart Brand, Richard Rhodes, Gwyneth Cravens, Mark Lynas and Michael Shellenberger. Undaunted and fearlessly independent, PANDORA’S PROMISE is a landmark work that is forever changing the conversation about the myths and science behind this deeply emotional and polarizing issue.

Pro-nuke film reviewers love it.

Bored by the tranche of lefty-liberal journalistic documentaries which attempt to uncover the manifold ills of the modern world and bring sickening tyrants to justice? If so, Robert Stone’s Pandora’s Promise could be the documentary you. It’s not a film which tells us something we already know from reading the newspapers in an emotive and informative way, it’s a film which dares to challenge ingrained perceptions and offers radical new perspectives on a taboo subject.

Others do not.  Beyond Nuclear published a report in direct response to the film.

Pandora’s Promise, is a new pro-nuclear propaganda documentary released theatrically in the US in July 2013. It is funded in part by individuals with a vested interest in seeing the development of new reactors and is seemingly a vehicle by which to raise the profile of the anti-environmental Oakland think tank, The Breakthrough Institute, whose personnel feature prominently in the film. Despite the film’s premise and early claim that it features “a growing number of leading former anti-nuclear activists” who now support nuclear energy, no one in the film ever led the anti-nuclear movement. Nor was any credible, independent scientific or medical professional with expertise in the areas covered in the film consulted or featured. Beyond Nuclear has bird-dogged the film from the beginning, and has produced numerous critiques. We have also published a definitive report – Pandora’s False Promises: Busting the pro-nuclear propaganda – and a two-page synopsis. These documents address virtually all of the myths, lies and omissions typically found in pro-nuclear rhetoric and are intended to address these long after Pandora’s Promise fades into deserved oblivion.

The good news is that when CNN aired it, few watched.

CNN’s airing last night of the documentary Pandora’s Promise delivered a wet 345,000 total viewers in its 9-11 PM time slot and just 145,000 among adults 25-54. The heavily promoted Robert Stone-directed film was way, way down from the 1.36 million that CNN Films’ Blackfish drew in total viewers in the same slot two weeks beforehand.

It seems folks are more interested in films about killer whales than pro-nuclear propaganda.  Thank goodness!

May the film fade into obscurity…

#TOpoli votes to stop #nuclearwaste dump at #LakeHuron!

Even with the irresponsible Fords hogging the headlines with their right winginess, Toronto City Council managed to do something good!  From Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump

City of Toronto Joins Call to Stop Proposed Nuclear Waste Dump beside the Great Lakes

TORONTO, ONTARIO November 14, 2013—A growing number of communities, organizations and citizens are opposing Ontario Power Generation’s plan to build an underground nuclear waste dump (a Deep Geological Repository) approximately 1km from the shore of Lake Huron. Public hearings on the matter were closed on October 30, 2013 by a Joint Review Panel and a Federal government decision is expected in 2014.

Today the City of Toronto unanimously passed Councillor Mike Layton’s motion for a resolution opposing OPG’s proposed nuclear waste repository. Toronto joins Mississauga, Oakville, London, Hamilton and many others organizations, citizens and communities in Ontario, Michigan and Ohio in formally opposing OPG’s plan. ‘It is vitally important to human health, the environment and to the Great Lakes economy that the Great Lakes be protected from the threats of any potential radioactive contamination’ said Councillor Layton, the initiator of the motion. The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, an organization of over 100 Canadian and American cities, including Toronto, is formally opposing OPG’s plan. ‘Today the City of Toronto took action to protect the drinking water of our citizens as well as the 40 million people living in the Great Lakes region. We would strongly encourage OPG to explore alternative sites outside of the Great Lakes Basin’ said Councillor Crawford.

Michigan State Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood and Representative Sarah Roberts, who are rallying the public and Michigan politicians to oppose the nuclear dump, note ‘Placing a permanent nuclear waste burial facility so close to Lake Huron is ill-advised. If a radioactive leak were to occur, it could be devastating to our economies and to our valuable drinking water sources.’

U.S. Congressmen Dan Kildee, Sander Levin, Gary Peters and John Dingell have written a letter to the Joint Review Panel expressing serious concern. U.S. Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow also have urged US Secretary of State John Kerry to ‘encourage the Canadian government to reconsider placing a nuclear waste dump near the shores of Lake Huron.’

‘We are delighted that Canada’s largest city is showing leadership and taking action to protect this irreplaceable fresh water resource’ said Beverly Fernandez, Spokesperson of Stop The Great Lakes Nuclear Dump, a non-profit citizens group that launched a campaign to raise awareness about OPG’s plan and a petition that now has almost 42,000 signatures opposing OPG’s proposal. ‘It absolutely defies common sense to bury the most toxic waste humans have ever produced, that remains lethal and dangerous for 100,000 years, approximately 1 km from the drinking water of 40 million people in two countries,’ Fernandez said.

Stop The Great Lakes Nuclear Dump is a non-profit organization comprised of concerned Canadians who believe that the protection of the Great Lakes from buried radioactive nuclear waste is responsible stewardship, and is of national and international importance. In order to protect our precious natural resource, the Great Lakes, our group believes that radioactive nuclear waste should not be buried anywhere in the Great Lakes Basin. We are urging citizens to sign our online petition and to send a message to the Minister of the Environment to stand up for the protection of the Great Lakes.

Japan’s ex-PM Koizumi urges Prime Minister Abe to abandon nuclear power

From Reuters

Japan’s ex-PM Koizumi urges Prime
Minister Abe to abandon nuclear power
 
by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Edited Robert Birsel
Reuters News Agency, Tue, Nov 12 2013

Nov 12 (Reuters) – Former Japanese premier Junichiro Koizumi on Tuesday urged his old deputy, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to abandon nuclear power, adding to pressure on the government to re-consider its position on unpopular atomic energy.

Koizumi was one of Japan’s most popular prime ministers before he stepped down in 2006 and his comments carry influence among the general public and within the ruling bloc, led by his old Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Nuclear power has been contentious since a power plant in the Fukushima region north of Tokyo was hit by a big earthquake and tsunami in 2011, triggering explosions, meltdowns and the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

“If the LDP decided on abandoning nuclear power, all the parties would be for the policy as the opposition is already supporting it,” Koizumi told a news conference.

“What a magnificent and fantastic project it would be. He can get to use his power to utilise nature as resources. There are no other prime ministers who are as lucky as he is.”

Koizumi supported nuclear power when he was prime minister and his calls in recent months for the country to give it up are a headache for the government.

Abe aims to reduce nuclear power as much as possible but believes it would be irresponsible to give it up straight away because that would threaten a stable power supply.

Koizumi said if money used to build nuclear plants was spent on renewable energy, it would spur a range of technological development.

More than two and a half years after the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co, is struggling to stop radiation leaks.

Koizumi said Abe could determine Japan’s position on the issue.

“Even within the LDP, there are quite a few lawmakers who at heart are leaning towards the zero-nuclear policy. A prime minister’s power is enormous. If he proposed the zero-nuclear policy, no objections would emerge.”

Asked about Koizumi’s call, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga indicated the government intended stick to its policy of gradually reducing nuclear power’s ratio in the country’s energy mix.

“The government believes it is extremely important to administer its energy policy in a responsible manner,” Suga said.

Abe has been riding high in opinion polls due to the success of his economic policy. But energy policy could prove to be his Achilles’ heel as a survey by the Asahi Shimbun daily showed on Tuesday that 60 percent of those polled supported Koizumi’s zero-nuclear proposal. (Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Lakeside nuclear waste a risk worth protesting

Background:
 
London is the largest city in Southwestern Ontario, situated
about 100 kilometers due east of Sarnia and about 150 km
south of Kincardine — where Ontario Power Generation (OPG) 
wants to dump all of the nuclear waste from all of Ontario’s 
20 nuclear power reactors (except for the irradiated nuclear 
fuel) into a Deep Geological Repository (DGR) that is destined 
to become, in actual fact, a Deep Underground Dump (DUD).
 
OPG has the stated intention of abandoning the nuclear waste 
there, in a limestone/shale formation, less than a mile from 
Lake Huron.  (Mm-mm-good.  Lots of water nearby.  Just the
thing for spreading nuclear waste far and wide.  Share the
wealth, I always say…. Hmmm.)  
 
London is a pretty conservative little city, a retirement haven
for many, and it is one of many municipalities that has passed
a resolution against the proposed Lake Huron nuclear waste
dump. And the London Free Press editorial staff has seldom 
if ever advocated protesting against anything, which makes 
the accompanying article all the more remarkable.
 
–Gordon Edwards.

from: London Free Press

Lakeside nuclear waste a risk worth protesting

It’s our source of drinking water and a natural wonder of the world.

But soon land near Lake Huron could become the host for buried nuclear waste whose radioactive risks would last 100,000 years.

Ontario Power Generation is seeking federal approval to bury enough nuclear waste to fill 80 Olympic-sized swimming pools on the Bruce Power site. Its computer models predict the waste can be safely contained beneath layers of shale and limestone 700 metres below ground and one kilometre from the lake.

Kincardine and other nearby communities would be paid $35 million by 2035.

But not everyone shares in the optimistic forecasts of Ontario Power Generation, a company owned by the province that provides about 60% of Ontario’s electricity, much of that through nuclear generating plants.

Environmental groups point out the Great Lakes were formed by glaciers only 10,000 years ago so it’s problematic predicting what will happen to them the next 100,000 years, whether seismic forces powerful enough to create the lakes might someday rip them apart.

Even if shale and limestone make a solid vault, environmentalists ask about the shafts that would be bored through them to place the nuclear waste — can those shafts be effectively plugged?

Taking the questions together, at their core is this critical inquiry: Will burying nuclear waste pose a risk to Lake Huron and all of us who count on the great, natural body of water to sustain us?

That question has sparked a flurry of activity across the border. Both U.S. senators for Michigan, Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin, have sent a letter to United States Secretary of State John Kerry asking him to intervene and demand an inquiry by a panel of Canadian and American scientists set up to protect the Great Lakes, the International Joint Commission.

With so much at stake, it only makes sense that we in Southwestern Ontario look after our backyard.

Do some research.

Write to your MP.

Attend a public meeting set for London Nov. 20 at the Central Library.

Don’t take the health of our lake or our need for reliable electricity for granted

Canada Reaches Nuclear Agreement With Uranium-Rich Kazakhstan

From Nuclear Street News

Canada Reaches Nuclear Agreement With Uranium-Rich Kazakhstan

Rate This
PoorPoorFairFairAverageAverageGoodGoodExcellentExcellent
Tue, Nov 12 2013 10:27 AM
  • Comments 0
  • Likes

Canada plans to enter a civilian nuclear agreement with Kazakhstan, home to 12 percent of the world’s uranium deposits and an ambitious fuel cycle industry.

Azerbaijani newspaper AzerNews reported Monday that the agreement will be signed in Kazakhstan during a first-ever visit by Canada’s foreign minister this week. Agreements on the peaceful use of nuclear energy between nations typically lay out diplomatic expectations regarding nonproliferation, nuclear safety and other issues. They often precede additional treaties and agreements that lead to trade in nuclear technology and services.

Next year, Canada’s Cameco will begin a feasibility study on a 6,000-tonne-per-year uranium conversion facility at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant, according to the World Nuclear Association. The company also owns 60 percent of Kazakhstan’s Inkai uranium mine. Pending the study’s findings, a joint venture between Cameco and state-controlled Kazatomprom could begin construction of the conversion equipment in 2018.

Kazakhstan holds the world’s second largest uranium reserves, AzerNews reported. The country’s mines accounted for more than 36 percent of the word’s uranium production in 2012, according to the WNA. Kazakhstan also signed an agreement with Areva in 2008 to build a new fuel fabrication facility at Ulba. Bolstered by demand from China’s rapidly expanding reactor fleet, Kazatomprom aims to supply up to one-third of the world’s fuel fabrication market by 2030.

#Indigenous Elders and Medicine Peoples Council Statement on #Fukushima

From: Indigenous Action Media

Indigenous Elders and Medicine Peoples Council Statement on Fukushima

View the original statement with signatures here (PDF): COUNCIL_FUKUSHIMA_STATEMENT_OCT_2013.

Council Statement
This statement reflects the wisdom of the Spiritual People of the Earth, of North and South America, working in unity to restore peace, harmony and balance for our collective future and for all living beings. This statement is written in black and white with a foreign language that is not our own and does not convey the full depth of our concerns.

The Creator created the People of the Earth into the Land at the beginning of
Creation and gave us a way of life. This way of life has been passed down
generation-to-generation since the beginning. We have not honored this way of
life through our own actions and we must live these original instructions in order
to restore universal balance and harmony. We are a part of Creation;
thus, if we break the Laws of Creation, we destroy ourselves.
We, the Original Caretakers of Mother Earth, have no choice but to follow and uphold
the Original Instructions, which sustains the continuity of Life. We recognize our
umbilical connection to Mother Earth and understand that she is the source of life, not a
resource to be exploited. We speak on behalf of all Creation today, to communicate an
urgent message that man has gone too far, placing us in the state of survival. We warned
that one day you would not be able to control what you have created. That day is here.
Not heeding warnings from both Nature and the People of the Earth keeps us on the path
of self destruction. This self destructive path has led to the Fukushima nuclear crisis, Gulf
oil spill, tar sands devastation, pipeline failures, impacts of carbon dioxide emissions and
the destruction of ground water through hydraulic fracking, just to name a few. In
addition, these activities and development continue to cause the deterioration and
destruction of sacred places and sacred waters that are vital for Life.
Powerful technologies are out of control and are threatening the future of all life
The Fukushima nuclear crisis alone is a threat to the future of humanity. Yet, our concern
goes far beyond this single threat. Our concern is with the cumulative and
compounding devastation that is being wrought by the actions of human beings around
the world. It is the combination of resource extraction, genetically modified organisms,
moral failures, pollution, introduction of invasive species and much much more that are
threatening the future of life on Earth. The compounding of bad decisions and their
corresponding actions are extremely short-sighted. They do not consider the future
generations and they do not respect or honor the Creator’s Natural Law. We strongly
urge for the governmental authorities to respond with an open invitation to work and
consult with us to solve the world’s problems, without war. We must stop waging war
against Mother Earth, and ourselves.
We acknowledge that all of these devastating actions originated in human beings who are
living without regard for the Earth as the source of life. They have strayed from the
Original Instructions by casting aside the Creator’s Natural Law. It is now critical for
humanity to acknowledge that we have created a path to self destruction. We must restore
the Original Instructions in our lives to halt this devastation.
The sanctity of the Original Instructions has been violated. As a result, the Spiritual
People of the Earth were called ceremonially to come together at the home of the Sacred
White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle. These Spiritual Leaders and those that carry great
responsibility for their people from both North and South America came together with the
sacred fire for four days at the end of September 2013 to fulfill their sacred
responsibilities. During this time it was revealed that the spirit of destruction gained its’
strength by our spiritually disconnected actions. We are all responsible in varying
degrees for calling forth this spirit of destruction, thus we are all bound to begin
restoring what we have damaged by helping one another recover our sacred
responsibility to the Earth. We, the Original Caretakers of Mother Earth, offer our
spiritual insight, wisdom and vision to the global community to help guide the actions
needed to overcome the current threats to all life.
We only have to look at our own bodies to recognize the sacred purpose
of water on Mother Earth. We respect and honor our spiritual relationship
with the lifeblood of Mother Earth. One does not sell or contaminate their
mother’s blood. These capitalistic actions must stop and we must recover
our sacred relationship with the Spirit of Water
The People of the Earth understand that the Fukushima nuclear crisis continues to
threaten the future of all life. We understand the full implications of this crisis even with
the suppression of information and the filtering of truth by the corporate owned media
and Nation States. We strongly urge the media, corporations and Nation States to
acknowledge and convey the true facts that threaten us, so that the international
community may work together to resolve this crisis, based on the foundation of Truth.
We urge the international community, government of Japan and TEPCO to unify efforts
to stabilize and re-mediate the nuclear threat posed at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear
power plant. To ensure that the Japanese government and TEPCO are supported with
qualified personnel and information, we urge the inclusion of today’s nuclear experts
from around the world to collaborate, advise and provide technical assistance to prevent
further radioactive contamination or worse, a nuclear explosion that may have
apocalyptic consequences.
The foundation for peace will be strengthened by restoring the Original Instructions in ourselves
Prophecies have been shared and sacred instructions were given. We, the People of the
Earth, were instructed that the original wisdom must be shared again when imbalance
and disharmony are upon Mother Earth. In 1994 the sacred white buffalo, the giver of
the sacred pipe, returned to the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people bringing forth the
sacred message that the winds of change are here. Since that time many more
messengers in the form of white animals have come, telling us to wake up my children. It
is time. So listen for the sacred instruction.

All Life is sacred. We come into Life as sacred beings. When we abuse the
sacredness of Life we affect all Creation
We urge all Nations and human beings around the world to work with us, the Original
Caretakers of Mother Earth, to restore the Original Instructions and uphold the
Creator’s Natural Law as a foundation for all decision making, from this point forward.
Our collective future as human beings is in our hands, we must address the Fukushima
nuclear crisis and all actions that may violate the Creator’s Natural Law. We have
reached the crossroads of life and the end of our existence. We will avert this potentially
catastrophic nuclear disaster by coming together with good minds and prayer as a global
community of all faiths.
We are the People of the Earth united under the Creator’s Law with a sacred covenant to
protect and a responsibility to extend Life for all future generations. We are expressing
deep concern for our shared future and urge everyone to awaken spiritually. We must
work in unity to help Mother Earth heal so that she can bring back balance and harmony
for all her children.
Representatives of the Council

Chief Arvol Looking Horse
19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe
Spiritual Leader
The Great Sioux Nation

Bobby C. Billie
Clan Leader and Spiritual Leader
Council of the Original Miccosukee
Simanolee Nation Aboriginal Peoples

Faith Spotted Eagle, Tunkan Inajin Win
Brave Heart Society Grandmother/Headswoman & Ihanktonwan Treaty Council
Ihanktonwan Dakota from the Oceti Sakowin

 

Terrible nuke stuff going on in northern Saskatchewan

Audio link below.  From Before it’s news:

Pact with the Nuclear Devil: Saskatchewan’s Uranium Companies Derogate First Nations Land Rights

“So here to us was an immediate gag order… How come if I’m in opposition to the mining companies that this negotiation would rob me the ability to speak out my concerns to the leadership or to my own people, my own community, and my own municipality.” Dale Smith

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Length (58:55)
Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

Dale Smith is a Métis resident of Pinehouse, a community in the boreal forest 500 kilometres north of Saskatoon in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. Pinehouse is one of those Northern Saskatchewan communities targeted by the nuclear industry for its proximity to uranium deposits and to a site for the dumping of nuclear waste from Ontario.

In the fall of 2012, news of a Collaboration Agreement between the community of Pinehouse and uranium companies Cameco and Pinehouse began to surface. Community members like Smith became outraged not only by the lack of meaningful consultation, but by the terms of the agreement.

Confidentiality Clause

A summary of the Collaboration Agreement Term Sheet became available to community members at a November 13, 2012 public village meeting. The text directly implies that the village residents would effectively be subjected to a gag order:

Summary of the Collaboration Agreement Term Sheet Made Among Cameco Corporation, Areva Resources Canada Inc. and Pinehouse (“Term Sheet”)
October 12, 2012

Section G: Other Promises

Pinehouse Promises to:

(a) Generally cooperate with Cameco/Areva and generally support Cameco/Areva operations when it deals with the provincial or federal governments although Pinehouse can raise concerns to the governments about the projects.
….

(e) Not make statements or say things in public or to any government, business or agency that opposes Cameco/Areva’s mining operations.

(f) Make reasonable efforts to ensure Pinehouse members do not say or do anything that interferes with or delays Cameco/Areva’s mining, or do or say anything that is not consistent with Pinehouse’s promises under the Collaboration Agreement. [1]

Outrage from the community and negative media exposure resulted in the wording of the text being altered to omit the gag order provisions. However, in the final draft it became apparent that another signatory, Kineepik Métis Local Inc., representing Métis peoples in the town, had obtained records dealing with traditional land use mapping fishing, trapping and other resource utilization in the area. [2]

The executive, it seems, had agreed to share this information with Cameco/Areva so that compensation for lands encroached upon by the nuclear giants could be negotiated. In exchange, Pinehouse Village Trust would receive an intitial payment of $1 million with additional payments pending as new mining projects initiate operation.[3][4]

The final Collaboration Agreement between Pinehouse, Cameco and Areva was signed December 12, 2012.

In Dale Smith’s words: “They bought Pinehouse outright.”

On June 24, 2013, Larry Kowalchuk of Kowalchuk Law Office in Regina registered a statement of claim in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan’s Court of Queen’s Bench on behalf of Smith and two other litigants backed by three dozen other plaintiffs across Canada.

The suit argued the mining operations fostered by the Collaboration Agreement would have a detrimental impact on human health and the environment. The suit also named the Saskatchewan and Canadian governments as not protecting Aboriginal and Treaty rights enshrined under the Canadian Constitution, the Charter of Rights and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. [5]

The legal battle is a difficult one for Smith. Not only is he at the centre of a classic David and Goliath duel, but he finds himself pitted against friends and family within his village with few of his loved ones willing to take to the public stage alongside him.

This week’s Global Research News Hour gives space for this humble wild rice harvester and fisherman turned defender of the land to tell his story.

For more information on this story visit the Committee for Future Generations Website
or D’Arcy Hande’s latest contribution to Briarpatch magazine – “Courting collaboration: How the uranium industry bought the Village of Pinehouse, and what residents are doing to take it back

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Length (58:55)
Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

Notes

1) http://committeeforfuturegenerations.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/collaborationagreement.pdf
2) D’Arcy Hande, Nov. 1, 2013; “Courting collaboration: How the uranium industry bought the Village of Pinehouse, and what residents are doing to take it back”, Briarpatch Magazine; http://briarpatchmagazine.com/articles/view/courting-collaboration
3) ibid
4) COLLABORATION AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE NORTHERN VILLAGE OF PINEHOUSE AND KINEEPIK METIS LOCAL INC. AND CAMECO CORPORATION
AND AREVA RESOURCES CANADA INC. Dated December 12
http://www.pinehouselake.ca/images/pdf/Collaboration%20Agreement.pdf
5) D’Arcy Hande, op cit.

Shitty water?

Dr. Jim Harding provides important information about Regina’s impact on the water downstream.  It ain’t pretty.

 

 

 

QU’APPELLE VALLEY LAKES CLEANUP TAKES BACK SEAT TO NEW ROUGHRIDER STADIUM

BY Jim Harding

For decades Regina’s poorly treated sewage has degraded eco-system health downstream in the Qu’Appelle Valley. Regina’s refusal to priorize modernizing its wastewater treatment means that people sometimes can’t swim safely, eat the fish or even boat.

The wellbeing of cottagers and those that make the valley their home is being disrespected. And there is no excuse; for years Peter Leavitt and his associates at the University of Regina have shown the major role Regina’s sewage plays in degrading this waterway. Meanwhile, rather than biting the bullet and upgrading the system, Regina politicians prefer to make a multi-million dollar new stadium their highest priority. Out of sight, out of mind!

METAL CONTAMINATION

Metal contamination increases with the growth of agriculture, industry and urbanization. Most of the catchment area for the Qu’Appelle River drainage basin includes industrial exposure – e.g. a steel plant, oil refinery, fertilizer plant and potash mine near Regina. Metal contamination from erosion is increased by agricultural tilling, irrigation and use of chemicals; coal plants and waste incineration send metals into the atmosphere which find their way into freshwater.

Metal pollutants accumulate in lake sediment and eventually enter aquatic food webs. Leavitt’s research suggests that small aquatic invertebrates in the Qu’Appelle system “may have been exposed to damaging levels of toxic metals for 100 years”. This research concludes that “overall, potential toxic metals from urban and industrial sources accumulate significantly within invertebrate diapausing (dormant) eggs, while less toxic metals preferentially accumulate in the sediment matrix”. The more toxic metals include cadmium, chromium and molybdenum.

NITROGEN LOADING

Sediment analysis suggests that 70% of the nitrogen pollution in the Qu’Appelle waterways comes from Regina. (Most of the phosphorous likely comes from agriculture.) This elevated nitrogen influx results in heavy algal blooms which can elevate to toxic levels. This excessive algal growth can deplete oxygen levels in lakes and result in mass die off of fish and other aquatic organisms. Pasqua Lake, the first lake 175 km downstream from Regina, is the most heavily affected. In earlier research it was estimated that this fairly shallow lake contained about 300% more algae than in pre-colonial times; currently it’s estimated to be 500%. Most nitrogen gets sequestered in lake sediment but nutrients are passed downstream when saturation occurs, first to Echo Lake, then to Mission and on to Katepwa. This is chronic as I write!

There are other pollutants from Regina. Environment Canada found personal care products, like aspirin derivatives and some antibiotics downstream.

REGINA’S IRRESPONSIBILITY

The last time Regina made a major upgrade of its wastewater plant was in 1977, to include tertiary treatment, i.e. “clarification” to remove phosphorous. Thirty-five years later this is no longer “state of the art” and the City has fallen behind the treatment standards of other prairie cities. City politicians have had other priorities, like Harbour Landing and a new Roughrider stadium.

I have some personal experience with this matter. When I was on Regina’s City Council in the mid-1990s, meeting at a session on capital budget, I raised planning for upgrading water treatment. I was told in no uncertain terms that with property reassessment coming, suburban taxes would increase and most councilors would lose their seats if we dared include these capital costs. Councilors agreed in word or by silence and the matter was dropped.

I’m not privy to how this was handled during Mayor Fiacco’s term. City officials claim they have budgeted for the wastewater upgrade, yet nothing significant has happened. The City is now looking at selling its poorly treated wastewater to a potash company south of Regina, while another potash company has indicated it wants to remove water directly from the Qu’Appelle lakes. What would all this “pragmatism” do to the flow and water quality of the Qu’Appelle lakes?

So here we are in 2012 with Regina the only major prairie city not to have upgraded its sewage treatment. The cost of doing this has continued to rise and could now be as much as $200 million. In its 2012 budget the City only budgeted $19.6 million for wastewater upgrades.

MISPLACED PRIORITIES

Aquatic eco-system protection simply must be implemented quickly. However Regina’s present Mayor and Council seem to be trying to end-run the electorate by approving much more spending to build a new Roughrider stadium without sufficient public input. Mosaic Stadium has just had a $14 million upgrade to prepare it for the 2013 Grey Cup. Then it’s going to be torn down. The proposed new stadium will have about the same seating capacity as Mosaic Stadium. Its total cost, including loan interest and maintenance over a 30 year period will be $675 million. This amount does not include cost overruns.

The province will contribute an $80 million grant and the Roughriders will only have to pay $25 million mostly from corporate sponsorships. According to Regina City Council’s funding plan, $300 million will come from the pockets of Regina taxpayers, who will be required to pay a 0.45% increase in property taxes each year for 10 years. Forced to foot the bill, how will Regina’s taxpayers view spending the millions needed to stop contaminating the Qu’Appelle Valley waterways?

 

Mayor Fiacco justified announcing the new stadium at a Roughrider game, saying that “users will pay”, suggesting that raising the facility fee for games by $4 will cover the provincial loan. Yet only $100 million of the total $675 million will likely come from this. Sounding a little like Prime Minister Harper, who also sidesteps democratic due process, he says “we were elected to make decisions”, while ignoring that stadium upgrades in 1977 came after a plebiscite. When asked about the fact that general taxes will go up, a City official spoke of “delivering a quality of life in Regina”, drawing an analogy to public transit which, like the stadium, is not used by everyone.

BREAD AND CIRCUSES

What about quality of life downstream from Regina’s effluent? What about municipal responsibility? When you go to the City’s web page there’s mention that an upgrade of sewage treatment will be required by 2016 (province) and 2020 (federal), yet no government grants are forthcoming for this. Why is the province spending $80 million for a Regina stadium and ignoring Regina’s sewage pollution?

The City is not stringently lobbying for such assistance. If anything it leaves the impression that the main problem with sewage treatment is persisting odour. It doesn’t mention its role in polluting the Qu’Appelle Valley lakes; this can reinforce disinformation such as the claim that “the lakes have always had high algae.” Based on a 1999 report it even alleges that “the City is a leader in treating wastewater”. Tell that to the residents and cottagers living along Pasqua or other Qu’Appelle Valley lakes.

The City’s diagram on waste treatment highlights its sediment removal, aerated lagoons, clarification and UV disinfecting and then ends abruptly, showing only an arrow for the discharge of its poorly treated effluent into Wascana Creek. For those living downstream this is where the contamination begins.

How did protecting eco-system health and a major recreational waterway become less important than a new football stadium? Is bread and circuses being allowed to squeeze out the quest for clean water and sustainability? We only can hope that this matter gets raised during Regina’s fall election.

 

 

 

Panel Discussion: nuclear, tar sands, our future

WHAT: “Nuclear Tar Sands, OUR Future: Making the Connections”

WHO: A panel discussion with
+ Eileen Bear, Committee for Future Generations
+ D’Arcy Hande, HUES3 Campaign
+ Cameron Fenton, Canadian Youth Climate Coalition
+ Megan Van Buskirk, Canadian Youth Delegation

WHEN: Tuesday, September 18 7:00 pm

WHERE: Room 2E25, Agriculture Building
University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon

WHY?: Because we care!

Refreshments will be provided.