Successful Slovakian No-Nukes Campaign (& More)

The Slovakian Parliament responded favourably to a petition from the people of Slovakia.  Environmentalists organized a petition drive to give local citizens a stronger voice.

This week the campaign was victorious when, in a momentous decision, the Slovak parliament agreed on legal changes to geological and mining laws to give more power and control to local communities, municipal and regional authorities. This will allow them stop or limit geological research of uranium deposits and to stop proposed uranium mining.

The pro-nukers won’t be too happy about that, I’m sure.  But hey, they’re watching the markets.  And the nukers are wetting their pants about Cameco’s move back to full operation by 2013.  They really do think they can sell nuclear as green.  Scary, huh?

More and more, however, people are stepping up and saying that nukes are not green, nukes won’t work to solve our energy woes, nukes kill.  Why, then, do the nukers persist?

Harding: After a Decade of Shock and Awe

Here’s Dr. Jim Harding’s latest column. Worth a read.

After a Decade of Shock and Awe

by Jim Harding

It’s common to recap events in decades. We often even adopt decade identities – the rebellious sixties, the greedy eighties, etc. Might we call the first decade of the 21st century the “shock and awe” decade?

The decade is mostly defined by the aftermath of the Sept. 11th 2001 bombing of New York’s Twin Towers. The hysteria generated after this was instrumental in starting two destructive “wars on terrorism”, which trudge on. The Security State has grown along with insurgencies and the politics of fear, none of which are good foundations for building sustainable societies. But much more happened! The decade saw a global economic crisis, devastating natural disasters, extreme storms and deepening of the climate crisis controversy, all of which will shape the coming decade.

BUBBLES AND LIVES BURSTING

Many corporate bubbles burst in the last decade. The S & P 500 lost 25% of their stock value; the dot.com bubble burst as markets plummeted after 9/11. The decade ended when the real estate bubble burst and the world entered the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression. While a few got richer, the majority did not. Many people lost jobs and large amounts of their pensions. The trillion dollar and growing debt from the U.S’s ongoing “wars on terrorism” and economic bailouts will continue to destabilize that country. In the 1990’we were talking of the U.S. being the world’s only superpower. This last decade likely ended that.

Those facing natural and climate disasters had more fundamental challenges than securing their retirement. The tsunami that followed from the earthquake off Sumatra on December 24, 2004 left 230,000 persons dead. The May 12, 2008 earthquake at Sichuan, China killed another 70,000. And the May 2, 2008 cyclone in Burma killed 140,000 more. In the west we likely know far more about the August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina which killed about 2,000 persons. As with the Haitian earthquake, which killed 230,000 persons, social position and political marginalization played a major role in shaping vulnerability.

Extreme weather events and the magnitude of storms propelled worldwide support for actions to prevent irreversible climate change. But the politics of fossil fuel dependency and resistance to moving beyond our carbon economy has won out, so far. Greenhouse gases continued to rise during the last decade, and the Canadian government got a deserved international reputation for undermining climate justice. At the same time the shift towards a green economy and support for renewable energy accelerated worldwide, including in Saskatchewan; the climate controversy won’t be on the back-burner for long.

Over the last decade the politics of fear clearly ascended. One-quarter of Americans now believe they are at risk from a terrorist attack, while, realistically, they face greater dangers from their cars. Our moral sense of proportion became even more warped during the past decade. How do we compare the 2,900 innocent civilians who died so tragically in the Twin Towers or those dead or suffering from occupational hazards after intervening in the ordeal, to the many more soldiers and insurgents who have died at war? Or to the hundreds of thousands of civilians who have died from these terrifying wars? Or to the many more who will now live traumatized lives? Or to those forced to eke out an existence on war-poisoned land? The end-justifies-the means mentality of the last decade is simply not sustainable.

MORE OF SAME?

We humans have huge capacity for denial and dissociation. I, too, look forward to World Cup soccer or Canada-U.S. hockey games, and hope that international sports is making us more accepting of human diversity. But I know that sports and entertainment celebrity culture can also blind us from human suffering and glaring inequalities. How quickly beer-drinking Olympic-mania replaced coverage of the millions still grieving and struggling in Haiti! It’s hard not to conclude that achieving sustainability will require a massive resurgence of human spirituality. Perhaps this has been going on underneath all the shock and awe we have collectively experienced and this will continue to blossom in coming years. Perhaps!

For many the election of President Obama was a sign of moderation and hope, but it was premature to present him with a Peace Prize without any track record. Moving towards more peace and security is a challenge to us all. It is heartening that the U.S. and Russia are talking of nuclear weapons reductions, but nuclear proliferation remains a global threat, with the help of the spreading of nuclear technology. It hasn’t helped the cause that, as the British Inquiry on the War on Iraq is now confirming, the US and UK manipulated fears about Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) to justify their planned invasion of Iraq. All of us can contribute to peace and security by resisting such disinformation campaigns, and demanding more participation and transparency within our democracies. Do we ever need this in Canada now!

The huge changes occurring in the last decade clearly set us up for either more of the same or embracing the needed shift towards sustainability. There will be no tech-fixes in this evolutionary endeavour, but the growth of the internet and other mass communications likely sets the stage for the coming decade. Will the globalizing of communications help us to get a more accurate and compassionate view of the challenges facing humanity? Will this create even more narcissism and attention deficit among those bonding to the new technology market? The last decade vividly shows the challenges to not living in bubbles and to continually enhancing connaection. Perhaps down deep, after all the shock and awe, many will be whispering “enough is enough.” And, like spring winds, whispers can grow.

Next time I’ll explore how population growth affects sustainability.

Originally published in RTown News, February 26, 2010

Anti-nukers organizing!

This just landed in the inbox, from a Saskatchewan organizer:

(1) PARADISE HILL, 400 TO 500 PEOPLE CAME!

Paradise Hill, SK, 2001 population: 486
(Source: Statistics Canada)

Between 400 and 500 people attended the meeting in the Kinsmen Hall. All
the chairs were put out. Still, the back wall
Was lined by people – standing room only.

For me it was quite amazing. People came from miles around, and from
Alberta. Men, women, teen-agers and a few children.

The meeting started at 7:30pm. People remained intently focused on the
presentation and then the questions/answers. You didn’t hear fidgeting,
coughing or chairs scraping the floor. The odd small cry from a baby.
Otherwise it was people absorbing and processing information. For
two-and-a-half hours.

The questions were excellent. A lot of people were very well informed –
they’d done research, probably on the internet – it showed in the questions.

Jim Harding, retired U of Regina professor and author of “Canada’s Deadly
Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System” gave a
presentation. Between his presentation and his responses to questions from
the audience, some of the topics addressed were:

– the lack of, and need for public participation in the decisions around
nuclear development in the province
– in response to the question, “Why do we need this extra energy?”, Jim
addressed the feasibility study published by Bruce Power last fall. A
legitimate feasibility would have addressed this question. It didn’t
address that or the spectrum of options that are available.
– Saskatchewan is a small power grid. The construction of one large
nuclear reactor does not make sense if you are an engineer at SaskPower who
is designing the best way to supply the population with a reliable energy
source at a reasonable price. Nuclear reactors are notorious for down-time.

– The Nuclear Advisory Committee report is due by the end of March.
Sitting on the Advisory Panel are heads of Bruce Power, Cameco, and Areva.
Patrick Moore who is not from Saskatchewan and who is funded by the American
Nuclear Energy Institute is a member of the panel. (See note on him – –
#5.)
– water-related issues
– health and environmental health issues
– the nuclear chain down to depleted uranium
(Aside: whenever people talk about “depleted” uranium and “spent” fuel
rods, I want to correct the language. The words “depleted” and “spent” make
them sound benign. They are radioactive, anything but depleted or spent.)
– costs to future generations, especially in relation to the radioactive
waste which will have to be managed for thousands of years.
– globally, a downward trend line for the percentage of energy that is
nuclear
– one woman asked about the disposal of radioactive waste: if a nuclear
reactor is built in Saskatchewan, will that not open the door to us becoming
the disposal site for radioactive waste for all of Canada and further?
– the experience of the Americans with Yucca Mountain. They are unable to
find a place to get rid of their radioactive waste.
– tritium in water supplies
– one fellow asked if he was right: it seems to him that the industry
people will make all the money and that we will pay all the costs.
– a woman originally from Germany told of her family’s experience in the
aftermath of the accident, even though they were thousands of miles from
Chernobyl. (Children had to be kept indoors. They couldn’t eat the food
grown outside.)

SOS (Save Our Saskatchewan), the local group that organized the meeting
invited Bruce Power and the MLA to attend the meeting, Jim invited anyone
from the audience that might be from BP or the government to join the
discussion, but no one came forward.

I don’t know how many people signed the petition.

There were very good brochures on various topics related to the
nuclear/uranium question. I saw them in the hands of many of the people in
attendance.

At the end of the meeting, people fell into small groups as they will do in
communities. The determination of the people in the group I joined (people
new to me), was quite fierce. It was reflective of a sentiment expressed
through the questions and heard in snippets of other conversations. These
400 to 500 people are going out into their communities. They will be
spreading the word and putting their muscle into the fight against nuclear
reactors.

The people in Warman SK stopped a uranium processing plant in the 1980’s.
Unfortunately for the people in Ontario it got built there. The people who
came to Paradise Hill are going to stop a nuclear reactor being built there.
But they are also dedicated to helping the other communities along the North
Sask River (the alternate sites) in the same battle.

=====================

(2) PASS THE NUCLEAR REACTOR TO BORDEN, SK

The between-communities passing of information is incredible.

In the polite conversations between the land-owners approached by Bruce
Power, and the BP representative, talk sometimes got around to, “If not
here, where would BP be looking to build a reactor?”.

The answer:
– at Borden (near a bend in the River – good siting because the water flows
faster at the bend)
– or near Saint Louis.

Between last night and today there has already been a flurry of activity at
Borden. Thanks to the people at Paradise Hill!

Do you know anyone from Saint Louis? They should be told that they may be
next on the firing line.

======================

(3) SOS! MEETING IN P.A.-LANDOWNERS APPROACHED, ARE LOOKING FOR A GROUP
LIKE SOS IN PARADISE

Need some help here:
A fellow from Prince Albert contacted the SOS group in Paradise Hill today.
There is no group he knows of in the P.A. area, and land owners have already
been approached by BP.

The only way I can think of to get people in P.A. connected is through Jim
Harding’s presentation:

Thursday, March 12 – 1:00 pm at the SIAST Woodland Campus, Prince Albert

Please spread the word.

Also, Jim will be:
Wednesday, March 11 – 7:30 pm at the Shellbrook Legion Hall
(just off main street by the Post Office)

These are free public meetings (but donations more than welcome!)

Question & Answer and Discussion Period to follow

======================

(4) WATER USE AT NUCLEAR PLANTS, FROM THE UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS

Many thanks to Kevin. This will be put to good use!

Got Water?

http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/nuclear_power/20071204-ucs-brief-got-
water.pdf

=====================

(5) PATRICK MOORE, ON THE NUCLEAR ADVISORY PANEL

http://www.nuclearspin.org/index.php/Patrick_Moore
” Along with former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator
Christine Todd Whitman, Patrick Moore launched a new nuclear public
relations campaign in the US in May 2006 called the Clean and Safe Energy
Coalition [15]. The Coalition was organised and funded by the Nuclear Energy
Institute, with help from the public relations firm, Hill and Knowlton that
has a $8 million account with the nuclear industry. [16]

According to Environment News Services: “Nuclear power advocates are hoping
that Moore and Whitman can sell the American public on the benefits of
nuclear power and help spark the resurgence of an industry that has not
constructed a new plant in some 30 years”. [17]

An editorial in the Colombia Journalism Review noted the benefit to the
nuclear industry of having Moore and Whitman front their PR exercise, as in
subsequent media articles Moore was often quoted as a “founder of
Greenpeace” or an “environmentalist,” but not as a paid consultant to the
nuclear industry: “Life is complicated. So are front people for industry
causes – or any cause, in a world of increasingly sophisticated p.r. We have
no position on nuclear power. We just find it maddening that Hill & Knowlton
… should have such an easy time working the press”.[18]

In an article together, Moore and Whitman argued the coalition will “help
raise awareness of the benefits of clean and safe nuclear energy and
continue to build support for nuclear energy as a component of a
comprehensive plan to meet America’s future electricity needs”. [19]

The name of the coalition is no co-incidence, nor was the language used in
the article, such as clean, cheap and safe. It reflects a world-wide public
relations push by the nuclear industry to portray itself as “clean” and
“safe”.”

=========================

(6) AECL SEES NUCLEAR POTENTIAL. SASK GOVERNMENT HAS EXPRESSED INTEREST IN
PARTNERSHIP

Many thanks to Willi.

AECL sees nuclear potential; Sask. government has expressed interest in
forming partnership
The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon)
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Page: C7 / FRONT
Section: Business
Byline: Joanne Paulson
Source: The StarPhoenix

Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) sees bright possibilities for nuclear
research and development in Saskatchewan, not just the building of a power
plant, says its director of marketing and business development.

Ron Oberth was in Saskatoon Wednesday to meet with business leaders and
university officials to discuss the potential for partnerships with AECL.

“Right now, it’s ‘small p’ partnerships. We haven’t had any formal
discussions with anybody,” Oberth said in an interview.

AECL, a Crown corporation, is one of three nuclear plant manufacturers being
considered by Bruce Power should it decide to build a power plant in
Saskatchewan.

However, there are other possibilities, said Oberth. At present, all of the
nuclear research and development in Canada is done at Chalk River, Ont.

“We’ve also said to Saskatchewan, in addition to a power reactor, there are
many other opportunities that we are looking at — for example isotope
production, or perhaps a research reactor, or the production of hydrogen,”
said Oberth.

Hydrogen is used in tarsands upgrading and has potential in transportation,
said Oberth. When hydrogen is produced with nuclear technology, no
greenhouse gases are created, he added.

Premier Brad Wall likes the concept of smaller reactors, noted Oberth, and
it’s possible to set up a team to investigate the design of such reactors
suitable for hydrogen creation.

These kinds of potential uses are “a nice fit” for Saskatchewan, he said.

“What we would like to do is collaborate with University of Saskatchewan
officials and help set up a nuclear centre of excellence that would
complement and augment some of the work that’s going on at Chalk River,”
said Oberth.

AECL has chosen Saskatchewan as a potential location for such research
because of the interest of the government, the university’s facilities
including the Canadian Light Source synchrotron for nuclear materials
research and the uranium mined in the province’s North.

Much has been said recently about the province of Saskatchewan’s interest in
forming partnerships with AECL. The Saskatchewan Party government has
expressed interest in such partnerships, but has said it will not take a
financial position in AECL.

New research potential is the unique thing AECL could bring to Saskatchewan,
which the other two nuclear power plant developers would not, said Oberth.

“You’d be getting a reactor designed either in Pittsburgh mainly or in
France. All of the engineering would be done off-shore, and you’d have a
power plant,” said Oberth.

Last Friday, AECL submitted a bid for the next two reactors to be built in
Ontario. AECL is up against Westinghouse, an American firm, and Areva, the
French government-owned company. They are the same two companies being
considered, along with AECL, by Bruce Power.

“It was a major day in the company’s history,” said Oberth.

“That’s a must-win for us because that’s our home field. We as a company
must win the order for the next two reactors in Ontario to be able to
succeed internationally and (in) the rest of Canada.”

The agency running the tender process, Infrastructure Ontario, will make a
decision June 20.

The reactor model, an Advanced Candu Reactor 1000, is the same model AECL
would put forward to Bruce Power. It produces 1,085 megawatts of power.

AECL has experienced a few setbacks in recent years. The National Research
Universal (NRU) reactor, which manufactures medical radioisotopes, was shut
down in 2007 for upgrading, after the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
said the reactor was out of compliance. The shutdown created a temporary
shortage of isotopes.

Last year, AECL also abandoned development of its Maple reactors, which were
intended to replace the NRU reactor. The decision was made based on a series
of reviews after Maple failed several tests.

=========================

(7) NO NEW NUKES IN ONTARIO — A TEACH-IN Mar 13-14 (Film, Battle of
Chernobyl)

Mar 13-14, 2009, at the U of T, Toronto, Ontario

(Many thanks to Robert)

Join us for a teach-in on nuclear energy in Ontario. What
are the concerns surrounding nuclear energy, and what are
the alternatives?

Registration is now live! To register go to
http://nuketeachin.eventbrite.com

On the evening of Friday March 13 at 7:00 p.m. there will a
screening of the film Battle of Chernobyl. Earth Sciences
Auditorium (ES 1050), U of T. For a description of the movie
see http://icarusfilms.com/new2007/batt.html

Workshops will be held all day on Saturday Mar. 14, 10 a.m.
to 4 p.m. in the Kofffler Centre, Room 108, U of T

This conference will provide valuable information on the
cost, the health effects, the ethical considerations, and
the effectiveness of nuclear energy as compared to
alternatives (e.g. renewable energy sources).

For more info: nuketeachin@yahoo.ca

What’s Wrong With Nuclear? – links, organizations, resources
http://www.planetfriendly.net/energy.html#nuclear
http://directory.google.com/Top/Society/Issues/Environment/Nuclear/

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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SUBSCRIBE to GoodWork at: http://www.GoodWorkCanada.ca
or e-mail to: goodworkcanada-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Depleted Uranium Being Used on Palestinian People

From the Canadian blogger, Eva Bartlett, a member of the International Solidarity Movement, at her blog in Gaza:

He updates me on a BBC report: “the one o’clock news on the local BBC channel interviewed a Norwegian doctor in Gaza who said some of the victims bear traces of depleted uranium in their bodies.”

Press TV interviews, Dr. Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian triage medical team member currently in Gaza:

Press TV: What can you tell about the uranium findings?

Dr. Mads Gilbert:The findings about the uranium I cannot tell you much about, but I can tell you that we have clear evidence that the Israelis are using a new type of very high explosive weapons which are called Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME) and are made out of a tungsten alloy.

These weapons have an enormous power to explode.

The power of the explosion dissipates very quickly and the strength does not travel long, maybe 10 meters, but those humans who are hit by this explosion, this pressure wave are cut in pieces.

This was first used in Lebanon in 2006, it was used here in Gaza in 2006 and the injuries that we see in Shifa [Hospital] now, many many of them I suspect and we all suspect are the effect of DIME weapons used by the Israelis.

On the long term, these weapons will have a cancer effect on those who survive. They will develop cancer we suspect. There has been very little research on this but some research has been among other places in the United States, which show that these weapons have a high tendency to develop cancer. So they kill and those who survive risk having cancer.

One can’t help but wonder if the uranium came from Saskatchewan, eh?

Here’s an online petition you can sign.

Opponents of Quebec’s nuclear plans get fired up

.
You gotta love it when community comes together like this!  And you gotta love Quebeckers, especially, for showing us how to do it!
Opponents of Quebec’s nuclear plans get fired up

Gentilly 2 reactor to be refurbished. Scientists, artists and activists
say province made decisions without any public hearings

Dozens of prominent Quebec artists, scientists and media personalities
joined about 60 environmental and social groups yesterday to launch a
vast campaign to pressure Quebec’s Liberal government to cancel plans
to refurbish the province’s only nuclear reactor.

In August, Hydro-Québec and the minister responsible for the Mauricie
region, Julie Boulet, announced the Gentilly 2 nuclear plant in
Bécancour would be refurbished at an estimated cost of $1.9 billion.
That plant produces about three per cent of Quebec’s electricity.

At a news conference yesterday, scientists and nuclear experts,
including Université de Montréal professor Eric Notebaert, scientist
and broadcaster David Suzuki, radiation specialist Ian Fairlie, and
Université Laval professor of nuclear physics Michel Duguay, outlined
their concerns about the environmental, health, social and economic
risks of rebuilding the Gentilly 2 plant.

“(Premier) Jean Charest should be ashamed that this project is going
ahead without public debate,” said Gordon Edwards, a nuclear energy
expert and president of the Regroupement pour la surveillance du
nucléaire.

Duguay said Quebec does not need nuclear power to stabilize its
network, a point made clear by the fact that the grid has functioned
just fine whenever Gentilly 2 has been down for maintenance, “which is
at least 20 per cent of the time,” he said.

Others said Quebec should learn from Ontario’s mistakes, since nuclear
energy in that province has lead to massive cost overruns and frequent
breakdowns.

“In Canada, nuclear energy has proven itself to be expensive and
unreliable,” David Suzuki said in a statement read by his Quebec
director, Karel Maynard. “It makes no sense to pour more money into a
non-renewable and troublesome form of energy.”

The groups noted that the refurbishing was announced without any
public hearings on the environmental or health impacts it might have.

Notebaert and Fairlie explained that nuclear fission releases
radioactive isotopes, which if inhaled or consumed in food and water
can cause cell and DNA damage. While exposure to very high doses
causes death, lower repeated doses can cause cancer and birth defects.
Gentilly 2 also releases a radioactive hydrogen isotope called
tritium. Canada and Quebec tolerate relatively high levels of this
substance in air and water: 467 times higher than California’s
standards, for example.

Laure Waridel of Nature Québec explained why the campaign solicited
the help of 24 prominent local musicians and artists, including Michel
Rivard, Jacques Languirand, Diane Dufresne and Richard Séguin.

“No one can bring people together more effectively than musicians and
artists, and we need a massive social movement to oppose this
project,” she said.


For more information on the campaign or to sign an online petition, go

Ardent Activist Passes On

It is with deep sadness that Politics’n’Poetry reports on the passing of Maisie Shiell, one of Saskatchewan’s longest-serving no-nukes activists. Though I never had the pleasure of meeting Maisie, I have read a lot of her work, some of it posted at ICUCEC. A family member announced her passing to our local no-nukes listserv. It read, in part:

Maisie has fought her last fight and left us to carry on the Message. She wrote a press release to The Citizens of Saskatchewan. She walked to her bed at 9 p.m. May 20th and drew her last breath at 2 a.m. May 21st.

She has challenged me and changed me. Constantly seeking the “Truth.” She never gave in to others expectations.

How the government has handled the mining of the high grade uranium in our province upset her to the end of her life.

And, today, this tribute from Dr. Gordon Edwards:

Maisie was so fierce, so determined, so forceful,
so totally engaged, so rooted in honesty and integrity
that she made industry apologists go white in the
face and reel from the onslaught of her irrefutable facts
and her unwavering focus on what is right and what is wrong.

Maisie was so sweet, so kind, so smart, so enthusiastic,
so admirable, so unshakably ethical, that even the target
of her pointed finger couldn’t help but recognize
that here was a superb human being.

Talk about emotional integrity.

Maisie taught us all a lesson in what it
means to be fully committed to a just cause.

She also earned our undying love and respect.

Sleep well, Maisie.

Gordon Edwards
ccnr@web.ca

Indeed, sleep well, Maisie.