Plutonium to Travel St. Lawrence Seaway?

Oh boy, ohboy, ohboy!  That’s some hot commodity!

The Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, Radioactive Waste Management Associates (Bellows Falls, Vermont), Beyond Nuclear (Takoma Park, Maryland), and the Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination (Michigan) have issued a media release as part of their co-ordinated attempt to block BP’s shipment of radioactive waste through the St. Lawrence Seaway and to Sweden.

 

Several prominent non-governmental organizations are accusing Bruce Power (BP) of misleading the public, the media and decision-makers about the kind of contamination inside the cargo of 16 radioactive steam generators it plans to ship to Sweden, by neglecting to state that it is mainly plutonium.

BP has applied to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for a licence to transport the radioactive cargo through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway en route to Sweden. CNSC staff has acknowledged that the proposed shipment exceeds by at least 6 times the maximum amount of
radioactivity normally allowed on a single vessel.

BP has trivialized the danger of this proposed shipment by referring to the cargo as “low level radioactivity.” But according to BP’s own figures, about 90 percent of the mass of radioactive material inside the steam generators is plutonium — a highly toxic, long-lived radioactive poison. On its web site, Studsvik – the Swedish company that plans to melt down most of the
radioactive metal and sell it as scrap for use in any number of commercial products – calls the innards of the steam generators “highy radioactive”

 

“Highly radioactive” seems too mild a phrase for the extremely dangerous nature of this substance.   No wonder communities on both sides of the border are organizing to stop this!

 

The plutonium inside the steam generators gives off very little highly penetrating radiation, and therefore cannot be detected from the outside. But it gives off alpha radiation, which is 20 times more biologically damaging than beta or gamma radiation per unit of energy when deposited in living tissue. Any accidental spill will pose a serious long-lived contamination problem.
“Simple arithmetic shows that the amount of plutonium-239 inside the 16 steam generators is enough, in principle, to give more than 52 million atomic workers their maximum permissible ‘body burden’ of 0.7 micrograms,” said Dr. Marvin
Resnikoff of Radioactive Waste Management Associates in Vermont.
“And if the other plutonium isotopes inside the steam generator (plutonium-238, plutonium-240, plutonium-241 and plutonium-242) are factored in, the number of workers that could be overdosed is doubled,” added Dr. Edwards.
BP’s planned shipment of 1600 tonnes of radioactive waste through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence has been met with concerted opposition from over 100 municipalities and aboriginal communities along the route, as well as from
more than 70 NGOs. In response to this public outcry, CNSC held a public hearing in September with 79 intervenors. The outpouring of concern at that hearing led CNSC to extend the comment period for intervenors to give added input until November 22 — an unexpected and unprecedented development.
Most of the intervenors want Bruce Power to cancel the shipment and return to the original plan as laid down in a 2006 Environmental Assessment : to store the steam generators on site indefinitely as radioactive waste along with all the other radioactive waste materials produced by the Bruce reactors.
“Radioactive waste should be isolated from the human environment, not transported halfway around the world, and certainly not dispersed into consumer products,” said Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear.

 

I should think that consumer products made from nuked materials would be unacceptable the world over!  Shouldn’t they? Wouldn’t they?

 

 

 

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A kinder, gentler nuker: Lingenfelter

Here it is, the rationalization for uranium mining but hey, Link says there’ll be no nuke reactor until a “blue ribbon panel” approves it!

Blue ribbon panel? WTF is that?

Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference between NDP types and SaskParty types.

No nukes in SK! Uranium kills!

A Policy Proposal by Dwain Lingenfelter
March 10th, 2009

Failing the People — The Wall Government and Nuclear Power

For nearly fifty years, the policy of the Saskatchewan Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and the New Democratic Party has been to support the mining of Saskatchewan uranium and the export of that uranium to other jurisdictions around the world to be used for nuclear power generation. I support that policy. A few years ago the Calvert government decided that it would pursue opportunities for value-added refining of uranium within our province, and I support that decision as well.

Today thirty one countries around the world use nuclear energy to generate electricity, many using uranium mined in Saskatchewan. Many highly developed countries such as France (75%), Finland (27%), The United Kingdom (20%), and Japan (27.5%) rely heavily on nuclear energy to generate power.

I make these points to emphasize that neither I nor the New Democratic Party enter the debate about our energy future with a closed mind toward nuclear power or any other potential energy source. It is clear to me that Saskatchewan will need a renewed commitment to energy conservation and a mix of both renewable and conventional energy sources to meet our energy needs in the immediate future. Even the European Union, whose member countries are global leaders in the area of renewable energy, envision producing only 20% of their energy from renewable sources by 2020. Therefore, while renewable energy options such as solar, wind, geo-thermal, and biomass are an important part of Saskatchewan’s future energy plans, some conventional generation of electricity will remain necessary for the foreseeable future.

However, I do not support the construction of a nuclear reactor to generate power within Saskatchewan’s borders unless a public, transparent study has been conducted by a blue ribbon panel of independent experts, showing the people of Saskatchewan that such a project could be sustainable, from both the financial and environmental perspective. This blue ribbon panel would hold public hearings around the province so that every citizen could have their say on the future of electrical generation in Saskatchewan. The panel would explore the costs and benefits of nuclear power compared to both renewable energy options and conventional electrical generation sources such as coal, natural gas and hydro. The energy options we choose for the next twenty years will impact everything from our provincial finances to our economic growth, from our population’s health to our quality of life. These decisions cannot be made without full, public input and understanding.

The Wall government has refused to let the people of Saskatchewan help plan their own energy future. It has stumbled and bumbled into a flawed process that clearly favours a single new energy source, provided by a single, private sector player, while freezing out the people of Saskatchewan.

Much of the Wall government’s information about the nuclear power option has been based on a feasibility study commissioned by the very company that proposes to build the nuclear power plant. This is a little like commissioning General Motors to ask if you really need to buy a new car.

The Wall government’s special committee reviewing the nuclear option, the $3 Million Uranium Development Partnership, has conducted its work behind closed doors, is dominated by nuclear proponents and has a limited mandate by the government’s own admission to “make recommendations on Saskatchewan-based value-added opportunities in the uranium industry”. Where is the comprehensive, even-handed, public review of all the energy options available to the people of Saskatchewan?

Meanwhile, the Wall government is negotiating in private with a single private sector company (Bruce Power) about the potential for a Saskatchewan-based nuclear reactor. How can we trust the Wall government to negotiate such a complex agreement on our behalf, when this same government mishandled the annual purchase of natural gas supplies for SaskEnergy customers this winter, requiring us all to pay $55 Million more than necessary for natural gas?

Even worse, the power company owned by the people of the province, SaskPower, has been reduced to an observer’s role in these closed-door discussions. Meanwhile, Bruce Power has been running extensive advertising in favour of nuclear power throughout Northwestern Saskatchewan, where they say they would like to locate a nuclear power reactor. In the Lloydminster area, local farmers have been visited by Land Agents working on behalf of Bruce Power. These agents are attempting to take out options on land in the area, while trying to swear local landowners to secrecy. Why would this type of activity be underway if the Wall government truly intended to have a public, comprehensive review of all the energy options open to Saskatchewan people?

As the Bishops of the Anglican, Evangelical Lutheran, Roman Catholic and Ukrainian Catholic Churches in Saskatchewan said in a joint statement recently: “It is critical that any recommendations be made only after full and open consultation with the people of this province.”

This is just one more reason why Saskatchewan people want public hearings, full transparency and widespread public involvement, before any deals or Letters of Understanding are signed with any potential supplier of new power generation.

I see much more support across the province for additional conservation measures before any new power generation is decided upon. While we have made strides in this area in recent years, there is much more that can and should be done. I also see growing support for building renewable power generation (wind, solar, geo-thermal and biomass) in Saskatchewan communities, perhaps producing up to 10 megawatts of power each, and selling their excess generation to SaskPower. If the provincial government supported renewable power generation of this size in 30 communities across the province, we would reduce our dependence on fossil fuels for power generation, empower local communities to build a greener future, and still provide SaskPower with the additional generating capacity needed to serve our growing economy over the next few years.

The Wall government is failing the people of Saskatchewan by refusing to have a comprehensive, public review of our future energy needs. Energy decisions are too important for politicians alone. We must find ways to involve all the people of the province in making these decisions.

Areva, Mitsubishi Heavy expand tie to nuclear fuel

If there’s a way to feed greed, the corporate sector will find it!  Or die trying…  From The Guardian:

Areva, Mitsubishi Heavy expand tie to nuclear fuel

  • Reuters, Monday December 22 2008
  • TOKYO, Dec 22 (Reuters) – French nuclear reactor builder Areva will work together with Japanese machinery conglomerate Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd and others to produce nuclear fuel in Japan, the companies said on Monday.
    The news, first reported by the Nikkei business daily on Sunday, pushed Mitsubishi Heavy shares up 3.2 percent on Monday, outpacing the benchmark Nikkei average’s 1.6 percent rise.
    Areva said it would transfer its nuclear fuel business in Japan to Mitsubishi Nuclear Fuel Co — a joint venture between Mitsubishi Heavy and Mitsubishi Materials Corp — early next year, in return for a 30 percent stake in the company for an undisclosed sum.
    The deal will deepen the partnership between Mitsubishi Heavy and Areva, which are already cooperating in the development of a new midsize nuclear reactor.
    The newly created Mitsubishi Nuclear Fuel Corp will be owned 35 percent by Mitsubishi Heavy, 30 percent by Mitsubishi Materials, 30 percent by Areva and 5 percent by trading company Mitsubishi Corp.
    It will supply uranium fuel for pressurised water reactors (PWRs), boiling water reactors (BWRs) and high-temperature gas-cooled reactors, among others, in Japan. It also plans to sell fuel designed by Mitsubishi Heavy in overseas markets, they said.
    “The deal’s impact on Mitsubishi Heavy’s profit will be limited,” Shigeki Okazaki, analyst at Nomura Securities, said in a research note. “But it is positive in that Mitsubishi can obtain the know-how for BWR fuel, an area the company is weak in, at a relatively low cost.”
    Separately, Mitsubishi Heavy and Areva said they had agreed to jointly invest in a nuclear fuel plant to be built in the United States.
    The growing alliance comes as the world’s nuclear reactor makers consolidate into three groups amid a boom in nuclear plant construction in the United States and China.
    Japanese electric conglomerate Toshiba Corp has bought U.S. nuclear power firm Westinghouse, while General Electric has teamed up with Hitachi Ltd. (Reporting by Yuko Inoue; Editing by Chris Gallagher)