Pandas as thanks?

Interesting study here.

China’s practice of gifting and loaning giant pandas has been given new impetus as a result of damage to panda-conservation facilities caused by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and China’s rise as an economic power. We suggest that a new, third phase of panda diplomacy is under way that is distinct from the previous two. Phase 1 during the Mao era (in the 1960s and 1970s) took the form of China gifting pandas to build strategic friendships. Phase 2 followed Deng Xiaoping’s rise to power in 1978 when gifts became gift loans involving a capitalist lease model based on financial transactions. In the emerging phase 3, panda loans are associated with nations supplying China with valuable resources and technology and symbolize China’s willingness to build guanxi—namely, deep trade relationships characterized by trust, reciprocity, loyalty, and longevity.

Documents accessed via Freedom of Information requests show that PM Harper requested the pandas and that the Chinese government wanted a high level visit to the country to announce it.

“Although the approval has been granted, China has advised that a public announcement should wait for a suitable occasion (i.e. a senior level visit). As China has already granted approval for the loan, the risk of a change in this arrangement is low and the loan process is expected to proceed without incident.”

Just so happens that the uranium issue fit the bill.

According to Canada’s Postedia [sic] News, in 2012 Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced China would be loaning Canada two pandas on the same trip that he signed an agreement expanding Canadian uranium exports to China.

The pandas do make Harper look good to the nondiscerning.  But the relationship with China is complex.

And dangerous.  More uranium will be mined and shipped.  And more people will be harmed.

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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)
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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.

The Elm Dance: Healing the World

Regina’s Making Peace Vigil and the Saskatchewan Singers of the Sacred Web invite you to join in the Elm Dance on Thursday, August 4 at noon on Scarth Street at 11th Avenue.

From its Latvian roots this intimate folk song has grown into the Elm Dance and is danced by circles of activists around the world, from Novozybkov, 100 miles downwind from Chernobyl, to the uranium mines of northern Saskatchewan.  

Danced with reverence for human and more than human life, and in solidarity with trees who breathe in what we breathe out, the dance begins always with the dancers saying together this statement of intention: ’We do this dance as a way of strengthening our intention to participate in the healing of this beloved planet,  its humans and all beings.’  

On this anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima we dedicate this dance to all places and beings damaged by uranium mining, nuclear weapons, and nuclear power generation, including most recently Fukushima, Japan. 

join us in the elm dance poster

Canadian Nuke Company Connected to Kazakh Investigation

Oops!  A nuker lost his job as head honcho at Kazatomprom, a state-owned nuke company in Kazakhstan.  And there’s a Canuckian connection:

Dzhakishev went on trial in January, charged with stealing 99.8 million tenge (about $679,000) during the opening of the Kazatomprom’s representative office in Vienna. He was ousted as head of the company last May and later arrested on suspicion of embezzling state shares in uranium deposits, including one co- owned by Canada’s Uranium One Inc., by transferring them to offshore companies. An investigation into the charge continues.

It’s an interesting case, to be sure.   A series of YouTube vids were investigated.

Kazakhstan’s Prosecutor General’s Office in November ordered a probe into video clips posted on YouTube of Dzhakishev answering investigators’ questions. In the clips, Dzhakishev says his removal from Kazatomprom facilitated an alleged Russian strategy to block the company’s plan to supply nuclear fuel to Japan, consigning Kazakhstan to the role of a supplier of raw materials.

I don’t speak the language so we’ll have to go with the translation suggested in these articles.

Dzhakishev will spend 14 years in jail, but Mr. Google’s not revealing a thing about the allegations he made regarding the Ruskies’ strategy.   Dear Reader, please let me know if you find any more about it.

More Nuke News

Not a lot of people liking President O’s greenwashing of nukes.  This most excellent article in the Guardian dispels the myth that nukes are green.

The argument that nuclear is “carbon-free” conveniently omits the entire process of mining uranium, which produces greenhouse gases, along with other pollutants. In Virginia, where a study has just been commissioned to determine its safety, uranium is mined in open pits. This destroys topsoil and increases runoff, which contaminates drinking water with cancer-causing toxins.

The uranium-enrichment process also emits greenhouse gases and is highly wasteful. Eighty percent of the ore that goes through the enrichment process ends up as waste. And this is to say nothing of the lye, sulfuric acid, and other caustic agents that must be used to turn the uranium into reactor-ready fuel.

While on the surface, the steam billowing from the cooling tower of a nuclear reactor is less harmful than the toxic smoke that spews from a coal plant, nuclear reactors still create byproducts that are dangerous to human health and welfare. There’s also the huge problem of radioactive nuclear waste, which can stay hot for hundreds of thousands of years. Storing the radioactive waste isn’t just a security threat; there’s potential for radioactive chemicals to leak, as they are in Vermont and at other aging reactors around the country.

It’s clear to me that the US Prezzie doesn’t read P’n’P.  Perhaps you could invite him to do so via this handy form?

The folks at nuclear news have that article available, as well as a fantastic sidebar, The Very Secret Costs of Nuclear Power.  From their site:

Well it is impossible for anyone to estimate the real costs of nuclear power, as only a narrow range of costs are discussed, even where the nuclear industry is supposedly privately owned.

1. The nuclear weapons industry is so connected with nuclear power, and the costs on the nuclear weapons industry are huge.

2. Where the nuclear industry is state owned – e.g. in France, Russia, China, South Korea, taxation, and the costs of electricity are manipulated, and figures given out for nuclear costs are not really reliable.

Secrecy about the nuclear industry is essential anyway, for security reasons. But it is also convenient, as no-one really knows how much it costs for state-owned nuclear facilities to manage nuclear waste. Well, there are ‘cheap’ options used, as we learn from time, with nuclear waste dumping occurring secretly, and without regard for the environment or the people, (usually poor communities, indigenous and rural people.) Eventually someone has to pay for the long-term costs.

Back at home, the nukers are bragging about their exploration in Quebec’s Otish Mountains.

Ditem Explorations /quotes/comstock/11v!dit (CA:DIT 0.08, 0.00, 0.00%) is pleased to report that the 2010 exploration program on the Company’s Otish Mountains uranium property in Quebec is underway. A fully operational camp has been established to accommodate geophysical and drilling crews. Drilling on the first hole began yesterday.

They don’t get that they’re involved in ecological racism. And that sux!  The Quebec no-nukers have been working tirelessly to put an end to nuking the environment.  Check it out.  And here’s a thorough piece from the Dominion about the nuke activity in northern Quebec.

One further focus for criticism is the province’s much-hyped development strategy, known as the “Plan Nord,” which involves targeting government money at selected infrastructure projects favouring principally the resource extraction sector in northern Quebec. According to research conducted by The Dominion, last year’s provincial budget earmarked $130 million for extending Highway 167 by 268km into the Otish Mountains, northeast of the James Bay Cree town of Mistissini. It is in an area without residential communities, but where Vancouver-based Strateco Resources has discovered some of Quebec’s most concentrated uranium deposits.

Finally, here’s another story about Canada’s outrageous and extravagant spending on AECL flowing from the Chalk River Fiasco.

As a result, Ottawa allocated $824-million in the current fiscal year to the problem-plagued nuclear flagship as the government prepares to restructure it and sell its commercial division, according to supplemental estimates released late yesterday.

That’s a 50-per-cent increase from federal spending on AECL in the prior fiscal year. In today’s budget, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will likely provide hundreds of millions more to support AECL’s operating budget and design work on the advanced Candu reactor and refurbish Chalk River laboratories.

Our tax dollars are being sunk into what the PM himself called a “sinkhole” so that the feds can sell it for next to nothing?  WTF?  It seems that PMS definitely needs to hear from you on this ridiculous, costly venture!  Imagine, were that kind of money to be spent on real green technology…

Nuclear Smoke and Mirrors from Alberta to Australia

From the inbox, an essay by Dr. Jim Harding:

 

NUCLEAR SMOKE AND MIRRORS FROM ALBERTA TO AUSTRALIA:

The AECL’s Advanced Candu and Bush’s Global Nuclear Partnership

 

By Jim Harding*

 

A few weeks before Stephen Harper went to the APEC meeting in Australia, ready to discuss George Bush’s Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), the Energy Alberta Corporation (EAC) in consort with AECL announced its plan to build two Advanced Candu Reactors (ACRs) near Peace River, Alberta. Harper, EAC’s Wayne Henuset and AECL’s mandarins won’t want the public to connect the dots too quickly. Harper’s minority government might not weather a heated controversy over Canada importing nuclear wastes while having a huge unsolved nuclear waste problem of its own. That controversy erupted in the Australian election campaign after the Howard government indicated it would consider buying into Bush’s plan to have supplier countries take back and reprocess spent fuel.

 

The Seaborn Panel, the 9-year federal review of Canada’s nuclear wastes, never investigated Canada importing nuclear wastes, and reprocessing these wasn’t even on its radar screen. Rather, it concluded that deep geologic disposal of irradiated nuclear fuel is not acceptable to the Canadian public and recommended that the management of irradiated fuel be addressed by a body at arms length from the both the nuclear industry and government. Instead, the Chretien government mandated the industry-owned agency, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), to deal with the issue. Under the NWMO’s announced plan, irradiated fuel is to be stored at existing reactor sites for at least a generation, i.e. 30 years, before being moved to a centralized location and possibly being reprocessed before the high-level radioactive residues are buried in a deep geologic repository. Such reprocessing would create a highly radioactive corrosive liquid even more dangerous than the solid spent fuel rods, and the extracted plutonium will remain extraordinarily toxic for over 800 generations.

 

The large nuclear reactors (ACR-1000) that EAC wants to build in Alberta are justified as an environmentally-friendly alternative to the natural gas that is currently used to heat the tar sands. The fact that the tar sands are the dirtiest of all fossil fuels discredits the nuclear industry’s PR about being the clean, magic bullet for averting global warming. That’s bad enough. If it became widely known there was a hidden agenda about an international nuclear waste dump in Canada, then all the hype about clean nuclear energy providing economic development might begin to fall on deaf ears. Besides, the ACR-1000 reactor is only a design on paper and hasn’t been reality tested. Without the $200 million granted to AECL from the Harper government for design work, adding to the $17 billion dollars of subsidies since 1952, there’d be no chance at all of this project ever seeing the light of day. (Such large handouts of federal taxpayer’s money could become a contentious issue, given Alberta’s populist ideology of self-reliance.) Serious design flaws have already been noted by the 2004 Safety Assessment done for the U.S.’s Nuclear Reactor Regulation (NRR); most notably the risk of a Loss of Coolant Accident (LOCA) and core meltdown after a power surge resulting from a large or multiple pipe breakage.

 

AECL’s 180 degree About-Turn

The original Candu designers prided themselves on using heavy water (the “d” in Candu) as a moderator and coolant, so that natural uranium (the “u” in Candu) can be used as fuel. No enrichment of uranium is required. But the new ACRs will use light water as a coolant, and for that reason they will require slightly-enriched uranium (SEU) as a fuel. Why the flip-flop?

 

The basic motivation is to reduce costs, but there is a darker side to what AECL calls the ACR’s “fuel adaptability”. AECL’s Technical Summary for the ARC-1000 says it is “ideally suited to burn other fuels such as mixed oxides (MOX) and thorium.” MOX is a code word for a blend of uranium and plutonium. But “other fuels” can also be used and these include irradiated fuel elements from Light Water Reactors (LWR) such as used in the U.S., France, Japan and elsewhere. According to Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, the ARC-1000 would be able “to make use of the “DUPIC” process, whereby spent LWR nuclear fuel is repackaged and used to fuel a Candu reactor.” The reason for this, he says, is that “the amount of fissile material (U-235 plus plutonium) in spent LWR fuel is more than enough to match” the requirements for SEU.

 

AECL is trying to put a responsible spin on this. It’s scientistic handlers used to assert that due to international safeguards there was no chance of uranium exported for nuclear power being diverted for weapons. Now they’ve created a new argument to market their “peaceful atom.” An AECL paper by nuclear engineer Jeremy Whitlock argues that the new Candu design will provide “unique synergism with LWR technology”, that it “can be used to disposition ex-weapons plutonium”, and, furthermore, that all this will be a “positive contribution to world peace.” The U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) disagrees, saying in its January 2006 statement on Bush’s GNEP, that “all reprocessing technologies are more proliferation-prone than direct disposal” of nuclear wastes. 

 

AECL’s Unparalleled History of Botched Designs

The only advantage of the new Candu would be to the fledgling AECL. But don’t hold your breath waiting for the ARC-1000 to be up and running, for the list of botched AECL designs is lengthy. There was the Organic Cooled Reactor in Manitoba, which was an expensive dead end. There was the Candu Boiling Light Water Reactor in Quebec, which (without even including design costs) was a $126 million disaster. Then there was the Slowpoke Energy System, for which design work cost $45 million, which didn’t work properly. Next came the Candu-3, for which design work cost $75 million, which no one wanted. And the Candu-9, with design costs still secret, which was a no-go in South Korea. More recently AECL built the Maple Reactor at Chalk River, which threatens to become another technological and financial fiasco since the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is refusing to even license it for operation.

 

The Candu industry has been a sinkhole for the Canadian taxpayer. Each Candu reactor built so far has required refurbishing costs equal to the original construction costs after only half of its projected operating life.  And after 50 years in business, AECL has only sold 12 reactors abroad. In 1996, to try to justify its huge taxpayer subsidies, it set a goal of 10 sales by 2006. But only 3 sales occurred, including the Romanian Cernavada plant from a 1980 deal, which required another $328 million Canadian guarantee; and two plants at Qunshin in China that received $1.5 billion in Canadian Account financing. During this decade AECL lost sales to Turkey, Australia and South Korea.  With this dismal record, AECL has done a design flip-flop, turning its back on natural uranium fuel to try to cash in on the worldwide nuclear waste crisis. But we must be on guard. While AECL is opportunistically promoting ACR’s which can use irradiated nuclear fuel from other countries, after 60 years they still haven’t cleaned up their radioactive mess at the Manitoba Whiteshell Lab, and their plan for cleaning up their contaminated Chalk River Lab, costing millions more for the taxpayer, remains obscure.

 

Enter George Bush and his GNEP

Beholding to huge federal subsidies, AECL is also beholding to U.S. President George Bush with his $405 million brainchild, the GNEP. The only thing “global” about this plan is the U.S. pretence to world hegemony, which seems delusional after the Iraq debacle. And the only partners to this proposed “global” plan would be countries already in the nuclear weapons club, along with their uranium suppliers. The agreement would make it mandatory for uranium suppliers to take back spent fuel from reactors abroad. The bargaining chip would be allowing enrichment facilities and nuclear power plants that use spent fuel in these countries. Some chip. We’d get to throw more public money down the nuclear drain, create and store even more dangerous nuclear waste, and have less capital to create truly sustainable, renewable energy systems to avert even more catastrophic climate change.

 

Bush’s plan would be unworkable without the major uranium exporting countries – Canada and Australia – involved. Luckily for Bush, both countries are governed by neo-conservative parties that also oppose Kyoto. Bush is presenting the GNEP as a means to control nuclear proliferation, while making nuclear power available globally, by not allowing enrichment facilities, or spent fuel to remain, that could be used to produce weapons. (This finally admits that the Non-Proliferation Treaty is not an effective guarantee against proliferation from nuclear power plants.) The converse of this is that GNEP members would preserve a near monopoly on nuclear technology and weapons. No wonder, in the context of discussing billions living in inhuman conditions, climate change and the potential for nuclear holocaust, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Dr. ElBaradei, in a Sept 03/07 interview with Der Spiegel, said “we are moving rapidly towards an abyss”. With a real sense of urgency, he said that, “in order to seem credible to the nuclear wannabe states we must demand steps towards nuclear disarmament from those who have nuclear weapons – an obligation that is stipulated in the non-proliferation treaty but is not complied with.” He goes on to deplore what he calls “this two-faced approach” since “If practically all nuclear powers are modernizing instead of reducing their arsenals, how can we argue with the non-nuclear states?”

 

More pragmatically, the GNEP would provide “a way out” for the nuclear powers, none of which has any fundamental solution to their own mounting nuclear waste problem. As the world’s major supplier of uranium, Canada, under the GNEP, could be required to take nuclear wastes back from the largest users of nuclear power – the U.S., France and Japan. The elements therefore exist for a dangerous nuclear expansion strategy in Canada. First, a Candu redesign requiring some uranium enrichment that can be used as a justification for importing nuclear wastes to reprocess as fuel, and then the tar sands as a justification for building this new generation of nuclear plants. And, finally, lest we forget, we have the huge Saskatchewan uranium industry supplying the raw material to the nuclear powers, which, under the GNEP, would require that nuclear wastes be brought back to Canada.

 

Nuclear and Kyoto: The Big Disconnect

The first I heard of Canada “repatriating” spent fuel was when AECL and Saskatchewan’s uranium multinational, Cameco, advocated this in the early 1990s. At the time they were both working towards an integrated uranium-nuclear industry. Now Cameco operates the Bruce Candu plants and a uranium refinery in Ontario, and, with a sympathetic Prime Minister from Alberta, AECL is trying to base itself in its north. It seems the AECL and Cameco were flying this trial balloon of us taking back nuclear wastes long before George Bush or Stephen Harper were elected. Could the tail be wagging the dog?

 

It’s no accident that the GNEP is spearheaded in countries refusing to support the Kyoto Accord. Kyoto sets targets for reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs), which mostly come from fossil fuels. However, business and government interests in oil-dependent countries (including countries like Canada, i.e. Alberta, dependent on exporting oil) don’t want anything to slow down their profit and royalty-gushing ventures. Meanwhile efficiency, geothermal, wind and solar electricity are proving to be the most cost-effective ways to quickly lower GHGs, which doesn’t sit well with the nuclear industry’s comeback strategy of stressing itself as the clean alternative to fossil fuels. Furthermore, the 2001 Climate Change Conference in Bonn rejected nuclear as a solution to climate change partly because nuclear will steal capital from the cheaper, less risky, more effective renewable alternatives. So the nuclear industry is primarily looking to the countries outside Kyoto for support. It helped when George Bush’s 2005 Energy Bill gave another $13 billion subsidies to the industry, and a privatized electrical market allowed U.S. nuclear plants to displace “stranded costs” on to the consumer. And it certainly helped AECL when the Harper government, continuing the Liberal practice of bailing out the nuclear industry, provided millions to design the ARC.

 

Harper’s government has tried to low-key its involvement with Bush’s GNEP, but we know from a Canadian Press Access to Information request that his government has been seriously involved in discussions about this since at least March 2006. While his aides, seemingly aware that this issue is politically explosive, tried to downplay the “secret agenda” item at the APEC forum, Natural Resources Minister Lund has been more candid. In reference to reprocessing spent fuel for new Candus, in the September 5, 2007 Globe and Mail, Lund is quoted as saying: “as the technology evolves, it’s something we’ll see”. The next day this was “corrected” and it reported that the Canadian government hadn’t yet decided on supporting such reprocessing. At the end of the APEC meeting, Harper’s Foreign Minister Bernier said that the Canadian government had just about decided about the GNEP. This is more smoke and mirrors, as Harper had already funded the ARC, which AECL promotes as being able to use reprocessed spent fuel, and his government has enthusiastically supported the ARC being built in the tar sands. All this from the man who so righteously attacked the Liberals for being unaccountable for far less consequential and less expensive matters.

 

Meanwhile the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) is forthright about its support for enriching uranium and importing nuclear wastes. CNA President Murray Elston even uses the high price of raw uranium as a reason to support nuclear waste as the fuel of future choice. He continues the practice of the CNA providing disinformation to the public, saying in the Sept. 5, 2007 Globe and Mail that, “nuclear military powers have been reprocessing and transporting nuclear waste for years, and have proven it can be done safely.” Plutonium contamination at the U.S. Rocky Flats plant, France’s nuclear conglomerate Areva contaminating the North Sea, radioactive contamination of the Irish Sea along with detectable levels of plutonium in children’s teeth emitted from England’s Windscale/Sellafield reprocessing plant, and various weapons countries losing nuclear weapons grade uranium is apparently “safe” to the CNA.

 

Lessons from AECL’s Saskatchewan Shenanigans

We saw a similar process as what is now happening in Alberta in my home province from 1989-91, when AECL had another private company front the proposed building of a Candu-3 in our North. (AECL also tried but failed to sell its Slowpoke 3 to the University of Saskatchewan at the time.) AECL used every manipulative trick in the book, including inflating energy growth to make us fear we’d freeze in the dark without nuclear power. (They forecast a shortfall of electricity in Saskatchewan by 2000 unless a Candu reactor was built.) They wined and dined local politicians and businessmen on trips to Ontario’s Candus, as they are now doing with Albertans.  And they tried to bribe us – during a slump in the economy – with the economic opportunities of a Candu-3 export industry based in our province. And they made no mention of the huge taxpayers subsidies that made it possible for them to float such grandiose schemes.

 

Under Grant Devine’s Tories, who privatized the uranium crown Cameco, AECL got the public utility Sask Power on side for a while, though their figures never jibed. At one point, as many jobs were promised from constructing one Candu-3 as came in total from the massive Ontario Darlington 8-reactor complex. There was lots of nuclear hype that got favourable coverage by the well-oiled and parochial provincial media. But, as with so many other AECL projects, the Candu-3 was never built, anywhere, as Saskatchewan people and third world countries alike rejected the contrived plan. And we are doing fine in 2007, with no black outs and no nuclear plants; though the Tory-like Sask Party and its Premier-in-waiting Brad Wall seem to think we should have one even if its not needed. We have a few wind farms, and, yes, uranium exports remain the bulk of primary energy production and export. The NDP government which spearheaded uranium expansion in the 1970s publicly opposes nuclear power without wanting to admit that they have been willing and essential pawns in the nuclear expansion strategy, which we now see taking shape with Bush’s GNEP and Harper’s compliance.

 

Saskatchewan and Alberta people are now interlocked in this geo-political drama. We will have to be vigilant about creating a future based on sustainable, renewable energy while phasing out the uranium-nuclear industry; or see both our provinces become the dangerous playground of a nuclear industry that expands by economic bribery and political bailout.

 

* Jim Harding is a retired professor of environmental and justice studies and author of the just released Canada’s Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System (Fernwood, 2007).