Cameron Wigmore, Green Party Member: Green Party Speaks Out Against Nuclear Energy

June 18, 2007

Green Party Speaks Out Against Nuclear Energy

Here are two recent media releases by the Green Party of Canada about problems with nuclear energy.

Tritium study shows nuclear power is still too dangerous

Our governments and the nuclear industry have consistently downplayed mounting scientific concerns.

Ottawa – Green Party leader Elizabeth May today called for an immediate moratorium on the development of all new nuclear generating capacity and refurbishment of existing reactors pending a full investigation into the health impacts of radioactive tritium emissions on people living near nuclear plants.

“The federal and provincial governments and the nuclear industry have consistently downplayed mounting scientific concerns about the levels of tritium in the Great Lakes and around nuclear reactors,” said Ms. May. “Canadians have the right to know the truth about tritium before we rush headlong into a nuclear-powered future.”

The CANDU reactors used in Canada are among the world’s largest sources of tritium, producing much more of the radioactive hydrogen isotope than other types of reactors. Health Canada’s standard for tritium levels in drinking water is 100 times higher than the level permitted in Europe.

In a new study released this week, British radiation expert Ian Fairlie said that emissions of radioactive tritium from Canadian reactors are so high that children under age four and pregnant women shouldn't live within 10 kilometres of a nuclear power plant and those living within five kilometres shouldn't eat food grown in their gardens. Mr. Fairlie, who worked on a British government committee set up in 2001 to review the safety of tritium and other radioactive substances, published a report earlier this year in which he concluded that the danger of tritium is being underestimated.

“It is extremely worrying that the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), our key legislation to protect human health and the environment from threats posed by man-made substances, does not include radio-nuclides such as tritium,” said Ms. May.

“The tradition of secrecy surrounding the nuclear industry has relegated radioactive tritium and other emissions from nuclear plants to a regulatory limbo. This must be remedied by bringing toxic radio-nuclides under the control of CEPA.”

- - - - -

Not safe, not long-term – Green Party blasts plan to bury nuclear waste

"Out of sight, out of mind" approach a crippling mortgage on future generations of Canadians.

Ottawa – Green Party leader Elizabeth May today condemned the federal government's plan to bury nuclear waste, calling it a crippling mortgage on future generations of Canadians.

"Environment Minister Gary Lunn proudly calls underground disposal a safe, long-term approach," said Ms. May. "That could only be true if your idea of safe is 'out of sight, out of mind' and you think long term means 'until I'm no longer in office.'

"This plan falls woefully short of providing a long-term solution to the ongoing problem of nuclear waste. It's a short-term management strategy. The NWMO proposal calls for final decisions to be made in 300 years.

"And it means that at an as yet undetermined point in the future, residents of some isolated Canadian community will be asked to live beside a pile of waste that will be deadly for thousands of years."

Minister Lunn announced this week that the government is accepting the plan put forward by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) to keep the waste where it is – at reactor sites in four provinces – for the next 30 years and then move it to a central repository where it will be kept either above the ground or in shallow underground storage. After another 30 years, it will be moved 500 to 1,000 metres underground. At all stages, the waste will be retrievable.

"Making it retrievable means that it could eventually be used to produce nuclear weapons or to fuel nuclear breeder reactors, which are even more dangerous that the current fission reactions."

Ms. May said the nuclear industry's favourable reaction to the plan came as no big surprise. "It is, after all, the work of the NWMO whose board consists entirely of individuals representing the Canadian nuclear industry."

I've posted on my blog three times in the past on nuclear energy. See here, here and here.


The Anonymous Green said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cameron W said...

It's not 'cherry picking'. Those are the facts. The study supports Green Party policy.

I've already debunked nuclear as a 'solution' to climate change. Not only would we likely continue to consume fossil fuels at an ever increasing rate, nuclear is not the silver bullet for solving climate change that many people wish it to be.

Here's more:

The greens promote common sense solutions, not extreme ideas. The Greens are about sustainable choices that will improve our economic situation and well-being.

Finally, the Green Party is currently costing it's policies and platform, so as to bring to Canada an election platform that is truly fiscally responsible.

I think you are protesting a bit too much. Why are you so critical, even after being shown the facts? This is good news! I think you should be happy.

The Anonymous Green said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cameron W said...

The GPC is stating that Kyoto targets can be met with a $50/tonne carbon tax, and using the carbon trading system. The GPC isn't saying it would be easy, but when the Harper government says that 'it can't be done' it is incorrect and misleading.

All of this finger pointing and 'we can't do something' because 'they didn't do anything' is old and hurts my ears.


And I didn't say that the study backed up that specific detail. The study backed up another GPC position, namely the $50 carbon tax.

The study supports this specific Green Party policy.

What you are arguing regarding nuclear, and what the people who you quote are arguing, is that for society to continue to consume ever greater amounts of energy, that is for society to continue to maintain it's energy consumption levels and allow them to increase, for a number of more decades but not any longer, we would have to invest heavily in nuclear energy.

I agree with that statement.

But do you understand that it is a poor choice?

I fail to see how anybody could knowingly support nuclear energy in order to try to hold on to extremely high consumption rates, only for a few decades longer, and then be left with the double whammy of depleting fossil fuels AND the task of maintaining & decommissioning nuclear reactors, not to mention dealing with nuclear waste. Remember, at some point (maybe 50 to 80 years, give or take a few) we will not be flying or driving nearly as much because fossil fuel levels will have been depleted significantly. Nuclear energy will not help to do many of the things that fossil fuels have done for us.

How do you propose we maintain the crumbling infrastructure that tax payers would so heavily invest in?

How do you propose we deal with nuclear waste when fossil fuels become scarce?

By giving me and other Greens less credit for knowing the issues than they deserve, you've opened yourself up to look uninformed and mean spirited.

Insulting Green bloggers will not win you any friends or supporters, and ignoring the facts when they are clearly presented will not win you any arguments.

The Anonymous Green said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cameron W said...

Alright Anon Green.

Who are you?

Your tone is getting ruder every comment you make, and if you weren't anonymous I imagine you'd be more considerate with how you treat others.

I must correct you. I didn't state that the study supports that Kyoto can be met with a $50/tonne carbon tax. That is not a GPC policy. The study says is that the economic impact would be minimal, which is what the Greens have been saying as well.

It is you who is mirespresenting my statements, you trickster, and I'm growing tired of correcting you.

If you were more open to a mutually respectful conversation I'd have all the patience in the world, but your treatment of me is becoming less than kind.

To meet the IPCC guidelines to reduce CO2 emissions to the IPCC levels by 2050 will require significant reductions in our levels of energy consumption, but nuclear should never be considered an option. I wish to see a study that focuses specifically on energy efficiency and consumption, and how much base load needs would have to be lowered for renewables to meet demand, and also whether the grid system is the most efficient system, or if decentralized and localized energy generation would be a better option.

You say 'to function as a society', but what you mean is 'to continue to consume huge amounts of energy in an inefficient fashion without changing our lifestyles'.

You're saying that in order for our society to remain in a state of consuming larger and larger amounts of energy, we'll need nuclear. I agree with that statement.

I'm sorry to hear you're moving on. You haven't wasted my time. I've learned to argue with a difficult person who is avidly pro-nuclear, and I've found even more data to support my anti-nuclear position.

Your cries for nuclear to support what you see as society's need to consume more energy is reminiscent of a kid crying for more goodies in a candy store.

If there was limitless energy that had no consequences I'd go for it, but nuclear raises grave questions that have not yet been answered, and many of the problems with nuclear are yet to be resolved. Just because you think we 'need it' it doesn't make nuclear a good choice.

I know; you're saying we need it in order to continue to consume vast amounts of energy and do so inefficiently. Again, I don't understand why you're so firmly against reductions in consumption or improvements in energy efficiency. It's almost as if you're against renewable energy altogether. Anonymous, will you please tell me again why you are so strongly pro-nuclear?

I now feel like your parent telling you that you can't have anymore candy.


Anonymous said...

This city has the equivalent population of all of Alberta.

Welcome to the 21st century. Yes, there is a world outside of North America, Nafta, and a navel gazing country abundant with natural resources.

And no shortage of coal (a fossil fuel).

(Note the world milestone in terms of ranking of CO2 production by country)

Cameron W said...

Thanks for the video link anonymous!

Anonymous said...

I suppose as an anti-nuclear advocate, you'd be quite supportive of all efforts to ensure the millions of people in China don't benefit by a replacement of dirty coal plants with nuclear generation, and therefore continue to suffer the very real (not theoretical) life shortening effects of poor air quality.

If so, you'd be in the same company as the Sierra Club of Canada. After referring to PM Chretien as a "pimp" for promoting Candus to China in the 90's, they went to the length of suing the Canadian gov't, insisting that a full environmental study be done in China to Canada's standards before allowing the plant's construction.

Some Canadians find this policy and approach very patronizing and immoral(not to mention how the Chinese might feel about it) as we, and many other countries use the technology ourselves.

In fact France, which generates 78.1% of its power from nukes, is reported to have the best air quality in the EU.

That is the real dichotomy.

Cameron W said...

I am supportive of all efforts to ensure the millions of people in China benefit from a reduced level of consumption throughout the world, which is what is driving the manufacturing economy in China right now. Their energy consumption largely goes to fuel their industrial economy, which in turn provides goods for export.

Adding nuclear power plants to the mix won't curb their energy consumption, and if coal continues to be available, they'll surely continue to consume fossil fuels, just as we have.

France is fortunate in that they have walkable cities & little suburban sprawl. Traffic jams & lengthy daily commutes in traffic jams are less common than over here.

Their economy also relies heavily on tourism (it's the most visited country in the world) rather than industry, but do note that much of their industrial activity is in relatively cleaner fields such as telecommunications (including communication satellites), aerospace and defense, ship building, pharmaceuticals & electronics.

France is also the third largest arms dealer in the world. Interestingly, France exports great quantities of weaponry to the US and the Middle East.

All of these factors help to reduce their levels of air pollution. So when you say that because they have nuclear they have low pollution levels, you are being misleading.

Externalizing the costs of investing in nuclear is also misleading, as nuclear energy produces large amounts of GHG's, and the whole process from mining ore, to shipping, to producing building materials, is very energy intensive, and that energy has to come from somewhere.

France is having problems with their nuclear industry. See this link, and this link.

People in China will continue to suffer the life shortening effects of poor air quality even with added nuclear power plants, but if you are saying that by building nuclear they would be able to reduce coal consumption, I agree that they'd be able to, but in the very near future their energy consumption levels will likely grow to the point where they would decide to reinvest in coal power on top of nuclear.

A quick search online dug up some interesting info. In many cities in China construction has been moving at a rapid pace. If they were to slow down, that would make a big difference in their levels of pollution.

Energy consumption in China has continued to increase rapidly, and I wonder if they would benefit as much as other places have if they were to focus on energy conservation as a strategy to improve air quality. Where this has been done, it's been proven to be an economic stimulator, and reducing levels of consumption is a very effective way to meet energy demands without having to produce more electricity.

This argument for nuclear over coal to clean the air disregards the other factors that make nuclear a horrible choice. Please see this post of mine on nuclear, and tell me if, all things considered, you'd still suggest that China would reduce coal consumption, have very clean air, and benefit greatly if they invested in nuclear power plants.

Cameron W said...

anon said, "...Some Canadians find this policy and approach very patronizing and immoral(not to mention how the Chinese might feel about it) as we, and many other countries use the technology ourselves..."

You're mixing things up. Our government should be phasing nuclear energy out. Our government isn't patronizing, but it is being immoral. Our government would like to sell nuclear reactors to China, but Canadians would not want it to happen.

The point is that most Canadians would like to see nuclear energy phased out. Some don't know enough to have an opinion, and the pro-nuclear lobbyists do their best to convince them that nuclear is safe, clean, socially responsible and sustainable, but it is none of those things.

That's not patronizing. That's standing up for what's right. I consider social justice to be a key value of my own, as it is with the Green Party of Canada. Issues of DU weapons, nuclear waste storage problems and taxpayer subsidizing considered, nuclear is not a socially just method for meeting energy needs.

Do you think energy conservation and efficiency programs would be a more socially just strategy for meeting energy needs?

Cameron W said...

I recently found an article on energy conservation and efficiency, and it's far more convincing than the pro-nuclear argument. It's for purchase only, but I spotted a condensed copy on the web HERE.

I just don't think our governments posses the political will to force the reductions in carbon emissions once nuclear plants are built for the purpose of reducing GHG emissions and meeting energy demands. I don't think our society will go along with massive reductions in our levels of consumption unless that political will exists, and in the end, what will we do with our hundreds of nuclear power plants and their waste as we run out of fossil fuels decades down the road?

We MUST pursue a strategy of efficiency and reduce our consumption levels.

Cameron W said...

Here's a bloggers review of the above article on efficiency.

Anonymous said...

You seem to think that Conservation and Energy efficiency are somehow revolutionary concepts. Not true by a longshot.

So, here's an exercise for you to undertake, to get away from all of these general statements.

Here is Ontario's energy supply plan. It involves maintaining the level of nuclear generation at 14,000 MW, and phasing out coal generation. The GPO issues advocate, Erich, suggested the additional 14,000 MW could be made from conservation and efficiency measures. An economist and others have said this was not realistic.

So, you tell me - how do you propose to make up the 14,000MW shortage from the bottom pie chart? The Ontario proposal does already include a significant componenet of efficiency and conservation elements.

Extensive studies have been done on conservation and efficiency programs for Ontario, some by Jaccard. Here are the reference studies. Go through them, read and understand them, and then come back and tell us specifically how Ontario will energy demand.

Both the Liberals and PCs in Ontario support nuclear energy, so I have no idea how you can claim the majority of Canadians support phasing out of nukes.

Look at the studies, understand what they mean, and let's deal with facts.

Anonymous said...

And by the way, the Liberal election promise in Ontario to phase out coal fired generation (originally scheduled for 2007 but now extended to 2014) was to improve air quality significantly in Southern Ontario - due to increasing smog levels and related respiratory diseases.

Cameron W said...

Again, just saying 'we need it' doesn't make it a good choice.

The perceived 'need' for nuclear comes as a result of forecasts base load consumption levels. The assumption is that with nominal efficiency and conservation measures, demand will continue to increase.

I can see the logic in this thinking, but I cannot support nuclear for all of the reasons I've stated in my previous posts and the one above as well.

Ontario can do better, and California is a good example of how forecast demands can be met by conservation and efficiency measures rather that an expansion of nuclear.

The questions I have are:

Will we be able to meet base load energy needs if we pursue renewables in conjunction with an aggressive program to reduce energy demand? (I know we can, but I'd like to see the numbers)

Are there any studies showing how much energy we'll need from
renewables, and how much we'll need to reduce consumption, in order to
make it work without fossil fuels or nuclear?

How much would we have to reduce consumption in order to meet base load needs with renewables, and would we still want to use the centralized grid system, or move to a decentralized energy generation/distribution model?

I am actively pursuing the answers to these questions. As I am not an expert in this area, it will take me some time to find studies that might answer my questions.

In the meantime you might find the data in this post interesting.

Efficiency and conservation aren't new concepts; they just haven't been aggressively pursued.

It is realistic to suggest we can meet demand through increased renewable sources, as well as efficiency measures.

It is unrealistic to say that pursuing an expansion of nuclear is a good choice. I will go as far as to observe that Canada will likely need to consider maintaining nuclear plants in the interim while we ramp up renewables and introduce efficiency measures, but I absolutely do not support building new nuclear power plants.

On the path to reduce ghg's, for nuclear to make a sizeable dent, and to meet our forecasted 'need' to consume more energy just as inefficiently as we do now, Canada would need hundreds of nuclear power plants. It's a bad idea to pursue this. Informed people that are interested in sustainability do not support nuclear energy.

Anonymous said...

All of the answers to your questions lie in the reports and supporting documents either linked, or footnoted.

Jaccard was BC Utilities Commission Chair in the early to mid 90's and is very familiar with energy efficiency and conservation programs, both in BC and California.

His simulations and models have been run with this knowledge. If you review them he looks by industry and by sector to come up with a forecast of what can be acomplished using a range of assumptions.

Read, review and study.

(and btw transmission losses are nowhere near 40% your blogger suggested: 200Mw out of 500 Mw. His blog is b.s. - even a quick look at wiki suggests in US transmission and dist'n losses are about 7.2%

I can see why some people think this is such a big compelling issue - if the info and sources that are relied upon are very questionable.

Cameron W said...

Actually the information on losses that I'm looking at are from a very reputable fellow who had that article published in Scientific American last September. He noted significant overall losses, not just in transmission, but in other areas as well where efficiency was lacking.

I'm thinking the studies you're quoting are running under the assumption that consumption rates will continue to rise. Is that correct?

This might seem shocking, but what if Canadians decided that it was time to be responsible consumers, and that in order to continue to live the same lifestyles, we'll need to make significant changes to our efficiency and conservation strategies. Even more, Canadians are realizing that ever greater levels of consumption are unsustainable, and it's the responsibility of not only the government and industries, but the people as well, to be efficient and reduce our consumption levels.

We can do this as slow or as fast as we wish, but dragging our feet on this will not make things easier in the long run.

I think we can see by the level of support for the Green Party (doubled to 10% over the last year, with almost 700,000 votes in the last federal election and many polls showing that Canadians support the Greens)that our concepts and plans for sustainable living are sound and realistic.

I wish to see a study that shows how significantly reduced levels of consumption and increased efficiency - through various means, including moderate lifestyle changes - would allow for Canada to pursue a renewable energy strategy. It CAN be done.

The studies you quote show how if we consume more and more without aggressive efficiency and conservation measures, we'll need nuclear. Well, that's fine, but it doesn'yt answer my question, and it certainly doesn't convince me to support nuclear energy.

Just because some studies say we'll need it in order to avoid ramping up renewables significantly and to be inefficient and consume more, it doesn't make it a good choice.

Anonymous, can you tell me in a short statement why you support nuclear, and while you're at it, I'm curious who you are and where (in general) you live.


Cameron W said...

Toward Sustainable Electricity Futures
Ralph D. Torrie and Richard Parfett


The output of Ontario’s nuclear power plants has dropped by a third since it peaked in 1994. It
will soon begin a further steep decline. By 2010 it will have dropped to 50% of its peak levels.
Sometime in the next 10-15 years, electricity production from nuclear power in Canada will drop
to zero. This projection assumes that the reactors that are still operating will continue producing
until they are 27 years old, more than five years longer than any CANDU has ever operated
without having to be shut down. It also assumes that the current reconstruction of one unit at the
Pickering A Station and two units at the Bruce A Station are successful and the rebuilt units
operate like new for another 13 years or more.

This steep decline in nuclear power capacity is the “flip side” of the rapid growth in nuclear
power that occurred in the 1970’s and 1980’s, combined with the premature aging and poor
performance that have characterized CANDU technology. The first commercial CANDU power
plants were the four unit stations at Pickering A and Bruce A; the Pickering Station had some
serious problems in the early years of its operation, but in general the early year performance of
the Pickering A and Bruce A stations was satisfactory. It wasn’t until they had been in operation
for ten years that the deterioration in their performance began to materialize. In the largest
nuclear shutdown in world history, these eight reactors were ‘laid up’ (taken out of service for a
long period) between 1995 and 1998, after only 18 to 23 years of operation, because of
accumulating safety and performance problems. Three of these old reactors are having their cores rebuilt– one at Pickering A and two at Bruce A. Ontario Power Generation has suggested
that it would like to rebuild the cores of the remaining three reactors at Pickering A.

Before the extent of the CANDU performance problems became apparent, Ontario Hydro had already committed to building 12 more reactors, and Hydro Québec and New Brunswick Power had also committed to one single-unit CANDU station each. By the spring of 1993, these fourteen reactors were all in operation, but none have been built or ordered since.

These 14 operating reactors are now approaching the end of their expected lifespan, and in the
absence of heroic efforts to rehabilitate these plants and perhaps even with such efforts, by
2019 the output of the Canadian nuclear program will decline to zero. While some argue that
this decline can be reversed or at least arrested by rebuilding the cores of all the reactors (an
operation called “retubing”), it would cost on the order of $15-$20 billion to do that. Moreover,
it is not clear how many more years of operation that would buy before the plants would once
again require multi-billion dollar reconstruction operations.
It is possible that the plants will not be able to operate for the unprecedented 26 years assumed
here. It is also possible that the newer reactors will not perform even as well as the older plants ˜
the Darlington Nuclear Station is the most recent CANDU power plant built and it has the worst
early year performance record in the history of the Canadian nuclear program. We also do not
know whether the reconstruction projects are going to work. Even if the rebuilt reactors perform
like new when restarted (as assumed here), we do not know how quickly their performance will
deteriorate with increasing age. As we have seen with the original Pickering A and Bruce A startups,
even if the rebuilt units work satisfactorily for the first few years after restart, that is no assurance that they will continue to perform as they continue to age. The essential fact remains
that by the year 2020 or sooner the output of Canada’s nuclear program will have declined to
zero in the absence of the risky, multi-billion dollar investments it would take to rebuild the cores
of all the reactors when they reach the end of their current life spans.
At the same time that the aging nuclear plants are reaching the end of their useful lifetimes, the
emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases from coal and oil-fired power plants are of
increasing concern. But our choice need not be between nuclear power and coal; it can be
instead a choice between the unsustainable energy options based on nuclear and coal, and more
sustainable options based on energy conservation, efficiency improvements, cogeneration,
renewables and other alternatives. Seen in this light the decline of the Canadian nuclear program
presents an opportunity for an orderly transition to a more sustainable electricity future.
The technologies that could facilitate a transition away from coal and nuclear power have already
been developed, In the scenario explored in this analysis we present one example of how they
can be combined to meet growing demands for energy services while at the same time reducing
and eventually eliminating reliance on centralized nuclear and fossil fuel power plants. The institutional, policy and business innovations that will be required to mobilize these technologies
on the necessary time scale will vary from province to province, and are not at present well developed. However, change in these areas can take place quickly provided that the possibilities, opportunities and benefits are appreciated and incorporated into policy decisions.

There are five key building blocks to a sustainable transition away from central coal and nuclear
power plants and toward a more sustainable energy future:

1. Improved efficiency of electricity use. This is by far the most important element of any
strategy for a nuclear phase-out and a sustainable, low-emission energy future.

2. A reduction over time in the use of electricity for heat. Electricity is really only essential for about 12-14% of total end use energy, but in all three of Canada’s nuclear provinces it provides a much greater share of energy use because it is used for space heating, water heating and even for industrial boilers. Electricity’s share of the heating market has peaked in all three of these provinces and continues to decline in the scenario presented

3. Industrial Cogeneration. All three of Canada’s nuclear provinces have significant numbers of energy intensive industrial establishments that are prime candidates for electricity cogeneration. In Ontario and New Brunswick, cogeneration is second only to improved efficiency in the size of the contribution it can make to a more sustainable and efficient
electricity supply and demand system.

4. Strengthen East-West Electricity Trade. Both Ontario and New Brunswick are adjacent to
provinces with large, already installed, hydroelectric capacity. There is a case to be made
for greater east-west electricity trade that would allow the Maritimes and Ontario to access this hydroelectricity.

5. New and Renewable Electricity. Over the scenario period (to the year 2020) there will be increasing contributions from wind, solar and biomass electricity. Indications are that growth in wind power will be particularly strong over this period.

These five elements were combined in different ways to produce a scenario for the electricity
systems in Ontario, Québec, and New Brunswick in which all central coal, oil, and nuclear power plants would be phased out by 2020. In general, as shown in Figure ES-3, efficiency improvements can contribute more than cogeneration and renewables combined On the other hand, the potential for cogeneration is at least twice as large as the potential from wind and solar and other renewables. Indeed, the possibility of an eventual transition to a sustainable electricity system depends utterly on the efficiency gains being put in place first.

The technologies employed in this scenario is feasible from both a technological and economic
perspective, but much more organizational and financial innovation is required to realize the potential. When a consumer flicks a light switch, a vast technological, organizational and financial infrastructure is instantaneously available. Multi-billion dollar capital investments and highly evolved business organizations with thousands of employees are dedicated to making it easy and economically efficient to buy and have instantaneously delivered a kilowatt.hour of central grid electricity. On the demand side of the equation however, business and financial organization for the easy, cheap delivery of energy efficiency is not so well organized.

Cameron W said...

Nuclear is not a solution to climate change (PDF)

Over the years, several studies have shown that investment in nuclear power does not adequately address the problem of climate change.1 For example, the Royal Society of Canada's Canadian Options for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction panel found that "improved energy efficiency is the key to stabilising energy-related CO2 emissions over the next two decades."2

Nuclear power is not once mentioned as a viable energy alternative to fossil fuels. Moreover, a U.S. study found that every dollar invested in energy efficiency displaces seven times as much CO2 emissions as the same dollar invested in nuclear power.3

Cameron W said...

A few more interesting links...

Abandon nuclear option, Ontario
Toronto Star - July 25, 2004
by Linda McQuaig

The Negawatt Revolution - Solving the CO2 Problem - Keynote Address by Amory Lovins at the Green Energy Conference

Energy guru sees oil-free world
Lovins' mantra: It 'makes sense and makes money'

Technology is the answer (but what was the question?) - A. Lovins

"...If we want more electricity, we should get it from the cheapest
sources first. In approximate order of increasing price, these include:
• Converting to efficient lighting equipment. This would save the
United States electricity equal to the output of 120 large power
plants, plus $30 billion a year in fuel and maintenance costs.
• Using more efficient motors to save up to half the energy
used by motor systems. This would save electricity equal to
the output of another 150 large power plants and repay the
cost in about a year.
• Eliminating pure waste of electricity, such as lighting empty
offices. Each kilowatt-hour saved can be resold without having to
generate it anew.
• Displacing with good architecture, weatherization, insulation, and
passive and some active solar techniques the electricity now used
for water heating and for space heating and cooling.
• Making appliances, smelters, and the like cost-effectively

Just these five measures can quadruple US. electrical efficiency, making it possible to run today's economy with no changes in lifestyles and using no power plants, whether old or new or fueled with oil, gas, coal, or uranium. We would need only the present hydroelectric capacity, readily available small-scale hydroelectric projects, and a modest amount of wind power.
If we still wanted more electricity, the next cheapest sources would include industrial cogeneration, combined heat-and-power plants,
low-temperature heat engines run by industrial waste heat or by solar
ponds, filling empty turbine bays and upgrading equipment in existing
big dams, modern wind machines or small-scale hydroelectric turbines
in good sites, steam-injected natural-gas turbines, and perhaps recent developments in solar cells with waste-heat recovery..."

Cameron W said...

Fueling the Nuclear Arms Race - And How To Stop It

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, my last two comments disappeared.

How perplexing

Cameron W said...

Hi anonymous,

Perhaps it's the blogspot submission window. It's been giving me a bit of grief in the last couple of days.

Maybe you posted comments on my other threads about nuclear energy, and mistook this thread for the one where you posted.

Cameron W said...

omeone recommended I watch a pro-nuclear disc, and I intend to do so, but here is my reply to them regarding some of the text from the DVD website...

The intro to the disc you recommended states:

We need lots of energy to:
1. Lift poor nations out of poverty
2. Maintain the well-being of everyone on Earth
3. Adapt to climate change
4. Protect the environment

1. We could already do that by committing only 0.7% of our national GDP. The Make Poverty History campaign is onto this, but our government lacks the political will to make it happen. We don't need more energy to do it.

2. This is a twist of the definition of the term 'well-being'. I believe this should state 'creature comforts', or 'luxury'. Still, avoiding the path of producing more fossil fuel or nuclear energy, and instead pursuing efficiency and consumption reduction measures along with renewable energies, should have little effect on our creature comforts and luxuries. It most certainly won't effect our well-being, although avoiding dirty coal and dirty nuclear would probably improve our well-being.

3. On my blog I've posted a number of links to articles showing that the effects of increased nuclear efforts will be negligible on GHG's. We'd need hundreds of nuclear power plants in Canada to make a difference, and consumption of energy (read: wasteful & inefficient practices) will continue to rise, along with continued use of coal, and oil and gas in other areas such as transportation. Nuclear energy is not a solution to climate change.

4. How would more nuclear energy protect the environment better than a combination of efficiency measures and renewable energies? It would not. It can be done by the way... we can meet our energy needs by reducing demand, and by ramping up sustainable energy use.

From the site (with my statements in brackets and italicized)...

This film explains that:

* tar sands cannot cure "peak oil" (AGREED)

* world energy consumption could triple by 2100 (it 'could', or we 'could choose a different path, and it 'could' increase marginally, before falling, which it inevitably must do, even if we do pursue the stop-gap of nuclear energy, which will take us maybe another 100 years at most, and then what? 100 years of fossil fuels have given us global warming, and by the time we set up a massive global nuclear program, fossil fuels will have declined to the point where we might not be able to maintain our thousands of nuclear power plants. What will we do with the waste then?)

* history and technical limitations show renewable energy cannot ever provide more than 10% of world energy (that is under the assumption that global energy demand will triple as suggested above, but that will not necessarily happen. We could suggest it might multiply by a factor of twenty, but even nuclear combined with all out fossil fuel consumption would not meet that forecasted 'need'. My point is that if we forecast that the demand will level off and reduce, in part through efficiency and conservation methods that are proven to work, then we CAN meet the demand with renewables. We CAN.)

* energy efficiency and conservation marginally reduce carbon dioxide emissions (sure, if one 'marginally' employs these methods while continuing to consume vast amounts of fossil fuels in inefficient ways. That is just a trick of words. If one chooses to pursue energy efficiency and conservation measures aggressively, while reducing fossil fuel consumption by the resulting amount, one will significantly reduce GHG emissions.)

* tree planting is not reliable for storing carbon dioxide permanently (Perhaps not. I'm not sure, and I don't know who's suggesting it's a 'permanent' solution. I'd say it's only temporary, maybe as temporary and unreliable as pursuing the stop gap of nuclear energy to allow for increases in energy consumption only for maybe the next 60 to 90 years. That is temporary, and unreliable.)

* the hydrogen economy is currently impractical (AGREED)

I'll see if I can get a hold of the DVD. Please have a look at the posts at my blog and let me know if you aren't convinced against nuclear, and why. I'm curious to know why you might still support nuclear.

I've seen some people go for the idea that consumption levels can't be reduced, and that only nuclear energy will meet our increasing demand. This has not been proven, although it has been forecasted by experts that if the government, businesses and people do NOTHING, the demand for energy will go up.

The alternative - and it is a proven one - is to ramp up renewable energy production in combination with aggressive energy conservation measures. I have linked to many studies supporting this concept in my blog posts on energy.

Dana G said...

I'm annoyed by the Green Party's response to the nuclear waste issue. The Green Party doesn't have a better plan for the nuclear waste so why do they disparage the NWMO's plan? Even if you are opposed to the nuclear industry you have to agree that we must carefully manage the nuclear waste we already have produced. Currently we don't have a long term plan for how to handle the waste. This is a dangerous situation as we might end up like Russia with some orphan waste sitting in some rusting barrels. If the GPC doesn't like the nuclear industry's plan for the waste they should come up with an alternative. The status quo is not acceptable.

Anonymous said...

We need lots of energy to:
1. Lift poor nations out of poverty...

1. We could already do that by committing only 0.7% of our national GDP. The Make Poverty History campaign is onto this, but our government lacks the political will to make it happen. We don't need more energy to do it.

I'm not going to bother rewriting my earlier missing posts. But I thought I'd comment on this mozza ball.

Here is a guy, sitting in the richest province in one of the richest nations in the world suggesting that the Western world (comprising, what, 1 billion people) contribute 0.7% of GDP to deal with the rest of the world's energy issues.

Meanwhile, 1/2 of the world's population (say 3 billion) live on less than $2/day.

My goodness. How patronizing.

I have to ask you something. Have you ever travelled outside of North America? Ever been to a developing country? Have you experienced how other people live?

Honestly, I get the distinct impression all of your worldly experience is from the internet and articles you read.

Sorry, but I had to say this.

Cameron W said...

I think part of the message is that underground disposal is not an option today, and that we are still stuck with temporary interim storage.

Also, there is no adequate solution, not from anywhere or anyone. Nuclear waste could leak from any of the current proposals, and for this reason we are stuck with maintaining temporary storage choices, just as France has done.

Many people need to hear this, and that's what the Green party is working to achieve in this case. People need to understand that there is no acceptable plan yet, and we may not have a plan within the next few decades, or ever.

Cameron W said...

No need to apologize anonymous.

Say, I'm curious who you are. What country do you live in?

My point is that I agree that we can and should do more, and 0.7% is the number that the GLOBAL Make Poverty History campaign is calling for. I'd personally like to see more, and I'd also like to see us here in Canada take better care of our homeless and the populations living in poverty.

Nuclear won't 'lift people out of poverty'. In fact that's one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard! People lift people out of poverty. We have ample energy here in Canada and we have too much poverty around us. I can think of far better ways to reduce poverty than nuclear energy. What a bizarre suggestion.

Would you agree with these statements?

Anonymous said...

I think I would phrase it differently. Like China and India, representing approx 2.4 billion people, a growing middle class is evolving. People are going from dirt poor to having a standard of living that is more comparable to what those in the west enjoy. This trend is occuring, and will only continue.

When moving from subsistance to a higher standard of living, more energy will be consumed.

If a country like China has no access to natural gas, and most of the hydroelectric sources are developed, then it really has only a couple of choices - nukes or coal. There is little existing efficiency to be squeezed out. What you save in electricity generation in North America cannot be exported in any practical way.

Keeping these countries poor by reducing demand for their labour and goods overseas seems naive to me. As their population gains in wealth, many of the products will be consumed domestically (not just for export - you should be familiar with the rapid growth in China of WalMart for example).

If there is a demand for electricity generation there, why should they not also have access to nukes? If not, it will be dirty coal, and our lakes in North America will continue to be poisoned by mercury etc. that is released (and there is evidence this is already occuring).

The 0.7% figure, to my understanding, is to provide people with basic necessities - food, shelter, basic health care. Will electricity be part of that equation to run water pumps, providing lighting etc.? Probably. How will they generate the power? Depends upon what is available.

Anonymous said...

New Brunswick eyes new nuclear reactor

From Thursday's Globe and Mail

June 28, 2007 at 6:31 AM EDT

New Brunswick is looking to take advantage of New England's hunger for emissions-free power by building a second nuclear reactor at Point Lepreau and exporting the electricity, possibly through an undersea cable to Massachusetts.

At a meeting in Prince Edward Island this week, Eastern Canadian premiers agreed with New England governors to move toward a common energy market that would place a premium on power from energy sources that do not produce greenhouse gas emissions.

In an interview from Saint John, provincial Energy Minister Jack Keir said New Brunswick is about to launch a feasibility study for a second reactor and the additional transmission capacity that would be required.

He said he met with New England energy officials during the PEI session and found them eager for New Brunswick to expand its nuclear capability and ship the power south....

Anonymous said...

I think part of the message is that underground disposal is not an option today, and that we are still stuck with temporary interim storage.

My take is different. When one is ideologically against something, no solution is acceptable.

Same with Ontario's energy plan. The GP is against it, but offers no viable alternative or plan.

The essence of a protest party.

Cameron W said...

anonymous, you're misrepresenting the Green Party.

It is not a protest party. It is a solutions oriented party. The Green Party sides with the research and data that supports the wiser more sustainable choice of pursuing renewable energies along with reductions in consumption through efficiency measures. It CAN work, and it IS an alternative.

To ignore the problems with nuclear, and at the same time ignore the alternatives, is to be less than useful in this discussion. I might define that as 'pro-nuclear fanaticism'.

Anonymous said...

To ignore the problems with nuclear, and at the same time ignore the alternatives, is to be less than useful in this discussion. I might define that as 'pro-nuclear fanaticism'.

I have worked in BC in the 90's as a consultant with BC Hydro's PowerSmart programs - that dealt with saving electricity through a wide range of programs in Residential, Commercial and the Industrial sector. Yes, efficiency and conservation. I'm probably the only one blogging with the GPC who has experience in this area.

You may have seen commercials for a knock off, Powerwise for Ontario that featured David Suzuki.

Yes, this is the efficiency/conservation program that is an integral part of Ontario's electricity plan that includes nukes.

So, unlike you and others in the Green party, my opinions are based upon professional experience and specific knowledge.

Currently, in my opinion, the Ostrich wing of the GP prevails, as reflected in the policies articulated here and elsewhere.

Cameron W said...

Hi anonymous,

You have a good deal of experience in this area. Who are you?

So would you prefer to discuss the perceived 'need' for nuclear to meet our rising energy demands, or the indefensible problems with nuclear energy as outlined in my posts on this subject?

Anonymous said...

or the indefensible problems with nuclear energy as outlined in my posts on this subject?

When one uses words such as "indefensible" what's the point? The person making the claim has already made their mind up.

Unlike an NGO (such as GreenPeace or the Sierra Club which are by law required to be apolitical) a political party has to, by nature, take into account a wide range of issues and constituents. NGOs on the other hand are usually advocacy groups for a narrow and specific point of view - necessary to shape public opinion, granted, but rarely does a political party adopt the views of an NGO lock, stock and barrel on an issue such as the one articulated here. The history of the GPC's leader may be a factor here.

The transformation that you or others espouse in terms of energy consumption and generation take years, and years, and years. They cannot be done overnight. So, to be realistic, one has to factor this into the equation.

BC Hydro has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on Demand Side Management programs since its inception in 1989. Yet, currently, BC Hydro cannot meet its internal electricity demand requirements, instead importing electricity from Alberta (coal generated) to meet its shortfall.

They had looked at additional coal generation in BC at Princeton, which was widely opposed in the province. So, they will go with a number of small hydro projects (they are blessed with this renewable resource) and probably some thermal plants using pine beetle kill. But neither of these proposals will go without opposition in the environmental community in BC.

Any energy supply option involves tradeoffs. There are costs and benefits to all options. You seem to place a great deal of weight on the very low probability that something catastrophic or detrimental may happen in the near or very far distance with nukes or the handling of the waste. I place much more weight on what is actually happening to the climate and people's health TODAY by pursuing its alternate (coal).

That is the trsdeoff that one is required to make in the interim.

I would suggest you spend some time reviewing the Ontario Energy Plan and the assumptions contained within. The load forecast (residential for example) assumes 0.2% decrease in energy use/household/yr PRIOR to the PowerWise programs.

What are the viable alternatives? Hydro from Manitoba nd Newfoundland? How long will that take? How much can it supply? What about the large transmission losses? And the transmission right of ways? You should know firsthand in Alberta how difficult it is to get new transmision lines installed (Edmonton to Calgary widely opposed by landowners). Yet, many of these types of system enhancements may be required with extensive windpower generation, etc., etc., etc.

It's not as black and white as it may appear on the surface.

Cameron W said...

Hi anonymous,

We'll have to let the people who look at the data and all factors make up their minds for themselves.

I have data stating that we can meet demand through energy efficiency and conservation, combined with significantly ramped up renewables, all without fossil fuel or nuclear energy. It will take a few tears to complete the transition, but it can be done.

You have data, largely based on the assumption that we cannot reduce our demand and increase efficiency enough (never say 'can't ;-) that shows how we need nuclear to meet our expected increase in demand.

While I point out all of the problems with nuclear energy, including that it will have little to no effect on GHG emissions (unless we build thousands of nuclear power plants right away all around the world and simultaneously significantly reduce global fossil fuel consumption, and even then the effect of nuclear aside from consumption reductions will still be marginal) you choose to avoid these negative aspects, or dismiss them as inconsequential.

Nuclear weapons proliferation.

DU weapons.

Lack of acceptable long term storage plan.

Little effect on climate change.

High level of taxpayer subsidies.

Unsustainable into the future without readily available fossil fuels, which will be in decline.

Risk of terrorist targeting.

Spin it however you want, but the fact is that we don't need nuclear energy. It a bad idea.

Say, if you don't mind saying, who are you anonymous?

Anonymous said...

Well, carry on then. Discuss amongst yourselves. Most informed people I predict will not find the GP policies on these and other issues credible. But that's the risk you face when you are a protest party based upon ideology.

I'll check back after a few more reality checks at the polls (btw I don't recall any recent byelection results blogged in spite of some hype beforehand).


Cameron W said...

The informed people I speak with, from all walks of life and of all ages, are open to the solutions that the Green Party is presenting.

Your repeated attempts to frame the green Party as a 'protest party' show your hostility and misconception of what the Greens are all about. I look for solutions, I don't just criticize.

The reality of the polls is that the Green Party is gaining in popularity across the country and Canadians trust the greens more than any other party when it comes to solutions regarding ecological, environmental and sustainability issues.

Here in Drumheller-Stettler we formed a Constituency Association for the first time and allowed people for the first time ever the opportunity to vote Green, and hundreds of people did. We ran a tiny campaign, but had a great candidate that won the support of many local people from all walks of life. We will continue to build support, and we will continue to bring the solutions that the Green Party represents to the people of this riding.

Now if you're done trying to attack me, and you're done losing the argument on nuclear, I'd like you to either tell me who you are, submit that you've lost this debate and/or move on.

Anonymous said...

The informed people I speak with, from all walks of life and of all ages, are open to the solutions that the Green Party is presenting.

Well, that may be the case, but may I suggest that while some ideas are worthwhile, others do not withstand scrutiny as being realistic when you look below the five second media sound bite or resolution. This is one such policy.

Your repeated attempts to frame the green Party as a 'protest party' show your hostility and misconception of what the Greens are all about. I look for solutions, I don't just criticize.

You may find this shocking, but in the last two federal elections I voted Green as a protest against the lack of progress on the environment by the main established parties. I knew nothing of the policies, not even the name of the local candidate until I reached the voting booth.

Subsequently, I joined in encouraging a candidate to enter the leadership race, purchasing a membership along the way. I have not renewed it as I have been exposed a great deal to the GP policies, and the opinions of a number of members on blogs. I have also spent some time looking beyond the soundbites from the GP articulated in the media and found they lacked substance once one scratches below the surface.

The reality of the polls is that the Green Party is gaining in popularity across the country and Canadians trust the greens more than any other party when it comes to solutions regarding ecological, environmental and sustainability issues.

That remains to be seen. Many voters/polled individuals I suspect have parked their votes with the GP in an effort to force the mainstream parties to shift their positions in a different direction.

Your former leader also seems fanatic about opinion polls. Here's what he recently wrote on the GPC site:

A full 25% of respondents would definitely or probably consider voting for the Green Party in the next federal election. While another 15% are unsure -- this latter group could be convinced to vote Green if they knew more about the party.

In this light, 49% of respondents did not know what the Green Party stands for.

He then goes on to suggest that when they pop knows what the GP stands for, support will go up. I suggest it is more likely to go down, once the policies are reviewed. "Silly" has been used by one national correspondent already to describe aspects of the GP's Climate Change plan. Expect similar comentary on other aspects of the party's policies.

Now if you're done trying to attack me, and you're done losing the argument on nuclear, I'd like you to either tell me who you are, submit that you've lost this debate and/or move on.

Ok, let's see how you suggest I've lost the debate. You presented earlier some studies by the Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout a special interest group - hardly objective, in fact quite the opposite. So, based upon these "studies" , you suggest: I have data stating that we can meet demand through energy efficiency and conservation, combined with significantly ramped up renewables, all without fossil fuel or nuclear energy. It will take a few tears to complete the transition, but it can be done.

Now, I have also earlier suggested that the GPC is adopting "the views of an NGO lock, stock and barrel on an issue such as the one articulated here. The history of the GPC's leader may be a factor here."

This is a good case in point.
Note the address of the CNP on their website:

Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout / Sortir du Nucléaire
412-1 Nicholas Street Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 7B7

Look familiar? It should. Here's the address for the Sierra Club of Canada:

412-1 Nicholas Street
Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 7B7

Elizabeth May, anti-nuclear activist, has her fingerprints all over these documents.

Her positions, which she continues to articulate as the head of the GPC, are the same ones voiced 50 years ago. Read her recent book "How to Change the World in Your Spare Time" outlining her youth, and you'll see what I mean. Nothing has changed.

It's ideology. (And btw I spent some time in the past reviewing in some detail a CNP study and found it very biased and unreliable with the numbers).

I have no further interest in joining or voting for the Sierra Club of Canada Party.

Wake up and smell the coffee.


Cameron W said...

I'm sorry to hear that you feel this way.

There are many 'fleshed out policies' in the policy section of the GPC website at:

Some of the policy there is dated as policy history, and is not fleshed out, but many of the policies are full plans.

Lots of people make a protest vote and vote Green, but the green Party is not a protest party. There's a big difference. Many people are recognizing that the solutions that the greens represent are the best solutions to our problems, in part because the Green Party frames everything in the context of sustainability.

We are about straightforward solutions that will save Canadians money, improve our quality of life, and can easily be applied by us all.

All of the other old-line parties have a short term event horizon, meaning they offer 'band-aid' solutions for short term political gain.

I have quoted many other studies, in addition to the one you mentioned in your comment. The text above seems to show that the pro-nuclear lobbyists are losing this argument.

Thanks for hanging out and letting me know what you think. It's through means of communication like this that I will be better informed on the various opinions of other people, both open minded to the ideas the Green Party puts forth, and closed-minded or partisan against the GPC.

I hope one day you'll recognize that while the other big political parties have had many decades of history with which to 'flesh out' their policies, the greens have had only about twenty years, half of which were not very fruitful.

By dismissing the Greens as 'not good enough', rather that contributing to make the Party better as I and thousands of others have in recent years, you essentially state that you're giving up. I hope that's not the case.

Anyways, my posts on nuclear are my own personal position, and it was a coincidence that the Green Party made two press releases at the same time in criticism of nuclear energy.

It's the right position, and the more people know, the less they want nuclear, save for those who ignore the problems, the availability of other solutions and go straight to the 'we need it!' mantra, in which case I have to challenge this as a choice, not a fact.

You choose to support the continued 'need', while others choose to support reducing demand through energy efficiency and conservation measures coupled with renewable energy technologies. It's a fact that it CAN be done.

It would create many thousands of jobs in renewable technologies, and there would be zero nuclear waste.

In the end there's no easy solution to the problems of peak oil, increasing population & consumption, or attempting to maintain our energy hungry lifestyles beyond the next few decades. Attempting to allow for wasteful consumption or heightened luxuries through nuclear energy is short-sighted and self centered. The problems are countless, and after a few decades who's going to tell the future generations "sorry - there's not enough energy around to clean all this mess up, let alone continuing the lifestyle we had. Good luck!"

Anonymous said...

Mining Watch - Saskatchewan - Uranium:


Sierra Legal - Nuclear:


SIERRA LEGAL - Clearing the air on nuclear

Taken from March 2007 Newsletter – Page 5

Late last year, Sierra Legal filed an application to the Competition Bureau of Canada to conduct an inquiry into the Canadian Nuclear Association’s (CNA) high profile advertising campaign touting the benefits of nuclear power. The applicants – including public health, renewable energy, environmental, and religious groups across Canada – allege that claims made in television, radio and print ads promoting nuclear energy are misleading. The CNA ads state, against a background of blue sky, that nuclear power is “clean,” “reliable” and “affordable” and that nuclear power generation “does not create greenhouse gases,” “keeps the air clean” and is subject to “stable” fuel prices. The application demands an investigation into whether these representations are factually correct or create a misleading impression of the environmental impacts and economic costs of nuclear power.

A report on Nuclear Power in Canada was filed by the Pembina Institute in support of the application. The report documents the significant volumes of radioactive and hazardous wastes generated by nuclear power, the toxic pollutants released into the

air and water, and greenhouse gases emitted throughout the technology lifecycle. It also discusses Canada’s history of poor reliability and costly overruns with nuclear power facilities. The Competition Bureau will determine whether the Competition Act

has been breached. Sierra Legal’s application maintains that conservation and renewable energy initiatives are being denied a level playing field, and Canadians must be able to assess the full environmental, health and economic risks and costs of the

various energy options available.


reprinted from

Nuclear power not for oilsands:
Despite federal minister's musings, too many costs and risks make nuclear reactors a poor choice for extracting northern Alberta's oil

The Edmonton Journal, Wed 24 Jan 2007, Page: A19 - Section: Ideas

Federal Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn has become an increasingly vocal promoter of using nuclear power as an alternative energy source to natural gas for developing Alberta's oilsands.

Indeed, he has stated that it is not a matter of "if," but "when" a nuclear reactor will be built to supply energy to oilsands production facilities.

Lunn has backed his proposals with statements that nuclear energy is "emission-free," produces "no greenhouse gases," and "there's no pollutants going out (with) the energy."

Leaving aside the consideration that no oilsands company has actually made any commitment to pursuing the use of nuclear power, and that the technical and economic viability of nuclear power in an oilsands context is at best unproven, Lunn's claims raise serious questions.


Is nuclear energy clean? Lunn claims that nuclear power generation produces no greenhouse gases and air pollution. In reality, nuclear power, like other non-renewable energy sources, is associated with severe environmental impacts. Each stage of the nuclear energy production process, from uranium mining to power plant operation, generates large amounts of radioactive and otherwise hazardous wastes that will require care, in some cases for hundreds of thousands of years, for safety, security and environmental reasons.

The process also pollutes surface water and groundwater with radioactive and hazardous pollutants. Water pollution from uranium mines and mills has been found by Health Canada and Environment Canada to meet the definition of a toxic substance for the purposes of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. Canadian nuclear power plants have had routine and accidental releases to surface and groundwater of radio-nuclides, particularly tritium.

Significant releases of hazardous air pollutants, radionuclides and smog and acid rain-causing pollutants occur throughout the process of mining and producing uranium fuel for nuclear power stations.

Greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, are produced at each stage of the nuclear energy cycle. Greenhouse gas emissions occur during the construction of reactors, as a result of the operation of equipment in the uranium mining process, the milling of uranium ore, mill tailings management activities, and refining and conversion operations. Greenhouse gas emissions also result from the transportation of uranium between milling, refining and conversion facilities and transportation required in the management of waste nuclear fuel and other radioactive wastes.


Is nuclear energy affordable? Ask Ontario electricity consumers, who are greeted with a "debt retirement charge" on their electricity bills every month to pay off $20 billion in "stranded" debt, mostly left behind by Ontario Hydro's perpetually overbudget and underperforming nuclear plants. That's to say nothing of the financial guarantees that would have to be provided by Alberta taxpayers for waste fuel management, decommissioning costs, and in the event of a serious accident, any damage to the environment, public health or the economy of more than $75 million.

It has been estimated that the economic damages from a major accident at the Darlington, Ont., nuclear plant east of Toronto would be in the range of $1 trillion. In addition to its immediate human and environmental costs, a major nuclear accident in the oilsands could end their development for centuries.

Nor, as its proponents claim, is nuclear power subject to "stable" fuel prices. The world price for uranium -- the fuel for nuclear power plants -- has risen by a factor or more than six over the past five years.


Is nuclear energy reliable? Nuclear proponents point to their improved performance this year. Just don't ask them about the performance over the last couple decades. The Ontario CANDU reactor fleet, for example, has been subject to severe performance and reliability problems. Some Ontario facilities have had average operating capacities below 40 per cent rather than the expected 85- to 90-per-cent range. Reactors expected to have operational lifetimes in the range of 40 years have turned out to require major refurbishments after approximately 25 years of service. Refurbishment projects themselves have run seriously over budget and behind schedule.

Nuclear energy's environmental, economic and reliability challenges, along with security, accident and weapons proliferation risks that are simply not shared by any other energy source, place nuclear energy in a unique category relative to all other energy supply options.

Albertans will want to think long and hard about these challenges and risks before they even consider Lunn's proposals for nuclear power in the oilsands.


Safer, cheaper and more reliable options are on the horizon. These range from the use of fuels derived from the gasification of petroleum coke wastes already produced by the oilsands, and capture and geological storage of greenhouse gases resulting from their use, to the use of deep geothermal energy sources. These cheaper, cleaner, more reliable options should be the focus of Albertans' attention.

Hugh Wilkins is a staff lawyer with Sierra Legal (

Mark Winfield is director of the Pembina Institute's Environmental Governance program (

Dan Woynillowicz is senior policy analyst working on oilsands with the Pembina Institute.


Saskatchewan Uranium Mining:

Mining Watch, which is a global mining non-profit organization that specializes in changing public policy and mining practices to ensure the health of individuals, communities and ecosystems in Canada and worldwide.

Sierra Legal has worked with Mining Watch on a number of projects.

They have a portion of their website that is devoted expressly to mining in Saskatchewan at:

Anonymous said...

Mark Winfield, of the Pembina Institute has a PhD in Political Science. The Pembina is funded by organizations who have a particular political agenda.

I've read Pembina's report. It is political, reflective of the main author's background.

Actually, like many opinions expressed on this topic, I found it quite provincial. Conclusions had been established, and the report was written to support the pre-established findings. (For example: no full life cycle comparison of GHG emissions of nukes to alternate forms of energy generation, no review of competing nuclear generation technologies, focusing only on Candu - a repeat of the CNP strategy)

And btw, it was rather apparent that Pembina had been working in cahoots with the Sierra Legal Defense as the latter filed a lengthy legal document, citing the Pembina report, a mere week after the Pembina report was published.

An incestuous lot.

Cameron W said...

end, Pembina Institute produces excellent studies and extremely exact, factual information on a great many subjects, as does Sierra Legal Defense.

Their bias is that they recognize that it's the environment which sustains us.

You might not like the studies that come from these groups, but their research mirrors that of many independent researchers and other NGO's around the world.

The greens recognized a tax shift and carbon tax as fiscally responsible, good for the economy, and important to the efforts of reducing emissions and being good stewards of our environment. The Harper government attacked the Green Party and it's policy, but then one of their very own favorite researchers did a study and found that it made economical sense, and was in fact a very good policy. The Harper government wasn't too happy about this. I blogged about the whole thing in another post.

If you'd like to be a part of the solution, it's easy with the Green Party. As a member you can write policy that you think is appropriate. One very good thing about the Green Party is that policy is written by the members, and voted on/accepted by a membership vote. It's easy to get involved and help make the Party what you'd like to see.

I'm glad you're sticking around to discuss this! It shows that you are interested in sharing and learning about these issues.

Cameron W said...

"...An incestuous lot..."

You've got to be joking! What is wrong with working together for positive change?

I suppose if all of parliament actually put partisan differences aside and decided to work together to find common ground on issues and get things done, you'd accuse them of being 'incestuous'.


Anonymous said...


If you were a judge, would you only listen to the prosecution, or would you listen to both the defense and prosecution before making a decision?

You constantly quote NGOs, and try to represent their studies as gospel or factual. Pembina is an NGO. Sierra is an NGO. Sierra Legal is an NGO. They also receive public funding in hearings to present opposing views to the applicant. They are biased. They are funded to be biased. Do you understand this? I really don't think you do. That is their role. To mindlessly quote their studies without acknowledging this is disingenuous.

For you to not understand this or acknowledge it is the only absurd part of this.

You state: The Harper government attacked the Green Party and it's policy, but then one of their very own favorite researchers did a study and found that it made economical sense, and was in fact a very good policy. The Harper government wasn't too happy about this. I blogged about the whole thing in another post.

The person you refer to is Mark Jaccard. He is the one who also prepared the econometric study for the Ontario Gov't energy plan, forecasting demand, and what is attainable through conservation and efficiency programs, and HE SUPPORTS NUKES!!!!

You are a prime example of why people will leave the GP once they look below the surface. No matter what anyone else says, if the evidence or opinion is different from yours, you reject it. You are close minded on this issue, in my opinion.

This is quite representative of the GP from what I can tell. Only time and major setbacks at the polls will solve this problem.

Good luck. I won't be supportive.

Cameron W said...

I've referenced many studies from a diverse group, in addition to a few NGO's.

I am open minded. Why do you think I've continued to discuss this issue with you? You've presented no convincing data in this debate. You've only tried to discredit me and some of the studies I've referenced.

"You are a prime example of why people will leave the GP once they look below the surface. No matter what anyone else says, if the evidence or opinion is different from yours, you reject it. You are close minded on this issue, in my opinion."

I'm disappointed to hear you feel this way. Why are you still here at my blog if you believe this? Your analysis of the GPC and my own attitude is erroneous. Just because I won't agree with you to support nuclear energy, it doesn't mean that I've rejected evidence different than mine. I have rejected the weak stance that is pro-nuclear, and you have failed to even engage the argument in support of nuclear in the light of DU weapons, a lack of adequate long term nuclear waste storage plans, or other related factors.

People are turning to the Green Party because it is not afraid to speak the truth. Our policies are positive solutions for our country. It seems that you would be happier with a political party that doesn't listen to its members, or a party that won't speak the truth and is beholden to financial interests.

I'm happy to meet another person who is involved in civic issues, and I respect your active engagement of political leaders.

I understand that you won't be supportive. I don't think you were supportive when you started posting comments on my blog some time ago, so I understand I haven't lost your support, you've only declared that I don't have it. Well, I will consider this temporary, and if you change your mind in the future, I will welcome you into the party, whoever you are my anonymous friend.

Happy Canada day!!!


Dave said...


Firstly let me say thank you for running your site! You bring some great ideas and i have learned to appreciate the environmetn alot more since i began reading you blog

I have found an article on about the possible effects of global warming on nuclear power plants, which might be of interest to you and your readers

Its called Rising Sea Levels To Endanger Nuclear Future? and is well worth a read. I am sure the people at the site will be happy for you to publish it on your site, as there work is published on many other sites.

Let me know what you think,

Best Wishes


Anonymous said...

International Society of Doctors for the Environment, ISDE

The Directing Board of the International Society of Doctors for the Environment (ISDE)

Understanding there is a potential and imminent shortfall of fossil fuels (oil and gas) to power industry, homes and transport. 1,2,3.

And that there is an urgent need to reduce the use of all fossil fuels due to their global impact on climate change. 4,5,6,7,8,9.

Having appreciated that there has been a call by some sectors of industry and some governments to resort to increased use of nuclear (fission) power. 10,11.

And that it has been widely reported that plans are already being prepared in some countries for the construction of new nuclear power plants. 10,12,13.

Noting that:

(a) Uranium, like fossil fuel, is a finite resource and according to the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) at present usage rates reserves will be exhausted in 85 years. 10,14,15,16,17.

(b) The total current share of world energy production by the nuclear industry is 2.1 - 2.5% (16% of electricity supply). 10,16,19,20,21.

(c) The construction of nuclear power plants is slow, economically expensive and energy intensive and will divert funds from the development of truly sustainable safe energy sources. 16,18,19,22,23,34.

(d) The operating lifetime of nuclear reactors has been less than expected [average less than 17 years in many cases] and decommissioning is dangerous and expensive and requires the disposal of much high level radioactive waste. 19

(e) Uranium mining and refining is carbon intensive and damaging to the environment. 16,22,24.

(f) Nuclear power plants leak low level radioactive material to air and water during operation. 22,23,24,25,27.

(g) Nuclear plants produce high level radioactive waste which is highly toxic indefinitely, for all practical purposes. 19,23,25,26,27,33,34.

(h) No long term safe storage for nuclear waste has yet been devised. 26,27,28,33.

(i) Careful consideration of the energy balance indicates that the construction of new nuclear power plants can only marginally contribute to the reduction in carbon emissions, and is unlikely to be feasible in the time-frame necessary to significantly reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. 20,23.

(j) The organisations which licence and control nuclear energy plants - the International Atomic Energy Authority [IAEA] and the various national liscencing authorities - are strong advocates for commercial nuclear power, thus creating a potentially serious conflict of interest. 18

(k) The World Health Organisation [WHO], charged with the protection of the health of humanity, is contractually bound to the IAEA so that it is effectively prevented from exposing or highlighting the health risks of nuclear energy. 36

Recalling that accidents can occur in any nuclear plant and that the consequences can be devastating and long-lasting for large areas and whole populations. 22,23,29,34.

Acknowledging that fission material from nuclear power plants can provide the material for nuclear weapons and can therefore promote their proliferation. 15,27,30.

Recalling that statistics exist that demonstrate that employment creation is greater and more widely distributed in the sustainable energy (wind, hydro, biomass etc.) industry. 15,27,31,32.

ISDE, representing 100,000 doctors in 40 countries around the world, therefore calls on governments and all relevant authorities, for Health as well as sound Social, Economic and Scientific reasons, to:

Desist from the construction of new nuclear power facilities. All existing plants should be decommissioned at the end of their natural life, and re-furbishment or upgrading should be prohibited.

Implement Energy Efficiency and Conservation measures.

Promote a mix of solar (thermal and photovoltaic), wind, hydroelectric and biomass energy production urgently.

Prevent wars due to the diminishing supplies of fossil fuel and uranium.

Dr Philip Michael 1 Mar 2007

Nuclear Energy: References

1 Global Environmental Outlook United Nations Environment Program [UNEP] ISBN 185383 5889

2 Hubberts Peak Kenneth F Deffeys Princton University Press ISBN 0-691-09086-6

3 The Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) Newsletters 1-21

4 Kyoto Protocols United Nations 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

5 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2001 Climate Change 2001: Synthesis Report;a Contribution of Working Groups 1,2, and 3 to the 3rd Assessment Report of the IPPC [Watson RT & the Core Writing Team (eds)] Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K.

6 Joint Statement by the Presidents of the Royal Society (U.K.) and the National Academy of Science (U.S.A ) 1992 Full transcription in Rachel’s Environment & Health Weekly issue 669

7 The Changing Climate Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution 22 Report HMSO 2000 ISBN 0 10 147492X

8 Union of Concerned Scientists, U.S.A.

9 Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission Speech to EU Conference on the Hydrogen Economy 2003 The Energy Vector of the Future Brussels 16 June 2003 Ibid 342 & 343

10 Towardes a European Strategy for the Security of Energy Supplies , European Commission, Green Paper 29 Nov 2000, Com 2000 769

11 International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) International Conference on 50 years of nuclear power; The Next Fifty Years June 2004, Moscow, Russia Statement of the Director General of the IAEA Dr Mohamed El Baradei

12 IAEA International Datafile, IAEA Bulletin 2002 44(2), 59

13 IAEA Daily Press Review 20/11/06 quoting Sydney Morning Herald "25 nuclear plants in Australia by 2050" The Hindu "China may back the US - India deal on civil nuclear energy" The Hindu "Pakistan played down a deal with China for building six nuclear reactors".

14 Associated Press In US "Virginia gave conditional approval on 21/11/06 for Dominion Virginia Power’s proposal to build new nuclear reactors at it’s North Anna site".

15 Power Down: Options & Actions for a Post Carbon World Richard Heinberg 2004 New Society Publishers ISBN 0-86571-510-6 Ch 1 P 19

16 Before the Wells Run Dry Ireland’s Transition to Renewable Energy Ed Richard Douthwait FEASTA 2003 Olav Hohmeyer (Prof at University of Flensburg & Head of Dept of Environmental Economics & Management at the European Centre for Economic Research, Mannheim, Germany) Switching the European Economy to Renewables p 88-100 Also Ian Hore-Lacy (Head of Communications, World Nuclear Association, London, and General Manager of the Uranium Information Centre, Australia) Renewable Energy and Nuclear Power Distributors Lilliput Press and Green Books Ltd, UK,

17 Nuclear Confusion David Fleming, Prospect Magazine, UK 24/6/05

18 Environmental Science: Towards a Sustainable Future 8th Ed Richard T Wright & Bernard J Nebel Pearson Education ISBN: 0-13-032538-4 p353-360

19 The Sceptical Environmentalist Bjorn Lomberg 2001 p 128 Cambridge University Press ISBN 0-521-80447-7

20 Can Nuclear Address Climate Change Dr John R Coulter July 2006 Doctors for the Environment Australia on

21 JanWillem Storm van Leeuwen and Philip Smith on

22 Heat, How to Stop the Planet Burning George Monbiot with research assistance from Dr Matthew Prescott 2006 Allen Lane/Penguin Books hardback ISBN-13: 978-0713-99923-5 paperback ISBN-13: 987-0-71399924-2

23 Current Occupational & Environmental Medicine Joseph La Dou (3rd Edition) 2004 ; Lange Medical Books/McGraw Hill ch 38 p712

24 Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), USA Task Force to StudyTritium Leaks from Nuclear Power Plants Mar 20 2006

25 Dictionary of Environmental Science and Technology (2nd Ed) Andrew Porteus John Wiley & Sons ISBN 0-471-96075-6

26 Challenged Earth An Overview of Humanities Stewardship of the Earth Stephen F Lincoln, University of Adelaide, Australia Imperial College Press, London ISBN 1-86094-526-0

27 The Gaia Peace Atlas 1988 General Editor Frank Barnaby Pan Books, Cavaye Place, London SW10 9PG ISBN 0-330-30151-9

28 The New Gaia Atlas of Planet Management 2005 Eds Norman Myers & Jennifer Kent Gaia Books ISBN 1-85675-209-7

29 Silent Scourge: Children Pollution and Why Scientists Disagree 2003 Coleen F Moore Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-515391-X

30 Red Sky at Morning America and the Crisis of the Global Environment 2004 Yale University Press ISBN 0-300-10232-1

31 LTI Research Group (ed) 1998 Long Term Integration of Renewable Energy Sources into the European Energy System Physica-Verlag, Heidleberg

32 Deutscher Bundestag (ed) 1991 Protecting the Earth - a Status Report with Reccommendations for a New Energy Policy Third Report of the Enquet Commission to the11th German Bundestag Protective Measures to Protect the Earth’s Atmosphere Vol 2, Bonne

33 The European Dream How Europe’s Vision of the Future is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream Jeremy Rifkin 2004 Jeremy P Tarcher/Penguin ISBN 1-58542-345-9

34 Keys to the 21st Century Part 2 The Future of the Species & the Future of the Planet: Towards a Natural Contract Energy Alternatives Benjamin Desus (France) & Amulya Reddy (India) UNESCO Publishing/Berghahn Books 2001 ISBN UNESCO 92-3103646-7

36 Agreement between IAEA & WHO signed 28 May 1959 Articles 1.3 and 3.1 & 2 Andre Larivie, Resau Sortir du nucleaire Jan 2007;

Cameron W said...

Hi Dave,

Regarding your link, I think it's important to also state that not only hundreds but many thousands of nuclear power plants around the world will need to be built starting now if we are to even have a dent in global warming.

For the world to invest that heavily in an industry and energy with no future is madness, considering the unresolved problems, some of which were stated in the comment just after yours and before this one.

We can meet energy demands by reducing consumption and enforcing
energy conservation, while significantly ramping up renewable

The problems with using nuclear energy include lack of long term focus on conservation, threat of terrorist attacks, no acceptable solution to long term radioactive waste storage, providing materials for depleted uranium weapons, not a solution to climate change,
unsustainable, especially without ample fossil fuels to provide energy for construction, maintenance, decommissioning and allowing for proper future storage for nuclear waste, extreme cost to taxpayers in form of industry subsidies, and that just off of the top of my head.

Cameron W said...

Rob Edwards on Nuclear Power

Cost Disadvantages of Nuclear Power - Gordon Edwards, Ph.D.

UK advisers say 'no' to nuclear future - New Scientist

Cameron W said...

Secrecy Shrouds Accident at Nuclear Plant

WASHINGTON, July 3 — A factory that makes uranium fuel for nuclear reactors had a spill so bad that it kept the plant closed for seven months last year and became one of only three incidents in all of 2006 serious enough for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to include in an annual report to Congress. After an investigation, the commission changed the terms of the factory’s license and said that the public had 20 days to request a hearing on the changes.

But no member of the public ever did. In fact, no member of the public could find out about the changes. The document describing them, including the notice of hearing rights for anyone who felt adversely affected, was stamped “official use only,” meaning that it was not publicly accessible. “Official use only” is a category below “Secret” and, while documents in that category are not technically classified, they are kept from the public...


...As laid out by the commission’s report to Congress and other sources, the event at the Nuclear Fuel Service factory was discovered when a supervisor saw a yellow liquid dribbling under a door and into a hallway. Workers had previously described a yellow liquid in a “glove box,” a sealed container with gloves built into the sides to allow a technician to manipulate objects inside, but managers had decided that it was ordinary uranium.

In fact, it was highly enriched uranium that had been declared surplus from the weapons inventory of the Energy Department and sent to the plant to be diluted to a strength appropriate for a civilian reactor. The factory is under contract to prepare such uranium for the Tennessee Valley Authority.

In a puddle, the uranium is not particularly hazardous, but if it formed a more spherical shape, according to the commission, it could become a “critical mass,” a quantity of nuclear fuel sufficient to sustain a chain reaction, in this case outside a reactor. According to the letter sent by the lawmakers, the puddle, containing about nine gallons, reached to within four feet of an elevator pit. The letter from the congressmen says the agency’s report suggests “that it was merely a matter of luck that a criticality accident did not occur.”

If the material had gone critical, “it is likely that at least one worker would have received an exposure high enough to cause acute health effects or death,” the commission said. A spokesman for the company, Tony Treadway, said the elevator was better described as a dumbwaiter, meaning it was far smaller than a passenger elevator.

Almost anywhere else, the commission would have disclosed the details. But in 2004, according to the committee’s letter, the Office of Naval Reactors, part of the Energy Department, reached an agreement with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that any correspondence with Nuclear Fuel Services would be marked “official use only.” The plant processes high-enriched uranium for Navy submarine propulsion reactors.

The memorandum that declared such correspondence to be “official use only” was itself designated “official use only.”

Cameron W said...

Reasons Not to Glow
On not jumping out of the frying pan into the eternal fires

by Rebecca Solnit
Published in the July/August 2007 issue of Orion magazine

Chances are good, gentle reader, that you are going to have to sit next to someone in the coming year who will assert that nuclear power is the solution to climate change. What will you tell them? There’s so much to say. You could be sitting next to someone who hasn’t really considered the evidence yet. Or you could be sitting next to scientist and Gaia theorist James Lovelock, a supporter of Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy™, which quotes him saying, “We have no time to experiment with visionary energy sources; civilisation is in imminent danger and has to use nuclear—the one safe, available, energy source—now or suffer the pain soon to be inflicted by our outraged planet.”

for full article click on link above

Cameron W said...

note from Cameron: depleted uranium - DU weapons - have been cited by many as a reason to avoid nuclear energy. There is a link between the weapons and the reactors, since the waste fuel can be made into these 'dirty bombs' and terrorists (and the USA) are not afraid to use them. Please read the full article at the following link.

Uranium bombing in Iraq contaminates Europe

...Bush's radioactive "shock and awe" gas cloud descended on Britain and Europe like a warm, deadly ticking blanket and stayed throughout the American and British shock and awe bombing campaign in 2003. Bush's radioactive cloud lasted more than five weeks at high radioactive particle concentration levels. There is no gas mask filter fine enough to trap this radioactive gas and protect humans.

At Aldermaston, England, where the data was collected and where the British Atomic Weapons Establishment, complete with air monitoring facilities, is located, the deadly uranium oxide gas measured about 48,000 radioactive particles per square meter. The average radioactive dose, according to official government index based calculations, was about 23 million radioactive particles for the average adult male in Britain and Europe.

Yes, people breathed this poison gas, absolutely. People throughout England and presumably throughout Europe breathed in large quantities of this radioactive uranium poison gas...

...Famed former Lawrence Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab scientist Leuren Moret has spoken about the dangers of so-called "depleted uranium" in 42 countries. In "Exotic Weapons," the author, radio and film celebrity states, "Since 1991, the continued U.S. military use of dirty bombs, dirty missiles and dirty bullets threatens humanity and all living things ... and is turning Planet Earth into a death star." [8] [12]

Massive carpet bombing of whole countries with uranium bombs appears to be the current war fighting plan of the U.S. military. Unfortunately, U.S. troops are the first to be sacrificed on the altar of the neocon warfare plan for total global domination...

...This author won a prized Project Censored Award for an article on depleted uranium munitions in October 2004. The article was titled "There Are No Words." (headlined in the Bay View "Radiation in Iraq equals 250,000 Nagasaki bombs," [13] Turns out that story was but Part One, a thing I never suspected would be so. This article is Part Two and serves as an update for the war fighting activities of the senior American political and military leaders.

Bob Nichols is a Project Censored Award Winner. He is a correspondent for the San Francisco Bay View newspaper and a frequent contributor to various on line publications. Nichols is completing a book based on 15 years of nuclear war in Central Asia. Nichols is a former employee of the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant. Nichols can be reached by email. You are encouraged to write

Cameron W said...

Here is a discussion from an energy listserve. Name removed for anonymity.

- - - - -
Hi Anonymous,

My reply is contained in the body of your previous post below, with *** at the start.


On 11/07/07, anonymous wrote:
> There is a strong majority of scientists and engineers who concur
> that substantially reducing CO2 emissions cannot occur without
> substantially increasing nuclear energy production.

*** I have not seen proof of this. A handful of scientist and engineers who ignore other problems with nuclear energy vs a strong majority who concur that nuclear is a poor choice when compared to efficiency measures combined with renewables, seems to be a more accurate summary of the situation.

> The World Energy
> Council and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
> reiterated this in June.
> Cameron, on your blog you frequently challenge this, on the basis
> that nuclear power produces CO2. This is also claimed in the articles
> forwarded to this list, written by non-scientists/non-engineers,
> which lack figures or reference to scholarly articles.

*** A webpage, by greenpeace (a decidedly anti-nuclear group) that has put together a good amount of information, complete with legitimate scientific references, that show that nuclear is no solution to climate change:

Of course, the NEA (nuclear energy agency) has a seemingly unbiased study showing how nuclear energy 'could have a significant contribution to reducing climate change', but seriously, this source is fairly biased in support of nuclear energy. is this source:

Here's another study that shows how nuclear is a bad choice and will not be able to significantly contribute to mitigating climate change:

Some background info on NIRS: "...2008 will mark the 30th anniversary of Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS). We were founded to be the national information and networking center for citizens and environmental activists concerned about nuclear power, radioactive waste, radiation and sustainable energy issues.

We still fulfill that core function, but have expanded both programatically and geographically. We initiate large-scale organizing and public education campaigns on specific issues, such as preventing construction of new reactors, radioactive waste transportation, deregulation of radioactive materials, and more. Our international programs and affiliation with WISE (World Information Service on Energy) means that our network spans more than a dozen offices and programs across the globe..."

So, you can dismiss my anti-nuclear sources as biased, and I can dismiss your pro-nuclear sources as biased, and we'll miss the bigger picture - that we can do better on climate change if we pursue renewable energies in combination with aggressive energy efficiency and conservation measures.

Here is an interesting, seemingly unbiased summary of the nuclear situation in Britain:

From the story, "...There has not been any building of nuclear power stations in Britain in over 10 years and most reactors are scheduled to close in the next 20 years. This will leave one power plant in Suffolk running until 2035. The idea is that other renewable energy sources will replace nuclear power production and relieve Britain's reliance on fossil-fuels.

However, the government is currently being advised that this will not be the case and Britain needs to build further nuclear power stations if they are to meet greenhouse gas emission targets. In 2004, the government stated that research, design and development of nuclear power, which emits very little CO2, is ongoing..."

So, the idea, which I support, is that other renewable energy sources will replace nuclear power production and relieve Britain's reliance on fossil-fuels, but this of course is in combination with a reduction in energy consumption.

It states that the government is currently 'being advised', and I translate this to mean 'lobbied'. always read between the lines. Many experts are advising against nuclear energy.

More 'anti-nuclear studies and documents that are legitimate science, but easily dismissed if one wishes to support nuclear and believe the biased pro-nuclear groups...

> A September 2006 Study [1] found the following (average lifecycle)
> carbon emissions for various methods of generating electricity:
> Natural Gas: 400 g / kWh
> Solar Photovoltaic: 25-32 g / kWh
> Wind: 11 g / kWh
> Nuclear: 25 g / kWh
> The above figure for Nuclear includes everything from mining, uranium
> refining, enrichment, plant construction, maintenance, and
> decommissioning. The CANDU design actually produces much less than 25
> g / kWh since enrichment is not required.
> A note to Cameron: except for the fuel production, no part of the
> nuclear plant lifecycle produces an appreciable amount of CO2 when
> compared to the amount offset by nuclear production. If you believe
> otherwise, you have been led astray by the rhetoric. If you remain
> unconvinced, see if you can find a single scholarly article that
> shows there is a substantial CO2 production in the construction,
> maintenance or decommissioning of nuclear plants.

** I agree that the fuel production is very dirty, consumes large amounts of energy, and produces large amounts of GHG's. I also see that the lifecycle emmissions are no better than solar, and worse than half as good as wind.

Again, even though the CANDU might produce less GHG's, the other factors against nuclear energy continue to make nuclear energy a poor choice.

> So there you have it: nuclear produces less CO2 per kWh than solar,
> and not much more than wind.

*** hold on - the study you cited showed that it was equal to solar, and more than double wind.

> And a heck of a lot less than natural
> gas or coal - which would probably take the bulk of generation if
> nuclear was phased out. The reason that nuclear needs to be part of
> the mix, is that solar and wind are intermittent, unpredictable sources.

*** at my blog, in my various posts on this subject, I've cited studies and articles that address how we can actually meet our energy needs through renewable resources and energy efficiency measures. Decentralization of energy production will also save greatly on losses due to transmission over great distances. Decentralizing energy production and moving to a more community focussed system is certainly a part of the solution. The USA is currently dealing with a crumbling power line system that they can't afford to maintain. Centralized distribution, with all of the infrastructure required, is not efficient and is very costly when compared to localized energy production, but that's a subject for another day.

> Also on this note, I'll remind you that in a future hydrogen economy,
> which could only be 10-20 years away, it would be possible to mine
> and refine uranium ore using hydrogen generated from nuclear plants,
> and have truly zero-carbon power.

** Are you suggesting that we build nuclear power plants to provide the energy to generate hydrogen to fuel the mining and refining process to get more uranium to fuel nuclear reactors that will produce more hydrogen to fuel mining of uranium?!? Do you have the numbers on this self-serving loop? What amount of energy would we actually end up with, and how much if it would be needed to maintain & decommission nuclear reactors, and properly store nuclear waste? I'm skeptical, especially since hydrogen is a net energy loser right now.

> I'm still waiting for representatives from the Green Party of Canada
> to respond to my query about how to fuel the country without fossil
> or nuclear. And from the Green Party of Ontario to let me know how to
> keep the grid running on a still, cloudy day if the grid is 50% wind/
> solar by production.

*** Who did you contact? You should be sure to contact the appropriate shadow cabinet representatives, and please share their response with us.

> I'm 25 years old, so if I live my life expectancy, I will still be
> around in 2057. I expect that if the anti-nuclear lobby succeeds,
> that we may have a slightly reduced risk of dirty bombs. But that
> won't matter very much if I'm below 25 metres of ocean.

*** and building more nuclear power plants won't necessarily result in a global reduction of fossil fuel consumption. This is why efficiency & conservation measures (proven to be hugely effective) in combination with renewable energies is the only solution.

> Anonymous
> [1] Alsema, E.A.; Wild - Scholten, M.J. de; Fthenakis, V.M.
> Environmental impacts of PV electricity generation - a critical
> comparison of energy supply options ECN, September 2006; 7p.
> Presented at the 21st European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference
> and Exhibition, Dresden, Germany, 4-8 September 2006.

*** Cameron Wigmore

Thanks again for this interesting discussion!

Anonymous said...

[NEWS] 2 Pickering reactors out for the summer
Sun Jul 8, 2007


2 Pickering reactors out for the summer
Loss of 1,000 megawatts hitting OPG just as electricity demand nears its
July 07, 2007
Tyler Hamilton
Energy Reporter

Hot days ahead and a desire to keep cool could spell trouble for the
province's electricity system.
Ontario Power Generation said yesterday its two Pickering A nuclear units, which have been down for unplanned maintenance for a month, will now be out of service for most of the summer.

The lengthy outage means the province will be short 1,000 megawatts of domestic power generation just as southern Ontario enters its hottest weekend of the year so far, with little relief expected as we pass through the muggy months of July and August - typically a period of high electricity demand because of increased dependence on air conditioning.

"What it does is increase the need for imports, particularly during hot and humid weather," said Terry Young, spokesperson for the Independent Electricity System Operator, which manages demand and supply on Ontario's electricity system. One megawatt powers about 1,000 homes in Ontario.
Young said Ontario has the capacity to import up to 4,000 megawatts of
electricity from Quebec and the United States, though such power can often come at a cost premium and from coal-based generators that spew pollution across the border. "Beyond that, there are other measures to maintain reliability," said Young, adding that a public appeal to reduce energy consumption would come first, complemented by demand-response programs and power line voltage reductions if necessary. Nobody is using the word blackout just yet, but industry officials concede that the risk increases with any long-term loss of generation.

In addition to such a risk, some observers say the timing of the Pickering A outages calls into question whether Ontario ratepayers are getting value from more than $2 billion worth of refurbishments to the facility's two remaining Candu reactors. "The rest of the summer? This is a real blow to OPG, and it represents a very serious challenge for the government's reputation," said Tom Adams, an Energy Probe analyst.

Reactor unit 1 was put back into service in September 2005 after being idle for seven years, while unit 4's refurbishment was completed in September 2003. The government decided to mothball units 2 and 3 in 2005, calling their restoration economically unviable.

Adams said the same argument should have been applied to units 1 and 4. He called refurbishment of the units a "terrible financial mistake" and said their track record has been "very poor" since coming back into service.
"Unplanned outages are not a good sign, and being caught by surprise is a harsh verdict. They should have been able to predict the production cycle more accurately." OPG took the units offline on June 5 to do work on a backup electrical system, with the expectation that the reactors would be back in operation by mid-June, in advance of any steamy summer weather.

"We found it's going to take longer to do the modification," said OPG
spokesperson Jacquie McInnes, adding that the units will remain out of service for several weeks. Pickering A has had a rough ride in recent years, particularly unit 4, which has been shut down several times since early 2005 - in one case for three months. OPG recently reported that Pickering A's capacity has plunged from 91 per cent in the first quarter of 2006 to 63.5 per cent during the same period this year. But Steven Erwin, a spokesperson for Energy Minister Dwight Duncan, defended the decision to refurbish the Pickering A units, pointing out that it's the backup system - not the reactors - that are the problem.

"It's not like they can't operate," said Erwin, adding that the
maintenance is just a precaution.
"Should it have been caught earlier? We wish we could have caught it earlier. But the units themselves are operating just fine."

Cameron W said...

Nuclear Still Not Safe - Chris Tindal blog post

(recent news relating to nuclear energy)

Cameron W said...

Quake-damaged nuclear plant in Japan shut, leak worse than thought

An earthquake-wracked nuclear power plant was ordered closed indefinitely Wednesday amid growing anger over revelations that damage was much worse than initially announced and mounting international concern about Japan's nuclear stewardship.


...That did little to calm anger over the company's slow revelations of damage at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, which generates 8.2 million kilowatts of electricity. The plant, like much of the nuclear industry in Japan, has been plagued with mishaps, such as a radioactive leak in a turbine room in 2001.

On Tuesday, the utility shocked the nation by releasing a list of dozens of problems triggered by the quake, after earlier reporting only the transformer fire and a small leak of radioactive water.

The new list of problems included the transformer fire, broken pipes, water leaks and spills of radioactive waste. It also said the leak of radioactive water into the Sea of Japan was 50 percent bigger than announced Monday night.

"We made a mistake in calculating the amount that leaked into the ocean," the company said in a statement. Spokesman Jun Oshima said the amount was still "one-billionth of Japan's legal limit."

Even that list had to be revised. Tokyo Electric said later Wednesday that about 400 barrels containing low-level nuclear waste had tipped over at a storage facility at the plant during the quake, revising an earlier figure of 100.

The impact from falling knocked the lids off about 40 barrels, spilling their contents onto the floor, spokesman Tsutomu Uehara told reporters in Tokyo. Uehara said no radiation had been detected outside the facility.

Concerns about nuclear safety echoed across Japan, which depends on 55 reactors for about 30 percent of its electricity needs.

"Japan has a dense population so the human damage would be major here. There would be many deaths," Hideyuki Ban, a director of the civil group Citizen's Nuclear Information Center, told reporters. "I think that a quake-prone country should phase out its use of nuclear power."

- - - - -

German Mishaps Put Nuclear Power under Scrutiny

The company at first said it was just a small fire. But the blaze at Vattenfall's Krümmel reactor has since become a political wildfire. Now, Germany's pro-nuclear energy politicians have gone into hiding.


Nuclear power has received a tremendous boost since climate change has made Germans suddenly fearful about the future. Regional politicians like Oettinger, Roland Koch of Hesse and Edmund Stoiber of Bavaria, as well as CDU General Secretary Ronald Pofalla, have become increasingly vocal proponents of extending the shelf life of nuclear power plants. But during the last two weeks or so, amid thick clouds of smoke enveloping a nuclear power plant in Krümmel and reports of technical failures, human error and corporate incompetence, opponents of nuclear power see their arguments gaining credence once again. Suddenly the Social Democrats, especially Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, see themselves justified in taking the position that nuclear energy is a "risky technology." "German nuclear power plants are the safest worldwide," Gabriel said acerbically last week, "aside from the occasional explosion or fire."


The reason for the change in thinking is clear. Whereas most of the some 130 reactor incidents reported annually in Germany are minor and go unnoticed, smoke pouring out of a transformer as happened in Krümmel tends to attract attention. It took the fire department hours to extinguish the blaze. Even worse, the plant operator's claim that a fire in the transformer had no effect on the reactor itself proved to be a lie.

In short, the incident has made it clear that nuclear energy is by no means the modern, well-organized high-tech sector portrayed until recently by politicians and industry advocates. Indeed, the frequency of problems occurring at Germany's aging reactors is on the rise. Just as old cars will eventually succumb to rust, the country's nuclear power plants, built in the 1970s and 80s, are undergoing a natural aging process.

The problems are complicated by maintenance and supervision issues among aging and unmotivated employees. A dangerously lackadaisical attitude has taken hold that is making Germany's nuclear power plants increasingly unsafe. Most incidents to date have proven to be relatively minor, and yet each new incident becomes yet another link in a chain of problems with the potential to end in a serious accident.


Vattenfall has now come under increased scrutiny. "We are taking a careful look at what's happening in Germany," says Peter Rickwood, a spokesman of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). After an incident at the Forsmark nuclear power plant in Sweden last year, in which two backup generators broke down and the reactor had to be operated "flying blind" for 20 minutes, Vattenfall submitted a report to the IAEA that clearly glossed over the seriousness of the situation. The same pattern seems to have emerged in the Krümmel incident, as well as at the Brunsbüttel plant, where the reactor was temporarily shut down because of a "network problem." In both cases Vattenfall's report assigns the lowest problem classification -- "N" for normal -- to the incidents.

This blatant effort to downplay problems at the reactors has even led to ill will against Vattenfall management among employees. "Our people working in the nuclear power plant are not permitted to say anything, but they are furious," says Uwe Martens, the managing director of the Hamburg branch of the services union Ver.di. Indeed, Thomauske chose to blame others at the lower end of the hierarchy for the Krümmel incident. According to Thomauske, a "misunderstanding" between the reactor manager and the shift manager led to the inadvertent opening of valves. Another unanswered question is why up to 25 people were congregated in the reactor's operating room at the time of the accident.


Some of these problems are attributable to constant repairs at the plants, repairs that are also long overdue at German nuclear power plants. In a 55-page report, Germany's Reactor Safety Commission (RSC), which advises Gabriel's environment ministry, writes about "containing the aging processes" and that some age-related problems are only being discovered by chance. According to the RSC, these problems are difficult to correct, partly because "suppliers and manufacturers are no longer in business."

The 31-year-old Neckarwestheim I reactor -- along with the Biblis A reactor, Germany's oldest reactor still in operation -- is one of a group of nuclear dinosaurs where problems have become the rule rather than the exception. When a fire broke out in a major incident in October 2005, the reactor had to be shut down manually. The state environment ministry in Stuttgart had imposed a €25,000 fine on the plant's operator shortly before the incident. It had taken the operator, EnBW, about 20 days to discover a leak of radioactively contaminated water into the Neckar River, and another nine days to report the problem.

For years the Philippsburg 2 nuclear power plant, which went online in 1984, was repeatedly started up again after maintenance work and shutdowns without the emergency cooling system being correctly filled. Nevertheless, a court in the state of Baden-Württemberg, where Philippsburg is located, turned down a request by the state government for tightened safety regulations as being "too vague."

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