Cameron Wigmore, Green Party Member: Nuclear Energy Not Needed Not Wanted

July 18, 2007

Nuclear Energy Not Needed Not Wanted

I thought I was done for now with posts on nuclear energy, but before I move on to other subjects on my blog, here are a few more recent news stories and some more thoughts on the subject. I don't have much to add here. I think these stories and the information at the links below speak for themselves.

Japanese nuclear leak bigger than first reported
cbc news July 18, 2007

A leak of radioactive water from a Japanese nuclear power plant was 50 per cent larger than first reported...

...The tremor initially triggered a small fire at an electrical transformer in the sprawling plant. It was announced 12 hours later that the quake also caused a leak of water containing radioactive material.

The company also said a small amount of the radioactive materials cobalt-60 and chromium-51 had been emitted into the atmosphere from an exhaust stack...

More about this here, here and here.

Strangely, there are some serious problems with the nuclear energy industry in Germany occurring at about the same time.

German Mishaps Put Nuclear Power under Scrutiny
Spiegel Online July 16 '07

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.

More on this story here & here.

The following are some bits of information relevant to my recent discussions with some nuclear energy advocates. Some pro-nuclear lobbyists prefer to avoid issues of social justice relating to DU weapons and Canada's role. Others have argued that we simply 'need nuclear energy', which is a false statement, unless we collectively avoid renewable technologies and efficiency/conservation measures, and we assume that our consumption rates will increase evermore unsustainably. Other nuclear advocates have tried to say that nuclear energy is cheap and safe, but both points are relative, meaning we have to decide for ourselves if continued government subsidies of taxpayer dollars and frequent accidents qualify as 'cheap' or 'safe'. Don't believe the hype if you're told that nuclear is a solution to climate change. One can easily dig up articles and studies on why nuclear is not a solution to climate change.

If the stories in this post leave you wanting more, please see my previous posts on nuclear energy.

An interesting article by Tom Adams (executive director of Energy Probe) carried in the Globe & Mail July 16 '07 called The Nuclear Shield states that "acts of gross negligence by suppliers of nuclear goods and services – the kind of mistakes that might cause nuclear reactors to explode – will no longer be protected from liability under a proposed law that passed first reading in the House of Commons last month."

This story goes on to state the following:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's new law will also provide more time for victims of radiation poisoning to claim compensation. Under existing law, any cancers that turn up more than 10 years after an accident cannot be compensated; the new version would give victims 30 years. However, research on survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki shows radiation-induced cancers even 60 years after their exposure.

Mr. Harper's generosity with nuclear accident victims knows other bounds, too. When the original Nuclear Liability Act was passed in 1970, damage compensation was limited to $75-million – about $415-million in today's currency. The new liability limit is $650-million. But in the 1970s, Canada's nuclear neighbourhoods had many fewer inhabitants. For example, Pickering, which now hosts six working reactors and two retired ones, had a population of 24,800 when its municipal boundaries were set in 1974. It was 94,700 last year. Each Pickering resident's liability coverage has shrunk to about 40 per cent of what it was in 1974 – if their community was contaminated by an accident, the new liability limit would be exhausted after paying out 10 cents per dollar of dwelling value, leaving no coverage for household contents, commercial property, disruption, lost income, injuries or death.

Nor would nuclear neighbours get any help from their own insurance, since all homeowner's and renter's policies contain a nuclear exclusion clause. There is no disagreement among professional risk experts on this one issue – the insurance and nuclear industries agree that the risk of a reactor accident is just too scary to bear without special protection.

Will CANDU Do? by Paul Webster Published in the September 2006 issue

According to a recent article, the Tar Sands will Need 20 Candu Nuclear Plants in Northern Alberta.
Wayne Henuset, head of Energy Alberta, could not be reached for comment.

Nuclear reactor a rerun, according to research team Whitecourt Star May 16/2007
(I find this story interesting because
Wayne Henuset, President of Energy Alberta, tries to defend his choice to pursue a CANDU nuclear reactor.)

Here's an interesting exploration of the economics of CANDU reactors from Wikipedia, a site where information is usually fairly reliable but always deserves a further fact checking.

More about CANDU reactors from the Energy Probe site.

Here's a long list of problems with CANDU reactors and nuclear energy.

An article, archived in The Canadian Encyclopedia from Maclean's magazine, called CANDU Flawed shows a snapshot of problems from ten years ago.

Harper embraces the nuclear future ( May '07)

REALITY CHECK: Robert Sheppard
Is a Candu really the answer for Alberta's oilsands?
( January 11, 2007)
Check out the comments after the article.

Towards a Nuclear-Free Canada (Sierra Club of Canada)

All Levels of Radiation Confirmed to Cause Cancer (Sierra Club of Canada)

Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility

OUR DEADLY SECRET: Tracing Saskatchewan's Role in the Proliferation of Nuclear WMD By Jim Harding, Ph.D.

Canada's Role in Depleted Uranium (DU) Weapons worldwide

Depleted Uranium and Canada's Role

US Forces' Use of Depleted Uranium Weapons is 'Illegal'


Anonymous said...

Notice how the Ottawa Citizen characterizes his background, from the "business-savvy wing of the Green party". Yes, the group that can understand studies, plans, and deal with facts, not simply abstract ideas and generalities.

Good Green will be missed
Ottawa Citizen
Published: 2:21 am
Canada's Green party needs more David Chernushenkos.

Unfortunately, it has one less.

The former deputy leader of the party and two-time candidate in Ottawa Centre has resigned both posts because, he says, he wants to spend more time building his international green-business consultancy, contribute as a member of the influential National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, and work on a film and maybe a TV series.

Perhaps Mr. Chernushenko is displeased with the leadership of Elizabeth May, who defeated him for the party's crown last summer.

He's been in the trenches for years; she slid in from the Sierra Club and has been nearly a one-woman show.

Mr. Chernushenko represents the business-savvy wing of the Green party, the people who know something about economics and who have given the party coherent positions on some non-environmental issues.

Ms. May is plenty smart, but she's also friendlier with the party's flower-child wing, which is content in the electoral wilderness. He could be forgiven for being frustrated.

All that aside, being a superb candidate for a long-shot party is hard work. Perhaps Mr. Chernushenko will indeed advance his ideas more easily outside active politics -- the country will be better if he does. And if, come the next election, Mr. Chernushenko chooses to run again, the same will be true for his party.

Cameron W said...

Hi anonymous,

I'm not obsessed with 'googling nuclear energy'. I just enjoy sharing the truth about the problems with nuclear energy, and I think it's important to counter the disinformation coming from the pro-nuclear lobbyists with solid factual studies and references.

I think David Chernushenko is still considering running for the Green Party in the next federal election, and is still a supporter of the Green Party.

Don't take everything you hear from the media as gospel truth.

May is certainly a media magnet, and has attracted a LOT of national attention, but I know she is not trying to 'run the show', nor can she. The Leader of the Green Party of Canada is the spokesperson for Green Party policy. They are the messenger, and while the leader can be involved in many areas of party business, they are never ever 'running the show'.

Here in the Green Party it is a team effort, in the spirit of participatory democracy. Again, the media efforts to create controversy at the expense of truth and accuracy have been effective at misleading a few people.

The National Post contacted me yesterday morning to ask about Chernushenko, May and general Green Party internal stuff. I think it's great that the Green Party of Canada is considered news worthy these days. It does show that the Greens are a force to be reckoned with, and that the public is very interested in our policies.

The level at which critics and partisan attackers try to denounce the Greens has reached dizzying heights, and again this shows that we are doing something right.

"First they ignore you,
then they laugh at you,
then they fight you,
then you win."


Cameron W said...

"...I think it's important to counter the disinformation coming from the pro-nuclear lobbyists with solid factual studies and references..."

I'm going to rephrase my one statement above to be clear.

I think it's important to counter - with solid factual studies and references - the disinformation coming from the pro-nuclear lobbyists.

Cameron W said...

Henuset is hard at work trying to push his nuclear agenda on the people in the communities that will be affected, but instead of convincing the people, or even consulting them, or even considering public opinion at all, the local municipal councilors are bypassing those steps, receiving royal treatment from Henuset, and giving their written approval for his nuclear proposal.

Frustratingly, that is the way things are done in Alberta. See this post of mine on how the Alberta government likes to do business.

- - - - -
Councils take free jet ride and lobsters, then endorse nuclear plants

EDMONTON (CP) - Rumblings of protest are rippling through northern Alberta since two municipal councils wrote much-needed letters of support for nuclear power projects after taking a "junket" to New Brunswick on a private jet and returning with complimentary lobsters.

Two mayors and 14 councillors took the trip as guests of Energy Alberta Corp., a newly formed company that has locked arms with Atomic Energy of Canada in hopes of getting the required approvals to build two nuclear power plants in northwestern Alberta.


But this week, 55 of Woodlands County's 4,000 residents signed a letter of concern that was presented to the council asking pointed questions about why the endorsement letter was issued so quickly.

Many of those people lined up at microphones at Tuesday's council meeting to ask about the trip, the letter and why the mayor was saying council had taken the time to study and evaluate the project after touring only one nuclear plant.

"This is not a doughnut shop they want to build," said Bernard Krohn, who speaks for the group. "The main point is that many residents were not happy with the process."

"It was premature to send out a letter of support," said Krohn, who added there are others in the community who are also saying, "What's going on here and why are we jumping the gun?"

The three-page protest letter points out that the type of Candu reactor being proposed has never been built or licensed in Canada or elsewhere in the world and would require a huge artificial lake to provide water for cooling.

The letter also says local residents were not widely consulted, as was suggested in the letter signed by Rennie on behalf of Woodlands County.

Krohn said he tried to voice his concerns at the July 3 Woodlands council meeting when the endorsement letter was approved, but was told the agenda had been set and he wouldn't be given time to speak.
- - - - -

Anonymous said...

May is certainly a media magnet, and has attracted a LOT of national attention, but I know she is not trying to 'run the show', nor can she. The Leader of the Green Party of Canada is the spokesperson for Green Party policy. They are the messenger, and while the leader can be involved in many areas of party business, they are never ever 'running the show'.

OK, perhaps you can explain this industrial party policy to me, as articulated by your leader in today's press release:

NEW GLASGOW – Workers at the closed Trenton Car Works plant received yet another blow this week with news there is a significant short-fall in pension funds.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May expressed concern that Greenbrier should be expected to top up funds as employers do in other jurisdictions. If the company is unwilling to ensure adequate pension benefits, then the federal and provincial governments must
put together a package to ensure full pension benefits.

"It is not enough to talk about funding re-training for workers. A worker facing retirement does not want to hear about re-training. They want to know their Pension Benefits are secure," said Elizabeth May.

Both levels of government should work to find a new enterprise to build rail cars in Trenton...

Where exactly is this industrial policy articulated in the GP platform?

Is the GP policy to bail out all companies that fail, and subsidize them, or is this just because they are manufacturing railcars and are in the riding that EM is running in?

What level of input did you have on this or any other press release from the GP before the fact?

Cameron W said...

That announcement seemed to be about properly funding pensions, which I expect you and I agree is important.

Your attempt to spin that as "GP policy to bail out all companies that fail, and subsidize them" is not accurate. There has been a real problem with pensions not being properly funded, and that is what this media release is about.

See below for an older media release from the last federal election.

- - - - -

Media Release
Corporate pensions - ticking fiscal time bomb of this election
Canadian corporations are facing an immediate $29 billion deficit in their employee pension plans
(Toronto, Ontario, Tuesday, 13 December 2005) - When Paul Martin and the Liberals promised more corporate tax cuts in last month's mini-budget, they failed to notice the gigantic elephant in the boardroom, specifically the skyrocketing pension liabilities faced by Canadian corporations which should have been the first priority of the government, said Green Party of Canada leader Jim Harris today.

"Canadian corporations are facing an immediate $29 billion deficit in their employee pension plans, a deficit that balloons to $190 billion when indexation is factored in for future benefits," said Harris. "These deficits do not include those of unions and other non-corporate bodies, such as the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan."

Harris noted that the pension liability crisis is now so grave that the Bank of Canada has called for an overhaul of the system, particularly as it relates to defined benefit plans. Defined benefit plans provide employees with a guaranteed pension based on previous wages and years of service. A survey by the Conference Board of Canada reported that 51 per cent of chief financial officers said their pension plans were underfunded.

Despite better than average financial returns, the Ontario Teachers alone are facing an unfunded liability of $19.4 billion. More alarming for the plan is that in 1990 there were 4 working teachers for every retiree, last year that ratio had fallen to 1.6. Canada's changing demographics are going to add to this already acute problem, according to Harris who noted that baby boomers are rapidly moving towards retirement as the youngest segment of our population is declining. The number of children entering elementary and high schools is actually in decline, and will be for the next fifty years."

"Already in the United States, companies are filing for bankruptcy protection as one means to help renegotiate their pension obligations," said Harris. "Canadians deserve better from their government than continued inaction regarding this looming financial crisis."

The Green Party would push the government to allow corporations to pool pension funds to provide improved risk management with more aggressive investment strategies to increase financial returns, increase tax deductibility levels for employer contributions, and to define the status of pension fund surpluses.

Harris drew attention to the fact that the federal government is currently facing a $30 billion lawsuit over funds the government appropriated from public sector unions to pay down the deficit when Prime Minister Martin was Finance Minister.

- - - - -

Anonymous said...

Thank You for the info
about nuclear reactor plans for Alberta. Imagine that!!
...But I have to agree with Anon. about pork barrelling in Nova Scotia and the loss of David C.


Cameron W said...

Thanks for your comment cdns11. I like to hear how others perceive various developments.

On nuclear, there is a sudden push prom the nuclear lobbyists to promote nuclear energy. It's certainly not what we need, and most people are firmly placed in the camp of 'informed & anti-muclear'. It's not so much that people are 'anti-nuclear' but that they recognize that other options are available and they are safe, proven & more sustainable.

Some are saying that this whole 'story' about Chrnushenko is not really a story at all since he still supports the Greens and is still considering running for the Greens. His position of senior deputy to the leader was created in part by May, and although he's left this position, the Greens still have the more important roles of male and female Deputy Leaders filled.

Anyways, I suppose in the end anonymous visitors should be allowed to post whatever comments on whatever threads they want. Sorry anonymous if I sounded harsh in my previous comment. I've had a couple of determined anti-green pro-nuclear advocates here who have derailed comments and proven closed-minded in discussions on energy.

Cameron W said...

Hi anonymous,

It's best if you quote the article, and then link to it, because it may be subject to copyright. In the future please respect the media copyright laws and follow the tips I've offered.

Anyway, the National Post for some reason has been a bit hostile towards the Green Party. The whole 'E-Me' thing is a construct of the media.

The Green party of Canada is about policies that lead to sustainability & well-being. Policies that are solutions oriented. Elizabeth May knows this, and as leader of the party she is the party spokesperson. Yes, she does attract a LOT of media attention, but how is that a bad thing? It isn't. It's the best thing to happen to this party in a long time. The media might try to make it about her, but May is working hard as a member of a great team to get GPC policies out there, to affect change, and to elect Green MPs.

Anonymous said...

Anyway, the National Post for some reason has been a bit hostile towards the Green Party.

Probably, like me and many others, they are against pork barrel politics and far left policies that May endorses and articulates.

The whole 'E-Me' thing is a construct of the media.

Old saying: The bigger they are, the harder they fall. I expect a lot more negative press to follow, once reporters/columnists start digging below the surface on a number of issues related to the leader. It won't be pretty...

Here's a related comment from the GP blogsite:

But instead of trying to keep above the internal fray of the party, she instantly took sides on some very controversial issues that, IMHO, she knew zero about and completely misread. This supports the view (which I have heard from people who worked with her in the Sierra Club) that she is not a "team player" and instead shoots from the hip and expects everyone else to follow her lead.

Ypu seem to be the happy to blindly good for you, I guess.

And btw adding "snip" in articles that you yourself cut and paste is no different wrt copyrite issues. So, I don't see your point.

Cameron W said...

Thanks for your comments anonymous.

May endorses and articulates GPC policies, and they are not 'far left', but reasonable realistic solutions for our country. I think GPC policies draw the best from both the left and the right ends of the political spectrum. I have known some who might define themselves as green conservatives or blue conservationists, that are Green Party supporters because they also value social justice and many other so-called 'left wing' policies. Some of those individuals, particularly if they do not personally like May, have attacked May as being far-left, or called her names like 'E-me' (I had not heard this prior to the print opinion piece you posted) but many of them realize that this is a party of tolerance, and while they might not like May, they still feel at home with the Green Party.
Might this describe you?

Say, could you link to that comment on the GPC blog site please? I can't seem to find it. It's always wise to verify your source.

So, what do you think would solve the problems you perceive?

Cameron W said...

Two renowned energy experts sparred in a debate over nuclear energy Wednesday afternoon at Stanford University. Amory Lovins, Chairman and Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, an energy think tank, argued that energy efficiency and alternative energy sources will send nuclear power the way of the dinosaurs in the near future. Dr. Burton Richter, winner of the 1976 Nobel Prize in physics, said that nuclear would play an important part of the future energy portfolio needed to cut carbon emissions to fight global warming.

Anonymous said...

Here's the blog entry reference:

I understand the Party's Platform, to be released in September, is centred around the SPP - and Nafta. The issues being raised will not withstand scrutiny by knowledgeable punditry and columnists, and will be heavily criticized as being "far left" - mark my words.

In fact, I see some guy on the GP site today blogging about it - fear mongering as usual, making the same arguments that were made in 1988 that have not come to fruition, almost 20 years later:

The Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) directly threatens Canadian existence as we know it. In fact, I will state right here, right now that if this agreement proceeds to the point where Canadian Healthcare is taken away from us (and it very well could) then I will be leaving this country - I will NOT live in the United States of North America.

I suspect E May has her fingers all over this SPP focus, with a compliant council. The left leaning platform will appeal to a narrow range of voters.

Coincidently, the SPP was discussed in an article in today's G&M

In fact, that U.S. appetite for Canadian energy has provoked a backlash among Canadian nationalists and anti-free-trade forces, who are mobilizing to protest next month's leaders' meeting.

Groups like the Council of Canadians and Alberta's Parkland Institute argue the so-called Security and Prosperity Partnership agenda – which includes broader security and trade initiatives – is a secretive effort aimed at deepening continental integration and robbing Canada of control over its resources.

But on the energy front, Canada committed to a continental market long ago – in the Canada-U.S. free-trade agreement, and the North American free-trade deal.

Now, governments are essentially dealing with plumbing, looking to clear regulatory blockages and market failures that impede the flow of north-south energy trade, while working together on regulatory standards and research and development.

Most would associate the Council of Canadian's Maude Barlow, or the Parkland Institute's Gordon Laxer (brother of prominent NDP James Laxer?) with the far left. May has appeared with the former prior to the last Fed election; and raised similar issues while at the Sierra Club.

Cameron W said...

A nuclear energy advocate is building a summary of personal opinions and arguments, and they are including my work here. I might try to contribute on the anti-nuclear side, and if it all comes together and they finish their project I'll link to it.

- - -

The Green Party holds true to Green principles & values, and a couple of GPC members on their GPC blogs state their issues with GPC policy and other items.

These are good things, not bad things.

Canadians don't want a watered down Green Party that chases popularity through softening policies, they want the solutions oriented reality based Green Party that stands for social justice, fiscal responsibility & sustainable ecological stewardship.

Green policies are already good for the economy & small & large businesses, but they are also good for people all around the world, including the Earth, too. I see no reason to try to be more like the other parties.

The GPC blog site is unique in that no other major federal party allows its members to create blogs through the Party website. Members personal opinions will differ, and sometimes go against specific policies, but that is exactly what builds the Green Party's policies. Participatory democracy.

I promote fair trade, not the idealistic free trade model that has done little to improve our collective societal well being. The SPP and other extensions of NAFTA are movements that take us in the wrong direction.

Nobody said the world would end if NAFTA was adopted. People did say that it would do little for Canadians, and would put Canada in an awkward position WRT our resources and the desire of the USA to have them, among other problems that have been realized.

Cameron W said...

PR Nuke Flacks Do The Kashiwazaki Quake Death Spin
by Harvey Wasserman

Published on Monday, July 23, 2007 by

Cameron W said...


The Los Angeles Times today ran an excellent editorial on the detriments of nuclear power. In an extensive, detailed, and possibly unprecedented opinion piece, the Times laid out the definitive arguments against the nuclear power option in the context of climate change.

The editorial can be found by clicking on the article title below.

No to nukes
It's tempting to turn to nuclear plants to combat climate change, but alternatives are safer and cheaper.
July 23, 2007

Cameron W said...

Please see the stories at the links below.

Nuclear industry revival hits roadblocks

Nuclear expansion is a pipe dream, says report

The Anonymous Green said...

AECL mulls N.B. nuclear plant

CALGARY — Saint John could become the setting for a new dawn in the North American nuclear power industry, as federally owned Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. is set to investigate building a new plant there.

According to sources close to the situation, New Brunswick authorities have struck a deal with AECL for the company to carry out a $2-million to $3-million feasibility study of the possible construction of an Advanced Candu Reactor (ACR)-1000 nuclear plant, the 1,200 Megawatts Candu-based design that it has not yet sold, in Saint John.

Areva close to huge nuclear deal with China: sources

Published: Thursday July 26, 2007

French nuclear group Areva, seven months after losing out to Westinghouse in a bidding battle in China, was set to bounce back Thursday on reports it was close to a huge contract to build two reactors there.

France and China on Tuesday are to conclude a deal in Beijing on the construction in China by Areva of two third generation EPR nuclear reactors, sources close to the matter said here. It would be the biggest contract in Areva's history.

Cameron W said...

Greens take aim at nuclear: Not safe and not a solution to the climate crisis

Greens take aim at nuclear: Not safe and not a solution to the climate crisis

Canada must phase out nuclear and support renewable energy

OTTAWA – The Green Party today renewed its call for a rapid phase-out of nuclear energy and a moratorium on uranium mining and refining in Canada. The call comes as locals prepare to take action against prospecting by mining companies in both Ontario and New Brunswick. In New Brunswick, CVRD-Inco plans to prospect for uranium in a Moncton watershed. In Eastern Ontario, Frontenac Ventures is exploring for uranium on Algonquin territory in North Frontenac amid protests. There are also renewed threats of uranium mining in Nova Scotia, despite a province-wide ban.

“The Green Party opposes the nuclear fuel chain and we are very concerned that across Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s nuclear agenda constitutes a new national threat to our country,” said Green leader Elizabeth May. “We reject any plans for nuclear energy expansion on the basis that it is environmentally damaging, not economically sound and is inextricably linked to nuclear weapons proliferation.”

Ms. May added that Canada urgently needs to end reliance on nuclear energy to protect areas from the environmental and health hazards posed by uranium mining.

“Nuclear reactors cost billions to build and maintain yet are unreliable and would not be able to exist without government support in the form of costly subsidies,” said Andrew Lewis, Natural Resources critic for the Green Party. “On top of this, nuclear energy produces massive amounts of greenhouse gasses – it is not a solution to the climate crisis. Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn should end costly subsidies to the nuclear industry, phase out existing reactors and focus on conserving energy, improving efficiency and developing renewables.”

Ms. May also pointed out that because uranium mining and nuclear energy are closely linked to nuclear weapons development, phasing out nuclear energy is crucial to the Green Party’s goal of global nuclear military disarmament.


Camille Labchuk

Anonymous said...

Nuclear nothing to fear
Wednesday August 01, 2007
To the Editor;
First let me say that nuclear power is probably not the best option for electricity generation in Alberta. Why? Because we have coal and lots of it. Unfortunately the global warming scare-mongers will try to scare people into being against coal fired power plants.
So now the nuclear energy industry, not surprisingly, is knocking on the door. This, of course brings out the anti-nuclear crowd using many of the same tactics they accuse the nuclear industry of using. For example, cherry picking experts and commentators who agree with, or support their beliefs.
One of the reasons given against nuclear power is, "What would the terrorists think?" Good God. Are we to base our whole society and lifestyle, our economy, our future based on what madmen a world away might think and do?
Then there have also been comments on waste being used for military purposes. Yes, many countries may use this material but not because it is slightly radioactive. It is used because it is very hard.

Next is the use of some vague statistics supporting increased cancer risks around nuclear sites. If I have learned anything in my 42 years it is that life causes cancer. It seems that every week or two something new is found that causes increased risk of cancer.
The anti-nuclear people never mention France and nuclear power. It is not convenient for their argument to mention very successful nuclear power
At, the Frontline show has an interesting discussion on Nuclear power in France.
Japan, recent earthquake included, also has an exceptional nuclear power program. Look it up. Don't be scared.
Robert Sakovich
Whitecourt, AB

Nuclear power a safe option

Wednesday August 01, 2007

To the Editor;
Re: No nuclear power in Alberta, July 18, 2007
There have been more people killed, more environmental devastation and more long-term health links related to oil and gas exploration, production and of their emissions than nuclear power will ever touch.

Instead of political parties just deciding to argue against opposition for the sake of arguing, why don't they come up with some intelligent, well-thought-out alternatives and bring them to the next election?
Nuclear power is safe, it is efficient and less harmful to the environment than hydrocarbons.
It is a step forward. Lets go with the alternatives that other countries have proven to work.
Chris Steffensen
Whitecourt, AB.

Keeping open mind about nuclear not easy
Wednesday July 25, 2007

To the Editor;
When I first heard of a possible nuclear power plant in Whitecourt, I made a conscious decision to keep an open mind.
I'm the first to admit my ignorance concerning nuclear power and only have memories of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl to form a half-baked opinion. (No pun intended)
I had hoped an open mind would give the Energy Alberta Corporation a chance to convince me this would be a good think for Whitecourt. However, thanks to media spin doctoring, rumours, evasive answers and a general lack of information, my mind is slowly closing.

When previous commitments didn't allow me to attend the town hall meeting, I was sure there would be others. There haven't been any Whitecourt meetings since then, but the "powers that be" sound certain of overwhelming support from our town.
Based on one town meeting? Our elected officials? Media reports? Huh? I would like to see a few more town hall meetings before EAC, town council or the media decides if the citizens of Whitecourt support the idea or not.
I would also like to discourage the EAC re: complaining over the lack of mailed questions from the public (letter to the editor, July 18).
I don't believe it's up to the citizens of Whitecourt to track you down.
I believe the ball is in your court to come here, but bring representatives that can answer our pertinent questions.
Gayle Row
Whitecourt, AB

Residents need information, not sales pitch
Wednesday July 25, 2007
To the Editor;
Re:Energy Alberta using letters to fuel Propaganda.
My intent in my previous letter was not to correspond with Energy Alberta but to raise community awareness.
Energy Albeta "claims " it is not their intent to mislead. If this was true why are "sales pitches" being promoted as public information sessions?
This completely goes against informed consent whereby people have the opportunity to receive true and unbiased information from professionals in all related fields, and to hear about the associated risks to personal health, environment and livelihood.
There is much vital information being suppressed by Energy Alberta and Woodlands reps.
Although Energy Alberta may welcome my questions I am informed enough to understand it is their goal to further this proposal regardless of facts and evidence available from countless scientists, doctors, environmentalists and politicians across the world.
This was made blatantly obvious in the one-sided, poorly-presented, public "information' sessions.

Energy Alberta claim they would not knowingly lie to anyone. I find this hard to swallow as I am looking at the handouts from them toting the CANDU ACR-1000 as "tried and true technology" when in truth it is no more than a design on paper, a completely experimental reactor which has never before been licensed.
Does Whitecourt truly want to be the test site for an experimental, untested reactor, twice the size of other CANDUs'?
If it is not their intent to mislead then why are residents not alerted to the fact that once they are in the nuclear program they would also be considered a storage site for nuclear waste from all over Canada?
Energy Alberta stated it is "unfortunate that they were unable to answer all of my questions to my satisfaction."
There were many at the meeting who felt serious concerns were not addressed.
Should it not be up to the developer and council pushing this project to address questions and concerns to the satisfaction of the public? Is it not up to them to "prove" they are sufficiently educated in nuclear energy and the associated risks before they make such serious decisions on our behalf?
If they are such experts on nuclear energy that they feel entitled to approve this proposal, should they not have the ability and education to respond to all concerns?
I contacted sources such as Nobel prize winner Helen Caldicott and the Nuclear Policy Research Foundation , the Pembina Institute and Dr. Gordon Edward of the Canadian Coalition For Nuclear Responsibility, and while Energy Alberta was unable to answer serious concerns these groups of unbiased and acclaimed professionals were more than able to answer all my questions.
If the purpose of public meetings is education and information I would suggest that council invite such specialists in the field of Nuclear Energy to consult with the public.
I have e-mailed council and our MP with contacts for numerous acclaimed spokespeople, (doctors, scientists, Nobel prize winners, environmentalists) many of whom would be willing to present in our area and have received no response.
I would suggest that residents question the motives of council in suppressing this information and demand that all risks be sufficiently addressed before proceeding further.
Melissa Brade
Onoway AB

Open letter to Whitecourt leaders

Wednesday July 25, 2007
To Mayor Trevor and Whitecourt Council regarding nuclear power
I have never seen such irresponsible action on the part of elected representatives.
Look up any of the government's own reports and see the long term health problems being created in Ontario in particular, the toxic waste water being dumped in the Great lakes, left to pollute for tens of thousands of years. Nice gift for the future of all our children.

Lawsuits are already underway in the southern states, in towns located near nuclear plants, for cancer rates now three to four times higher than anywhere else in the whole of the States.
The link has all the independent research done in economics as well as the environmental issues. This advocacy group created by everyday John Q. public will become the biggest citizen action ever seen in Alberta and I would hope soon all across Canada.
Please take off the one sided company blinders and do your own research, which you should have done long ago for the sake of the citizens you are supposed to represent. How about just for your own children?
Art Line,
Jasper, AB.

Disappointed with government
Wednesday July 25, 2007
To the Editor;
Living in Canada, I've always harbored the opinion that we had a "good government". By good, what I meant was, a government that cares about its people, its future, the sustainability of its resources, and that didn't sacrifice health, safety, and the environment for money.
Lately, I have been shocked and embarrassed and depressed by many decisions in this country. I was not surprised to see many of the worst decisions be made in Alberta.

If Alberta goes nuclear, I will not support it in any way. I will move away and take my taxes elsewhere.
Think of how many people likely share my opinion. Those that care about themselves, their children, the environment, the good things that Alberta could have to offer.
I hope everyone keeps donating to the Cancer Foundation, because we're going to need a lot of help in the future.
Beth Dauk,
Jasper, AB

No nuclear power in Alberta
Wednesday July 18, 2007
To the Editor;
I am alarmed that the government is even entertaining the idea of nuclear power in Alberta. There has been virtually no public debate on this costly and dangerous proposition, and yet the façade of public support is being spread by media that is often influenced by corporations that would stand to benefit.
There are reasons why no insurance company touches nuclear power (far too risky). There are reasons why no private company has ever built a nuclear power plant without massive public subsidies (far too expensive).
Waste has been accumulating from nuclear power plants for the last 45 years or so, yet this problem has still not been resolved. Uranium mining also leaves a terrible legacy of toxic tailings.

It is ironic that some proponents of nuclear power are using the global warming argument for it, when really the purpose of a plant here in Alberta would be to meet the huge energy demand of tar sands exploitation – very dirty energy indeed. It makes no sense.
There are alternatives. We need to be expanding solar and wind energy, not putting limits on these energy forms, like Alberta currently does. We also need to consume less energy, period. Governments need to shift the tax and incentive system from the current one in which oil and gas is heavily subsidized, to a system that taxes carbon and gives incentives to cleaner and greener ways of living.
The present system encourages excessive consumerism and waste. In light of the global environmental crisis that we are in, this is ludicrous. We need to change direction now. And please, no nuclear power!
Monika Schaefer,
federal Green Party candidate
for Yellowhead Riding

Cameron W said...

Nuclear Plant Fires Stoke Nuclear Power Debate

August 6, 2007

LONDON - Fires in power stations are not unusual, but when they strike nuclear plants, they reignite the debate over whether they should be shut down for good.

A transformer blaze at Spain's Cofrentes nuclear plant on Thursday followed similar incidents in Germany last month and in Sweden last November, which had already alarmed the anti-nuclear lobby...

Cameron W said...

Plan to mine radioactive ore generates controversy in Moncton, New Brunwick

One of the largest and most profitable mining companies in the world -- a company that received a failing grade on the Globe and Mail's corporate social responsibility survey -- is prospecting for the radioactive ore near Moncton, New Brunswick.

Anonymous said...

County suddenly cools to nuclear
More information on power proposal sought
The Edmonton Journal

EDMONTON - Woodlands County council Wednesday retracted its initial letter of support to a company considering constructing Alberta's first nuclear power plant near Whitecourt.

The council sent a letter to Energy Alberta Corp. in July, confirming the county would help secure a site with proper zoning for the plant. The letter created a stir, however, amongst many people in Woodlands County who said they needed more information and more consultation before agreeing to the project proposal.

After receiving a public petition against the letter of support and seeing a handful of residents organize an information session on nuclear power, the county sent a second letter to Energy Alberta Corp. on Wednesday. It stated the county would still consider the project for the area, but would organize more information sessions for residents in the coming months.

"Our public has become more and more concerned because they don't have a true explanation of how they'll be consulted," said Woodlands County Mayor Jim Rennie. "They're worried the process might get started and won't be able to get pulled back by the county and it may go into the hands of the federal government."

Rennie, who said the project would be a "good thing" for the area, said the issue could come to a plebiscite in the community. He added that many people in the community aren't necessarily against nuclear power, but simply want more information.

Woodlands County and Peace River are both being considered as possible locations for the twin reactor plant.

A spokesman for Energy Alberta Corp. said the company is not taking Wednesday's letter as a sign Woodlands County is out of the running for the billion-dollar project, which could create 870 jobs.

Anonymous said...

Statement on Uranium Mining

At this time, August 19, 2007 there is a small group of natives and settlers opposing Uranium mining less than an hour from the nation's capital. The Algonquin's are trying to protect their land; in the process they are protecting us. All around Ottawa in the Frontenac and the Pontiac; Uranium mining companies have staked private property and native lands to capitalize on the skyrocketing price of Uranium.

Over the past year, Frontenac Ventures Corporation (FVC) has appropriated Algonquin traditional lands near Perth Ontario. This site and others on the Ottawa River watershed will be developed as a uranium mine. There are actually claims on Calumet Island, situated in the middle of the Ottawa River! Ottawa's water supply is threatened.

Frontenac Ventures, could be a shell corporation, set up with the purpose of extracting ore, leaving behind tons or radioactive tailings, and then liquidating itself, leaving the mess for taxpayers to clean up did not follow an honourable path in their actions with the Ardoc Algonquin. Frontenac Ventures Corporation should not have been granted claims or staking rights on traditional lands and they should not have been allowed to purchase lands without the natives consent.

Uranium mining will destroy the ecological balance and sustainability of the Natural World and will have particular impacts on local water tables which will in turn contaminate waterways. Wells will be contaminated from the tailings left behind from the mining process. Tailings can never be disposed of and will pollute the area for many unforeseen generations.

Uranium mining will lead directly to pollution of the water supply of the city of Ottawa, We do not have the option that FVC has to pack up and leave once their destruction of our lands is complete.

There has never been a safe uranium mine anywhere in the world.

Please get involved!

Visit us at the mine site, travel on highway 7 past Sharbot lake to highway 509, go north on 509 for about 10 minutes, you cant miss the Blockade

* Uranium is a natural substance which Mother nature has wisely locked away in Granite rock.

* Mining removes the granite from the ground; milling removes the uranium from the Granite, the grinding process exposes more radioactive material to the environment. The slurry that results is stored in gigantic outdoor ponds.

* Uranium mines last from 10 to 20 years producing about 50 direct jobs, when the jobs are gone the sludge ponds are left behind by a corporation that does not have the funds to clean up the mess.

* Historically the sludge ponds disintegrate and the slurry pollutes the watershed. The taxpayer is left to pay the bills. Local property owners have polluted wells, property owners on the watershed, in this case, the Ottawa River, Mississippi river, Fall River, Rideau River are left with shattered property values

* During the productive life of the mine, dust is a problem with the milling process, Dust absorbs radioactive material and flows East with the winds, to Fallbrook, Balderson, Perth, Carleton Place and Ottawa. The dust is absorbed by the food chain.

* Only 15% of the radiation is extracted in the milling process, the balance of thorium, radium and radon are left in the tailings and are a problem for human and non humans alike

* To protect property values, many provinces have banned uranium mining, what are you dong to protect your property values?

* We are the top of the food chain. Radioactive substances are stored in the tissues of the animals we like to eat. We are subject to receiving a higher does of radiation than can be expected from direct exposure.
* The mining act allows for the draining of Crotch Lake and the redirecting of the Mississippi river affecting over 80,000 acres of Frontenac county
* Judging by the record of other mining operations, the odds are 2:1 over a period of the next 25 years a dam will fail and millions of tons of radioactive tailings in slurry ponds will burst their banks. Some part of what ever is left of the Rideau, Ottawa, Mississippi and Tay Watershed are going to be contaminated by a radioactive slurry that will affect the hunting and fishing in this area for hundreds of generations
* As a Stewart of Gods creation, what are you leaving behind for your children?

Cameron W said...

European Heat Wave Shows Limits of Nuclear Energy
by Julio Godoy

"...The drought accompanying the hot summer has reduced the volume of water in the rivers, and might force some power plants to shut down.

Under normal circumstances, environment rules limit the maximum temperature for waste water in order to protect river flora and fauna.

"For many years now, French authorities have defended nuclear power arguing that it is clean energy, good for the environment, and that it will help combat global warming, for it does not emit greenhouse gases," Stephane Lhomme, coordinator of the environmental network Sortir du Nucleaire (Phase Out Nuclear Power) told IPS.

"Now, with global warming leading to extreme hot summers, we are witnessing that it is the other way round," Lhomme said. "Global warming is showing the limits of nuclear power plants, and nuclear power is destroying our environment."

During the hot summer of 2003, French authorities had allowed nuclear power plants to drain excessively hot water into rivers, leading to considerable damage to flora and fauna, Lhomme said..."

Cameron W said...

Chernobyl 'set back Swedish children's development'

Published: 16th August 2007

"...Swedish children born in the months following the Chernobyl disaster had their mental development impaired by radioactive fallout from the nuclear accident, according to a new study.

In a paper focusing on 'Chernobyl's subclinical legacy', economists Mårten Palme from Stockholm University and Lena Edlund and Douglas Almond from New York's Columbia University explore the effects of increased radiation levels in Sweden in the wake of the April 1986 disaster..."

Cameron W said...

Nuclear energy's dirty secrets
The Leader-Post
Published: Wednesday, August 08, 2007

"...It's astonishing that the Canadian Nuclear Association is allowed to falsely advertise nuclear energy as "clean." Pro-nukes want us to believe nuclear energy, in contrast to coal, doesn't produce greenhouse gases (GHGs).

This is nonsense. From mining to milling to enrichment, from reactor construction to decommissioning, nuclear uses vast amounts of fossil fuels. Expansion of nuclear power would involve mining lower-grade ore; this would require even more fossil fuels...


...What about the economics? Besides not being clean, nuclear is not cheap. Several studies (e.g., New Scientist) found the true costs of nuclear are underestimated by a factor of three. If the huge subsidies going to nuclear were removed, the cost of electricity from nuclear plants would rise 300 per cent.

To reduce GHGs to avert cataclysmic climate change, we need to quickly shift to conservation and no-or-low-carbon energy sources. This means using all the renewables -- wind, solar, tidal, etc. Even without a level playing field, wind and co-generation (using waste heat for electricity) are already the least-cost options to coal.

We must stop nuclear from robbing the scarce capital needed to make the conversion to renewables. Building a uranium refinery here is not the responsible thing to do. If Saskatchewan's NDP government and opposition parties got their heads out of the sand and stopped being blinded by the quick buck, we could play a positive role in the necessary conversion to sustainable energy.

It seems the broader population must act to bring this about.

Jim Harding

Harding is a retired professor of environmental and justice studies and author of the forthcoming book Canada's Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System."

Anonymous said...

Great line from Green Party member Patrick Metzger via Torontoist:

"The Ontario government will spend around $27 billion on nuclear power between now and 2025 in a bid to keep the lights on in the province. If history is any indicator, the nuke plans will be characterized by inefficiencies , unanticipated delays,and massive cost overruns , but will at least ensure that future generations have access to a secure supply of radioactive waste."

Anonymous said...

Nuclear power plants
No greenhouse gases and not environmentally friendly

Once inextricable with television’s most nefarious cartoon billionaire, nuclear power has recently become a viable energy source in the eyes of Canadians, said a spokesman for Energy Alberta Corporation (EAC).

“For years, all the public saw was this tongue-in-cheek look at nuclear power,” Guy Huntingford said of The Simpsons’ Mr. Burns and his beloved nuclear power plant.

But as Canadians become more curious about clean technology, attitudes toward nuclear energy are changing, Huntingford said.

“North America is saying, ‘We should take a look at this again.’”

These changing attitudes are being driven by the fundamental need for a secure energy source and concerns about greenhouse gas emissions, said Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) spokesman Dale Coffin.

Once running, nuclear power plants emit no greenhouse gases and create less waste than other forms of energy, said Coffin.

EAC and AECL are behind a proposed nuclear power plant near Peace River, an issue that has environmentalists up in arms.

“It’s not an environmental form of energy. It’s not safe. It’s not green. It’s not clean,” said Leila Darwish, associate director of the Prairie Chapter of the Sierra Club.

To promote nuclear power as environmentally friendly is “incredibly misleading.”

Though nuclear power plants emit no greenhouse gases once up and running, their construction and the process of mining for uranium – the fuel for reactors – does, she said.

Brenda Brochu, president of the Peace River Environmental Society, agrees that people are becoming increasingly concerned about greenhouse gas emissions but said that doesn’t mean they endorse nuclear power.

Brochu said that at a recent public meeting, EAC panelists misled the public by bringing an empty fuel bundle inside.

“The idea was to make it appear there’s nothing to be afraid of,” she said.

She said the risks associated with nuclear power plants are not to be discounted – both for the sake of Albertans today and the future generations that will inherit the province.

Anonymous said...

This week's Economist has a whole series of articles on Nuclear Energy in its Technology Quarterly, Sept 8th, 2007 edition:

Cameron W said...

Depleted Uranium: Saskatchewan's Gift to the Afghan People
John W. Warnock
Sunday, 30 September 2007

"...Depleted uranium
Depleted uranium (DU) is produced during the uranium enrichment process. The U-235 used to produce fuel for reactors generating electricity is removed, leaving the U-238 isotope. The material is extremely dense and increases the penetration ability of weapons; it is used to coat shells and warheads on missiles and bombs. On impact the shell, with its uranium and traces of americium and plutonium, vaporizes and becomes very tiny particles of radioactive dust. When it is inhaled it can stay in the body, emitting radiation. The DU used in U.S. weapons comes from the uranium mines in Saskatchewan..."

Francis Bell said...

REALLY GREAT NEWS!!! Now you can not only heat and cool your home the clean , earth-friendly geothermal way-but also your pool! You also get a 30% tax break-this is really worth looking into-Francis