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Old Posted Apr 21, 2009, 8:00 AM
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Sask. green group derides public consultation on nuclear power
By Anne Kyle and Angela Hall , Canwest News ServiceApril 20, 2009

REGINA — Saskatchewan’s public-consultation process on uranium development and nuclear power is nothing but a whitewash, an environmental group charged Monday.

“Consulting with the public after the fact is actually insulting to the public,” Jim Harding, a member of the Coalition for a Clean Green Saskatchewan, told reporters at a news conference in Regina.

While the Saskatchewan government on Monday defended the current public-consultation process as “the largest and most extensive” on nuclear issues in the province’s history, the coalition took aim at what it calls an unprecedented corporate domination of a public policy process.

The 12-person panel has been struck to advise the provincial government on the future of its uranium industry.

The government-appointed Uranium Development Panel recently made 20 recommendations, including that the province should pursue nuclear power but not uranium refining, at least for now, because it wouldn’t be economically viable.

Saskatchewan is currently the largest uranium-producing region in the world and accounts for about 30 per cent of annual world uranium production.

The panel is biased in favour of recommendations that will benefit Bruce Power, a company looking at nuclear development in the province, at public expense, according to Harding.

“It has a group on (the panel) that couldn’t possibly be objective or independent to look at the mandate. It is clear it is a ploy for expanding the nuclear industry in Saskatchewan with apparently the Saskatchewan Party government’s support,” said Harding, who also disputed the partnership’s assertions that nuclear power could be cost-competitive.

But Crown Corporations Minister Ken Cheveldayoff said the government has not pre-determined whether a nuclear power plant would be a good idea for Saskatchewan, and defended the work of the Uranium Development Panel.

“It’s a plan that has been rolled out based on the input from 12 individuals from different cross-sections of people in Saskatchewan,” said Cheveldayoff.

“It doesn’t make any determinations. What it is a basis for consultations,” he said.

“We want to hear what Saskatchewan residents have to say.”

The NDP, however, noted that a website set up to receive public feedback, saskuranium.ca, contains no information on when or where public meetings will be held starting in May. The people of the province want a “much more substantive process” than what the government is proposing, said NDP Leader Lorne Calvert.

Cheveldayoff said details will soon be released about the public meetings.

Regina Leader-Post

© Copyright (c) The Regina Leader-Post

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Old Posted Apr 24, 2009, 5:08 AM
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Atomic Momentum
by Michael Bell

Here’s a strange thought. It’s 2030, and you’re driving your electric car to Edmonton from Saskatoon. It’s late morning. An open blue sky frames thick clouds of birds swooping in and out of clumps of trees along the side of the highway. Lloydminster is still a half-hour away. On the horizon, you see a grain elevator. As you approach, you notice the elevator’s wall is curved in the middle, and the structure is round.

And then you see it clearly: it’s the cooling tower of Bruce Power’s nuclear reactor.

The scenario isn’t as strange or as far off as you may think. During the past couple of weeks, the atomic debate has buzzed in Saskatchewan’s press like a Geiger counter in Homer Simpson’s pants pocket.

Make no mistake: nuclear power in Saskatchewan is being seriously considered. And it must feel like a zombie horror flick to all those anti-nuclear citizens who, armed with shotguns of reason, so successfully blasted the creature back to its grave in decades past. But it’s clawed its way out of the ground again, arms limply outstretched, and softly moaning as it lumbers toward the province.

Meanwhile, for nuclear supporters it’s an economic and political dream come true.

On April 4, the Sask. Party-appointed Uranium Development Partnership released a 136 page pro-nuclear report (online at saskuranium.ca). The hottest point is number 12, which recommends that Saskatchewan “include nuclear as part of the province’s long-range energy mix given its cost-competitiveness as a baseload power alternative and the economic value it would generate within the province.”

The document also anticipates 3,000 construction jobs and between 400-700 permanent jobs for each reactor constructed.

The UDP’s report, called Capturing The Full Potential Of The Uranium Value Chain In Saskatchewan, will be debated through a consultation process that, according to the Leader-Post, will take place over roughly two weeks beginning March 19 and ending June 5.

The relatively narrow time frame for publicly debating such a radioactive hot potato drew criticism from the opposition NDP, who characterized the consultations as “token.” They also demanded debate on all the energy options like wind and solar, and not just nuclear.

The StarPhoenix’s political commentator Murray Mandryk was also critical. “Shouldn’t we at least have a few more answers than we do before launching into a measly two weeks of public consultations just a few weeks from now?” he asked in a recent column.

The temperature of the debate got cranked up another notch last Friday when Elizabeth May, leader of the federal Green Party, dropped into Saskatchewan for a joint press conference with the Saskatchewan Green Party.

“This is a sham,” says May of the UDP’s report.

The mandate of the UDP was to think of ways to expand the nuclear fuel chain in the province, so the report’s result was a foregone conclusion in favour of nuclear, says May. She adds that many UDP members have ties to the nuclear industry and there was only one “so-called environmentalist” on the panel — the infamous Patrick Moore, the former Green Peace president who now supports nuclear energy and runs a consulting firm that sells “sustainability messaging.”

“In fact, this isn’t the foxes guarding the chicken coop; this is the foxes’ report recommending how the chickens’ coop can best be consumed by the foxes,” says May. “It’s completely without merit as a basis upon which to build public policy.”

According to May, the residents of the rural municipality of Britannia (adjacent to Lloydminster, north-east of the city along the Saskatchewan-Alberta border) have got the nuclear question right. On April 15, residents in the RM passed a motion at the annual ratepayers’ meeting opposing the development of a nuclear reactor anywhere within the RM.

It goes without saying that many Saskatchewanians do not agree with Elizabeth May on the nuclear question. Public opinion is polarized, according to the results of a StarPhoenix survey published on Saturday, April 18. As of April 2009, 47.8 per cent of those surveyed favour the construction of a nuclear reactor and 33.5 per cent oppose it, the LP reports. The survey also indicated a slight shift: support in favour of a reactor is down 5.7 per cent from 53.5 percent in November 2006; opposition is up 3 per cent.

It’s going to be an interesting debate in this province — if we’re allowed to have it, of course.

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Old Posted Apr 24, 2009, 8:53 AM
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Real cost of nuclear unclear
By Murray Mandryk, Saskatchewan News Network April 23, 2009

So what is it going to cost us? What guarantee do we really have that nuclear reactors in Saskatchewan won't come with a $14 billion price tag similar to Canada's last nuclear plant built Darlington, Ont.?

But even if costs are only the $8 billion to $10 billion for two 1,000-megawatt reactors, as Bruce Power suggested in its own studies, what additional costs for electricity does that entail for Saskatchewan's one million people? Would a power purchase agreement stick us with buying the excess electricity that a privately owned nuclear power plant is unable to sell?

Setting aside the pie-in-sky notion of selling the excess power from a nuclear plant to the Alberta oilsands, do we really have a market for such expensive electricity? Wouldn't energy-hungry Americans be far more interested in buying much cheaper hydropower from Manitoba? Who pays to upgrade Saskatchewan's transmission lines to move the electricity?

And with SaskPower rates rising by 13 per cent in a week and with annual increases expected for the foreseeable future, shouldn't the issue of costs be a much bigger concern?

The more you look at it, the more you have to like the Opposition's proposal of a public hearing to look at all potential energy sources -- nuclear, clean coal, wind, solar, bio-mass and conservation. We need to comparison shop. In fact, the most disconcerting aspect of last week's Leader-Post poll on nuclear power wasn't the respondents' admitted lack of knowledge of nuclear issues.

It's that a mere 6.9 per cent of the one-third who opposed a nuclear reactor did so because of the potential cost.

Other issues ranging from safety and waste disposal (48.5 per cent), general opposition to nuclear power (21.2 per cent) and the preference for other sources (16.6 per cent) were cited as better reasons to oppose nuclear power.

So why haven't nuclear costs yet been a bigger issue with usually frugal Saskatchewan consumers? Perhaps some people have bought into the rather nebulous suggestion by the government that "all future energy development is expensive."

It implies nuclear is as cost-efficient as other options, although the experience elsewhere suggests something quite different.

For example, an April 2004 freedom of information request to Ontario Hydro revealed that Darlington cost $14.3 billion -- $5.1 billion for construction and design, $6.2 billion in interest, $1.4 billion for commissioning and $1.5 billion for heavy water. These massive costs translate in $4,085 per kilowatt of electricity produced at the plant, excluding the cost of decommissioning the facility.

Of course, this isn't what the Saskatchewan government is eager to tell you or what the nuclear industry wants you to hear. Instead, you're more likely to hear propaganda about how a new Candu 6 reactor would cost only $2,845 per kilowatt (nuclear power apparently has magically become one-third less expensive in the past 20 years).

But what guarantees do Saskatchewan people have that there is a market for the excess energy produced? If we can't sell it, what happens then? Do we simply move to nuclear and shut down the entire coal-fired power production in southeastern Saskatchewan?

When the Uranium Development Partnership talks about 3,000 construction job and $12 billion in economic activity, has it factored in the potential job losses in Estevan and elsewhere?

What about Premier Brad Wall's desire to become a world leader in clean coal technology? And with all the dirty coal that Americans now burn, wouldn't they be more interested in our work in this area than some far-off plan we have to build a nuclear reactor?

What will be the real costs of a nuclear reactor?

© Copyright (c) The Star Phoenix

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Old Posted Apr 29, 2009, 4:42 AM
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There are a lot of really interesting issues relating to nuclear power in SK and I've enjoyed reading some of the older posts on this forum... thanks for all your research! There are a couple of points that I don't think are talked about enough and just wanted to bring up:
1. I realize that it wind power may be difficult to swollow as a "base load" source, but the last time I checked we aren't building a grid from scratch (isn't most of the "base load" already there?) Isn't it possible that with wind farms in geographically disparate areas of the province we could "top up" the required load?
2. Lately it's been getting a little media attention (see previous post et al.,) but I just don't really believe the cost estimates... and even if they are right and we get "12 billion in economic activity", won't it just be based on debt which we've been fighting to get out of since the Divine days? Do we really want to slide back into MASSIVE public debt again?
3. Again, lately there has been a little more media attention on this issue; but I don't understand why the government is looking at nuclear power in isolation? Even if nuclear was "clean" "efficient" and "cheap" how does it compare to other sources? This issue hasn't had a big enough presence in the public discourse.
4. Lastly I've been wondering how much less power we would need to produce if the power grid was updated and electricity was used more intelligently? No I don't just mean the token compact fluorescent bulb, but efficiencies built right into the SaskPower infrastructure.

Can't wait to see what you guys have to say!
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Old Posted Apr 30, 2009, 11:35 PM
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This was expected, but, not so soon...makes nuclear that much more attractive.

Ottawa takes aim at coal power
From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
April 29, 2009 at 1:11 AM EDT Comments (78)

OTTAWA — The federal government is planning sweeping new climate-change regulations for Canada's electricity sector that will phase out traditional coal-fired power.

Any new coal plants will have to include highly expensive – and unproven – technology to capture greenhouse gas emissions and inject it underground for permanent storage, Environment Minister Jim Prentice said in an interview yesterday.

Ottawa also plans to impose absolute emission caps on utilities' existing coal-fired power plants and establish a market-based system to allow them to buy credits to meet those targets, Mr. Prentice said.

Electricity users in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia would be hit hard by the new rules, as their provinces rely on coal for more than 70 per cent of their power, and alternatives will be costly.

“The approach that we've been working towards involves a cap-and-trade system relating to thermal coal, and the requirement of phasing out those facilities as they reach the end of their useful, fully-amortized life,” Mr. Prentice said.

“The concept is that, as these facilities are fully amortized and their useful life fully expended, they would not be replaced with coal,” the minister said.

He added that coal would be an option if it produced near-zero greenhouse gas emissions. The minister was attending a meeting of major emitting countries in Washington.

He said the new regulations will be released later this year – well before he travels to Copenhagen in November for negotiations on a new, global climate change treaty.

The government has already adopted new emission standards for vehicles – following the lead of the United States – and will also release regulations aimed at major industrial emitters, including Alberta's oil sands producers.

It has set a target of having a 90-per-cent emission-free electricity sector by 2025, a goal that will require increased use of nuclear, wind power, hydro and other renewables. Given Canada's long dependence on hydro in Quebec and British Columbia, and nuclear and hydro in Ontario, the country already has one of the least emitting electricity sectors in the developed world.

Still, coal-fired electricity represents roughly 18 per cent of Canada's current emissions, and eight of the 10 largest greenhouse gas emitters in the country are coal-fired power plants. They include Ontario's giant Nanticoke station, which the Liberal government has vowed to close by 2014 in its effort to be coal-free.

Most of Canada's fleet of coal-fired power plants date back to the 1970s, and would likely be decommissioned between 2020 and 2025. However, Alberta has one new operating plant at Genesee and another being built at Keephills that would operate for as much as 40 years.

Both Alberta and Saskatchewan have forecast large increases in electricity demands, especially in Alberta where expected growth in oil sand production and refining would drive up industrial electricity demand. Both provinces have massive coal reserves and said they will continue to rely on it to power their grids.

Jason Chance, a spokesman for the Alberta Ministry of Energy, said the province is committed to developing carbon-capture-and-storage technology, noting the government has allocated $2-billion for pilot projects in the power sector and oil industry.

Pierre Guimond, president of the Canadian Electrical Association, warned the new regulations would drive up electricity costs to customers in the provinces that are reliant on coal. “It's going to be awfully expensive,” he said.

He noted that the carbon-capture technology remains unproven and prohibitively expensive. However, some utilities have built modern coal plants that allow for the capturing of carbon dioxide, and oil companies often use CO{-2} to inject into crude reservoirs to stimulate production. The industry faces major challenges, however, in adopting an integrated capture-and-storage system within the next decade.

Epcor Power LP, of Edmonton, has spent more than $30-million in developing new combustion technology, and is hoping to win provincial funding to build a capture-and-storage project, along with its partner Calgary-based Enbridge Inc.

“We are absolutely supportive” of the federal proposal, said Epcor's executive vice-president, Brian Vaasjo. “We know that as the existing fleet of coal plants reach the end of their economic lives it will be important for there to be technology available that can be utilized to continue the use of coal.”

He said the new coal technology may even be cost competitive with nuclear and wind, though far more expensive than traditional coal-fired power. He added, however, that Alberta must be able to exploit its coal reserves.

“We're richer in coal than we are in oil sands, so it is critical that we be able to utilize that resource,” he said.

Shawn McCarthy is The Globe and Mail's global energy reporter


Some of the posts in the comment section were quite enlightening (apart from the anti-nuclear contributors). I've included a few below...

I have never fully understood the dynamics of energy markets, thankfully, others appear to have a better grasp.

Originally Posted by aldyen donnelly from Vancouver, Canada writes:
CLARIFICATION. The article states that most of Canada's coal plants "date back to the 70s". It is the case that 50% of Canadian coal-fired generation units were built before 1980, but they combine to generate less than 22% of the electicity that is supplied by Canadian coal plants in that age group. Plants that are under 30 years old supply 78% of the coal-fired power in this country. The oldest coal-fired unit in Canada is 41 years old.

This is important, because over 30% of US coal-fired power originates in plants that are over 55 years old. US coal-fired generation is 20% to 25% higher emitting than Canadian coal generation, because of the age difference. This means that competitive advantage shifts to old US coal plant owners,--an overall global GHGs GO UP, NOT DOWN if the final Canadian regulation links the Canadian coal-based power sector GHG market to the US GHG allowance market. That is because much more of the US supply is already fully written off. Canada and the US can write a fair common market rule, but to make the rule fair it has to be written with great care.

It is also worth noting that this decision will substantially raise the price of power in BC, Manitoba and Quebec, as well. These provinces buy cheap coal-fired power overnight, enabling them not to draw down their dams. This means they have extra hydro power to export into high-priced US markets at peak demand periods during the day. The profit on the price differential equated to a 1.7 to 2.5 cent subsidy for the price British Columbians paid for power in 2006, for example. If/when the Canadian coal plants shut down, the opportunity for the "hydro" provinces to subsidize local rates through this supply arbitraging behaviour goes away. The new policy announcement raises a key question. When the new federal regulations demand the phase out of new Canadian coal supply, will they also prohibit the provinces from increasing their dependence on US coal-fired imports. The average US coal-fired power plant is 20% to 25% higher GHG-emitting than the Canadian coal plant average. If we replace Canadian coal-based supply with imports from the US, or buy US GHG allowances from the higher-emitting US plants to lease the right to continue to operate Canada's coal plants, global GHGs INCREASE, they don't decrease.

* Posted 29/04/09 at 9:59 AM EDT | Alert an Editor | Link to Comment
Originally Posted by Joe V from Canada writes:
Well, the end result of such policies in North America will be that: -Electricity prices will double, hampering our economy -Nuclear plants will have to be constructed, as they are the only viable alternative -The demand for uranium will cause prices to skyrocket -Countries like India, China, and South Africa will have to replace nuclear plants with coal due to high uranium prices -More greenhouse gases will be produced because the coal will have to be shipped there from places like Alberta ad will be burnt in dirtier plants

* Posted 29/04/09 at 12:04 PM EDT | Alert an Editor | Link to Comment
I may be selfish, but if uranium prices go up, so does Saskatchewan's royalty revenue.


Sask. knows safe use of nuclear energy
By Chary Rangacharyulu, Special to The Star Phoenix April 30, 2009

Following is the viewpoint of the writer, a professor and head of the department of physics and engineering physics at the University of Saskatchewan.

As Saskatchewan discusses the nuclear option, it is important to keep a few facts in mind.

France, which went nuclear in 1974, derives 75 per cent of its electricity from nuclear energy. There are more than 20 nuclear power plants less than 200 kilometres away from Paris.

Japan, which has 53 nuclear reactors, is building two reactors and it plans to build more than 12 reactors in the next decade. India has 17 reactors, plans to build 10, and has proposals for 15 new reactors.

Sweden, with a population of less than 10 million, went nuclear in 1970s. While they earlier intended to dismantle nuclear power plants, the Swedes recently reversed their position and plan to build new reactors.

Canada's 18 reactors in operation produce 12.6 gigawatts of electric power, about 16 per cent of the country's electricity. Nearly 50 per cent of Ontario's electricity comes from nuclear plants.

If we limit ourselves to using uranium-235 (abundance 0.7 per cent) in CANDUs as nuclear fuel, the current estimates are that the supply will be used up in 50 years to 100 years. Fast breeder reactors use uranium-238 (abundance 99.3 per cent) as fuel and it is good for another 10,000 years.

Thorium, another choice for nuclear fuel, is more abundant than uranium.

In countries with nuclear power, the radioactive waste is less than one per cent of total industrial toxic waste. The high level radioactive waste is about three cubic meters (35 cubic feet) per one terawatt hour operation. It means that 1,000 high-power reactors together produce less than one small cubicle's volume of high level waste per hour. Scientific and technological research of radioactive waste treatment is ongoing at several laboratories.

Pro-nukes are not against alternative energy options. Some energy sources are cleaner than others, but there is no such thing as absolutely clean energy.

Nuclear technologies extend beyond nuclear power. Engaging in the nuclear technologies, besides just mining uranium, will build a knowledge base that will enable young people across Saskatchewan to grow to become successful professionals in science, engineering and health industries. We must not continue to watch from the sidelines, but become active players in the developments with the resource we have in our backyard.

The physics and engineering physics department at the University of Saskatchewan has a long tradition of excellence in nuclear radiation research. E.L. Harrington (head, 1925-52) constructed a radon plant in 1931. He also appointed professors Newman Haslam, Harold Johns, and Leon Katz, who were instrumental in bringing the betatron (1948) and 60-Co therapy (1951). The linear accelerator (1964) and Canadian Light Source (1999) were subsequent developments of this activity.

The academics and engineers of Saskatchewan can play a major role in the research and development of new technologies of uranium enrichment and radioactive waste treatment.

Nuclear energy is like any other fire. Treat it with respect and reap the benefits. Abuse it, you will ...

We know how to respect it.

© Copyright (c) The Star Phoenix


Last edited by Ruckus; May 1, 2009 at 12:35 AM.
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Old Posted May 1, 2009, 12:29 AM
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My responses in blue...

Originally Posted by ninipanini View Post
There are a lot of really interesting issues relating to nuclear power in SK and I've enjoyed reading some of the older posts on this forum... thanks for all your research! There are a couple of points that I don't think are talked about enough and just wanted to bring up:
1. I realize that it wind power may be difficult to swollow as a "base load" source, but the last time I checked we aren't building a grid from scratch (isn't most of the "base load" already there? Our base load is mostly cheap and dirty coal...what can we replace that with? Wind (unreliable...if battery technology was more advanced, maybe?), solar (not particularly effective at our higher latitude) Isn't it possible that with wind farms in geographically disparate areas of the province we could "top up" the required load? According to wind charts for Saskatchewan, the most effective area for wind is the southern part of Saskatchewan (where our wind farm(s) are located). As far as topping up the base load, I suppose that's one way of looking at wind power, but it is a inaccurate to describe wind power as base load power. Its an intermittent source of power (unlike coal, hydro, and nuclear).


2. Lately it's been getting a little media attention (see previous post et al.,) but I just don't really believe the cost estimates... and even if they are right and we get "12 billion in economic activity", won't it just be based on debt which we've been fighting to get out of since the Divine days? At this point in time, your guess is as good as mine. Do we really want to slide back into MASSIVE public debt again? No, well, it depends what we get in return.
3. Again, lately there has been a little more media attention on this issue; but I don't understand why the government is looking at nuclear power in isolation? Even if nuclear was "clean" "efficient" and "cheap" how does it compare to other sources? This issue hasn't had a big enough presence in the public discourse. I completely agree. Although, I'm of the opinion that we're going to have a mix of power generation. Nuclear will become a large contributor to our power supply. Wind, hydro, and natural gas will also have substantial positions.
4. Lastly I've been wondering how much less power we would need to produce if the power grid was updated and electricity was used more intelligently? No I don't just mean the token compact fluorescent bulb, but efficiencies built right into the SaskPower infrastructure. I'm out of my league with that subject. What do you mean by built in efficiencies? Co-generation is one method of efficient use, usually integrated with larger industrial complexes (potash mines for example). Waste heat generation is one approach to co-generation. As an example, NR Green operates several waste heat facilities along Alliance's natural gas pipeline that cuts through Alberta and Saskatchewan. They recently began operating a waste heat unit near Lake Diefenbaker (Loreburn) to capture the waste heat from the pipeline. Here's a link to their website describing the process.

Can't wait to see what you guys have to say!
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Old Posted May 20, 2009, 1:51 AM
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Saskatchewan's best-kept secret
Nuclear reactor in operation in city since '81
By Jeremy Warren, The Star Phoenix May 19, 2009Comments (13)

Jeff Zimmer, SlowPoke II operator and senior supervisor at the Saskatchewan Research Council facility.

If you have plans to stop the construction of a nuclear reactor on Saskatchewan soil, you're about 30 years too late.

A reactor, albeit a tiny one, has been harnessing thermal energy from nuclear fission in Saskatoon for research and environmental testing at the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) since 1981.

"Not many people know this," says SRC president and CEO Laurier Schramm during a tour of the reactor. "It's been working safely and quietly for years, if for anything to show it can work here. It's one of Saskatchewan's best-kept secrets."

It's a nuclear reactor made small. The same physics apply, but on a scale of 1/10,000 the size of a typical reactor that companies such as Bruce Power want to build in Saskatchewan.

But it's here, in Saskatoon. And if reactor proponents get their way, Saskatchewan will see the technology made large.

Despite the minuscule reactor and rhetoric from both sides of the issue in the long history of movements for and against uranium mining and nuclear power in Saskatchewan, the technology surrounding the physics and construction of a reactor is often misunderstood.

This week, The StarPhoenix is publishing a series examining different issues surrounding a nuclear reactor and what the massive project could mean for Saskatchewan.

It's prudent, then, to establish just how a reactor works and if smashing together atoms of uranium is safe.


At the SRC's analytical laboratories in Innovation Place, a reactor called SlowPloke II has been testing water, soil, vegetation and animal tissue for businesses and governments from around the world since March 1981.

When Nova Scotia wanted to test lead levels in drinking water at schools, samples were sent to SRC for testing. The reactor can be used to process several hundred samples every day.

The exterior of the subdued, one-storey brown brick SRC laboratory makes it hard to believe it houses a nuclear reactor. In the actual reactor room, the disbelief continues.

Uranium molecules are smashed together in a shoebox-sized reactor submerged in water six metres below the ground. The concrete covering sits in the middle of a room that resembles a beige and orange high school gym storage room rather than Lex Luthor's hidden lair. Old boxes and filing cabinets sit haphazardly around the edges of the room and on shelves alongside containers of old floppy computer disks.

Jeff Zimmer, SlowPoke II operator and senior supervisor, guides a small group of SRC managers and two guests around the room. He's asked if the group of men will go sterile after the tour.

"This room as you stand here has the same radiation levels of anywhere in Saskatchewan," he says. Sixty-five people work in the lab.

The reactor produces about 20 kilowatts of power.

Once the public consultations on nuclear reactors are done in June, the Saskatchewan Party will set out to pick a winner. Either a nuclear reactor is built, most likely in the Prince Albert area, as Bruce Power wants, or it isn't built and the government continues burning coal or investing in renewable energy.

A small research reactor in Saskatoon is one thing; building a $10-billion reactor that produces 1,000 megawatts of electricity is entirely different.

"There aren't a lot of ways to make huge amounts of reliable energy -- hydro, nuclear and non-renewable," says Jeremy Whitlock, a reactor physicist at Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), where he's manager of non-proliferation and safeguards.

Essentially, a nuclear reactor is "just another heat source," a steam engine that runs electric generators, in a way similar to a coal plant, says Whitlock.

The process begins with splitting uranium atoms to release energy. Imagine a uranium nucleus as 235 ping pong balls held together, says Whitlock.

"If you take another ping pong ball -- the nucleus was OK with 235, not 236 -- and smash it into the nucleus, nature doesn't like it and tends to get rid of it," he says.

The smashing atoms cause the neutrons to fly off and hit other uranium atoms. This happens roughly billions of times every second. The chain reaction heats the heavy water in the reactor core, which in turn creates steam to move turbines.

The Candu reactor, created by AECL and used by Bruce Power, uses uranium pellets, a mix of natural uranium and uranium dioxide.

The pellets are placed in a fuel rod and the rods are bundled together and pushed through hundreds of separate pressure tubes with cooling water. Each tube holds a single string of uranium fuel bundles about half a metre long.

The heavy water -- a sort of enriched water -- is used as a moderator to slow down rapidly moving neutrons. Once the fuel bundles heat the water to 300 C, the water moves to a steam generator and then into a turbine to generate electricity. The steam is condensed back into water and the cycle starts over.

q q q

Chernobyl and Three Mile Island are like trigger words used by hypnotists. Once spoken, it's difficult not to think of nuclear meltdowns, deformed babies and skyrocketing cancer rates.

Thirty-one people died almost immediately when a meltdown nearly completely destroyed the Soviet plant in 1986. The World Health Organization estimates another 9,000 people died or will die from the resulting radiation poisoning. Other organizations such as Greenpeace put that number in the hundreds of thousands.

The reactor at Chernobyl was essentially encased in cardboard, compared to today's reactors. At Three Mile Island, the meltdown was contained to a structure surrounding the core. Nobody died, but employees were exposed to higher levels of radiation.

North American reactors are surrounded by steel-lined concrete 1.5 metres thick. To test the strength, the Pentagon once flew a F-4 fighter jet into such a wall at 800 km/hour. It crumpled on impact, leaving a 15-centimetre dent in the wall.

"If there was a terrorist flying a plane into a reactor containment or an office building, the terrorist would choose an office building every time," says Whitlock.

Bob MacLeod knows about the stringent safety protocols at nuclear reactors. The Saskatoon resident supervised a crew at one of the AECL reactors in Ontario.

"There's always a dust bunny somewhere in the corner, but we're always on that," he says in a downtown cafe. "I have a great respect for radiation. It's dangerous."

As a new employee, MacLeod and his then-pregnant wife took a tour of his new nuclear-powered office. She was worried that walking across the top of the reactor would harm the baby. MacLeod's boss whipped out a radiation monitor that showed no rise in levels.

"We went across," says MacLeod. "Our daughter was very healthy, and so were our subsequent children."

Humans and computers strictly monitor Candu reactor operations, with two different back-up systems.

"To deliberately sabotage would be extremely difficult," says MacLeod.

q q q

Safety of the whole process is built around stopping the chain reaction and cooling the fuel, says Whitlock.

Control rods, which absorb uranium atoms to slow the nuclear reactions, are raised or lowered into the water depending on how much energy is required. In the case of an impending catastrophic meltdown, all the rods can be lowered to stop the reaction.

Once stopped, reactors rely on the natural physics of water convection to cool the fuel. Like a steaming cup of coffee, hot water swirls to the top and cool water moves down to the core.

"You can buy yourself hours, if not days, to fix the rest," says Whitlock.

If there wasn't adequate safety measures inherent in the operation of a nuclear reactor, he wouldn't work in or live near one.

"It's essential to my well-being, my family's well-being," he says.

"I'm either lying and endangering my family or I know something about how reactors work."

At the SlowPoke II laboratories, behind cameras and a series of locked doors -- SRC declined to give details about its security practices and policies -- management says it's a secure facility. Earlier this year, Global News sent reporters to nuclear reactors big and small across the country and assigned them to gain access. While some were successful, at SRC the local news station failed twice.

With SRC's work in the nuclear power field, it is positioned to offer its expertise to the debate heating up in the next two weeks of government public consultations.

But don't expect management to take sides.

"We're on the unbiased science side of the debate," says Joe Muldoon, SRC vice-president of environment and forestry.

SRC sees itself as an information source for interested parties, not just for nuclear power. A division of the council is focused on alternative fuels such as solar, wind and clean coal.

"We are at a starting point and have a track record with the issue," said Schramm. "We've got a position where we have experience and the facilities that can be an asset. We're not trying to pick a winner."


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Nuclear power use growing globally
Reliance on reactors varies around world
By Joanne Paulson, The Star Phoenix May 20, 2009 Comments (6)

Second instalment in a five-part series on nuclear energy, leading up to public consultations on energy options the provincial government will be conducting during the next two months.

Nuclear power plants such as this one near Seraing, Belgium, provide up to 80 per cent of the power in some European countries. Photograph by: Getty Images File Photo, The Star Phoenix

On-the-ground nuclear power may be a new idea for Saskatchewan people to wrap their minds around, but in many parts of the world, it's already quite commonplace.

As of mid-April, there were 436 operating reactors, producing about 370 gigawatts of electricity (GWe). That's about 16 per cent of global electrical demand.

Forecasts point to more reactors coming on stream, not fewer. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is a matter of highly divergent opinion, but it's definitely a coming thing.

In the United States alone, applications are in for 26 new reactors.

Jonathan Hinze, vice-president of international operations for Ux Consulting Co., foresees 491 reactors producing 426 GWe by 2015. Ux Consulting provides consulting services to the nuclear industry.

By 2020, however, there will be a large increase in the number of reactors and electrical production.

"Given the massive growth in China, India, South Korea and Russia, we're looking at 553 units and 509 GWe by 2020," said Hinze, who is based in Lynchburg, Va.

For the uranium mining sector, that's an excellent forecast, he noted. New reactors require "massive amounts" of uranium for the first core installation, he said. Refuelling a reactor requires about one-third of the original amount.

"The demand for additional uranium from new reactors is going to be quite significant," said Hinze. "Canada still does not export too much to China, but that is likely to change. In India, they're now negotiating a deal which will support uranium production and open up new sales there.

"Much of Canada's uranium already goes to the major demand sources in the U.S. and France and Japan. That won't stop either. All these new reactors will very much support expansion and demand for uranium and uranium fuel components."

Nuclear power use varies widely among the 30 nations that rely on it. Little Lithuania, for instance, has one reactor producing 70 per cent of its power.

By comparison, France receives nearly 80 per cent of its power from 59 nuclear reactors. The United States is the biggest user of nuclear power, with 104 reactors generating about 20 per cent of its electricity. The U.S. has a much larger number of reactors but produces a much smaller percentage of power compared to France, because the U.S. is a bigger country and a bigger energy user.

"No one compares to France in the level of its commitment to nuclear," said Hinze. "As for other users of nuclear power, the big ones out there are Japan with about 30 per cent, South Korea with 35 per cent and Germany is still quite reliant, although they do have plans to phase out."

Germany has 17 reactors, representing a significant portion of total power -- 27 per cent. The present government is less anxious to phase out nuclear power than previous governments have been.

"If they were to shut them down, it's hard to see how they would replace it," said Hinze.

Germany still generates 50 per cent of its energy from coal and seven per cent from green renewable power.

Italy seems poised to bring its first reactor on stream by 2020, after a 21-year, post-Chernobyl ban on nuclear power. Finland is building a fifth reactor and, despite strong opposition, Sweden's government continues to back nuclear power.

China, India big users

The big future users of nuclear are China and India, where a small proportion of electricity is generated by reactors today.

"Those two are obviously where the future is in nuclear, at least in a future production expectation," said Hinze.

China generates less than two per cent from nuclear, from 11 reactors producing nine GWe. China's total power production is 625 GWe.

"Basically it's a drop in the bucket for them right now," said Hinze. "They want to grow that to about five per cent (70 GWe) by 2020, but that means more than quadrupling their nuclear reactors. It's on a massive scale that they're trying to expand.

Additional energy sources will be part of China's economic growth, said Hinze. "There was a time where China was adding 500 megawatts of new coal-fired power every day. They were expanding very rapidly. And it's dirty coal; they don't use the more up-to-date technologies."

India has 17 reactors, but some of them are as small as 200 megawatts, providing only four GWe. India produces about three per cent of its power needs from nuclear and 70 per cent from coal.

India is a bit behind the curve, because from 1974 until last year, there was a ban on any nuclear market trade with the country. However, India has recently been given special treatment. Several countries, including Canada, are negotiating bilateral agreements on both reactors and uranium supply, said Hinze.

When India begins to build reactors, it will likely import many of them, he said. India does not have a large domestic supply of uranium and will require an imported source of fuel.

Meanwhile, in Canada, there are 18 operating reactors in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.

"We don't consider all the plants in Canada currently operational," said Hinze. "You could say there are 18 operating and two under refurbishment."

The 18 plants create just over 14 gigawatts, or 15 per cent of Canada's power.

"In Ontario specifically, it's very important. They're one of the bigger load demand centres of the country. Ontario is moving to phase out most or all of its coal; there's no way that can be done without adding nuclear."

One gigawatt equals 1,000 megawatts, which puts the Bruce Power reactors in some perspective. The company hoping to build a reactor in Saskatchewan is proposing one or two 1,000-megawatt plants, depending on the economics of exporting power to other jurisdictions.

Safety record

People concerned about nuclear power often point to the accidents at Three Mile Island in the U.S. and Chernobyl, Ukraine.

"The track record has been quite good since the Chernobyl accident. Obviously there's been some bad history to it, but in recent years we have not had any major accidents," said Hinze. "Reactors are operating around the world with high safety levels.

"That has helped to allay public concern in places where it exists. In a place like Saskatchewan, which is not familiar with it, you're going to have different reactions by different people."

New reactors in the U.S. are, however, being greeted with a fair amount of optimism, said Hinze.

"Almost all those projects are proposed at sites where reactors already exist. The utilities there will do their public opinion polling and see what the locals think and nine out of 10 times, the locals are very supportive," he said.

"Because they're familiar with it, they've seen the revenue coming from that, the tax base and the good jobs -- steady, long-term jobs. A nuclear engineer or technician will earn much higher than an engineer in another area."

That being said, few nuclear advocates would recommend anyone "becoming France," said Hinze.

"Having a good, diversified portfolio (of energy sources) is truly the best way to go."

But nuclear power is an option for countries wanting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, he noted.

"There are a number of key drivers for nuclear power around the world, including reliable baseload power needs, diversified uranium fuel sources from many stable countries, low operating costs, strong track record (both economics and safety) and the need to find non-emitting power sources in the face of climate change."

Different direction

Peter Prebble, director of energy and water policy for the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, says not all developed countries are adding nuclear power.

Some European countries are winding down their nuclear industries or have not embarked on the nuclear path.

Countries with no reactors include Austria and Denmark, while Germany decided in 2000 to shut down its reactors by 2020, and has closed down two so far. Spain will phase out its eight operating reactors.

Austria has a lot of hydro and Denmark has a "great wind resource, just like we do in Saskatchewan," said Prebble. "They've taken the approach of developing their wind power in conjunction with Norwegian hydro."

Denmark has built more than 4,700 wind turbines, and encourages its communities to work toward total reliance on renewable energy, said Prebble, who has visited the country to study its energy system.

Prebble is also doubtful whether the many licence applications in the United States will actually result in the construction of nuclear plants.

"The thing to watch carefully is where construction is starting, which of course is very real. That's quite different from a licence application," said Prebble.

"The United States passed a new law in 2005 that said the first 6,000 megawatts of nuclear power built in the United States would get special tax credits and all kinds of financial assistance. All kinds of companies put in licence applications."

In Saskatchewan, Prebble is convinced the province can save 300 to 500 megawatts of power through efficiency programs and can also increase reliance on wind power.

The Danes get 18 per cent of their electricity from wind, and the Spanish 21 per cent from wind.

"Meanwhile, we're at three (per cent) and we have a better wind resource than the Spanish," said Prebble.

"There are lots of other legitimate avenues to go and they don't generate radioactive waste."


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Nuclear power doesn't come cheap
By Jeremy Warren, The Star Phoenix May 21, 2009 8:17 AM Be the first to post a comment

Third installment of a five-part series on nuclear energy, leading into public consultations on energy options the provincial government will be conducting during the next two months.

- - -

We've all been late for an appointment or spent a few more dollars than our budgets allow. Expect a nuclear reactor project in Saskatchewan to exponentially exaggerate these personal foibles, if worldwide experience holds steady.

Nuclear reactor construction will fall behind schedule by a few years and go over budget by billions of dollars, say experts.

"None of the reactors have ever come in on time or on budget," said Michal Moore, professor of economics with the University of Calgary and senior fellow at the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy.

"Cost overruns are consistent across the world," said Peter Prebble, director of energy and water policy for the Saskatchewan Environmental Society and a former provincial NDP cabinet minister.

"We will pay for these cost overruns on our electrical bills."

French nuclear giant Areva is building the Olkiluoto 3 reactor in Finland, the world's only third-generation reactor. The project is three years behind schedule and is 50 per cent over its $3.3-billion budget.

A Bruce Power project to refurbish a reactor in Ontario is $300 million over budget. A deal struck with the provincial government for the project requires taxpayers to cover half the cost of budget overruns up to $3.05 billion.

Financial risks are mentioned in the 121-page report by the Saskatchewan Party-commissioned Uranium Development Partnership, which recommended the construction of a 3,000-megawatt nuclear reactor in the province. The government is holding provincewide public consultations on the report next week.

Moore calls the partnership's report thoughtful, but said if Saskatchewan wants to add value to the uranium industry, the province is more suited for fuel upgrading -- processing and reprocessing -- rather than a reactor.

The partnership rejected upgrading as an option for Saskatchewan.

"Energy demand has to be very substantial," said Moore. "I doubt the base load requirement (in Saskatchewan) is sufficient to carry a traditional nuclear reactor."

At best, Saskatchewan could build a series of small 200 MW reactors in different parts of the province, but even then it's a stretch, said Moore.

"Mining and upgrading is probably a good idea," he added.

- - -

To set out and build a reactor is a costly and time-consuming endeavour. In addition to costs of planning and engineering, upward of $10 billion is required for construction of the proposed Bruce Power reactor.

That's not to mention the cost of integrating nuclear power into the province's electrical grid, which could cost up to $1 billion.

But once it's running, the cost to purchase and use the fuel is low -- about two-tenths of a penny per kilowatt, said Moore. Zero carbon emissions during operation and a consistent electrical output make a reactor attractive to governments.

"Once a reactor is built, there's a long life ahead of it -- about 40 to 60 years," he said. "But it takes a long time to get there."

Moore believes Saskatchewan should also look at increasing its reliance on renewable energy.

Instead of mixing wind with nuclear power, in Saskatchewan it makes sense to invest in wind power to offset the emissions of coal plants, he added.

"Wind power makes sense economically if it's twinned with another source that provides base load energy," said Moore.

Saskatchewan's economy would receive almost $240 million annually when a nuclear power plant is operating, according to Bruce Power.

The nuclear energy industry annually contributes about $5 billion to the Canadian economy, providing 20,000 direct jobs, says the World Nuclear Association.

Bruce Power estimates thousands of skilled labourers will be required for construction of a reactor. Once the job is done, though, a lot of people will be out of a job, said Moore.

"Once that thing is constructed and online, the number of jobs it takes to run is in the tens, not the hundreds," he said.

In Canada, nuclear power contributed about 14.7 per cent of total power generated in 2007, compared to 58 per cent from hydro, 17 per cent from coal and six per cent from gas. Solar and wind contributions are still minimal.

- - -

Delays and ballooning budgets of nuclear projects are responsible for $15 billion of a $20-billion debt left by Ontario Hydro. Residents now pay a tax on electricity bills to pay off the debt.

"That's quite a legacy to leave," said Prebble.

The actual costs of a nuclear reactor go beyond its normal operations.

If the system is shut down, replacement energy has to be found, said Prebble. "You have to have a backup system to replace the lost base load power. That starts to get expensive, especially if you import additional power."

When a reactor is too old, it has to be decommissioned, another expensive project with costs anywhere between $200 million and $600 million.

"You're dealing with a very radioactive core that has to be robotically cut up and shipped away with thousands of trucks," said Prebble.

Finally, the disposal of nuclear waste, which the industry has yet to find a safe and environmentally sound way to do, has to be paid for during the time a reactor operates -- up to 60 decades, he added.

"This all adds up to an expensive package," said Prebble. "We will pay for all these costs in our electrical bills."

With the high costs and risk associated with nuclear reactors, private industry will only invest in projects that have the financial backing of governments, that have guaranteed profits and markets and that assume the risk and liabilities for cost overruns, waste disposal, decommissioning and accidents, says the Pembina Institute.

The Uranium Development Partnership's report and a 2007 SaskPower draft report on nuclear power concluded the financial risks associated with reactor construction are too large for the industry to bear alone and governments would need to be involved in any successful project, although the partnership didn't specify the financial details of public-private co-operation.

"The only way Bruce Power goes ahead with a nuclear project is if it makes money," said Prebble.

When a wave of electrical privatization hit the U.S., nuclear power seemed less attractive to big business. In 2007, a company filed the first application to build a new commercial reactor in the U.S. in almost 30 years.

A host of new projects have started with a federal government program of tax incentives and loan guarantees created by the Bush administration. Now there are applications to build 26 reactors.

Saskatoon-based Cameco Corp., the world's largest uranium miner, owns 31.6 per cent of four Bruce Power reactors. Cameco dropped out of another joint venture to restart and refurbish another four reactors when the company cited inadequate returns, despite government involvement.


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Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce supports nuclear development
Saskatchewan News Network May 21, 2009

The province's biggest business lobby group is jumping on the nuclear energy bandwagon by launching a "fact-based" campaign in support of further nuclear development in the province.

"We believe when you look at the facts (about nuclear energy), the facts are very positive," said Steve McLellan, CEO of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce.

"I believe that the science (of nuclear energy) is absolutely without question. I believe the security is without question.

"I also believe this province is going to need more power and I believe this is good source of green energy. We need to look at it and move forward on it as well."

McLellan said the chamber has prepared a frequently asked questions (FAQ) paper on nuclear development, which deals with some of the "myths and misconceptions" around nuclear energy. "What we're saying is, don't stop (nuclear development) on Day 1 because of the 'what ifs' and the myths. Let's make sure that we've got the facts."

The FAQ paper answers questions such as: Does having a nuclear facility in your area cause health issues? Where would nuclear waste be stored?

Agencies, such as the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, have been used to ensure the answers are exact and complete, McLellan said. But anti-nuclear sources are referred to as well.

"In terms of being balanced, we've listed in (the paper) the David Suzuki (Foundation) and Greenpeace (Canada) websites. So if people want other information or have more questions that we haven't answered, we're giving them other sources."

Other elements of the chamber's campaign will be unveiled in the next few weeks. The campaign will coincide with the public consultations held on the recommendations of the Uranium Development Partnership, which was commissioned by the Saskatchewan Party government.

The public hearings will begin on June 1 in Yorkton end in La Ronge on June 16. Stakeholder meetings begin with a half-day conference next Tuesday in Saskatoon and end in Regina on June 23.

For a copy of the FAQ paper, go to www.saskchamber.com

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'Green' benefits of nuclear power touted, rejected
By Jeremy Warren, The Star Phoenix May 22, 2009 7:20 AM Be the first to post a comment

The fourth instalment of a five-part series on nuclear energy, leading into public consultations on energy options the provincial government will be conducting during the next two months.

To save the Earth and reduce carbon emissions -- an issue consuming political energy and environmental policy efforts -- build nuclear reactors, say proponents. Build a lot of them.

"It's the only solution we have right now," said Bruno Comby, founder and president of the international Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy. "Burning oil and coal and gas is like treating the sky as a garbage can."

A reactor emits zero carbon pollution, and compared to dirty fuel such as coal and oil, that's an attractive selling point for nuclear energy.

The Saskatchewan Party-appointed Uranium Development Partnership mentions the zero carbon emissions in its 121-page report that recommended Saskatchewan welcome a nuclear reactor.

Bruce Power cites it in its Saskatchewan 2020 feasibility report on building a reactor in northern Saskatchewan.

And SaskPower estimates a reactor would immediately reduce carbon emissions in Saskatchewan, the worst polluter per capita in Canada, by 11 per cent based on 2007 levels, according to a 2007 draft report on nuclear energy in the province.

But opponents of nuclear power are quick to point out that while a reactor itself is zero-emission, the entire life-cycle of a reactor -- from mining, fuel refining, reactor construction, operation, decommissioning and waste storage -- contributes much more pollution than equivalent energy sources.

"Nobody outside the orbit of the nuclear industry is recommending going nuclear," said Jim Harding, author of Canada's Dirty Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System.

"They're giving people the false notion that nuclear power is a fix for environmental problems. This is not science. It's a public relations gimmick. It's called greenwashing."

Mining the uranium, building the reactor and decommissioning it are all horrible carbon emitters, he added.

Harding advocates energy demand policies such as shifting to LED lights, green engineering and conservation for a real reduction in carbon emissions.

Estimates of future power needs assume people will use power as they have in the past, without a change in mentality about conservation, he said.

Nuclear advocates still don't buy the life-cycle argument.

In its Saskatchewan 2020 report, Bruce Power compares life-cycle carbon emissions based on a University of Wisconsin-Madison study.

Nuclear emits 17 tonnes of carbon dioxide per gigawatt-hour, compared to 1,041 for coal, 39 for solar and 14 for wind, according to the report.

- - -

Comby, an Alberta-born nuclear engineer and author who lives in France, founded the 9,000-member Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy in 1996.

France uses nuclear power for 80 per cent of its electrical needs and renewable energy for 20 per cent, mostly from hydro power. But the best prospects for hydro in France, as in most developed countries, are already developed.

"So strike it out, because the best opportunities are gone," said Comby.

Wind power alone isn't developed enough to satisfy the needs of an industrial society, said Berol Robinson, Comby's American counterpart in the organization.

"We have no gas, we have no oil, we have no choice," he said.

Wind turbines only turn roughly half the time and solar can't produce enough energy because "by definition, the sun only shines half the time," he said.

Even if those problems were fixed, storing electricity is expensive and difficult, added Robinson.

The life-cycle of nuclear power still doesn't make it dirtier than fossil fuels, said Robinson.

The entire cycle emits only five per cent of carbons compared to coal, he said.

But a Bruce Power proposal to build four reactors in Alberta estimated a $10-billion price tag -- $2,500 per kilowatt produced -- but later had to be revised to $36 billion, tripling the cost per kilowatt, said Harding.

"At that price, wind power is about half the capital costs of nuclear power per kilowatt," he added.

- - -

As the nuclear industry expands, the supply and therefore the quality of uranium is eroded. The estimates have quality uranium disappearing in Saskatchewan in 45 years and in the world in 80 years.

The carbon footprint of the nuclear industry, then, increases as harder-to-reach uranium is mined and lower-quality fuel for reactors is used.

Alternative energy proponents often make forward-looking statements about future possibilities. The costs of solar power will decrease, eventually, some say. The batteries for storing electricity are expensive and not large enough, but eventually they will be feasible. On the other side, the same hopeful statements are made about storing nuclear waste.

All nuclear waste is still stored on the reactor site, said Harding.

"You can't destroy radioactive waste elements so why create a burden for future generations," he said.



Communities in the Prince Albert economic corridor, where Bruce Power would consider building a reactor, are fiercely debating nuclear power.

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Battle lines drawn in P.A.
By Jeremy Warren, The Star PhoenixMay 23, 2009

The final instalment of a five-part series on nuclear energy, leading into public consultations on energy options the provincial government will be conducting during the next two months.

- - -

A hair salon is an unlikely place to stage a war.

It's the morning after the grassroots group opposed to building a nuclear reactor in the province, Renewable Power -- the Intelligent Choice (RPIC), waged its latest campaign, an April 27 rally outside Prince Albert City Hall, and already members are planning their next move.

Janis McKnight and Richard Swanby, owners of the Blunt hair salon, haven't seen their first client for the day, except for local environmentalist and professional photographer Thomas Porter.

But he's not here for a trim. This is strategy. This is a war for public opinion.

"We're going to keep playing good cop/bad cop," he tells the couple. They're the bad cops. Already a local businessperson has been disparaging McKnight with nasty names. Anti-progress is how the man described the longtime entrepreneurs.

Those are unfortunate sentiments and unfair, says McKnight.

"The more this city grows, the more business we get," she says.

Porter, who just came from an early morning meeting at City Hall, says he'll play the good cop and visit the local chamber of commerce. He'll smooth talk the business crowd.

Their argument is simple: Nuclear reactors are expensive, harm the environment -- and their expansion induces more harm through increased mining -- and renewable energy is more economically viable then ever before.

On this particular morning, they talk about speakers who should visit Prince Albert and briefly conduct a post-mortem on the previous night's rally, which preceded several presentations to city councillors in front of a large audience.

An open mic policy that evening allowed a few unknown people to grab the spotlight and ramble over a small wave of snickering.

"We can't be too careful about the other side -- these people could have been plants to discredit us," says Porter.

The salon doesn't resemble a den where conspiracy theories are hatched. Plants line the light wooden walls in this bright room. Except for a hair washing station, two barber chairs are about the only furniture in the sparse space. But it's here that daily plans are made to stop the construction of a nuclear reactor in the North.

- - -

Bruce Power, an Ontario nuclear power company partly owned by Saskatchewan's Cameco Corp., wants to build a 1,000-megawatt reactor on the North Saskatchewan River, possibly in the Prince Albert area.

The company released a feasibility study in November 2008 titled Saskatchewan 2020, which makes a case for a reactor in the Prince Albert economic corridor, which stretches from that city to Lloydminster.

The plan was boosted earlier this year when the Saskatchewan Party-appointed Uranium Development Partnership recommended the province build 3,000 megawatts of nuclear power to meet future energy demands and to sell to Alberta.

Like Prince Albert, communities across Saskatchewan are debating the nuclear issue. Already, ratepayers of the rural municipality of Britannia, near Lloydminster, have voted 95 per cent in support of a motion opposing nuclear power. Locals reported Bruce Power officials approached them to gauge interest in selling land.

The government is taking a tour of Saskatchewan starting this month to host a series of public consultations. Community members will have a chance to ask questions.

There's a lack of information about how a deal for nuclear power will be made, and with whom, says Larry Marshall, a founding member of RPIC and an organic farmer of 1,800 acres near Shellbrook.

"It's unfair to the public not to be given information or to be able to respond in an equitable way," he says, several hours before the City Hall rally.

Questions about who is paying for what and the province's role are still unclear for Marshall and his wife, Meryl Wood.

"If this is such a great deal for Bruce Power, why won't they build it themselves?" he says, sitting around the kitchen covered with coffee mugs and stacks of paper about the nuclear industry.

Tall, grey-haired and clad in a flannel shirt and jeans, the affable Marshall has farmed in the Shellbrook region with Wood for 30 years. They harvest lentils, vegetables and hemp.

He believes Premier Brad Wall has done a lot of good for the province, but on the nuclear reactor file, Marshall is cautious with praise.

"(Wall) might blow it," he says. "I hope he doesn't underestimate the public."

The couple's involvement began with a petition against nuclear power circulated among local owners of large, "mainstream" farms. Marshall and Wood saw signatures of farmers they believed would have been on the other side of the issue. They knew then that momentum was on their side.

"Sometimes it's hard to stand up and speak, afraid of what neighbours might think," says Wood.

Coffee done, Marshall puts on some coveralls and heads out to finish chores before the rally that RPIC expects to be its largest yet.

- - -

Overcast and cold this evening, people outside Prince Albert City Hall are bundled up. Though the organizers are upbeat, attendance is smaller than the previous rally. Still, roughly 100 people are here.

Signs poke up above the crowd: "Hell no, we won't glow." Swanby brought a large box filled with thick packages of stories about problems with the Hanford nuclear reactor site in his home state of Oregon.

The stories have headlines such as Radiation has reached groundwater and Hanford's radioactive tumbleweeds.

McKnight speaks. Marshall speaks. Then the mic is opened up for anyone to speak. Sheldon James, a farmer, is the first. This is his first time speaking publicly, and his stilted speech confirms it. There are better opportunities in renewable energy, he says.

Luther Anderson, a Second World War vet who was stationed in Japan after the bombs dropped, speaks next.

"As we travelled through Japan, we passed an area totally devastated by the nuclear bombs," he says. "There were no people. The place was empty of life. The powers that be said we had nothing to worry about."

But as the soldiers grew older and were diagnosed with cancer, he understood the devastating effects of radiation. The cancer rates among those soldiers in Japan was 25 per cent higher compared to civilians, he says.

Ironically, they also needed that radiation.

"Nuclear energy caused this, and nuclear energy can cure it," he says.

One man takes the stage and rants about flying fighter jets in Pakistan and bombing children with nuclear bombs before he's gently escorted off-stage. Another speaker talks about some sort of nuclear rapture before the crowd moves into City Hall as Swanby and McKnight address council.

Mayor Jim Scarrow listens to the speakers attempt to convince city council to deny support for Bruce Power. When they are finished, council members move on to their usual business about smoking bylaws and funding for service groups as the protesters file out.

Later, in his office, Scarrow speaks about the issue that was forced onto his city.

"Bruce Power chose Prince Albert. Prince Albert didn't choose Bruce Power," he says.

Not yet, anyway. Bruce Power is making a push for a reactor on the North Saskatchewan River. While it's not up to the city to approve such a project -- that's up to the provincial government and the RM of the chosen location -- the province's third-largest city will have a big role in bringing a project to fruition.

In a city hit hard by the closure of the pulp mill, there's an appetite for development. Prince Albert would be a base for any reactor, sending labourers for construction and with local business supplying construction and the city offering housing.

A city-commissioned poll found 71.2 per cent of respondents favoured investigating the potential opportunities associated with a Bruce Power project.

Already, the local economy is boosted by the uranium industry, which flies out mine labourers from their homes in Prince Albert, says Scarrow.

"We're already in the industry," he says. "We have been for 30 years. Uranium is paying for a lot of families' well-being."

The Prince Albert Tribal Council is closely watching the development of a project Bruce Power says will bring thousands of jobs to the area.

"You can imagine the opportunities for anyone involved in the project," said the tribal council's economic development director, Andrew Douglas.

"In all honesty, we'll need more resources to respond more adequately to assess the whole situation."

While Scarrow doesn't take a stance on the reactor issue, he did tour a Bruce Power plant with the local chamber of commerce.

Officials from Bruce Power have met with city officials, but Scarrow says they aren't applying any pressure.

"Without entering the fray, each of us has to look at the questions and answers surrounding a nuclear reactor," he says.

"Every city could use a project like this. We're certainly willing to take a look at it."

- - -

The salon's war room also acts as a confessional.

Talking nuclear reactors is not uncommon when customers pass through the couple's chairs and they often confess a creeping fear of bringing the controversial development to the area.

"We talk all day to our clients and that pushes them to get more information," says McKnight, who moved back to Prince Albert eight years ago with Swanby.

They moved away from their Tri-City home in Oregon to get away from the nuclear reactor that was fraught with shutdowns and leaks. From their peaceful cabin just outside Prince Albert, they're fighting an issue that followed them across the border.

"This isn't a hobby," says Swanby. "We'd rather not be doing this."

They don't want to move again. They feel they're protecting their home and the future of Saskatchewan.

"We have to start looking past our own lifetime," says McKnight.



The Future of Uranium in Saskatchewan consultation schedule:

May 26: Saskatoon

invited stakeholder


May 27: Saskatoon,

Prairieland Park

stakeholder meetings

May 28: Saskatoon,

Prairieland Park

stakeholder meetings

June 1: Yorkton,

Gallagher Centre

public consultation

June 2: Estevan,

Wiley Mitchell Hall

public consultation

June 3: Swift Current,

Kinetic Centre

public consultation

June 4: Regina,

Western Christian


public consultation

June 8: Prince Albert,

Exhibition Centre

public consultation

June 9: Buffalo Narrows,

Lakeview Complex

public consultation

June 10: Lloydminster,

Lakeland College

public consultation

June 11: North


Don Ross Center

public consultation

June 15: Saskatoon,

Travelodge Hotel

public consultation

June 16: La Ronge,

La Ronge Hotel

public consultation

June 22: Regina,

Travelodge South Hotel

stakeholder meetings

June 23: Regina,

Travelodge South Hotel

stakeholder meetings

For more information, visit www.saskuranium.ca

© Copyright (c) The Star Phoenix



Survey shows nuclear support
Saskatchewan News Network; Regina Leader-Post May 26, 2009

There is a great deal of support among members of the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce for Saskatchewan moving up the uranium value-added chain.

In a survey the chamber conducted May 19-24, 90 per cent of the 146 survey respondents agreed that Saskatchewan should expand its role in the uranium industry.

For members indicating they support expansion in the uranium industry, a number of options were listed and members were asked which they would support.

Eighty per cent of respondents said they agreed or strongly agreed with supporting the development of a nuclear power plant in the province. The number of respondents who support the establishment of a nuclear research and development centre was 88 per cent.

Support for a uranium refinery came in at 78 per cent, and 68 per cent of respondents indicated they support a nuclear recycling facility. However, 58 per cent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with supporting nuclear storage.

© Copyright (c) The Star Phoenix



Calm days don't stop wind power
By Paul Hanley, The Star Phoenix May 26, 2009

The only problem with wind as a source of power is it doesn't blow all the time. Proponents of nuclear power and clean coal are quick to point out that wind is intermittent, so it cannot provide the steady "base load" power needed to ensure a continuous, reliable supply of electricity to consumers.

According to the Canadian Renewable Energy Alliance (CREA: www.canrea.ca), however, there are a number of ways to provide base load power from wind. These include:

- Distributing wind farms geographically

The wind doesn't blow all the time in any one place, but it always blows somewhere. Currently, all of Saskatchewan's wind farms are located in the southwest corner of the province. Future wind farms could be located throughout the province, in areas with different wind regimes, and linked together through the provincial grid.

By distributing wind farms, Spain has effectively eliminated hourly variations in the supply from wind. CREA cites a U.S. study that found that 33 per cent of annual power production from distributed wind farms could be counted on to supply base load with the same reliability as a coal plant. And because generation sites would be closer to demand, grid distribution losses would be cut from seven per cent to two per cent.

- Co-ordinating supply with hydro power

Hydro-electric power plants, such as the station at Lake Diefenbaker, can be used to complement the variable output from wind farms. This is made easier by forecasting techniques that allow grid operators to estimate wind farm output a day ahead. The approach has been proven in the state of Washington, where output from a new 63-MW wind farm was successfully integrated with 65 MW of existing hydro power generation.

- Demand management

Smart technologies can be used to lower energy demand when power is less available. Power grid operators could, for example, turn off non-essential air conditioners or baseboard heaters during calm periods to better match supply and demand. Better-designed homes and buildings, with more thermal mass to regulate temperature, would largely eliminate the impact on occupants.

- Power storage

When the wind is blowing, wind farms often produce too much power to be used in the grid. This approach finds ways to store that oversupply of power and release it into the grid when the wind dies down.

There are a number of ways to do this. Excess wind power is used to pump water into a reservoir. When the wind dies down, the water is released to a small hydro generator. There is currently 90 GW of pumped storage in place worldwide. Similarly, excess power can be used to compress air, which can be released to operate a turbine.

Batteries can also be used to store power. Flow batteries are modular, are available in any size and can be placed anywhere and cycled many times without loss of capacity. Advanced rechargeable batteries, including sodium sulphur (NaS) batteries and lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are two other options.

Electric car batteries can also be used as multiple storage units for grid power. VTGs (vehicle to grid cars) are powered at night and can be tapped into during the day, when parked at the workplace, to smooth out power supply. Austin, Texas, is planning to use this system to store locally produced wind power.

- Grid friendliness

While much is made of the problems with intermittent wind, multiple, flexible power sources can actually help grid operators balance supply and demand. Alberta's power system, for example, uses simple protocols to predict wind supply and ensure grid friendliness and flexibility.

Large, inflexible, "must run" plants, such as nuclear power plants, can present the opposite problem to intermittent power sources like wind. In Ontario, for example, large industrial users have sometimes been paid to use power from nuclear plants, which cannot be turned off in times of low demand. Nuclear needs 10 times more storage than wind and solar because of its inflexibility in meeting varying demand.

To learn more about this issue read Storing Renewable Power by The Pembina Institute, available at http://re.pembina.org/pub/1651.

© Copyright (c) The Star Phoenix

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Stakeholders eye uranium report
Forum launches consultation on future of nuclear energy in Sask.
By Jeremy Warren, The Star Phoenix May 27, 2009 8:04 AM Be the first to post a comment

If you want to know who will influence the provincial government's policies on nuclear energy, the list of invitees to the first Future of Uranium meeting is a good start.

Cameco, Bruce Power, unions, academics, government officials and environmental and aboriginal groups were among the 60 organizations invited to the first day of a three-day "stakeholder" meeting.

About 35 organizations represented at Tuesday's afternoon meeting broke into three groups to go over recommendations in the Uranium Development Partnership's report, which recommended construction of a nuclear reactor in Saskatchewan.

But it was what wasn't in the report that many people wanted to discuss.

The 12-member partnership board lacked medical representation, said Stefania Fortugno, an environmental lawyer and member of the Inter-Church Uranium Committee.

"These medical professionals are the people who understand the effects of radiation and its impact on animals, plants and humans," she said.

There is a lack of simple cost comparisons in the report, said NDP MLA and enterprise and innovation critic Darcy Furber.

"The people calling my office want an apples-and-apples comparison," he said.

"They want to compare the spectrum of energy resources at the same time."

Mayor Don Atchison attended and asked about the Three Mile Island partial meltdown in the U.S.

"What's being done to curtail these catastrophes in the future?" he asked.

Richard Florizone, the partnership board chair, admits his report didn't delve deep enough into one of four factors he said is crucial to bringing nuclear power to the province. Technical, environmental and economic factors of adding value to the uranium industry were covered, but the social side was lacking, he said.

"Social acceptance was recognized, but not discussed thoroughly," said Florizone, who is also the vice-president of finance and resources at the University of Saskatchewan.

"Our report, by definition, was grounded in economics and the environment."

But social acceptance is why the public meetings are happening, he added.

Tuesday's meeting at Prairieland Park started a month of public consultations that will gather questions, concerns and facts from both sides of the nuclear energy debate. Dan Perrins is chairing the Future of Uranium in Saskatchewan public consultation process.

Participants spent the first day in groups brainstorming questions and outlining concerns they felt were not adequately addressed.

The meetings, to be held across the province in June, are based on the 121-page report by the Uranium Development Partnership tasked with recommending how best to add value to Saskatchewan's uranium industry.

"If we want to sustain the uranium industry, we have to think about keeping it competitive," said Florizone in his opening remarks.

Metis Nation-Saskatchewan reiterated its disappointment in the lack of consultations with its people. A few people also wanted more information about renewable energy opportunities in Saskatchewan.

Cameco, which had a representative on the partnership, wants the province to change its mining regulations.

"The regulation process is too long," said Jamie Miley, director of government relations.

Over-regulation, mixed with aggressive uranium mine development in other countries, will soon push Saskatchewan from its perch as the world's largest uranium miner, he added.

Daron Priest, a rancher from the Lloydminster area, was one of the residents of the RM of Britannia who voted 95 per cent in favour of a motion opposed to nuclear development within its boundaries.

"We're the ones who live where this (Bruce Power nuclear reactor) is proposed and we're just regular farmers opposed to nuclear development," said Priest, adding that Saskatchewan could tap its vast resources for renewable energy.

"If we go down the nuclear road, maybe renewable energy takes a back seat. We need to keep our options open. We need common sense to prevail."

Saskatchewan will need more energy if it plans to rely on mines -- projects that use massive amounts of electricity -- for its future, and that might have to come from a nuclear reactor, said Ron Barsi from Golder Associates.

"If there ever was a budget that relied on mining, it's the latest one," he said.

"The mines are paying for our education and our hospitals."


© Copyright (c) The Star Phoenix



Perrins off to good start
By Murray Mandryk, Saskatchewan News Network; Regina Leader-Post May 27, 2009

The first order of business for Dan Perrins, chair of the public consultation process on the future of nuclear development in Saskatchewan, might be to reinterpret his mandate.

The former 36-year public servant, who spent the last seven years of his career as premier Lorne Calvert's deputy minister, is mandated to chair the stakeholder and public consultation process, receive and review all written submissions and write and submit to the Minister of Enterprise and Innovation a report no later than Aug. 31, which summarizes the feedback he receives.

But what the Saskatchewan public really needs in this process is an honest broker who can preside over a series of potentially shrill, over-the-top submissions and then boil down these presentations to something that vaguely resembles an outline of a cost-benefit analysis of a nuclear power plant, taking into account the realistic concerns about the environmental impact.

The bad news is that no one can fulfil such a mandate to anyone's complete satisfaction. The good news, though, is the government has found in Perrins the best possible candidate -- someone who neither is a nuclear proponent nor opponent, who is neither directly tied to Premier Brad Wall's administration nor opposed to it, and who can be simultaneously brutally honest yet diplomatic.

However, how Perrins structures this debate may be as important as how he interprets the findings. In that regard, his first move was positive. Perrins wisely convinced the one organization that should know most about Saskatchewan's energy needs, SaskPower, to be the first presenter Tuesday.

Of course, some anti-nuclear opponents will insist that a government-run SaskPower will do nothing but advocate for nuclear power. Those who assume this obviously don't understand government as well has Perrins does.

If anything, one would assume SaskPower will be averse to giving up its near-exclusive monopoly on power-generating capacity to a private sector entity such as Bruce Power. Nuclear power opponents complain (perhaps legitimately) that Bruce already has too much of the government's ear.

Certainly, SaskPower will be reluctant to give up a sizable portion of its own generating potential to any outside interest, especially if it hurts the Crown utility's interest in clean-coal development that's tied to its generating facilities in the province's south. As much as SaskPower engineers like to build, they would prefer to do it within their own parameters.

Moreover, since nuclear isn't SaskPower's business, the utility is more capable of giving us an objective assessment of nuclear power's penchant for cost overruns that will add to public debt.

What both Perrins and the public need to carefully assess is not necessarily the rah-rah pro-nuclear cheerleading coming from vested interests such as Bruce Power and from the chambers of commerce that have been over the top in their recent support, or anything perceived as an initiative of the Saskatchewan Party government.

While one expects the cheering from the business sector, one would hope the business leadership in this province would pay special interest to the cost efficiency of nuclear power and its potential impact on the public debt.

That said, with anti-nuke presentations and submissions coming in to Perrins's consultation process at what seems to be rate of about nine to one compared to favourable submissions, there's little chance that this will be a pro-nuclear process.

In fact, Perrins's biggest challenge will be to wade through the fearmongering about a pending nuclear meltdown and get to more viable concerns such as costs and the critical impact on water flows of either the North or South Saskatchewan Rivers, which represents half the province's river flows.

It's also here where we should trust that SaskPower will serve as an honest broker that can simultaneously address the most immediate environment issues while also assessing the power grid's baseload requirements that can't be met through today's wind and solar technology.

It's not an especially easy mandate to address, but Perrins has made a couple of good initial moves.

© Copyright (c) The Star Phoenix

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Zealots can't dominate debate
By Gerry Klein, The Star Phoenix May 28, 2009

There are many reasons why Saskatoon is the logical place to kick off a debate over the role nuclear power can play in the world, and Prof. Chary Rangacharyulu is emblematic of many of them.

It is ironic, therefore, that the polite but determined head of the University of Saskatchewan's physics department constantly is being dragged out on stage by anti-nuke zealots, to be attacked for his knowledge and accused of being part of an evil conspiracy.

I first met Rangacharyulu when I was stationed on the university campus and did stories about the institution adopting the federal innovation strategy. Although he was a renowned scientist with an expertise in one of the most complex areas of natural science and working at a synchrotron in Japan at a time when the U of- was determined to win its own light source, Rangacharyulu preached to whomever would listen about the danger of sacrificing at the altar of innovation the university's traditional role of teaching and public service.

He hardly seemed the kind of person who could be part of an evil conspiracy or sell out to industry. In fact, although his team was chosen by Discovery magazine to have contributed to the world's ninth most important scientific innovation in 2003, perhaps his greatest claim to fame was the work he did here and across Canada to promote science fairs and to make education interesting.

Not only does Rangacharyulu know nuclear science, he cares about his community (his desire to make Saskatoon a better place saw him run for city council) and has immense compassion for his fellow humans -- so much so that it's impossible to imagine him subverting his knowledge to a risky endeavour.

This is not to say those who oppose nuclear science don't genuinely believe in their position.

Much like religious conservatives who believe in the literal version of the Bible, including its description of Creation, those who truly believe nuclear technology is evil are able to eschew the massive scientific evidence accumulated over decades of research and espouse the views of fringe epidemiological studies and consider as the norm some easily explained aberrations.

Thus, for example, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island become the standard of the nuclear industry, and leukemia counts in children born within a certain proximity to reactors -- presumably the same studies that "proved" high-voltage power lines threaten humans -- are trumpeted as proof of nuclear folly.

As is the case that it's always best to seek out the best neurosurgeon available when one needs brain surgery, when it comes to nuclear science it's hard to imagine a more informed individual than Rangacharyulu.

So when I hear or read from opponents of nuclear science about its dangers, the irresponsibility of the industry and the maliciousness of the scientists, I remember there are those who also believe that brain tumors can be healed with potions, prayers and chants. I would rather put my faith in the science.

But Saskatoon isn't the natural epicentre of the nuclear debate only because it's home to some of the best scientific minds as well as some of the most determined skeptics. It is also home to the largest uranium company in the world. That's because the most productive uranium mining fields on Earth were created in Northern Saskatchewan by geological fortunes of hundreds of millions of years ago.

As such, Saskatoon and this province have skin in the game like few other places in the world do. Yet Saskatchewan always has turned down the opportunity fully exploit its natural fortune. So, while Alberta capitalized on its natural advantage to become a major global player in the energy field, Saskatchewan, which is home to a cleaner and longer-lasting resource, chose to export its advantage in uranium to the economic benefit of others around the world.

This is not to say, however, that building a reactor was ever in the province's best commercial interests. The nuclear industry is the most heavily regulated in the world, which may make it one of the safest but also one of the most costly. By refusing to tap into nuclear power, Saskatchewan -- which takes an odd pride in keeping its utilities cheap -- no doubt was able keep its energy costs down and thereby sustain and encourage energy hungry industries such as potash mining.

All this has come with a social cost. On a per-capita basis, this province is one of the world's greatest producers of carbon emissions.

While the science of nuclear power is clear and the evidence of the deleterious impact of carbon in the atmosphere mounts daily, the economic benefits of a reactor compared with renewable or cleaner alternatives have yet to be sorted out.

Wind, solar, geothermal and biomass energy sources all are enticing alternatives, but there isn't a credible scientific source that suggests these can meet but a relatively small percentage of demand. Uncertainty of supply and lack of storage capacity, which all create the need for back-up power, plus the costs involved, limit the viability of all these alternatives.

Fortunately, all of these sources are abundant in the province.

Likewise, Saskatchewan is a world leader when it comes to exploring the potential of carbon capture and sequestration. Here, too, the costs and the scientific uncertainty around the technology make it risky. However, if the engineering proves successful, the rewards for the province could be great.

The most credible danger identified by opponents of the nuclear industry is that if the government invests heavily in any one of these sectors, it may be dissuaded from investing in the alternatives. Governments are notoriously bad at picking winners, but when it comes to finding responsible alternatives for energy, there is no private source of funding because the risks are too high.

This makes the debate in Saskatchewan critical, once you get beyond the zealotry.

© Copyright (c) The Star Phoenix



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Nuclear reactor seems done deal
By Bob Fink, Special to The Star Phoenix May 29, 2009

Following is the viewpoint of the writer, a resident of Saskatoon.

There are several reasons to believe the decision to build a reactor in Saskatchewan has been made already.

- Claims that unlike burning coal, reactors will not pollute the atmosphere with greenhouse gases are false, as many in government and industry already know.

- Nuclear power is unnecessary anyway, in light of known experience with successful renewable energy in Germany and elsewhere, so pushing for nuclear is based on greed, not need. The government-run "public consultation" amounts only to window-dressing.

- Misinformation by government, media and corporate proponents favouring a reactor sanitizes the actual dangers, history and public costs of nuclear power, not to mention unsolved problems in storing nuclear waste for centuries.

- In any accident like Chernobyl 23 years ago in the Ukraine, huge areas of our planet's surface will become uninhabitable virtually forever, along with thousands of casualties. Another tragedy like Chernobyl can never be justified, even if risks are minimal (which they aren't), unless the risk is nonexistent. But considering nuclear accidents to date, no proponent for a reactor can ever guarantee zero risk.

- Truth about Chernobyl was initially repressed, but today, as more information and every new study shows, the historic disaster was far worse than what's being whitewashed by advocates.

Government and industry already have all these facts available, but pretend the reactor is still plausible.

These details show otherwise:

Since Chernobyl's No. 4 reactor melted down, the area today remains uninhabitable. Over 100,000 had to abandon their family homes, property and belongings located within the "exclusion zone" of 2,826 square kilometers. They have not been allowed to return.

Virtually empty of human life, fruit orchards are unpicked; radioactive fruit is left rotting. Produce grown from radioactive soil delivers radioactivity directly into bloodstream and bone marrow. The fuel rods' explosion ejected radioactivity high into the atmosphere. Surrounding soil is contaminated with cesium, plutonium and strontium.

Did 50 people die, or 50,000? The International Atomic Energy Agency's "experts" say Chernobyl claimed 56 lives to date. But the Ukrainian National Council on Radiation Protection possesses documentation of 34,499 deaths. The World Health Organization in 2003 estimated 50,000 Chernobyl workers died from radiation exposure or committed suicide.

Soviet leaders under Mikhail Gorbachev were silent or lied about it. When the USSR collapsed, victims' medical files and evidence against bureaucrats "disappeared." But 23 years later, documented evidence still exists that show the disaster's real magnitude. The British scientific journal, Nature, concurred.

Genetic mutations in children whose parents were exposed, show effects also being passed from generation to generation, including deformed limbs, missing ears and feet with up to eight toes.

The IAEA said about genetic defects: "No evidence was found whatsoever for genetic anomalies ... attributed to radiation exposure."

About 70 per cent of the fallout landed on and around Belarus, meaning about five million people absorbed high levels of radiation. Ukrainian radiation expert Viktor Poyarkov said 50 per cent of the fuel escaped in 1986. Scientists at the Kurchatov Institute now believe almost all radioactive material was released.

The most dramatic reality: The problem exists well beyond the original site, after radiation dispersed into the world's atmosphere. Nearly 370 farms in Great Britain are still restricted how they use land and raise sheep because of radioactive fallout from Chernobyl, the government has admitted.

Scientists in Britain and the Netherlands revised estimates of how long radioactive contamination will last in Wales, Scotland and north England, to 100 times longer than first thought. The future is far worse around Chernobyl, where 52,000 square kilometres of agricultural land in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia are still contaminated, and agricultural restrictions may continue there for at least another 50 years, likely for centuries.

Essentially, large parts of our planet have been killed. There is no point risking such ecological costs, and possibly far worse deadly consequences, especially when the next accident either could be generations from now or just next year. Germany's example with using renewable energy shows a better path for us.

To spurn that option is a violation of common sense and shows this government prefers a "climate change" that trumps safety, people and the environment, and is good only for making profits.

© Copyright (c) The Star Phoenix



Opposition vocal at nuclear hearings
By Jeremy Warren, The Star Phoenix May 29, 2009

After three days of public meetings on the future of nuclear development in Saskatchewan, patterns are emerging from the individual presentations, says the man who will produce a report on all he's heard.

"People feel they're rushed and need more time (for consultations)," said Dan Perrins, who chairs the meeting that began this week in Saskatoon.

Renewable energy has also dominated the public comments, he added.

"There's a view that there isn't enough renewable energy information as there is on nuclear energy right now," said Perrins.

He spent Tuesday to Thursday listening to 15-minute presentations from organizations that signed up for the one-on-one meetings.

A tour of public meetings in 10 communities begins Monday in Yorkton. That part of the consultation tour stops again in Saskatoon on June 15.

Organized by the Enterprise and Innovation Ministry, the public meetings will gather responses to the Uranium Partnership Development's report, which studied ways to further nuclear development in the province.

The partnership recommended the construction of a nuclear reactor in Saskatchewan.

It's too early for conclusions, but so far the majority of presenters oppose nuclear development, "which, if you saw the list (of presenters), wouldn't surprise you," Perrins said.

"There's been lots of criticism, but on the positive side, people seem to be looking at alternatives. But we're only into the second day."

The 31 presentations were made mostly by environmental, community and church groups, with a few by business and industry.

Groups were asked to submit presentations before the meetings. Those documents can be found at www.saskuranium.ca.


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Bruce Power proceeding with reactor site selection
The Star Phoenix June 5, 2009

Bruce Power's selection of a site for a potential Saskatchewan nuclear reactor is coming.

But a spokesperson for the Ontario-based private nuclear operator said Thursday it is in no rush and has not worked with the Saskatchewan Party government to speed along the consultations around the province's Uranium Development Partnership (UDP).

Steve Cannon said the company does not want to "get ahead" of the consultations.

"We'll be ready to select a site in the coming months. We're not going to put a firm timeline on anything because we want to do it properly," said Cannon, who said the selection will be made before the end of the year.

Bruce Power released a feasibility study last November which makes a case for a reactor somewhere in the Prince Albert economic corridor, which stretches from that city to Lloydminster.

Among the recommendations of the UDP is that the province build 3,000 megawatts of nuclear power to meet future energy demands and to sell to Alberta.

The public meetings that are part of the consultation process, which began last week, have been criticized by the Opposition New Democratic Party and others for lacking information.

Concerns have also been raised that there aren't enough meetings.

© Copyright (c) The Star Phoenix



Reactor panned at Regina meeting
Saskatchewan News Network June 5, 2009

More than 400 people gathered in Regina to weigh in on the province's nuclear options, with many in the crowd firmly opposed to the idea of building a reactor.

The group responded to the findings of the Uranium Development Partnership (UDP), a panel enlisted by the Saskatchewan Party government to recommend how the province can add value to the uranium mined here.

It suggested the province pursue a nuclear reactor to help meet future electricity needs.

During the meeting Thursday, Regina resident Ron Bocking asked those opposed to nuclear power to raise their hand -- which prompted most of the crowd to cheer and put up their arm.

"I'm strongly opposed to nuclear energy for three main reasons," said Bocking, calling it economically unfeasible, dangerous due to the waste that has to be isolated from the environment and unnecessary.

However, some others spoke in support of nuclear power. In response to Bocking's impromptu vote, Regina Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Hopkins was one of a small number of people to call out that he supports a reactor.

"We have some of the dirtiest power generation in the country and clearly nuclear power is the way to address that," Hopkins said.

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Nuclear consultation draws big P.A. crowd
By Charlene Tebbutt, For The StarPhoenixJune 9, 2009Comments (6)

Officials conducting a public meeting on the possibility of building a nuclear reactor in Saskatchewan needed more chairs to accommodate everyone at the Prince Albert meeting Monday.

Close to 400 people attended the meeting at the Prince Albert Exhibition Centre, the first public consultation meeting here on the future of uranium in the province.

The meeting was part of consultations around the province's Uranium Development Partnership (UDP), which recommends 3,000 megawatts of nuclear power to meet future energy demands.

The majority voiced their objection to a proposal from Ontario's Bruce Power to build a nuclear reactor somewhere in the Prince Albert economic corridor, which stretches from that city west to Lloydminster.

Pat Grayston, a Shellbrook resident, said nuclear power doesn't make economic sense.

"What I don't understand is why the Saskatchewan taxpayer is being asked to subsidize an industry that won't even benefit its own citizens," Grayston said.

Leo Kurtenbach, a Cudworth resident, spoke about his great-granddaughter, who was born two weeks ago.

"She might be inclined to say, in the words of that famous TV personality, Dr. Phil, 'Whatever were our parents thinking?' " Kurtenbach said.

Dan Perrins, chair of the public consultations, said the Prince Albert meeting attracted the largest number of residents so far in Saskatchewan.

Meetings have been held in other communities including Saskatoon, Regina, Swift Current and Yorkton.

He said negative perceptions of the nuclear industry are to be expected, although some positive comments are usually also heard.

The majority of concerns are focused on finding alternative ways to produce energy, along with the health and safety of nuclear power.

A study conducted on behalf of the City of Prince Albert found 71 per cent of residents are in favour of investigating nuclear power options.

The UDP public consultations are set to wrap up next week. Perrins is scheduled to release his report based on the public meetings at the end of August.

© Copyright (c) The Star Phoenix



Half-truths on reactor deplorable
By Jean-Pierre Ducasse, Special to The Star Phoenix June 4, 2009

Following is the viewpoint of the writer, a member of the Green Party of Saskatchewan and a biology teacher at Mount Royal Collegiate.

A half-truth is worse than a lie because a half-truth misleads people under the pretense of truthfulness.

Bruce Power has told us many half-truths. It has told us that the funding of the proposed nuclear reactor will come entirely from private enterprise. It has told us that no taxpayers' money will be spent on this project.

One-third of the money for the reactor is coming from TransCanada, one of Canada's largest oil and gas companies. You can be certain that if TransCanada is spending billions of dollars to build a reactor, it will pass its costs on to you and me in terms of higher costs at the pump and higher heating costs of our homes.

The last nuclear reactor built in Canada cost $14.4 billion. TransCanada can bill us whatever it likes and we have to pay it. A tax by any other name is still a tax. Saskatchewan taxpayers will pay for this reactor out of their own pockets.

Bruce Power has told us that nuclear energy is clean, as it does not contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Its main market for the 320 MW of extra electricity is TransCanada. This company has been thinking for some time of building a nuclear reactor to provide the energy necessary to extract the oil from the Saskatchewan and Alberta oilsands.

If Bruce supplies the energy, TransCanada would be able to produce 1.75 trillion barrels of oil. When Canada was still in the Kyoto accord, our carbon dioxide emission goal was 558 megatonnes of carbon dioxide a year. If 1.75 trillion barrels of oil is used, 554,750 megatonnes of carbon dioxide will be produced. This amount of carbon dioxide liberated into the atmosphere would result in the catastrophic destruction of all life on Earth.

Bruce Power says nuclear energy is clean, with one kilogram of uranium producing as much energy as 1,500 tonnes of coal. But it does not tell you that one kg of plutonium waste from one of its reactors is enough to kill every human being on the planet.

A study done by Claudia Spix at the University of Mainz in Germany found that children under five years of age who live close to nuclear reactors have their chance of developing leukemia increased by 50 per cent. In its website, Bruce Power says the choice of the reactor site will depend on its proximity to aquifers, water wells and the location of endangered species.

If its reactor is so clean and does not pollute, then why would Bruce take these factors into account when choosing a site? The company is acknowledging that the nuclear reactor is unsafe and wants to locate it as far away as possible from these areas.

My baby boy, Gabriel, was born this week. He is 7 lbs. 12 oz, 20 inches long and has lots of curly black hair. He is the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen. If we build a nuclear reactor in Saskatchewan, there will be boys like Gabriel who will stop having birthdays, who won't grow old like the other boys. They'll never drive a car or kiss a girl, never fall in love or get married.

Half-truths are dangerous because they are easy to mistake for the whole story.

This is the whole story.

Bruce Power wants to build a reactor that will be paid for by the residents of our province. It wants to cheaply develop the Athabasca tarsands and produce large amounts of oil that will spew catastrophic levels of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It wants to build a reactor that will make some children deathly sick.

This is the truth that Bruce Power isn't telling you.

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Op-ed errors deplorable
The Star Phoenix June 9, 2009

Re: Half-truths on reactor deplorable (SP, June 4). Polarization seems to have rendered an open and honest debate about nuclear power virtually impossible, but let's at least get some facts straight.

I cannot comment on what Bruce Power has or hasn't said in Saskatchewan, but some of the mistakes in Jean-Pierre Ducasse's Op-ed are also deplorable.

The 1.75 trillion barrels of oil he suggests would be produced by TransCanada is almost twice as much as has been pumped out of the ground in the entire world since 1850. Burning 1.75 trillion barrels of oil would generate about 150 billion tonnes of CO2, about 280,000 times higher than the number he quoted, not to mention about 3,500 times the total annual global release of greenhouse gases.

To allay unwarranted fears that nuclear reactors might contaminate drinking water sources, Bruce Power went the "extra mile" by publicly stating it will not build the reactor near aquifers, wells or endangered species. Ducasse uses Bruce Power's sensitivity to environmental concerns as evidence that the reactors are dangerous.

When Ontario announced in 2007 that new nuclear reactors would be built, tens of thousands of people in Bruce County and the Municipality of Clarington signed petitions to have the reactors located in their community. Clarington won.

Like Ducasse, many of these people have young children too, and I am sure they love their children no less. However, they have had years of experience living with nuclear power. They know, for example, that power reactors release about one-tenth as much radioactivity as do the coal-burning plants Saskatchewan currently relies on.

Vincent Tume

Society of Professional Engineers & Associates

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Old Posted Jun 11, 2009, 7:20 PM
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Appeal to emotion at odds with truth
By John Peevers, Special to The Star Phoenix June 11, 2009

Following is the viewpoint of the writer, media officer for Bruce Power.

- - -

Re: Half-truths on reactor deplorable (SP, June 4). Bruce Power has a great deal of respect for free speech and generally we're quite happy to let the people of Saskatchewan debate the merits of nuclear power without inserting ourselves unnecessarily. However, this Op-ed by Jean-Pierre Ducasse was, quite simply, insulting and beyond fair comment.

He accuses Bruce Power of telling half truths and then goes on to declare that if we build a reactor in Saskatchewan, there will be young boys, like his newly born son, who will "stop having birthdays, who won't grow old like the other boys. They'll never drive a car or kiss a girl, never fall in love or get married."

Where is the truth in this statement? In almost 50 years of operation in Canada, there have been zero deaths as a result of nuclear power operations. That's right. Zero. What other industry can claim that?

In fact, in the United States, more people get hurt in real estate offices than in nuclear plants. That's the truth, courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor. Workers at nuclear plants are less likely to die of cancer than are the general public. That's more truth, courtesy of the Columbia University School of Public Health.

Ducasse quotes a German study suggesting higher leukemia rates near German nuclear plants, but neglects to say it flies in the face of dozens of similar studies done in Canada and around the world. The German study also notes higher leukemia rates at proposed sites where the plants haven't even been built yet. So while there may be an anomaly, it's not because of nuclear power.

We encourage a healthy debate on nuclear energy, but this kind of emotional blackmail is an insult to every one of the hard working people who live near, or work at, nuclear facilities in Canada and around the world.

I too have a son. He was born nine years ago last month. He has blond hair and he's smart, funny and utterly healthy. His name is Jack and he and his younger sister are the most precious things in the world to me. The suggestion that I somehow would put them at risk is either grounded in ignorance or cynicism. Either way, it is beyond insulting.

I eagerly look forward to Jack driving a car (kind of), his first kiss and his wedding, although he's not really all that interested in either at this stage of his life. Mr. Ducasse is entitled to his opinions, but he should be ashamed for how he chose to express them.

© Copyright (c) The Star Phoenix



Claims about nuclear power false
By David Rogers, Special to The Star Phoenix June 11, 2009

Following is the viewpoint of the writer, a mechanical engineer from Calgary.

The headline, Half-truths on reactor deplorable (SP, June 4), on Jean Pierre Ducasse's Op-Ed could not have been more ironic.

If any company had released such concentrated bile and false statements, there would be lawsuits involved. He clearly knows little about any of the companies involved or the how nuclear power is produced.

False: TransCanada is an oil and gas company.

Truth: It's a company that transports oil and gas, and also produces electricity, stores natural gas and manufactures carbon black, a product used in paint and tires. TransCanda has been shipping natural gas through Saskatchewan for decades, but does not itself buy and sell this gas.

False: TransCanada would pass on costs from a nuclear power plant to the public through higher gasoline and natural gas prices.

Truth: TransCanada has relatively little impact on natural gas and oil prices, since it does not produce, buy or sell any hydrocarbons whatsoever. Even if it wants to pay for its share of a new Bruce Power reactor by raising pipeline tolls, that would be illegal. Pipeline tolls are highly regulated and controlled. The National Energy Board sets the tolls based on volume, not the commodity price, so the natural gas price has little effect on TransCanada's earnings.

False: TransCanada would use Bruce Power's energy to produce oil.

Truth: The company does not produce any oil or gas. Bruce Power's reactor could perhaps provide steam to oilsands plants, but most likely just electricity, which would go onto the grid and could not be directly sold to any one company.

False: One kilogram of plutonium waste could kill everything on Earth.

Truth: I don't know specifics about plutonium's toxicity (it appears to vary widely, based on form and intake), but even if it were delivered in asthma inhalers, a kilogram of plutonium would have a hard time killing the Earth's population. Ralph Nader, whom Ducasse quotes, never researched this statement but refused to admit it was wrong even after the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and nuclear engineers refuted it in 1977.

Even if plutonium were this toxic, there are plenty of biological agents more deadly -- botulism and tetanus come to mind.

False: Bruce Power knows nuclear power is dangerous and polluting, that's why it's so focused on selecting a safe site.

Truth: Any major industrial site is carefully chosen, and Bruce Power focuses and draws attention to this process to reassure the public, and because the nuclear power industry is the most heavily regulated in the world. These sites and operations are not inherently dangerous or polluting; nuclear power is not a contained explosion, like in a car engine, but a steady, controlled heat-producing reaction.

The safety and environment record of Bruce Power and similar nuclear plants in the western world are to be envied by any other industry.

One of the few truths in Ducasse' entire piece was his description of Claudia Spix's research. However, hers is the first cancer/nuclear power plant study to ever find any relationship, and it focuses on a different age and type of reactor. It mentions a mean rate of increase of 47 per cent, not an absolute, and it only describes a correlation, not a causation. There seems to be a relationship between the two, but it is unexplained.

Ducasse ignores the healthy generations of Canadians that have grown up around Bruce Power's eight reactors in Kincardine, Ont., not to mention the rest of the nuclear power plants elsewhere in Canada.

People should judge Bruce Power's bid on the facts and its merits, not on conspiracy theories. The company has seen significant cost overruns on its current refurbishment project; nuclear power does take a long time to set up; the industry is extremely heavily regulated; TransCanada is creating a large pipeline to ship oil from the Athabasca region.

These are truths, unlike Ducasse's article.

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Old Posted Jun 12, 2009, 3:19 AM
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The cat is out of the bag...now we wait for a Sask. based uranium/nuclear company to purchase AECL and we're golden

Saskatchewan contemplating the production of medical isotopes, Premier Brad Wall says
By Jeremy Warren, The Star Phoenix.com June 11, 2009 7:01 PM

File photo: Reporters interview Brad Wall at the legislature
Photograph by: Roy Antal, Leader-Post file photo

SASKATOON — Saskatchewan helped pioneer nuclear medicine and the province could use its experience as an answer to Canada’s current medical isotope shortage, said Premier Brad Wall.

“We can provide real answers to the world on the medical isotopes issue,” he told reporters before heading off to meetings in the Yukon and U.S.

“I’m waiting to hear from the Saskatchewan people, but I would say I have an interest in it, very much so.”

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the federal government was leaving the medical isotope business after Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. shut down the Chalk River, Ont. reactor that produces the isotopes.

The discovery of a radioactive water leak and subsequent shutdown has led to a world-wide shortage of medical isotopes.

The province is seeking public input on expanding the uranium industry and future involvement in nuclear energy at a month-long series of meetings across Saskatchewan.

“I’m not going to preclude what we hear from the people of this province and from (consultation chair Dan) Perrins and from the process we have with the Uranium Development Partnership,” said Wall.

“It is the view of the government, not to the exclusion of the input we’ll receive, but it the view of the government — we campaigned on the view — that we should add value to the uranium at some level.”

Canada produces about 70 per cent of the world’s medical isotopes, used for diagnosis and treatment in cancer patients.

Saskatoon, with a Slowpoke II research reactor and history of nuclear medicine development is poised to contribute again, said Wall.

Wall heads to Park City, Utah to meet with Western U.S. governors on June 14 and 15.

He’ll talk about collaboration possibilities on renewable and non-renewable energy projects and let participants know the province is nearing the end of public consultation.

The Uranium Development Partnership, a government-appointed board that recommended Saskatchewan build a 3,000 Megawatt nuclear reactor, concluded a stand alone isotope reactor is not viable.

Isotope production could only be economically justified if twinned with a research reactor, said the report.

The UDP recommended partnering with Ottawa to build a research reactor and pursue medical isotope production as part of the reactor’s mandate.


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Old Posted Jun 14, 2009, 11:23 PM
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Anti-nuke tactic has no sway
By Murray Mandryk, Saskatchewan News Network; Regina Leader-Post June 13, 2009

With all due respect to the passionate anti-nuclear crowd that's desperately trying to demonstrate through the Uranium Development Partnership hearing process that there is a groundswell of public opposition to nuclear power in Saskatchewan, you are going about it the wrong way.

Swaying like an elm tree won't sway anyone else. If anything, it hurts your cause.

Think about it for a moment. You are trying to convince a pro-business, right-of-centre government not to build a reactor -- a government that dubbed as a "partnership" its initial fact-finding panel that included Bruce Power executives. That's a clue as to where you stand.

The Saskatchewan Party government should take seriously the findings from these hearings, which Dan Perrins will summarize in his final report. However, there is no guarantee the government will do that.

That means the only ally the anti-nuclear faction now has is the Saskatchewan public, which gets to decide the Saskatchewan Party government's future in 2011. There are better ways to relate to those average voters than the "Elm Dance" held by anti-nukes in front of the Regina UDP forum a week ago to express solidarity with a world that's been harmed by uranium and nuclear development.

The vast majority of mainstream Saskatchewan is choosing to be one with nature at the moment by attending their kids' soccer or T-ball games or by tending to their crops, gardens and flower beds. Frankly, the complaints by nuclear opponents about "a lack of democracy" in this process aren't especially helpful, either. Given that all opinion polling on this matter has demonstrated significant public support for building a reactor, it's not exactly the best strategy to be making the democracy argument quite yet.

Repetitious dissertations from presenters on the history of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island aren't going to move public opinion or the government. Or at least, they sure haven't changed public opinion yet. However disengaged as the general public might seem, people have heard all the arguments about wind and solar before. Most of them remain unconvinced that wind and solar power is the way to go on a calm, 40-below January night in Saskatchewan.

So in the remaining public forums (in Saskatoon on Monday and then La Ronge, Stony Rapids, Wollaston Lake and Fond-du-Lac) those in the anti-nuclear group should focus their energy on demonstrating that they speak for ordinary Saskatchewan people.

To some extent, they have already done this. During very productive sessions in Prince Albert and Lloydminster, passionate but respectful local concerns on issues that ranged from water quality to the impact on local communities demonstrated that nuclear power isn't just an issue for the far left. Other sessions, such as those this week in North Battleford, Estevan and Regina, appeared to be significantly less productive.

The anti-nukes need to understand that they won't win by having a better head count at these forums. They need to restrict their arguments to the most poignant concerns, many of which have already emerged from these hearings.

Strong analysis on the shortcomings of the original UDP report would help and opponents would be well served if they followed the lead set by the analysis done by Jim Harding.

More information on renewable energy is still useful, as is information on the health risks and risk assessment. Opponents are right when they complain that the mandate given to Perrins, who appears patiently to have given all presenters ample opportunity to say their piece, was far too narrow. They need to make it known that issues like alternatives for radioactive isotopes, perhaps by making use of the synchrotron technology, need to be further explored.

But the biggest favour the nuclear opponents could do for their cause is to continue to keep the focus on the needs of SaskPower, the options it has and on the true costs of nuclear power. After all, electricity bills going up to pay for a nuclear plant is something that interests us all.

Now, there's an argument with real sway.

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Old Posted Jun 15, 2009, 6:16 AM
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About this swaying elm tree dance...first thing that came to mind was a Simpsons epsiode where the nuclear power plant workers go on strike...and

Video Link

lol, now do classical gas

Getting off-topic here, but watch the full episide here http://crackle.com/c/Movies_and_TV/L...gfield/2065474 ..."episode has been called "the greatest Simpsons episode";[4] it was named the best episode of the series by Entertainment Weekly in 2003.[5] "

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