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  #41  
Old Posted Dec 2, 2008, 11:07 PM
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Nuclear power costly, no friend of environment
By Paul Hanley
December 2, 2008

Building a nuclear power plant would not result in the reduction of Saskatchewan's overall emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). This may be the most significant finding of Bruce Power's Feasibility Study for a nuclear power plant in the province, which was released last week.

As indicated in a graph included in the study, even after spending up to $10 billion on nuclear power, Saskatchewan would still be producing 16.5 megatons of carbon dioxide in 2035, slightly more than it does today. A standard goal for GHG reductions sufficient to ameliorate climate change is emissions 20 per cent below 1990 levels.

Even if we spend billions on nuclear power, the economy and energy use will continue to grow -- emitting more GHGs -- faster than the alternative nuclear power sources can replace them. This underscores the ineffectiveness of capital-intensive, high-cost climate strategies that involve nuclear power and clean coal.

The real solution to climate change is not nuclear power, clean coal or even renewable energy sources, in and of themselves. It is making a transition to a different kind of economy, an economy focused on the efficient production and use of energy and materials.

This transition would involve, for example, the development of smart energy grids that would make it feasible to make every business, building and vehicle a potential energy source. It would involve the reorganization of cities to reduce the need for people to drive private vehicles; the revitalization of public transit and rail systems; the creation of closed-loop manufacturing, reuse and recycling systems that eliminate waste; and local production, to a large extent, of food and many other products.

This is the only way to actually reduce the production of GHGs. Massive investments in options such as nuclear power and clean coal practically undermine the transition to a green economy. There is only so much wealth in any society. By investing it in costly megaprojects like nuclear plants, which don't really solve the climate problem, the opportunity to invest in deep changes that really do solve the problem are lost.

Other sources of power are also much less costly and produce more jobs than nuclear. At about $5 million per megawatt (before inevitable cost overruns), nuclear is at least twice as capital intensive as wind power and produces fewer jobs. Wind is attracting billions in private capital while nuclear is attracting none. The consensus seems to be that nuclear cannot be built without massive public investment, and public investment in nuclear is incredibly inefficient as a means of controlling climate change: Analysis shows that investments in nuclear buys 10 times less climate protection than competitors like energy conservation and efficiency.

On top of all this is a range of negative environmental factors associated with nuclear power. Even if we were to accept the myth of nuclear as climate protector, nuclear would merely substitute one set of environmental problems for another. Uranium mining and waste, nuclear waste, plant decommissioning, nuclear proliferation and accidents are all serious concerns.

This is why public support for nuclear is so low. Bruce Power reports that polls show a majority of Saskatchewan residents support nuclear power and are second only to Ontario in their backing of the technology. The number of people supporting the option is just 52 per cent, hardly overwhelming. It is a clear indication that adopting a nuclear option will be very controversial and divisive.

As mentioned in the Bruce Power report, there is overwhelming support in Saskatchewan -- in the 95 per cent range -- for renewable power options like wind power.

So why not go with wind instead of nuclear? The main limitation of a much fuller application of this option is the fact that wind is intermittent, meaning it cannot supply a steady, dependable "baseload" power supply.

This limitation may be mainly a limitation of imagination. There are methods of storing wind power using innovative battery systems, compressed air and hydrogen, for example. Wind can be more effectively incorporated into the energy grid by developing smart grids and distributing generation capacity. At the same time, thousands of other power sources can be developed to ensure a reliable supply.

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  #42  
Old Posted Feb 10, 2009, 9:20 PM
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Nuclear energy vital to lessening carbon's impact
The StarPhoenix February 10, 2009

Sweden has been the poster child of the anti-nuke faction for more than two decades.

A northern country with a social conscience, Sweden long ago decided to eschew nuclear power and turn its efforts to renewable sources of energy. Thus it has led the world in renewable power technology: It has captured the wind, tamed the rivers and the seas, increased insulation, stolen energy from the sun and even tapped the Earth for its thermal power.

But last week, the Swedish government conceded the futility of trying to run a modern nation on a dream. It turned back a policy set out in 1980 to decommission all its nuclear power plants, and embarked on a new age of the atom.

This is hardly an event to be cheered. If Sweden could have found the secret of easy, cheap and renewable energy, it could have offered hope to an energy-starved world. But for most of the time of the Swedish experiment, scientists warned that it would be impossible to maintain a modern economy -- particularly in more heavily populated nations -- without some alternative sources of energy.

The campaign against nuclear power mostly served to secure a place for oil and even for coal, because people would demand always to be able to turn on their lights, cool and heat their homes, and run their computers and televisions.

Sweden's recognition of reality must be seen in context, however. Its nearly three-decade long experiment didn't prove the inadequacy of renewable power. It only served to demonstrate the need for a more comprehensive mix of power generation sources -- one that inevitably must include nuclear power if the world is to wean itself of carbon.

And the Sweden example shouldn't be used to remove the suspicion from the nuclear industry. Although relatively easy to collect and contain, the waste from nuclear plants remains highly toxic and situations, such as the recent revelations of a leak in December of radioactive material from AECL's National Research Universal reactor at Chalk River, Ont., and the delayed admission from the company about what had happened, does little to build support for the industry or foster confidence in it.

Atomic Energy of Canada Limited now says fewer than 47 litres of heavy water leaked into the Ottawa River and the amount is too small to be harmful, but it doesn't help AECL's cause that it took media reports before the incident became public.

But scientists have known for years that the hysteria over the use of nuclear technology is greatly overblown. In more than six decades of peaceful use of the atom to generate carbon-free electricity, there really has been only one serious incident, and the damage from Chernobyl was exacerbated by old and no-longer-used technology, combined with serious human error.

The much-criticized Three Mile Island incident resulted in no loss of life. A small amount of contaminant was released and the safety system proved itself effective. Yet so many in the anti-nuke movement not only use these incidents to try to stampede the public against the industry, but they also overlook the death rate from other energy sources.

Last month, two scientific reports suggested that the devastating earthquake in Sichuan Province in China, which left 80,000 people dead or missing, was triggered by the weight of 320 million tons of water in the four-year-old Zipingpu Reservoir. Built next to a well-known fault line, the purpose of the reservoir was to generate electricity.

No one would suggest that, given this link, hydroelectric projects shouldn't be considered because they are costly to construct, damaging to the natural environment and often politically and socially disruptive.

Similarly, even though the coal-fired plants claim thousands of deaths each year, from the mining of the coal to the effect from its pollution, this energy source continues to be considered viable even in Germany, the only European country still proposing to end its dependence on nuclear power.

It is in this light one must assess the proposal by Bruce Power to consider a nuclear power plant in Saskatchewan. To the company's credit, its proposal suggests nuclear power would be one part only of a mixed profile that would include renewable energy such as wind, solar, hydro and biomass.

If a crisis is a terrible thing to waste, as members of President Barack Obama's cabinet have suggested, Saskatchewan and Canada must take advantage of this global economic crisis to become a major world player.

As many have advocated for years, energy is the arena in which to make this stand. Saskatchewan already has a diverse portfolio and if North America will invest in smart electrical grids and a modern non-carbon economy, this province could power the next economic boom.

In an age of electric cars, computers and robotics, it won't be the place with the cheapest labour that will control production -- it will be the one with the cleanest and cheapest energy.

It is that message, and the Swedish lesson, one hopes Prime Minister Stephen Harper will remind Mr. Obama about on Feb. 19.

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  #43  
Old Posted Mar 7, 2009, 12:46 AM
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AECL sees nuclear potential
Sask. government has expressed interest in forming partnership
By Joanne Paulson, The Star Phoenix March 5, 2009 Comments (1)

Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) sees bright possibilities for nuclear research and development in Saskatchewan, not just the building of a power plant, says its director of marketing and business development.

Ron Oberth was in Saskatoon Wednesday to meet with business leaders and university officials to discuss the potential for partnerships with AECL.

"Right now, it's 'small p' partnerships. We haven't had any formal discussions with anybody," Oberth said in an interview.

AECL, a Crown corporation, is one of three nuclear plant manufacturers being considered by Bruce Power should it decide to build a power plant in Saskatchewan.

However, there are other possibilities, said Oberth. At present, all of the nuclear research and development in Canada is done at Chalk River, Ont.

"We've also said to Saskatchewan, in addition to a power reactor, there are many other opportunities that we are looking at -- for example isotope production, or perhaps a research reactor, or the production of hydrogen," said Oberth.

Hydrogen is used in oilsands upgrading and has potential in transportation, said Oberth. When hydrogen is produced with nuclear technology, no greenhouse gases are created, he added.

Premier Brad Wall likes the concept of smaller reactors, noted Oberth, and it's possible to set up a team to investigate the design of such reactors suitable for hydrogen creation.

These kinds of potential uses are "a nice fit" for Saskatchewan, he said.

"What we would like to do is collaborate with University of Saskatchewan officials and help set up a nuclear centre of excellence that would complement and augment some of the work that's going on at Chalk River," said Oberth.

AECL has chosen Saskatchewan as a potential location for such research because of the interest of the government, the university's facilities including the Canadian Light Source synchrotron for nuclear materials research and the uranium mined in the province's North.

Much has been said recently about the province of Saskatchewan's interest in forming partnerships with AECL. The Saskatchewan Party government has expressed interest in such partnerships, but has said it will not take a financial position in AECL.

New research potential is the unique thing AECL could bring to Saskatchewan, which the other two nuclear power plant developers would not, said Oberth.

"You'd be getting a reactor designed either in Pittsburgh mainly or in France. All of the engineering would be done off-shore, and you'd have a power plant," said Oberth.

Last Friday, AECL submitted a bid for the next two reactors to be built in Ontario. AECL is up against Westinghouse, an American firm, and Areva, the French government-owned company. They are the same two companies being considered, along with AECL, by Bruce Power.

"It was a major day in the company's history," said Oberth.

"That's a must-win for us because that's our home field. We as a company must win the order for the next two reactors in Ontario to be able to succeed internationally and (in) the rest of Canada."

The agency running the tender process, Infrastructure Ontario, will make a decision June 20.

The reactor model, an Advanced Candu Reactor 1000, is the same model AECL would put forward to Bruce Power. It produces 1,085 megawatts of power.

AECL has experienced a few setbacks in recent years. The National Research Universal (NRU) reactor, which manufactures medical radioisotopes, was shut down in 2007 for upgrading, after the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission said the reactor was out of compliance. The shutdown created a temporary shortage of isotopes.

Last year, AECL also abandoned development of its Maple reactors, which were intended to replace the NRU reactor. The decision was made based on a series of reviews after Maple failed several tests.

jpaulson@sp.canwest.com

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  #44  
Old Posted Mar 7, 2009, 2:15 AM
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I'm still not certain what to think of nuclear energy. I don't really support it as a "green" energy b/c it isn't, rather then greenhouse gases we have the mining effects of extracting uranium as well as the the effects of handling heavy water, and personally I enjoy the Canadian shield mostly untouched, I don't think I would really like it filled with heavy water deposits.

However, I do like the idea of developing facilities for medical and research use. I think this is where SK economy is going, and well this is the economic type of the future. I understand that there will still be waste from these production plants but I don't think it will be on such a large scale as well it wont be a short term solution to a long term problem. If SK really wants to solve energy problems we should tap into our wind and solar supplies. It may be costly now to retrofit everything to be green but in the long run the benefits will dramatically outweigh the costs.
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  #45  
Old Posted Mar 7, 2009, 5:52 AM
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Heavy water in my understanding is left until the short lived radionuclides decay and then either reused (it is very expensive) or just diluted and returned to the water cycle. Heavy water also does not need constant replenishment, it is a moderator, not a fuel.

Unless some crazy new power source is developed, the only way for Saskatchewan to shut down its coal plants is to go nuclear. Wind and solar just isn't going to replace baseload plants.

Sure nuclear waste is a big boogie man. The fact is Saskatchewan's coal plants throw out more radiation into the environment than a nuclear plant does. That isn't even counting all the other negative effects. All of the nuclear fuel cycle is contained and manageable.

How is nuclear not a long term solution? We are not going to run out of fuel. We can reprocess fuel and use it over and over again (that is what France does). We can rebuild plants, and keep them running ship shape.

Saskatchewan can retrofit the entire province to be green with power to spare in one step by building two reactors.


Do you say to yourself: I am not going to buy a car, in 15 years we may not have gasoline anymore. No, of course you don't. Because of the difficulty of planning passed 40 years, nothing will ever fulfill your 'long term solution'. Windmills themselves have to be replaced every 30 years, solar cells in even less time.
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  #46  
Old Posted Mar 7, 2009, 7:11 AM
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I was unaware about heavy water being used like that, it was my understanding it was just concealed and burried. I guess my biggest issue is with the mining process and refining and construction of the plant and overall economics of it, it just doesnt seem as feaseable, and in the end we will still have to look for alternatives, even if that is 70 years down the road. That's our problem we only think in the now, if we started to think MUCH further ahead, I feel alot of ailments that plague us could be overcome. But I do support the development of reactors for research and development.
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  #47  
Old Posted Mar 7, 2009, 1:22 PM
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I was unaware about heavy water being used like that, it was my understanding it was just concealed and burried. I guess my biggest issue is with the mining process and refining and construction of the plant and overall economics of it, it just doesnt seem as feaseable, and in the end we will still have to look for alternatives, even if that is 70 years down the road. That's our problem we only think in the now, if we started to think MUCH further ahead, I feel alot of ailments that plague us could be overcome. But I do support the development of reactors for research and development.
Guess what. Coal is also mined, and a coal plant requires far more coal than a nuclear plant requires uranium. All the waste from Bruce Power is currently stored on site. That is from over 30 years of operation. In every respect, nuclear power is less disruptive than coal power. The only advantage coal power has over nuclear power is that it is easily brought online to service peak demand, something nuclear can't address.
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Old Posted Mar 7, 2009, 3:34 PM
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I'm not defending coal at all, but I think there are better alternatives then nuclear power to replace coal.
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  #49  
Old Posted Mar 7, 2009, 11:28 PM
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Kyle, you seem familiar with the uranium supply/reprocessing relationship. A benefit I have heard (can't recall the source) with regards to reprocessing spent nuclear fuel is that we have enough uranium to satisfy world energy demand for 1000 years (some ridiculously long period of time).

Is the above statement true? Or is there more to it (e.g. we don't have the technology, yet).

Quote:
Originally Posted by kyle_olsen View Post

[...]

How is nuclear not a long term solution? We are not going to run out of fuel. We can reprocess fuel and use it over and over again (that is what France does). We can rebuild plants, and keep them running ship shape.

Saskatchewan can retrofit the entire province to be green with power to spare in one step by building two reactors.


[...]
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  #50  
Old Posted Mar 9, 2009, 5:09 PM
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Nuclear proposal concerns northwest residents
By Jeanette Stewart, The Star Phoenix March 9, 2009 10:02 AM Be the first to post a comment

A grassroots group called Save Our Saskatchewan has formed in northwest Saskatchewan with a goal to bring information about a potential nuclear power plant to the community.

"We're working on trying to get the information out," said Meggan Hougham, secretary of the recently formed group, which she describes as citizens "very concerned" about nuclear power.

A meeting and question and answer period with Jim Harding, a former professor at the University of Regina, will be held at 7:30 p.m. today at the community hall in Paradise Hill, located northeast of Lloydminster.

Bruce Power, the company proposing to build a nuclear reactor in Saskatchewan, has spoken with landowners near the small community about locating the reactor in the area.

The non-partisan Save our Sask-atchewan (SOS) group wants to get more information on nuclear power out to the public before decisions are made.

A spokesperson from Bruce Power said the company talked to land owners in a "wide path," and the area includes all of the land outlined in a feasibility study released in late 2008.

The land within range for a nuclear plant consists of an area stretching from Lloydminster east through the Battlefords region and toward Prince Albert.

A water source is needed, and the North and South Saskatchewan rivers were identified as suitable. Adequate infrastructure and population are key to the placement of the plant, as well as proximity to electricity markets.

Bruce Power has spoken with landowners partly to find out "what their thoughts are about nuclear energy" and to find out if they would be interested in optioning land, said Steve Cannon, manager of investor and media relations with Bruce Power.

Cannon said Bruce Power has not narrowed its selection, but will be running a series of public meetings to determine the reaction of the communities.

The first in a three-day series of meetings will be held at the Prince Albert Travelodge on March 18. The second will be at the Best Western Wayside Inn in Lloydminster on March 19 and the third at the Don Ross Centre in North Battleford on March 20.

The project is in its "very early stages," said Cannon, adding an environmental assessment has not been conducted yet. "We think it's too early at this point for people to have made the decision either way."

If the community is not supportive, the reactor will not be built in the area. "We're confident that won't be the case," Cannon said.

SOS invited Bruce Power and Sask-atchewan Party MLA Tim McMillan to its community forum. Invitations also went out to local First Nations and the Fort Pitt Hutterite Colony.

jstewart@sp.canwest.com

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  #51  
Old Posted Mar 10, 2009, 10:18 PM
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Nuclear Opponents Meet
Saskatoonhomepage.ca
Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Those opposed to a nuclear power plant being built in Northern Saskatchewan had their voices heard Monday night.

More than 400 people crammed into the Kinsmen Hall in Paradise Hill to learn more about nuclear generation proposals for the area and rally against the construction of a nuclear plant by Bruce Power.

Following a number of presentations the 2-and-a-half hour meeting concluded with the signing of several petitions.

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  #52  
Old Posted Mar 10, 2009, 11:01 PM
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Kyle, you seem familiar with the uranium supply/reprocessing relationship. A benefit I have heard (can't recall the source) with regards to reprocessing spent nuclear fuel is that we have enough uranium to satisfy world energy demand for 1000 years (some ridiculously long period of time).

Is the above statement true? Or is there more to it (e.g. we don't have the technology, yet).
Depends if you count reprocessing as part of that original fuel amount (reprocessing also reduces the amount of waste produced).

There is more than enough uranium to meet the worlds needs for the foreseeable future. The strategic pile of raw metal the USA keeps (Uranium, Plutonium, thorium, lithium) alone has something like 10,000 years of current use, without reprocessing. That isn't even counting all the stuff still in the ground, in every other nuclear nation's stockpile, in all the nuclear weapons, all the stuff in cooling pools and dry storage that could be reprocessed.

Sure, it seems expensive, but then why are Ontario's electricity rates lower than Alberta's? In the long run it is cost competitive.

I think if you calculated all energy use and said it had to be done by nuclear, the fuel would last a far shorter amount of time. But then again, we aren't going to have nuclear airplanes, and we aren't going to rip down hydro dams. The world has huge amounts of natural gas that is great for home heating, and as industrial feedstock.

All the arguments against nuclear power (except the moral argument against endowing future generations with nuclear waste) is a gut level fear argument. I like to challenge people with this question if they oppose nuclear power:
Have you ever been to Paris, Toronto or New York? Did you feel unsafe in any of them due to nuclear plants within 20 miles?
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  #53  
Old Posted Mar 17, 2009, 3:24 AM
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^ Thanks for the info kyle.
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71 per cent in PA are okay with nuclear plant
By Kristina Jarvis, Prince Albert Daily HeraldMarch 16, 2009 10:01 PM Be the first to post a comment

PRINCE ALBERT -- A survey shows that a majority of Prince Albert and area residents support the city’s efforts to try and attract a proposed nuclear plant to the area, said city officials.

“It gives us a high level of confidence,” said Prince Albert Mayor Jim Scarrow. “We as a community are situated to capitalize on an opportunity today.”

Demar Consulting Associates conducted the survey on behalf of the city to determine the level of support for a green industrial space and for the potential nuclear plant proposed by Bruce Power.

Prince Albert is currently one of three locations being considered for the plant, as well as Lloydminster and North Battleford. The survey also sought to find support for a green industrial zone, with the hope of attracting environmentally sound businesses to the area, such as biofuel and ethanol plants.

Surveyors conducted the poll over the phone in February, speaking with 382 residents who completed the survey. Demar said there was a 95 per cent confidence level in the survey and polled residents came from a 30 kilometre radius around Prince Albert.

One of the issues the survey showed was disagreement or uncertainty among respondents about the potential environmental benefits of nuclear energy, with 37.3 per cent saying nuclear energy is not green energy, 38.4 per cent saying yes it is, and 24.3 per cent undecided about nuclear energy’s green potential.

“There is a great deal of confusion over the green nature of nuclear power,” said Robert Cotterill, city manager.

Allan Hopkins, president of the Prince Albert and District Chamber of Commerce, said the results give the chamber the encouragement it needs to help educate others about the potential of green enterprises and about Bruce Power’s nuclear plans.

“It’s a positive thing that people are interested in green energy,” he said, pointing out that the chamber is hosting an open house with representatives from Bruce Power on Wednesday afternoon at the Travelodge to answer questions about the proposed plan.

With the results of the survey now in its hands, Scarrow said the city has the information it needs to progress and make Prince Albert the “green capital” of Saskatchewan.

“Prince Albert needs increased employment with good salaries to raise families on,” he said. “We are a strong community, but we need to be stronger.”

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Old Posted Mar 17, 2009, 8:13 PM
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Nuclear energy has greenhouse-gas downside: speaker
By Bruce Johnstone, Saskatchewan News Network; Regina Leader-Post March 17, 2009

Nuclear power may be a future energy option for Saskatchewan, but it's no panacea for the province's environmental emissions problems, said the keynote speaker at the EnerCan West conference Monday in Regina.

Thomas Homer-Dixon, a professor at the University of Waterloo and author of several books, including The Upside of Down, spoke at the plenary session of the inaugural two-day conference and trade show.

"Having one (nuclear) plant here might make sense as part of a larger energy portfolio," Homer-Dixon said following his keynote speech to about 125 delegates at the conference.

"I'm not adamantly opposed to (nuclear), but I am pretty critical of unbridled optimism that is not tempered by reality at all."

In fact, Homer-Dixon believes carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology may hold more promise for fossil fuel-rich provinces such as Alberta and Saskatchewan, which are the biggest per-capita emitters of greenhouse gases (GHG) in Canada.

Homer-Dixon said it's "extremely misleading" to call nuclear power a non-GHG-emitting energy source, as its proponents claim. "It's only zero-GHG when you look at it in a very (narrow) way," he said an interview.

"(Proponents) are only looking at the nuclear power system while it's actually generating power. They're not taking into consideration all the energy that's required to mine and mill (uranium ore) and fabricate fuel and all the energy required to decommission the (nuclear) plants and store the waste.

"When you add the entire energy requirement, especially if you're dealing with a low-grade ore, the carbon output may actually be very large and, with low-grade ore, in an energy deficit.

"In other words, you're going to be using more energy to mine, mill and fabricate the ore than you'll actually be getting out of fuel you're producing."

However, Homer-Dixon noted uranium produced in Saskatchewan is the richest in the world.

"So there's good energy return on Saskatchewan uranium. It's the best ore in the world. If you're using Saskatchewan (uranium) ore, then you're probably going to be in a positive position."

That's the view of Jamie McIntyre, vice-president of environmental leadership for Saskatoon-based Cameco Corp., who gave a presentation entitled Uranium: The world's energy mineral.

McIntyre said Saskatchewan has "phenomenal reserves" of uranium, totalling 653 million pounds, which is equivalent to 20.3 billion barrels of oil or 6.6 billion tonnes of coal. In fact, Cameco's McArthur River mine in northern Saskatchewan has more energy potential than all of Canada's conventional oil reserves.

Saskatchewan's McArthur River and Cigar Lake project (which is currently flooded) are the two richest uranium ore bodies in the world, with average grades of 21 per cent. Typically, low-grade uranium resources average 0.1 per cent, while so-called high-grade resources are two per cent uranium.

"We have the richest uranium mine in the world and the richest undeveloped uranium mine in the world," McIntyre said.

Following his presentation, McIntyre said Saskatchewan's rich uranium resource "backstops" the province's plans to develop value-added uranium processing facilities, such as a nuclear power plant.

"It's probably the critical element," McIntyre said. "We have a natural advantage in the value of the resource -- the size of it, the longevity of it."

McIntyre said Saskatchewan ships virtually all of its uranium out of the province for further processing.

"Does it make any social or economic sense for us to reverse the flow and refine and process the (uranium) here? Those are very good questions."

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Old Posted Mar 20, 2009, 5:47 AM
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Nuclear debate worth close look
By Mervyn Norton, Special to The StarPhoenixMarch 19, 2009

Following is the viewpoint of the writer, formerly a fellow in the faculty of environmental studies at York University and acting director of environmental partnerships for the Saskatchewan Environment Ministry.

Saskatchewan residents are now being asked to revisit the debates over uranium refining and nuclear power generation which were passionately argued 30 years ago during the Cluff Lake and Key Lake mining inquiries and the Warman refinery review.

Since that time, additional uranium mines have come on stream, but the province has yet to see the development of any value-added industries to further refine the uranium as fuel or utilize it for power generation within Saskatchewan.

Before we get to the end of March, the provincial government expects to receive a "final report" from its 12-person Uranium Development Partnership (UDP), appointed last October to provide advice on the "further development of Saskatchewan's vast uranium resources." The group includes the presidents of Cameco Corporation (uranium producer), Bruce Power Inc. and AREVA Canada (nuclear power developers) and the energy division of TransCanada Corporation (power and natural gas).

When Bruce Power released its own feasibility study last November on "the possible role nuclear power could play in Saskatchewan," the government promised to provide a response within six months, after also reviewing the UDP's report.

Bruce Power is not awaiting the UDP's report or the government's response and is instead conducting mid-March presentations in the three regions identified as likely locations for a 1,000 megawatt nuclear power plant: in Prince Albert, North Battleford, and Lloydminster. Its "Saskatchewan 2020" plan acknowledges that the process of site selection, environmental impact studies and plant construction would take more than a decade.

Also on offer mid-month is a two-day conference in Regina, organized by the Saskatchewan Environmental Industry and Managers Association (SEIMA), along with its Manitoba counterpart. Nuclear energy is to be the key theme for "EnerCan West: Energy for a Sustainable Future," but SEIMA has otherwise "not taken a position one way or the other on the development of nuclear energy as a sustainable energy option."

A group of mainline churches is also willing to take on at least a monitoring role. The Anglican, Roman Catholic and Evangelical Lutheran bishops recently released a joint statement recognizing the potential "positives and negatives" attached to nuclear energy production. Calling for "a full and open consultation with the people of this province," the bishops said that the consultation process should be an opportunity for "critical reflection" and would ultimately come down to the question of "What are we prepared to accept?"

It appears there are several groups not prepared to accept the information provided by the nuclear industry, whether about comparative energy costs or about various health and environmental risks related to mining, refining, power generation, nuclear wastes, or even military uses.

A "Clean Green Saskatchewan" coalition, composed of several "nuclear-free" groups, and the recently formed "Save Our Saskatchewan" initiative in the northwest part of the province have already held community forums to voice concerns about nuclear power development. A key presenter at these forums has been Jim Harding, who has persistently challenged nuclear industry claims for more than three decades, as in his recent book titled Canada's Deadly Secret (and his March 6 SP viewpoint item, Public cost of nuclear power high).

One enduring misunderstanding about the failed attempt to develop a uranium refinery near Warman 30 years ago is the belief the project was turned down because of public opposition.

In fact, the environmental assessment review panel based its rejection on the failure of the proponent (then Eldorado Nuclear) to submit an adequate social impact statement, including "interpretation of the concept of stewardship and the extent and depth to which this concept occurs locally, the degree to which it may serve to bind the community, and the impact of the refinery particularly with respect to radioactive waste disposal."

The review panel criticized Eldorado in 1980 for limiting its identified social impacts to "minor costs," such as traffic delays and truck noise. But Eldorado officials never did return with a more comprehensive impact statement, and claimed "the judgment would have to be subjective" on several of the broader issues.

The challenges of evaluating credibility -- and ultimately achieving a consensus on "subjective" issues -- can generate skepticism about project proposals. The accepted role of opposition leaders, in the community or in political parties, is to raise questions about factual claims or about the adequacy of the consultation process.

In 1981, before he became premier, Grant Devine suggested that one of the formal project consultations about uranium mine development was "an example of where the government decides to do something and then has an inquiry to see whether it is all right."

Even for those not directly engaged in the renewed debate, the process will certainly be worth watching, well beyond this March revival month.

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Old Posted Mar 26, 2009, 8:00 PM
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Clean Green Saskatchewan Opposes Nuclear Plant
Thursday, 26 March 2009



The Coalition for a Clean, Green Saskatchewan is ramping up its opposition to nuclear plants in the province.

Today (thurs) the grass roots group presented a multi-pronged approach to its anti-nuclear stance detailing the detriment to health, economics, and environment but also provided suggestions for incorporating practical green alternatives.

Michael Poellet is with the InterChurch Uranium Committee Educational Cooperative and says the current process which the government is following - the uranium development partnership - is a flawed and perverted process, "An assesment for energy in Saskatchewan doesn't mean gathering together the nuclear corporations who will benefit from nuclear energy and ask when and how can we go nuclear."

Poellet says the Clean Green Saskatchewan Coalition plans for the future include trying to inform the public about alternatives for energy as well as the risks involved in the nuclear industry and specifically in the case of Saskatchewan - a nuclear plant. He says they want to get ciitizens involved - participating and talking about the issue - so the public can understand the risks, benefits and alternatives. (vmf Mar 26/09)

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Old Posted Apr 1, 2009, 3:54 AM
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Gov't to make nuclear development report public
By Murray Mandryk, Saskatchewan News Network; Regina Leader-PostMarch 31, 2009

The Saskatchewan Party government will receive a report today from the Uranium Development Partnership, which Enterprise Minister Lyle Stewart says will be made public.

Then, the public will have its say on building a nuclear power plant and other issues around nuclear development during a series of six to 12 meetings, which will wrap up by summer, Stewart said.

The NDP asked during question period Monday when the public will get see the work of the $3-million panel process and whether the public will get to see the report in its entirety. Stewart said he would receive the report today and committed to releasing it as early as the end of the week.

That will be followed by "a comprehensive round of public consultations," he said.

Stewart told reporters outside the chamber he hasn't had a preview of the report, but was "very interested to see what they have recommended."

However, noting the panel is called "uranium development" and has no representatives from other energy sources, New Democrat critic Darcy Ferber said "the deck was stacked" with nuclear proponents who will likely recommend building a reactor.

"It concerns me greatly that storage is on the table," he added.

Stewart said panel members from First Nations, municipalities and universities would be unlikely to simply "rubber stamp" government policy.

Stewart added the panel was given the latitude to explore all aspects of the nuclear cycle from mining to enrichment to a reactor to waste disposal, which the panel asked to include in its mandate. However, he said his government has already ruled out a nuclear disposal site in Saskatchewan because opinion polls say the people don't want it.

"We believe the public in this province is not ready for storage and may never be," he said.

Ferber noted this is in contradiction to what Brad Wall -- then running for the Sask. Party leadership -- told the North Saskatoon Business Association in December 2005 when he asked: "Why are we quite comfortable mining uranium while avoiding any responsibility in the post-fuel debate?"

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Censored uranium document called 'overzealous' reaction
By Angela Hall, Leader-Post April 1, 2009 9:01 PM Be the first to post a comment

REGINA -- The Saskatchewan Party government is being open as it considers nuclear options for the province, although someone may have been “overzealous” in blacking out information requested by a member of the public, says Enterprise and Innovation Minister Lyle Stewart.

With the government-appointed Uranium Development Partnership (UDP) poised to release a report at the end of the week on how Saskatchewan could further develop the uranium mined here, Stewart again faced criticism Wednesday from the NDP over the transparency of the process.

For the second day in a row, the Opposition produced information related to the uranium partnership that was received by a private citizen through an access to information request and questioned why it had been censored. One document was a request for proposals that the government issued as it was seeking a consultant to work with the UDP, with a number of lines — including a section on the project’s “deliverables” — blacked out.

“This is pretty fundamental information. This is not cabinet documentation. There’s no conflict with the private interests here. This document is simply a request for proposals,” said NDP Leader Lorne Calvert, who argued the public should be able to view the details.

Stewart told reporters he didn’t understand why certain information had been withheld either, and suggested it was the work of an “overzealous information officer” in government who fielded the access to information request.

“That’s the concern — the message that it sends to the public,” said Stewart.

“There are very specific reasons to black things out and I’m not interested in blacking anything out that doesn’t fall within those criteria and it absolutely sends the wrong message. We’ve been open as we can be about this whole process from start until now, and we will continue to be,” he said, adding he would ensure the documents are quickly reviewed.

However, Calvert said he still has questions about the objectivity of the 12-person UDP, noting three members are also board members of Bruce Power, the private company examining the possibility of building a reactor here.

Calvert insisted it’s not an “insult” to say there is a bias, but that it’s just the reality.

“If I’m selling vacuums, I have a bias towards vacuums,” he said.

But Stewart said it’s wrong to label the UDP as pro-nuclear. While the group includes the president of Bruce Power, Duncan Hawthorne, and businessmen from TransCanada and Cameco who are listed as board members of Bruce Power, it also includes First Nations, labour, municipal and university representatives, Stewart said.

“I think we balanced it pretty well. We wanted competent people there that would objectively look at the issue and offer us advice on what we should or should not proceed with.”

Stewart said total government funding to the UDP is less than $2.5 million. The bulk of the money will go to the consulting firm, McKinsey, he said.

The minister has said the panel was given the latitude to explore all aspects of the nuclear cycle, from mining to enrichment to a reactor to waste disposal, although he noted his government has already ruled out a nuclear disposal site in Saskatchewan because opinion polls say the people don't want it.

ahall@leaderpost.canwest.com

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Nuclear power condemned
Two candidates for NDP leadership want motion defeated
By Luke Simcoe, The Star Phoenix April 1, 2009 Comments (4)


NDP leadership candidate Yens Pedersen speaks Tuesday at the Saskatoon Farmers' Market
Photograph by: SP Photo by Greg Pender, The Star Phoenix


Two provincial NDP leadership candidates are calling on their compatriots in the legislature to oppose a motion by the Saskatchewan Party supporting the development of nuclear power in the province.

Ryan Meili and Yens Pedersen released statements Tuesday condemning the possibility of a nuclear reactor on Saskatchewan soil.

The motion, proposed by Meadow Lake MLA Jeremy Harrison, will be debated in the legislature on Thursday.

Pedersen urged his party's 20 MLAs to vote against the motion, saying to do otherwise could alienate NDP voters.

"This is not some innocuous statement about considering options," he said. "It is a slanted and one-sided motion and supporting it could cause thousands of Saskatchewan people to consider supporting the Green party."

Both candidates expressed similar concerns about nuclear power, including the hazards of nuclear waste, the threat to the province's water supply and cost overruns associated with building and decommissioning reactors that increase the price of electricity for taxpayers.

They also accused the Sask. Party of trying to make nuclear power a foregone conclusion in Saskatchewan.

"The Wall government's uranium resolution falsely frames the debate on nuclear energy and uranium development," Meili said. "Nuclear power is being sold to us as a means to provide cheap energy, as a means of addressing immediate energy needs, even as a means of protecting our environment.

"But none of these sales pitches are based on the facts."

Although they're running against one another in the leadership race, Meili and Pedersen presented a united front in favour of alternative energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal power.

"Whether it's Bruce Power or SaskPower, no one will build a nuclear reactor in Saskatchewan for less than 20 cents per kilowatt hour -- double the current price of electricity," Meili said. "When compared to wind power at 11 cents per kilowatt hour and electricity conservation at less than six cents per kilowatt hour, nuclear power's economics make no sense."

"You have to look at the track record of the industry, you have to look at the economic costs, the environmental and societal risks, and you have to weigh other options," said Pedersen. "When you do that, you see that renewable energy provides better economic development, more stable and long-lasting employment and cleaner, safer, simpler energy."

Nuclear power has been a divisive issue during the NDP's leadership race. Many candidates, including Meili and Pedersen, have voiced their opposition to nuclear development, while the acknowledged front-runner, Dwain Lingenfelter, previously supported a nuclear plant in northern Saskatchewan.

lsimcoe@sp.canwest.com

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Gov't will consult with public on nuclear plans: Stewart
By Angela Hall, Saskatchewan News Network; Regina Leader-Post April 1, 2009

Public input will be a key factor in whether Saskatchewan embraces a nuclear power plant or other involvement in the nuclear cycle, Enterprise and Innovation Minister Lyle Stewart said Tuesday.

But the NDP Opposition charged the Saskatchewan Party government has already made up its mind, making the promised consultation process a "sham."

A report compiled by the government-appointed Uranium Development Partnership (UDP) is expected to be made public by the end of the week, along with details about a series of meetings that will wrap up before summer.

Even though the Saskatchewan Party campaigned on a promise to explore ways to add value to the uranium mined in the province, Stewart said the government won't do anything that "people are dead set against."

"I can honestly tell the people of Saskatchewan that we are committed to only developing the nuclear cycle in a fashion that meets with the approval of the majority of Saskatchewan people," said Stewart, adding that public response will be compiled in a report to government.

But NDP Leader Lorne Calvert questioned the government's intentions, noting a recent government action plan states Enterprise Saskatchewan will this year "advance recommendations of the Uranium Development Partnership report after public consultation to increase value-added processing of Saskatchewan's uranium resources."

Calvert said if the government has already decided to proceed, the public consultation is just an exercise in public relations. "It sounds to me as (if) they might as well take out a news release before it even starts and say, 'This public consultation process is a sham.' We've already decided, according to their plan. We're going ahead full speed," Calvert said.

But Stewart denied public input will be ignored.

"That's clearly the next step in this process and the public consultations will have a strong bearing on anything this government does in relation to the recommendations of the UDP," he said.

The Opposition also filed a freedom of information request to obtain a copy of the letter the government sent to the 12 members of the uranium partnership last fall when it was formed. Part of the letter was blacked out, although the government later revealed the censored portion was an innocuous statement explaining the report would go to cabinet and form the basis for public consultation.

"Paranoia reigns supreme in this government," said Calvert, arguing the unnecessarily blacked-out portion further adds to a lack of openness on the nuclear file.

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Old Posted Apr 11, 2009, 5:38 PM
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Perrins to guide nuclear talks
Former top official in Calvert gov't to gather public input
By Angela Hall, Saskatchewan News Network; Regina Leader-Post April 11, 2009 10:22 AM Be the first to post a comment

The province's former top civil servant will oversee the public consultations on Saskatchewan's nuclear options.

The Saskatchewan Party government on Thursday named Dan Perrins -- a career public servant who served from 2001 to 2007 as deputy minister to former NDP premier Lorne Calvert -- to supervise the process during the next two months and compile the feedback into a report.

"We are delighted that an individual with his experience, character and integrity has agreed to chair this important initiative," said Enterprise and Innovation Minister Lyle Stewart.

The public is being asked to provide input on the findings of the government-appointed Uranium Development Partnership, which last week made 20 recommendations about uranium, ranging from ways to expand mining to storage of waste (the only idea the government has already rejected). The 12-person panel also recommended the province consider nuclear power generation.

Perrins said public conversation on the issue is important.

"There will be passion and debate, but I think people do want to have input," he said.

While Stewart has said the consultation will wrap up by June 15, with the report due at the end of August, Perrins said more time may be needed to receive submissions.

Perrins said he has a "deep respect" for Calvert -- who has been outspoken in his criticism of the government's planned consultation process -- but noted he's not charged with engaging in the political aspect of the issue.

"I've been asked, as the minister said, to actually listen to the public and bring a report back that reflects the public's views," said Perrins, currently the executive in residence and senior policy fellow with the University of Regina's Johnson-Shoyama graduate school of public policy.

The consultation includes a minimum of nine community meetings in May and June, two days for presentations by stakeholder organizations and one day to hear from First Nations and Metis representatives. Perrins will also review comments received by letters or through the website www.saskuranium.ca.

NDP house leader Len Taylor praised Perrins but said the public consultation process the government has outlined falls far short of acceptable.

"He's done a lot of good work for the people of Saskatchewan, but let's take a look at this consultation process. Even Wayne Gretzky could not skate on this ice," Taylor said.

"The mandate should be expanded to include discussion of alternative energy sources and the time frame should be expanded at least until the end of the year."

Perrins will receive a per diem of $600 a day while working on the consultation process.

The overall budget for the consultation process is $780,000, Stewart said.

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Perrins may be an exit strategy
By Murray Mandryk, Saskatchewan News Network; Regina Leader-PostApril 11, 2009

While perhaps counter intuitive, one has to wonder if the appointment of former high-ranking civil servant Dan Perrins to chair the public consultations on uranium development is actually the Saskatchewan Party government's exit strategy from the nuclear power debate.

At first blush, one might be inclined to believe the opposite.

The pinnacle of Perrins's 36-year career in the Saskatchewan civil service would have been his almost seven years between 2001 and 2007 as former NDP premier Lorne Calvert's deputy minister. The job of a premier's chief administrator and confidante often goes to more of a partisan (usually, an academic removed from the civil service).

But Perrins was, and still is, what a civil servant should be. While a lot of high-ranking civil servants come to their jobs with the shallow facade of representing the public's interests, it's often their own self-interest they truly have at heart.

That's not Dan Perrins.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a day he came to work with anything but the interests of Saskatchewan people at heart.

It's this commitment to the best interests of the Saskatchewan public -- which would be, in this case, a fairer, more thorough public consultation process -- that no doubt enticed Perrins to accept the job of refereeing the public hearings over whether Saskatchewan should build a nuclear power plant.

There are 19 other recommendations in the Uranium Development Partnership report, but they will all become secondary in this public process.

Perrins's impeccable credibility not only makes him a good choice but also a politically smart choice for the Saskatchewan Party. One may be forgiven, however, for being suspicious that the Saskatchewan Party's real motives for wanting Perrins are slightly less than altruistic.

Having Calvert's former deputy minister to head these public hearing limits the NDP's ability to criticize the process as biased and unfair. The Saskatchewan Party government benches could hardly contain their smug giddiness during Thursday morning's question period.

Conversely, the disappointment in the NDP ranks made them appear to be unseemly bitter. There were New Democrats privately grumbling over how the career civil servant they once entrusted with their foremost government secrets had overnight become "naive" and "disloyal."

Rather than embrace the fact that their own diligence might have pushed the Saskatchewan Party towards a better process, some New Democrats at the legislature seemed to prefer to view a career civil servant who has served three previous political administrations and is now serving a fourth administration as partaking in an act of personal betrayal.

This is the same NDP whose members screamed bloody murder about the need for a professional civil service, insisting the Saskatchewan Party was being petty for firing people based on nebulous NDP connections.

But what some on both sides are missing is that Perrins will neither be the stooge nor a patsy.

What the NDP clearly missed Thursday is that Perrins has already made it a better process by forcing the government to extend the time frame and the length of the public consultation process. On Thursday he said it was his call to extend the public input process past June 15.

However, the people who are really being naive are the nuke hawks in the Saskatchewan Party who think Perrins will simply do their bidding. Evidently, they must not know the man.

It appears that some smarter Saskatchewan Party people already recognize the folly of a multi-billion dollar public investment in a nuclear reactor, and one might assume a fair-minded public consultation process is a way to distance themselves from the UDP's most controversial recommendation.

Evidently, the key to the Saskatchewan Party's exit strategy has been handed over to a 36-year civil servant who once was Lorne Calvert's key adviser.

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Old Posted Apr 17, 2009, 6:57 AM
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Sask. group forms to oppose nuclear development
By Angela Hall, Leader-PsotApril 16, 2009 Comments (1)



This file photo released by the US National Archives and taken in April 1979 shows a view of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant near Middletown, Pennsylvania. Thirty years after the accident at Three Mile Island shattered Americans' trust in nuclear power, lawmakers were pushing for a nuclear energy rebirth as a safe, green way to wean the United States off foreign oil. No new reactors have been opened in the United States since the accident at Three Mile Island in central Pennsylvania, which began to unfold in the early hours of March 28, 1979, when cooling water started seeping through an open valve in a reactor.
Photograph by: AFP/Getty Images, file photo


REGINA -- Daron Priest never gave much thought to nuclear power until the subject landed near the farm gate of his Lloydminster area cattle operation.

But when Bruce Power began scoping out potential sites for a nuclear power plant in Saskatchewan, he began to feel uneasy. The idea a reactor could one day be located near the land his great-grandfather first homesteaded 100 years ago doesn't sit well.

"All my life, I never ever considered even leaving. But when thoughts of a nuclear plant come it puts you in tough situation," said Priest, who joined with like-minded neighbours in a group called Save Our Saskatchewan to oppose nuclear development in the area.

"We're not radicals. We're not environmentalists or anything like that. We're just normal people and we've got some real concerns with the fact of having nuclear power this close, or being proposed this close," said Priest, adding that residents attending a meeting in the Rural Municipality of Britannia on Wednesday night passed a resolution opposing nuclear power.

Bruce Power, the Ontario company that recently held information sessions in Lloydminster, North Battleford and Prince Albert, insists a potential site has not yet been pinpointed. Even after that happens later this year, the chosen location would have to withstand an environmental assessment process that can take three years to complete.

"The site that we that we eventually select, if at the end of the day the environmental assessment comes back and said this is not the place to build, we will not be building there," said Steve Cannon, Bruce Power spokesman.

Similarly, Premier Brad Wall and Enterprise and Innovation Minister Lyle Stewart have been downplaying the immediacy of a nuclear plant locating in Saskatchewan.

"We're just starting into this public consultation phase, and certainly the results of that will have a powerful influence on this government's decisions," said Stewart.

The "final go ahead" for a plant would, in any case, be years away, Stewart said recently, noting the very earliest a plant could be operating would be 2018.

"We reserve the right to put the brakes on this thing at any time," he said.

"Certainly there will be a number of other opportunities to, so to speak, get off the bus with any potential nuclear power plant build."

But Priest and many other Saskatchewan residents who face the prospects of a nuclear plant in their backyard are already alarmed over how such a plant might impact their way of life.

"I think if we put a nuclear plant on top of our aquifer or two miles from home I think the peace of mind all of a sudden is gone," said Priest, noting he wants his two young sons to become the fifth generation of his family to make a living on the land.

"Do you leave your children here and say 'Well, odds are we maybe won't be affected by it?' It really weighs on your mind."

The nuclear power debate has, in a sense, arrived on the doorsteps of all residents as a serious potential reality.

For the next two months, the Saskatchewan Party government is inviting public opinion (www.saskuranium.ca) on ways the province could be further involved in the nuclear cycle, beyond simply mining uranium for export. A government-appointed panel, the Uranium Development Partnership, has made 20 recommendations that will be up for consideration at nine community meetings in May and June.

The one generating the most debate suggests a nuclear plant producing 3,000 megawatts of electricity could help Saskatchewan meet its growing power needs and also allow for some export.

Bruce Power is meanwhile engaged in a separate process of looking at possible sites for a nuclear power plant in a region spanning from Lloydminster to Prince Albert. The company's feasibility study, released last fall, suggested Saskatchewan could support a nuclear plant producing up to 1,000 megawatts of electricity.

Not everyone is as uncomfortable with the notion as Priest.

Frustrated by anti-nuclear sentiments, Lloydminster resident Melissa Letkeman recently wrote a letter to her local paper touting the benefits a nuclear power plant can bring to an area and challenging some of the claims.

"I thought a lot of the negativity was false. It seemed more out of fear that people were voicing their opinions," said Letkeman in an interview.

The 31-year-old is from Kincardine, Ont., near Bruce Power's nuclear plant — where her father has worked for years. The company kept close tabs on the surrounding environment and its workers to ensure there were no issues with radiation levels, said Letkeman, who now resides on the Alberta side of Lloydminster.

"We always felt very safe," she said of the area where she grew up.

"The majority of the town, almost one parent from every family works at the nuclear power plant so it was very familiar for us," she said.

With the nuclear issue already creating a split in public opinion, the NDP is opposing the province's consultation period as too short and limited in scope.

"This process will not provide Saskatchewan people an opportunity to do what we want to come out of this process, which is an understanding of the future energy needs of the province of Saskatchewan," said Opposition House Leader Len Taylor.

But Wall maintains the public will be heard through the process the government has set out, and will help guide the Saskatchewan Party government.

"I think the issue will always be evolving, but we are going to take our cue from Saskatchewan people."

ahall@leaderpost.canwest.com

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