Presented in Regina on June 23, 2009 at 10:00 am
Presentation by Larissa Shasko
Leader of the Green Party of Saskatchewan
The Uranium Development Partnership Report:
A lost opportunity to develop a sustainable energy future in Saskatchewan
The UDP Report is:
--Not socially acceptable
--Not environmentally appropriate
The Uranium Development Partnership public consultation meetings have drawn huge crowds of people, and the vast majority of people attending the UDP meetings have overwhelmingly rejected the idea of nuclear power and a nuclear fuel waste dump in Saskatchewan.
However, the UDP Report is not about "IF", but about "HOW" the items in the UDP Report will be achieved. The UDP Report is a business plan for expanding the uranium industry, and therefore, the environmental and public safety risks have been written off as externalities. They have not been properly considered or studied. The Government of Saskatchewan needs to immediately fund and release independent studies into the health and public safety risks and the environmental impact of nuclear power and uranium mining. Studies of this type are long overdue, and it is scary to think that the Government of Saskatchewan would propose expanding the uranium industry without a good understanding of the health and safety risks and the environmental impact.
Until such studies have been completed, expanding Saskatchewan’s uranium industry cannot be deemed environmentally appropriate or socially acceptable.
The UDP Report is biased.
The UDP Report is not about energy options for Saskatchewan; it is about propping up the uranium industry. Most of the members of the UDP are known to be proponents of nuclear development. Many of them work for the nuclear industry. Both the traditional political right and left in Saskatchewan would likely agree that promoting private gain at public expense is unacceptable.
Members of the UDP:
Duncan Hawthorne, President and CEO of Bruce Power
Jerry Grandey, President and CEO of Cameco Corporation
Armand Laferrere, President and CEO of AREVA Canada
Chair of the UDP:
Dr. Richard Florizone, Vice-President of Finance and Resources at the University of Saskatchewan
Is this a conflict of interest?
A conflict of interest occurs when an individual or organization has an interest that might compromise their reliability.
The CEOs of Bruce Power, Cameco, and AREVA, stand to benefit financially from the initiatives in the UDP report, and they have a duty to represent nuclear power and uranium mining in the best possible light. The Chair of the UDP is the Vice-President of Finance and Resources at a university that would obtain a huge amount of funding for the research and development that is proposed in the UDP Report.
Furthermore, the Uranium Development Partnership is composed of twelve men and zero women. Women are consitutionally guaranteed equality in Canada by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, yet the UDP is completely void of gender balance. There are different implications of nuclear power for women than there are for men, particularly in regard to our reproductive systems and in relation to our role as mothers. Public opinion polls have indicated that the women of Saskatchewan are against nuclear power.
At a press conference held at the Saskatchewan Legislature on April 17, 2009, Elizabeth May, the Leader of the Green Party of Canada said the following about the Uranium Development Partnership Report:
“The so-called environmental rep on the Uranium Development Partnership is a paid lobbyist for the nuclear industry. This is a sham. This is not the report on which government should base decisions. This is the equivalent of a report from lobbyists telling government how they want them to spend their money. This isn't the fox guarding the chicken coops. This is the fox report recommending how the chicken coops can best be consumed by the foxes.”
Elizabeth May said she was also disappointed that the report “never even bothered to look at alternatives.”
Climate Change: “a political certainty”
At a lecture at the University of Regina Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy on June 18, 2009, Dr. Florizone said that climate change has become a political reality and that the adoption of carbon pricing is now being viewed as a political certainty. The UDP Report uses climate change as a justification for nuclear power in Saskatchewan. Even if we did not export the nuclear power to Alberta for production of the tar sands as the authors of the UDP Report propose, nuclear power is not capable of having a big enough impact to make little more than a dent in the fight against climate change. Plus, the radioactive waste we would be left with for hundreds of thousands of years is not only bound to have devastating long-term health and ecological consequences, it would also put the people of Saskatchewan and surrounding areas in great danger in times of war.
There is a great amount of public “miseducation” about nuclear power amongst the people of Saskatchewan. For many, their knowledge of nuclear power been obtained from the uranium industry itself in large, overly simplistic, and incredibly misleading adverstisements and billboards. I am horrified by the amount of people that think nuclear is clean and green. It would be extremely dangerous to call a referendum on this issue any time in the near future due to the lack of balanced education the public has been exposed to about the benefits of nuclear versus the risks. Infact, the public can not be properly educated about the risks until the Government of Saskatchewan funds and makes public independant studies into the health and public safety risks and the environmental impact of nuclear power and uranium mining. How could the public possibly make an informed decision on the issue of nuclear power in Saskatchewan without knowing what the risks are? For that matter, how can $3 million be spent on a feasibility study without consideration of the environmental and health/public safety impacts of the initiatives proposed by the UDP?
The Government of Saskatchewan has a duty to end the public “miseducation” on nuclear power and uranium mining.
For example, nuclear power is NOT emissions free. Large quantities of greenhouse gases are produced in the mining and refining of uranium as well as during the long construction period of the power plant.
Each gigawatt of nuclear energy requires 170 tonnes of uranium. When the uranium is processed into fuel, 250,000 tonnes of carbon are emitted for every 1000 megawatts produced. Nuclear energy produces huge amounts of greenhouse gases. Recent studies also note that once the current high-grade uranium deposits are depleted, carbon emissions will greatly increase as low quality ores have to be refined.
Renewable energy is relatively inexpensive, and its technical challenges are dwarfed by those of nuclear power, which, after more than half a century, still has no way to store its radioactive waste that remains toxic for one million years!
It is incredibly misleading to use climate change as a justification for nuclear power in Saskatchewan when the UDP proposes exporting 4-5000 MW of electricity to Alberta for tar sands production. The Alberta Tar Sands have recently been deemed the “most destructive project on earth” by Environmental Defence Canada because the tar sands will single-handedly make it impossible for Canada to lower greenhouse gas emissions anywhere near what is needed to meet international Kyoto targets. Using nuclear power for tar sands production would actually be taking us closer to the “tipping point” of climate change catastrophe.
At Dr. Florizone’s lecture at the University of Regina Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy on June 18, 2009, Dr. Florizone said that nuclear “only becomes cost competitive when you have carbon pricing.” The first problem with this statement is that we do not have carbon pricing in Saskatchewan yet. Carbon pricing is not being proposed by the SaskParty Government, and as a student of political science, I do not expect it to be proposed by either the SaskParty or the NDP in the next election. Many would say proposing the carbon tax in the last federal election single-handedly lost the election for the Liberals. There does not appear to be much support for the carbon tax from either Stephen Harper or Brad Wall. If nuclear only becomes cost competitive when you have carbon pricing, then nuclear is not cost competitive in Saskatchewan at this time.
Furthermore, the purpose of the carbon tax is to make polluting less attractive. Considering the toxic radioactive waste pollution of nuclear power that cannot be stored, treated, or disposed of safely, it is completely unacceptable for the carbon tax to be leveraged as incentive for expansion of the uranium industry. Government will never be able to successfully implement solutions to climate change if they allow large final emitters to find innovative ways out of the carbon tax while actually profiting from it. Take the University of Regina Petroleum Technology Research Centre (PTRC) for example. The PTRC researches carbon sequestration, and the PTRC is heavily funded by large international oil companies who plan to use carbon sequestration for enhanced oil recovery. They plan to pump the sequestered carbon into dried up oil wells to change the viscosity of the dried up oil so they can pump thirty more years of oil out of the ground. Large oil companies are investing huge amounts of money into carbon sequestration at the PTRC so that if any money is lost due to a carbon tax increasing the cost of gas, they can compensate for this loss of profits by increasing their supply of oil through enhanced oil recovery. This is another case of an unacceptable abuse of a tax on carbon, which is a tool designed to reduce pollution. The carbon tax is not intended to fuel nuclear expansion or enhanced oil recovery.
The UDP Report would head us in the wrong direction. We need green energy jobs, energy conservation, and renewable energy technologies. We need to start building a sustainable energy future.
According to Ecological Economist William Rees, “there is general agreement that no development path is sustainable if it depends on the exhaustion of productive assets.” Rees argues that since “human-made capital is made from natural capital and requires natural capital to function, … natural capital is prerequisite to manufactured capital.” The economy is dependant upon the environment for natural capital. If natural capital is exhausted, productive assets will be also. Long-term economic sustainability can not be secured without adressing the environmental crisis and focusing on sustaining nature first.
It’s called ecological wisdom. Ecological Wisdom is a key guiding principle of the Green Party of Saskatchewan.
Just because we won the lottery by living in Saskatchewan doesn’t mean we have to spend all of our winnings in one generation. If we continue to be heavily reliant on extraction and exportation of non-renewable resources, what will be left of our province when these resources run out? What will be left for the people who live here?
“Spending billions of dollars on costly nuclear power would rob Saskatchewan of the chance to go green with clean and safe energy through increased energy conservation and renewable energy technologies. We only get one chance to fight climate change. This is our chance to go green and to go renewable.”
- Larissa Shasko, Leader of the Green Party of Saskatchewan
"The industry doesn't make sense. It will never survive without tremendous government subsidies," -
Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada
Nuclear “only becomes cost competitive when you have carbon pricing.”
- Dr. Florizone, June 18/09, U of R
The Green Party believes that energy choices should be economically rational. The best energy choices to respond to the climate crisis should be those that deliver the greatest reduction of GHG per dollar invested. By this criterion, nuclear energy is among the very worst options. Reactors cost billions of dollars, take more than a decade to build, operate unreliably after about the first dozen years of operation, and only produce one type of energy: electricity. Even if the industry were “green and clean” as claimed by the pro-nuclear propaganda efforts, it fails on the economics. Nevertheless, it is neither clean nor green.
Is Nuclear safe?
In addition to the risks of radioactive leaks and nuclear accidents, nuclear energy has an inevitable link to nuclear weapons proliferation. India made its first bomb from spent fuel from a CANDU reactor. As well, depleted uranium waste is increasingly and routinely used to coat bullets and missiles in “conventional” warfare, leaving a legacy of radioactive contamination as an on-going health and environmental threat to civilians post-conflict.
A reactor’s fuel rods, pipes, tanks, and valves can leak. Mechanical failure and human error can also cause leaks. As a nuclear plant ages, so does the equipment, and leaks generally increase.
It doesn’t take an accident for a nuclear power plant to release radioactivity into our air, water and soil. All it takes is the plant’s everyday routine operation, and federal regulations permit these radioactive releases.
It is scientifically established that low-level radiation damages tissues, cells, DNA, and other vital molecules causing programmed cell death (apoptosis), genetic mutations, cancers, leukemia, birth defects, and reproductive, immune, and endocrine system disorders.
A recent study commissioned by the Federal Office for Radiation Protection in Germany and made public on December 10th, 2007 examined cancer rates in young children between 1980 and 2003. It showed a 60% increase in solid cancers and a 117% increase in leukemia among children up to five years of age living within 5 km of 16 German nuclear reactors. It also found a 20 to 40% increase for all cancers in children living within a 50 km radius of the plants. These nuclear power plants were operating under normal conditions, with radiation releases well within levels allowed for civilian populations.
This new evidence from Germany of an association between increased cancers and proximity to nuclear facilities raises difficult questions. Should pregnant women and young children be advised to move away from them? Should local residents eat vegetables from their gardens? And, crucially, shouldn't those governments around the world who are planning to build more reactors think again?
I was only four years of age when Chernobyl happened, and even I remember Chernobyl. I remember it with fear.
Chernobyl: April 26th, 1986 - the world’s worst nuclear accident.
Chernobyl is located 80 miles Northwest of Kiev, the ancient capital of the Ukraine.
A routine test went wrong setting up a chain reaction, creating an explosion that blew off the reactor’s 1000 tonne steel and concrete lid.
It spewed out atleast 200 times more radiation than the bombing of Hiroshima. 600,000 clean-up workers were sent in. The first set of clean-up workers died within a few hours from radiation burns. Thousands of children and adults were stricken with radiation sickness, leukemia, and cancer.
Infant mortality in the Ukraine stands at twice the European average.
There has also been an increase of sterility in parents plus an increase in genetic damage and congenital deformities among their offspring.
Source: The Problem with Nuclear is the Danger of Accidents and Near Accidents (booklet), Compiled by Bill Adamson, Member, ICUCEC, Inter Church Uranium Committee Educational Co-operative, October 2008.
Nuclear power plants of the type proposed for Saskatchewan are not in operation now, nor have they ever been tested anywhere. A precursor of AECL’s ARC-1000 (ARC-700) was withdrawn from U.S. licensing after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) predicted design/safety issues. (The NRC believes that during a loss-of-coolant-accident, power would surge rather than decrease.) Do Saskatchewan people want to be the subjects of a nuclear safety experiment?
At Dr. Florizone’s recent lecture at the University of Regina Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy on June 18, 2009, Dr. Florizone pointed to how Ontario has just decided to go forward with one of the reactor models proposed by the UDP for Saskatchewan. What he said was both shocking and horrifying. Dr. Florizone spoke of the “first of a kind risk” involved with a nuclear reactor that has never been tested before, and he said that “now we can learn from Ontario’s mistakes.” I do not think this is an acceptable statement for the UDP to be using as a selling point considering I have many young friends who live in Ontario, and they do not want to be the subjects of a nuclear safety experiment either. Why wasn’t the UDP talking about this “first of a kind risk” before Ontario approved the model that we could have been building first?
No insurance company in the world will insure nuclear power plants. If they are insured, it is by governments. In Canada, they are not insured.
Medical isotopes can be made without nuclear fission.
Although many radio-isotopes used in industry, medicine and scientific research can be produced inside a nuclear reactor, most of them (and many more besides) can also be produced inside a particle accelerator such as a cyclotron. Thus, even if there were no nuclear reactors in existence, there would continue to be an extensive use of a wide variety of artificial radio-isotopes produced in accelerators.
Although accelerators do create small quantities of lingering radioactivity, they do not pose the staggering high-level waste and proliferation problems associated with nuclear reactors, nor do they have any potential for catastrophic accidents of any kind, nor are they capable of producing weapons materials in militarily significant amounts.
The market for cobalt-60 -- one of the major radio-isotopes currently produced in Canada is not expanding, but shrinking -- as a result of which AECL has had to lay off (in recent years) many hundreds of workers associated with cobalt-60 production. As safer alternative technologies take over and as even safer alternatives are developed, the use of cobalt-60 may be phased out altogether.
It is seriously misleading to state that nuclear medicine or the use of radiation in industry and in scientific research depends in any essential way upon nuclear reactors. Such uses existed long before the first nuclear reactors were built and will continue to exist long after the last reactor is shut down.
The Green Party of Saskatchewan takes the position that medical isotopes are too important to rely on unreliable nuclear reactors for their production.
Recently, Thomas Ruth, a research scientist at Canada’s national particle and nuclear physics laboratory called on the federal government to look into ways of delivering radioactive medical isotopes without the need for nuclear reactors. According to Ruth, using nuclear reactors to the produce medical isotopes has not been able to meet the demands of hospitals.
What’s the Rush?
Considering the long period of construction (which usually takes even longer than anticipated) and the overwhelming opposition from the people of Saskatchewan who have participated in the public consultation process, this is not a decision that should be rushed into by government. So, what is the rush? Isn’t a worldwide recession an incredibly bad time to be rushing into an enormous capital project? Many people who voted for the SaskParty in the last election did not know that the Government they voted in had plans to build a nuclear reactor and a nuclear fuel waste dump in Saskatchewan. The SaskParty was not talking about these plans during the last election, and the NDP was not either. The Green Party was the only party to raise the issue of nuclear power in the last election, and although we raised the issue repeatedly, the media were not willing to talk about nuclear in their election coverage, and the other political parties avoided questions on the subject. The issue has been kept out of the public eye during the planning phase, and now that it is in the public eye, this process has been so sped up that I’m worried many people in Saskatchewan will not even know about plans to build a nuclear reactor before the government makes their decision. I continue to talk to Saskatchewan people everyday who have not heard anything about the public consultations or the government’s plans, and the consultation process is nearly over! Furthermore, why were public consultations held at a time of year that is particularly bad for both post-secondary students and farmers?
The public is calling for feasibility studies into energy conservation and renewable energy choices before any decision on the energy future of Saskatchewan is made. The mandate of the UDP was simply to look at nuclear and uranium. They did not even consider the other options. When all the options are weighed equally (including renewable energy sources and energy conservation), the high cost, environmental impact, and public safety risks of nuclear power become extremely unattractive. The nuclear debate has exposed the long overdue need for energy conservation and renewable energy in Saskatchewan.
Due to the serious conflict of interest that exists for many members of the UDP, the absence of any recognized representative of the environmental community, and the complete absence of gender balance among the members of the UDP (twelve men and no women), the findings of the UDP Report are seriously misleading and are not representative of the citizens of this province, nor are the findings of the UDP Report in the best interest of the citizens of this province.
The Green Party of Saskatchewan is calling upon the Government of Saskatchewan to immediately fund and make public independent studies on the environmental and public safety risks of uranium mining and nuclear power, and we join the people of Saskatchewan in calling for full feasibility studies into energy conservation and renewable energy technologies before any decision on the energy future of Saskatchewan is made.
The Green Party of Saskatchewan opposes the location of any nuclear fuel waste dump in Saskatchewan, and we oppose any plans to build a nuclear reactor in Saskatchewan.
 Source: Vision Green http://www.greenparty.ca/en/policy/visiongreen/partone#_Toc179815139
 This is why Harper and Wall have chosen intensity based targets for GHG emissions instead of actual reduction targets
 See Achieving Sustainability: Reform or Transformation? http://jpl.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/9/4/343. William E. Rees.Journal of Planning Literature, May 1995; vol. 9: pp. 343 – 361.
 See Achieving Sustainability: Reform or Transformation? http://jpl.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/9/4/343. William E. Rees.Journal of Planning Literature, May 1995; vol. 9: pp. 343 – 361.
 GPS Statement of Principles: Ecological WisdomHuman societies must operate with the understanding that we are part of nature, not separate from nature. We must maintain an ecological balance and live within the ecological and resource limits of our communities and our planet. We support a sustainable society that utilizes resources in such a way that future generations will benefit and not suffer from the practices of our generation. To this end we must practice agriculture that replenishes the soil, move to an energy efficient economy and live in ways that respect the integrity of natural systems.
 For more information on the KiKK study, see this summarized report at http://tekknorg.wordpress.com/2007/12/17/german-kikk-study-higher-cancer-risc-next-to-atomic-power-plants-unofficial-belarussian-children-cancer-data/.
 The full report can be downloaded in German at http://www.bfs.de/en/bfs/druck/Ufoplan/4334_KIKK.htm.
 Source: http://www.ccnr.org/isotopes.html
 Source: http://www.laka.org/info/publicaties/2009-heu.pdf
Nuclear and uranium policy from the 2007 "Green Book":
The Green Party of Saskatchewan is opposed to nuclear power for the following reasons:
Nuclear power is fiscally unsound. The last nuclear power plant in Canada came in seven times over budget, costing $14 billion dollars. This does not include the high cost involved in decommissioning old power plants.
Green Party of Saskatchewan Nuclear / Uranium Policy Resolutions 1998-2007 (submitted and voted on by Green Party of Saskatchewan members):
A Green Party of Saskatchewan government will oppose the location of any nuclear fuel waste dump in Saskatchewan and opposes any plans to build a nuclear reactor in Saskatchewan. The mining of uranium will be quickly phased out with a just transition for affected workers. A Green Party of Saskatchewan government will hold uranium mining companies accountable for cleanup of mining sites. Exports of uranium to countries with nuclear weapons and Depleted Uranium weapons will be halted immediately.