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Northern Canada and Arctic indigenous areas targeted for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

First Nations Targeted for Untested Small Modular Nuclear Reactors:   Libbe Halevy interviews  Candyce Paul , Nuclear  Hot Seat   Saskatchewan by Libbe HaLevy | Sep 3, 2020

Notes – (not a completely accurate transcript), by NoelWauchope

Candyce Paul:  Uranium mining in Saskatchewan.     Uranium was mined in the 50s for the cold war, essentially for nuclear weapons. Primarily on the land of indigenous people.

Little information was supplied to the people, but they did understand that it was for weapons, and they knew traditionally, the indigenous  people  knew – that the black rock should stay in the ground……….there were legends that once it comes out of the ground it would bring death and destruction.

The miners were not predominantly indigenous.    There are over 40 legacy mines. Very poorly cleaned up  – piles of uranium tailings left for 60 years –  blowing around,  contaminating lake, entering streams.  Once these tailings are ingested – many years later comes poor health, soaring cancer rates, children with cognitive and physical disabilities.   More mines were opened in late 70s, early eighties.  Since then, miners have been flyng in flying out, for 2 week sessions.   This has been having its impact on social structure.  Jobs in the mines are  the only jobs, the only  economy being offered in Northern Saskatchewan.  Only one mine is operating now. This is Cigar Lake, it just re-opened.   The fly-in miners were initially settlers, later the mines were hiring indigenous people – 49% were indigenous, – the indigenous people got the dirty and more dangerous work.  Young indigenous  worked in the mills, non indigenous in the offices.  Because it is the only economy around, – they paid for it later with illnesses.   There were many complaints, but people were blacklisted if they complained.

Mining slowed down since Fukushima.  Gradually all mines shut down, except Cigar Lake. In 2011 Northern Saskatchewan was targeted for nuclear waste .  Most people did not want the wastes, millions of times more radioactive than the uranium.

In the community where I live, Northern Saskatchewan , we raised 20, 000  signatures  in a petition against it, and  delivered it to the legislature  80% of residents opposed it. The nuclear waste authority pulled out in 2014.  We based our opinions on facts, had talked to scientists, physicists from all over the world.

Question from Libby Halevy about current state of affairs  – What do you think about the creation of an inter-provincial corporate partnership to support the launch of a research centre to support the development of small nuclear reactors?

 Candyce Paul:  Canada, and the nuclear industry have been looking for a way to keep the nuclear industry alive.       The only way they can come up with this is to promote Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMNRs) for use in Northern Canada.  Most Canadians live in the Southern parts, the lower third of Canada.  In the North the people are  mainly indigenous. There are big resources there.   Diesel fuel is in use.   The Canadian Mining Association is pushing Small  Modular Nuclear Reactors – promoting this to northern communities, (who get most electricity from diesel),  as far North as beyond the Arctic circle. The University of Saskatchewan has been used to promote this idea, getting research done on it.  The Canadian Nuclear Laboratories  is a  conglomerate of companies, mostly pretty shady, for example, SNC Lavalin, which is up on charges and exposed as interfering  at the highest levels of government to prevent charges against it.  SNC Lavalin is not allowed to borrow money, or bid on construction projects funded by the World Bank, because of bribery charges in the past.  It has bribery charges in Canada, too. The Government of Canada has dozens of contracts with SNC Lavalin.

A decade ago the government, who owned Atomic Energy Canada, broke it up, sold it to this conglomerate for $12 million.-  a pittance The top laboratory is in Northern Ottawa, was making medical isotopes, and  was closed down, still classified, and there’s  a ton of wastes there. Then there’s Pinewa labs in Manatoba, which  had some sort of accident that is still classified  At that time a moratorium was placed on storing wastes in Manatoba. They were researching deep underground storage of nuclear wastes. Since Atomic Energy Of Canada Limited (AECL) was sold they are now going to bury onsite the waste that is there.  At Chalk River Laboratories they are going to build a mound around the wastes. within 100 metres of the Ottawa River, upstream of Ottawa.

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories is to develop Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, promoting at Chalk River, and at  Pinewa and at Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station New Brunswick.   In 2019 the Provinces of Ontario, Saskatchewan  and New Brunswick signed a memorandum of understanding to try and develop SMNRs – Ontario and New Brunswick have nuclear power stations.  Saskatchewan has the uranium mines.  In 2008-9 the Saskatchewan government had been promoting the full nuclear chain, reprocessing etc. Saskatchewan people didn’t want it. After that we had the nuclear waste issue, which squashed that plan. 

They opened the Centre for Nuclear Innovation at University of Saskatchewan to promote nuclear development of all kinds. Just prior to that they announced a new office , a Nuclear Secretariat to promote SMNRs in Saskatchewan. I’m   Pretty sure that there’s public money going into this,.That is the concern  Northern communities could not afford a nuclear power station, small or large. Northern communities could not use that amount of energy.  In Northern Saskatchewan  80% of electricity used is used by the mining industry-  in Saskatchewan  it’s primarily the uranium industry.  So who does it benefit? It benefits themselves. 

A place on Baffin Island, when they were being pitched these SMNRs,  put out a review, thoroughly researched-   pointing out the safety problems – the inability of emergency help to reach time, in the event of a nuclear  accident. Proponents of nuclear power talk about a smaller exclusion zone,  a few km radius.   – But this is all wilderness -in huge  ecosystems  These Northern areas are primarily water.  If an accident happens, pollution would be flowing in water, the exclusion zone would not apply. The radiotoxicity in the case of accident would be massive. 

They are promoting themselves as green –  but they are putting out pollutants in processing, milling, and if they started reprocessiing the radiotoxicity pollution would be massive.  There are leaks in the mills, that have gone through the floor of the milling stations. The molybdenum extraction plant has a leak getting into groundwater, and that hasn’t been addressed. So how do we trust them?

Libby Halevy: With the push for these cute little modular, sounds like Lego reactors, being so heavily promoted – what are you and your communities doing? 

Candyce Paul: We are pushing to educate the community about these SMNRs. Working along with an education co-op,  about SMNRs and the fact that no nuclear will get in here unsubsidised. The community, the energy providers can’t afford it.  It needs public money .  There’s an election coming up. The two main parties are pretty much on the same wavelength promoting it.

They’re promoting it as the answer to greenhouse gases.   It will take about 30 years before there’s a SMNR-   during which time they’re doing nothing about greenhouse  gases. They want it to get at the tar sands in Saskatchewan, to help develop the tar sands. – Alberta now pushing nuclear to provide the power for tar sands extraction.

We don’t have much population  The population is down South. The decisions are made down South. The voting power is down South.  It’s the only work that people up here can get  The education system here is influenced by the uranium companies, from kindergarten to the curriculum upwards. The mining companies  don’t want our people knowledgeable.    We need help  from professionals, technicians, but we have a difficult time in getting this help.  If they help us they may not get work again.  That’s a huge factor.

We’re working on some videos, short messages.  We need people to help us with reviews, reviews of environmental impact statements, during the very short public comment period.  It has to be done on science. They want only scientific facts. It doesn’t necessarily have to be logical,  but it has to be science.The nuclear lobby thinks they’re indisputable, that their technology knowledge puts them above you.  

We’re supposed to have ”consultation” as indigenous communities – ”free prior informed consent ”. They come in and tell us what they’re going to do. It’s already pre approved.

They do a fishing expedition to find what the community wants and needs, (what bribes) can we provide to get you on side. They have kept our communities intentionally needy, under-resourced. Shortage of health and education services, not a lot of jobs.  People want jobs – they offer jobs.  They put through their environmental impact statements, but the community does not get properly informed, – the statement does not get a properly informed consent  .  They play people against each other  – those who need jobs today versus those who care about the land and the future generations.

We’ve been in a bust economy for  2 years, because of the low uranium price, but there are still aspirational uranium companies coming in, applying for licences to mine.They put though their EIS during Covid-19 without the community consultations being completed. We then get 30 days to put together something.  – it’s a farcical process. No time to review it in depth.We hope to get some help.

To help  people with the technology background for reviewing EISs     contact me at   Committee for Future Generations.    on Facebook – or contact Inter-Church Uranium Committee Educational Co-operative (ICUCEC) in Saskatoon, who are  working on this SMNR      Before this election- we are working on pamphlets in language clear and concise that people not highly technical can understand. No pamphlets are available in hospitals here on radiation and  health  People here need to know that these jobs being promoted to their children  have  radiation hazards -not good for health nor for future generations. 

They really do not want to stop climate change. They’re using this long long way to  so-called green small modular nuclear reactors   People need to understand the process of lying that is going on about climate change.   SMNR not needed. There’s a process happening here to develop northern Saskatchewan resources that will include a Northern corridor 3000 km long several km wide to get at all the resources in Northern Canada, also for for haul routes for all hazardous materials including nuclear  wastes.

They are looking forward to Northwest Passage being opened, so that they use  it can sell more of the resources that they are going to mine from our areas .   The climate will have a huge impact on whether or not they can even run a nuclear reactor, with the increasing temperatures here.


September 5, 2020 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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