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Western Canadians do not want ”Small” nuclear reactors in Sakatchewan

Premier asks Trudeau to support nuclear reactors in upcoming throne speech, Yorkton This Week Michael Bramadat-Willcock – Local Journalism Initiative (Canada’s National Observer) / Yorkton This Week, SEPTEMBER 16, 2020 Premier Scott Moe has sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outlining Saskatchewan’s priorities ahead of the federal throne speech on Sept. 23. In it, he is asking Trudeau to support nuclear development in the province.

Moe wants the development of small modular nuclear reactors, also known as SMRs, in Saskatchewan to be part of Trudeau’s green agenda. ……..

In December, Moe signed a memorandum of understanding with the premiers of Ontario and New Brunswick to work together on further developing the nuclear industry.  ……..

In his letter, the premier also focused on support for the oil and gas sectors, and pushed for pausing the carbon tax.

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear arguments on the federal carbon tax at the same time as the throne speech is delivered. …………

But western Canadians don’t all see eye-to-eye on the deployment of nuclear reactors, even small ones.

Committee for Future Generations outreach co-ordinator Candyce Paul of La Plonge at the English River First Nation earlier told Canada’s National Observer that while they haven’t been consulted on any aspects of the plan, all signs point to the north as a site for the reactors.

On Tuesday, Paul called it ironic that Moe spoke of western alienation from Ottawa when many in the north feel the same way about Regina.

“Trudeau, please represent the people of northern Saskatchewan because Scott Moe does not,” Paul said.

Paul’s group fights nuclear waste storage in Saskatchewan and was instrumental in stopping a proposal that considered Beauval, Pinehouse and Creighton as storage locations in 2011.

“When we informed the communities that they were looking at planning to bury nuclear waste up here in 2011, once they learned what that entailed, everybody said, ‘No way.’ Eighty per cent of the people in the north said, ‘No way, absolutely not.’ It didn’t matter if they worked for Cameco or the other mines. They said, if it comes here, we will not support it coming here,” Paul said in an interview last month. ………..

Paul said the intent behind using SMRs is anything but green and that the real goal is to prop up Saskatchewan’s ailing uranium industry and develop oilsands in the northwest.

“He’s put it right in the letter. His fear is they’re going to put out a green policy that will hurt the oil and gas sector,” Paul said.

“They’ve been looking for a way to bring the tar sands to northern Saskatchewan. We all know the mess that makes. Using small modular reactors is not lessening the carbon impact.”

She said in August that communities around Canada, and especially in the Far North, have long been pitched as sites for SMR development and nuclear waste storage, but have refused.

“None of our people are going to get trained for operating these. It supports people from other places. It doesn’t really support us,” Paul said.

Paul said on Tuesday that SMRs under 200 megawatts are currently excluded from environmental impact assessments, which means a lack of opportunity for public input.

She also said that interconnected water systems in the north would mean pollution would travel quickly into the ecosystem if there was a mishap at a reactor site.

Brooke Dobni, professor of strategy at the University of Saskatchewan’s Edwards School of Business, told Canada’s National Observer in August that any development of small reactors would take a long time.

“It could be a good thing, but on the other hand, it might have some pitfalls. Those talks take years,” Dobni said.

He said nuclear reactors face bigger challenges that have to be addressed before they can go ahead, such as public support for protecting the environment, the high cost of building infrastructure, and containing nuclear fallout and radiation.

“Anything nuclear is 25 years out if you’re talking about small reactors, those kinds of things to power up the city,” Dobni said.

“That technology is a long ways away and a lot of it’s going to depend on public opinion.

“The court for that is the court of public opinion, whether or not people want that in their own backyard, and that’s the whole issue anywhere in the world.”

On Tuesday, Paul asked the federal government to invest in critical infrastructure instead.

“We need money spent in a serious way. Not on small modular reactors that could happen in 25 years. We need things now. To bring us up to the standards in our health system, we need health facilities. The public doesn’t want the government subsidizing industries that are about to go bust. It’s a waste of money,” Paul said.

“We have extreme needs that aren’t being met by industry and never will be met by industry. Trudeau, put the money where you want to make some real reconciliation happen.”

September 17, 2020 - Posted by | Canada, opposition to nuclear

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