nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Legal battle against subsidy for nuclear industry along Lake Ontario

Opponents fight nuclear subsidy in court   http://blog.timesunion.com/capitol/archives/275743/opponents-fight-nuclear-subsidy-in-court/Note: This story by Rick Karlin originally appeared in Tuesday’s edition of the Times Union. 20 June 17 

Representatives of the state Public Service Commission were in court Monday defending their decision last August to award a multibillion dollar, 12-year subsidy to a group of upstate nuclear power plants along Lake Ontario. Opponents say it is a corporate giveaway, but state officials contend it will cut down on greenhouse gases.

The commission has “broad authority” to regulate power production in the state, said PSC lawyer John Graham, who was moving to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a coalition of activists who oppose the deal.

“This isn’t a small change. It’s a dramatic change,” said John Parker, a lawyer representing the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater ,which has opposed the deal with the New York Public Interest Research Group and other groups.

The arguments unfolded before acting Supreme Court Justice Roger McDonough in Albany. The plaintiffs maintain the PSC overstepped last August when it approved the subsidies for the Ginna, FitzPatrick and Nine Mile Point plants in Wayne and Oswego counties.

While the PSC views the subsidies as a way to control carbon emissions as the state moves toward more renewable energy sources, critics believe the Cuomo administration, which supported the plan, was intent on avoiding the job losses that would have come with plant closures in the hard-pressed region where the plants operate.

“You really have the executive branch extending its authority to this agency,” said David Barrett, a lawyer with the Coalition for Competitive Electricity.   To read the full version of this story, click here.

June 21, 2017 Posted by | Canada, Legal | Leave a comment

License renewal for Point Lepreau nuclear power plant , despite lack of transparency, and indigenous opposition

Point Lepreau nuclear power plant gets 5-year licence renewal, Commission says it’s satisfied plant will protect environment, safety and security By Viola Pruss, CBC News  Jun 16, 2017 Point Lepreau’s nuclear power reactor is good to go for another five years.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission announced its decision this week to renew the NB Power nuclear generating station’s operating licence until June 30, 2022.

The current licence runs out on June 30 of this year.

In a summary report, the commission said it found NB Power, “in carrying on that activity, will make adequate provision for the protection of the environment, the health and safety of person and the maintenance of national security,” as well as follow international obligations.

Lack of transparency

The commission said it considered a number of issues and submissions related to NB Power’s qualifications to receive an extended licence, including an environmental assessment and emergency plans in the event of a nuclear emergency.

An environmental assessment found that “adequate measures are in place to protect the environment and human health.”

However, the commission noted a lack of transparency and public availability of emergency planning documents, and directed the utility to disclose them……..

Indigenous land

In making its decision, the commission also considered information presented at two public hearings in January and May, including submissions from members of several Indigenous groups.They told the commission the plant was built on traditional and ancestral territories, and the facility “adversely affected their Aboriginal and treaty rights.”

While the commission recognized that Indigenous groups were not consulted when the plant was built, it “acknowledges the current efforts and commitments made by NB Power in relation to Aboriginal engagement,” the report said…….

Disaster-proof

A good portion of the first public hearing in January 2017 also focused on Point Lepreau’s ability to withstand a significant earthquake and other potential risks, including dam failures, shipping disasters, plane wrecks and meteor strikes……http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/point-lepreau-nuclear-power-licence-renewal-commission-safety-nb-1.4164700

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Canada, politics | Leave a comment

Call to Canadians to join talks for the Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

CANNINGS: We must work tirelessly for a nuclear weapons free world http://infotel.ca/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/cannings-we-must-work-tirelessly-for-a-nuclear-weapons-free-world/it43381 By Richard Cannings, MP South Okanagan-West Kootenay 13 June 17 Last week I listened to Setsuko Thurlow, a Hiroshima survivor, speak eloquently of what it was like to have her family, her neighbourhood, her city, vaporized in an instant of mass destruction. I wish everyone in this country could have heard her moving words.  Setsuko has devoted her life to advocating for nuclear disarmament, to ensure that her experience will never be repeated.

Some would say it was that threat of mutually assured destruction through nuclear warfare that kept worldwide conflict at bay through the Cold War. Even now, 25 years after the end of the Cold War, there are more than 15,000 nuclear warheads in the world. The risk to the planet was, and remains, incalculable.

Canadians have long recognized the threat of nuclear proliferation and long called for nuclear disarmament. In 2010, the House of Commons unanimously passed a motion that called on the government to deploy a major diplomatic initiative to increase the rate of nuclear disarmament.

The Liberal Party of Canada, only last year, adopted a resolution at their Winnipeg policy convention that urged the government—their Liberal government—to convene an international conference to commence negotiations for a Nuclear Weapons Convention that would ban nuclear weapons.

And yet the government’s actions in the past year go completely against that resolution.

The international community—over 130 countries are involved—is currently carrying out negotiations on the Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, just as the Liberal Party resolution requested. The problem is, not only is Canada not leading this process, it is boycotting it completely. Canada is not back on the international scene, it is backing away from its traditional leadership role in promoting a more peaceful world.

And Canada is backing away under pressure from the United States. Justin Trudeau said in the House of Commons last week that joining the negotiations would be “useless” as the nuclear powers are not present. Yet Canada led the world in the banning of land mines through a process in which the land mine powers, including the United States, did not, initially, participate.

These UN negotiations for nuclear disarmament are still going on. Canada could join and take a real and meaningful role in this essential project. But as I write this, the government is voting against an NDP motion to join these talks.

Opponents to a nuclear ban treaty say that disarmament must happen step-by-step, and that the time is not right for these negotiations, the world is not secure enough.

We have reached the edge of this cliff step by step over the last 60 years. The world will never be fully secure. We cannot wait for better conditions. We cannot afford to wait at all.

Yes, the nuclear powers will always oppose nuclear disarmament. But we must not bow to their wishes. We need to radically change the worldview of the nuclear powers. It will not be easy. It will not happen overnight. But we must be bold; we must live up to our convictions and our moral duty, and work tirelessly for a nuclear weapons free world.— Richard Cannings is the Member of Parliament for South Okanagan-West Kootenay.

June 14, 2017 Posted by | Canada, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Cameco’s uranium business is NOT a promising investment

it is highly unlikely that its financial performance will improve drastically, making it an unappealing investment.

Don’t Try to Catch This Falling Knife   https://www.fool.ca/2017/06/01/dont-try-to-catch-this-falling-knife/  Matt Smith | June 1, 2017 The world?s second-largest uranium producer Cameco Corp. (TSX:CCO)(NYSE:CCJ) continues to suffer, posting a first-quarter 2017 net loss which dragged its stock lower; it’s almost 13% down for the year to date. This has attracted the usual bargain hunters who believe that Cameco is now an appealing, undervalued investment but this couldn?t be further from the truth.  

Now what?

Cameco?s woes can be directly attributed to the prolonged slump in uranium which has lasted for longer than a decade; prices fell to a 13-year low late last year. The embattled uranium miner posted a first-quarter adjusted net loss of $29 million. According to some analysts, wind power is now cheaper than nuclear power, while solar and geothermal electricity generation can have lower costs. These forms of power generation don’t produce highly toxic waste or the potential to create catastrophic environmental damage in the event of failure.

For these reasons, it is difficult to see a huge upswing in demand for uranium over coming years, especially with renewables technology advancing at a rapid rate. This means that Cameco may find itself in the position where it is producing a product that is suffering from a terminal decline in demand. Worse yet, uranium prices remain under pressure because of high global inventories and a growing supply which is expected to expand by over 40% to reach 80,383 tonnes by 2020.

Cameco’s woes can be directly attributed to the prolonged slump in uranium which has lasted for longer than a decade; prices fell to a 13-year low late last year. The embattled uranium miner posted a first-quarter adjusted net loss of $29 million, which was 3.5 times greater than the net loss reported for the same quarter in 2016 and that predicted by analysts.

A key reason for the massive net loss was the decision by Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of Japan’s disabled Fukushima nuclear plant, to terminate its contract with Cameco for the supply of 9.3 million pounds of uranium through to 2028. The contract was worth $1.3 billion in revenue.

Nonetheless, Cameco has pitched its hopes on a surge in demand for uranium as the 57 reactors currently under construction across the globe come online. While there won’t be an immediate ramp-up in demandaccording to industry consultants, it will lead to cumulative uncovered requirements for uranium to total around 800 million pounds of the fissile material over the next nine years.

This may be a positive for company that has been battling significant headwinds for some time, but it does not necessarily guarantee a return to profitability.

You see, nuclear power has been falling into disfavour for some time, and this only gained momentum in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in 2011. While nuclear plants do not emit pollutants, there are the serious issues associated with the leakage of radiation and the disposal of fissile waste.

Radiation can have a catastrophic impact on the environment, animals, and humans. High-level nuclear waste such as a spent fuel assembly, according to the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, produces 20 times the fatal dose of radiation for humans for 10 years after being removed from a reactor.

This makes the correct handling and storage of this waste essential, costly, and highly onerous.

The Fukushima disaster highlighted just how vulnerable nuclear plants can be to environmental catastrophes, although, fortunately, there was no leakage of fissile material or polluted water in that case.

However, these aren’t the only reasons for the growing unpopularity of nuclear power.

The cost of safer forms of renewable energy continues to fall.

According to some analysts, wind power is now cheaper than nuclear power, while solar and geothermal electricity generation can have lower costs. These forms of power generation don’t produce highly toxic waste or the potential to create catastrophic environmental damage in the event of failure.

For these reasons, it is difficult to see a huge upswing in demand for uranium over coming years, especially with renewables technology advancing at a rapid rate. This means that Cameco may find itself in the position where it is producing a product that is suffering from a terminal decline in demand. Worse yet, uranium prices remain under pressure because of high global inventories and a growing supply which is expected to expand by over 40% to reach 80,383 tonnes by 2020.

So what?

The loss of the Tokyo Electric Power Company contract is a major blow for Cameco, costing it around $1.3 billion in revenue in what is already a difficult operating environment. When considered with the growing unpopularity of nuclear power, the inexorable advance of renewable energy, and growing uranium supplies, it is difficult to see any significant bounce in the price of uranium occurring.

This makes difficult to see Cameco ever returning the halcyon days when uranium traded at US$67 per pound, meaning that it is highly unlikely that its financial performance will improve drastically, making it an unappealing investment.

June 5, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Canada, Reference | Leave a comment

Potassium iodate pills for communities on Amherst Point and Boblo Island, near Fermi 2 nuclear power plant

Amherstburg residents will be given iodide pills to protect against potential nuclear emergency
Potassium iodide pills are salt tablets that prevent the body from absorbing potentially radioactive poisoning   
CBC News  Jun 02, 2017 To reduce the risk of radiation poisoning during an “unlikely” nuclear disaster in Michigan, health officials are distributing protective pills to residents on Amherst Point and Boblo Island.

The two communities fall within the primary zone of Fermi 2 nuclear power plant located near the shores of Lake Erie, just south of Amherst and Boblo.  New regulations from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission require the distribution of potassium iodide pills, which are salt tablets that prevent the body from absorbing potentially radioactive iodine.

Even though the regulations don’t apply to U.S. facilities, officials from the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit are distributing the pills anyway.

“We still want our community to be prepared,” said Jyllian Mackie, the health unit’s public health emergency preparedness coordinator.

Primary zone precaution

Primary zone residents are those living within a 16.1 km radius. The rest of Windsor and Essex County sit in the secondary zone, which means the pills are available to residents for purchase.

A package of pills, good for about two days, for a family of five costs $20, according to Mackie.

Because human bodies absorb radioactive iodine, the pills are used to get into the thyroid and block the poisonous iodine.

Mackie added the risk of a nuclear emergency at Fermi 2 has not changed, but the regulations have, but that didn’t do much to calm the concerns of Amherstburg residents…… http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/amherstburg-residents-will-be-given-iodide-pills-to-protect-against-potential-nuclear-emergency-1.4142478

June 3, 2017 Posted by | Canada, safety | Leave a comment

Canadian company still wants to bury nuclear waste near Lake Huron

 http://www.wxyz.com/news/canadian-company-still-wants-to-bury-nuclear-waste-near-lake-huron

May 31, 2017 Posted by | Canada, wastes | Leave a comment

Canadian town wants upgraded nuclear response plan, – too close to American nuclear station

Amherstburg Wants Nuclear Response Plan Update, Blackburn News, The town of Amherstburg is hoping to get provincial cooperation as it updates its nuclear response plan. The town has delegated the responsibility of updating the plan to deputy fire chief Lee Tome, who has been lobbying the province to put some cash behind a plan update, as well as draft guidelines similar to those already in place at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station in Tiverton.  These guidelines would be set in the event of a nuclear incident at the nearby Fermi II nuclear power plant in Michigan.

Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo says the town has pretty much been on its own as far as coming up with an emergency response plan.

“We obviously do not have that kind of control, as it’s in the United States,” says DiCarlo.  “So when you read the provincial guidelines, they’re very specific to the nuclear plant in the province, and we don’t have that.”

The current plan places responsibility for a response to a nuclear accident at Fermi on the shoulders of the town.  The updated plan would reduce the primary emergency zone from the current 23km to the standard 16km that is the U.S. standard, as well as provide for distribution of the K-I pill, a potassium iodide tablet taken to reduce or prevent the effects of radioactivity.  A report on the updated plan was presented to Amherstburg town council on Tuesday night.

DiCarlo, though, has a hard time understanding why the province has not recognized the unusual situation Amherstburg is in.

“As I understand it, we are the only one in Canada with exposure from another country, so we are very unique,” says DiCarlo. ….. http://blackburnnews.com/windsor/windsor-news/2017/05/25/amherstburg-wants-nuclear-response-plan-update/

May 26, 2017 Posted by | Canada, safety | Leave a comment

Scathing criticism of Ontario’s proposed plan for nuclear plant emergencies

Ontario’s proposed plan for nuclear plant emergencies ripped, THE CANADIAN PRESS, MAY 18, 2017 TORONTO – Ontario’s proposed plan for how to respond in the unlikely event of a nuclear emergency falls short, environmental groups say. The province recently released an update to its emergency planning for potential large-scale accidents at the Pickering, Darlington, Bruce Power, Chalk River and FERMI 2 nuclear sites. It deals with co-ordinating responses and public communication, zones and evacuation procedures, preventing food and water contamination, and limiting exposure to radiation.

The environmental groups, including Greenpeace and the Canadian Environmental Law Association, say the proposal isn’t based on a large enough incident, and needs to plan for an accident on the scale of the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan.

Given we’re seeing nuclear accidents at the international level about once a decade, we need to prepare for such events,” said Shawn-Patrick Stensil with Greenpeace.

“These proposals do a disservice to Ontarians. They make no proposals to tangibly strengthen public safety and ignore key lessons from Fukushima. It’s unacceptable.”

Community Safety Minister Marie-France Lalonde said the plan “definitely” covers a Fukushima-scale accident………

Environmental advocates have for years been urging a wider distribution of those potassium iodide, or KI, pills. Radioactive iodine is released in the event of a nuclear accident, and the potassium iodide pills can help protect against thyroid cancer.

The pills are currently distributed to households and businesses within a 10-kilometre radius of the nuclear sites, but the environmentalists want that to be 50 kilometres. People outside the 10-kilometre radius can currently request the pills.

The groups also say the government has no comprehensive plan to address potential contamination of the Great Lakes, which are a source of drinking water for millions……..

The plan is posted for public comment until July 14 on the province’s regulatory and environmental registries. Lalonde said experts will be reviewing all the comments to decide what changes need to be made. http://www.torontosun.com/2017/05/18/ontarios-proposed-plan-for-nuclear-plant-emergencies-ripped

May 19, 2017 Posted by | Canada, safety | Leave a comment

Point Lepreau Nuclear Power Station – there’s no way to make nuclear safe!

How ‘Worst-Case Scenario’ At New Brunswick Nuclear Plant Could Affect Down East Maine, Maine Public, 12 May  Point Lepreau is a nuclear power plant just across the border in St. John. Next month its operating license expires, and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is considering whether to renew it for another five years. While that’s not a long amount of time for a 30-year-old plant, there are passionate arguments for and against its operation and implications for an entire region.

This is the second of two parts. To read Part 1, a tour of Point Lepreau, click here.

Back in the 1950s, an U.S. Atomic Energy Commission film, “The Magic of the Atom,” was meant to ease the anxiety people might feel about living and working near a nuclear power plant.

“Today, if you were to take a trip in almost any direction across our great country, you might suddenly come upon a sign like this: Atomic City,” the film’s narrator says.

But after the 1979 disaster at Three Mile Island, nuclear plants developed a more sinister reputation, and ever since, facilities like Point Lepreau have been battling that legacy………

there are some who are speaking out against the facility’s license renewal.

“The health risks are too great. There is no way to make nuclear safe,” says Willi Nolan of Kent County, New Brunswick.

Nolan says she has made it her business to follow up on past major nuclear accidents, and she says the potential devastation to the environment is a deal breaker.

“I just spent some time with four survivors of Fukushima and I’m told, you know, after the worst-case scenario happened there, that there are now people dropping on the streets, 30 years old, 40 years old. We’re still not finished with Chernobyl. There are still human health effects, cancers, childhood conditions,” she says.

When it comes to a nuclear plant meltdown, there are two basic zones of concern: the critical emergency zone that extends for a 10-mile radius, and then what’s known as the ingestion pathway. That spans a 50-mile radius and, in the case of Lepreau, would include towns like Eastport, Calais, Lubec, and East Machias.

But how much do emergency responders in those towns know about nuclear events?

“Very little,” says Mike Hinerman, who runs Washington County’s Emergency Management Agency…….

the biggest problem, experts say, would come in the weeks, months and years after the event, because anything grown in or harvested from that 50-mile ingestion pathway could be tainted — for decades.

“What do you do with apples? What do you do with fish? What do you do with clams?” says Robert Gardiner, MEMA’s technological hazards manager……..a major Lepreau event would devastate the county’s economy, affecting everything from shipping at Eastport to aquaculture, forest products, fishing, tipping, hunting and tourism, and of course the region’s wild blueberries……..

While critics insist that the disaster risk doesn’t justify thee benefits, it’s the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission that will have the final decision.http://mainepublic.org/post/how-worst-case-scenario-new-brunswick-nuclear-plant-could-affect-down-east-maine#stream/0

May 13, 2017 Posted by | Canada, safety | Leave a comment

Cities of Marysville and St. Clair oppose Lake Huron nuclear waste dump

Marysville, St. Clair restate opposition to Lake Huron nuclear waste dump, By Jim Bloch For The Voice, May 7, 2017 At the urging of Michigan state Sen. Phil Pavlov, the cities of Marysville and St. Clair have passed updated resolutions opposing the efforts of Ontario Power Generation to build a Deep Geological Repository for low- and medium-level nuclear waste on the shore of Lake Huron in Kincardine, Ontario, Canada.

The Marysville City Council unanimously approved a new resolution of opposition to the dump at its regular meeting on April 24. St. Clair followed suit on May 1.

“In 2015, you took the bold action of passing a resolution opposing the proposed nuclear waste dump less than one mile from the shorelines of Lake Huron in Canada,” Pavlov wrote to each city council. “Unfortunately, our fight is not over.”

 Pavlov noted that townships, cities and counties representing 23 million citizens in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and Ontario have passed 187 resolutions opposing the nuclear waste dump.

“In spite of our majority opposition, Ontario Power Generation is continuing to pursue their dangerous plan to bury over seven million cubic feet of nuclear waste directly across the lake from the residents of St. Clair, Sanilac and Huron counties,” Pavlov said. “To even consider constructing a permanent nuclear waste disposal site near our valuable Great Lakes is dumbfounding.”

City Manager Randy Fernandez and Mayor Dan Damman spoke against the waste repository, proposed to be excavated about six-tenths of a mile from the lake at a depth of 2,200 feet.

“It’s mind-boggling that this is still a topic of concern,” said Damman. “I’m a full proponent of this resolution.”

The measure passed in Marysville 7-0.

The resolution noted that some of the waste “will remain toxic for over 100,000 years.”

The Great Lakes contain 20 percent of the world’s surface fresh water and 95 percent of the fresh water in the United States “vital to human and environmental health.”

“Under the 2012 Protocol Amending the Agreement between Canada and the United States of American on Great Lakes Water Quality, the governments of the U.S. and Canada acknowledge the importance of anticipating, preventing and responding to threats to the waters of the Great Lakes,” the resolution reads.

The two governments “share a responsibility to protect the Great Lakes from contamination from various sources of pollution, including the potential leakage of radioactivity from an underground nuclear waste repository.”…….http://www.voicenews.com/news/marysville-st-clair-restate-opposition-to-lake-huron-nuclear-waste/article_46cae100-3364-11e7-b0e2-973cbaf143db.html

May 10, 2017 Posted by | Canada, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Uranium company Cameco in trouble: the industry is just not viable

Unviable economics of nuclear power catches up with Cameco, Independent Australia, Jim Green 9 May 2017 Multinational uranium producer Cameco is battling a uranium downturn, the tax office, disinterested customers and Traditional Owners, Dr Jim Green reports. 

ECONOMICS is killing the nuclear power industry.

Westinghouse, a giant of the industry, recently filed for bankruptcy protection and its parent company Toshiba may also go bankrupt — both companies brought undone by $15 billion cost overruns building four reactors.

In France, nuclear utilities EDF and Areva would have gone bankrupt if not for repeated multi-billion-dollar government bailouts — their most immediate problem is cost overruns of $18 billion building just two reactors.

The question arises: will them nuclear power crisis create similar carnage in the uranium industry? Might it bring down a uranium industry giant like Cameco, which provides about 17% of the world’s production from mines in Canada, the U.S. and Kazakhstan?

The short answer is that Cameco will likely survive, but the company has been downsizing continuously for the past five years:

Another 120 workers are to be sacked by May 2017 at three Canadian uranium mines ‒ McArthur River, Key Lake and Cigar Lake ‒ and production at McArthur River, already reduced, will be suspended for six weeks in mid-2017.

Cameco’s revenue dropped US$238 million (AU$321 million) in 2016 and the company posted a US$46 million (AU$62 million) loss for the year. The loss was largely the result of US$267 million (AU$360 million) in impairment charges, including US$91 million (AU$123 million) related to the Rabbit Lake mine and a write-off of the full US$176 million (AU$237 million) value of the Kintyre uranium project in Western Australia.

President Tim Gitzel said:

“I think it’s fair to say that no one, including me, by the way, expected the market would go this low and for this long … market conditions in 2016 were as tough as I have seen them in 30 years.”

Cameco’s “tier-1” mines ‒ McArthur River and Cigar Lake in Canada and the Inkai ISL mine in Kazakhstan ‒ have been largely unaffected by the cutbacks except for the slowdown at McArthur River. But the tier-1 mines aren’t safe, Cameco plans to reduce production by 7% in 2017, the two mines in the U.S. might be sold (if a buyer can be found), and new mines are off the table.

TEPCO cancels billion-dollar contract

Cameco faces a new problem with notorious Japanese company TEPCO ‒ owner of the Fukushima reactors ‒ announcing on January 24 that it had issued a contract termination notice, sparking a 15% drop in Cameco’s share price over the next two days. The termination affects about 9.3 million pounds (4.22 kilos) of uranium oxide due to be delivered until 2028, worth approximately US$959 million (AU$1294 million).

TEPCO argues that a “force majeure” event occurred because it has been unable to operate its nuclear plants in Japan ‒ four reactors at Fukushima Daini and seven reactors at Kashiwazaki Kariwa ‒ for some years due to government regulations relating to reactor restarts in the aftermath of the March 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Cameco plans to fight the contract termination and will pursue “all its legal rights and remedies”.

Gitzel said:

‘They’ve taken delivery under this contract in 2014, 2015 and 2016, so we’re a bit perplexed as to why now all of a sudden they think there’s a case of, as they say, “force majeure”.’ 

TEPCO has received and paid for 2.2 million pounds of uranium oxide from Cameco since 2014

Japan is “swimming – some would say drowning – in uranium”, the senior editor of Platts Nuclear Publications said in early 2016. According to Forbes writer James Conca, Japan’s existing uranium inventory will suffice to fuel the country’s power reactors “for the next decade”.

Nick Carter from Ux Consulting said he believes TEPCO is the first Japanese utility to terminate a long-term contract, while many others have tried to renegotiate contracts to reduce volumes or prices or delay shipments. Gitzel acknowledged that “there is concern over the risk of contagion from the TEPCO announcement” ‒ more customers might try to cancel contracts if TEPCO succeeds.

Tax dispute

A long-running tax dispute is starting to heat up with the October 2016 commencement of a court case brought against Cameco by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The dispute has been slowly winding its way through appeals and legal motions since 2009 when Cameco first challenged the CRA’s findings. The court case is likely to conclude in the coming months but the court’s decision may not be finalised until late-2017 or 2018.

Cameco is accused of setting up a subsidiary in Switzerland and selling it uranium at a low price to avoid tax. Thus Cameco was paying the Swiss tax rate of about 10% compared to almost 30% in Canada. Cameco set up the subsidiary in 1999 and established a 17-year deal selling uranium at approximately US$10 (AU$13.50) a pound — far less than the average price over the 17-years period. Another subsidiary was established in Barbados — possibly to repatriate offshore profits.

If Cameco loses the case in the Tax Court of Canada, it could be liable for back taxes of US$1.6 billion (AU$2.2 billion). Last year, the company spent approximately US$89 million (AU$120 million) legal costs related to the tax dispute.

Canadians for Tax Fairness have been arguing the case for legislative change to stop profit-shifting schemes, and for Cameco to pay up. Last year, the NGO teamed up with Saskatchewan Citizens for Tax Fairness and the international corporate watchdog, SumOfUs, to deliver a petition with 35,000 signatures to the Canadian Prime Minister’s office and to Cameco’s executive offices.

Don Kossick from Canadians for Tax Fairness noted that the US$1.6 billion (AU$2.2 billion) could easily cover the budgetary deficit in Saskatchewan that has resulted in major cuts to health, education and human services……..https://independentaustralia.net/business/business-display/unviable-economics-of-nuclear-power-catches-up-with-cameco,10275

May 10, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Canada, Uranium | Leave a comment

25 years of uranium company Cameco’s incidents and accidents

Unviable economics of nuclear power catches up with Cameco, Independent Australia, Jim Green 9 May 2017  CAMECO’S INCIDENTS AND ACCIDENTS: 1981‒2016

This table lists many of Cameco’s accidents and controversies since 1981 — leaks and spills, the promotion of dangerous radiation junk science (in WA and elsewhere) appalling treatment of Indigenous people, systemic and sometimes deliberate safety failures and so on.

Date and Location Description of Incident
1981−89:

Saskatchewan, Canada

153 spills occurred at three uranium mines in Saskatchewan from 1981 to 1989. Cameco was fined C$10,000 for negligence in relation to a 1989 spill of two million litres of radium- and arsenic-contaminated water from the Rabbit Lake mine.
1990, May 13:

Blind River Uranium Refinery

Leak shuts down the Canadian refinery. Approximately 178 kg of radioactive uranium dust leaked into the air over a 30-hour period.
1993:

Canada/US

Inter-Church Uranium Committee from Saskatchewan reveals export of at least 500 tons of depleted uranium to the US military by Cameco, despite several Canadian treaties to export uranium only for “peaceful purposes”.
1998:

Kyrgyzstan

A truck en route to a Cameco gold main spills 2 tons of cyanide into the Barskoon River, a local drinking water and agricultural water source. 2,600 people treated and more than 1,000 hospitalized.
2001−

onwards:

Ontario

A 2003 report by the Sierra Club of Canada provides details of 20 major safety-related incidents and unresolved safety concerns at the Bruce nuclear power plant.
2002:

Kyrgyzstan

Fatality at Cameco’s Kumtor Gold Mine. Death of a Kyrgyz national, buried in the collapse of a 200 meter-high pit wall.
2003, April:

McArthur River, Saskatchewan

Cave-in and flood of radioactive water at the McArthur River mine. A consultant’s report found that Cameco had been repeatedly warned about the water hazards right up until the accident happened.
2004:

Key Lake uranium mill, Canada

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission approves Key Lake license renewal, despite continuing pit sidewall sloughing into the tailings disposed in the Deilmann pit. One million cubic meters of sand had already slumped into the tailings.
2004, April:

Port Hope, Ontario

Gamma radiation discovered in a school playground during testing in advance of playground upgrades. Although the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and AECL tried to dismiss the findings, the material under the school had to be removed when it was converted to low-cost housing in 2011. The contaminated material came from the uranium processing facility in Port Hope, now owned by Cameco.
2006, April:

Cigar Lake, Saskatchewan

A water inflow began at the bottom of the 6-meter wide shaft, 392 meters below the surface. All the workers left the area and removed equipment. According to a miner, “the mine’s radiation alarm kept going off, but the radiation technician merely re-set the alarm, assuring us that everything was fine.”
2006, Oct.: Cigar Lake, Saskatchewan Cameco said its “deficient” development of the Cigar Lake mine contributed to a flood that delayed the mine project by three years and would double construction costs.
2007:

Port Hope, Ontario

Substantial leakage of radioactive and chemical pollutants into the soil under the uranium conversion facility ‒ leakage not detected by monitoring wells.
2008:

US/Canada

Uranium mines owned by Cameco in Nebraska, Wyoming, and Canada have all had spills and leaks. Cameco made a settlement payment of $1.4 million to Wyoming for license violations, and $50,000 to Nebraska for license violations.
2008, January:

Rabbit Lake mill

Seepage underneath the mill discovered after a contract worker noticed a pool of uranium-tainted ice at an outdoor worksite.
2008, May:

Port Hope, Ontario

It was discovered during soil decontamination at the suspended Port Hope uranium processing facility that egress from degraded holding floors had contaminated the harbour surrounding the facility, which flows into Lake Ontario.
2008, June:

Key Lake

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission intends to approve the license renewal for Cameco’s Key Lake mill although CNSC staff assigned ‘C’ ratings (“below requirements”) in four out of 10 program areas assessed, including waste management, fire protection, environmental protection, and training.
2010:

Rabbit Lake

Uranium discharges from Rabbit Lake (highest by far in Canada) showed increase rather than the predicted decrease in 2010.
2011: Ship from Vancouver to China A number of sea containers holding drums of uranium concentrate are damaged and loose uranium is found in the hold.
2012, August:

Port Hope, Ontario

Spill of uranium dioxide powder resulted in one worker being exposed to uranium and three other workers potentially exposed during clean-up.
2012:

Northern Saskatchewan

Draft agreement between Cameco, Areva and the Aboriginal community of Pinehouse includes extraordinary clauses such as this: “Pinehouse promises to: … Not make statements or say things in public or to any government, business or agency that opposes Cameco/Areva’s mining operations; Make reasonable efforts to ensure Pinehouse members do not say or do anything that interferes with or delays Cameco/Areva’s mining, or do or say anything that is not consistent with Pinehouse’s promises under the Collaboration Agreement.”
2012, June 23: Blind River refinery, Ontario Three workers exposed to airborne uranium dust after a worker loosened a ring clamp on a drum of uranium oxide, the lid blew off and about 26 kg of the material were ejected into the air.
2013‒ongoing: Canada Cameco is battling it out in tax court with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Up to US$1.6 billion in corporate taxes allegedly went unpaid. Cameco also involved in tax dispute with the US IRS. According to Cameco, the IRS is seeking an additional $32 million in taxes, plus interest, and may also seek penalties.
2013: English River First Nation, Canada English River First Nation sign deal with Cameco and Areva, agreeing to support Millennium uranium mine and drop a lawsuit over land near the proposed mine. Some English River First Nation band members reacted strongly to the agreement. Cheryl Maurice said. “I am speaking for a group of people who weren’t aware that this agreement was being negotiated because there was no consultation process.”
2013, June: Saskatchewan Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde says the provincial government should not issue any new permits for potash, uranium or other resource development until First Nations concerns are addressed. Bellegarde said the province’s lack of a revenue-sharing deal with First Nations stemmed from “economic racism.” “Do not issue a licence to Cameco or Areva or BHP until indigenous issues are addressed,” he said.
2013, August:

Troy, Ohio, USA

A fire occurred on a truck carrying uranium hexafluoride which originated from Cameco’s refinery in Port Hope, Ontario. Nuclear regulators in Canada – where the cargo originated – and in the US were not informed of the incident.
2013, Sept.:

Northern Saskatchewan

Sierra Club Canada produces a detailed report on Cameco’s uranium operations in Northern Saskatchewan. It details systemic corporate failure by Cameco as well as systemic regulatory failure.
2014, Jan.:

Port Hope

About 450 Port Hope homeowners have had their soil sampled and properties tested in the first phase of the biggest radioactive clean-up in Canadian history. Some 1.2 million cubic metres of contaminated soil will be entombed in a storage facility. More than 5,000 private and public properties will undergo testing to identify places which need remediation. Port Hope is riddled with low-level radioactive waste, a product of radium and uranium refining at the Eldorado / Cameco refinery. The clean-up will cost an estimated US$1.3 billion.
2014, March A statement endorsed by 39 medical doctors calls on Cameco to stop promoting dangerous radiation junk science. The statement reads in part: “Cameco has consistently promoted the fringe scientific view that exposure to low-level radiation is harmless. Those views are at odds with mainstream scientific evidence.”
2015 A uranium supply contract was signed by Cameco and India’s Department of Atomic Energy on April 15, 2015. Nuclear arms control expert Crispin Rovere said: “As with the proposed Australia–India nuclear agreement, the text of the Canadian deal likewise abrogates the widely accepted principle that the nuclear recipient is accountable to the supplier. This is ironic given it was nuclear material diverted from a Canadian-supplied reactor that led to the India’s break-out in the first place. It would be like the citizens of Hiroshima deciding it would be a good idea to host American nuclear weapons within the city – the absurdity is quite astonishing.”
2015: Saskatchewan Cameco’s uranium operations in Saskatchewan are facing opposition from the Clearwater Dene First Nation. A group called Holding the Line Northern Trappers Alliance has been camping in the area to block companies from further exploratory drilling in their territory. The group set up camp in November 2014 and plans to remain until mining companies leave. Concerns include Cameco’s uranium deal with India and the health effects of Cameco’s operations on the Indigenous people of northern Saskatchewan.
2015:

Key Lake mill, Canada

Cameco personnel identify the presence of calcined uranium oxide within a building. Five workers receive doses exceeding the weekly action level of 1 mSv.
2016: Smith Ranch ISL uranium mine, Wyoming, USA The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission finds that a supervisor from Cameco subsidiary Power Resources deliberately failed to maintain complete and accurate records of workers’ exposure to radiation. The NRC issues a Notice of Violation to Cameco.
2016: Smith Ranch ISL uranium mine, Wyoming, USA

 

 

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a Confirmatory Action Letter to Cameco subsidiary Power Resources documenting actions that the company has agreed to take before resuming shipments of radioactive sludge to a Utah facility. The letter followed two incidents in which containers of radioactive barium sulfate sludge, a byproduct of uranium ore processing, arrived at their destination with external contamination from leakage during transport.

A more detailed, referenced version of this information, written by Mara Bonacci and Jim Green for Friends of the Earth Australia, is posted at wiseinternational.orghttps://independentaustralia.net/business/business-display/unviable-economics-of-nuclear-power-catches-up-with-cameco,10275

May 10, 2017 Posted by | Canada, incidents, Reference | Leave a comment

AREVA abandons Nunavut uranium project, due to indigenous opposition and low market prices

Areva pulls out of Baker Lake, Nunavut uranium mine remains mothballed, NUNATSIAQ ONLINE, Nunavut May 05, 2017 JANE GEORGE Areva Resources Canada, the proponent of the Kiggavik uranium project, has decided to close shop in Baker Lake and put its office building up for sale.

“After over 10 years exploring in the territory, studying the possibility of developing the Kiggavik Project and making numerous friends in the Kivalliq region, it’s time to say good bye,” the company said in an advertisement in the Nunatsiaq News print newspaper of May 5…..

The decision to sell the building comes after Areva opted to place its uranium mining project on hold.

That followed a 2015 recommendation from the Nunavut Impact Review Board that the project, 80 kilometres east of Baker Lake, should not proceed.

Then, in July 2016, the four federal ministers with authority over the project said they accepted the NIRB’s recommendation.

Kiggavik will remain in care and maintenance for an “indefinite period,” McCallum said May 4.

Meanwhile, its permits will be maintained and the property will be secured and visited once a year, he said.

The uranium mine to be located at two sites, Kiggavik and Sissons, would have comprised four open pits and an underground operation.

Areva said the project, with an estimated lifespan of about 12 years, would have been operating by some time in the 2020s or 2030s.

But opponents, such as the Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit group, said uranium mining posed a serious risk to the Kivalliq region’s caribou herds and that the environmental risks associated with the operation would outweigh its economic benefits.

While the mine would have cost $2 billion to build, McCallum said Areva had spent $80 million on developing the project, with $30 million going to northern contractors since 2006—numbers he recently shared in a meeting with the mayor of Baker Lake and the Kivalliq Inuit Association……The price of uranium currently stands at about $22 per pound—down nearly by half since 2013 and much lower than its high of more than $136 per pound in 2007. http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/65674areva_pulls_out_of_baker_lake_as_nunavut_uranium_mine_mothballed/#.WQzPWFlWLhM.twitter

May 8, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Canada, indigenous issues, Uranium | Leave a comment

Canada’s electricity for renewable energy – two thirds!

Two thirds of Canada’s electricity now comes from renewable energy, Financial Post Jesse Snyder | May 3, 2017 CALGARY — Canada substantially boosted its renewable electricity capacity over the past decade, and has now emerged as the second largest producer of hydroelectricty in the world, a new report said Wednesday.

A report by the National Energy Board said that Canada generated 66 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources in 2015. Hydroelectric power accounted for roughly 60 per cent of electricity supply, generating around 79,000 megawatts in 2015………

As large-scale hydropower projects face some resistance, wind and solar are set to step grown rapidly in recent years as their costs continue to fall.

Wind capacity in Canada increased 20-fold between 2005 and 2015, according to the NEB, and accounted for 7.7 per cent of total electricity capacity in 2015. Solar accounted for 1.5 per cent.

As Canada’s dependence on renewable sources like solar and wind grows — albeit gradually — governments are now grappling with how to build the high-voltage transmission lines that would be needed to offset intermittency……
Substituting intermittent power supplies with more stable ones is vastly more costly in Canada than in higher density countries like Denmark, which generates more than 50 per cent of its electricity from wind power.

In January, researchers at the University of Ottawa’s Institute of the Environment released a report that analyzed the long-term cost savings of building high-voltage connecting lines between several hydro rich and hydro poor regions—for example between Alberta and British Columbia.

“We found that you can achieve emission reductions at a lower cost if you build those transmission lines, and that’s including the cost of construction,” said Brett Dolter, one of the report’s authors.

Canada produced roughly 10 per cent of hydro capacity worldwide in 2015, second only to China at 29 per cent, the NEB data shows. Brazil and the U.S. produced nine per cent and 8 per cent, respectively.

Canada’s proportion of electricity generated by renewables is the sixth-highest in the world behind Denmark, Norway, Brazil, Austria and New Zealand. Only 12 countries generate more than half of their electricity from renewable supplies.

jsnyder@postmedia.com http://business.financialpost.com/news/two-thirds-of-canadas-electricity-now-comes-from-renewable-energy

May 5, 2017 Posted by | Canada, renewable | Leave a comment

Emergency exercises in Ottawa and Nova Scoria: testing how to respond to a nuclear threat

This is a test – nuclear threat focus of exercise in Ottawa and Nova Scotia http://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/defence-watch/this-is-a-test-nuclear-threat-focus-of-exercise-in-ottawa-and-nova-scotia  DAVID PUGLIESE, OTTAWA CITIZEN, 25 Apr 17,   Canada and the U.S. are in the midst of conducting an exercise that tests the ability of both countries to respond to a nuclear threat.

April 26, 2017 Posted by | Canada, safety, USA | Leave a comment