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Canada’s push for small nuclear reactors effectively stops real action on climate change.

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors Are Mostly Bad Policy, 
“………So Who Is Advocating For SMRs & Why? Clean Technica, ByMichael Barnard, 3 May 21,

At present we see SMR earmarked funds in both Canadian and US federal budgets, $150 million in Canada and 10 times as much in the US, mostly for research and development with the exception of over a billion to NuScale to, in theory, build something. In Canada, four provinces — Alberta, Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan — have joined forces in an SMR consortium. Bill Gates’ Terrapower has received another $80 million, as has X-Energy from the US DOE.

The failure conditions of small modular reactors are obvious. The lack of a significant market is obvious. The lack of ability to create a clear winner is obvious. The security costs are obvious. The lack of vertical scaling to thermal efficiency is obvious. The security risks and associated costs are obvious. The liability insurance cap implications are obvious. So why is all of this money and energy being thrown at SMRs? There are two major reasons, and only one of them is at all tenable.

Let’s start with the worst one. The Canadian provinces which are focused on SMRs are claiming that they are doing this as a major part of their climate change solutions. They are all conservative governments. Only one of those provinces has a nuclear fleet, although New Brunswick has one old, expensive, and due-to-retire reactor, as well as a track record of throwing money away on bad energy ideas, like Joi Scientific’s hydrogen perpetual motion machines. One of the provinces, Ontario, has been actively hostile to renewable energy, with the current administration cutting up 758 renewables contracts and legislating a lack of recourse as a very early act after election.

So why are they doing this? Because it allows them to defer governmental climate action while giving the appearance of climate action. They can pander to their least intelligent and wise supporters by asserting that renewables aren’t fit for purpose, while also not doing anything about the real problem because SMRs don’t exist in a modern, deployable, operable form yet.

The other major reason gets back to renewables as well. 15 years ago it was an arguable position to hold that renewables were too expensive, would cause grid reliability issues and that nuclear in large amounts was necessary. That’s been disproven by both 15 years of failures of nuclear deployments, but more importantly plummeting costs and proven grid reliability with renewable generation. Now almost every serious analyst agrees that renewables can economically deliver 80% of required grid energy, but there is still debate from credible analysts about the remaining 20%.

Mark Z. Jacobson and his Stanford team are at the center of this debate. Since the late 2000s, they’ve been publishing regular studies of increasing scope and sophistication on the thesis of 100% renewables by 2050. The 2015 publication saw a lot of pushback. At the time, my assessment of the fundamental disagreement was that the people who published a criticism of it thought the last 20% would be too expensive, and that both nuclear and carbon capture and sequestration would be necessary and scaled components.

Personally, I’ve done various aspects of the math, looked at grid reliability and transformation data from around the world, and looked at ancillary services requirements, and I think Jacobson and team are right. Further, that since we all agree that renewables are fit for purpose for 80% of the problem we should deploy them as rapidly as possible.

However, it’s very reasonable to make a side bet or two to ensure coverage of that last 20%. I don’t mind research dollars spent on SMRs, which is all most of the SMR expenditures amount to, outside of the Nu Scale bailout (which is added to the Ohio $1.3 billion bailout, which is added to the annual $1.7 billion overt federal subsidy, which is added to the annual hidden $4 billion security subsidy which is added to the $70 billion unfunded cleanup subsidy, which is added to the uncosted and unfunded taxpayer liability). Spending a few tens of millions of dollars in rich countries to ensure that we have that last 20% bridged is reasonable.

But the people asserting that SMRs are the primary or only answer to energy generation either don’t know what they are talking about, are actively dissembling or are intentionally delaying climate action.

May 4, 2021 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Canadian government rejects Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, but majority of Canadians support it.

Government out of step with Canadians on nuclear weapons, Policy Options, 26 Apr 21,
Ottawa refuses to support a UN nuclear weapons ban treaty. Why is there such a disconnect between government policy and public preference? Policy Options, 

While most Canadians are aware of the massive destructive power of nuclear weapons, they are rarely asked their opinion about them. Earlier this month, a Nanos poll provided the responses of 1,000 Canadians to a set of nine questions on the theme of nuclear disarmament. The clear preference of 80 per cent of those surveyed was that the world should work to eliminate nuclear weapons.

This sentiment could be seen as merely an abstract aspirational goal, but the poll also addressed levels of support for the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) which entered into force this January. Overall, 74 per cent of those polled expressed support for Canada adhering to this treaty. This support is at odds with the Canadian government’s current rejection of the TPNW, which it has argued is ineffective and contrary to NATO policies. Still, the polling numbers suggest the public is supportive of a nuclear weapons ban of some sort, regardless of the government’s concerns.

Popular support for the TPNW didn’t fade even when respondents were presented with a scenario of U.S. opposition to Canada embracing the treaty………

April 27, 2021 Posted by | Canada, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Bill Gates and 28 other billionaires pushing their small nuclear reactors, on the pretext that they’re ”clean”

Billionaires leading push for nuclear reactors in Canadian mining

By Joyce Nelson, Rabble, April 19 2021 is part two of a two-part series on small modular reactors.

In January 2019, Gordon Edwards, president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, warned that the Trudeau government has a “desire to build small modular nuclear reactors [SMRs] all over Canada, especially in the North, to support the accelerated exploitation of natural resources.” Edwards included an excerpt from Nuclear Energy Insider, published January 16, 2019, which stated: “Canada’s large mining sector is seen as a key early market for SMR plants as operators look to reduce carbon emissions and costs.”

That “early market” for small modular reactors has been cleverly targeted by a key lobby group. As I wrote for Watershed Sentinel, Bill Gates and 28 other billionaires and “high-net-worth” individuals launched the Breakthrough Energy Coalition at the 2015 Paris climate talks to lobby for small nuclear reactor development as “clean technology” in dozens of countries, including Canada.

This billionaires’ nuclear club has been working closely for years with Natural Resources Canada in the push for small modular reactors, especially for use in off-grid mining………………….

With Gates and his billionaires’ nuclear club backing KoBold, it’s likely that their off-grid mining projects would welcome government financing for small modular reactors.

When asked about the situation, Mining Watch Canada’s Jamie Kneen told me by email:

“On the one hand, the mining industry faces so much risk in the markets that it’s unlikely to add to that risk by jumping on an unproven technology [like SMRs]. On the other hand, the mining industry is used to leaving masses of toxic waste behind for others to deal with — and getting away with it — so it’d be a perfect fit.”

Three political parties are fully against small modular reactors: the NDP, the Bloc Québécois, and the Green Party — worth remembering if the federal budget causes an election.

This is part one of a two-part series on small modular reactors. Read part one here.

Freelance writer Joyce Nelson is the author of seven books. She can be reached via

April 20, 2021 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | 2 Comments

Trudeau government’s extraordinary push for small nuclear reactors – tax breaks, no environmental assessment …

Budget may reveal extent of federal support for risky new nuclear reactors. Rabble.Ca   Joyce Nelson 15 Apr 21, Across Canada, environmentalists and First Nations will be closely watching the April 19 release of the federal budget to see just how far the Trudeau Liberals will go in their push for small modular reactors (SMRs).

In September 2020, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan endorsed SMRs and stated that there is “no pathway to net zero [carbon emissions] without nuclear,” which prompted David Suzuki to famously tell the CBC: “I want to puke.”

Apparently, many share that feeling.

More than 100 Indigenous and civil society groups across Canada are now opposed to the new nuclear reactors, which are being pushed by the federal government and four provinces — Saskatchewan, Ontario, New Brunswick and Alberta — as so-called “clean energy” and a supposed solution to climate change.

These governments argue that the reactors would be the replacement for diesel in remote communities and for use in off-grid mining, tar-sands development, heavy industry, and as exportable expertise in a global market.

But opponents call SMRs “dirty, dangerous and distracting” from real climate solutions.

Even before the budget, the Trudeau Liberals have already taken several steps to advance development of the reactors, especially for use in off-grid mining.

Steps towards small reactors

The feds endorsed the March 2019 Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan, drawn up by federal, provincial and territorial governments. That plan urges governments to “accelerate efforts to develop and adopt clean energy sources, especially for northern, remote and isolated communities that rely on diesel” and “continue to study the feasibility of small modular reactors in mining operations, as well as the potential market for this technology.”

Then, in September 2020, Canada and the U.S. agreed to collaborate on the financing and production of rare-earth and other key metals, which are necessary for a wide range of products including batteries, solar panels, electric vehicles, AI, and weaponry.

After the December 2020 release of the “SMR Action Plan,” the federal government also decided that there would be no environmental impact assessments for small modular reactors, and that tax incentives should be given for this so-called “clean technology.”

The recent mandate letter to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland directs her to “cut tax rates by 50 per cent for companies that develop and manufacture zero-emission technology” in order to “make Canada a world leader in clean technology.”

As noted, “[t]he Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has just given a green light to the preferred industry solution for disposal of nuclear reactors — entomb and abandon them in place, also known as ‘in-situ decommissioning.’ This paves the way for the introduction of a new generation of ‘small modular’ nuclear reactors or SMRs.”

While this would be a disaster for the environment and nearby communities, it would be a boon for the nuclear industry and the off-grid mining sector, which would not have to deal with the fallout and repercussions of such nuclear waste once a mining project is finished.

Important policy change

On December 7, 2020 the Hill Times published an open letter to Treasury Board from more than 100 women leaders across Canada, stating:

“We urge you to say ‘no’ to the nuclear industry that is asking for billions of dollars in taxpayer funds to subsidize a dangerous, highly polluting and expensive technology that we don’t need. Instead, put money into renewable, energy efficiency and energy conservation.”…………..

April 20, 2021 Posted by | Canada, politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

In Ontario, opponents of nuclear waste disposal join forces 

Opponents of nuclear waste disposal join forces ‘Ignace should not get to decide’ whether to accept a storage site, a spokesperson says.

By: Gary Rinne   19 Apr 21, KENORA, Ont. — Thirty thousand households and businesses in Northwestern Ontario are receiving postcards from a group of organizations opposed to nuclear waste disposal in Northwestern Ontario.

We the Nuclear Free North calls itself an alliance of Indigenous and non-Indigenous volunteers and organizations who believe the risks of transporting and burying nuclear waste are too high.

It’s delivering information cards outlining its concerns to residents living between Upsala and the Manitoba border.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization has identified the Revell Lake area, about 35 kilometres from Ignace, as a candidate site for an underground repository, and is continuing to conduct studies in the area.

NWMO is also still looking at a site in Bruce County in southern Ontario.

We the Nuclear Free North says it has launched a website to provide information about the project from sources that are independent of the nuclear power companies that generate and own Canada’s nuclear waste. 

It says NWMO is proposing to send multiple truckloads of highly radioactive waste to its selected site “every day for at least 40 years.”

Spokesperson Fred Melanson, who served on Ear Falls council when that community was being studied for nuclear waste disposal, said “This is not the kind of development the people of Northwestern Ontario want. Burying nuclear waste is a high-risk experiment.”

Although NWMO has developed a working relationship with the Township of Ignace during the study process, Environment North representative Dodie LeGassick said “This is not an issue for one community. It is an issue for the entire region.”

LeGassick said “Ignace should not get to decide whether 22,000 trucks hauling radioactive waste drive through Nipigon and through Shuniah Township and all of the other many communities along the route.”

On its website, the alliance – which includes Environment North and Northwatch – also notes that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples requires that states “take effective measures to ensure that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent.”  

Peter White, an elder with Grand Council Treaty # 3’s Ki’ieshgitabaaning Cultural and Healing Lodge said “The lives of our children and future generations are too precious to be used as a nuclear experiment and should not have this burden put on their shoulders.”

NWMO intends to make a final decision on the location of the underground storage site in 2023.

April 20, 2021 Posted by | Canada, opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

Reforms needed at Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission ~ Hill Times letter to the editor — Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area

April 12, 2021 Canada’s nuclear regulatory agency, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission says it’s the “World’s best nuclear regulator” on its website. That “self-image” of the CNSC’s is inconsistent with statements made in recent years by international peer reviewers, high-ranking Canadian officials, international nuclear proponents and others. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently reviewed Canada’s nuclear […]

Reforms needed at Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission ~ Hill Times letter to the editor — Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area

April 13, 2021 Posted by | Canada, safety | Leave a comment

Pickering Nuclear plant at risk of ‘Fukushima-type accident,

Nuclear plant at risk of ‘Fukushima-type accident,’ Ontario group says, National Observer, 
By Charles Mandel | NewsEnergy | April 8th 2021
   Citing the potential for a repeat of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown, the Ontario Clean Air Alliance wants an interim moratorium on the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station’s (PNGS) operation.

The aging plant is slated for closure in 2024, and the alliance says a moratorium should be imposed until the operators can prove to the public that it poses no risk to public safety. Ontario Power Generation (OPG) operates the plant, which consists of eight CANDU reactors— a type of reactor that uses deuterium oxide, or heavy water, as a moderator and coolant and natural (not enriched) uranium as a fuel. Two of the plant’s reactors have already been permanently shuttered because of their age.

OPG has been lobbying Ontario’s provincial government to keep the plant open until 2025. Currently, it is slated to remain operating until 2024, at which point decommissioning would begin. The OPG gained its last licence renewal for the plant in 2018.

The clean air alliance made its demand March 30 in a letter addressed to Rumina Velshi, president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

However, Marc Leblanc, CNSC commission secretary, said in a release in early April that an interim moratorium is not under consideration. “The commission sees no basis on which it might reconsider its licensing decision to authorize the operation of the PNGS.”

The CNSC did not return National Observer’s phone calls.

Fears of ‘Fukushima-type accident’

OPG says the plant’s exemplary safety record is proof there is no cause for concern.

However, a number of experts told National Observer the Pickering plant is well past its prime and shouldn’t be allowed to continue operations.

Jack Gibbons, president of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, cited the plant’s aging pressure tubes as one reason the plant should be shuttered.

“It turns out that OPG does not have the data to show that Pickering’s pressure tubes are still safe for service. If the pressure tubes aren’t fit for service they could potentially rupture or break, and in the worst case scenario there could be a Fukushima-type accident,” Gibbons said.

The clean air alliance notes PNGS has at least twice as many people living within 30 kilometres as any other nuclear station on the continent. A 2018 study the alliance commissioned from Ian Fairlie, an independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment, cites dire consequences should a meltdown occur at PNGS.

It says a Fukushima-level accident at PNGS could cause approximately 26,000 cancers, require the evacuation of more than 150,000 homes and more than 650,000 people, and trigger a $125-billion loss in the value of single-family homes in the Greater Toronto Area.

Aging pressure tubes ‘a prime concern’

The pressure tubes in question are about 10 centimetres in diameter and some six metres long. Each pressure tube in a reactor holds 12 uranium bundles, which are the basis for the nuclear reaction that produces heat and provides the energy. The tubes — there are approximately 400 of them in a reactor — also carry the coolant. But like any aging part, the tubes could fail.

Gordon Edwards, president of the non-profit Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, says OPG is “running these plants like no other CANDU reactor in the world.”

He explains that every other CANDU reactor that reaches a certain age is scheduled for refurbishment or re-tubing, which is a replacement of the pressure tubes and feeder pipes that go into the reactor’s core and cool the fuel.

Over their lifespan, the tubes are subjected to great heat, pressure and radiation from the fissioning uranium atoms. Over time, the stress to the tubes can cause them to become brittle and develop blisters that potentially become the site for an elongated crack or a serious rupture.

“Cooling the fuel is essential in nuclear power. If you don’t cool the fuel even after shutdown, you can have a meltdown. That’s what happened at Fukushima. I’m not saying every loss of coolant will lead to a meltdown, but that’s the precipitating cause that could lead to a meltdown. So therefore the integrity of the piping is a prime concern,” Edwards said.

While the Pickering plant must inspect the tubes as a condition of its operating licence, Edwards notes it only tests a fraction of the tubes, fewer than 10 per cent. Nor are the tubes uniform. One might have signs of degradation while the one next to it might be fine. According to Edwards, that makes the sampling less than reassuring.

Frank Greening is a research scientist who worked for OPG for 23 years. During that period, he estimates he spent half the time researching pressure tubes.

Greening says the benchmark for operating performance for CANDU reactors is roughly 30 years at 80 per cent capacity. Pickering reached that benchmark around 2015, but since then the OPG has “kept pushing the envelope, and the limiting factor is the pressure tubes’ fitness for service.”

According to Greening, “every time you turn around, they try and squeeze a little bit more juice out of the lemon. This is a way to keep the nuclear industry gainfully employed, and stretching the lifetime of these reactors as far as they can. I think they’ve gone too far.”………

April 10, 2021 Posted by | Canada, safety | Leave a comment

What would go into the Chalk River Mound? — Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area

December 2020 Canadian taxpayers are paying a consortium (Canadian National Energy Alliance) contracted by the federal government in 2015, billions of dollars to reduce Canada’s $16 billion nuclear liabilities quickly and cheaply. The consortium is proposing to construct a giant mound for one million tons of radioactive waste beside the Ottawa River upstream of Ottawa-Gatineau. […]

What would go into the Chalk River Mound? — Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area
There is considerable secrecy about what would go into the mound; the information that follows has been  derived from the proponent’s final environmental impact statement (EIS) (December 2020) which lists a partial inventory of radionuclides that would go into the gigantic five-to-seven story radioactive mound (aka the “NSDF”). The EIS and supporting documents also contain inventories of non-radioactive hazardous materials that would go into the dump.

Here is what the consortium says it is planning to put into the Chalk River mound (according to the final EIS and supporting documents)

1)  Long-lived radioactive materials

Twenty-five out of the 30 radionuclides listed in Table 3.3.1-2: NSDF Reference Inventory and Licensed Inventory are long-lived, with half-lives ranging from four centuries to more than four billion years.

To take just one example, the man-made radionuclide, Neptunium-237, has a half-life of 2 million years such that, after 2 million years have elapsed, half of the material will still be radioactive. At the time of emplacement in the mound, the neptunium-237 will be giving off 17 million ( check, 1.74 x 10 to the 7th) radioactive disintegrations each second, second after second.

The mound would contain 80 tonnes of Uranium and 6.6 tonnes of thorium-232.

2) Four isotopes of plutonium, one of the most deadly radioactive materials known, if inhaled or ingested.

John Gofman MD, PhD, a Manhattan Project scientist and former director of biomedical research at the DOE’s Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, stated that even one-millionth of a gram of plutonium inhaled into the lung, will cause lung cancer within 20 years. Sir Brian Flowers, author of the UK Royal Commission Report on Nuclear Energy and the Environment, wrote that a few thousands of a gram, inhaled into the lungs, will cause death within a few years because of massive fibrosis of the lungs, and that a few millionths of a gram will cause lung cancer with almost 100% certainty.

The four isotopes of plutonium listed in the NSDF reference inventory are Plutonium-239, Plutonium-240, Plutonium-2441 and Plutonium-242. According to Table 3.3.1-2 (NSDF Reference Inventory and Licensed Inventory) from the EIS, The two isotopes 239 and 240 combined will have an activity of 87 billion Bq when they are emplaced in the dump. This means that they will be giving off 87 billion radioactive disintegrations each second, second after second.

3) Fissionable materials 

Fissionable materials can be used to make nuclear weapons.

The mound would contain “special fissionable materials” listed in this table (avove) extracted from an EIS supporting document, Waste Acceptance Criteria, Version 4, (November 2020)

4) Large quantities of Cobalt-60 

The CNL inventory also includes a very large quantity of cobalt-60 (990 quintillion becquerels), a material that gives off so much strong gamma radiation that lead shielding must be used by workers who handle it in order to avoid dangerous radiation exposures. The International Atomic Energy Agency considers high-activity cobalt-60 sources to be “intermediate-level waste” and specifies that they must be stored underground. Addition of high-activity cobalt-60 sources means that hundreds of tons of lead shielding would be disposed of in the mound.

5) Very Large quantities of tritium

The mound would contain 890 billion becquerels of tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen. Tritium readily combines with oxygen to form radioactive water. It moves readily through the environment and easily enters all cells of the human body where it can cause damage to cell structures including genetic material such as DNA and RNA.

Because it is part of the water molecule, removal of tritium from water is very difficult and expensive. There are no plans to remove tritium from the mound leachate. Instead the consortium plans to pipe the contaminated water directly into Perch Lake which drains into the Ottawa River.

6) Carbon-14

The mound would contain close to two billion becquerels of Carbon-14, an internal emitter that is hazardous in similar ways to tritium. Carbon is a key element in all organic molecules. When it is inhaled or ingested it can become incorporated into all manner of organic molecules and cellular components including genetic material.

7) Many other man-made radionuclides 

Radionuclides such as caesium-137, strontium-90, radium, technetium, nickel-59, americium-243 are listed in the partial inventory of materials that would go into the dump. See the partial inventory here:

8) Non-radioactive hazardous materials

Hazardous materials destined for the dump according to the final EIS and Waste Acceptance Criteria include asbestos, PCBs, dioxins, mercury, up to 13 tonnes of arsenic and hundreds of tonnes of lead. (Reference)


9) Large quantities of valuable metals that could attract scavengers

According the the final EIS, the mound would contain 33 tonnes of aluminum, 3,520 tonnes of copper, and 10,000 tonnes of iron. It is well known that scavenging of materials  occurs after closure of facilities. Scavengers who would be exposed to high radiation doses as they sought to extract these valuable materials from the dump.

10) Organic Materials

80,339 tonnes of wood and other organic material are destined for the mound. These materials would decompose and cause slumping in the mound, therefore potentially compromising the integrity of the cap.

Most of the radioactive and hazardous material would get into the air and water, some sooner, some later. Some would get into ground and surface water during creation of the mound, such as tritium which is very mobile and cannot be removed by the proposed water treatment plant. Others would get into the air, during construction and could be breathed by workers. Some materials would leach slowly into groundwater. Still others would be released when the mounds deteriorates over time and eventually disintegrates several hundreds of years into the future. For details on the expected disintegration of the mound in a process described as “normal evolution” see this po

The mound would actually get more radioactive over time

See the submission entitled “A Heap of Trouble” by Dr. Gordon Edwards, president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility for a chilling description of this process. Here is a quote from the submission:

The Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF) project is presented not as a temporary, interim
storage facility but as a permanent repository that will ultimately be abandoned. We are
dealing with a potentially infinite time horizon. The proponent seeks approval not just for a
few decades, but forever. Such permission has never before been granted for post-fission
radioactive wastes in Canada, nor should it be granted. Long-lived radioactive waste
should not be abandoned, especially not on the surface beside a major body of water.

The facility will remain a significant hazard for in excess of 100,000 years.

This point was raised by Dr. J.R. Walker, a retired AECL radioactive waste expert in his submission on the draft environmental impact statement. You can read his full submission here:

This dump would not not meet international safety standards for radioactive waste management.

The dump would not meet provincial standards for hazardous waste disposal.

“There is no safe level of exposure to any man-made radioactive material.

“There is no safe level of exposure to any man-made radioactive material. All discharges, no matter how small,  into our air and water can cause cancer and many other diseases as well as genetic damage and birth defects.”

~ Dr. Eric Notebaert, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.


February 23, 2021 Posted by | Canada, radiation, wastes | Leave a comment

Opposition to nuclear dump plan for upstream at Chalk River

February 23, 2021 Posted by | Canada, opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

Community fights Canadian govt’s slick propaganda pushing for high-level radioactive waste dump

Radio — A community’s fight to stop a high-level radioactive waste storage facility February 9, 2021 by Scott   Michelle Stein and Bill Noll are members of Protect Our Waterways – No Nuclear Waste, a group of concerned residents of South Bruce, Ontario, who have come together in opposition to the proposal to put a high-level radioactive waste storage facility in their community. Stein and her husband raise cattle and sheep on their farm, which sits next to the proposed site. And Noll is a retired engineer who lives right across from the site. Scott Neigh interviews them about their concerns with the proposed facility and their campaign to stop it.

Since the dawn of the nuclear age in the 1940s, humanity has faced stark questions of risk and safety. Some of those questions have to do with the dangers of acute catastrophe, but others are about the less dramatic but no less serious risk posed by the waste that the nuclear industry generates. Among the most challenging of that waste to deal with – designated “high-level radioactive waste” by the industry – is spent fuel bundles from nuclear reactors. Comprised of a highly toxic and radioactive mix of isotopes, the material in these bundles will be dangerous to living things for at the very least hundreds of thousands of years.

Though it has been decades since the industry first started producing radioactive waste, there has yet to be a fully satisfactory answer to the question of what to do with it. The organization currently tasked with figuring that out for the millions of used nuclear fuel bundles in the Canadian context is the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO). Currently, used fuel bundles are kept in interim storage facilities on reactor sites, but the long-term plan is to put them in a “deep geological repository” (DGR), a location that is deep underground and geologically stable. A number of countries are currently developing DGRs for high-level radioactive waste, but none are currently operational.

The NWMO is in the middle of an elaborate selection process to find a site for both the plant that will repackage the fuel bundles for long-term storage and the storage facility itself. They began with 22 possible host communities in 2010 – mostly, it should be noted, small financially distressed communities – and they have narrowed their possibilities down to two, Ignace in northwestern Ontario and South Bruce in southern Ontario, near Lake Huron. They hope to announce their decision in 2023.

The concerns that Stein, Noll, and other members of their group have with the facility are many. Despite assurances from the NWMO that it will all be safe, their own investigation of processes for transporting and storing nuclear waste around the world have convinced them that very real risks remain under the NWMO’s plans. They fear that the facility could endanger human and environmental health, local agriculture, local drinking water, and the larger Great Lakes basin. And they argue that it is not just about their community being the wrong choice, but that the whole approach is flawed.

Moreover, they are quite concerned about the process. They have identified a pattern of what they say is incomplete and one-sided information from the NWMO, and a process that takes advantage of communities by downplaying risk and promising economic benefits that they say seem unlikely. The NWMO insists that whatever community ends up hosting the DGR must be willing, but they have refused to clarify exactly what that means.

Much of the group’s work has focused on mounting a local grassroots response to the slick and well-funded PR efforts of the NWMO. Before COVID, that involved knocking on doors. They’ve brought in speakers and hosted events, lobbied politicians, done media work, and made presentations to other local organizations. Last summer, they presented a petition against the DGR with signatures from more than 1500 residents to the local municipal council – and to put that in perspective, the current mayor got fewer votes than that in the last local election. They commissioned Mainstreet Research to do an opinion survey that found 64% of local residents would vote against locating a DGR for high-level radioactive waste in the community. The group is demanding a binding referendum on the issue.

Stein said, “Since they won’t give us a definition of what ‘willing’ is, we are going to just continue to show them what ‘not willing’ looks like.”

February 16, 2021 Posted by | Canada, opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

Canada’s nuclear waste storage ”“cannot and will not go forward without the informed and willing consent of potential host communities”

Consent will be key to nuclear waste storage, The Chronicle Journal, BY CARL CLUTCHEY, NORTH SHORE BUREAU,   15 Feb 21, The incoming executive in charge of overseeing site selection regarding a potential underground storage facility for spent nuclear-fuel rods says consultation with affected neighbouring communities will be paramount.The potential facility “cannot and will not go forward without the informed and willing consent of potential host communities,” Lise Morton said on Jan. 29, in a Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) news release………

One of two sites remaining in Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s search for a potential underground storage facility will permanently house three million spent nuclear-fuel rods.

One candidate site is in South Bruce in southwestern Ontario near an existing nuclear station; the other is located about 35 kilometres west of Ignace, south of Highway 17 and on the traditional lands of Wabigoon Lake First Nation.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization wants to announce a site for its so-called deep geological repository by 2023.

The facility, which would cost $23 billion to build, would be operational by 2035…..

February 15, 2021 Posted by | Canada, wastes | Leave a comment

Canadian local community group opposes nuclear waste dump on farming land

South Bruce nuclear dump opponents address Minto council . Group: site near Teeswater would mean transporting waste through neighbouring communities,  , Wellington Advertiser,  Patrick Raftis, February 4, 2021  MINTO – A group fighting a proposal to locate an underground dumpsite for radioactive nuclear waste in neighbouring South Bruce brought its concerns to council here on Feb. 2.

“Over 50 years ago the nuclear industry told the government to let them start producing nuclear power and they would have a solution for the waste within five years,” said Michelle Stein of Protect Our Waterways – No Nuclear Waste (POWNNW), during a council video-conference meeting.

“But they didn’t. Now they have a problem.”

Stein explained POWNNW was formed last February after an announcement that 1,300 acres of prime farmland had been purchased and optioned by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO).

NWMO is proposing to locate a deep geologic repository (DGR) in South Bruce to contain high-level radioactive nuclear waste from all of Canada’s nuclear reactors.

Stein said the radioactive waste from Canada’s reactors is “safe where it is right now.

“But politically, it’s no longer acceptable and the government and the public are demanding a solution before they grant the nuclear industry permission to expand.”

Stein continued, “There’s a lot of money on the line. So the industry has set up [NWMO], which is funded and directed by the nuclear industry and the best idea they’ve come up with is to take this highly radioactive nuclear waste that is dangerous for over 100,000 years and bury it under prime farmland in the municipality of South Bruce.”

The proposed site near Teeswater was selected, said Stein, because “that’s where they found owners willing to sell them land” and “South Bruce was one of the municipalities who offered to learn more in exchange for money – lots of money.

“A lot of the money is spent on promoting the project, but there’s also donations to local organizations and community projects,” she noted.

Stein told council l the proposed site “has the Teeswater river running through it, wetlands at the edge of the Greenock Swamp, springtime floodplain and the town of Teeswater is close enough to see, with its elementary schools and the Teeswater Gay Lea plant.”

Stein called the proposed South Bruce repository “an experiment,” noting there are currently no operating DGRs for high level nuclear waste on the planet.

She noted an almost complete, but not yet licensed, DGR in Finland is presently the closest to coming on line.

According to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, said Stein, the Waste Isolation Plant Pilot (WIPP) in New Mexico is the only operational DGR in the world.

It accepts only low/intermediate nuclear waste, not high level, and is located in a desert, 35 kilometres from the nearest town and surrounded by a controlled safety zone encompassing more than 10,000 acres.

“The only thing we can really learn from this project is that accident happens and you can’t predict human error,” said Stein.

She added that in 2014 the WIPP “became radio actively contaminated by explosion of an underground drum of nuclear waste due to human error.”

Stein said the 2014 incident was “a mistake that took three years and $500 million to clean up.”

She pointed out establishing a DGR in South Bruce would massively increase the amount of nuclear waste being transported through a wide region.

“Currently they are around five loads of high level waste being moved per year, but an operating DGR would increase that to one or two shipments per day. These loads would be transported through surrounding communities,” she stated.

“And what does this mean for agriculture? Will consumers want to purchase products produced next to a nuclear dump? Will people want to buy freezer beef or chicken raised on or beside a nuclear dump?”

With the NWMO publicly stating it is looking for a “willing host,” Stein said POPNNW wants to see a clear benchmark that defines the term.

The group is lobbying for a standard that would require a two-thirds vote in favour of the proposed DGR, using a community referendum with a clear yes or no question, supervised by an independent third party.

Councillor Ron Elliott asked Stein what her group believes would be a better solution to burying the waste.

“You’re recommending we can’t get rid of the nuclear waste underground. What do you recommend we do with it? Because it’s there, we’ve got nuclear waste to get rid of,” said Elliott.

Stein replied, “At this time we’re recommending they go with rolling stewardship, which is keeping it above ground in a monitored state until they come up with a real solution.”

“So wouldn’t that be more dangerous?” asked Elliott

“Building a DGR doesn’t remove it from above ground. It still needs to be above ground (in containment pools) for 30 years before it can even be moved,” said Stein.

“What is a safe recommendation?” Elliott persisted.

“At the end of the day the nuclear industry has had over 50 years to come up with an idea and they haven’t,” Stein responded.

“To be honest, most of us have only been thinking about it for a year. But to accept the wrong solution is in fact no solution at all.”

Bill Noll, another member of the POPNNW delegation, said Ontario Power Generation has stated nuclear waste has been stored safely above ground for 60 years “and it can be stored longer.”

Noll said the group would like to see Canada wait for the results from the planned Finnish DGR in 2024 before going ahead with one here.

“Let them experiment for a couple of decades while we keep it above ground safely and then maybe we can consider whether or not the DGR is safe,” said Noll.

Deputy mayor Dave Turton asked Stein if local officials in South Bruce responded to the group’s concerns.

“Are they listening to you?” he asked.

Noll replied, “We are up against the wall to some degree. Our council is very much interested to see some economic development in the area, and we certainly understand and appreciate that, and so they’re very much in tune with the agenda being put forward by the NWMO.”

Mayor George Bridge thanked the group for sharing information with council.

February 6, 2021 Posted by | Canada, opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

Canada’s nuclear regulator updates its drug and alcohol testing requirements.

Canada’s nuclear regulator updates its drug and alcohol testing requirements. 22 Jan 21, ………Depending on the nature of their job, nuclear workers may be tested:

January 23, 2021 Posted by | Canada, safety | Leave a comment

We need parliamentarians to stop project, prevent Ottawa River from being permanently contaminated — Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area

January 18, 2021 Re “CNL working to accomplish responsible action in managing Canada’s nuclear research and development legacy” (The Hill Times, Letters to the Editor, December 14, 2020). This letter from Joe McBrearty, President and CEO of Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) deepens my concern about the handling of Canada’s $8 billion nuclear waste liability.  Mr. […]

Hill Times Letter to the Editor ~ We need parliamentarians to stop project, prevent Ottawa River from being permanently contaminated — Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area
………….Last month CNL published its final environmental impact statement listing a partial inventory of radionuclides that would go into the gigantic five-to-seven story radioactive mound (aka the “NSDF”).

Twenty-five out of the 30 radionuclides listed in the inventory are long-lived, with half-lives ranging from four centuries to more than four billion years. To take just one example, the man-made radionuclide, Neptunium-237, has a half-life of 2 million years such that, after 2 million years have elapsed, half of the material will still be radioactive. 

The inventory includes four isotopes of plutonium, one of the most deadly radioactive materials known, if inhaled or ingested.

It is incorrect to say that these materials “require isolation and containment for only a few hundred years.” Many of them will be dangerously radioactive for more than one hundred thousand years. The International Atomic Energy Agency states that materials like this must be stored tens of meters or more underground, not in an above-ground mound.

The CNL inventory also includes a very large quantity of cobalt-60, a material that gives off so much strong gamma radiation that lead shielding must be used by workers who handle it in order to avoid dangerous radiation exposures. The International Atomic Energy Agency considers high-activity cobalt-60 sources to be “intermediate-level waste” and specifies that they must be stored underground. Addition of high-activity cobalt-60 sources means that hundreds of tons of lead shielding would be disposed of in the mound along with other hazardous materials such as arsenic, asbestos, PCBs, dioxins and mercury.

CNL’s environmental impact statement describes several ways that radioactive materials would leak into surrounding wetlands that drain into the Ottawa River during filling of the mound and after completion. It also describes CNL’s intent to pipe water polluted with tritium and other radioactive and hazardous substances from the waste treatment facility directly into Perch Lake which drains into the Ottawa River.

I stand by my original conclusion: We need parliamentarians to step up now to stop this deeply flawed project and prevent the Ottawa River from being permanently contaminated by a gigantic, leaking radioactive landfill that would do little to reduce Canada’s $8 billion nuclear waste liability.

January 19, 2021 Posted by | Canada, environment, opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

Why Won’t Canada Back a Nuclear Weapons Ban?

Government uses NATO as an excuse not to sign treaty

Why Won’t Canada Back a Nuclear Weapons Ban? — Beyond Nuclear International
Why Won’t Canada Back a Nuclear Weapons Ban? 
The UN nuclear ban treaty becomes international law on January 22, but the Trudeau government won’t sign,  January 17, 2021 by beyondnuclearinternational   By Bianca Mugyenyi 17 Jan 21,  In a win for the long-term survival of humanity, the United Nations’ treaty banning nuclear weapons was ratified by the 50th country, Honduras, allowing the pact to pass. 

But any celebration in Canada should be muted by embarrassment at our government’s indifference to the threat nukes pose to humankind.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was negotiated at a 2017 UN conference, creating a legally binding agreement that would ban nuclear weapons and lead toward their total elimination.

Rather than showing support for this important meeting, Canada was in a minority of countries that voted against even holding this conference at a General Assembly vote in autumn 2016. (More than 120 countries were in favour of holding the conference; just 38 were opposed.)

Additionally, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau refused to send a representative to the 2017 conference, where two-thirds of the world’s countries were represented.

Trudeau was dismissive of the conference: “There can be all sorts of people talking about nuclear disarmament, but if they do not actually have nuclear arms, it is sort of useless to have them around, talking.” 

Around the same time, Trudeau made no effort to congratulate Canadian activist Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, who co-accepted the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

The Trudeau government has failed to join the 86 countries that have already signed the nuclear weapons treaty, described by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as “a very welcome initiative.”

Mexico and New Zealand, an ally with Canada in the Five Eyes security network, as well as European Union members Ireland and Austria have ratified the treaty. With Honduras becoming the 50th nation to ratify it, the treaty will enter into force on January 22, 2021.

In a last-ditch attempt to block the accord from reaching the required 50 member states, the Trump administration delivered a letter calling on countries that had signed to withdraw their support.

According to an Associated Press report, the letter claimed U.S. NATO allies — like Canada — “stand unified in our opposition to the potential repercussions” of the treaty…….

Canada’s defence policy, “Strong, Secure, Engaged,” makes two dozen references to Canada’s commitment to the nuclear-armed NATO alliance. According to NATO, “nuclear weapons are a core component of the Alliance’s overall capabilities.” Canada contributes personnel and funds to NATO’s Nuclear Policy Directorate and Nuclear Planning Group.

The Liberal government says it cannot ratify the UN nuclear ban treaty because of Canada’s membership in NATO.

Rather than offer this excuse to avoid signing a treaty opposed by powerful allies and Canada’s military, it could instead be used as a moment to consider re-evaluating Canada’s involvement in NATO. 

The Canadian Foreign Policy Institute initiated an open letter to Trudeau after Canada’s second consecutive defeat for a seat on the UN Security Council.

The letter asked: “Should Canada continue to be part of NATO or instead pursue non-military paths to peace in the world?” It has been signed by Greenpeace Canada,, Idle No More, Vancouver and District Labour Council and 50 other groups, as well as four sitting MPs and David Suzuki, Naomi Klein, Stephen Lewis and more than 2,000 others.

The NDPGreens and Bloc Québécois have all called for Canada to adopt the UN nuclear ban treaty. Thousands of Canadians have also signed petitions calling on the government to join the initiative.

Nuclear weapons will soon be banned under international law. The government needs to be challenged to get on the right side of history and sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Only then can Canadians proudly celebrate the critical effort under way to protect the future of humanity. 

Bianca Mugyenyi is an author and former co-executive director of The Leap. She currently directs the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute. 

January 18, 2021 Posted by | Canada, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment