The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Canada’s plan for replacing some U.S. nuclear power with renewable energy

Canada Aims To Solve U.S. Nuclear Woes

When New York state and Massachusetts retire three nuclear reactors between 2019 and 2021, the two states will lose a combined 2.7 gigawatts of carbon-free power. Both states want to replace that capacity with other forms of clean energy, in line with their ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the share of renewables in their energy mix.

Some thousand miles north, Hydro-Quebec, owned by the Quebec government, is struggling with stagnate demand at home, and as it expands its hydropower generation capacity, the company seeks to sell power to New York and Massachusetts.

 Hydro-Quebec faces strong competition from wind and solar proposals in the two U.S. states. In addition, hydropower is a reliable baseload option, but environmentalists say it is destructive to rivers and to river and nearby forest habitats.

The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, Mass., is planned to cease operations on May 31, 2019, while the two operating units at the Indian Point Energy Center will close in 2020-2021, with the decision driven by sustained low wholesale energy prices.

The closing of the three reactors would mean that NY and Massachusetts will lose a total of 2.7 gigawatts of carbon-free power.

This year, both NY state and Massachusetts issued requests for proposals for clean energy projects. Massachusetts seeks renewable energy generation and renewable energy credits (RECs) of 9,450,000 MWh annually and seeks proposals for long-term contracts of 15–20 years to provide the distribution companies with clean energy generation. The state has received more than 40 bids, including proposals from Hydro-Quebec-led developments. Hydro-Quebec says it is proposing six options —either 100-percent hydropower or a hydro-wind supply blend — offered over one of three proposed new transmission lines.


October 18, 2017 Posted by | Canada, renewable | Leave a comment

The Nuclear History of Port Hope – Book “Blind Faith”

Blind Faith: The Nuclear History of Port Hope, Ontario  by Dennis Riches  @DennisRiches Port Hope and Public Charity for a Corporate Citizen

Since the 1940s, nuclear weapons tests, power plant failures and uranium mining have left radioactive contamination at hundreds of sites around the world. Whether the contamination is from weapons tests, accidents, or just reckless routine operations, the story of the affected people unfolds in much the same way, as if it were a formulaic plot for a generic television soap opera. Communities that have been chemically contaminated follow much the same script, but radiation adds some distinctive elements to the situation.

Radiation is invisible, and it has always been imbued with a diverse range of magical powers in science fiction. Ironically, in a very real sense, radiation does make people invisible (the phenomenon is fully explained by Robert Jacobs in “Radiation Makes People Invisible”) [1]. Once groups of people have become victims of a radiological contamination, they are, in addition to being poisoned (or being traumatized by the possibility that they have been poisoned), marginalized and forgotten. Their traditions and communities are fragmented, and they are shamed into concealing their trauma. When contamination occurs, there is a strong impulse even among many victims to not admit that they have been harmed, for they know the fate that awaits them if they do.

The victims are helped in this denial by those who inflicted the damage on them because nuclear technology, both for weapons and electricity production, has always been treated as two sides of a single national security problem that requires secrecy and the occasional sacrifice. Its workings must be hidden from enemies, terrorists and citizens themselves. Thus governments have never been interested in helping their citizens investigate nuclear accidents and environmental damage left in the wake of nuclear development.

As secretive programs of nation states, nuclear complexes operate free of any governing body that could provide checks and balances. In this sense, they are a more intractable problem than the corporate villains that are occasionally held in check by government supervision. The American tobacco industry was eventually forced into retreat by government, and it had to pay enormous damages to state governments for health care costs, but the nuclear weapons and energy complexes still operate free of any higher power that could restrain or abolish them.

Thus it is that hibakusha (the Japanese word for radiation victims) become invisible. When a new group of people become victims, such as in Fukushima in 2011, they feel that they have experienced a unique new kind of horror. For them, for their generation, it is new, but for those who know the historical record, it is a familiar replay of an old story. The people of Fukushima should know by now that they are bit players who have been handed down a tattered script from the past.

A case in point is “Blind Faith,” the superb 1981 book by journalist Penny Sanger, about the small irradiated Canadian town of Port Hope on the shores of Lake Ontario. (See the timeline at the end of this article) [2] In the 1970s it faced (and more often failed to face) the toxic legacy of processing first radium, then uranium for nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants.

In a saner world this book would not be out of print and forgotten. It would be a classic text known by everyone who has ever had to share his town with a dangerous corporate citizen. Then there would be no surprises when a nuclear reactor explodes or a cancer cluster appears somewhere new. It wouldn’t be a shock to see the victims themselves fall over each other in a rush to excuse their abuser, beg for a continuation of jobs and tax revenue, and threaten the minority who try to break the conspiracy of silence.

On the back cover of the 1981 paperback edition of “Blind Faith” there was an endorsement by the late great Canadian writer Farley Mowat, who passed away in the spring of 2014:

Penny Sanger has written a fascinating and fearsome account of the emotional turmoil that engulfs a small town when it discovers that its major industry is a threat to the health of its citizens. This is a classic account of how economic power enables industry to ride roughshod over those who must depend on it for their daily bread.

Although I wrote above that “Blind Faith” illustrates universal truths about what happens to communities contaminated with radiation, there are always unique aspects of the situation that come into play. In this case, we see the extreme complacency and obliviousness of Canadian society to the role that the country played in the development of nuclear weapons and nuclear power.

The uranium refinery in Port Hope was a key element in the Manhattan Project. It was the main facility for refining uranium ores from the Congo and northern Canada. However, as a subordinate nation in the American-led war, Canada just had to go along in complete secrecy. As was the case even in the US, there was never any debate in public or in elected legislatures. Canada was just taking orders and didn’t have to feel responsible. Canadians are still largely ignorant about their complicity in making the bombs that fell on Japan, as they are about being one of the sources of the uranium that was in the reactors of Fukushima Daiichi.

Another factor in our sense of irresponsibility is the comfortable delusion that all bad things are done by the evil empire south of the border. We’re the good guys, with universal health care and multiculturalism……..

The Port Hope refinery began operations in the 1930s to produce radium from uranium ore. The ore came from the recently discovered rich deposits in the Port Radium mine on the shore of Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories (previous post on this topic here). This mine would later become one of the primary sources of uranium for the first atomic weapons, but in the 1930s radium was the only product that had value for its use in making luminescent paint and medical applications.

By the 1930s it was well understood that radium and uranium mines were extremely dangerous. The high lung cancer rates of miners in Czechoslovakia had been noted for a long time, but there were others who failed to acknowledge any connection. Marie Curie died in 1934 from aplastic anemia, and she never acknowledged that her numerous health problems had been related to the vials of radium that she carried around in her pocket or perhaps to the unshielded x-ray machines she worked with. [3] Today her diaries and papers still have to be stored in a lead box.

Because there was no consensus on the dangers of radium by the early pioneers (DNA wasn’t even understood until the 1950s), there were few safety controls in place when radium became an industrial product. Radium paint workers got sick and died for mysterious reasons, as did workers in processing plants like the Eldorado Mining and Refining facility in Port Hope. Almost nothing was done to protect workers or properly dispose of the waste product. The wastes were isolated in a dump, but when that became problem, the dirt was sold as fill to unsuspecting (or unscrupulous) buyers and used at construction sites all over town.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that a few citizens of Port Hope started to notice radioactive wastes turning up in various locations. This new awareness was the beginning of bitter social divides that would be familiar to anyone who has followed what has happened in Fukushima prefecture since 2011. The enormous implications of the necessary cleanup forced political and economic powers to downplay or ignore the dangers, and ostracize anyone who dared to threaten real estate values and tarnish the image of the community. The mayor even boasted of what a great role the town had played in the Cold War by refining uranium so that America could beat back the Soviet threat, as if the contamination had been worth it.

There was a minimal recognition of the need to do something about the worst hot spots, to placate critics and relocate residents in the worst danger. Everyone agreed, for example, that something had to be done to clean up a contaminated school, but for the most part the problem was denied in favor of keeping the town’s biggest tax payer and employer satisfied. At the same time, the federal government was not motivated to do anything that would set back the expansion of the nation’s nuclear energy program. The Darlington and Pickering nuclear plants were built nearby in this era on the shores of Lake Ontario.

By this time, Eldorado was no longer selling uranium for American nuclear weapons, but it had become a major player in the uranium fuel market. It would provide the fuel for the large fleet of CANDU reactors that Ontario was building, and by the 1980s Eldorado was privatized, turned into Cameco, and was then selling about 80% of its output to the US where the uranium was enriched for use in light water reactors.

Thus a full acknowledgment of the extent of the problem—the cost of cleanup and the health impacts—would have jeopardized the refinery’s role as a major supplier in a growing nuclear energy industry. Eldorado might have seemed like a wealthy giant to outsiders, but the uranium business was perilous and changing rapidly. Just as the public was becoming aware of the extent of the pollution, Eldorado was stuck in long-term contracts that were a bargain for its customers but disastrous in a time of soaring costs.

The situation presented especially difficult obstacles for opponents because Eldorado was a crown (publicly owned) corporation. One obstacle was secrecy. Since 1942, the operations of Eldorado have been state secrets, and much remains locked up in archives that are yet to be opened to historians. [4]

The other problem was in the fact that the government had no interest in investigating its own corporation, and because Eldorado was a federal crown corporation, the province of Ontario had no authority to investigate it for environmental crimes. Thus complaints from citizens ran into this dead end.

Similar situations in the United States, such as at the Rocky Flats plutonium pit factory, involved the Department of Energy hiring large defense contractors like Rockwell to manage the plant. This meant there was a possibility the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigations could act if enough public pressure were applied and evidence of crimes became apparent. As much as the American nuclear weapons complex was a monstrous crime against nature, there is at least something redeeming in the fact that the American system of government consisted of various institutions that could sometimes keep the others in check. In the dying days of operations at Rocky Flats in 1989, the EPA and the FBI raided the facility which was then operated by Rockwell under contract for the Department of Energy. The US government essentially raided and prosecuted itself. [5]

Unfortunately, no such checks and balances existed in Canada’s nuclear industry. The federal government and its crown corporation had a monolithic grip on the historical records and on decisions about environmental safety and health related to radiation. There was no outside force that had legal authority to prosecute them and force them to divulge information.

There are some further details in “Blind Faith” that stand out in my memory. Some are unique to the Port Hope story, while others are typical of stories of other irradiated and poisoned communities.

At one point, a doctor in a nearby town grew alarmed at the number cancer cases that appeared in his patients from Port Hope. He tried to bring the issue to the attention of health authorities, but was slandered and opposed by city officials to a degree that he found alarming. He had foolishly thought that his efforts to speak up for public health would be appreciated.

Instead, city officials made a pathetic attempt to sue him for defaming Port Hope, and when that immediately failed, they complained to the provincial medical association. They had thought that this would succeed in getting him stripped of his license to practice, but they were quickly rebuffed by the medical association that found no fault in a doctor expressing his opinion about a serious public health concern. Such was the sophistication of the strategies of the town fathers as they floundered for ways to preserve the tax base.

Eldorado and the federal government, and even the Workmen’s Compensation Board were equally combative in the lawsuits that former workers eventually managed to bring to court. Lung cancer was the only health issue that was admitted for consideration in the lawsuits, and once it became a legal battle, all ethical considerations went by the wayside. It became a matter of winning at all costs, of admitting to absolutely no wrongdoing no matter how absurd the defendants had to appear. The government lawyers played hardball, abandoning any thought that the government corporation owed anything to the citizens who had lost their health working on a project so essential for national security. The government side was not too ashamed to engage in extreme forms of legalistic hair-splitting.

For example, the victims were forced to prove their exposure, but everyone involved knew that the only party that had the information were the defendants, and Eldorado did its best to conceal it. One victim was denied compensation because the records showed his cumulative exposure was 10.8 working level months. Expert witnesses were brought in to say that the threshold of danger to health was 12 working level months.

Another segment of the book that stands out is that in which Penny Sanger was able to discover that at one time, before the contamination was known by townspeople, the Canadian military had used Port Hope as a training ground for operating in the aftermath of nuclear warfare. The military knew what the citizens of the town didn’t know at the time: there were sizzling hot spots of various sizes all over town, so it made for an ideal training ground for soldiers who would have to map radiation levels and move through contaminated terrain after a nuclear attack. After the training exercise, they might have bothered to tell the locals about what they were living with, but the contamination remained a secret until residents started to figure it out for themselves.

As the years of legal struggles and activism dragged on, there were signs that the government was tacitly admitting to the scale of the problem, even if it refused to accept legal responsibility for health damages. The management of Eldorado was routed, and it would eventually be privatized and turned into Cameco. The refinery became the object of pork barrel politics when the federal Liberals came back to power in 1980. They announced that the more dangerous uranium trioxide operation would be relocated to Blind River, a town in the north that had voted Liberal. Eldorado wanted the refinery kept in place close to markets. (I wonder if anyone saw the ironic symbolism of progress in the names; going from hope to blind—a fiction writer couldn’t have come up with anything better).

One stand-out account is that of a widow whose husband, a long-time Eldorado worker, had died of lung cancer at age 50. He had worked at Eldorado for over twenty years, during the era when workplace monitoring and standards were non-existent. Her husband was no longer there to say whether he too was “philosophical” about it and “couldn’t be bitter about it” like his wife and his daughter claimed. The widow said that in spite of her husband’s shortened life, they were grateful for the good jobs and university education that the children were able to get. Thanks to Eldorado, they had come up in the world.

Penny Sanger passed no judgment on this thinking, but I find it to be a rather disturbinging example of working man’s Stockholm Syndrome. The victim has internalized the values of the captor, and lost self-esteem and critical thinking skills in the process. The bereaved family shrugs that they “can’t be bitter about it.” They’ve internalized the value that children have to go to university to live worthwhile lives, and it’s alright if parents have to kill themselves to accomplish this goal.

It seemed to never occur to any of the Port Hope boosters that there were dozens of similar towns in rural Ontario that had found ways to survive without hosting toxic industries. I know a family of Polish immigrants who landed in Port Hope in the 1960s, and they managed to get by without working for Cameco. The children had the sense to leave town after high school when they saw their friends going straight to grim lives working with the yellowcake down at the plant. One of them managed somehow to get a couple of university degrees after he left town.

This lack of imagination among the terminally hopeful applies more widely. Not only do company towns fail to imagine less toxic ways to live, but large nations also fail to imagine new paradigms for energy and economic systems.

Port Hope’s troubles with its radioactive legacy didn’t end with the privatization of the refinery and other varied forms of resolution that came about in the 1980s. A cleanup was done in the 1980s, but twenty years later hot spots were still turning up, and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission finally admitted the extent of the problem and committed taxpayer funds to a billion-dollar decontamination project which is presently underway—an amount that is, ironically, about the same as the budget for the new Chernobyl sarcophagus under construction now. [6][7]

There is further irony in the fact that while the Fukushima and Chernobyl exclusion zones have become the famous global icons of radiation-affected communities, the Port Hope disaster has no place in Canada’s national consciousness. [8] There is little public awareness of the history, and the present billion-dollar decontamination project has received scant media attention and no public alarm over the high cost.

Opposition parties in Ontario have focused in recent years on stoking citizen outrage over cancelled plans to build gas-powered electric generating stations. That loss was comparatively little, amounting to “only” a few hundred million dollars. The same can be said of the province’s plan to spend $20 billion or more to refurbish nuclear power plants to operate them beyond their originally planned expiry dates. This issue receives little attention, as none of the major political parties wish to use it to stoke debate with rivals. Nuclear energy has vanished from political discourse.

Meanwhile, Cameco has continued to practice its philosophy of good corporate citizenship by funneling all its uranium sales through Switzerland in order to avoid Canadian taxes. The company is in an ongoing legal battle with Canada Revenue Agency, while it has warned stockholders it may owe as much as $850 million in back taxes[9]. Note that this amount falls a bit short of the cost of the decontamination project in Port Hope, but it would provide a big chunk of it.


“Blind Faith” is available on a website dedicated to the history of Port Hope. Since it is out of print and over thirty years old, I asked the author if she would allow its free distribution as a pdf file. She gave her permission, but of course the common sense rules apply. If you want to sell the book, ask the author for permission. If you redistribute it free, in whole or in part, do so with proper citation.Read it in a web browser: download (permitted by author):
Penny Sanger, Blind Faith” (pdf) (McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1981), 135 pages.

October 9, 2017 Posted by | Canada, environment, Reference, resources - print | Leave a comment

Canada, formerly a supporter of nuclear disarmament, now failing to sign UN nuclear weapons ban treaty

Canada is missing its chance to shut the gate on nuclear weapons everywhere The Conversation, MV Ramana, Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British ColumbiaLauren Borja, Incoming post-doctoral fellow, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia, University of British ColumbiaLast month, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (or the Ban Treaty) opened for signatures to all member states at the United Nations. The treaty is a product of sustained activism by civil society and key non-nuclear weapon states.

As researchers who study nuclear policy, we see this development as a landmark in the struggle to eliminate nuclear weapons.

The Ban Treaty would make it illegal for signatories to develop, produce, test, possess, use, threaten to use, or transfer nuclear weapons, among other restrictions.

Within days of being opened for signature, 53 countries have signed the treaty, and three have ratified. After signature and ratification by at least 50 countries, it comes into force.

Canada, a historical supporter of nuclear disarmament, has neither signed nor even participated in the negotiations that led to the treaty, which could become the most significant step toward nuclear disarmament since the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1970.

Humanitarian shift in nuclear arms control

The Ban Treaty was motivated by a clear recognition that the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons use and testing should be at the forefront of all discussions about these weapons. Dr. Tilman Ruff, co-president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear Wartestified at the United Nations in March: “An understanding of what nuclear weapons do invalidates all arguments for continued possession of these weapons and requires that they urgently be prohibited and eliminated as the only course of action commensurate with the existential danger they pose.”

The Ban Treaty, therefore, represents a shift in nuclear arms control, away from talking about nuclear weapons in terms of security and deterrence to focusing on the horrendous consequences of nuclear warfare.

This shift is reflected in the language of the Preamble of the Treaty which highlights concerns that the “catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons” would “transcend national borders” and “pose grave implications for human survival.” The Treaty also posits that “complete” elimination “remains the only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons are never used again under any circumstances.”

Canada abandons traditional arms control emphasis

An emphasis on the humanitarian consequences, however, is not unique within arms control. Other forms of warfare, such as land mines, biological and chemical weapons, have also been outlawed because of such concerns. And such humanitarian concerns have often guided Canada’s diplomacy in the past, as illustrated by its leading role in the appropriately named Ottawa Convention to ban landmines……….

Looking ahead on nuclear disarmament

There has been widespread political support within Canada for being more active in furthering nuclear disarmament. In 2010, both the Senate and House of Commons unanimously adopted a resolution encouraging the Government of Canada “to engage in negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention” and “deploy a major worldwide Canadian diplomatic initiative in support of preventing nuclear proliferation and increasing the rate of nuclear disarmament.” The dynamic set off by the Ban Treaty offers a suitable opening for launching such an initiative.

In April of this year, Chrystia Freeland issued the following statement to mark the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention: “Twenty years ago today, the international community was united in denouncing the use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere, under any circumstance.”

Isn’t it time for the same to be said about nuclear weapons?

October 4, 2017 Posted by | Canada, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Radioactive dump plan near Ottawa River is meeting growing opposition

Opposition mounts to radioactive waste near Ottawa River NEWS Oct 02, 2017 by Derek Dunn  Arnprior Chronicle-Guide The number of groups and individuals opposed to a planned radioactive waste disposal facility near the Ottawa River continues to mount.

A recent letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by 35 scientists, doctors, elected officials, and leaders of public interest groups and First Nations, urges him to “stand up for the health and safety of Canadians” by suspending what opponents call a giant surface mound about a kilometre from the river.

Multinational corporations have formed Canadian National Energy Alliance to build the disposal facility in Chalk River. It would house contaminated materials from more than 100 buildings on the nuclear laboratories site. It would also contain a small volume of mixed waste from offsite sources.

For 90 years there has been nuclear activity on the shores of the Ottawa, with no solution in place for permanently safeguarding the radioactive waste that is continuously generated. The five-storey high mound would contain mostly low-level waste, starting in 2020, taking up to 1 million cubic metres of waste by 2070.

However, groups like Ottawa Riverkeeper and Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area, worry about leachate from the site making its way into the drinking water for 1 million people.

……McNab/Braeside Coun. Mark MacKenzie, a former Green Party of Canada president, has attended several meetings on the topic. He has also looked closely at the issues involved.

“I’ve got a lot of concerns about it,” MacKenzie said. “That it’s not deep underground tops the list.”

He said by calling it a “near surface” facility, the alliance is attempting to deceive.

The project also doesn’t conform to international standards, he added. And that while only one per cent of the waste is considered of medium level, it will persist for hundreds of thousands of years.

“Any percentage above ground that is supposed to be underground is too much.”

The landfill-grade liner proposed is also a concern, he said. It will eventually break down.

Then there are the players involved: SNC-Lavalin is in court for fraud and corruption; others are British and U.S., hence “not here for the long haul,” MacKenzie said. He said nuclear waste is a Government of Canada problem, not for private corporations.

“I’m not convinced these companies have the long-term interest of the Canadian public in mind.”

October 4, 2017 Posted by | Canada, opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

Investors beware of uranium mining company Cameco

growth in China and India likely won’t be enough to save the global nuclear industry. A report by S&P Global Ratings estimates half of the 99 nuclear reactors currently operating in the United States could be taken offline in the next 17 years. That’s the equivalent of shutting all nuclear reactors in France or Japan — the second- and third-largest atomic powered countries, respectively, by installed capacity. The report thinks America could be nuclear-free by 2055. 

Worse, changing political tides in Japan don’t look favorable for nuclear power.

While there’s much uncertainty about where Cameco will be in five years, the current trend doesn’t look very favorable.Investors beware. 

Where Will Cameco Corporation Be in 5 Years? Most of the uranium miner’s supply contracts expire by 2021. What happens after that?, The Motley Fool Maxx Chatsko, Oct 3, 2017 The world’s largest uranium miner has been reeling in a long, drawn-out state of misery since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. Many industrialized nations have revisited their long-term power-generation strategies to include a future without atomic energy. The rise of emission-free wind and solar energy, which continues to outpace even the most optimistic projections, makes it even easier to envision a world with diminishing reliance on nuclear power.

None of that has stopped Cameco Corp (NYSE:CCJ) bulls or management from predicting a brighter future ahead. The company has slashed operations and kept a remarkably healthy balance sheet throughout uranium’s multiyear slide as a global commodity. While it appears to be making all of the right moves today, every day the company inches closer to an existential line in the sand: the year 2021.

That is the year most of its supply contracts expire. Given the current uncertainty surrounding nuclear power, investors shouldn’t be so sure the next round of renewals will be executed in a shareholder-friendly manner. That leads us to ask, where will Cameco Corp be in five years?

The coming contract cliff

Historically speaking, Cameco has managed its portfolio of long-term supply contracts very well. That has insulated the company from the recent downturn in uranium selling prices. For instance, while spot prices are at 12-year lows today, the uranium miner realized a 60% premium to that for every pound sold last year.

The reason is simple: Power companies were locked into higher prices when current contracts were signed. Although fortuitous today, these same forces may also prove problematic moving forward. Why? Uranium prices have trended down, while the uncertainty surrounding the future of nuclear power has trended up. The result: Power companies are hesitant to sign new contracts today out of fear they’ll be locked into higher-than-market prices in future periods……..
 all of the projections on which Cameco bases its argument could prove disastrously incorrect. Unfortunately for shareholders, every new data point that comes in seems to hint that may be closer to reality……
 growth in China and India likely won’t be enough to save the global nuclear industry. A report by S&P Global Ratings estimates half of the 99 nuclear reactors currently operating in the United States could be taken offline in the next 17 years. That’s the equivalent of shutting all nuclear reactors in France or Japan — the second- and third-largest atomic powered countries, respectively, by installed capacity. The report thinks America could be nuclear-free by 2055.

Worse, changing political tides in Japan don’t look favorable for nuclear power. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently dissolved the nation’s lower parliament in an effort to maintain his party’s majority after the general election scheduled for October 22. But in a surprise move, the two largest opposition parties merged into one. A major talking point of the “new” party: making Japan nuclear-free by 2030. Depending on the outcome of the election, the market may know the fate of atomic energy on the island nation well before 2021 — bad news for Cameco’s efforts to renew supply contracts.

Taken together, closing half of American nuclear reactors and all of those in Japan by about 2030 would remove roughly 104 nuclear reactors from operation. Add Germany’s eight nuclear reactors that will be shuttered by 2022, and the world could lose 25% of its nuclear power capacity in the next two decades. Planned additions from China, India, and the rest of the world wouldn’t come close to offsetting the losses……

given the global rise of wind, solar, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) — the last of which is increasingly important to Japan — the days of nuclear power certainly seem to be numbered. Forces both economic and political will be difficult for the industry to overcome.

If additional announcements are made for closures in America or Japan in the near future, it could jeopardize the company’s efforts to sign new long-term supply contracts to replace those that expire in 2021. While there’s much uncertainty about where Cameco will be in five years, the current trend doesn’t look very favorable. Investors beware.

October 4, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Canada, Uranium | Leave a comment

Anti nuclear groups invite individual MPs in Canada to sign the nuclear ban treaty

MPs and Senators invited to “sign” nuke ban treaty Wednesday on Parliament Hill DAVID PUGLIESE, OTTAWA CITIZEN  September 19, 2017 Anti-nuclear groups are hoping to raise awareness about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision not to sign a treaty banning nuclear weapons with an event to be held Wednesday on Parliament Hill.

September 22, 2017 Posted by | Canada, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

USA officials not happy with Canada approving Ontario Power Generation’s plans for waste dump at Lake Huron

Macomd Daily 12th Sept 2017, The Canadian federal government has all but approved plans by Ontario Power
Generation to build an underground nuclear waste dump on the shores of Lake
Huron but U.S. officials are still making their objections known.

On Thursday, the House passed Rep. Paul Mitchell’s amendment that prohibits
American money for the International Joint Commission from being used to
attend an annual Canadian water resources conference demonstrating the U.S.
Congress’ opposition to the plan.

September 14, 2017 Posted by | Canada, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Promising development in non nuclear production of medical isotope technetium-99m (Tc-99m)

ARTMS Products Inc. partners with Alliance Medical to modernize, stabilize UK medical isotope supply chain May 16, 2017

ARTMS Products, Inc., a Vancouver-based medical technology company, is pleased to announce that it has entered into a strategic partnership with Alliance Medical to enable and demonstrate an alternative, non-reactor supply of technetium-99m (Tc-99m) within the United Kingdom. ARTMS will provide to Alliance the hardware, know-how, and proprietary consumables to gain regulatory marketing approval within the UK and subsequently implement commercial supply of accelerator-, or cyclotron-produced Tc-99m. This technology will enable a reduction in the reliance in the UK of foreign, subsidized, reactor-based medical isotope production; enhancing supply reliability and eliminating the use of enriched uranium as a source of life-saving medical isotopes.

Tc-99m is used in over 80% of all nuclear medicine imaging procedures in areas such as cardiology, oncology, and neurology. Typically sourced from an ageing fleet of global nuclear reactors, this important isotope has been subjected to significant supply disruptions in recent years. ARTMS’s technology to produce Tc-99m using medical cyclotrons is a viable alternative and forges a path to securing a safe, reliable, and environmentally sound supply of a critical medical isotope for the future. Continue reading

September 6, 2017 Posted by | Canada, health, UK | Leave a comment

Canada’s Environment Minister strong on including climate change in revamped North American Free Trade Agreement

Catherine McKenna Criticizes ‘Ridiculous’ Tory Climate Change Language”The conservatives are still saying that the environment and the economy can be separated!” Huff Post   09/04/2017 OTTAWA — Canada’s push to get climate change action included in a revamped North American Free Trade Agreement is turning into a heated domestic dispute just as it makes its debut at the official negotiating table.
The NAFTA schedule obtained by The Canadian Press showed the environment was on the schedule for seven hours of NAFTA talks in Mexico City Monday, and another seven hours on Tuesday.

It could be one of the more contentious chapters, as significant differences of opinion about the environment exist between the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump.

 Those differences largely exist domestically as well and were being played out in social media over the Labour Day weekend. Environment Minister Catherine McKenna launched an angry missive at Conservative Foreign Affairs critic Erin O’Toole on Sunday, for suggesting the environment was a mere “trinket” better left to the sidelines in order to protect Canada’s economic well-being…….

“We are currently witnessing the largest forest fire in British Columbia’s history, the Atlantic Ocean recording record temperatures, and the second flood of the century in 12 months in Windsor,” McKenna wrote. “And the conservatives are still saying that the environment and the economy can be separated! Climate change is real and environmental protection is essential. It is time for the conservatives to understand the message.”…….

Canada would like a new NAFTA to specifically reference climate change and prioritize measures to help combat it…..That the environment is a Canadian priority for NAFTA was underscored last week when McKenna created a NAFTA advisory council on the environment made up of two former premiers, a former provincial finance minister and representatives from environment and industry associations.

September 6, 2017 Posted by | Canada, climate change | Leave a comment

Texas’ Secretary of State would rather have ‘their prayers’ than material help from Canada

Texas’ secretary of state turned down Quebec’s aid offer, asked for “prayers” instead  Hurricane Harvey is illustrating America’s tense international relationships, MATTHEW ROZSA, May God help Texas, because Canada sure won’t.

The Canadian province’s  Minister of International Relations, Christine St-Pierre, offered to send equipment, power crews, sleeping materials and hygenic products to Texas. But Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos turned down her offer and simply asked for “prayers from the people of Quebec.”

Hurricane Harvey has also had the incidental effect of shedding light on the newly complicated and tense relationships that America has with the rest of the world under President Donald Trump.

Mexico and Venezuela have both offered to help the United States despite facing hostility from the Trump administration, according to Politico. Mexico was insulted by Trump during the 2016 campaign when he said they sent rapists and drug dealers to the United States, and after taking office Trump later had an infamously tense conversation with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Venezuela on the other hand has been the subject of harsh sanctions by the Trump administration.

They aren’t alone among nations alienated by Trump who are coming to America in its time of need. For instance, the European Union has shared its satellite mapping with emergency responders, even though Trump has created tension in America’s relationship with Europe due to his harsh criticisms of NATO.

All of this is well and good, but as Hoover Institution visiting fellow Markos Kounalakis told Politico, “Foreign governments are holding back, and that hasn’t been the case historically. They appear to be much more cautious, whether it’s for domestic political reasons or displeasure with President Trump. Do they want to be seen as helping Trump?”

Texas and Quebec have a close relationship thanks to both trade and the aerospace industry, and despite Pablos’ response, St-Pierre still said of Texas, “They are our friends, this is what friendship means.” As America is learning, however, those bonds of friendship may not be as strong as they used to be.   Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and his work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

September 2, 2017 Posted by | Canada, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Big mistake for Ontario to lock itself into nuclear power

Why Ontario shouldn’t lock itself in to nuclear power,  The province has committed to a dying technology when greener, safer energy innovations are just around the corner, TVO,  Aug 25, 2017, by Richard Laszlo, Richard Laszlo is the founder of Laszlo Energy Services and the author of Pollution Probe’s First Primer on Energy Systems in Canada.

We are at a critical juncture in Ontario, and no less than the economic future of the province is at stake. The Liberals are about to release their long-term energy plan, and the danger is that they’re going to foolishly reinvest in the Darlington and Pickering nuclear plants.

Nuclear power is inflexible, and going all-in on a centralized and costly technology just when solar power, energy storage, and co-generation are becoming more affordable is a big risk. The province could be locking itself out of safer, cheaper, and more flexible energy for generations.

I once supported nuclear power; I’m biased toward fancy technology. I studied engineering and physics and have been working in the energy field for almost 15 years. But I’m trying to look at this objectively, and as someone who winces at every wasted customer and taxpayer dollar.

Our overreliance on nuclear power leaves us with an overabundance of energy in off-peak hours. Nuclear plants are big, complicated, and have to be kept running 24/7 — which forces our energy system to do all sorts of crazy things. When the plants produce surplus electricity, we sell it to neighbouring jurisdictions at a loss or pay them to take it off our hands. Meanwhile, wind and solar owners get paid to produce unneeded power, while gas plants get paid to sit idle in the off chance they are needed.

The amount of waste this system generates is staggering: the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers recently estimated that Ontario squandered more than $1 billion-worth of low-emission electricity in 2016 — enough to power more than 760,000 homes for a year.

It’s a favourite pastime of think tanks like the Fraser Institute as well as certain conservative newspaper columnists to blame renewable power for Ontario’s high hydro rates, but as data from the Independent Electricity System Operator clearly shows, it’s nuclear and gas plants that are responsible for the lion’s share of increases. An overinvestment in nuclear power would make the problem worse.

Based on cost and performance, the Pickering plant should have been shut down already. Based on 1960s technology, it has among the highest operating costs of any nuclear facility in North America. Yet Ontario Power Generation wants to keep it running until 2024, so it’s asking the Ontario Energy Board for permission to raise the price of its nuclear-generated electricity nearly 180 per cent, to 16.5 cents per kWh — more than almost any other technology around, including solar. Dozens of groups — including Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, the Association of Major Power Consumers of Ontario, and the Consumer Council of Canada — have submitted responses to OPG’s request. Nearly all of them express concerns about the economics of the Pickering plan…….

what should the government do instead?

First, it should immediately halt the Pickering extension. The plant’s operating licence expires in 2018, and that’s a good time to shut it down. (Plant employees can work on to decommissioning the site, for which money has already been set aside.)

Second, take good hard look at the Darlington rebuild and seriously consider other options to meet the projected demand. While the rebuilding process has already started, it’s not too late for the government to change direction. The project is expected to cost at least $12.8 billion, but a long history of underestimating nuclear capital costs suggests that number will rise.

Third, plan to meet future demand via a mix of efficiency and clean-energy innovation. The government should set standards on emissions and performance, then let the market bring solutions and fight it out to deliver low-emissions power at the lowest possible price. New generation can be added to the system gradually so we can reap the benefits of falling tech prices.

All this will result in greater CO2 emissions over the short term; the fact is, there will be some increase regardless of whether Ontario continues to invest in nuclear energy. But this way, we’ll replace our supply gradually at much lower costs while still meeting our long-term climate change goals — and without tying ourselves to nuclear power for decades to come.

August 26, 2017 Posted by | Canada, politics | Leave a comment

Ottawa’s Environment Minister wants info on impact of nuclear-waste dump on Indigenous community 

In a letter to Ontario Power Generation, McKenna said the updated information will be taken into account as she mulls the fate of the much-delayed mega-project.

“I request that Ontario Power Generation update its cumulative-effects analysis of the potential cumulative effects of the project on physical and cultural heritage,” McKenna said in her letter. “The update must include a clear description of the potential cumulative effects of the project on Saugeen Ojibway Nation’s cultural heritage, including a description of the potential effects of the project on the nation’s spiritual and cultural connection to the land.”

A month ago, the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, whose traditional territory includes the proposed disposal site, wrote McKenna to say the project should not proceed without its support. It called for government assurance that the nation’s views would be taken into consideration before making any approval decision.

“Members of the SON communities are becoming better acquainted with nuclear-waste issues in order to be able to make a well-informed decision on whether they can support the DGR Project,” said the letter signed by Greg Nadjiwon, chief of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation, and Chief Lester Anoquot of Saugeen First Nation.

“Our view is that the outcome of this community process and, ultimately, the decision of the communities will be necessary information for you to have prior to your decision respecting the environmental assessment.”……

In June, federal environmental authorities said OPG had provided further information on alternative sites for burying tonnes of radioactive waste, and they would begin drafting a report to McKenna, who has final say over the repository and what conditions might be attached to any approval. It was not immediately clear how her latest request for information would affect the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s plans to complete the draft this summer.

“The government of Canada believes Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision making in matters that affect their rights, and that Indigenous governments, laws and jurisdictions must be respected,” McKenna said in her letter to OPG.

“I will make a decision based on science and traditional knowledge … including the views of Indigenous Peoples, the public and other stakeholders.”……

August 23, 2017 Posted by | Canada, indigenous issues, wastes | Leave a comment

Proposed nuclear waste site – too close to Ottawa River

Bloc Quebecois, environmentalists wary of proposed nuclear waste disposal plan, Mylene Crete, The Canadian Press , August 11, 2017 CHALK RIVER, Ont. — A proposed nuclear waste disposal site on land around Chalk River Laboratories is too close to the Ottawa River, says Bloc Quebecois Leader Martine Ouellet.

A significant percentage of Quebecers use the river for their drinking water and a leak could be catastrophic, Ouellet told reporters while touring the nuclear facilities in Chalk River, Ont., earlier this week.

“Radioactivity, just like heavy crude oil, doesn’t go away,” she said. “You can’t say, ‘we have contamination, we are going to clean it up.’ It can’t be cleaned.”……

Ottawa subcontracts the management of the site to Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), a consortium of four engineering and tech companies including SNC-Lavalin and Rolls-Royce.

CNL says it wants to consolidate all the nuclear waste around the site in one location, so it can be monitored, contained and isolated…….

Ouellet said CNL didn’t look for other disposal sites further away from the river.

“I have not been reassured because their so-called best site, it’s located on their territory of Chalk River and they didn’t look outside the area because of the costs involved,” she said. Kehler said CNL did look for other locations.

“We have considered the possibility of moving radioactive material elsewhere, but people wouldn’t be in favour of that,” Kehler said. “And the waste is already here.”

CNL’s plan is to create a facility that can hold up to 1,000 cubic metres of nuclear waste for up to 50 years.

Benoit Delage, an environmentalist in Quebec’s Outaouais region, said it’s a bad idea.

“The idea of building a nuclear waste depot one kilometre away from a river that feeds a large part of the Quebec population, there is something missing there,” he said. “Anyone can tell you it doesn’t make sense.”

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission needs to conduct an environmental review of CNL’s depot proposal.

Public consultations will also take place. Quebec’s environment minister has asked the federal government to hold the hearings in Quebec in order for them to be close to the people potentially impacted by the plan.

August 12, 2017 Posted by | Canada, wastes, water | Leave a comment

Canadian protest against plan for radioactive waste dump close to Ottawa River

Daily Observer 7th Aug 2017, On Sunday
 afternoon, a flotilla of more than 30 watercraft – from kayaks
to flat bottomed tour boats – carrying 150 people assembled offshore of
Chalk River Laboratories to deliver a message to Canadian Nuclear
Laboratories: a resounding no to the proposed near surface disposal
 The facility is meant to dispose of up to one million cubic
metres of low level radioactive material at a site located about a
kilometre from the Ottawa River.
The flotilla, organized by the Old Fort William Cottagers’ Association, started up the Ottawa River from Fort
William and collected local residents, operating their own watercraft,
along the route before stopping at the mid-point of the river, across from
the CNL operated site. Once assembled, the protesters, many carrying
homemade signs, listened to some words of encouragement from the flotilla’s
organizers and a special guest, the leader of Quebec’s Green Party.

August 9, 2017 Posted by | Canada, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Wildfires continue in Canada: more than 1 million acres burned so far

Wildfires in western Canada on near-record pace, More than 1 million acres burned so far   Staff Report Canada is on track for a near-record wildfire season this year. So far, there have been more than 500 fires just in British Columbia, burning across more than 1 million acres. Firefighting costs have already reached more than $172 million, and weeks of warm and dry weather will keep the fire danger high.

Most of the fires have been in three main areas, according to NASA, which has been tracking the burned areas via satellites. Most affected are the  Frasier Plateau  north of Vancouver, the Thomas Plateau, east of Whistler, and the region east of Kamloops.

All current fires of note can be viewed on this interactive map. According to NASA, this is the third-worst fire season on record for B.C.

Current weather forecasts project that winds will carry smoke from the fires toward the coast, perhaps persisting for a week. New research led by scientists with Georgia Tech recently showed that wildfire smoke is probably much more dangerous to human health than previously realized.

Naturally burning timber and brush from wildfires release dangerous particles into the air at a rate three times as high as levels known by the EPA. The study also found wildfires spew methanol, benzene, ozone and other noxious chemicals.

NASA’s Terra satellite collected this natural-color image with the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, MODIS, instrument on July 31, 2017. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red. NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC. Caption by Lynn Jenner with information from the BC Wildfire Service, and the Georgia Tech study.

August 4, 2017 Posted by | Canada, climate change | Leave a comment