The American National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Committee is to advise The “Commonwealth of Virginia” on the question: Should the 30-year moratorium on uranium mining, milling & processing in Virginia be lifted?
The Committee came to Saskatoon, as explained in 2011-06-24 NUKE Letter to NAS, solidarity with Virginians.
I attended and was able to give 3 minutes of “public comment”. A little bit of magic?! I was asked by two members of the Committee to submit material. Wow! Now there’s an opportunity that doesn’t come every day!
We are all part of this great revolution/evolution that is going on around the world. After Fukishima country after country is phasing out of nuclear reactors. It’s wonderful to be able to share information from the nuclear networks in Canada with the citizens of Virginia:
- 2011-06-24 NUKE to NAS (2 of 4) Local knowledge, two very misleading statements about uranium/nuclear accidents.
- (3 of 4): Should the 30 year moratorium on uranium mining, milling & processing in Virginia be lifted? Special emphasis on the waste stream – where does it go?
- (4 of 4) (Lift 30 year moratorium?): use waste stream to illustrate that the uranium/nuclear industry is a ponzi scheme.
- (I intended to send more information to the NAS, but didn’t get it done.)
This is (4 of 4):
SENT: Tue 6/28/2011 5:40 PM
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DATE: June 28, 2011
TO: U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Washington DC
FROM: Sandra Finley, Saskatoon Saskatchewan, Canada
TOPIC: waste stream in illustration – the uranium/nuclear industry is a ponzi scheme dependent upon access to the public purse. (Should the 30-year moratorium on uranium mining, milling & processing in Virginia be lifted?)
Dear Members of the Committee,
(3 of 4) established that the problem with radioactive waste starts the day that a uranium mine goes into operation, an example being the “fen” used as a tailings pond.
A DECISION TO PROCEED OR NOT TO PROCEED WITH URANIUM MINING, MILLING AND PROCESSING SHOULD FULLY ADDRESS, FROM THE REAL WORLD, WHAT HAS BEEN ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISHED (OR NOT ACCOMPLISHED) WITH RADIOACTIVE WASTE DISPOSAL.
At every stage of processing there is an addition to the amount of radioactive waste that needs to be disposed of. The industry has been promising for 50 years that they are going to . . . (listen) they do not promise to get rid of the waste . . . they promise that they are going to find a place to take the waste to. They soothe the angst in a community that has a radioactive waste problem by telling them that someone else will take their waste. …. In all the years, and after all the money, there is still no place to put it. The plans are always “underway”. You know the story of Yucca Mountain. Now they are trying to use northern Saskatchewan.
The million dollars recently given to the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is bribery money. I will return to this point in another email – – the corruption of governance and Universities that accompanies the industry.
Before explaining the ponzi scheme, there is more local knowledge related to the radioactive waste stream (a huge COST problem):
1. In the 1980’s it was proposed that a deep geological repository for radioactive waste should be constructed in the province of Manitoba, in the area known as the Canadian Shield (rock). The idea was abandoned because it was found that the Shield is not “rock solid”. There is a lot of underground water in the Shield that they could not keep out of the underground test cavern. There was radioactive contamination of underground water supplies. In response to the lessons learned, Manitoba passed the HIGH-LEVEL RADIOACTIVE WASTE ACT in 1987. It is illegal to import radioactive waste into Manitoba.
It should be stated: “underground water” is often water that circulates. It flows to the surface through springs and by seepage into rivers and lakes. Radioactive contamination of underground water is invisible, odourless poisoning, some of which will come to the surface. We know that evaporated water contains pollutants (“acid” rain, “2-4D” rain). We know that mercury comes down in rain. We know that radioactive particles come down in rain: following the testing of nuclear bombs in the deserts of the American southwest in the 1950’s, 60’s and into the early 70’s radioactive particles were carried by wind currents over southern Ontario. Rain fell – the paint on cars was pitted by the radioactive particles. There are high rates of cancer in the area today. We know the extent to which poisons travel: mercury-laden fish in the Arctic. The point is: just because things are “underground” does not mean that they aren’t poisoning us and the rest of creation.
2. In 2008 the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) was targeting Quebec for radioactive waste disposal:
Excerpt from http://sandrafinley.ca/?p=405, referring to NWMO’s plans for siting a permanent nuclear waste repository in one of the four “nuclear provinces” of New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, and Saskatchewan.
“It will never happen in Quebec”, says the Minister of Natural Resources and Wildlife, Claude Béchard, responding to an article published June 1 re an 11-year project for siting a high-level radioactive waste repository in the Blanc-Sablon region of Quebec. The proposed project would take irradiated nuclear fuel from all of Canada’s nuclear reactors and from overseas, receiving these wastes by boat from the Atlantic Ocean (thereby avoiding extensive road or rail travel) and reprocessing them to recover the plutonium and other fissile material before re-solidifying and storing the remainder….
He refers to the fact that his party supported a motion that was adopted last autumn (2008) by Quebec’s National Assembly opposing any form of import of nuclear wastes into Quebec.”
3. This one always kills me, how gullible do they think we are?: They say that deep geological disposal in northern Saskatchewan is the answer, it is “safe” because northern Saskatchewan is the Canadian Shield, safe from earthquakes and everything else. Meanwhile the Manitoba test results showed that the Canadian Shield is not safe because of underground water AND the experience of the uranium mines themselves in northern Saskatchewan is one of flooding. Problems with water in the mines in the Canadian Shield is the rule, not the exception. I don’t understand how they can stand up, produce all the glossy material, do the power-point presentations and maintain a straight face.
I have appended just one of the numerous reports on water in mines in the north. From the Edmonton Journal: Flood waters force abandonment of Saskatchewan uranium mine The future of Cameco Corp.’s $12-billion uranium ore body in northern Saskatchewan is in doubt after efforts to contain a flood at the Cigar Lake mine failed Monday morning. By CanWest News Service October 24, 2006
The industry relies on keeping information in isolated, disconnected silos, on our forgetfulness and our ignorance.
4. October 14, 2009. Nova Scotia legislates a moratorium on exploration and mining of uranium. http://www.gov.ns.ca/news/details.asp?id=20091014006 “The province introduced legislation today, Oct. 14, to entrench a uranium ban that had been in effect since 1981.”
THAT THE URANIUM/NUCLEAR INDUSTRY IS A PONZI SCHEME WHEREBY A FEW PEOPLE GET RICH WHILE THE PUBLIC PURSE FOOTS THE BILL:
The easiest way to understand this is to look at the waste stream. The U.S. spent more than $10 billion on developing Yucca Mountain as the disposal site in the U.S. The estimates from the industry in Canada are that the deep geological disposal site in Saskatchewan (were it to proceed) will cost $24 to $30 billion. That doesn’t include the cost of trucking 50 years’ worth of accumulated radioactive waste to the disposal site, an estimated 30,000 truckloads in Canada alone. See APPENDED #2.
The project is sold as “economic development”. Your community – – you! — will become rich by getting rid of our waste. . . . So how is it that the “garbage” generated by an industry can become a saleable product, because after all, there has to be a revenue flow to cover the huge cost of the garbage disposal. Someone is going to pay – – who?
Radioactive waste is an entry on the COST side of the company’s Income Statement. They have so far set aside only a small portion of the $24 to $30 billion dollars needed for the construction of the waste disposal site.
The cost has to be recovered by REVENUE. What are the industry’s sources of revenue? …. Electricity bills and government money. When it comes down to it, those are the main revenue sources, until you get into nuclear weapons. (And of course, there is “depleted” uranium (DU) that is being used by U.S. weapons manufacturers without conscience – more radioactive particles on the winds of the world.)
Think it through:
- The $24 to $30 billion needed for the planned deep geological disposal site (out of sight, out of mind the waste) is a fraction of what the industry is looking at, just on the waste side. There are old reactors that have to be shut down.
- Industry plans to ship old radioactive generators from nuclear plants through the Great Lakes and across the Atlantic to Sweden for “recycling” are being met with ferocious opposition from within both Canada and the U.S. and now Sweden – – I doubt the plan will proceed. June 2011: it is under review in the Canadian Federal Court, see 2011-06-28 CNSC denied leave to intervene in judicial review of Bruce reactor shipments.
- The story of nuclear power in Ontario and New Brunswick is consistent: huge cost overruns passed on to the public to pay, high costs of debt-servicing, high-priced electricity. And handsome salaries for the “Executives”.
- Fukishima has had a serious impact on the markets for the uranium/nuclear industry. As of June 24, 2011 Cameco “Shares are down 38.6% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday.” http://www.thestreet.com/story/11166156/1/cameco-stock-to-go-ex-dividend-tomorrow-ccj.html
- The ONLY WAY that the industry can get out of the mess it’s in is to BRING MORE NUCLEAR REACTORS ON-LINE in order to generate a LARGE REVENUE FLOW to pay for the cost of getting rid of its waste stream.
- Meanwhile the public wants de-centralized, regional, green power production. And it does not want nuclear power (or nuclear war, or nuclear weapons).
- (Cameco has a 31% interest in Bruce Power.) BP tried like the devil to get a reactor built in Saskatchewan. The people of Saskatchewan overwhelmingly said “no” in 2009. The Government went ahead and gave $30 million and more to the University in early 2011, ear-marked for the industry. (The corruption that comes along with the industry is addressed in a later email.)
THE PONZI SCHEME:
The industry has to bring another nuclear reactor on-line to generate a revenue flow to cover financial commitments such as the tens of billions of dollars needed just to deal with its unaddressed waste problem. If it can’t find its next “customer” (citizens whose Government will sell them out – – the electricity is very expensive from the beginning, even without the unaddressed costs of getting rid of the waste) the whole scheme collapses and the current investors are left holding the bag. Just think about it. It is a very large bag of radioactive waste. . . . The reality is that the public is going to be left holding the bag. And the more that people are connected and sharing information, the greater the likelihood that no more nuclear reactors will be built.
There needs to be a “forever” moratorium. We need to bite the bullet now. Allowing MORE production of radioactive waste only delays the day of reckoning. The costs grow higher with every new addition to the waste pile, with each new mine, processing facility, reactor and with each new cancer patient.
For your consideration,
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APPENDED # 1
Flood waters force abandonment of Saskatchewan uranium mine
The future of Cameco Corp.’s $12-billion uranium ore body in northern Saskatchewan is in doubt after efforts to contain a flood at the Cigar Lake mine failed Monday morning.
By CanWest News Service October 24, 2006
SASKATOON – The future of Cameco Corp.’s $12-billion uranium ore body in northern Saskatchewan is in doubt after efforts to contain a flood at the Cigar Lake mine failed Monday morning.
Mine engineers were unable to get huge bulkhead doors to seal properly and stem the flow water that had been pouring in at the rate of 1,500 cubic metres an hour since Sunday afternoon.
The water began entering the mine Sunday when a section of development tunnel gave way and allowed water to pour in from an adjacent sandstone formation containing water under enormous pressure.
Cameco gave the order to abandon the mine at 11:30 Monday morning, less than 90 minutes after company executives had discussed with analysts whether the bulkhead doors would contain the water in a mine whose owners have spent more than $500 million to bring into production.
No one was injured in either the original Sunday incident or during the Monday morning efforts to contain the flood, according to the company.
Before the decision was made to abandon the mine and end the flood fighting efforts, Cameco president and chief executive officer Jerry Grandey had talked of at least a year’s delay in construction in getting the mine back in production. Now Grandey and the company say it’s too early to say how soon a plan of action can be devised to pump out the mine and ”remediate” the area of tunnel that failed and is letting in the water.
”It’s difficult to assume anything right now,” Grandey told a conference call. ”I indicated earlier this morning that the delay would be at least a year, based on the information we had.
”Now, we’re looking at remediating from the surface and we’ll just to have to understand what that means in terms of time.”
Cameco shares plummeted on the news Monday. It closed down 9.3 per cent, or $4.00, to $38.95.
The mine is the world’s second-largest high-grade uranium reserve, and the problems will add to a supply squeeze that set uranium prices up 54 per cent this year.
Cameco officials said the company has enough uranium to meet most its contracts this year and 2007. However, Grandey emphasized future contracts, especially those directly related to selling uranium from Cigar Lake, had specific cancellation contracts that could protect the company.
In the second, hastily arranged conference call, Grandey said there is virtually no insurance to cover what happened at Cigar Lake, including the remediation of equipment now being flooded. The water treatment plant at the surface of Cigar Lake is currently being completed. The company will have to receive environmental approvals to pump out and treat the volume of water entering the mine.
Early indications are the water coming in has not touched the high grade uranium ore body and is not heavily contaminated, the officials said.
Cameco, the mine’s operator, owns just over 50 per cent of the operation, while French nuclear giant Areva owns 37 per cent and two Japanese companies own eight and five per cent, respectively.
© (c) CanWest MediaWorks Publications Inc.
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APPENDED # 2
2009-12-04 NUKE, Nuclear Waste. Who is the NWMO? Tactics.
The industry already has a large, 5-decades’ accumulation of radioactive waste in the U.S. Barack Obama effectively shut down Yucca Mountain in Nevada as a repository for the waste.
Instead of halting the production of MORE radioactive waste, they have developed a slick sales job.
Understand the tactics. They assert something that is “inevitable” or “the only option”, which is not true. There ARE other options; it just happens that those options are not attractive to the corporate make-money interest. Their options are hugely at our expense.
They are big-time manipulators:
– “high-level radioactive waste” is now “used nuclear fuel” or “irradiated fuel” or a “used fuel bundle”. Challenge them on their euphemisms. “Spent fuel” is much more radioactive than the original “fuel bundles” which are not radioactive at all, not until after they are used in the reactor! Refuse to use their sanitized and manipulating language. An example we have used in the past: tar sands is tar sands, not “oil sands” as they are now billed.
– the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) comes to us speaking sweetly of how they are not going to use government (our) money.
Yes but, they have basically one product (electricity). And one market – us. What they don’t get from the Governments (tax-payer and resource revenues) they will get directly out of our pockets on electricity bills. Ask the people in Ontario how it works. (They are burdened with high-cost electricity from nuclear reactors, high debt to pay for the reactors, and now a battle to stop the transportation of radioactive generators through the Great Lakes to Sweden for “recycling”.)
– The NWMO waves MONEY: “This is a $16 – $24 billion project that will be implemented in phases”. They also assure the “willing host community” that “operation of the facilities” would continue after construction .. would involve hundreds of workers .. Spending during this phase would be in the order of 200 million dollars each year for a period of 30 or more years. … Depending on the host economic region, wealth creation in the form of business profits and personal income throughout the host region during the operation phase is expected to be billions of dollars.”
This is clever but again, fails to mention that a corporation has to pay for its costs. Waste is a cost that has to be recovered. In this case it is a mere $16 – $24 billion FOR THE CONSTRUCTION and then $200 million a year for 30 years or more. ALL THAT MONEY will come from us, one way or another. And it will mean that there is nothing left for investment in alternative and locally-owned energy. Don’t kid yourself, Bruce Power, nuclear reactors and privately-owned electricity come along with high-level radioactive waste disposal (the effort to “sell” high-level radioactive waste disposal for “economic development” in northern Saskatchewan – – on the heels of that will follow “small” reactors for tar sands development). I like Doug’s analogy of the salesman who gets his foot in the door, whatever way he can.
– reassurances replace common sense. In earlier emails we worked out how it is really a “ponzi scheme” – a few people make huge profits, but only if they can dupe you.
– Ask the NWMO where the Americans are going to dispose of their radioactive waste now that Barack Obama has ended Yucca Mountain as an option?
– the NWMO says it has set aside money to build the deep geological repository for the high-level radioactive waste. Ask them what percentage of the cost they have set aside. And how much that fund is worth in the wake of the economic crisis. Don’t fall for assurances that hold no water. And a container so small that the excess will soon overflow.
– the NWMO is going to find a “willing host community”. Be familiar with the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP)’s plan, ” with leading nations storing all the high-level waste from the entire group”. Canada is a leading nation and Saskatchewan is the leading place for nuclear/uranium, the “Canadian Centre of Nuclear Studies”.
Feb 27, 2009 “Work on disposing of radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain (Nevada) has all but stopped after President Barack Obama’s budget blueprint. The move remains in line with Obama’s pre-election statements that Yucca Mountain was “not an option.” America must now set a new course for long-term management of high-level radioactive waste, ….
“Obama’s position on the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), which would see a community of countries share nuclear power technology with leading nations storing all the high-level waste from the entire group…
“Modern long-term strategies usually involve a step-wise reversible process that starts with an invitation to communities nationwide to express interest.”
(This is precisely the process that is being used by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) in Canada.)
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(8) KNOW WHAT TO ASK
In addition to the suggestions in item #5, Mark offers this:
a. Plutonium. The official document does not mention reprocessing of spent fuel taken from the repository after 50-60 years – but we know this to be the intention of the nuclear industry, as it is the only way that they can secure a longterm future for themselves. We should be clear that we find this unacceptable because of (i) weapons proliferation risk, (ii) added contaminant leakage risks. I suggest that, rather than calling it reprocessing (let alone recycling, as the industry has begun to do recently), we call it plutonium recovery, because that makes it clearer what it is.
b. Indigenous rights. Specifically, an acceptable consultation process does not include bribes and it does not include blackmail. And the “information” should not come exclusively from the industry – opponents of the proposal should receive sufficient funding to put their case.
c. Transportation risk. All of the communities through which nuclear waste would be transported should be specifically consulted as to whether they find the risk acceptable. Again, no bribes, no blackmail, no pro-industry bias.
d. Why Saskatchewan? This waste comes from “central” and eastern Canada, mostly from Ontario. We can see no good reason why it should be given a home by communities in Saskatchewan, which has not benefitted from the electrical generation of which it is a by-product.
e. Why Canada? What guarantee is there that waste would not also come from still further afield?
f. Jurisdiction. As it is not just the “host community” that would be affected, decisions should be taken at a provincial as well as a local level.
g. Turn off the tap! The stuff has got to go somewhere, but first put an end to the production of more of it.
I think anyone going to the NWMO Public Meetings should try to get round to reading Gordon Edwards’ paper on the subject (http://www.ccnr.org/follow_path_back.pdf ): it explains the process well, and the fact that it’s a few years old doesn’t matter overmuch.