Jul 312018

COMMENTARY & UPDATES,  followed by the news article, “Cameco lays off . . . ”

Recent postings,  tax-payers are on-the-hook for large portions of

It doesn’t end there.

The nuclear/uranium industry is a Ponzi scheme;  the last man to buy in, gets creamed.   Except that, that bill too, is funded by all tax-payers.   Along with the multi-million dollar salaries, perks, and so on, for the “executives” – – the “1%”  we help create and to whom we defer.


Canadians should be aware of a trick, increasingly used by Governments, to dodge the bullet on responsibility, while tax-payers continue to pay the bill:

EXCERPT from  The Nuclear Renaissance was a flop  (Gordon Edwards)

Just before the last federal election, the Harper government turned over control of all federal nuclear holdings to a consortium of private, profit-oriented, multinational corporations. The staff of the government-owned Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) went from 3600 to 40.  A new corporation, called Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) was created as a wholly-owned subsidiary of AECL, and then turned over completely to be owned and operated by the consortium, most of whose people are not Canadians.

In the last two years the hollowed-out shell of a company called AECL has been getting close to a billion dollars in annual allocations of Canadian taxpayers’ money, most of which goes directly to CNL and some of  it into the profit statement of the consortium members. The Auditor General of  Canada has estimated the “nuclear liability” associated with AECL’s radioactive waste management,  site decontamination, and decommissioning of hundreds of radioactively contaminated buildings, at about seven billion dollars.

But it’s CNL that is in charge, and getting the lion’s share of the money, under the nominal “control” of AECL — whose main task seems to be to funnel money to CNL.

But CNL has grandiose plans of its own. . . .  more at The Nuclear Renaissance was a flop

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No Nuke News“, is a very good feed you might like to check out, with thanks to Angela:      https://mailchi.mp/40be20f0f30b/no-nukes-news-what-nuclear-renaissance?e=c833bd9826.    From today’s News:

The Nuclear Renaissance was a flop. Let’s (not) have another one – made in Canada By Dr. Gordon Edwards. If big reactors aren’t going to save the nuclear industry, what about SMR’s (small modular reactors)? What’s needed is lots of public money to fund the research. But they’re prohibitively expensive and will require an enormously large market to break even, meaning thousands or even tens of thousands of units being ordered. . . .

Nuclear power is “ridiculously expensive” compared with solar power and cannot compete from a financial standpoint, said the former head of the International Energy Agency

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The short article below  (“Cameco lays off . . . “)  is followed by a REMINDER that the nuclear industry is attempting salvation by switching from the monolithic reactors to “small modular reactors”.

An IMPORTANT UPDATE,  today (July 31, 2018), is in the reminder:

The CNSC has released a thirteen page “regulatory document” to guide proponents in applying for licenses for small modular reactors, with a September 28th deadline for public comment.  

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Cameco lays off hundreds of Saskatchewan employees, extends site shutdowns

CEO says uranium prices have continued to slide over past 7 years

INSERT by Sandra:

The price slide started in 2007 – – 11 straight years of going nowhere but down, according to my arithmetic:

excerpt from  2018-03-19:   Does Environment Minister McKenna KNOW that Natural Resources Minister Carr is pushing nuclear energy in the climate talks, Bonn Germany, May 2018?  My letter to the Minister.

No longer:  Nancy Hopkins, Saskatoon corporate lawyer who had been on the Cameco Board since 1992, had Cameco shares and options worth $1,001,871 in 2008;  valued at $1,843,273 in 2009.

The fight over reactors in the Peace River, AB – – successful – – preceded the fight in Saskatchewan.

The fight over a North Sask River reactor was in 2009 (successful). . . . Not good news for Cameco’s share value.

The Fukishima nuclear reactor disaster was 2 years later, in March 2011.  Cameco shares fell, but had been falling.  The high was in mid-June, 2007,  $59.46 per share.  The next high, mid-Feb 2011, $41.34.   Down to $18.41 by the end of 2011;  no recovery – – trading around $12.00  in mid-March, 2018.   Today’s share value is down by 80% over its June 2007 high.

If Nancy did not unload her shares, the value of her portfolio investment in Cameco has plummeted.  The same is true for other Executive members of Cameco.  But investment in shares is only part of their Cameco money.   . . . 

NOTE – – the news article makes no mention of the huge battles in Canada, and in other countries, over WHERE and HOW the accumulated radioactive waste will be handled.   The West to East success in Canada of opposition to the nuclear industry and a sampling of the corruption between the nuclear industry, the Government and the University, Saskatchewan – – see Does Environment Minister McKenna KNOW . . .


BACK TO the article:

Cameco announced Wednesday it would be extending its mine and mill shut-down, resulting in permanently laying off hundreds of employees. (Liam Richards/Canadian Press)

Uranium miner Cameco Corp. has permanently laid off hundreds of employees in Saskatchewan, with the company’s CEO laying the blame on a market that has become progressively worse since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011.

“The Japanese very quickly shut down 54 reactors, which was about 20 per cent of the world market. And so, that really had a huge effect,” said Tim Gitzel, noting over the course of the past seven years, uranium prices have slid from $75 US per pound to its current price of about $23 US per pound.

Only recently, companies including Cameco have been cutting back production to deal with a surplus of uranium sitting on the market, he said.

About 550 total employees from the Key Lake and McArthur River uranium mine sites have been terminated and another 150 were laid off from the corporate head office.

The layoffs are a result of the company indefinitely extending production suspensions at its McArthur River and Key Lake operations, according to Cameco.

The company said last November that the closures were expected to last 10 months, but Gitzel said the uranium market has not improved and has only worsened in that time.

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Be careful with interpretation.   This earlier article, Australia, announced nuclear power “dead in the water”.

2018-02-23  Uranium industry slumps, nuclear power dead in the water (?)

The industry knows that the large reactors are no longer tolerated.   They are moving ahead as fast as they can with “SMRs”  (Small Modular Reactors), with little public awareness and discussion.

 From  2018-06-04   Election – The people of Ontario don’t like the high cost of nuclear energy. The Federal Govt, the 1%, and the spin doctors think nuclear power is great.

Here they are, pushing the industry again – –

BIG NUKE Conference – Saskatoon – June 3-6, 2018 –  SMRs are on the Agenda . . . .



Sites with active or shut-down reactors are being targeted for SMRs, especially Chalk River.  The former Licence Conditions Handbook for CRL (INSERT:  Chalk River Laboratories) (attached) had extensive safety provisions for new facilities.  All of these have now been deleted from the new LCH.

— Original message —

Subject: CNSC Releases Draft REG DOC-1.1.5,  “Licence Application Guide: Small Modular Reactor Facilities” Comments Due September 28th

Date: Tuesday, 31/07/2018

The CNSC has released a thirteen page “regulatory document” to guide proponents in applying for licenses for small modular reactors, with a September 28th comment deadline.  The preface summarizes purpose and intent as follows:

Regulatory document REGDOC-1.1.5: Licence Application Guide: Small Modular Reactor Facilities,
sets out requirements and guidance for submitting an application to the CNSC for the following types of
licences for a small modular reactor (SMR) facility in Canada: licence to prepare site, licence to construct,
and a licence to operate. REGDOC-1.1.5 also identifies considerations that the CNSC takes into account
when assessing the adequacy of submissions.

This document will be used by CNSC staff to assess licence applications for proposed SMRs, which also
include advanced reactors. If the Commission grants a licence, the safety and control measures described
in the licence application, along with the documents needed to support the application, will form part of
the licensing basis.

A graded approach, commensurate with risk, may be defined and used when applying the requirements
and guidance contained in this regulatory document. The use of a graded approach is not a relaxation of
requirements, but rather the application of requirements in a manner commensurate with the risks and
characteristics of a facility or activity.

The information in this document is consistent with modern national and international practices
addressing issues and elements that control and enhance nuclear safety. In particular, it establishes a
modern, risk-informed approach to the licensing of SMRs.

The 150 words outlining the waste management provisions is classic: generate the waste, send the waste somewhere else. And same “safety control areas” approach that already doesn’t work with existing nuclear facilities.

The deadline for comments is September 28th, 2018.

——– Forwarded Message ——–


Public invited to comment on draft REGDOC-1.1.5, Licence Application Guide: Small Modular Reactor Facilities

REGDOC-1.1.5 is intended to be used in conjunction with consultations with CNSC staff, as well as within the context of other licence application guides. Licence applications for small modular reactors (SMRs) have to address both design and safety and control measures to support the safety case; REGDOC-1.1.5 will assist proponents in developing risk-informed proposals that take CNSC expectations into account.  Along with the release of REGDOC-1.1.5 for public consultation, the CNSC is also posting the Stakeholder Workshop Report: Application of the Graded Approach in Regulating Small Modular Reactors, as a companion to the draft regulatory document. This report summarizes a workshop held with stakeholders on November 24, 2017 and provides specific examples of how the CNSC would apply the graded approach to SMRs.  The public has until September 28, 2018 to provide comments.

For more information:  http://nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng/acts-and-regulations/regulatory-documents/history/regdoc1-1-5.cfm  ————————

For all the latest CNSC news, visit CNSC’s homepage at http://www.nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng/————————

Follow the CNSC on Twitter: http://twitter.com/CNSC_CCSN ————————

Subscribe to the CNSC’s YouTube channels: http://www.youtube.com/cnscccsn ————————

Follow the CNSC on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CanadianNuclearSafetyCommission ————————

Follow the CNSC on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/cnsc-ccsn/life ————————

If you experience any difficulties in accessing the CNSC website, please send an email to cnsc.info.ccsn@canada.ca

Elaine maintains a store of info on Small Modular Reactors – – with thanks to her, see:  http://forum.stopthehogs.com/phpBB2/viewforum.php?f=20

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2018-03-15 Climate: Trudeau government is banking on nuclear power

2018-03-19   Does Environment Minister McKenna KNOW that Natural Resources Minister Carr is pushing nuclear energy in the climate talks, Bonn Germany, May?  My letter to the Minister.


The assertion  “nuclear . . . will continue to play a key role in achieving the country’s low-carbon future.”   struck me as incongruent.   Why would a political party in Canada promote the nuclear industry?  Canadian provinces, moving from the West eastward:

  • British Columbia‘s policy is no-nuclear. The Crown corporation, BC Hydro “reject(s) consideration of nuclear power in implementing B.C.’s clean energy strategy.”
  • Albertans fought down nuclear reactors on the Peace River (from 2007 until 2011 when Bruce Power completely bailed out of efforts to build reactors in Alberta).
  • Saskatchewanians fought down nuclear reactors planned for the North Saskatchewan River, 2009.

(WASTE:  Saskatchewanians also fought down 3 separate attempts by the industry to build a deep geological repository for high level radioactive waste disposal in northern Saskatchewan.)

  •  Manitobans gained their experience at Pinawawa (“Whiteshell”) in 1978.   “No.”

(WASTE:  The High Level Radioactive Waste Act was assented to in 1987.  It is illegal to import radioactive waste into Manitoba.)

  • The citizens of Ontario have had enough experience to know the high cost of nuclear energy.

(WASTE:  Mayors of Cities around the Great Lakes, on both the Canadian and American sides, banded together to stop the transport of radioactive waste through their water supply bound for disposal on the other side of the Atlantic.   I don’t know the number of communities in Ontario that have said “No” to the disposal of radioactive waste anywhere in their vicinity.   For fifty years the industry has been trying unsuccessfully to get rid of their waste.   Meanwhile the old reactors in Ontario have to be dealt with, as they near end-of-life.  What happens then?)

  • The Province of Quebec put an end to nuclear reactors.

(WASTE:  The Quebec Legislature prohibited import of radioactive waste for storage in Quebec.)

  • Point LePreau has been a financial sinkhole for the people of New Brunswick.


What are the Liberals thinking?!    . . . Nuclear energy is an important part of Canada’s current clean energy basket and will continue to play a key role in achieving the country’s low-carbon future?      I have to laugh.   It’s getting politically expensive to keep backing that which citizens have fought against.  Except that . . .  there’s a reason.   Always is.

WHY  are Canadians so opposed to nuclear energy?   . . .  It’s because the economics don’t make sense.    Most Ontarians, Quebecers, and New Brunswickers, provinces that have had nuclear energy, understand that.  And the rest of us learn from their experience.  (UPDATE:  a large issue in the Ontario Provincial Election, June 7, 2018, is the high cost of electricity in Ontario, which is to say,  the high cost of nuclear.)

Citizens become the paupers.


The question then, is, who wins?   Not in general terms, but SPECIFICALLY.  That is the role of investigative journalists to discover – – there ARE beneficiaries.   WHO are they?   . . .  follow the money.   I will get to that after this comment:

When a population fights a reactor because it will enslave them to very expensive electricity, at the cost of investing in alternatives, and

then turns around to fight the transportation of (the industry’s estimate in 2009, more now) 20,000 truckloads of accumulated high level radioactive waste, you may, as I did, come to view the nuclear industry as a Ponzi scheme.  Someone gets left holding the bag, at the end.   “Someone” is the good old, not-yet-angry-enough citizen.

It’s pretty simple:   a business needs a revenue stream to cover its costs.  The industry has old reactors in Ontario;  billions of dollars are being spent to extend their lives.   Costs go onto electricity bills.  The last “new” reactor began construction in July 1985,  more than three decades ago.

No new reactors means no new revenue streams to replace the old ones.

BUT,  simultaneously, the industry has (by its own estimates in 2009, more now) upwards of $24 billion for the cost of building a Repository for its accumulated waste.  That estimate does not include the cost of transporting all the waste to the site. (Some years ago, the industry was required to start putting money into a fund to address those eventual costs.  It has so far collected a small portion of the necessary money.)

There’s the Ponzi:

Without new reactors they don’t have a replacement revenue stream.  So, dwindling cash in-flow.  Large out-flows.  How are they going to pay the cost of accumulated waste disposal, an estimated $30 billion dollars?   I have no idea what their existing debt-loads are.  There are contaminated sites to be cleaned up, at large expense.  There isn’t one insurance company willing to sell insurance to them.    A new reactor requires capital investment.  But investors don’t line up when the potential for returns looks lousy.

No new reactors?  . . . in a Ponzi, the last guy to buy in (Ontario?) ends up footing the bill.   Most of the other provinces have said. “It’s not going to be us.”

UNLESS  . . .  unless the industry has access to the public purse to foot the bills, they’re hooped.  Seems to me.

The Liberals appear to be gambling that they can use spin doctors and count on ignorant voters.  I don’t think we are that gullible.


So WHY the big push, by the Trudeau Government, to commit Canada to nuclear reactors and to have other countries adopt them as a (false) answer to climate change?   . . .   follow the money.

When I read the words of Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr’s parliamentary secretary,  we have ensured that nuclear energy will have its placeI went to Cameco’s website.  (If you don’t know Cameco, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cameco.)

Who are the current Executive and Board members?    https://www.cameco.com/about/board-of-directors 


QUESTION 2:   Are you aware of former 4-term Liberal Cabinet Minister (under PM’s Martin & Chretien) Anne McLellan’s role on the Board of Cameco (nuclear industry)?

(Re  DSU:  Most of the deferred equity-based compensation paid to directors takes the form of deferred share units (DSUs)).

From  https://www.cameco.com/about/board-of-directors/anne-mclellan   (at end of Dec, 2016, McLellan held almost a million dollars worth of Cameco shares)

Securities Held

As of December 31, 2016

Year Cameco Shares DSUs Total Shares & DSUs Total value of Shares & DSUs Meets share ownership targets
2016 100 38,253 38,353 $ 538,478 Yes (145%)
2015 100 33,413 33,513 $ 572,066 Yes
Change –– 4,840 4,840 $(33,588)

For share ownership compliance, Anne’s shares and DSUs held at December 31, 2016 are valued at $929,756.00


These people are in the 1%, having been given access to a public resource, once owned by a Crown Corporation.   From 2013 to 2014 Key Executive Compensation rose by 43% (from $10 million to $15 million), at a time when their share value had been in uninterrupted decline since February, 2011.   And just after the CRA – – –

Grant Isaac was into his fourth year with Cameco (Chief Financial Officer), Nancy Hopkins, corporate lawyer, her 21st year on the Board, when the CRA went after Cameco, over offshore shell companies:

The uranium producer estimates it has avoided declaring $4.9-billion in Canadian income, saving it $1.4-billion in taxes, over the last 10 years.

2013-05-01   Cameco’s $800-million tax battle, Globe & Mail  

(Update:  2017-08-17 Cameco wins PROCEDURAL victory in offshore ‘transfer pricing’ tax battle, (not the end of the case)  Financial Post)


Citizens were pretty pissed.  We pay taxes, they don’t.  That’s not all.  Intolerable conflicts-of-interest:

Nancy served as a Director on the Board of Governors of the University of Saskatchewan from 2005-2013, serving as the Chair of the Board in the last three years. Nancy also sat on the Board of Cameco Corporation (CCO on the TSX; CCJ on the NYSE) for 24 years, and, in that time, chaired the Compensation Committee, the Audit Committee, and the Governance Committee. (https://www.mcdougallgauley.com/people/nancy-hopkins/)

During Nancy’s time as Chair of the University Board of Governors, the Provincial Government of Brad Wall transferred (2011) between $30 and $47 million to the University EAR-MARKED for the nuclear industry.  (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/sask-spending-30m-on-nuclear-research-centre-1.987996).  Nancy did not protect University autonomy by insisting that public funding of the University has to be “no strings attached”.  Further:

Grant Isaac was Dean of the Edwards School of Business at the U of S.   In July, 2009, Cameco Corp hired him; in 2011 he became Senior Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer.   In January 2013, Grant was appointed by the Government to the Board of Governors of the University.

(I met with Grant when he was still Dean of the Business School, to understand whether what is taught in Economics classes is still the same as it was when I was a student there, (1967-71).   Grossly deficient economic indicators, GDP, the ability of corporations to offload costs to the public to pay, etc..   The answer was “yes”.   Grant put it this way:   “If there was a way to change it, it would have been done by now.”   So, no problem teaching junk to students.   That was in 2008 when the faculty was still on strike (http://www.cupe1975.ca/index_archive_071106.html).  Grant went to Cameco in summer 2009.  Would he have been selected if he had been active in seeking changes to a flawed economic system that is taking the planet to the brink?

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