Dec 052010

(A continuation of 2010/10/13, Ban import of high-level radioactive waste. Stop producing radioactive waste – there isn’t a place to put it (International Radioactive Waste Day).

“The risks of transporting deadly nuclear waste, the environmental justice impacts and the long-term health effects are untenable…We cannot afford to be silent on these important issues.”     ~ James Cromwell   

NWMO = Nuclear Waste Management Organization. 

They’re having difficulty finding a place for hiding high-level radioactive waste.  This is an issue for a large number of Canadians (and Americans).  The NWMO is thinking that northern Saskatchewan is a nice, empty spot.  The bribery is well underway.

Item #4,  TEN BIG REASONS WHY SASKATCHEWAN SHOULD BAN NUCLEAR WASTES, is an excellent resource and a must-read.

Item #1 is my letter, if it can be of assistance to anyone. 









= = = =  = = = = = = = = = = = == = = = = = 


December 5, 2010

SENT TO:  akalvins AT 

Dear Anda Kalvins, 

1.      You are proposing to bury high-level radioactive waste from other jurisdictions in the Canadian Shield area of Saskatchewan.   You are relying on the myth that the Canadian Shield is solid rock and dry, as the basis for your scheme.  The public is not so ignorant.   Experience with mining indicates that the Canadian Shield is most likely sitting upon vast tracts of underground water.

 The uranium and other mines in the Shield are notorious for being unable to control inflowing water. 

 The High-level Radioactive Waste Act in Manitoba which prohibits other jurisdictions from shipping their radioactive waste to Manitoba for disposal was passed in 1987 – – specifically because it was found to be impossible to prevent water from entering underground holes in the Canadian Shield.

 Your plan is to put underground water supplies at serious risk for contamination by high-level radioactive waste.   

2.      In consideration of the work of future generations, High-level radioactive waste should be stored above-ground for ease of transfer to new containers as old storage containers deteriorate (as they inevitably will).   The waste should be stored at the sites where it is generated. 

 3.      There is no good reason in the public interest to transport high-level radioactive waste.  You put everyone along the transportation corridors at risk – – at substantial risk.  Your own estimates are that it will take 30 years of trucking to move the accumulated radioactive waste.   A couple of weekends ago there was yet another highway accident near the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border that killed 6 people this time.  You think you are going to truck high-level radioactive waste for 30 years and not have accidents.  Where has your common sense gone?   Above-ground storage at the sites where the waste is produced is the sane approach.

 4.      As a citizen I will be expected to ante up the money to pay for the costs of upgrading the highway systems to accommodate the substantially-increased heavy traffic flow.  What’s the phrase – – corporate welfare bums?

 5.      You (the industry) should come clean on the plans for high-level radioactive waste disposal.   It is your intention to move high-level radioactive waste, not only from other parts of Canada, but also from the United States to Saskatchewan for disposal. 

 6.      It will be interesting to see if you (the industry) can override the wishes of the people who live not only along the transportation routes, but who reside in the Province of Saskatchewan.  The people of this province, through public meetings held in the summer of 2009 were unequivocal:  we do not want a radioactive waste disposal site here.  We will look after the substantial accumulated waste in this Province, and we expect other jurisdictions to do the same for the radioactive waste they have generated.

7.      I bear responsibility for what happens in this democracy.  I will therefore do all I can to ensure that more and more people in Saskatchewan are fully aware of the attempts to ship radioactive waste to Saskatchewan for disposal, also of your attempts to ship through the Great Lakes to Sweden and the resistance that has mobilized to stop your self-serving lunacy.    People in Saskatchewan are very interested to hear about the 50,000 Germans who have mobilized over the radioactive waste issue, the people in the eastern U.S. who recently stopped the building of a reactor because eventually they would have the radioactive waste from it being shipped through their transportation corridors (right through their cities – – they said “no”.). 

 I suggest you re-consider your options.  

Best wishes,

 Sandra Finley

= = = = = =  = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =


Nuclear organization gives funding to FSIN for education sessions


The organization dedicated to developing a long-term storage facility for nuclear waste is giving $1 million to the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations. 

The funding from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is to be used to “inform and educate” Saskatchewan First Nations about nuclear waste storage, said FSIN vice-chief Lyle Whitefish in an interview. 

It comes after two northern Saskatchewan communities, the village of Pinehouse and the English River First Nation, have expressed interest in becoming the site for a storage facility, a project estimated to be worth up to $24 billion. 

The FSIN is not taking a formal position and simply wants communities to be able to make an informed decision, said Whitefish. 

But he said FSIN will not be providing any other information besides that coming from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization. “They provide us information and what we do is dispatch that information on to First Nations,” he said. 

“There are a lot of issues within our nation about nuclear waste and we try and answer, with the support of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, answer a lot of those questions First Nations people have.

The NWMO, established as a condition of federal regulations and funded by the nuclear industry, is seeking a Canadian site to store spent nuclear fuel. 

A NWMO spokesperson could not be reached for comment Wednesday but an organization representative told The StarPhoenix in August that construction could begin on a storage site in eight to 10 years, with the facility operational in 2035. The NWMO intends to select a “willing host community” and will not impose themselves without the consent of the relevant government authorities at each step of the process. 

The Saskatchewan Party government took office in 2007 saying it had no interest in a nuclear waste facility for the province — home to significant reserves of uranium but no nuclear power facilities — because the public had no appetite for such a project. 

In response to its Uranium Development Partnership’s (UDP) recommendations in 2009, however, the government changed its stance from rejection to reserving judgment on whether it would support communities interested in a future storage facility. 

The UDP had recommended the government actively support those communities interested in pursuing a waste facility. 

Energy and Resources Minister Bill Boyd said Wednesday that the money from the NWMO to FSIN was “the responsible thing, to talk about opportunities that might be there.” He said the government has not seen any formal proposals from any Saskatchewan community but is willing to take a look at any that come forward. 

Boyd said he thinks there is probably not a great deal of support from the public for such a facility in the province. 

NDP Leader Dwain Lingenfelter said his party opposes a nuclear waste site in the province. 

© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix

= = = = = =  = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = 



Great Lakes Mayors Sound Alarm Over Radioactive Shipment

CHICAGO, Illinois, December 2, 2010 (ENS) – A binational coalition of over 70 mayors from Quebec, Ontario and the eight Great Lake States fear that the proposed maritime shipment of 16 giant radioactive steam generators from Ontario’s Bruce Power to Sweden for recycling could release radioactivity into the water in the event of an accident during shipment.

The generators, each the size of school bus and weighing 100 metric tonnes, would be shipped from Owen Sound, through Georgian Bay, across three of the lakes, up the St. Lawrence Seaway and across the Atlantic Ocean to Sweden. 

Organized as the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, the mayors have expressed concern over the potential environmental impacts to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence if a shipping accident occurs.

– – – – –  — – –  – – – — – – – – – – – –

Read the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative submission 


Read the Canadian Coalition for nuclear Responsibility submission 


– – – – –  — – –  – – – — – – – – – – – –

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence form the largest body of fresh water in the world. Over 20 million Canadians and Americans live close to the shoreline of this vast basin, and over 40 million people rely on them for safe drinking water.

“As mayors, we are responsible for providing safe drinking water to our communities,” said Brian McMullan, mayor of St. Catharines, Ontario, and vice chair of the Cities Initiative. “Our analysis shows that federal standards for drinking water safety could be exceeded in the event of a serious accident during shipment of the radioactive waste.”

One of the 16 obsolete generators proposed for shipment to Sweden for recycling (Photo courtesy Bruce Power) 

Bruce Power says the company is trying to reduce its environmental footprint by recycling the 16 steam generators removed from its Bruce A facility instead of placing them into long term storage. The generator recycling effort is part of work now underway to restart Units 1 and 2 of Bruce A nuclear generating station, and the obsolete generators are now held at Western Waste Management Facility.

“By recycling these 100 tonne steam generators, which basically act as large kettles to make steam as part of the electricity generating process, we can reduce the amount of material going into long-term storage by approximately 90 percent. Much of the metal can be decontaminated, melted down and sold back into the scrap metal market,” the company says. “The rest will be returned to the Bruce site for long-term storage.”

The Bruce site is located 250 kilometers (155 miles) northwest of Toronto, Ontario on the shores of Lake Huron between the towns of Kincardine and Saugeen Shores.

Canada’s first private nuclear generator, Bruce Power is owned by a group that includes two corporations, the Cameco Corporation and the TransCanada Corporation, as well as the Power Workers’ Union, the Society of Energy Professionals, and BPC Generation Infrastructure 

Trust, a trust established by the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System.

Bruce Power argues that transportation of the steam generators will be performed by qualified companies with proven experience in moving heavy components, and says the generators are considered low level radioactive waste and are well within regulatory limits to ship.

“The only difference between this shipment and the thousands of other shipments made each year is the size of these components,” Bruce Power says. Because they do not fit into the containers traditionally used for shipping low level radioactive material, Bruce Power 

requires a special license from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, which has the power to grant or withhold a license for the shipment, states that “the steam generators do not present a risk to the public or environment.” 

“The level of contamination is very low and confined to the inner parts of the generators,” the commission says on its website.

“No licence will be issued unless the CNSC is convinced that the shipment will be completed safely, without risk to the health, safety or security of Canadians or the environment,” the commission says.

But the mayors of the Cities Initiative are concerned about the formal review process now taking place under the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, including “information gaps” about the proposed shipment. 

Following public hearings in late September, the commission requested a supplemental report from its staff to address information gaps that were brought to its attention by the Cities Initiative and others.

In its analysis of the supplemental report, the Cities Initiative found that an accidental spill of radioactive material during its shipment in the Great Lakes nearshore area or in Owen Sound harbor could exceed federal standards for radioactivity in drinking water that could trigger emergency intervention.

The Cities Initiative remains “seriously concerned with the flawed environmental review conducted by the proponent, Bruce Power, and the CNSC staff,” the mayors said in a statement November 23.

“Safety scenarios do not consider more serious accidents, rely on a series of assumptions, and lack an assessment of ecological risk,” the mayors warned.

“The CSNS revised staff report confirms many of our concerns,” said George Heartwell, mayor of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and past chair of the Cities Initiative.

“However,” he said, “we disagree with the conclusions of the revised report, and feel that an accident involving this shipment does pose a significant environmental and public health risk.”

In addition, the mayors are concerned about the potentially precedent-setting nature of the shipment. They warn that the amount of radioactive waste to be shipped exceeds by 50 times the international allowable limit for a single shipment in inland waters.

The commission says the public is encouraged to address any questions or concerns to the CNSC by email at, or by phone at 1-800-668-5284.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2010. All rights reserved.

 = = = = = =  = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =


Background policy-analysis prepared for discussion at Saskatoon, Nov. 20, 2010

The Coalition for a Clean Green Saskatchewan, a politically non-partisan network of groups working across Saskatchewan for a sustainable future, supports a legislated ban on the importation, transportation and storage of nuclear wastes anywhere in Saskatchewan. Towards this end we will hold community-information sessions along all southern and northern routes that the nuclear industry is likely to target for transporting nuclear wastes to the north.

We support a legislated nuclear waste ban for the following main reasons:


Saskatchewan is not obliged to take back nuclear wastes created from Saskatchewan uranium. If Saskatchewan was obliged to take back such wastes we would instantly become an international nuclear dump, for uranium has been sold to many countries, including the US, France, Japan, Germany, Sweden, Finland, India, etc. They must all be responsible for their own nuclear wastes.

 We aren’t obliged to take high-level radioactive waste from the US weapons program, even though Canada exported uranium in secrecy from Uranium City (and Elliot Lake, Ontario) to the US for weapons purposes through the 1950s and 1960s. Nor are we obliged to take nuclear weapons wastes from France, even though Canada sold uranium to France prior to it signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

 Nor are we obliged to take nuclear power wastes from Ontario, Quebec or New Brunswick because Candu reactors there have used some uranium from Saskatchewan. Uranium was also used from the Elliot Lake area in northern Ontario; and that doesn’t mean that area should become a national-international nuclear dump. Northern Ontario and Northern Saskatchewan have already paid dearly for being the mining front-end of the military-industrial nuclear system, accumulating hundreds of thousands of tonnes of toxic uranium tailings that will be radioactive for thousands of years.

 Jurisdictions that decided to “go nuclear” are responsible for their own waste management, and should have had a plan from the start or not proceeded. It is too bad that Ontario’s government didn’t listen to its  own Porter Commission in 1978 calling for a moratorium on nuclear power because the province had no nuclear waste plan. But better late than never: a moratorium and phase-out of nuclear power is still required so that there is not a further build-up of nuclear wastes as a curse to future generations.


Saskatchewan is the only jurisdiction targeted for a nuclear dump by the nuclear industry group, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization or NWMO, that doesn’t have any nuclear power plants. So why is the NWMO even here? The government-appointed, industry-based Uranium Development Partnership (UDP) likely hoped Saskatchewan would accept its recommendations and “go nuclear”, for then we would be committing to producing nuclear wastes. But this didn’t happen.  Over 80 % of the thousands of people participating in the UDP’s public consultations in 2009 supported a non-nuclear, renewable energy policy for the province. One of the main reasons Saskatchewan people didn’t want nuclear power was because they didn’t want to create nuclear wastes.  And in Dec. 2009 the Sask Party government rejected the nuclear power option along the North Saskatchewan River being promoted by Ontario-based Bruce Power because it was considered inappropriate for our needs and “too costly.”

But the UDP also recommended that the nuclear industry expand in Saskatchewan by becoming a nuclear dump. This has been the position of one UDP member, Cameco, since the 1990s. Cameco co-owns the privatized nuclear power plants operated in Ontario by Bruce Power, which is responsible for accumulating over 40 % of Canada’s total nuclear wastes, and the two companies want to find an “out of sight, out of mind” place far away from urbanized Ontario to dump their toxic, radioactive wastes. Once they claim they have “solved” their nuclear waste problem by dumping it elsewhere they hope to regain public support for a nuclear renaissance. The Coalition will not passively sit by and allow Saskatchewan to be a pawn on this corporate chess board.


The Coalition supports the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People which calls for “free, prior, informed consent” for indigenous peoples being targeted by resource or industrial waste companies. Informed consent requires sufficient time to consider all relevant information, from all sides of a controversy, and not being bribed under threat of losing benefits to another community.

There is no such consent being sought by the NWMO; instead the industry is holding private meetings with Métis and First Nations groups, trying to bribe them with monetary inducements to host a nuclear dump. Environmental Committees in the north have even been used by the nuclear industry to promote a nuclear dump. The 2009 Report of the government-run North Saskatchewan Environmental Quality Committee (NSEQC)) says the NWMO made “communities aware of the opportunities to host a nuclear waste management storage site” and continues “There will be incredible economic benefits to such a community…” This manipulation bastardizes supposed environmental protection.

Nevertheless the FSIN reported on Sept. 17, 2010 that “The Secretariat has been in discussions with NWMO regarding financial assistance for capacity development, education and awareness and partnership opportunities with First Nations in Saskatchewan.” The Communiqué continues, “The (Land and Resources) Commission mandated the Secretariat to seek funding from NWMO for capacity and education.”  Not surprising the industry-based NWMO responded quickly and on Nov. 17, 2010 announced it would be providing the FSIN with $1,000,000 over several years. And apparently Saskatchewan’s Métis Nation has also taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from the NWMO. This is a lot of money which carries the danger of creating political dependency on nuclear industry-funded jobs and is bound to influence the way Chiefs and indigenous communities are “educated” about nuclear wastes.   In a Nov. 18th 2010 interview with the Star Phoenix, FSIN Vice-Chief Lyle Whitefish is reported as saying the FSIN will not be providing any other information besides that coming from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization.  “They provide us information and what we do is dispatch that information onto First Nations,” he said.  “There are a lot of issues within our nation about nuclear waste and we try and answer, with the support of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, answer a lot of those questions First Nations people have.”   Such a one-sided, neo-colonial approach will not and cannot lead to “informed consent.” 


The Coalition supports environmentally-sound, effective, non-nuclear economic and social development in the north. It is largely myth that capital-intensive uranium mining can provide the magnitude of jobs and other economic opportunities required for a quickly growing northern population. Most of the earnings and profits from the privately-owned uranium industry go out of the north and out of province. Provincial uranium revenues are miniscule in comparison to those coming from potash and oil and gas. The main thing trickling down from uranium mining is not economic benefits but toxic tailings that will be radioactive for thousands of years.

A recent Conference Board study found northern Saskatchewan has remained the second poorest region in all Canada even after it became the world’s main uranium-producing region. The Joint Federal-Provincial Inquiry on uranium mine expansion in the early 1990s expressed concern that the benefits of uranium mining were not being distributed among northern communities, but the industry barged on doing “business as usual.” And the industry will be gone as soon as the profitable uranium deposits run out.

Preserving and adding-value to renewable resources and embracing renewable energy will be much more effective in providing sustainable jobs and opportunities. With the million-dollar promotion of a nuclear dump as though it is a way to get economic benefits in the impoverished north, the myth, however, continues to be spread. But a deep-geological repository would be even more capital-intensive than uranium mining, with few local benefits and many short and long-term risks.


 The Coalition will not accept the industry end-running the people of Saskatchewan. In addition to providing a million dollars to the FSIN to “inform” the Chiefs and First Nation communities about nuclear wastes, the NWMO has confirmed that it is already negotiating privately with two northern communities: the Métis community of Pinehouse, whose Mayor heads up the Kineepik Métis Local, and the First Nations community at English River. The industry dealing behind closed doors with one or more communities desperate for economic benefits is not the democratic way to decide whether Saskatchewan should become a nuclear dump. This is no way to make a decision with such far-reaching implications for present and future generations.

 What of all the Métis and First Nations communities in the north living in common watersheds or within common Treaty areas? Will they have a voice?  What of all the people of southern Saskatchewan, farming or living in the towns and cities that would be along any nuclear waste transportation route to the north?  There must be a public participation process, one not run by industry bribes and handouts, that allows all people of Saskatchewan – north and south, indigenous and settler, rural and urban –  to become independently and fully informed on this matter.


After the eight-year long federal Seaborn inquiry ended in 1998, the commissioners concluded that Canadians did not support AECL’s proposed deep geological storage of Canada’s nuclear wastes. They called for an arms-length, non-industry group to take the lead in any further consideration of nuclear wastes, which, unfortunately was not done, with the creation of the industry-based NWMO.

This promotion of deep geological burial as a public acceptance strategy of the nuclear industry has already run into serious problems. After spending $13 billion, the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste burial project had to be cancelled because of underground water movement, geological fault systems and widespread indigenous and settler opposition. So the U.S. is now “back to the drawing board”, not sure what to do with an equivalent of  90,000 shipments of nuclear wastes it has now accumulated without any waste management plan. AECL’s experiments with deep geological “storage” at Lac Du Bonnet in Manitoba in the 1980s also continually ran into problems, including leaking underground caverns and radioactive material spreading through the local watershed. A leaked report showed unacceptable levels of radioactivity in the Winnipeg River, and, after provincial monitoring started, in drinking water samples.

But the industry-group, the NWMO, has come back with the same repackaged “plan”, in the hope that Saskatchewan’s sparse northern population, mostly of Métis and First Nations, will not be able to muster the same public transparency or informed opposition to becoming a nuclear waste dump that has occurred in more populous regions in Ontario and Manitoba. The hundreds of thousands or one million dollar industrial promotional “gift” is the NWMO’s insurance policy. The economic bribery being used by the industry-based NWMO is a continuation of past colonial approaches to the north. The double standard has rightly been called environmental racism.


Transporting nuclear wastes to a dump site far from the nuclear power plants is intended to maintain illusions created by the nuclear industry. But it makes more ecological and economic sense to store nuclear wastes at or near the nuclear plants that create them. In 2005 the NWMO estimated there were 1.8 million spent fuel bundles totaling 40,000 tonnes of nuclear wastes in Canada. There are now nearly 2 million highly-radioactive spent fuel bundles, and the number will double if existing plants are allowed to operate for their projected life-span. To transport this highly radioactive nuclear waste from the nuclear plants, mostly in southern Ontario, to northern Saskatchewan would involve about 20,000 heavily armed truck or trainloads travelling in perpetuity past farms, towns and cities in northern Ontario, southern Manitoba and southern and northern Saskatchewan. Prince Albert and La Ronge would become the gateway to a nuclear dump, not to northern fishing, hunting and eco-tourism. Transportation accidents are almost certain at such a frequency. The fossil fuel and carbon footprint resulting from this would make a mockery of the nuclear industry’s claim to be “clean energy.”

 Rather than bribing communities to host a nuclear dump, on site storage should be maintained, upgraded and secured. There is much to learn from the Nuclear Guardianship perspective developing in the US, which recognizes the responsibility to quickly stop the production of these deadly wastes and reduce the burden of managing the wastes for the necessary 100,000 years – many times humanity’s recorded history.


A centralized nuclear dump is not primarily about “safe or permanent storage”; it is a Trojan Horse for future plutonium reprocessing. A 1977 report leaked from AECL’s Lac Du Bonnet research station confirmed that their underground repository was designed to retrieve spent fuel for future reprocessing, and this same plan has been carried forward by the NWMO.  Ever-cheaper renewable energy technologies have already surpassed the electricity produced world-wide by nuclear power and the nuclear industry knows that it is running out of economically-recoverable uranium fuel. (More than one-half Saskatchewan’s profitable deposits are probably now mined.)  The nuclear industry therefore wants to appear to have solved the nuclear waste problem, by centralizing storage of spent fuel bundles, out of sight-out of mind, while ensuring that these remain available for reprocessing to recover plutonium as an alternative nuclear fuel at a later date.

 But reprocessing leaves an even more mobile high-level radioactive waste and greatly increases the dangers of weapons proliferation because of the more accessible plutonium. This is why several countries, including the U.S., ban reprocessing. Reprocessing is also extremely costly; the United Kingdom’s white elephant plant at Sellafield has been a steady drain on the taxpayer and has gone bankrupt. Meanwhile, without any seeming concern for these hard experiences elsewhere, the nuclear industry-run UDP supported nuclear wastes being brought to Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan becoming a centre for research on alternative nuclear fuels, i.e. plutonium. Some self-interested academics at the University of Saskatchewan, where the UDP Chair is also a Financial Vice President, have apparently turned a blind eye to these dangers.


 The nuclear industry long tried to justify its expansion by promising that a solution to nuclear wastes was in the works. The panacea, we are now told, will be geological disposal. But the public has become more skeptical of such a hypothetical “permanent” solution on a planet that recycles elements in perpetuity. That leaves us back at square one, and, don’t be fooled; the NWMO’s “adaptive phased management” just means “no plan.” It is understandable that the contradictions are becoming intolerable for communities living near nuclear plants. One U.S. group that bought into the false promise about geological disposal is suing the Federal government for not taking high-level wastes to Yucca. Others, more knowledgeable about the inherent limits of nuclear technology, are calling for safer storage of wastes at nuclear power plants. The Citizens Awareness Project is highlighting “the threats posed by the current vulnerable storage of commercial spent fuel”, and in March, 2010, 170 groups in 50 states released their “Principles for Safeguarding Nuclear Wastes at Reactors.”  It calls for lower-density storage of the extremely hot and highly radioactive spent fuel rods. It also wants hardened on-site storage (HOSS) to be able to withstand attacks, and prohibition of any reprocessing of wastes.

Originally the cooling pools at nuclear plants were only to be used temporarily. But they have now accumulated wastes well beyond their design capacity with their concentration sometimes approaching that within the reactor core. Any loss of coolant water from an accident or attack would risk a radiological fire with huge releases of radioactivity to the region. The U.S. Network therefore wants funds for state and community monitoring of these wastes.

 Meanwhile, the nuclear industry that began under the cloak of military secrecy now operates commercially under the cloak of the not-so-transparent regulatory system. At a time when the public is seeing what de-regulation has done in the financial and off-shore oil-drilling sectors, the nuclear industry wants reduced environmental oversight so it can fast-track and cost-cut new plants. Meanwhile community networks are forming because the industry hasn’t dealt with the “trash” it has already created.

We can’t have any more confidence in how the nuclear industry is regulated here in Canada.  It is 28 years since the U.S. began its search for a geological repository. Our federal government only approved such a course of action 8 years ago in 2002, when it passed the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act which created the industry-run Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO). The NWMO now travels across Canada, seemingly concentrating on Saskatchewan, using monetary incentives to find an Indigenous community willing to “host” nuclear wastes. It is promoting the concept of geological disposal that the U.S. has pursued for nearly three decades and has now had to abandon at Yucca. Are we really smarter than our American neighbours?  Or are we just slower to catch on?


The AECL that made the Candu reactors without any plan for their nuclear wastes was the first to advocate centralized deep geological storage of nuclear wastes in Canada. After facing stiff community opposition for its drilling program in Ontario towns like Madoc and Atikokan in the 1970s, the crown corporation moved west to Lac Du Bonnet, Manitoba. In 1987, after a decade of nuclear secrecy and attempted cover-ups of failings in the deep-rock storage experiments, the Manitoba NDP government passed The High-Level Radioactive Waste Act banning the storage of nuclear wastes in that province. The AECL tried to relocate its research back in Ontario, but was rebuffed by residents at New Likard and Massey. That’s when the industry came to Saskatchewan, in 1991 trying to broker a deal with the Meadow Lake and District Chiefs to host a nuclear dump. This attempt failed due to the good work of “native grandmothers” in the community.

 In 2008 Quebec passed its own legislation banning the importation of nuclear wastes. This means it recognizes it will have to take responsibility for the wastes at its own reactors, which are small in volume by Ontario standards, but will not import the bulk of Canada’s nuclear wastes, which are in southern Ontario.  It is hard to imagine a bigger catalyst for a crisis in Confederation. But think of that; provinces on both sides of Ontario, where most of the wastes have been created, banning importation and/or storage of nuclear wastes! Saskatchewan seems to be the last outpost for the NWMO and its corporate funders, Bruce Power and Cameco. We are not going to take this sitting down!

 Should we expect less protection from our provincial government than people in Manitoba and Quebec? Are we going to be suckers for the bribery and disinformation of the nuclear industry? At its May 28, 2010 annual conference held in Moose Jaw the United Church, the largest in the province, passed a resolution “prohibiting the transport or storage of high level nuclear waste across Saskatchewan.” And at its 2009 annual convention the Saskatchewan NDP passed policy that an NDP government will not consider “storing nuclear wastes under any circumstances.”  And Opposition Leader, Lingenfelter has now publicly endorsed the party position. The Green Party has supported such a ban from its beginning. Even Sask Party Minister Boyd admits there is little grass-roots support for a nuclear dump in Saskatchewan. So isn’t It time for the Sask Party government to get on- side and support a legislated ban on nuclear wastes? The Coalition and the broad-based public that supports such a ban will be watching closely.

 Member groups of the Coalition for a Clean Green Saskatchewan will begin to hold public information meetings along the Yellowhead Highway and into the north, including at communities targeted by the NWMO. We will provide comprehensive, balanced information on nuclear wastes, and the alternative to producing more of these deadly wastes or creating a nuclear dump, that has not been forthcoming from the industry-based NWMO. We will begin a campaign to win a legislated nuclear waste ban in Saskatchewan and positive, sustainable economic development options for the north. Please join us! Our children’s children are counting on us!

Drafted by Jim Harding, Nov. 19, 2010

 Prepared for Nov. 20th Saskatoon Coalition meeting, redone for Dec. 4th Wynyard meeting.

 = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =  == = = =  = ==  =


German media roundup: Split by the atom

Published: 9 Nov 10 16:10 CET

The latest nuclear waste transport to Lower Saxony’s Gorleben storage facility may have sparked angry protests, but the newspapers in The Local’s media roundup on Tuesday were split on the import of the anti-atomic movement.

Germans have long been opposed to nuclear energy, which is why the country perhaps still doesn’t have a permanent storage site for radioactive waste.

The temporary site at Gorbelen in the northern state of Lower Saxony is considered unsafe by many, and there have been protests against depositing more nuclear waste there for years. After a centre-left coalition of Social Democrats and Greens decided ten years ago to phase out atomic power, the demonstrations against the so-called Castor transports from France died down.

But Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision last month to extend the use of Germany’s nuclear reactors for another 14 years stoked new life into the German anti-nuclear movement.

An estimated 20,000 to 50,000 people travelled to Lower Saxony at the weekend to hinder the 11 Castor containers holding 123 tonnes of radioactive waste as a special train laboured towards Gorleben for three days. The demonstrations turned nasty as protestors clashed with some 20,000 police officers trying to clear the way.

The anti-atomic movement hailed the determined opposition as proof that Germans were angered over the government’s nuclear policies. But the cat-and-mouse shenanigans also cost taxpayers around €50 million – and the country still doesn’t have permanent facility for radioactive waste.

Newspapers in The Local’s media roundup on Tuesday agreed the government’s nuclear policies had split German society, but were themselves divided over the impact of the latest demonstrations.

The centre-left daily Süddeutsche Zeitung said the clashes between protestors and police threatened to overshadow Germany’s flawed nuclear policies.

“Opposition to Gorleben has turned into a mass movement of housewives, teachers and farmers,” wrote the Munich-based paper. “But when violence obscures the protest it’s a fiasco, because it’s allows atomic policy makers to distract from their failures. Nuclear waste has to be disposed of safely – but there’s still no concept of just how to do that.”

The daily also pointed out the near impossible mission of the police: to ensure the security of a dangerous transport while not infringing on the right of citizens to engage in peaceful protests against atomic energy.

“But not even five times as many police officers could convince demonstrators the government’s nuclear policies are correct.”

The right-wing daily Die Welt said the violence at the weekend had discredited the anti-nuclear movement and embarrassed the leadership of the environmentalist Green party.

“On Saturday it looked like it would turn out be a family-friendly festival with a political message,” opined the paper. “But on Sunday there were serious, violent clashes between demonstrators and the police. People were hurt.”

The paper then accused top politicians from the Green party, which is currently riding high in opinion polls, of cynically trying to manipulate the anti-nuclear protests to their benefit.

“There was no mention that alternative energy won’t be far enough along in 2020 to supply our nation with enough energy and that’s why even coal power plants are necessary for basic electricity production,” wrote the daily. “More and more have been built since the decision to phase out atomic energy even though these power plants have a disastrous impact on the climate.”

The regional daily Badische Zeitung accused the Greens and the Social Democrats, which approved the atomic energy phase-out in 2000, of hypocrisy in the nuclear debate.

“While they governed they stopped the process of seeing if Gorleben was a potential permanent storage site,” wrote the Freiburg-based paper. “Leading Greens at the time let the reason slip: The lack of a permanent site would increase the political pressure to phase out” nuclear power.

The paper said Merkel’s centre-right coalition, however, was not handling the issue any better. “That the government is now forcing the exploration of Gorleben without looking for any alternative locations shows a chilling sort of narrow-mindedness.”

But the left-wing Frankfurter Rundschau said it was now futile to try and turn Gorleben into a permanent storage facility in the face of the virulent opposition.

“The opposition to Gorleben has existed for over 30 years and it will still exist 30 years from now,” wrote the paper, adding that the Greens and Merkel’s conservatives must stop trading the blame for who caused the protests.

“The only thing that can help now is starting the search for a permanent site from scratch with the most possible transparency and citizen participation.”

The Local (

= = = = = =  = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =



 The Curse of Gorleben

Germany’s Endless Search for a Nuclear Waste Dump


Germany has been looking for a permanent storage site for its nuclear waste for over 30 years. The history of the Gorleben salt dome, a potential nuclear repository, is one full of deception and political maneuvering. And if opponents to the plans have their way, the search might even have to start again from scratch.

The ride down into the Gorleben salt dome takes less than two minutes. When the elevator stops at 840 meters (2,755 feet) below ground, the folding gates open onto a scene that looks like it could be in a modern art museum.

A sculpture made of old soft drink cans and other scrap metal welcomes visitors as they step out of the elevator. The artwork is meant to symbolize society’s unresolved waste disposal problem.

“Trash People” is the name of the work, a creation by the Cologne-based conceptual artist HA Schult. Of the army of similar scrap metal sculptures he installed a few years ago in the site, which is earmarked as a possible permanent repository for radioactive waste, one remains today as a warning, next to an information panel describing Schult’s “happening,” called “Quiet Days in Gorleben.”

6  Photos

Photo Gallery: The Nuclear Option

The force behind the subversive artworks was Green Party politician Jürgen Trittin, who was German environment minister under former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s coalition government of the center-left Social Democrats and Green Party. But the art is not the only legacy of the SPD-Green Party era. What is more significant is the research moratorium that the former administration imposed on Gorleben in 2000, putting a stop to research into whether the salt dome was suitable for use as a storage site for nuclear waste.

The drilling machines have been idle since then, and life only returns to the site, which is located in the Wendland region of the northern state of Lower Saxony, when groups of visitors arrive. They are driven through the seemingly endless tunnels in a Mercedes SUV. Anyone who is so inclined can lick the grayish-white salt from the walls. It is apparently of the highest quality.

Bone of Contention 

But now the new government plans to allow research activities to resume as soon as possible, and instead of artists and salt dome tourists, the site could soon be buzzing with geologists and nuclear physicists once again. Germany’s new coalition government of the center-right Christian Democrats and the business-friendly Free Democrats wants to continue with research into the suitability of Gorleben as a national permanent repository for radioactive waste.

But that isn’t likely to happen any time soon, because the SPD, the Greens and the Left Party will not hand over the salt dome to the conservatives without a fight. This month, they plan to petition for the establishment of an investigative committee to look at the Gorleben project. The issue of radioactive waste is set to become a major bone of contention between the government and the opposition.

As the petition states, the purpose of the investigative committee will be to uncover errors and omissions made over a period of three decades “as completely as possible,” as well as to investigate “undue exertion of political influence” and “conflicts of interest within the federal government” due to its close ties to industry. Was political manipulation involved in the selection of Gorleben as a site? “The suspicions are very clear,” says Sylvia Kotting-Uhl, the Green Party’s nuclear policy spokeswoman, who initiated the investigative committee together with other members of her party.

Documents and studies from three decades will now be carefully scrutinized, as will the roles of a number of chancellors, state governors and cabinet ministers.

The commission will be asking a number of important questions. For instance, why did planners decide on Gorleben early on? Why weren’t alternatives seriously considered, and why aren’t they being considered today? And what happens if the salt dome turns out to be unsuitable?

Back to the Drawing Board 

The fact-finding commission will do more than revisit the past. It also has the potential to disqualify Gorleben as a potential storage site once and for all, to take the search for permanent repositories back to the drawing board and put the brakes on the current administration’s nuclear policy. The commission will be examining a decades-long history of trickery and deception. It will be confronting the lie that the German nuclear industry is based on, namely the constant postponement and suppression of its waste problem.

Previously unknown documents and interviews with contemporary witnesses already reveal that instead of geology and nuclear physics, partisan politics and power struggles shaped the search for permanent repositories from the start, which is why a feasible solution hasn’t been found to this day. But the industry’s spent fuel rods will have to be disposed of somewhere. Germany’s mountain of radioactive waste, which is growing from one year to the next, cannot be kept in ordinary warehouses forever.

The Germany-based independent expert and research organization GRS, which analyses reactor safety, estimates that German atomic power plants consume about 400 tons of nuclear fuel per year, producing highly toxic waste that remains radioactive for thousands of years. If Germany’s nuclear phase-out continues as planned, at least 17,200 tons of spent fuel rods will have to be disposed of, not to mention the irradiated tubes, filters and parts of the reactor vessels of decommissioned nuclear power plants.

In one of the two above-ground buildings at Gorleben, there are currently 3,500 steel, cast iron and concrete containers of mildly and moderately contaminated waste — such as cleaning rags, radioactive sludge and moderately radioactive scrap metal — which are scheduled to be buried in the Konrad repository in Lower Saxony soon. The second storage building contains 91 Castor, TS 28 V and TN85 metal containers of used fuel elements and reprocessing waste. This is highly radioactive waste that officials hope will eventually be permanently stored underground somewhere.

In the coming years, another 43 containers of highly radioactive waste from two reprocessing plants, La Hague in France and Sellafield in Great Britain, will be brought to the Gorleben depot on ships, trucks and trains. Because the transport of Castor containers had repeatedly been met with heated protests, the former SPD-Green Party government in 2002 ordered the nuclear industry to build interim storage sites for used fuel elements next to nuclear power plants, to reduce the need for shipments. As a result of this policy, a portion of Germany’s radioactive waste is still being kept in 12 of these interim storage buildings, distributed throughout the country, pending the discovery and development of a permanent repository.

The Welfare of Future Generations 

But where should the radioactive waste go? Two former environment ministers are at the center of this dispute, Angela Merkel and Sigmar Gabriel. Both know exactly how polarizing the subject of nuclear energy is. Now Merkel is the chancellor and Gabriel is the chairman of the SPD, and radioactive waste stands a good chance of becoming the focus of their rivalry.

Once again, politics, and not the welfare of future generations, is at the center of the nuclear waste issue. To protect those generations, a site must be found where radioactive waste can be allowed to slowly decay over hundreds of thousands of years, far away from any living creatures. This permanent repository will still have to be impervious in the year 8010, not to mention the year 308,010. Otherwise its contents could poison the living beings of the future if they discovered the contaminated containers, or the waste could gradually seep out and destroy the local environment.

The question, then, is why exactly Gorleben was chosen as the most suitable location to fulfill this role.

= = = = = =  = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =


Greetings (from the Coalition for a Clean Green Saskatchewan):

(good information follows this short call to action)

The NWMO (nuclear waste management organization) is accepting comments until Dec 10th implementationplan : there is a link to their document & a place to give feedback, scroll down just a bit.  Send your input to by December 10th.

No question the NWMO is looking at Saskatchewan as a place to build a dump for all of the high level post reactor fuel waste of Canada, and they are targeting economically challenged First Nations & Métis communities. 

The NWMO is trying to convince people that there is money to be made in hosting a waste dump, that is their mandate, and they have lots of money to help them with their message.  

They have also presented at nuclear waste meetings in the USA, in case you think it is only Canadian reactor waste that they are looking to store. 

Just the existing Canadian waste would take thousands of trucks on our roads carrying thousands of bundles of highly radioactive material to be stored in our province and every year nuclear power reactors are producing more waste.  How will they protect our land, our water, our people, our whole ecosystem from this radioactive contamination?

Please give some thought as to what role you want to play in this scenario.  Helping to inform people about the problems with these plans could go a long way to a solution. 

most sincerely,

The Coalition for a Clean Green Saskatchewan

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>