July 9, 2010
"AECL is a dead man walking. The Harper government is right to sell it and stop the drain on the public purse." - Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Greenpeace
New Brunswick has cast a pall over Ottawa's effort to sell off Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., announcing that it has dropped AECL's proposal to build a new reactor and is turning instead to the Crown corporation's arch-rival, France's Areva Group. "I get the impression there's not a heck of a lot of interest" in buying control of AECL, said Bryne Purchase, a former deputy minister of energy in Ontario and now a professor of energy policy at Queen's University.
AECL is also behind schedule and over budget in refurbishing the province's Point Lepreau reactor. Mr. Keir said the company will have a tough time selling new reactors until it can demonstrate that it can better manage retooling projects. And he said investors will be wary given the track record of overruns at Point Lepreau and another refurbishment project at Bruce Power in Ontario, the cancellation of the Maple research reactors, and problems at AECL's facility in Chalk River, Ont.
Greenpeace researcher Shawn-Patrick Stensil said the Areva agreement is unlikely to get off the ground because the French vendor will have to line up private financing, which has proven nearly impossible in industrialized economies, and compete with low-cost hydro from Quebec in New England markets.
A nuclear reactor in Chalk River, Ont., where medical isotopes are made has received the green light to restart operations after being shut down for more than a year. That means the reactor could begin making medical isotopes again by the end of the month. The reactor has been shut down since May 2009. That was when inspections uncovered a heavy-water leak and corrosion at the base of the reactor vessel.
Millions of adults, eggs and larvae perish when sucked into intakes or shocked by cold water
Close to one million fish and 62 million fish eggs and larvae die each year when they’re sucked into the water intake channel in Lake Ontario, which the plant uses to cool steam condensers.
A 610-metre barrier net it has strung in front of the channel is insufficient because it’s removed in winter and “does nothing about thermal pollution and nothing about larvae and eggs,” says Mark Mattson, president of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, a grassroots charity working to protect the health of the lake. Mattson calls the plant’s cooling system the worst of available technologies. “It sucks in clean water along with fish, eggs and larvae, then spits it back at close to hot-tub temperatures.”
Refit was supposed to show how to keep old plants operating
An effort to refurbish Atlantic Canada’s only nuclear power plant isn’t going well. Today, nobody knows when the plant will be back online, except that it won’t be any earlier than 2011. The fallout has been considerable for New Brunswick, Atomic Energy of Canada and the Canadian nuclear industry generally, raising concerns about the wisdom of refurbishing the Candu-6 reactors.
“AECL is terribly behind, terribly over budget, and terribly cash-flow negative on their refurbishment projects,” said Toronto-based energy consultant Tom Adams. “The federal government keeps writing big checks for AECL and they’re not happy about it.”
New Brunswick’s 750,000 citizens are on the hook for a replacement power bill estimated at $800 million — twice what was originally expected — and have been told by their government that electricity rates will have to go up by an additional 3 percent as a result.
Fears that Saskatchewan uranium may be used in weapons have been triggered by a newly signed export agreement with India.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper signed a nuclear co-operation agreement on Sunday with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was in Toronto for the G20 summit. It allows for uranium exports to India and technological exchanges that could be worth billions to Canada's nuclear industry.
Ann Coxworth, of the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, said she fears the federal deal could make it possible for Saskatchewan's uranium to end up in weapons. "We need to very seriously consider whether exporting uranium around the world is the kind of business that we should be in," said Coxworth.
The deal ends decades of chill over India's acquisition of a nuclear bomb. Harper said he believed India's Cold War duplicity has been consigned to history and that it won't use Canadian uranium to build nuclear weapons. Canada stopped nuclear co-operation with India in 1974 after the government used plutonium from a Canadian reactor to build an atomic bomb. Singh pledged India will play by the rules this time.*
*Note: Then why won’t India sign the NPT (Non Proliferation Treaty)?
The Harper government has protected several incentive and subsidy programs for fossil fuels, despite making a G20 pledge to phase them out, according to a leaked document from last month's conference in Toronto.
The annex, which circulated at the summit, lists and summarizes several measures by other countries to eliminate taxpayer support for the industries that are blamed for producing emissions that trap heat in the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. But Canada's submission only included previously announced measures, including a decision made in 1987. Canada said it was still analyzing its options.
Environmental groups have estimated that Canada is spending about $2 billion annually on fossil fuel subsidies while, around the world, the International Energy Agency estimates that countries spent $557 billion on subsidies for fossil fuel companies in 2008
The regulator supervising Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore oil industry has approved new exploration in deep waters. The new exploration areas, though, have depths ranging from 1,000 metres to 2,000 metres. The Hibernia platform, by contrast, is just 80 metres above the ocean floor.
Federal politicians from the government and opposition benches have mysteriously cancelled an 18-month investigation into oil sands pollution in water and opted to destroy draft copies of their report.
Canadians, if they’re truly interested in the country’s long-term prosperity and global competitiveness, have to start banging the pots and beating the drums on the issue of carbon pricing. Putting a price on carbon will force us to use our resources more efficiently and will drive the technology innovations that help get us there.
Premier Dalton McGuinty is taking heat over a drastic cut in the subsidy for farmers who generate solar power, which some Liberals fear could cause an eclipse of the party’s rural seats.
The OPA recently announced a reduction in the promised feed-in tariff for ground mounted microFIT projects This proposed change will have a devastating impact on business, economy, environment, employment and confidence in the OPA and the FIT program in general.
Germany’s plan includes a financial-transaction tax on banks of about 2 billion euros per year and a 2.3 billion-euro annual levy on nuclear-power plants as part of what Merkel calls an “unprecedented” round of budget cuts.
Are you an OMERS pensioner? Kate is, and wrote to the OMERS president and board asking that her pension money be taken out of nuclear investments.
OMERS is a part-owner of Bruce Nuclear, where workers have been exposed to high levels of radiation.
“Nuclear is the technology of the last century. This century's technology is renewable energy sources.”
Write OMERS at: email@example.com
New rules may scupper Lake Ontario wind farm
Offshore wind turbines should not be closer than 5 kilometres from the shoreline, Ontario’s environment ministry has proposed. If approved, the guideline would appear to pose problems for Toronto Hydro’s proposed wind development off the Scarborough Bluffs. Toronto Hydro wants to erect up to 60 turbines in Lake Ontario on a reef that runs two to four kilometers offshore, from the east end of Toronto to Ajax.
“We look forward to hearing from the public and industry on the protective rules we are proposing.” Environment Minister Jon Gerretson said in a press release.
If you think 5 km offshore is unreasonable, and if you’d like to see the Scarborough windfarm proceed, please write:
Energy Minister Brad Duguid
Environment Minister Jon Gerretson
Coal tar study would cost $500,000
Coal tar is seeping into the Otonabee River, causing provincial and federal agencies to ask the city to deal with contamination underneath the Simcoe St. courthouse and neighbouring properties, a city report shows.
City council, sitting as committee of the whole Monday, will consider pulling $500,000 from a reserve fund to study the coal tar contamination and develop and action plan for remediation. The cost to deal with the contamination could be much higher.
Monday July 12TH – 7 pm – Nonviolent Action from the US Civil Rights movement to Palestine – with Shir Hever of the Alternative Information Centre, on the Free Gaza flotilla, and documentary footage and interviews from ‘A Force More Powerful’ on strategy and training behind the lunch counter sit-ins
Monday July 19TH – 7 pm – Empowering activists and building a mass movement through nonviolence – with Dave Martin of Greenpeace, Angela Bischoff of Greenspiration, and Lyn Adamson of PeaceWorks. What will it take for nonviolent social transformation? What are the methods and strategies?
Monday July 26TH – 7 pm – Healing and Nonviolence - Decolonizing the Heart – the link to peacebuilding with Murray Kelly, D M, Carrie Lester and Victoria Freeman: Sharing personal stories of moments of truth faced by settlers and indigenous communities in working toward decolonizing self and other.
All evenings at Friends House, 60 Lowther Ave.,1 block east of St. George, 2 blocks north of Bloor, Toronto (St. George subway station)
Donation $8 (sliding scale)