May 7, 2010
“On top of the perennial challenges of global poverty and injustice, the two biggest threats facing human civilization in the 21st century are climate change and nuclear war. It would be absurd to respond to one by increasing the risks of the other.” - Dr Mark Diesendorf, author of Greenhouse Solutions with Sustainable Energy
Sale may mark end of reactor's technology
The federal government is now expected to sell its entire stake in the Candu reactor division of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., a move that could have profound implications for Canada's nuclear industry and billions of dollars in plant refurbishments across the country. "It's quite likely that it would die. I can't imagine a scenario a 100 per cent private Canadian player can compete with the big players in this game," It appears the government has grown weary of bankrolling AECL, which has received $1.74 billion in public funding since 2006.
With the clandestine nuclear weapons programs of North Korea and Iran drawing deserved condemnation at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review in the United Nations, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has pledged a leadership role for Canada in devising a diplomatic exit strategy from the perils of proliferation.
He should start by ending Canada’s exports of reactors and uranium. The reason is physics. Every time uranium is fissioned inside a nuclear reactor, the deadly element plutonium is created. Aptly named after the Greek god of the underworld, only a plum-sized sphere weighing eight kilograms is needed to make an efficient atomic bomb. Moreover, with a half-life of 24,000 years, plutonium is effectively immortal. It is also virtually indestructible.
… But last year, Saskatchewan uranium exports totalled 7.3 million kilograms. When fissioned in any reactor of any make, model or purpose, this will transmute into some 19,000 kilograms of plutonium, or enough for 2,300 warheads annually. This exported uranium also contains 52,000 kilograms of the bomb ingredient uranium-235, or enough to make 2,600 warheads annually.
No one not blinded by self-interest would knowingly court this calamity, or prescribe nuclear reactors as the alternative to our carbon-imperilled Earth. While reactors do not emit carbon, they produce a different, equally ominous security threat in plutonium and uranium-235, as well as intensely radioactive, latently lethal wastes that will remain a threat to the biosphere for hundreds of centuries.
Legend says curses come in threes. Let's pray that doesn't happen with the unholy trinity of the Corporate Climate Bill. It demands drilling for oil, digging for coal and big money for new nukes. How such a devil's brew could help save the Earth conjures a corporate cynicism beyond the scope of the human mind and soul.
Only one Climate Bill can solve our energy crisis---a Solartopian program for converting the entire economy to renewables, conservation and efficiency. It would fly in the face of the corporate destroyers who are behind the current Climate Bill. But these are technologies that actually work, that pay, that create jobs and prosperity, and that will preserve rather than destroy our sacred Earth.
Today, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy won its lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court that aimed to protect Georgians from unfair utility costs in connection with the proposed construction of two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro, Georgia.
“We applaud the Judge’s decision and continue to find it incredible that the Georgia Public Service Commission would put $14 billion of ratepayer money at risk on this project without properly documenting the factual basis behind this high risk decision. This ruling spotlights the ongoing incestuous relationship between the Commission and Georgia Power and highlights the regulatory breakdown and blatant lack of consumer protection.”
The key thing here is that we are beginning to unveil what I've labeled the dirty secret of wind: utilities don't like wind not because it's not competitive, but because it brings prices down for their existing assets, thus lowering their revenues and their profits.
"Wind produces zero emissions. Wind is low-impact because it requires no mining or drilling, and you don't need to import any fuel or get it locally." But unlike other clean energy sources such as solar power, electricity from wind has now become competitive in cost with electricity from conventional sources, due largely to advances in turbine design over the last 30 years. According to the AWEA, today wind electricity sells for half the price of nuclear power about the same as electricity from coal, oil and natural gas.
"Anyone who is against clean energy should come take a look at the coal burning power plants in our areas," Reed says. "They require coal mines that can harm our ground water, they produce pollution, and they produce a sludge type waste and many other negative things that are not beneficial to the environment.”
Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller raised an important question this week with his report on energy conservation: where is Ontario’s 20-year plan for meeting our electricity needs and what are the targets for renewable power and conservation?
To be fair, circumstances have changed since 2008, including the decision to delay the purchase of new nuclear reactors and the introduction of the Green Energy Act, which has altered the ground rules for procurement of renewable power.
According to two recent studies by Queen's University, solar power production in SE Ontario could potentially yield as much energy as all US nuclear reactors combined.
Annual generation of nuclear power has continued on a slight downward trend, decreasing 2% last year to 2558 TWh,according to the latest estimates.
Harnessing the power of the wind has become one of the fastest growing sources of global electricity generation. As countries strive to develop clean and secure energy systems, more scientists, policy makers and communities are looking to wind power as an important part of the solution.
As new opportunities emerge to develop wind-power generation in communities across Canada, they raise reasonable questions about the social, environmental and economic impacts of large-scale wind power production. This fact sheet aims to help answer those questions, and to distill the realities of wind power from the myths and misconceptions.
Speakers called on the NPT (Nuclear Proliferation Treaty) delegates to push for talks to begin on a Nuclear Weapons Convention while others denounced the damage caused by uranium mining, the division of the Korean Peninsula and military spending among many other issues. The Mayor of Hiroshima called on nuclear weapons to be phased out by the year 2020.
The major nuclear powers are making efforts to continue the streak of nuclear deterrence. Last month, the U.S. and Russia signed a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) that will reduce their nuclear stockpiles by about 30 percent over the next several years, and President Obama hosted a 47 nation Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. This week, representatives from 189 nations are meeting New York for Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference to deal with the potential spread of nuclear weaponry in the Middle East and other parts of the world.
Various experts estimate the chances of a nuclear detonation in the next 10 years at somewhere between 10 and 30 percent. Hellman, who has been focusing on nuclear deterrence for the past 25 years, said that a baby born today, with an expected lifetime of 80 years, faces a greater than 50-50 chance that a nuclear weapon attack will occur unless the number of weapons and available weapons-grade material is radically reduced.
Does this warm weather have you daydreaming about cycling through wine country, eating a fabulous meal on the deck of some luxurious country inn, or hitting the links on one of Ontario’s best golf courses? Enter the Ontario Clean Air Alliance's fourth-annual PeakBusters contest and you could be doing more than dreaming. We are giving away two $1,000 luxurious and a dozen $200 gift cards. Click here to enter now!
Being a PeakBuster is easy. If your home has central air conditioning, all you have to do is ensure that you are enrolled in your utility’s peaksaver© program. This will mean that you are doing your part to reduce smog and control climate change by allowing your air conditioner to be automatically controlled for short periods during times of peak electricity demand.
If your home does not have central air conditioning or you live in an apartment or condo, you can still enter by telling us about other energy-saving actions you are taking. Click here to enter.
The Harper government has tabled legislation (Bill C-15) that would, if passed, artificially cap the liability of a nuclear operator for accidents at $650 million – a miniscule fraction of the likely actual cost of a nuclear disaster.
Bill C-15 is also yet another Harper subsidy to dirty energy. Unlike green energy, the nuclear industry needs a special law to relieve it from paying its own insurance costs. This creates an unfair playing field for green energy and would force Canadians to pay for the nuclear industry’s pollution.
Why is Prime Minister Harper giving the nuclear industry this special legal protection? Because the nuclear industry, the insurance industry and private lendors know another Chernobyl is possible. Otherwise put, the nuclear industry doesn’t have confidence in its reactors. So why should we?
Stop Bill C-15!
Join the facebook group Stop Harper’s Sweetheart Deal for the Nuclear Industry – Stop Bill C-15 at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=102828023094311&v=info
Not on facebook? You can E-mail Stephen Cornwell at email@example.com or Theresa McClenaghan at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow the debate at openparliament.ca: http://openparliament.ca/bills/2224/ (the debate is expected to begin in the next few weeks and will be updated here)
Our Members of Parliament need to know that Canadians know what they’re up to. This bill nearly made it through parliament last year before it was killed at prorogation. Let MPs know you are paying attention. Tell them to stop C-15 and raise the limit!
Please find below a sample letter to Members of Parliament and the email addresses of all Members of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources which will examine Bill C-15. Letters are far more effective when you personalize your own! Please send your letter now…
Dear Member of Parliament,
I have learned that the House of Commons is considering legislation that would limit the liability of nuclear power operators. I am deeply concerned about what this could mean for Canadians.
The proposed limit of $650 million is far below the standards of other major developed countries in Europe and of our neighbours in the United States. Other governments have seen fit to make nuclear power plant operators pay the full costs of the risks they create. Why don’t Canadians deserve the same coverage?
The limit is also far below the costs of any serious accident. Given the potential cost of a nuclear incident, operators will not be held responsible for the full impact of accidents if this limit is imposed. It is unacceptable that victims may not be compensated and taxpayers will be asked to foot the bill.
As a Parliamentarian, it is your job is to protect the best interests of Canadians. That is why we, the people, elect you.
Don’t support Bill C-15. Raise the limit to protect Canadians.
[your name here]
ADDRESSES OF NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE MEMBERS
All Members of parliament can receive mail (no postage required) at the following physical address
House of Commons
Email addresses for members of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources (which will consider the bill) follow:
Geoff Regan ReganG@parl.gc.ca
Alan Tonks TonksA@parl.gc.ca
Navdeep Bains BainsN@parl.gc.ca
Bloc Quebecois MPs
Paule Brunelle BruneP@parl.gc.ca
Claude Guimond GuimoC@parl.gc.ca
David Anderson AnderD@parl.gc.ca
Mike Allen AllenM@parl.gc.ca
Cheryl Gallant GallaC@parl.gc.ca
Russ Hiebert HiebeR@parl.gc.ca
Richard Harris HarriR@parlg.ca.ca
Devinder Shory ShoryD@parl.gc.ca
New Democrat MP
Nathan Cullen Cullen@parl.gc.ca
And please cc: email@example.com
For more info: Stephen Cornwell, SAGE NNPP Darlington Project Coordinator, 416 587 4948, firstname.lastname@example.org