Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Anti-Nuke Action for Nanticoke

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, down here in Norfolk and Haldimand Counties, Bruce Power is doin' its dangedest to build a new nuclear power plant. Ginty sez he's shuttin' down Nanticoke's filth-belchin' coal-fired plant by 2014. Bruce is ridin' in on a white horse an' promisin' a thousand jobs an' billions of dollars of investment in the local economy.

Both Bruce Power and the province have stated that they will only build nuclear plants in "willing host" communities. Both Haldimand and Norfolk County Councils have adopted resolutions declaring that we have a willing host community. Diane Finley's been actively working with Bruce Power, too.

There's just one big problem. Nobody has ever asked the local residents if they are in favour of a nuke plant here. Well, almost nobody. Bruce Power commissioned an Ipsos poll a couple years ago that asked if residents were in favour of exploring the possibility. As I recall, only about 1200-1500 people were polled and the poll was not an impartial poll commissioned by any branch of government but a poll commissioned by Bruce specifically to prove there is local support. There's something like 78,000 people on the voters' list in the two counties so a company-commissioned poll of 1500 doesn't cut much shit with me and it shouldn't cut much with our county gummints, neither.

I'm on a mailing list of a group that's been asking questions and publishing information about nuclear energy and the problems associated with it. The group is called Grand Erie Energy Quest. They been putting lotsa stuff on their website:

Well, things been movin' dang fast lately. Bruce Power's been makin' bigass announcements and putting full-page newspaper ads in every paper that serves the riding. They been sending out slick literature in the mail. They been makin' donations to local outfits like the Norfolk County Fair, Norfolk General Hospital and the Port Dover Medical Centre. They're describing the proposed project as a "clean energy hub." They say it's a combination of nuclear, wind, solar and hydrogen initiatives.

, sez I!

Well, the folks at Grand Erie Energy Quest (I'll call 'em GEEQs) have got themselves a petition and they're lookin' fer signatures. The issue goes beyond the boundaries of Haldimand and Norfolk. Hamilton and Niagara are in the Nanticoke air shed. Any accident at a new nuke plant in Nanticoke would affect millions of people in the Golden Horseshoe. I reckon anybody who wants can sign the GEEQ's petition.

Here's what the petition sez:
To: Norfolk County Council, Haldimand County Council, Legislature of Ontario, the Honourable Diane Finley and the Honourable Toby Barrett.

Without any formal public consultation, County Councils in both Haldimand and Norfolk have unanimously endorsed the first step in building two nuclear reactors.

The nuclear power industry has failed to address public concern over the issues of safety and security in the storage and handling of hazardous radioactive spent fuel.

Nuclear power is not emissions-free with its pollution intensive activities in uranium mining, transportation and refining.

No nuclear project has ever come in on budget or on time with the taxpayer and the utility customer paying for cost overruns that typically range in the billions of dollars.

We, the undersigned citizens, demand a complete moratorium on nuclear development until the issues of contamination, costs, security, and public consultation are adequately addressed.
You can download the petition from the GEEQ website. I've downloaded and printed a few copies and I don't reckon I'll have much trouble findin' signatures. Even though our local councils have told everyone we're a willing host, I been havin' a hard time findin' anybuddy who's in favour of this dumbass idea.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Canada to Renew Nuclear Ties With India

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, most everybody's heard the old phrase, "Once bitten, twice shy." In case you can't figger out what that means, it means if somebody's done you wrong once, there's a good chance they'll do you wrong again and you oughta be careful dealin' with 'em. It holds true whether you're talkin' about Golden Retrievers or double-dealin' belligerent countries.

Back 35 years ago, Canada sold Candu nuclear technology to India. Not long after that, India developed a nuclear weapon (uh huh, an atomic bomb) using the technology they acquired from our Candu. They admitted it and we stopped nuclear technology dealings with India. In the subsequent decades since India became a nuclear power, they have failed to sign on to the Non Proliferation agreement that most other nuclear powers have signed on to.

Now, Canadian crown corporation AECL is ready to start dealing with India once more. Has India become more stable and responsible since it developed a weapon of mass destruction? Have India and Pakistan settled their differences over Kashmir? Has India agreed to sign on to a non proliferation treaty? No, no, and no.

As usual, news items concerning AECL and the nuclear industry are routinely buried in the business section of the media. Here's the story from today's Globe:
Nuclear deal would allow AECL to renew Indian business ties
From Friday's Globe and Mail
November 14, 2008 at 4:25 AM EST

OTTAWA — Federally owned AECL Ltd. is looking to re-enter the Indian market some 35 years after the south Asian giant shocked the world and brought about its own nuclear isolation by using Candu technology to build a bomb.

The federal government is currently negotiating a nuclear co-operation agreement with India that would allow AECL to re-establish business ties, despite concerns that India has not signed the international nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The negotiations come after Canada backed a decision by the international Nuclear Suppliers Group to provide an exemption for India that would allow it to develop civilian nuclear power even as it maintains its right to develop weapons without international scrutiny.

The United States lobbied hard to exempt India from the kinds of sanctions it imposes on Iran and North Korea, and has concluded its own nuclear co-operation agreement with India. France has also completed a nuclear co-operation agreement, and both countries are now openly competing with Russia to sell reactors there.

Critics complain that the West's special treatment of India will spark a new arms race with Pakistan and undermine the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and argue Canada should hold out for stringent conditions in any bilateral accord.

In an interview from India, AECL chief executive Hugh MacDiarmid said the Crown-owned company is hopeful of getting major service work on the country's aging fleet of heavy-water reactors, and potentially even the sale of a new reactor.

The AECL group met with senior officials from India's Department of Atomic Energy, and from the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd., which has said it intends to build or buy up to 20 reactors over the next 12 years.

"We've been greeted very warmly," Mr. MacDiarmid said, concluding a six-day visit to India and China. He said Indian heavy-water reactor technology has not kept pace with Western companies, and AECL - one of the few companies that also deal in heavy-water reactors - could help modernize it.

"They feel there is a mutual benefit to be had. We do believe there is potential for us to be marketing our reactor technology in this country," he said.

AECL's own future remains very much in doubt as the federal government is reviewing its ownership and considering selling off the 60-year-old Crown corporation, either entirely or to a minority partner. Yesterday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said the government is looking at selling some Crown corporations - without mentioning names - in order to balance the federal books.

Whether it sells AECL or keeps it, Ottawa is keen to put the company on a stronger commercial footing, and that means ensuring it has access to growing emerging markets such as India's.

In addition to AECL's interest, Canada's broader nuclear industry is eager to see the Indian market open up to them, as is Cameco Corp., the Saskatchewan-based uranium producer that has been prevented from selling fuel to India.

Activist Ernie Regehr of Project Ploughshares said the Indian exemptions undermine the international Non-Proliferation Treaty by sending the message that countries can flout the rules and still co-operate on civilian nuclear uses. He worries the decision by the Nuclear Suppliers Group in September may reignite an arms race with Pakistan, which has reacted angrily to the move.

A spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs confirmed the two sides had "informal" discussions last month and expect to schedule formal sessions soon. She said Canada signalled its support for India's re-engagement with the broader nuclear-energy community when it backed the suppliers' group decision.

"India is a responsible democracy that shares with Canada the fundamental values of freedom, democracy, human rights and respect for the rule of law," government spokesman Lisa Monette said. "India has made substantial non-proliferation and disarmament commitments to achieve the trust of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which were reiterated in a political statement on Sept. 5."

Mr. Regehr said India has made political commitments, such as agreeing not to test nuclear weapons, but has refused to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. It has also insisted on the right to stockpile uranium, which Mr. Regehr says would provide it with an assured fuel supply should it again run afoul of the international suppliers group.

Australia, which along with Canada is one of the world's major uranium miners, is refusing to sell the fuel to India unless it signs the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Mr. Regehr said Canada should do likewise.
Well, King Steve says we gotta quit bein' so ideologically rigid and be more pragmatic. What could be more pragmatic than selling nuclear technology and materials to an eager customer? Step right up, folks. Canada's got nukes for sale. Yes, Mr. Terrist, how much do you bid?