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Going nuclear

Maybe someone on the Opposition Benches should be seeing what the Harper government will say on the record in Question Period about their efforts to allow Canada to enrich uranium, if they refuse to discuss it publicly.

I mean, do you want to have a country start building a nuclear bomb that was helped by Canadian enriched uranium, and have that on your country’s head?† This lobbying effort needs to be publicly discussed, and I think it’s another question that should be asked daily in the House.

(H/T to Impolitical and Jurist)

10 comments to Going nuclear

  • JB, I actually read a very well balanced article in Skeptic Magazine last night (sorry not online).

    I’m not a big fan of the initial expense, but statistically nuclear, especially 4th generation breeder reactors, are very safe.

    Oil, gas and coal are far more dangerous and pollution than nuclear.

    I’d also advocate for Hot Rock geothermal too.

  • Mike said: “I donít have a problem with more nuclear because I see it as a non-carbon emitting alternative to creating power.”

    WADR Mike, I suggest you research this a bit further. The nuclear industry has spent millions on a PR campaign that touts nuclear power as clean, safe and affordable. In fact, it is not clean, not safe and not affordable.

    Here’s a well-balanced article from the Christian Science Monitor. A Google search for “nuclear power carbon footprint” will yield up plenty of material.

    Like the Conservative Party, the nuclear industry has its own paid operatives trolling the discussion boards, forums, blogs and comment sections of various newspaper websites.

    When we invest in nuclear power, we effectively allocate energy development to nuclear while withholding funds from other alternatives. New nuke plants routinely take 12 – 15 years from inception to completion. The cost for new nuke plants is prorated over a 40 year projected lifespan. However, not a single reactor worldwide has ever stayed online for 40 years without a major overhaul. The overhaul currently being carried out at Bruce Power in Kincardine is months behind schedule and already $300 million over budget. Ontario taxpayers are on teh hook for half of the cost overrun plus the entire $2+ billion we agreed to pay for the main refurbishment contract.

    JB

  • Whooee! Many, if not most, Canadians do not realize how much of our uranium is used for weapons. We export raw material to the US where they are developing a new generation of nuclear bombs. How many Canadians know that the uranium used in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings came from Canada?

    What about dirty bombs? A dirty bomb that uses conventional explosives to disperse low level radiation from raw uranium or spent fuel rods is seen as a major threat. Even mildly enriched uranium will do much more harm in a dirty bomb.

    Uranium processing plants, like Cameco in Port Hope, ON, are consistently failing to protect the public from stray radiation and from leaks of radioactive tritium and other contaminants into the soil and groundwater. The higher-than-average cancer rate of ordinary citizens living near enrichment facilities is documented and undisputed.

    The toxic tailing ponds from uranium mining make the tailing ponds from the tar sands look like a backyard swimming pool.

    Here’s in my neck o’ the woods, we’re being courted by Bruce Power to replace the coal-fired Nanticoke generating plant with nuclear. If anyone is interested in some extensive background material on nuclear energy and the track record of the industry, have a look at this grassroots website.

    BTW, the only nuclear energy reactor design that requires enriched uranium is our CANDU. All other designs use unenriched fuel. CANDU and AECL are not exactly riding a wave on confidence. They can’t even build the Maple 1 & 2 medical isotope reactors that were to have come on line 8 years ago.

    Our federal government subsidizes the uranium and nuclear industry. In doing so, we are already subsidizing the manufacture of US’s new generation nuclear weapons. Do we want to crawl further into bed?

    JB

  • Well Scott, let me also join the skeptics brigade here. I don’t have a problem with more nuclear because I see it as a non-carbon emitting alternative to creating power.

    There are 4th generation breeder reactors that can take the waste fuel rods from current reactors and use them more efficiently. The waste products are rendered harmless in a few hundred, not 10 of thousands of years and with 98% less waste than is produced now.

    Now, I’m not sure what the Cons are up to – their behaviour is, as ever, curious and suspicious. But this has nothing to do with the pros and cons of nuclear power, not over enriching uranium.

    I suspect that they are trying to cover up some more corporate welfare and this is tied to Linda Keen’s firing. Cons breaking the rules again.

  • well put LCO, Saskatchewan produces approx. 40% of the world’s Uranium. There was an attempt in the 70/80s to situate an upgrader outside of Saskatoon that eventually failed due to a huge public outcry. However, much like lumber, oil, and base metals, if we are going to mine the stuff why wouldn’t we profit from refining instead of selling it raw for cheap and buying it back at a premium once refined?

  • Lord Kitchener's Own

    Yeah, I’ve got to say the whole “nuclear bombs” angle doesn’t really worry me much. There’s a difference between “enriching uranium” and “making weapons grade uranium”. And besides, if that’s one’s argument (re. weapons) then should we not stop mining uranium all together? If one is anti-nuclear, then one should argue that we stop mining the stuff. Period. (Though, good luck selling that plan to Saskatchewan!!!)

    How does it possibly make more sense for Canada to mine uranium and then sell it off to other countries to enrich it, rather than enrich it ourselves and sell the value-added product? Are we suddenly less trustworthy than the French or the Americans? I get why people are wary of Iran processing uranium for peacefulk purposes, but Canada??? From a proliferation front, is it not better for Canada to be enriching the uranium and selling it to countries that aren’t allowed to enrich it, than it is for those countries to just develop programs to enrich it themselves?

    As far as I’m concerned, the stuff’s gonna get enriched eventually, might as well have Canadians doing it (and, frankly, profiting from it).

    Now, I understand why anti-nuclear energy types would be offended, but I’m not yet a convert to that point of view.

  • The cats out of the bag though; horse has left the barn. We have to be careful with new stuff, but there’s already a high risk of nuclear bombings.

  • Saskboy: I was referring more to those who aren’t members of the nuclear club as of right now.

  • Colin

    The article is actually torqued more than your post which is unusual. Nobody seriously believes that Canada is going to enrich uranium to bomb making standards.

    This is to reprocess spent fuel rods.

  • “I mean, do you want to have a country start building a nuclear bomb that was helped by Canadian enriched uranium, and have that on your countryís head? ”

    Sorry, hasn’t SK uranium already built most of the Western world’s bombs?

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