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No nukes in the tar sands: survey

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The Saskatchewan public does not feel that it is safe to use nuclear reactors for oil sands extraction, according to Oraclepoll Research Ltd. survey results released today by the HUES3 Campaign Committee. By a margin of three to one, respondents said they do not feel safe with such plans, even though the Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation (CCNI) at the University of Saskatchewan has accepted millions of dollars in government and corporate funding to explore the feasibility of developing small nuclear reactors for this purpose. (See backgrounder documents.)

Oraclepoll posed the question: “The provincial government and the nuclear industry have recently pledged approximately $40 million to create the Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation (CCNI) at the University of Saskatchewan. One of its purposes is to research and design nuclear reactors that can be used as an energy source for Oil Sands (Tar Sands) extraction or for the electrical grid. . . . How safe do you feel that it will be to use nuclear reactors for oil sands extraction?” In response, 45% of Saskatchewanians said it was “totally unsafe;” only 15% said they thought it was “totally safe.” (A graphic representation and detailed methodology appear in the print version.)

The HUES3 (Health, Uranium, Environment: Sustainability, Survival, Solidarity) Campaign Committee was formed earlier this year in part to highlight the fact that the Saskatchewan government and corporations like Hitachi have been funneling millions of dollars to CCNI for this kind of research since last year.

Dr. Helen Caldicott, physician and world-renowned Australian anti-nuclear activist, was so alarmed to hear about how the University of Saskatchewan has been co-opted into the nuclear industry agenda that she volunteered to come to Saskatoon to “raise hell,” as she put it. “It is astonishing that both government and university have fallen under the dark influence of the nuclear industry, even though the general public knows instinctively that neither building nuclear reactors nor depositing radioactive wastes in Saskatchewan’s north is safe or desirable. The impact on public health would be devastating,” she explained.