Clean Green Saskatchewan

Thorium – hope or hype / dream or dystopia?

Uranium is currently fissioned in nuclear reactors to produce electrical energy. Thorium adherents rightfully say that uranium-fueled reactors pose undesirable financial, security, weapons proliferation, emissions, decommissioning, waste management, environmental, and health risks.

However, replacing uranium fuel with thorium would not fix these problems.

Click below for full article.

Making the Links interview with Don Kossick and Peter Prebble on the History of Nuclearization

CFCR 90.5 FM Making the Links interview series with Don Kossick. This is a 3 part series on the History of Nuclearization of Saskatchewan with noted environmentalist Peter Prebble.

Part 1 focuses on the link between uranium mining and nuclear weapons.  How the Beaverlodge mine near Uranium City and the Gunnar mine on the north shore of Lake Athabasca were developed to supply the US atomic weapons industry.  The successful campaign to stop a uranium refinery from being built in Warman, Saskatchewan, and the controversial approval of the Cluff Lake uranium mine in northwest Saskatchewan.  Gives examples of risky uranium sales in which there was a clear danger Saskatchewan uranium would be used for nuclear weapons purposes and the unsuccessful struggle to have Saskatchewan uranium withheld from the world market until the Non-Proliferation Treaty could be strengthened.

Part 2 focuses on the risks associated with nuclear power. The successful efforts to block nuclear reactor construction in Saskatchewan over the past thirty years.  The nuclear accidents in Chernobyl Ukraine and Fukushima Japan. In the event of trouble, shutting down a nuclear power station successfully does not necessarily prevent a serious accident from occurring.  There must be an ongoing supply of electricity to the reactor itself, so that uranium fuel bundles can be cooled.  A loss of electricity for several days poses extreme danger. The exceptional risks nuclear power stations present in the event of war, as evidenced by events unfolding in Ukraine.  The lack of a solution for how to safely dispose of the high level radioactive waste that every nuclear reactor produces.

Part 3 Generate more low emission electricity than a small modular nuclear reactor – at a cheaper price and with no radioactive waste legacy. If a nuclear reactor is built in Saskatchewan, how will we handle its nuclear waste? The long term hazard posed by uranium mill tailings at uranium mine sites in northern Saskatchewan. Steps that could be taken today to try to reduce the chance that Saskatchewan uranium ends up being used in nuclear weapons and much more. Nuclearization History Part 3 Peter Prebble mp3…

Small modular reactors: an introduction and an obituary

Posted Thu, 11/14/2019 – 15:50

“Thus the current real-world enthusiasm for small-reactor construction has little to do with climate-friendly environmentalism (or even the peculiar form of faux environmentalism practised by the nuclear industry and its lobbyists) and lots to do with fossil fuel mining. Another example comes from Canada, where one potential application of SMRs under consideration is providing power and heat for the extraction of hydrocarbons from oil sands.”

Thanks to WISE (World Information Service on Energy) for this article as well as many other extremely informative ones, Click on this link

SMR Second Make Believe Renaissance by Dr Gordon Edwards 2018

Posted Fri, 10/12/2018 – 20:22

The Catch-22 is that Small Reactors are NOT cheaper than large reactors, quite the contrary! Because of the safety features that must be included in order to be licensed, needed to contain the enormous inventory of intensely radioactive fission products and extremely radiotoxic actinides and prevent them from escaping, these SMR’s can only begin to break even if they are purchased in the hundreds or thousands of units. The economies of scale only kick in when they are mass-produced. So mass marketing is absolutely essential.

see Attachment below for full and printable article

From Hiroshima to Fukushima to You: A Primer on Radiation and Health

Posted Sun, 11/23/2014 – 15:03

From Hiroshima to Fukishima to You: A Primer on Radiation and Health by Dr. Dale Dewar and Florian Oelck explores what has been happening to us and our environment since the nuclear age began.

Written from a physician’s perspective, the book provides clear and accurate information about radiation so that we can all make informed choices.

What is radiation? Where do we encounter it? What are the benefits and risks? How do we develop a responsible future around the uses and abuses of radioactivity?

Dr. Dale Dewar is associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan and former Executive Director of Physicians for Global Survival. She worked for short periods in Inuvik NWT and Churchill Manitoba, and worked in Ile-a-la-Crosse as a physician and in Saskatoon as Director of Northern Medical Services and has been an active member of the International Committee of the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada.

Book Description: The bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, brought radiation to international attention but the exact nature of what had been unleashed was still unclear to most. The 1986 meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear plant again made headlines with estimates of fatalities ranging from 4000 to almost a million deaths. By the time of the shocking 2011 disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant social media meant governments and corporations no longer had a monopoly over the release of information, but transparency remains low on the agenda.

Meanwhile, few physicians give thought to the delayed health effects of radiation. It has been the bold physician who has challenged the potential overuse of chest X-rays, CT scanning, or PET scans. This book provides clear and accurate information about radiation so that we can all make informed choices.

Some History of Nuclear Waste in Saskatchewan

The current debate around Saskatchewan hosting a nuclear waste dump is not new, we have been here before. At this page from our old web site, you will find some historical articles on the great nuclear waste debate from the 1990’s.

Atomic Energy of Canada Limited commissioned a report entitled “Prospects for Saskatchewan’s Nuclear Industry and it’s Potential Impact on the Provincial Economy 1991-2020”.

This Executive Summary of the report introduced the possibility of “very profitable opportunities to lease uranium fuel” which meant uranium could be sold for a premium price with an agreement to have the purchaser send its nuclear waste back to Saskatchewan for burial. Reports still exist of northern residents being told they have an ethical and moral obligation to “take it back”, as if uranium and nuclear waste were the same substance.

Establishing a nuclear waste site in Saskatchewan has been, and remains, a goal of the industry in our province for decades and this history is important for citizens to understand. Please note – these are old newspaper clippings which have been scanned, so not all are of top quality, all are legible.

How the Nuclear Waste Management Organization targeted Pinehouse: Huge cash infusion only brings strife to northern community

Posted Mon, 04/14/2014 – 16:34

Early in March, Briarpatch magazine received documents from the Northern Village of Pinehouse, in partial compliance with one of two Freedom of Information requests filed a year ago. Pinehouse is an isolated village of just under 1,400 people, 80 per cent of whom are Cree speaking. The community is located about 500 kilometres north of Saskatoon.

The released documents primarily relate to the dealings of the Pinehouse leadership with the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), a federally mandated consortium designated “to assume responsibility for the long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel.” In recent years, NWMO has focused on finding a “willing host community” for a radioactive waste depository in more remote, northern regions over the Canadian Shield rock formations whose stability is desired for deep geologic waste storage.

As we’ll see, the correspondence between NWMO and the Village of Pinehouse in northern Saskatchewan sheds important light on the tactics NWMO uses when seeking hosts for Canada’s nuclear waste.

Between 2010 and 2013, NWMO pumped over $471,000 into Pinehouse coffers trying to convince residents that nuclear waste would be the answer to the community’s poverty and associated social problems. On August 12, 2010, the press announced that “Local leaders in Pinehouse are exploring the idea of hosting a nuclear waste storage site. Métis Nation–Saskatchewan area director Louis Gardiner was part of a delegation from the community that met with Nuclear Waste Management Organization officials in Toronto earlier this week.”

Five Pinehouse leaders had visited NWMO facilities in Ontario that month, at NWMO expense, to scope out the possibilities. Following discussions among NWMO, the Village, and Kineepik Métis Local Inc., a formal agreement was about to be signed. (Kineepik Métis Local Inc. is a private, non-profit corporation established in 2007, not a registered local of the Métis Nation–Saskatchewan, as its name seems to imply.)

Pinehouse mayor Mike Natomagan addressed the news report a few weeks later, confirming that NWMO was being invited to the village to discuss the idea. As MBC Network Radio reported, the mayor stressed that “the ‘learn more’ opportunity does not commit the village or Métis local to any further steps.”

In fact, when Pinehouse leaders agreed to engage in NWMO’s “Learn More” program, they were committing to a major undertaking to promote NWMO’s agenda until at least June 30, 2011 (subsequently renewed several times more) with an initial outlay of $128,000 from NWMO.

On November 30, 2011 the Village and Kineepik Métis Local Inc. submitted a comprehensive approach to NWMO, in which Vince Natomagan, the mayor’s cousin and Kineepik Métis Local Inc.’s key proponent of the scheme, would “be the lead contact for Pinehouse as it relates to the NWMO initial screening and subsequent phases/events.”

Further, the document stressed, “It is also strongly suggested that Phillip Tinker be designated Elder for the [same] purposes … All inquiries from the community (and outside the community) will be directed to Vince Natomagan and Phillip Tinker.” Tinker was an admired community Elder, who recently passed away in 2013.

Unknown to most Pinehouse residents, the funds allocated to the Village by NWMO were largely dedicated to salaries for Vince Natomagan, Phillip Tinker, and Glen McCallum (a local Métis Nation leader). A budget for 2011 submitted to NWMO in February indicates that Vince Natomagan was receiving a monthly salary of $5,441, Tinker $3,001, and McCallum $2,601, paid from a NWMO fund set up within the Village accounts.

“The fox in the hen house”

Having the target community engage in a “Community Sustainability Visioning” process is integral to NWMO’s “Learn More” program. A community “Vision Statement” drafted in December 2010 by Vince Natomagan is difficult to reconcile with the role of NWMO, which is nowhere mentioned in it:

“Pinehouse will grow and prosper as a healthy, self-determined, self-sustaining northern community that is united and takes pride in our Aboriginal culture and traditions through sharing and caring. We are reclaiming our community through a holistic approach and promoting identity, culture, values, and beliefs.”

NWMO, Vince Natomagan, and their fellow planners required a clandestine approach. Already, suspicions had been growing in the community about what was afoot. On November 10, Vince Natomagan wrote to NWMO president Kenneth Nash: “We have taken the lead in northern Saskatchewan by opening the door for the NWMO; and we have taken some ‘hits’ from some tree hugger mentalities within our own community, our region and in the province (by virtue of blogs and media attention). They dare label us as ‘economic blackmail’ but we view it differently.”

The next step taken by NWMO’s Pinehouse contingent was to plan an ambitious “Northern Saskatchewan Elders Gathering” in June 2011 as part of the Community Sustainability Visioning process. It was anticipated that about 700 people from Pinehouse and other northern communities would attend. Besides demonstrations of traditional spirituality and lifestyles, there would be corporate information booths set up so that Indigenous youth could learn about job opportunities in industrial sectors like nuclear and uranium.

Included among the exhibits of future employers would, of course, be Nuclear Waste Management Organization. The total budget proposed for the Elders Gathering was $347,000, of which the local leaders suggested NWMO contribute $232,000. NWMO gave the matter due consideration and offered a more modest $40,000.

As the event date approached, a serious disagreement arose when NWMO’s Aboriginal Relations director Pat Patton wrote to mayor Mike Natomagan on May 24, 2011. “We will discuss with you the [nuclear waste repository] project in light of the community’s vision which has now been completed and submitted to NWMO on May 11th.” Patton also asked if a meeting could be set up at the Elders Gathering with the Métis Nation–Saskatchewan regional director, who had “indicated an interest in understanding in more detail how the APM [Adaptive Phase Management] site selection process [would] evolve.”

Immediately recognizing the inherent political pitfalls, Vince Natomagan responded on behalf of the Village and Kineepik Métis Local Inc.: “I will not be setting up this meeting due to the fact that I am co-ordinating the Gathering. (The ‘tree-huggers’ are just waiting for me to make a perceived ‘mistake’ to which I will not do).”

The email continues: “You asked if ‘the APM project aligns with the community vision.’ How in the world can the leadership of Pinehouse assume if the NWMO project is ‘in-line’ with the vision when we’ve strictly and clearly told the apprehensive community members that ‘the visioning process has nothing to do with the NWMO project? That’s like telling the fox in the hen house to ‘not engage’ the chickens!”

Apparently, the Pinehouse leaders did not want the public to know the direct relation between NWMO and the visioning process, or indeed that the Community Sustainability Visioning process had in fact already been completed and submitted to NWMO on May 11. The input received at the Elders Gathering would be irrelevant to the entire process.

Nevertheless, “the fox in the hen house” was in the process of being exposed. Early in May the Pinehouse leadership had hosted a healing circle at Muskwa Lake to discuss youth substance abuse and suicide. According to a Media Co-op report by journalist Sandra Cuffe:

“Halfway through the talking circle, one of the facilitators wrote ‘NWMO’ on the chart and ‘Duty To Consult’ right under it. And this was shortly after Vince Natomagan had joined the talking circle. He had come in with a briefcase and with some paperwork that he spread out on the table,” said [Max] Morin. “The red flags went up right away.”

“Ten elders from Pinehouse left immediately, he said. Others walked out soon after learning what NWMO stood for and that the local facilitators were advocating for a nuclear waste repository in the area.”

Elders and other leaders from northwest Saskatchewan now realized that direct action was required. Within days the Committee for Future Generations was formed and the 7000 Generations Walk Against Nuclear Waste from Pinehouse to the Saskatchewan Legislature in Regina was organized for that summer. From that point onwards, every move that NWMO and the Pinehouse leaders made was closely scrutinized. In a March 2012 email to NWMO, mayor Mike Natomagan recalled that “Virtually all other local & regional initiatives we undertook were looked at as suspect.”

But the money kept flowing from NWMO to Pinehouse Village and Kineepik: $216,322 in 2011 and $216,132 in 2012. A financial statement submitted to NWMO in June 2012 indicates that Vince Natomagan was still getting a bi-weekly salary of $2,538 and Métis Nation leader Glen McCallum, $1,484. NWMO continued to disseminate one-sided information on the benefits of the project, and any contrary voices to the proposal were strongly discouraged.

When in November 2011 one Pinehouse resident suggested that a more independent source of information be brought to the community to speak, NWMO and the Village council declined the two names put forward. Ultimately, Dr. Gordon Edwards, a respected authority on the dangers of nuclear waste, came to Pinehouse and his expenses were paid privately.

“It will backfire big time”

Early in 2013 the relationship between NWMO and the Pinehouse leadership was beginning to fray. As the various stages in NWMO’s Adaptive Phase Management process moved along, community resistance continued to mount. NWMO tried to garner more support throughout the region. (English River First Nation, 100 km away, was also being considered as a nuclear waste site.) A NWMO initiative to fund “Learn More” opportunities in a handful of other communities brought a strong reaction from Vince Natomagan:

“About 3 weeks ago, your colleague Pat Patton introduced a new ‘program’ for $60,000 for each northern region of the Métis Nation–Saskatchewan. What is this ‘pool of money’ supposed to do? The NWMO is throwing a penny to a million dollar problem, and it will backfire big time. As Executive Director of Kineepik Métis Local Inc, I’m very much sensing that the board of directors of this vibrant Métis Local are not interested in this idiotic shortfall. It is rather quite a patronizing gesture from the NWMO … The NWMO needs to appreciate our internal and regional challenges. Selling your oil is tearing us apart.”

Documentation beyond May 2013 was outside the time frame in Briarpatch’s FOI requests, but we can report that by the end of 2013 NWMO had decided to discontinue its active consideration of Pinehouse as a potential radioactive waste site. While NWMO determined that Pinehouse (and nearby English River First Nation) did not meet the minimum conditions to continue in its screening process for the nuclear waste repository, as a golden handshake, NWMO agreed to “provide $400,000 to each community upon its establishment of a Community Well-Being Reserve Fund.”

One more Saskatchewan community, Creighton, is still under consideration for a nuclear waste site.

Deep divisions

For three years, from 2010 – 2013, The Nuclear Waste Management Organization vigorously promoted its agenda to locate a radioactive waste repository in the Pinehouse region. By pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into that effort, NWMO and its paid local agents succeeded in sowing deep divisions among the local residents, who were torn between genuine, long-term environmental concerns and the promises of short-term, boom-town economic growth offered by the nuclear industry.

Briarpatch continues to demand a full response to its Freedom of Information requests, filed with the Village of Pinehouse in April 2013. In light of how the Pinehouse leadership has collaborated with NWMO, we are interested to learn more about the dealings of the Village and Kineepik Métis Local Inc. with the uranium companies Cameco and Areva, with whom a Collaboration Agreement was signed in December 2012.

At present, two legal cases have been filed in an effort to obtain full accountability and transparency from the Village. We will keep our readers informed as these cases move through the courts in coming months.

D’Arcy Hande, a retired archivist and historian, has keenly followed the uranium industry’s activity in Saskatchewan since the Saskatchewan Party government launched the Uranium Development Partnership in 2008. A long-time opponent of the promotion of nuclear power as sustainable energy, he paid close attention to the negotiation of the collaboration agreement between Cameco and Areva and the Village of Pinehouse, and interviewed many of the agreement’s foremost opponents in Pinehouse. In June 2013, he joined 38 other plaintiffs in challenging the agreement at the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench.