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Friday, September 07, 2007

Labrador - Canada's Nuclear Waste Dump?

In a today’s energy hungry world, where environmental concerns are suddenly at the top of the agenda, nuclear energy is one solution that’s becoming more and more acceptable worldwide. The problem, and one that’s now being discussed by nations around the world, is finding a way to dispose of the unavoidable nuclear waste this type of energy produces.

It’s a trade off. The use of nuclear energy may allow for the reduction of coal or oil fired generating plants, and the emissions they produce, but those concerns become replaced with the problem of what to do with an overabundance of highly radioactive and deadly waste.

With this in mind Stephen Harper is now considering joining an international initiative that would see uranium producing countries accept these waste products back from the customers they supply. This radioactive material would then be buried deep underground in the hope that it remains there for millennia and does not leak out into the environment. It’s a big gamble, especially since Canada is a major supplier of uranium to the world market.

While Harper appears willing to entertain the idea of Canada becoming a nuclear waste storage area the question becomes, who will want this deadly waste in their backyard? My guess is that nobody will. The resulting outcry could potentially lead to the application of pressure on those jurisdictions who actually mine the uranium to begin accepting and storing the resulting waste.

Enter Newfoundland and Labrador, or more specifically, Labrador itself.

With new discoveries in Labrador, the region is poised to become a major producer and supplier of uranium as new discoveries are brought online. If the government of Canada decides to join other nations in this nuclear initiative Labrador, with its massive land area and extremely small population, would likely become a preferred choice for the storage of international radioactive waste.

The decision to accept nuclear waste in Canada won’t be a popular one. In fact the majority of Canadian’s are likely to protest such a move. At the end of the day however, if Ottawa makes the decision to proceed, the waste will have to go somewhere inside Canadian borders and Labrador will likely become a preferred option for the federation.

Non-uranium producing provinces certainly won’t want it inside their borders, and rightfully so. This will put pressure on areas with large scale mining operations to accept the waste. If Ottawa signs onto this initiative it will have to go somewhere.

The majority of uranium produced in Canada is mined in the far North of Saskatchewan at present but labrador is believed to contain massive commercial grade deposits. This, combined with easy access to Labrador thanks to it's enormous coastline, could lead to the area being turned into a vast and scenic nuclear waste dump.

As I’ve said before, Vive le Canada

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

It wouldn't surprise me if we get used in this way. Canada is always using us.

Maybe that's the price they'll want for putting troops at 5 Wing and funding the highway in Labrador. I meant they would need a good highway to transport the stuff and troops to secure the sites right?

Anonymous said...

It only makes sense. Storing it in Saskatchewan would require moving the waste over land and across multiple jurisdictions. Not something anyone wants.

Getting to Labrador by ship is easy and besides, who the hell cares about a bunch of bloody whining Newfies out in the boonies anyway.

I think its a great idea.

Patriot said...

You think its a great idea and that's what's so scary.

The people of Newfoundland and Labrador have been treated like second class since 1949 and the government of Canada and people like yourself, if not all the people of the country, still see us as dirt under their feet.

The reason that's so scary, in this case, is that, while my article is just speculation at this point, there may be some truth in the feds considering this option.

rant said...

YUP,sounds like a canadain thing to me Patriot.
They use it,in Ontario and then ship thier garbage somewere else for someone to worry about.

Look at were Ontario is shipping its garbage right now.Across the border to Michigan.We are selling it back to the Americans because Ontario cannot afford to deal with its own waste.Disgusting isn't it.

Canadains are like Pigs ,roling in thier own filth and un-able or just too ignornat to deal with thier own mess.Shame on us for being such the environmental crowd.Something we constantly pat ourselves on the backs for.

At least we have writters in the province that can exspose thease canadans governements for what they are Myles.
Spoiled rich Americanized brats that dont have the common sense God gave a sculpin.

Look what we joined.And ,we wonder why we dont have a fishery left.

Mike said...

The anonymous who thought this was a great idea for the "newfies" doesn't deserve a response but even in his/her ignorance good points were made.

When Anonymous said, "Storing it in Saskatchewan would require moving the waste over land and across multiple jurisdictions. Not something anyone wants." he/she is correct.

I'd hate to think anyone would pressure Labrador to accept nuclear waste but when you think about the geographical realities, if Harper signs on to this plan Labrador would have to be in his thinking wouldn't it?

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the idea will be sold to the provincial government as being "for the good of the nation" and just like the load we swallowed on the upper churchill whoever the premier is at the time will swallow it hook, line and sinker.

If that day comes its time to take up the fight in a way nobody ever expected. Referendums be damned, there's more than one way to get out of a country.

WJM said...

Get a clue. This couldn't happen unless the provincial government agrees to it.

Oh wait, only four provincial seats in Labrador? Now I'm worried.

Ussr said...

The last time someone said for the good of the nation look what happened.

http://thechronicleherald.ca/Opinion/857443.html

Now we have displaced Newfoundladners and Labradorains all over the world.And now they are coming back around to complete the job.The next squadron of canadain SS gunships ,sweeping down on the out-ports of Newfoundland.Read on Dis-believers,and Liberial Canada.

Tell me about minoruty rights and multiculturalism as I watch my culture being killed by Politicians in Ottawa.And ,if they can they will destroy the Labrador as well .

Anonymous said...

The post is pure speculation. Canada produces tons of toxic waste daily - how much is shipped to our province now?
"Rant", you need to look in your own backyard before criticizing you fellow Canadians. We hardly have a stellar environmental record here in NL now, do we? Ever been "in the woods" lately? Hard to do because the woods are gone - clear cut to feed the mills in Corner Brook and Grand Falls. Garbage and pollutants everywhere. Berry picking out by the North Atlantic refinery? How about downwind from the stacks in Holyrood? Our citizens do not recycle and per capita, I'd wager that we're above and beyond the average citizen in waste production compared to our national peers.
Why not concentrate on the real pollution problems that actually exist in this province - instead of fighting imaginary ones? Turn that critical eye on ourselves for a change, you'd be surprised how imperfect that we are. Imagine that!

Patriot said...

Hi Anon, thanks for the comment but...

While I agree that we have other pollution problems there are still a lot of woods out there to visit. In fact most of the province is still wooded if you care to check it out yourself and yes, I have been there lately.

I agree with the problems at Holyrood which is why I'm a big proponent of using a little of the Churchill power to replace that mess.

I also agree with you about the refinery.

I don't believe we pollute any more than other places and recycling is on the rise (I personally have very little trash and recycle all the time, as do many I know).

That all aside, two wrongs don't make a right so perhaps you can tell me, if Canada signs onto this, which could very well happen, where do you believe the nuclear waste will be put? Explain why you believe it will go there instead of in Labrador?

Anonymous said...

There is no case to put the nuclear waste in Labrador.

From www.environmentalindicators.com

Canada’s OECD Ranking
Canada generates far more nuclear waste than any other OECD nation on a per capita basis, placing us 28th out of 28. Canada generates 49.3 kg of nuclear waste per 1000 inhabitants.

The total amount of nuclear waste generated in Canada in 1998 was 1,510 tonnes, almost seven times the OECD average, and second only to the United States.

Canada is already dealing with it's nuclear wast problems. Facilities exist in Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Manitoba (from http://www.nwmo.ca/default.aspx?DN=180,177,20,1,Documents )

The NWMO Final study outlines the strategic recommendations for long term management. It contains nothing that gives me concern.
http://www.nwmo.ca/adx/asp/adxGetMedia.asp?DocID=1487,20,1,Documents&MediaID=2703&Filename=NWMO_Final_Study_Nov_2005_E.pdf

NL is not a Uranium producer (yet) nor are we a consumer of nuclear generated power. There is no obligation that we have any role in managing nuclear waste if we do not wish to do so. That of course, depends on our government.
If we wish to profit by supplying uranium to the world, the implications must be clearly communicated to the electorate. We will be expected to take back "our fair share" of the waste produced. If this is so unpalatable to our citizens, the simple answer is not to produce.
You can't have your cake and eat it too.

Anonymous said...

Dion attacks Harper over nuclear waste:

Canada risks becoming `garbage dump' under plan to send used nuclear fuel back to exporting nations

Sep 07, 2007 04:30 AM
Allan Woods
Ottawa Bureau

OTTAWA–The federal government risks turning Canada into a nuclear waste "garbage dump" if it signs on to a U.S.-led program that would see uranium producers forced to dispose of the finished product, Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion says.

Dion criticized the Conservative government for considering a proposal to join the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, saying there are still too many unanswered questions about how best to deal with nuclear waste produced for use here in Canada.

The opposition leader also rapped the Tories for conducting months of secret talks about joining the organization and coming clean about the offer only days before a final decision is to be made.

"We are strongly against (it)," Dion told the Star.

The initiative proposes that nuclear energy-using countries and uranium-exporting countries band together to promote and safeguard the industry. Under the proposal, all used nuclear fuel would be returned to the original uranium-exporting country for disposal.

Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier told reporters in Sydney, Australia, yesterday that, as a major uranium producer, Canada has "considerable interests" in how the world decides to proceed with development and distribution.

"So we will have a decision in the near future about our participation," Bernier said.

Canada is the world's top producer of uranium, responsible for about one-third of the world's supply.

Ottawa already has a report by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization proposing several ways to manage nuclear waste, but it has not been made public.

Dion called for the Tories to make it public and to hold a public debate in Parliament before deciding whether to sign on to the nuclear partnership.

Patriot said...

To the anon who said: "There is no case to put the nuclear waste in Labrador."

you had no problem quoting the fact that Canada already produces a large volume of nuclear waste and deals with it. What you didn't identify was that Canada is also the largest single exporter of uranium in the world and this will grow if Labrador resources are mined.

Under the new worldwide plan Canada would be obligated to take back the waste from all of that spent fuel (in addition to what it produces itself).

Your solution of not producing any uranium is simplistic at best. If I buy something, say a car, I can't expect that the maker in Detroit, Ontario or Japan will take it back when its of no more use to me. I also can't expect them to stop selling cars simply because I don't want to have to deal with the junk when it wears out.

With Canada being the worlds biggest producer of this fuel do you really think it won't impact us when all the waste comes rolling in? Do you really think some other province (that doesn't produce uranium) will be willing to take it?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the feedback Patriot. Simplistic answers are often the best ones. I do believe that a nation Canada had a responsibility to assist their customers in disposing of uranium waste. Specifically, I believe that uranium producing provinces should be obligated to dispose of their proportionate share. As NL has yet to produce a gram of uranium, we are in the unique position of being able to weigh the costs (economic / social / enviromental and other) against the potential income that would be made through sales. That does not mean that we have to clear the accounts of other provinces.
Contrary to your statement, we do expect the auto manufacturers to do their part in disposing of their used up product. Car wrecks are exported every day for recycling purposes. The same applies to paper products, glass plastics and, well, you get the drift.
Costs of disposal must be borne by the developers. Payment must be collected up front as part of their compensation to the province for extracting the resource or an arrangement made involving enforcable compensation to cover disposal costs.
Alternatively, we can refuse, pass the onus of disposal on to the nuclear users, kill the demand and be a poor world citizen. That would make us no better than those you'd like to criticize and I suspect nuclear usage would be drastically reduced as a result. Our resource would be rendered worthless.

rant said...

"There is no case to put the nuclear waste in Labrador."

Patriot ,this is simply another pile of propaganda given to us by those that hold the keys to power.

If they start to use this level of reason why then do the United States Great Britian and Canada send thier old Navy vessels to places like India and Pakistan when they become old and useless.

Thease ships have many toxic chemicals in them that cause cancer and other harmful illness that thease governemnts just choose to ignore.Just another case of financial exploitation done by the west agaisnt those that simply do not have.So thier citizens pay with thier lives trying to feed thier familys.But,we in the west simply refuse to believe or accept.If the people using the power coming from thease nucular reactors cannot deal with the waste then maybe they shouldn't be using it.Let Ontario swell in its own filth.They profit from the industry,let them keep the garbage that they make.Why should any province endanger its citizens because they cannot deal with the waste of thier own greed.

Patriot said...

To the Anon who said, "Contrary to your statement, we do expect the auto manufacturers to do their part in disposing of their used up product. Car wrecks are exported every day for recycling purposes. The same applies to paper products, glass plastics and, well, you get the drift."

I don't agree.

Yes, recycling happens but when your car dies or you are finished with your plastic bottle is it returned to Ford or to the company that makes evian? Of course not. The makers do nothing except buy the recycled plastic or steel at a bargain so they can produce more.

When was the last time Chevy took back an old wreck?

The buyer, you and I, are the ones who take it to the recycler or to the dump, not the seller. Why then should the seller take back the waste product in this case?

Patriot said...

To the Anon who said, "Contrary to your statement, we do expect the auto manufacturers to do their part in disposing of their used up product. Car wrecks are exported every day for recycling purposes. The same applies to paper products, glass plastics and, well, you get the drift."

I don't agree.

Yes, recycling happens but when your car dies or you are finished with your plastic bottle is it returned to Ford or to the company that makes evian? Of course not. The makers do nothing except buy the recycled plastic or steel at a bargain so they can produce more.

When was the last time Chevy took back an old wreck?

The buyer, you and I, are the ones who take it to the recycler or to the dump, not the seller. Why then should the seller take back the waste product in this case?

Anonymous said...

In this case, the seller is receiving the greatest benefit from the product, and should bear the responsibility for ensuring that the waste byproduct is disposed of properly.
Without the supplier, the problem does not exist. Morally, it would be irresponsible to profit from the sale of harmful goods with no accountability for their proper disposal.

rant said...

"it would be irresponsible to profit from the sale of harmful goods with no accountability for their proper disposal."

September 11, 2007 12:43 PM

So then you agree that Ontario should be responsible to recycle everysingle car that it produces and ships world wide. Morally of ourse.

Anonymous said...

Rant, I do agree that Auto manufacturers have a moral responsibility to recycle as much as practically possible. No entity, business, government or person should be permitted to profit from creating pollution without being required to address the environmental issues that result. Radical thoughts eh?

Anonymous said...

Conservatives Must Reveal their Intentions on Nuclear Meeting
September 12, 2007

OTTAWA - The Harper government must tell Canadians whether Canada will participate in the September 16, 2007 meeting on the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), Liberal Natural Resources Critic Mark Holland said today.

"Canadians deserve the truth, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government is refusing to come clean on this critical issue," said Mr. Holland.

The U.S.-led GNEP is controversial because it proposes that uranium exporting countries like Canada take back all spent nuclear waste for long-term storage or re-processing. Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier said last week that Canada will make a decision about joining the GNEP within a matter of days, but has yet to reveal the Conservative government's intentions.

Last week, Mr. Holland called on the government to accept Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion's proposal for open consultation on the GNEP before committing Canada to the initiative. Only four days before the meeting, the Conservatives have still not come clean on their position.

"Canadians have had enough of the Conservatives' secrecy - they are entitled to know what their government is up to. This process must be brought into the open immediately," said Mr. Holland.