Township of the North Shore “resolves” to “invite” Serpent River First Nation in NWMO project (December 2012)

In its meeting of  December 12th, 2012 the Township of the North Shore “RESOLVED THAT Council invite the Township’s immediate neighbouring community of the  Serpent River First Nation to engage in a conversation regarding the Nuclear Waste Management Organization project. “

Minutes of Regular Meeting 
December 12, 2012 

Nuclear waste meetings held in Sask (February 2013)

A Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) official says the group was happy to answer questions about the controversial issue at recent meetings in Prince Albert and the Whitecap Dakota Nation south of Saskatoon.

“It’s the early days of a very long process. We were pleased we had the opportunity,” said NWMO spokesman Mike Krizanc.

 The StarPhoenix – February 26, 2013
Information meetings took place last week at sessions hosted by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations.

Three northern Saskatchewan communities – Creighton, Pinehouse and the English River First Nation – have expressed interest in hosting a nuclear waste dump known as a “deep geological repository.” They are among the 21 Canadian locations in the running. Advocates tout the economic benefits while opponents say there are safety, environmental and other concerns.

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Nuclear waste meetings move to Prince Albert (February 2013)

The debate over whether Saskatchewan should store nuclear waste moves to Prince Albert on Friday.

Saskatchewan is a world leader in the production of uranium, but doesn’t have any nuclear power plants or store nuclear waste.

However, the industry is looking for a region to store power plant waste deep underground and some communities in the province have expressed some interest.

CBC News – Posted: Feb 22, 2013 11:12 AM CST

 The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nation has been given $1 million by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization to hold a series of sessions about the concept in order to gauge First Nations interest. On Thursday, Saskatoon was the venue.

The meetings were criticized by Owen Swiderski, deputy leader of the Saskatchewan Green Party, who says the FSIN appears to be one side of the issue.

“Honestly, to me it seems like they’re promoting a nuclear waste dump in Saskatchewan,” he said. “They’re saying the money will help them, but the money and jobs is not worth the destruction to the environment.”

Protesters are expected at today’s meeting in Prince Albert.

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Nuclear waste, a major problem for Germany (February 2013)

After Fukushima, many governments decided to reconsider their dealings with nuclear stuff.

It seems that nuclear waste has turned into a major problem for Germany. The news magazine Der Spiegel released on 21 February a report about Asse II an old mine in the German state of Lower Saxony, claiming that its condition and the works being done there have turned not only into a technical, but also into ecological and political problem.

According to the article, some 126,000 barrels of nuclear waste have been dumped in the salt mine to rot over the last 50 years.


Article |February 22, 2013 – 3:26pm| By NEOnline 

Currently, a project to remove the drums from the 100-year-old maze of tunnels has been going on in the mine since the exploratory drilling was launched in June last year. However, according to the magazine, the project is not only technically ambitious and bold, but also foolhardy and, most importantly, costly. It is expected to consume at least €4 billion ($5.3 billion), but more likely somewhere between €5 billion and €10 billion.

The decision to retrieve the barrels also caused a major environmental scandal: not only was the public initially informed that Asse was merely being used to “research” how radioactive waste reacts in a final repository, but it turned out that the mine has been used also as a dump for all manner of contaminated waste.

Der Spiegel also informed about the political side of the matter, saying that German politicians have agreed to enshrine the retrieval of the Asse nuclear waste in Germany’s Atomic Energy Act. According to the magazine, this was intended to speed up the highly demanding and arduous licensing process currently required by this legislation.

Moreover, as reported, the Bundestag plans to pass the bill into law before Easter, while the new law will perhaps give politicians some breathing room, and remove the issue of Asse from all the campaigning leading up to the general election scheduled for September.

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Bruce Power’s Hawthorne critical of NWMO project (February 2013)

Bruce Power president and chief executive officer Duncan Hawthorne addressed an audience during a community open house at the Bruce Power Visitors’ Centre on Feb. 12, 2013. Hawthorne, who reported on a banner year for Bruce Power, offered criticism of the National Waste Management Organization’s handling of the adaptive phased management project for used nuclear fuel.

By Sarah Sutter, Kincardine News

Wednesday, February 13, 20132:55:36 EST PM

Bruce Power president and chief executive officer Duncan Hawthorne had critical words for the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s (NWMO) handling of the proposed deep geological repository (DGR).

Speaking in response to a citizen’s question about why two DGRs are needed, Hawthorne said people are getting confused with the difference between Ontario Power Generation’s project for low and intermediate level nuclear waste at the Bruce site and the adaptive phased management project for used nuclear fuel being evaluated in other Bruce County communities.

John Mann, a Saugeen Shores resident who had questioned local government on why low and intermediate level waste would be housed separately from spent nuclear fuel, asked Hawthorne for his opinion on the plans during an open house at the Bruce Power Vistors’ Centre on Feb. 12.

“I wouldn’t do it that way if it was me,” Hawthorne replied. “If this isn’t handled well, it impacts us in a negative way.”

Hawthorne added he had been in touch with NWMO officials and sent them a letter outlining his concerns. Among them was his belief residents of potential host communities are unable to differentiate between the plans for two DGRs.

“You’ve confused the whole community,” Hawthorne said he had written to the NWMO. “We’re looking at something that’s 125 years from now. Go away for a decade.”

Hawthorne also said he believed the NWMO has been in talks with willing host communities who have no chance of being a real candidate to host the spent nuclear fuel.

“The NWMO want to demonstrate they can find willing host communities,” he said, adding the organization is “making everyone nervous.”

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Chalk River’s spent fuel rods to be shipped to U.S. (February 2013)

Move comes on heels of plan to transport toxic brew to South Carolina site

By IAN MACLEOD, Ottawa CitizenFebruary 13, 2013 8:09 AM

Highly radioactive nuclear reactor fuel rods are to be clandestinely shipped by road from Chalk River to the United States under a non-proliferation effort to rid the Upper Ottawa Valley site of bomb-grade uranium.

News of the spent fuel shipment follows a Citizen report Monday about separate preparations to transport a lethal brew of liquid weapons-grade uranium by armed convoy through Eastern Ontario to a South Carolina reprocessing site. It will be converted at the Savannah River Site into a form unusable for bomb-making.

Federal law prohibits officials from releasing details of the plans, including routing, timing and the number of transport truck trips planned.

As well, a 2011 federal government memo says the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) considers it unnecessary to hold public sessions that would allow citizens to ask questions and comment on the highly enriched uranium (HEU) repatriations to the U.S. The CNSC declined to comment on the memo Tuesday.

Documents from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission say an “expedited” approval is being sought for transport of the liquid HEU. It is believed to be the first time such a highly radioactive solution has been transported by road in North America and, according to U.S. commission documents, could happen as early as August.

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Canada’s high-level nuclear waste could be trucked to SRS (February 2013)

Liquid nuclear waste containing bomb-grade highly enriched uranium would be trucked from Canada for disposal at Savannah River Site under a first-of-its-kind proposal under development by the National Nuclear Security Administration and other agencies.


The Augusta Chronicle
Rob Pavey
February 12, 2013 8:20 PM EST

The material from Atomic Energy Canada Limited’s Chalk River Laboratory is part of a nonproliferation effort aimed at recovering U.S. origin highly enriched uranium distributed to research facilities in other countries. SRS confirmed at a recent citizens advisory board meeting that planning for such a shipment is underway.

The Canadian lab has used this uranium for decades to produce molybdenum-99, a source of technetium used medical diagnostic procedures. The process involves dissolving targets in acid, which yields a highly radioactive waste that contains residual highly enriched uranium.

Transporting highly radioactive liquid waste has never been attempted, according to environmental groups who are seeking an environmental impact study before the material can be moved.

“This proposed shipment of liquid high-level waste appears to be unprecedented,” said Tom Clements, the southeastern nuclear campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth.

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Law could force nuclear waste on Cumbria (February 2013)

Despite the county council voting against a storage site, the Government may have the power to impose a facility on the region

Mike Glover

Sunday 03 February 2013

A nuclear waste dump may still be sited in Cumbria despite a decision by county councillors last week to reject the plans.

Local district councillors in west Cumbria are seeking an urgent meeting with ministers in an effort to revive the storage scheme. Leaders of Copeland and Allerdale borough councils said they had a mandate to explore the next stage of the UK’s nuclear waste storage plan, and accused Cumbria county councillors of ignoring the views of local people. Copeland MP Jamie Reed said he would lobby the Government to continue searching for a solution to nuclear waste storage in the area.

Widespread opposition to the plans, highlighted in last week’s Independent on Sunday, resulted in Cumbria County Council voting 7-3 not to proceed with a detailed geological survey for a suitable site. The decision is a blow to the Government’s energy policy, which relies on nuclear power but has still to work out a safe way of dealing with the toxic waste. Until the vote, Cumbria was the only county in the UK to consider formally looking for a safe site to store nuclear waste, which remains radioactive for up to a million years.

After the reversal, the Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, said: “It is absolutely vital that we get to grips with our national nuclear legacy. The issue has been kicked into the long grass for far too long. We remain firmly committed to geological disposal as the right policy for the long-term, safe and secure management of radioactive waste. We also remain committed to the principles of voluntarism and a community-led approach.”

Critics of the waste-dump policy point out that if no council voluntarily agrees to host a waste dump, the Government has the power to impose one. A clause in the Energy Bill states: “In the event that at some point in the future, voluntarism and partnership does not look likely to work, the Government reserves the right to explore other approaches.” Critics believe this will mean the Government will ultimately force a facility on to a community.

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Even Low-Level Radioactivity Is Damaging, Scientists Conclude (November 2012)

ScienceDaily (Nov. 13, 2012) – Even the very lowest levels of radiation are harmful to life, scientists have concluded in the Cambridge Philosophical Society’s journal Biological Reviews.

Reporting the results of a wide-ranging analysis of 46 peer-reviewed studies published over the past 40 years, researchers from the University of South Carolina and the University of Paris-Sud found that variation in low-level, natural background radiation was found to have small, but highly statistically significant, negative effects on DNA as well as several measures of health.

The review is a meta-analysis of studies of locations around the globe that have very high natural background radiation as a result of the minerals in the ground there, including Ramsar, Iran, Mombasa, Kenya, Lodeve, France, and Yangjiang, China. These, and a few other geographic locations with natural background radiation that greatly exceeds normal amounts, have long drawn scientists intent on understanding the effects of radiation on life. Individual studies by themselves, however, have often only shown small effects on small populations from which conclusive statistical conclusions were difficult to draw.

“When you’re looking at such small effect sizes, the size of the population you need to study is huge,” said co-author Timothy Mousseau, a biologist in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Carolina. “Pooling across multiple studies, in multiple areas, and in a rigorous statistical manner provides a tool to really get at these questions about low-level radiation.”

Mousseau and co-author Anders Moller of the University of Paris-Sud combed the scientific literature, examining more than 5,000 papers involving natural background radiation that were narrowed to 46 for quantitative comparison. The selected studies all examined both a control group and a more highly irradiated population and quantified the size of the radiation levels for each. Each paper also reported test statistics that allowed direct comparison between the studies.

The organisms studied included plants and animals, but had a large preponderance of human subjects. Each study examined one or more possible effects of radiation, such as DNA damage measured in the lab, prevalence of a disease such as Down’s Syndrome, or the sex ratio produced in offspring. For each effect, a statistical algorithm was used to generate a single value, the effect size, which could be compared across all the studies.

The scientists reported significant negative effects in a range of categories, including immunology, physiology, mutation and disease occurrence. The frequency of negative effects was beyond that of random chance.

“There’s been a sentiment in the community that because we don’t see obvious effects in some of these places, or that what we see tends to be small and localized, that maybe there aren’t any negative effects from low levels of radiation,” said Mousseau. “But when you do the meta-analysis, you do see significant negative effects.”

“It also provides evidence that there is no threshold below which there are no effects of radiation,” he added. “A theory that has been batted around a lot over the last couple of decades is the idea that is there a threshold of exposure below which there are no negative consequences. These data provide fairly strong evidence that there is no threshold — radiation effects are measurable as far down as you can go, given the statistical power you have at hand.”

Mousseau hopes their results, which are consistent with the “linear-no-threshold” model for radiation effects, will better inform the debate about exposure risks. “With the levels of contamination that we have seen as a result of nuclear power plants, especially in the past, and even as a result of Chernobyl and Fukushima and related accidents, there’s an attempt in the industry to downplay the doses that the populations are getting, because maybe it’s only one or two times beyond what is thought to be the natural background level,” he said. “But they’re assuming the natural background levels are fine.”

“And the truth is, if we see effects at these low levels, then we have to be thinking differently about how we develop regulations for exposures, and especially intentional exposures to populations, like the emissions from nuclear power plants, medical procedures, and even some x-ray machines at airports.”

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Why is nuke industry blowing off low-level radiation health findings?

Day-to-day releases of small amounts of radioactivity from reactors are a serious threat to public health.

By Cathy Vakil and Eric Notebaert.
NOW Magazine, November 22 2012

The health risks of nuclear are very much under the radar as hearings begin December 3 on whether Ontario will spend billions to resuscitate the aging Darlington station.

As physicians, it is our duty to advocate for illness prevention, and we believe nuclear power is a serious threat to public health, from uranium mining to refining to the day-to-day release of small amounts of radioactivity from reactors.

The industry claims that these releases are too small to worry about; research indicates otherwise.

Since the early 1980s, numerous studies in North America and Europe have shown an elevated risk of a number of illnesses in nearby populations, particularly childhood leukemia. In 2008, a well-designed study by the German government showed that children under five years old living within a 5-kilometre radius of all 16 of the country’s nuclear plants had an elevated risk of developing leukemia, as did a similar French study of children under 15.

What does this mean for Canada? It seems government authorities don’t want to know. There is not a single large-scale case-control study of low-level emissions from reactors here. Without the appropriate studies, it’s reasonable to assume that health is being compromised.

Unlike other countries, which build reactors in rural areas, Ontario locates them in the most populous region of the country – near Toronto. Over 450,000 people live within 20 kilometres of the Darlington station, and over 1 million around Pickering.

And while Canadian reactor operators assure us the risk of an accident is insignificant, there is a major nuclear event about once a decade somewhere in the world, Fukushima merely being the most recent.

Since Fukushima, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Japan have all decided to phase out nuclear power and invest massively in green energy. These countries are protecting human health and building a modern energy system. Why aren’t we?

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Cathy Vakil is a family doctor and professor in the department of family medicine at Queens University. Eric Notebaert is adjunct professor at the School of Medicine at the University of Montreal. Both are board members of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.
NOW | November 22-29, 2012 | VOL 32 NO 12