Anti-nuclear Movement in Canada

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Nuclear Power generation in Canada has been plagued with safety failures, cost overruns, and, in many cases, an inability to produce the power promised by nuclear companies. Canadian provincial governments are reacting in very different ways to this controversial energy source. While the province of Quebec has declared a moratorium on all nuclear power projects, Ontario is planning to replace all coal-fired energy plants with nuclear plants by 2012. The province of New Brunswick continues to host one nuclear reactor, while the government of Alberta is considering building Western Canada's first nuclear power station.

Canada is also an exporter of uranium, which has led to extensive human rights abuses among those living near mines.

The Ontario Situation

Nuclear power in Ontario has left a legacy of crippling debt for the government and the people to shoulder. All Ontarians pay back part of the province's $38 billion nuclear debt. Dubbed the 'Debt Retirement Charge,' the fee taxes ever kilowatt-hour of electricity used by Ontario households. For each kilowatt-hour used, households must pay an extra 0.7 cents plus taxes, which works out to about $81 per year lost per household in Ontario, to pay the nuclear debt already incurred[1].

Nuclear power currently makes up about half of Ontario's power generation REF. This is set to increase as the Government of Ontario aims to phase out all coal-fired power plants by 2014, with much of this lost power generation to be taken up by nuclear.

Plans for new NPPs in Ontario seem to fail

In July 2009, the nuclear power provider Bruce Power informed that the company has decided to withdrawn their applications for new Nuclear Power Plants in Ontario. The demands for electricity in the province wouldn't give reasons for these investitions. Instead of constructing new NPPs Bruce Power wants now to concentrate on the refurbishment of their old reactors.[2] Some time before the administration of Ontario had suspended the plans to construct new reactors in Darlington because of the high costs[3]

Bruce Power emphasized that this decision wouldn't mean that they would also cancel their NPP plans in Alberta and Saskatchewan. In these provinces that don't have nuclear power plants yet the company waits for the governments general decisions about nuclear power.[4]

Historic Tourist Destination or Nuclear Fear Factor

As many of you know, the CNSC is holding another one of their corrupt Hearings on the radioactive waste cleanup of Port Hope today. To commenmorate it, I posted a Radiation Tourism brochure on facebook and copied below. If you enjoy the paper, please go to my facebook page and "share" it. Please copy this e-mail as widely as possible. Thanks Pat

Port Hope

Welcome to the nuclear
radiation capital of Canada. Our Canadian & Ontario Governments, Cameco, Zircatec and Port Hope Council have worked long and hard to build a tourist destination to cater to those people who believe nuclear radiation is good for you. They have all done an outstanding job. We have more sites giving off alpha, beta, gamma and neutron radiation than anywhere else in Canada.

If you are standing in
downtown Port Hope and you feel the breeze from Lake Ontario on your face, you are also breathing radioactive uranium from Cameco’s uranium processing facility beside our harbour. You also have ammonia, nitrous oxide, arsenic and fluorides going into your lungs and other parts of your body.

Take a dip in our
harbour. Thanks to Cameco and Eldorado’s generosity and foresight over the past 60 years, they have created Port Hope’s version of a Hot or Mineral Spring a 2 minute walk from our historic downtown. Water is taken from Lake Ontario and heated during uranium processing before being returned to our inner harbour. The minerals in the inner harbour are replenished every time it rains as the stormwater drains from the contaminated Cameco site flow into the harbour.

It’s supposed to be
good for the fish but the numbers of Rainbow trout have declined from 15,000 fish in 1986 when Cameco’s UF6 plant was built to less than 4000 fish today. But that’s a small price to pay for having a hot mineral spring so close at hand. Besides, they’re probably too contaminated to eat.

Visit one of the 400
or so unlicensed radioactive sites in Port Hope. We are not sure how many there are or where they are located as our Federal Government will not tell us. You might want to go to the lawn in front of the Firefighters museum to soak up some therapeutic radiation as it has some of the highest readings we have measured anywhere in Port Hope. Radon will be healing you from below and uranium will be falling on your head from Cameco’s stacks.

They are thinking of
locating the new National Firefighters Museum on the Centre Pier across from Cameco. It seems a little ironic that a National Firefighters Museum would be placed in a Town that can’t fight some fires within its boundaries.

For the up close and
personal experience, Cameco hauls radioactive loads through the streets of our Town, neutron radiation included. They have spared no expense for the ultimate experience for visitors to our Town and the residents alike.

If you want an even
more lasting experience, Cameco leaves these highly radioactive loads completely accessible to adults and children alike in the visitor parking lot at their facility. You can stop by for pictures and a “beneficial dose of radiation” on your way to the west beach.

I’m sorry, I forgot.
The West Beach isn’t there any more because it was too contaminated. The beach is now piled on the centre pier under the tarps.

If you see a fire at
Cameco or Zircatec, you’ll have lots of time to take pictures because we have to wait 1.5 to 3 hours for a fire crew from Toronto to get here as our Fire Dep’t is not trained to fight radiological fires.

If the situation is
really serious, you will be contacted by an auto dialing system. Unfortunately this won’t do the tourists much good as no one has their phone number to contact them. The tourists shouldn’t feel bad. They don’t have all our numbers either.

If the situation is
bad enough to force an evacuation, we have a problem as Port Hope has no evacuation plan. The best bet is to head the same direction as Port Hope residents. We know which way to run.

If you see a white
cloud of gas coming at you, just run fast as it’s probably hydrofluoric acid. If that cloud catches up to you, you’ll have about 30 seconds to make out your will before you take your last breath.

You should consider
playing the Port Hope lottery. Buy a home in Port Hope and you may be one of the lucky people who find radioactive material on your property after you purchase it. If you win the grand prize and discover radiation in your basement, you can open your own Bed & Breakfast and provide “beneficial radiation” to your guests at their leisure.

Mayor Austin was very upset with me but there was nothing he could do. Everything I wrote is true. Port Hope Council and Staff are promoting tourism but they are not warning tourists about dangerous places in town.
Pat McNamara

The New Brunswick Situation

The Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station is located on the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick and houses a single 680 MWe CANDU-6 nuclear reactor unit. It achieved full operational power in 1983 and is publicly owned by NB Power.

The Point Lepreau station has been undergoing refurbishment under the direction of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), a publicly owned corporation. The refurbishment has been repeatedly delayed for a number of reasons. The federal government under Stephen Harper has offered AECL for sale. It is not known how the sale of AECL will affect the refurbishment and operation of the Point Lepreau generating station.

In 2002, the New Brunswick Public Utilities Board concluded that refurbishing Point Lepreau “is not in the public interest” and there would be “no significant economic advantage” for the province. Disregarding the disapproval, NB Power and the government of New Brunswick went ahead with the refurbishment and has continued unrestrained spending while the New Brunswick public has been fed a great deal of misinformation.[1]

Elizabeth May, leader of the Canadian Green Party calls Point Lepreau "a money pit” and stated that "the project is billions over budget and now is the time to pull the plug.” [2]

The site on wich Lepreau is located is the ancestal home of the Passamaquoddy First Nation. Passamaquoddy Chief Hugh Akagi has demanded that the Point Lepreau reactor be removed from the territory[3]. Chief Akagi is working with a coalition of groups across Canada who want to see Point Lepreau shut down for good, including the International Institute of Concern for Public Health, Conservation Council of New Brunswick, Concerned Citizens of Saint John, People Against Nuclear Energy, Fundy Baykeeper, Friends of the Musquash, Greenpeace Canada and the Atlantic Sierra Club [4].

The Point Lepreau Decommissioning Caucus is working to debunk three myths about nuclear power, that it is green, there is a need for it, and that it is cheap. The Caucus has pointed to a decision of the Advertising Standards Canada, which ruled that CANDU reactors cannot be referred to as “emissions free.” In fact, nuclear power produces lots of greenhouse gas emissions. Further, Point Lepreau has so far produced thousands of tons of highly toxic and radioactive waste. Canada's Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), which is in charge of finding solutions to dispose of this waste, reports that it will remain toxic indefinitely. Point Lepreau releases the highest levels of tritium in Canada as well as emitting other radioactive toxins into the air, lands and waters around the Bay of Fundy. Willi Nolan, a spokesperson for the group states that "This is an unethical burden to place on future generations." [5] and that “the mining, transportation, processing and construction required to operate nuclear power plants all contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.”[6]

The International Institute of Concern for Public Health (IICPH) is sponsoring a statement to gather support for the decommissioning of Point Lepreau. Dr. Rosalie Bertell, founder of IICPH, is a recipient of the MacBride Peace Prize and Right Livelihood Award and has been nominated for Nobel Prize, agrees that nuclear power is neither green, economical nor safe. In her article Going Green Too Expensive?, she reports that when "the danger and cost to present and future generations from nuclear contamination of the environment and the containment of mountains of nuclear waste are added, in all conscience, the idea of energy from new nuclear must be abandoned." Rather than acknowledging the need to abandon nuclear power, Bertell reports that "neither the US or Canada seem to be prepared to look at the alternative opportunities" and that "the idea of conservation measures to cut down on the need for electricity is given lip service but very little meaningful action."

The New Brunswick government, led by Progressive Conservative David Alward, has promised to open the province's energy debate to public consultation. However, he has also sought federal funding to cover excessive costs from numerous delays in the refurbishment of Point Lepreau[], ignoring the fact that New Brunswick has no established right to use the Passamaquoddy land on which it sits. The controversy is attracting regular media and growing popular support [7].

In its own effort to work toward ending the nuclear fuel chain, the United Church of Canada adopted a resolution that urges the Government of Canada to deny any financial support from the Government of Canada towards the refurbishment of the nuclear power plant at Point Lepreau. In place of nuclear power, the resolution offers encouragement to the Governments of Canada and New Brunswick to pursue a renewable energy strategy with regard to the production of electricity and invest in conservation, increased energy efficiency, and sustainable natural resources. [8]

The Green Party of Canada (GPC) is supporting the call of Chief Akagi to remove the Point Lepreau reactor from the traditional lands of the Passamaquoddy Nation and return the ancestral lands. Lorraine Rekmans, Aboriginal Affairs Critic for GPC says that “Chief Akagi has a deep understanding that nuclear power is not at all ‘clean’, in fact it is leaving a terrible legacy of toxic waste for future generations and that is not acceptable.” [9]

Links to Canadian Anti-Nuclear Organizations

Indigenous Links

History of nuclear power in Canada

extract from Canadian Nuclear Association: "The Canadian Nuclear Factbook 2013"

  • 1941 George C. Laurence designs one of the world's first nuclear reactors at the National Research Council (NRC) laboratories in Ottawa.
  • 1944 NRC builds nuclear research facility in Chalk River, ON.
  • 1945 ZEEP (Zero Energy Experimental Pile) at Chalk River makes Canada the second country to control nuclear fission in a reactor. The first controlled reaction took place in 1942 in the United States under the leadership of Enrico Fermi.
  • 1946 Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB) established as Canada's federal nuclear regulator.
  • 1947 The National Research Experimental (NRX) reactor - then the most powerful reactor in the world - comes into operation at Chalk River.
  • 1951 Harold E. Johns (University of Saskatchewan) and Roy Errington (Eldorado Mining and Refining Ltd.) lead separate teams to build world's first radiation treatment units using cobalt-60. The world's first external beam radiation therapy cancer treatment is delivered in London, ON.
  • 1952 Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) created.
  • 1952 NRX suffers an accident with reactor core damage - the first accident of this type. The reactor is decontaminated, rebuilt, and restarted after 14 months. Lessons learned from this accident provide the guiding principles of reactor safety still used today.
  • 1954 Wilfrid B. Lewis initiates the development of the CANDU reactor through cooperation between AECL, Ontario Hydro, and Canadian General Electric Company.
  • 1957 The National Research Universal (NRU) reactor - a multi-purpose research facility - comes into operation at Chalk River.
  • 1962 The Nuclear Power Demonstration (NPD) reactor - Canada's first electricity-producing reactor, and the prototype for the CANDU reactor design - comes online, at a capacity of 22 MWe.
  • 1964 AECL developes the first commercial cobalt-60 sterilizer for food and medical supplies.
  • 1968 The Douglas Point facility - Canada's first full-scale nuclear generating station - comes online in Kincardine, ON, at a capacity of 220 MWe.
  • 1972 First CANDU outside Canada comes online at Rajasthan-1 in India.
  • 1973 All four units at Pickering A completed, for a total capacity of 2,060 MWe, becoming the largest nuclear power generation station in the world at the time.
  • 1982 Nuclear expands beyond Ontario with both Point Lepreau Nuclear Power Station (NGS) and Gentilly-2 NGS coming on-line in New Brunswick and Québec, respectively, each capable of producing 635 MWe- Québec had previously operated the Gentilly-1 NGS as a prototype.
  • 1983 CANDU reactors are 7 of the top 10 best-performing reactors worldwide.
  • 1994 Bertram N. Brockhouse awarded Nobel Prize in Physics for his research on neutron scattering at Chalk River.
  • 1996 Two CANDU reactors sold to China, the largest commercial contract between the two countries at the time. These reactors (Qinshan-4 and 5) were completed in 2003 ahead of schedule and under budget and were the fastest-ever constructed nuclear power facilities in China.
  • 2000 Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) created under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act to replace the former AECB.
  • 2002 Nuclear Fuel Waste Act passed, mandating the creation of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO). Later, in 2007, the federal government approved the NWMO's "Adaptive Phased Management" approach for the long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel.
  • 2010 Nuclear energy generates over 58% of Ontario's total electricity, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) plans to proceed with the detailed planning for the mid-life refurbishment of Darlington NGS.
  • 2011 AECL's Commercial Operation acquired by Candu Energy Inc., wholly owned subsidiary of Canadian engineering company SNC-Lavalin. AECL remains a federal Crown corporation and the corporate head office moves to Chalk River.
  • 2012 Nuclear-powered Curiosity rover lands on Mars carrying Canadian analytical equipment and sends photos back to Earth.
  • 2012 OPG granted License to Prepare Site for Darlington New Nuclear Project.
  • 2012 Refurbishments at Bruce Power and Point Lepreau NGS complete and units return to service.

  2. on August 3, 2009
  3. Bruce nixes 'more nukes' plan. The Toronto Sun, Fri Jul 24 2009 BY JONATHAN JENKINS, QUEEN'S PARK BUREAU
  4. on August 3, 2009