Sunday, September 30, 2007

Albertans an "easy-sell" for nukes?

Edwards really doesn't provide any evidence that Albertans are any more naive about nuclear power than anyone else. It seems that in the mainstream press and thought nuclear power is now thought to be safe and even "green"--see the next post where I include an article by a Green nuclear supporter.
As I recall the original objections to nuclear power were not from environmentalists so much as mainstream conservative free market economists. Nuclear power apparently is not economically feasible without state support and subsidies. Among the state supports in Ontario is a bill that limits liability for accidents!
Just the problem of storage of radioactive wastes strikes me as a reason to avoid nuclear power. We are storing problems for future generations.

Albertans an 'easy sell' for nukes
Hanneke Brooymans, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Saturday, September 29
EDMONTON - Nuclear companies are taking advantage of naive Albertans who haven't yet learned about the risks of nuclear energy, says a long-time critic of the nuclear industry.

Gordon Edwards is a mathematician with Vanier College in Montreal who has spent 30 years advocating for nuclear responsibility. He was brought in by local environmental groups to inform Albertans about the potential risks of nuclear energy.

"I think both (French nuclear company) Areva and (Atomic Energy Canada Ltd.) AECL are enthusiastic about the degree of naivete because it means it's easier to sell it," he said during a meeting with The Journal's editorial board Friday.

But Energy Alberta Corp., which has proposed a plant next to a lake 30 kilometres west of Peace River, says it's actually quite the opposite.

It would be easier to try to build something in Ontario, where residents are used to nuclear power, than trying to convince Albertans living in the land of oil and gas that nuclear power is a good idea, company spokesman Guy Huntingford said.

Edwards said he is worried Albertans don't understand what they could be getting themselves into and that it will be an irreversible decision.

"Once you opt for nuclear power, you have made a decision to turn a part of Alberta into a radioactive waste dump," he said.

Even if the province isn't chosen as a national storage site for spent nuclear fuel, there are still large volumes of radioactive filters, rags, resins, debris and contaminated equipment that will become the property of Alberta, he said.

The Energy Alberta proposal calls for two 2,200- megawatt twin-unit reactors. The plan is to have the first one operating by 2017. That project recently began a regulatory process with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

Edwards said Albertans shouldn't place their faith in the commission to ensure the plant will not affect the health of the public or the environment.

"You can't rely on the safety commission to look after you. The safety commission has a track record of supporting the industry and never refusing to grant a licence."

The commission disputes these claims. Regardless of stakeholders' interests, the CNSC's priority is and will always remain safety, said Aurele Gervais, a commission spokesman in an e-mail response.

"It considers it crucial to preserve public confidence and trust in the fairness of the regulatory decision-making process. Maintaining an arm's-length relationship to government and industry is a critical element to sustain that confidence."

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