Saturday, 8 September 2007

Canada will make a decision on joining a U.S. led nuclear initiative in a matter of days

The Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper is denying reports that it has been suppressing information about the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership after documents obtained by The Canadian Press showed negotiations between Canada and other governments have been ongoing for at least a year.

...documents obtained under the Access to Information Act show that the Canadian government has been actively considering the initiative since at least March 2006. Negotiations with the United States began as early as May 3, 2006, and the government had internal talking points praising the GNEP proposal as worth pursuit.

A government briefing document prepared by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, dated March 31, 2006, states that dealing with spent U.S. nuclear fuel is "the main driver" of the proposal:

"With regard to the proposed GNEP fuel cycle, we understand the main U.S. driver is to avoid the difficult issues associated with finding waste disposal sites beyond Yucca Mountain," a former nuclear test site in Nevada that is home to America's nuclear waste repository.


The Harper government has yet to publicly state whether the disposal issue is negotiable for Canada or is a non-starter. The implications for Canada's nuclear technology industry have also not been publicly debated.

We need to start that debate now. We must make it clear - as the other major uranium producer, Australia, has done that "repatriation" of American nuclear waste is not on. We have enough problems dealing with our own nuclear waste - some of which goes back to World War II - and is still being argued about. And that's the low level stuff. Gloves and so on used for handling glow in the dark bomb sights. Not "spent" fuel rods.

There is a growing lobby for more nukes, as they appear to "solve" the problem of increasing demand for energy on a planet which cannot cope with more anthropogenic greenhouse gas. But there are worse things than global warming. And not dealing effectively with radio active waste is one of them.

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