What Bruce Power won't be telling you about nuclear reactors on the North Saskatchewan River

Duncan Hawthorne of Bruce Power is proposing to build two nuclear reactors in Saskatchewan. They would employ 1000 people full time for 60 years and bring $240 million annually to the provincial government. However, we do well to remember the saying, The Devil is in the details!

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Financing

A $10 billion dollar debt floated by 1 million people results in a per capita debt of $10,000 for every man, woman, and child during the 5 or 10 years needed for constructing the reactors, and before they become operational.

Which model of reactor?

  • We have two possibilities. One is from AECL called ARC-1000, or the Advanced Candu Reactor. It is still on the drawing boards-- never yet has one been built or tested operationally. Saskatchewan people would be the guinea pigs.
  • A second choice is the model from AREVA, a third generation EPR, or Evolutionary Power Reactor. Finland bought one; it was estimated to cost 3 billion euros ($3,838,200,000 US dollars), is already over its initial budget by 1.3 billion euros ($1,660,000,000 US dollars), and is three years behind schedule. The Finnish government is presently seeking $3.8 billion in damages.

Water Supply

Nuclear reactors need a lot of water for cooling purposes. Annually, Edmonton draws 144,758,000 cubic metres from the river, North Battleford 2,930,000 cubic metres. Prince Albert is also downstream and draws an average annual amount of 6,279,778 cubic metres. The source of the water--melting glaciers in the eastern Rocky Mountains--are receding. Will there be enough water available?

Decommissioning

Decommissioning of old and worn out reactors is a complex and expensive process. Nuclear companies set aside modest funds for decommissioning, but generally not nearly enough to cover escalating costs. Saskatchewan taxpayers will likely be called upon to cover the shortfall.

Energy export

We could perhaps make a profit by exporting electricity, but at what cost?

  • Our miners facing a 30% extra chance of cancer in 20 years time;
  • Millions of tonnes of radioactive tailings poisoning our water systems with arsenic, radium, and thorium;
  • Burnt uranium fuel pellets with their 200 deadly chemicals lasting for thousands of years!

We will receive money for the electricity but will also inherit a Pandora's Box of deadly poisons.

The Devil is in these details. The citizens of Saskatchewan need to consider very, very carefully.

By Dr. Bill Adamson, retired member of faculty of the University of Saskatchewan
March 2009.
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