Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Report calls for expanded nuclear industry in Alberta and Sask.

Report calls for expanded nuclear industry in Alberta and Sask.
CBC News // 09/11/08

The fight over the possibility of building an Alberta nuclear reactor has erupted again following the release of a report from the Canada West Foundation.

The report suggests a reactor should be built in either Alberta or Saskatchewan in order to fight global warming and cash in on what the author calls a "nuclear revival" around the world.

Duane Bratt, a political science professor at Mount Royal College in Calgary, wrote the report for the Canada West Foundation, which conducts and communicates non-partisan economic and public policy research of importance to the four western provinces and all Canadians.

Some of Bratt's recommendations include encouraging the governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan to expand the nuclear industry and increase uranium exploration in the two provinces, as well as set up a western Canadian centre for excellence in either location.

Bratt is also calling for ways to streamline the regulatory regime, particularly in the expansion of existing facilities, and put more investment and research into figuring out how to recycle nuclear waste.

"Alberta needs an expansion of electricity. Nuclear power, unlike coal and gas, does not have greenhouse gas emissions and so this is better for the environment by using nuclear source as opposed to the traditional sources," Bratt said.

Nuclear power has a smaller environmental footprint than alternative power sources like solar and wind, he said.

But a group fighting a proposed nuclear project in Peace River, Alta., disagrees with Bratt's assessment.

Ontario-based Bruce Power has filed an application to build four reactors in the Peace River area near Lac Cardinal, about 500 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, in the next decade. The regulatory process could take up to three years.

Brenda Brochu, with the Peace River Environmental Society, said nuclear reactors do have an environmental footprint. Reactors produce highly radioactive waste that can't be destroyed and must be stored for thousands of years, she said.

"Water contamination is extremely serious," she said. "Around here where they want to build the nuclear reactor in the Peace River area, the site is right on top of the Grimshaw Gravels aquifer which provides drinking water to 7,500 households and there's very serious concerns that that aquifer would be completely useless."

Brochu says it would be better to put energy and money into renewable sources of power which are far less dangerous, and can be activated faster than a nuclear power plant.

In April, the Alberta government announced the creation of a four-member panel to help form a policy on nuclear power.

Alberta does not have an official position on nuclear power, so the panel will help the province answer questions on environmental, health and safety issues, and waste management.


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