$1.2 billion misdirected?
The Harper-Trudeau solution to our nation’s nuclear waste overflow – dump it onto a mound, covered by a ‘membrane’ – is going to backfire. Who doubts this? The key question, “What can possibly go wrong with this?”, should tell us both what’s wrong with a giant dump and that it will be us, you and me, our families, and neighbours, who will shoulder those consequences. It won’t be Mr Harper or Mr Trudeau. We live along the river that is to serve as the overflow sewer pipe for this giant radioactive pile.
Not only is this plan incredibly dangerous, faced with inevitable seepage, leaks and outright bursts that have occurred around the world at nuclear waste repositories, but this is the wrong direction for nuclear energy’s future.
In the short term, this is the cheapest, for a year or so, but the fact that this waste is so dangerous and so difficult to manage tells us where our national efforts ought to go.
Rarely is anyone saying we should end nuclear power generation (despite what our heads-in-the-sand MPs accuse us all of wanting). We’re saying we ought to solve the big problems first.
The Trudeau government has just given the Chalk River project $1.2 billion. So much for the savings we get from another public-private partnership. Public-private partnerships have been shown (particularly on highways/ bridges/toll roads) to mean the public pays the bills and the private takes the profits. Look, if it’s our money paying the bills, why the middlemen? Shouldn’t our government and scientists set the priorities and manage the project?
Imagine this: Taxpayer funding of the corporate world is specifically targetted. Targetted toward solving the biggest problem: hot waste that lasts for hundreds of thousands of years. Do that first, then proceed with designing small reactors, safer fission technology, all the rest.
This is an opportunity, not merely a cost. The opportunity comes when we consider that if Canada could design a means of managing nuclear waste in the long-term, Canada will have a much greater ability to market its nuclear energy products, from mini-CANDUs to raw uranium.
Privatization makes this difficult, since the corporate sector is focussed on profit-taking, not long-term expensive ambitions. Most board rooms would be receptive to improved markets for their products . . . but the nuclear-energy industry has convinced itself that there is no solution to safe radioactive waste management, or that any solution would be excessively costly and a public relations challenge. Scientists, technologists, management and investors must realize that without real research and real solutions, nuclear energy will remain disaster-prone, a financial sinkhole, and one public debacle after the next.
Use these taxpayer billions to research and solve the waste problem. Then go ahead developing products like portable reactors which can be sold around the world with a technological safety package. And accusing anti-dump folks of being “against nuclear power” ought to stop. We’re against power that produces lifetimes of highly radioactive waste.