Today’s news, entirely too close for comfort:
A report for the provincial government says a nuclear power plant could be in uranium-rich Saskatchewan’s future.
Examining the potential of power generation from uranium was among 20 recommendations in a $3-million report on how the province could develop its radioactive resource.
The power plant recommendation was evaluated in what the report authors described as a “high-level economic and technical analysis,” which concluded that “nuclear could be a competitive power-generation option for Saskatchewan.”
The report identifies nuclear power as a long-range project and suggests that Saskatchewan team up with Alberta to consider “a common power-generation solution for the two provinces by pooling their power needs.”
A nuclear power plant was also viewed by the report authors as a generator of economic activity.
“In addition to providing affordable low-carbon electricity for the province’s residential, commercial, and industrial users, a nuclear power plant would create 700 to 800 long-term jobs,” the report noted.
The report also suggests focusing on further exploration and mining of uranium, as well as more research and development.
The report specifically discourages Saskatchewan from pursuing two value-added ventures related to uranium: producing reactor fuel and converting uranium ore into various subcomponents. Market conditions make those activities not worth investing in, the report said.
In releasing the report, Lyle Stewart, the minister responsible for Enterprise Saskatchewan, said public consultations will take place before a final policy is announced.
“I can assure you that no decisions have been made,” Steward said. “The input received will be considered by the provincial government as part of the decision making process.”
The recommendations were released Friday in Saskatoon. The 136-page report was prepared by a government-funded panel and has been in government hands since March 31.
Kazakhstan poised to surpass Saskatchewan
The panel, chaired by Richard Florizone, the University of Saskatchewan’s vice-president of finance, included nuclear science experts, CEOs from the nuclear industry, as well as representatives from labour and First Nations.
The 12-member group also included a co-founder of the activist organization Greenpeace, Patrick Moore, who is currently associated with a consulting firm.
The panel was asked to make specific recommendations on how to develop Saskatchewan’s uranium industry beyond its current focus on mining.
According to the province, Saskatchewan is the world’s largest producer of uranium, with an output of more than 11 million kilograms of ore per year.
The report recommends Saskatchewan work to ensure its position in the marketplace is maintained. It says the province should encourage more exploration, particularly in light of the emergence of significant competitors.
“Forecasts indicate that Kazakhstan will overtake Saskatchewan as the world’s largest producer this year — and that Australia could overtake it next year,” the report notes.
Also on Friday, Stewart unveiled the schedule for nine community consultation meetings, which would begin on May 19 and end on June 5, 2009.
Alberta doubtless will not be far behind now.
The National Film Board movie, “Uranium” (1990)
“Will CANDU Do?” in The Walrus, September 2006