The StarPhoenix, Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Strong opposition against nuclear power in Saskatchewan: UDP report
By James Wood
REGINA — Public consultations on the government's
Uranium Development Partnership saw an "overwhelming
response" against nuclear power and other aspects of the
industry, widespread concern over health, safety and
environmental impacts and skepticism towards the UDP
itself, according to the report prepared by a former top
civil servant and released Tuesday.
The Saskatchewan Party government said the report by
Dan Perrins will not necessarily halt development but it
does signal the province to be careful in how it
"It's neither a green light nor a red light for
future uranium development," Energy and Resources
Minister Bill Boyd said in a news release Tuesday.
"It's more like a yellow light — take any next steps
with caution. Saskatchewan people are saying, 'Take your
time, get it right, consider all the options.' I think
that's wise counsel."
Boyd has said in the past the government will need
time to study the report and it will be a matter of
weeks before it issues a formal response.
The UDP was appointed by the Saskatchewan Party
government to explore ways to "add value" to the
province's world-leading supply of uranium. Its report
in April recommended a nuclear reactor be incorporated
into the province's energy plans and touted the
possibility of nuclear waste storage, among other
Perrins, formerly deputy minister to NDP premier
Lorne Calvert, was appointed to head public
consultations. Meetings during the spring were dominated
by those raising concerns about nuclear development.
In his report, Perrins said he received 2,263
responses, with some representing multiple submissions
by individuals and organizations.
Of those responses, 1,403 were related to nuclear
power, with 84 per cent of those responses in
opposition. Other major themes, in order of magnitude,
were health, safety and environment concerns, opposition
to nuclear waste disposal and storage, the cost of
uranium development, support for alternative energy
sources, concerns about the UDP report itself and
opposition to current and future mining activities.
Underlying most submissions was a need and desire for
more information from the public, said Perrins in his
"Who provides the information, what information is
provided, how the information is provided and whether it
can be trusted are all questions that people asked
through the process," he wrote.
Along those lines, Perrins makes a number of
recommendations, including that the government develop a
consolidated report on all power generation options for
the province and that SaskPower publicly release any
existing work it has done on the province's power needs.
With Ontario-based Bruce Power eyeing the province
for a potential nuclear reactor, the Opposition NDP has
accused the government of stacking the deck in favour of
nuclear development. While the two sides spar, an
all-party legislative committee will hold hearings this
fall on the province's energy future and its various
options, it was announced last week.
Perrins also calls for the government to commission a
study to review the current research on health impacts
of nuclear power and that that study be made public.
In addition, he recommends that the government
initiate a public information campaign regarding the
production and use of medical isotopes.
The government and the University of Saskatchewan
have already gone ahead in putting a proposal in to the
federal government for a $500-million to $750-million
research reactor that produces medical isotopes, which
was also recommended by the UDP.
Premier Brad Wall and Boyd have said that the
province had to meet a federal deadline for the proposal
and it could be scrapped if there was clearly no
appetite for the project from the public.
Perrins found that there was little support for
uranium research and development but responses were
divided on the issue of medical isotopes.
"Many people who expressed support for the production
of medical isotopes stipulated it should occur without
the use of nuclear fission," he wrote.