Regina Leader-Post, Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Heated opposition to nuclear option
Sask. Party government vows to proceed 'with caution': Boyd
By Angela Hall, Saskatchewan News Network
The Saskatchewan Party government isn't putting the
brakes on the possibility a nuclear power plant could
come to the province, but its foot is "off the
accelerator," says Energy and Resources Minister Bill
Boyd made the comments Tuesday as the government
released a report that found an overwhelming response
against nuclear power from the people who participated
in the recent public consultation process on the
findings of the Uranium Development Partnership (UDP).
"When I look at this report, it's neither a green
light nor a red light for future uranium development,"
Boyd said. "It's more like a yellow light -- take any
next steps with caution."
Boyd acknowledged the government isn't as warm to the
idea of nuclear power as it was a year ago, citing cost
concerns that have pushed some Ontario nuclear projects
to the backburner. He also emphasized the government
wouldn't participate in any nuclear project that puts
taxpayers at financial risk.
"My foot is off the accelerator, if that's what
you're indicating," Boyd quipped, when asked whether the
government was proceeding cautiously or actually coming
to a stop on the nuclear power issue.
The report compiled by Dan Perrins, who chaired the
consultation process, summarized more than 2,200 written
or verbal responses to the recommendations of the UDP, a
12-person panel struck by government to look at uranium
mining, refining, research, nuclear power and waste
storage. Many people who wrote in or attended meetings
voiced concerns about various aspects of the uranium
industry, with particular emphasis on health, safety and
environmental impacts of nuclear power as well as
Many people also expressed reservations about the UDP
process itself, believing the work of the panel to have
been limited in scope, the Perrins report said.
However, Boyd said even though 84 per cent of the
1,400 responses about nuclear power received in the
consultation process were negative, opinion polls in
Saskatchewan have also shown there's support for nuclear
More work needs to be done for the government to
decide by the end of December on whether to signal the
province is open to nuclear power, the time frame
Premier Brad Wall previously indicated would be
appropriate, Boyd said.
As well, the Perrins report will be submitted to a
legislative committee holding hearings later this month
on how the province can best meet mounting needs for
"I think that we can embark upon any kind of further
consultation process in a fairly aggressive fashion in
terms of polling or focus testing and have it
accomplished by the end of the year to meet the needs of
the premier," said Boyd.
A spokesperson for Bruce Power, the Ontario company
examining the possibility of locating a nuclear power
plant in Saskatchewan, withheld comment Tuesday.
Steve Cannon said officials want to first read the
Perrins report in detail.
The Opposition says the only decision the government
can make on nuclear development by the end of December
is not to proceed, said NDP MLA Sandra Morin, arguing
more time is needed if the Sask. Party wants to do a
comprehensive review of all the options.
The Saskatchewan Environmental Society said it hopes
the government takes the report as a signal to stop
pursuing nuclear power and instead turn its attention to
renewable energy options and energy efficiency, saying
that approach can be more economically attractive than a
"I think the potential is enormous," said Peter
Prebble, the society's director of energy and water
However, Steve McLellan of the Saskatchewan Chamber
of Commerce urged the government to keep in mind the
people who participated in the UDP consultation process
don't represent the views of everyone in the province.
McLellan said the government needs to continue to do
due diligence on the possibility of nuclear power to see
if it's viable, as it studies other options as well.
"They need to move forward because pretty quickly in
this province we're going to turn light switches on and
there's going to be no light. We're not going to have
the power," McLellan said.
Perrins said people who attended the public
consultations shared a desire for more information,
regardless of which side of the issue they were on.
He recommended the government make available to the
public a report outlining all power generation options,
costs and comparisons, as well as a review of all the
current research on the health effects of nuclear power.
Perrins also recommended the government launch a
public information campaign about medical isotope
production, as the province contemplates construction of
a research reactor in Saskatoon.
"The need for better information, I think, would be
something I could say is absolutely present," Perrins