Friday, September 07, 2007

Radioactive policy

The Globe and Mail goes into more detail about the Cons' plan to put Canada on the hook for international nuclear waste disposal through the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. And the assumptions behind the Cons' current stance show just how problematic their position is.

First, here's Gary Lunn's take:
This week, Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn said he believes it is inevitable that the spent fuel, which contains significant energy potential, will be reprocessed, and then reused by the domestic Candu owners. However, Mr. Lunn denied Canada would be required to accept imported waste under the global partnership agreement.
Once again, it's worth highlighting what the Cons are willing to assume for the sake of signing on to the nuclear deal. Lunn's view is based on the assumption that as-of-yet nonexistent technology to reprocess nuclear waste will "inevitably" turn up in time to avoid the requirement to dispose of the waste otherwise. And if that doesn't happen...well, it's inevitable, so why worry?

Compare this to the Cons' stance on Kyoto, where they can't repeat often enough that it's simply impossible to meet international standards where (1) the technology already exists to actually meet Canada's targets, and (2) there are other compliance mechanisms available besides implementing immediate technological change.

Based on that contrast, it's clear that the Cons are as devoted to pushing the increased use of nuclear technology as they are determined to avoid doing anything about global warming. And the former position seems to be downright contagious among the Cons and their provincial allies.

Mind you, Lunn wasn't the only Con to speak out about the nuclear proposal. So let's see what Deceivin' Stephen is concerned about in considering the GNEP:
Mr. Harper told a Friday afternoon press conference in Sydney that he felt no pressure to decide, within a particular time frame, whether Canada should take part in the initiative.

"Obviously, in terms of anything internationally in this, Canada would have two priorities. One is to ensure that our uranium industry and our nuclear industry are not left out of any of the international opportunities that other countries may take advantage of," he told reporters.

"And, at the same time, we would obviously want to make sure that any kind of international agreement or any kind of international co-operation on nuclear energy fully respects the non-proliferation agreements and the non-proliferation objectives that Canada and other major countries have long subscribed to."
That's right: priority one is the almighty dollar, priority two is...basically an excuse for implicit posturing toward Iran, since nothing in the GNEP looks to actually change the non-proliferation regime already in place. And if you're looking for any mention of the risk associated with nuclear waste...well, that's just not a priority as far as the Cons are concerned.

We'll see whether the current public pressure is enough to make the Cons take a second look at their plan. But it seems all too clear that any change would be purely for political reasons rather than because of any recognition that there's some serious risk involved in the GNEP. And that complete disinterest in the obvious downside of a dangerous agreement offers just one more reason why Canadians shouldn't trust the Cons' judgment.

No comments:

Post a Comment