On Thursday, the Saskatchewan Legislature will debate a motion by Meadow Lake MLA Jeremy Harrison supporting the development of nuclear generation in Saskatchewan. NDP leadership candidate Ryan Meili has issued the following statement.
The Wall government’s uranium resolution falsely frames the debate on nuclear energy and uranium development.
Nuclear power is not a viable solution to Saskatchewan’s energy needs. It is too expensive. It is too risky. It is too slow. We have much better choices.
I am calling on all 20 New Democratic Party MLAs to vote “no” on this misleading motion.
Nuclear power is being sold to us as a means to provide cheap energy, as a means of addressing immediate energy needs, even as a means of protecting our environment.
But none of these sales pitches are based on the facts.
• Nuclear power isn’t cheap. A nuclear reactor is a very expensive undertaking and the people of Saskatchewan will pay for it on their electricity bills for a long time to come, if it is allowed to be built. We pay 10 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity now. Whether its Bruce Power or SaskPower, no one will build a nuclear reactor in Saskatchewan for less than 20 cents per kilowatt hour – double the current price of electricity. That simple fact is why most private sector utilities in the United States have been avoiding nuclear power – they know there are too many hidden costs and that most nuclear power construction projects have huge cost over-runs. Add to that expensive repair bills, the high cost of disposing of radioactive nuclear fuel waste and the very high cost of decommissioning a radioactive reactor core. When compared to wind power at 11 cents per kilowatt hour and electricity conservation at less than 6 cents per kilowatt hour, nuclear power’s economics make no sense.
• Nuclear power puts our environment at risk. Yes, nuclear power can reduce the carbon footprint. But that assumed you ignore the massive carbon emissions involved in building the reactor – particularly if it is built in a remote area. A nuclear reactor will also produce intensely radioactive waste materials which no country on earth has successfully disposed of. Why should the next generation of Saskatchewan residents bear the burden of disposing of this radioactive waste material, with the worry that it must be kept out of ground water supplies for tens of thousands of years into the future.
• Nuclear power doesn’t address our immediate energy needs. Nuclear reactors are not designed and built quickly. Sites are not chosen quickly. Even if the process started today, it would be nearly 20 years before a proposed nuclear facility contributed a single watt to the energy grid.