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- Subject: Environment News Service: Canada's Nuclear Industry in 'FinancialMeltdown'
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- Date: Fri, 24 Nov 2000 13:08:13 -0500http://ens.lycos.com/ens/nov2000/2000L-11-23-11.htmlTitle: Environment News Service: Canada's Nuclear Industry in 'Financial Meltdown'
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Canada's Nuclear Industry in 'Financial Meltdown'
OTTAWA, Ontario, Canada, November 23, 2000 (ENS) - A report released this week claims the Canadian government spent 13 times more money on subsidies to the nuclear industry than on renewable energy last year.
Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout (CNP), says that government subsidies to Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) now total C$16.6 billion (US$10.75 billion). The group claims Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's Liberal government backtracked on a promise made in 1996 to dramatically reduce AECL’s subsidies.
Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien. (Photo courtesy Prime Minister's Office)AECL was supposed to receive C$100 million (US$64.7 million) in the fiscal year 1999-2000, but in fact received $156.5 million (US$101.3 million), argues the group.
CNP was launched in 1989 and claims support from 300 endorsing organizations for its campaigns against Canada’s import of plutonium and the export of CANDU reactors. The group researches renewable energy alternatives and is lobbying for a catalogued inventory of nuclear contamination and waste sites.
David Martin, author of the report, called "Financial Meltdown," said tax dollars could have been better spent.
"Tax dollars are too valuable to waste on the failing nuclear industry. AECL’s $156 million subsidy last year could have purchased 50 MRI [Magnetic Resonance Imaging] machines and operated them for a year. Or it could have paid for about 2,200 nurses for one year, or for 12,500 heart operations," said Martin.
Elizabeth May of the Sierra Club of Canada said AECL was in a state of financial meltdown. "The Chrétien government is committed to ongoing nuclear subsidies, but after 50 years of subsidies, it’s high time to call a halt," said May.
AECL's Candu 9 reactor. (Photo courtesy AECL)Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout coordinator Kristen Ostling compared the $156 million spent on AECL with the $12 million in total funding for renewable energy. "For economic and environmental reasons, nuclear power should be phased out," said Ostling.
Martin's report alleges that the government has given AECL financial support that does not show up on its books. This includes $1.5 billion in financing for the 1996 sale of two reactors to China, $120 million for two new privately owned reactors in Chalk River, Ontario, and $38 million for a "bungled" attempt to privatize AECL’s Whiteshell laboratory in Manitoba.
The report demands greater disclosure and accountability for AECL which it says has not filed corporate plans with parliament since 1995.
AECL could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Testing at AECL's Chalk River lab in Ontario. (Photo courtesy AECL)CNP's report was released Tuesday, prior to yesterday's release of an election survey undertaken by a coalition of environment and public interest groups, including CNP, Canadian Environmental Law Association, Greenpeace Canada and Sierra Club.
Parties running for Canada's November 27 federal election were polled on their policy toward the nuclear industry. The poll found the Liberal government would continue funding the nuclear industry and envisages nuclear power as an ongoing part of Canada’s energy mix.
The Canadian Alliance is undecided about whether subsidies should continue and the Progressive-Conservative Party did not respond.
The Bloc Quebecois, New Democratic Party and Green Party believe that federal subsidies to AECL should be halted. All three parties argued against allowing nuclear energy greenhouse gas emission credits under the Kyoto Protocol.
The NDP stated that "for the most part, federal funding for, and subsidies to AECL should be ended by 2002." But it added that "funding for nuclear medicine research, and nuclear diagnostic and therapeutic treatments should be continued."
Both the Bloc and Green parties responded that nuclear subsidies should be redirected towards renewable energy.
© Environment News Service (ENS) 2000. All Rights Reserved.
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