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Where Oh Where Has Our Nuclear Fuel Gone?

960 words - 4 pages

Since the Cold War, members of the international community have looked to nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels and as a solution to the growing need for energy. Nuclear energy has disastrous consequences to its misuse and misconduct such as nuclear winters and sterilization. More alarming still is how nuclear power has become a diplomatic and military means of obtaining prestige on the world stage. As a country whose continent participates in this dynamic, Canada’s international treaties and safeguards with respect to fuel prove contradictive at Chalk River. When we look at the operation history at Chalk River, the task of enrichment it carries out, the economic gains and losses and the possible use and storage of this enriched waste we notice that the principals that Canada claims to abided by prove to be conflicting with their present actions and principals of work.

Canada maintains that it has no attachment whatsoever, historically or contemporary, to any form of nuclear grade waste. It upholds that its intentions are transparent and cognitive. (Robinson, Bill 3) The Canadian government views nuclear energy as a “responsible form of energy which post many benefits to the Canadian economy (Robinson, Bill 3).” In fact it goes so far as to say that it does not sell any Canadian Uranium or Plutonium to countries for weapons. It also asserts that the only reason for its renting of nuclear fuel, to be then given back to the United States, is for the purpose of storage.

Officially the Chalk River complex has been in operation since 1954. However it has been eluded that the nuclear enrichment program, which is now based at Chalk River, has been in Canadian hands since the Manhattan project (1940). Chalk River enriches fuel at one of its facilities an then “the enriched uranium that is sold to the USA for civic use, is then rented to Canada to fuel the NRX research reactor at Chalk River, it then ends up being shipped back to the USA and will actually be use in nuclear weapons.(Interfaith 5)”

As stated in these treaties Canada is charged with supplying nuclear fuel to many counties, infact “as of the seventies the USA has been the destination of the majority of Canada’s Uranium. (Interfaith 8)” On average if we look at all the waste transported from Canada to the United States, nearly 3000 shipments of commercial used nuclear fuel have been transported over 2.5 million kilometers. (The Only Abs. 4) It is generally assumed that the nuclear fuel is simply driven over the boarder. The shipment and transaction of nuclear waste “… is not made by civil servants, but my ministers of Cabinet on an ad hoc basis. (The only Abs.6)”

This also begs the question of who stands to gain from this, originally the 150 million dollar [Chalk River] complex, financed by Canadian taxpayers, is now owned by a private company, MSD/Nordion, and operated by AECL [an American based corporation]. (Maple Reactors) This facility is designed to use 9303...

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