Environmental Protection

Nuclear waste debate reignites

A Nuclear Waste Management Organization plan to ship thousands of spent reactor fuel rods in interim storage in four provinces to a proposed permanent storage site in Ontario has rekindled a decades-long debate about safety. With a decision on the location of the $23-billion project expected next year, scientists continue to study bedrock in the region where the deep geologic facility is likely to be located. [node:read-more:link]

Belgium shutting down reactors

The Belgian government announced Dec. 23 that it has an agreement in principle with a power utility to permanently shut down seven nuclear reactors at two sites by 2025. There have been regional concerns due to a series of temporary shutdowns in recent years at the reactors, some of which date to the 1970s, and the plan now is to start closing them down in 2022 with decommissioning and demolition by 2045. [node:read-more:link]

Coal remains a key climate threat

The International Energy Agency said rising thermal coal consumption by power plants in China, India and the U.S. could mean record global demand once final figures for 2021 are available. The UN agency says coal-fired generation is projected at 10,350 terawatt-hours, up nine per cent from 2020 due to economic recovery which has “pushed up electricity demand much faster than low-carbon supplies can keep up.” [node:read-more:link]

Emissions-free technology still feared

Nuclear reactors are seen as a key factor in the global effort to combat global warming by curbing greenhouse gas emissions but memories of reactor accidents in Japan, Ukraine and he U.S. continue to fuel skepticism and fear. Coupled with upfront capital costs and the advent of wind and solar power sources, which also have critics, are deterring potential investment. [node:read-more:link]

Arctic shipping urged to curb emissions

A UN resolution urging maritime operators to use clear fuels in the Arctic is being widely hailed for its potential to reduce carbon black emissions in the region. The fine particulates from incomplete fossil fuel combustion land on snow and ice, increasing melt rates by reducing the surface’s albedo or reflectivity. [node:read-more:link]

Suzuki stirs up pipeline debate

Noted environmentalist David Suzuki is standing by his weekend speculation that frustration with governments’ handling of climate change could lead to protesters “blowing up” pipelines. After he broached the possibility, there was a flurry of accusations that he was inciting violence, but he countered Nov. 22 that “we’ve come to a time where civil disobedience is what we have to do now — to put our bodies on the line.” [node:read-more:link]

Canadian journalists’ arrest illegal?

A B.C. judge has released two journalists arrested by RCMP at a pipeline protest camp last week. They were released after agreeing to comply with terms of an injunction designed to keep protesters away from a pipeline construction site. A Coastal GasLink lawyer explained that unlike the 27 others arrested, the journalists had a “justified reason to go back.” [node:read-more:link]

World’s largest rainforests still threatened

There was a 22 per cent surge in deforestation of Brazil’s Amazon Basin in the year ended last July, according to the government, which is led by President Jair Bolsonaro, a proponent of more development in the world’s largest rainforest. The government says 12,235 square kilometres were deforested between August 2020 and last July, the most since 2006. [node:read-more:link]

Ontario accused of breaking mining laws

A First Nation in northwestern Ontario is accusing the Ontario government of illegally granting nine mineral exploration permits in traditional territory without consulting them as required by provincial legislation and the Constitution. “When the government issues mining permits behind our backs, that's not reconciliation,” says Grassy Narrows Chief Randy Fobister. “That's destruction.” [node:read-more:link]

No imminent pipeline decision

The U.S. is awaiting the results of an environmental review before making any decisions on the Line 5 petroleum pipeline which carries Canadian products through Michigan, where the state government is bowing to environmental activists’ calls for a shutdown. [node:read-more:link]

Big Oil’s carbon conundrum

Ben van Beurden, the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, is confident that the petroleum giant can achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. However, he says, the company needs its “legacy” oil and gas cash flows to cover the costs of that transition. [node:read-more:link]

The global nuclear power challenge

Some climate scientists and environmental advocates argue that nuclear power is the best hope of addressing climate change because its carbon emissions are limited. On the other hand, critics decry its huge startup costs and the perennial problem of long-term waste management. [node:read-more:link]

PM promises petroleum sector emissions caps

Canada will impose a hard cap on emissions from the oil and gas sector, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today at the global climate summit in Glasgow. Emissions would decrease “at a pace and scale needed to reach net-zero by 2050,” he said, acknowledging that it would be “no small task.” [node:read-more:link]

Coast Guard updates container ship status

The Canadian Coast Guard has confirmed that 109 containers fell from a burning cargo vessel during a storm off Vancouver Island last week. The foreign-registered ship’s owners originally estimated that 40 of the 1,000 on-deck containers had been lost but said Oct. 27 that only two are believed to contain dangerous goods. [node:read-more:link]

Guilbeault tries to calm the waters

Canada's new Minister of Environment and Climate change, Montreal MP Steven Guilbeault, insists that he has no “secret” agenda despite his record as an environmental activitist and pipeline critic. He was responding Oct. 27 to concerns expressed by Alberta Premier Brian Kenney about the federal climate change agenda. “It's a government effort to tackle . . . what many consider one of humanity's greatest challenges,” he said. [node:read-more:link]


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