Monday, April 25, 2011

ELECTION: Canada's Debt Clock Keeps Arolling



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ELECTION: No Surprises - Critical Bay of Fundy Issues Split Along Party Lines

Pic for WikiProject Political parties and poli...Image via WikipediaMany voters are loyal party followers who vote for the same party over and over regardless of the candidate or platform of their party. Some believe that jobs take precedence regardless of the impacts on communities, the risks and the effects on future generations. But others place more value on the character of a candidate, the philosophy of their party, and the future impacts of the actions they pursue.

THE QUESTIONS

We asked all candidates running in New Brunswick Southwest to respond to 3 simple but profoundly important questions and have reported their responses on this blog, Facebook, and Twitter. The responses broke the questions out further to the issue of legislation to protect Head Harbour Passage.

Briefly the questions were:
1. Will you move to decommission Point Lepreau?
2a. Will you continue the current stance and ban LNG tankers from Head Harbour Passage?
2b. Will you pass legislation to preclude the passage of certain ships and dangerous cargoes through Head Harbour Passage?
3. Will you pass legislation to protect important areas like Quoddy/West Isles for future generations?

Several profound and important questions for sure and the answers tell us much about the candidates and their loyalties.

WHO RESPONDED

All candidates except Conservative John Williamson responded.

DECOMMISSIONING OF POINT LEPREAU

If you are concerned about the local, regional, and world impacts of nuclear power, only NDP and GREEN party candidates will move to decommission Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station. The CHRISTIAN HERITAGE PARTY candidate would decommission but consult first. Both candidates from LIBERALS and CONSERVATIVES will continue with the present policy but tried to balance this position by backing alternate energy developments.

BANNING LNG TANKERS FROM HEAD HARBOUR PASSAGE

All candidates agreed to continue the federal stance. It appears that the current position will be maintained by whichever party wins the election and, presumably, that party will have the support of the other parties in the House on this issue. Consequently, this is a non-issue.

PASSING LEGISLATION FOR FUTURE PROTECTION OF HEAD HARBOUR PASSAGE

Only the GREENS and CHP have clearly stated that protective legislation will be enacted. The NDP response was unclear. The LIBERALS will examine future challenges on a case-by-case basis. The CONSERVATIVES did not respond and have not during their time in office. Nor did the Liberals in their time in office before them.

CREATING A MARINE PROTECTED AREA OR MANAGEMENT ZONE TO PROTECT THE RESOURCES OF THE QUODDY REGION.

Only the GREENS have clearly stated that they will pursue protection of the Quoddy area as well as the important outer Bay of Fundy ecosystem. The NDP and CHP responses was unclear.The LIBERALS did not respond to this question. The CONSERVATIVES did not cover this issue in published materials, but they have made no moves in this direction during their terms in office, even though major initiatives have been made to move forward with an MPA or Management Zone.

WHO DO YOU VOTE FOR?

Well it seems clear and there are no surprises here really ...

If you wish to protect the area for the future, only the GREEN PARTY candidate Janice Harvey has made clear statements in this regard on all questions while NDP candidate Andrew Graham, and Christian Heritage Party candidate Jason Farris made clear statements on some of the issues.

If you want to maintain the status quo then choose between the LIBERALS and CONSERVATIVES.

You can review the candidate responses at the following links and presented in the order received.

ANDREW GRAHAM, NDP: http://fundytides.blogspot.com/2011/04/politics-straight-answer-from-ndp-on.html
JANICE HARVEY, Green Party: http://fundytides.blogspot.com/2011/04/politics-straight-answers-from-greens.html
JASON FARRIS, CHP: http://fundytides.blogspot.com/2011/04/politics-answers-on-lng-and-nuclear-in.html
KELLY WILSON, Liberal: http://fundytides.blogspot.com/2011/04/election-nb-southwest-liberal-candidate.html
JOHN WILLIAMSON, Conservative: Did not respond.

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

NUCLEAR ACCIDENTS: Releases of radioactive form of hydrogen from Lepreau spiked in 2008, report says

Environment: Amounts of tritium found in Bay of Fundy still well below federal guidelines
A2
Rob Linke
Telegraph-Journal


OTTAWA - While still well below the government's allowable limits, releases of tritium from the Point Lepreau nuclear plant into the Bay of Fundy were more than six times higher in 2008 than the previous year.


Cindy Wilson/Telegraph-Journal Archive
An overview shot of the work being done in the turbine and generating area at the Point Lepreau Generating Station during the ongoing refurbishment. Mike Buckthought of the environmental group Sierra Club Canada says Canada’s allowable limits of tritium are too high. He authored the report ‘Tritium on Tap,’ which tallied tritium releases based on figures routinely compiled by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.


The amounts spiked to their highest level in 19 years.

NB Power says it was because of the refurbishment underway to extend the life of Atlantic Canada's only nuclear reactor by 25 years.

The plant went offline in the spring of 2008.

Tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen that occurs naturally in tiny amounts.

It is also a by-product of the normal operation and maintenance of heavy-water Candu reactors like Lepreau.

The amounts involved are well below federal guidelines for drinking water or human exposure.

NB Power spokeswoman Heather MacLean said Lepreau's figures were "actually 1/10,000th of the allowable release.

"There is no issue here. Safety is our first priority."

Likewise, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission says the public is not at risk.

"There is no convincing evidence - either from biological experiments, observations of humans following accidental intakes of tritium, or routine surveillance of radiation workers - that doses of tritium, at the levels received in Canada, cause adverse health effects," says the CNSC.

Still, Canada's allowable limits are too high, argues Mike Buckthought of the environmental group Sierra Club Canada.

He authored the report "Tritium on Tap," released Friday, which tallied tritium releases based on figures routinely compiled by the CNSC.

The Sierra Club report lists the Bay of Fundy, the Great Lakes and the Ottawa and St. Lawrence rivers as polluted by "radioactive water."

The report says "large quantities of radioactive water containing tritium are routinely released into the air and the Bay of Fundy, with unknown impacts on people and marine ecosystems."
Lepreau's releases into the bay rose from 300 trillion becquerels in 2007 to 2,000 trillion in 2008.

A becquerel is a unit of radioactivity. If a litre of water has 600 becquerels, it contains 600 tritium atoms decaying every second.

An accidental release of tritium from the Pickering nuclear plant in 1992 also sent 2,000 trillion becquerels into Lake Ontario.

Afterwards, levels of tritium were 600 times higher than normal background amounts at water treatment plants in the Toronto area, said the report.

That still left the levels less than one-tenth of the allowable limit.

The CNSC restricts the amount of radioactive material that can be released from any nuclear facility.

Actual releases are typically a fraction of the allowable limit.

The Sierra Club report focuses on tritium in drinking water supplies such as Lake Ontario and the Ottawa River, where deliberate releases have occurred at the Chalk River research reactor.

The lake has huge nuclear plant complexes in Pickering and at Darlington on its shores.

The CNSC says tritium has been measured for some time in public drinking water supplies in the vicinity of nuclear facilities.

Concentrations are typically in the range of 1.9 to 209 becquerels per litre.

That is a small fraction of the 7,000 Bq/L guideline set by Health Canada and adopted as Ontario's standard.

Environmentalists argue that the nuclear industry downplays the significance of tritium releases because tritium can increase the risk of cancer and birth defects.

Buckthought argued the only real long-term solution to releasing more tritium into the environment is to replace nuclear reactors with renewable sources of electricity.

Sierra Club is also calling for drinking water standards to be revised.

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NUCLEAR FALLOUT: Lepreau one of 3 "local" nuclear reactors that could impact Maine

Point Lepreau is only one of 22 Canadian (Candu) reactors; initial reports indicate the corrosion problems could be endemic to all of these reactors. Candu officials indicate corrosion is occurring at the rate of .1 to .15 mm per year and "at that rate it would take 4 or 5 years before the pipes need to be replaced" (Xinhua News Agency, Jan. 10, 1997, via Lexis-Nexis). One other Canadian reactor, Gentilly 2, is located directly upwind from Maine just south of Quebec, and along with Point Lepreau and the Seabrook facility is one of the 3 other source points of anthropogenic radioactivity having the most likely potential to impact the bioregion of Maine in addition to the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Plant.

From: http://www.davistownmuseum.org/cbm/Rad8a2.html

Saturday, April 23, 2011

ELECTION: Debate report from Quoddy Tides

Five candidates vying for seat in Canadian election on May 2
by Edward French

Five candidates are seeking to replace a longtime member of parliament who is not seeking reelection for the Southwest New Brunswick seat in the Canadian general election on Monday, May 2. MP Greg Thompson has held the position since 1997, and except for when Liberal Harold Culbert defeated Thompson in 1993, after Thompson was first elected in 1988, the Conservatives have held the seat since 1968. Those running in this election are Christian Heritage Party of Canada candidate Jason Farris, New Democratic Party candidate Andrew Graham, Green Party candidate Janice Harvey, Conservative Party candidate John Williamson and Liberal Party candidate Kelly Wilson.

While Thompson was a strong advocate for Canada's position opposing the passage of LNG tankers through Head Harbour Passage to proposed facilities in Passamaquoddy Bay, all five candidates state they would take the same position. They were also asked to respond to questions concerning economic development and the use of pesticides to control sea lice at fish farms.

Jason Farris
Christian Heritage Party candidate Jason Farris of Keswick Ridge works as a website designer and programmer and is an active volunteer in his community. Concerning economic development, he says, "As a primarily rural riding, we have strong ties to the farming, fishing and lumber industries. We need to strengthen these areas and support our local producers. Imports might be a little cheaper, but the long‑term effects of saving a few cents are lost jobs and businesses closing. This in turn means less money in the local economy, which affects us all."
As for the LNG proposals for Passamaquoddy Bay, Farris says, "According to the LNG industry itself, the area in question is unfit for an LNG facility. These tankers cannot transit through Head Harbour without subjecting residents in numerous communities to the 2.2‑mile 'Hazard Zone' defined by the U.S. government that accompany these ships. Using this passage is in violation of the industry's own best safe practices. I choose to err on the side of caution and proper stewardship of our environment."
On the question of the use of pesticides at fish farms, he states, "Where I'm not in commercial fisheries nor do I have experience in this area, I would need to refer to the expert opinions of aquaculturists. I would also seek the council of local fishermen, as I strongly believe they would know more about the real‑world effects of such chemicals."
Farris adds, "Our federal government is wasting our money hand over fist. We need someone who will actually put a stop to the rampant spending and work to pay off our debt. If we keep electing the same people and parties, we will keep getting the same results. People can't complain if they don't demand change. I'm offering an option of morality, honesty and integrity in government."

Andrew Graham
NDP candidate Andrew Graham, a community activist and volunteer, works as a woodworker, carpenter and instrument maker in West Saint John, although he previously lived in St. Andrews.
"We need to rebuild the family farms, the local food supply," he says, along with more processing of fish and farm products, which would include local market initiatives. He also believes the forest products industry needs to diversify beyond just pulp and softwood lumber. "It's too narrowly focused for the swings in the market."
Concerning Canada's opposition to LNG tankers in Head Harbour Passage, Graham says the country should voice its opposition more strongly than it has. "It threatens the fisheries on both sides. The sooner the government can weigh in with more force against it, the better."
As for the use of pesticides at fish farms, Graham says the Bay of Fundy should be viewed as a common resource that is shared. Those who used cypermethrin, a pesticide not allowed for use at fish farms in Canada, showed "a disrespect to other fisheries." He also notes that courts are not forced to impose tough penalties for breaking environmental laws in Canada. He believes that fish farms are trying to grow too many fish in their pens, which hurts other fisheries and makes for a less desirable product. "There have to be more stringent measures so the fisheries and fish farms can work together without threatening the lobster stocks."
He believes the political system is at a crossroads in Canada and has descended into mean-spiritedness, secrecy and manipulation, particularly through the use of attack ads. "It's a dark path that we have to turn away from."

Janice Harvey
Green Party candidate Janice Harvey of Waweig is a PhD candidate at the University of New Brunswick, studying ecological economics and political science. She previously was a leader with the Conservation Council of New Brunswick.
Harvey states, "The Green Party advocates for a conversion of our economy from one that degrades the environment to one that protects it. The most important sector to tackle is energy since our fossil fuel addiction is driving global warming and nuclear power poses unacceptable health, environmental and financial risks. The first priority must be to dramatically cut energy waste." A recent report showed that a $690 million investment in energy conservation in the province would, over 10 years, eliminate growth in electricity demand, create 30,000 jobs, leverage $3 billion in private investment, and dramatically reduce energy costs for homeowners and businesses.
Harvey has been actively involved in the campaign to keep LNG out of Passamaquoddy Bay from the beginning. "I have been to Ottawa lobbying for a federal regulation under the Canada Shipping Act to permanently ban the passage of all dangerous cargoes through Head Harbour Passage. I will continue with that advocacy. In the longer term, however, we need to pursue a protective designation for the Quoddy region, which is one of the most important marine ecosystems on the Atlantic seaboard."
"Toxic chemicals of any sort, including pesticides, should not be allowed to be dispersed in marine waters," she states. "If you don't protect the water you lose what lives in it. In the case of salmon aquaculture, the Fisheries Act has been ignored." She believes that open net pen aquaculture makes sea lice infestations, diseases and the release of thousands of tons of solid waste directly into the coastal waters inevitable. "The only way to solve that problem is to fund the transition of the industry to a closed system sustainable technology."
Harvey supports the free run of alewives up the St. Croix River. She adds, "There needs to be a political voice for a new way of doing things that supports people without destroying the ecological foundations that underpin our immediate communities and beyond. Any party that ignores this imperative is living dangerously in the past."

John Williamson
Conservative candidate John Williamson of St. Andrews served as Prime Minister Stephen Harper's communications director from 2009 until April 2010. He has been active in federal politics throughout his life.
He states, "The most important issue in this election is jobs and the economy. A newly elected Conservative government will continue to lower taxes paid by families and businesses to maintain jobs and create new ones. The other parties all propose higher taxes, which will hurt job creation and put our economic recovery at risk. To ensure the recovery continues, we should fulfill the prime minister's economic plan by focusing spending on infrastructure programs that create jobs today; reducing taxes on working families; and lowering taxes on businesses so they can create jobs (higher taxes, for example, will not help a company like Connors compete in a tough international market)."
Williamson says he would advocate for Canada to continue its opposition to LNG tankers sailing through Head Harbour Passage. "And voters should realize the only political leader in the House of Commons to oppose LNG tankers in Head Harbour Passage is Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and the New Democratic leader Jack Layton have failed to take a firm public position against LNG traffic in Canadian waters. This is because they think it is an unimportant local concern when it is really an issue of Canadian sovereignty. In addition, they do not understand the negative impact it will have on the fisheries."
Concerning the use of pesticides at fish farms, he says, "The biggest problem is the illegal use of pesticides that threaten the traditional fisheries, and we need government officials to enforce existing regulations. Aquaculture provides jobs and opportunity, but it must coexist alongside the traditional fisheries, which similarly provide a living for many hard-working families. With proper enforcement of the rules and greater use of well‑boat treatment, we can manage this resource in a way that reduces its environmental footprint."
Williamson states, "Only the Conservative Party is committed to repealing the failed, costly long‑gun registry. We believe laws that are designed to make Canadian streets safer should target criminals, not law‑abiding farmers and duck hunters living in rural Canada."

Kelly Wilson
Liberal candidate Kelly Wilson of Beaver Harbour previously worked as director of the John Howard Society and was a small business owner. She volunteers in many community projects and programs, including ones involving youth and women at risk and eastern Charlotte County flood relief.
Concerning the high unemployment rate in the area, she says she would work with the Enterprise Network in the province for labor market information concerning what industries would be interested in moving to the area. She notes that high unemployment rates for youth also need to be addressed, and she would want to address the cuts in grants to the province from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency for silviculture projects.
Wilson would advocate for Canada to continue to oppose having LNG tankers sail through Head Harbour Passage and is opposed to LNG terminals in Passamaquoddy Bay.
She has met with one of the larger aquaculture firms to speak about the use of pesticides, and she says the industry, in other areas, has been using alternative products to control sea lice outbreaks so that there is no impact on the local environment. "I don't support using harmful products," she says, adding that the fish farming industry is heavily regulated. She notes that if the use of pesticides is harmful to the environment, the fish farmers would be hurting themselves.
Wilson says the Liberal platform includes a new strategy to address poverty in the county, a national affordable housing framework to help the poor, and a "Rural Canada Matters" strategy. She notes that this area has been affected by cuts by the present Conservative government, including in the areas of rural postal service, the forgiving of debt for doctors and nurses, and high-speed Internet access.


April 22, 2011


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ELECTION: NB Southwest Liberal candidate responds to questions on Point Lepreau NGS, LNG in Quoddy, and MPAs

I am pleased to provide the following responses from Liberal candidate Kelly Wilson.

QUESTION 1. Will you oppose the development of heavy industry, specifically LNG terminals, in Passamaquoddy Bay by prohibiting the passage of LNG tankers through Head Harbour Passage?

Response to Question 1
I will oppose any LNG tankers through Head Harbour Passage or in the Passamaquoddy Bay.

QUESTION 2. Head Harbour Passage/ West Isles has been identified as an important and special ecological area of Canadian Significance. Will you pursue the establishment of a Marine Protected Area or some other type of management zone at this location to protect it from unsuitable and unsustainable future developments while honoring the traditional fishery, small-scale shipping, tourism and light manufacturing that currently exists? 

Response to Question 2
I will honor the traditional fishery, small-scale shipping, tourism and light manufacturing that currently exists in the Head Harbour Passage / West Isles. I will examine anything else that comes up when it arises, however will not support LNG tankers.

QUESTION 3. Since nuclear development has been clearly demonstrated to be the single most destructive force on this planet, will you strive for the immediate decommissioning of the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station?
Response to Question 3
I will not support the decommissioning of Point Lepreau, however I will support other research and development into greener energy projects in NBSW such as tidal, wind, solar and biomass.

All of my answers may not be what you want to hear. But I am trying to be very honest with you. I will speak for the best of the riding and the province as a whole. I do not feel at this time that the province of NB wants to see Point Lepreau decommissioned. We need this as a power source for our province.

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NUCLEAR: Chornobyl: 'Nothing To Worry About! ... the authorities tried to show the world that everything was normal.

Chornobyl Through The Eyes Of A Ukrainian Schoolgirl

Natalia Churikova (right) with her stepfather Oleksandr Pavlenko and mother Valentyna Pavlenko on holiday in Crimea in 1987.
Natalia Churikova (right) with her stepfather Oleksandr Pavlenko and mother Valentyna Pavlenko on holiday in Crimea in 1987.
April 23, 2011
By Kristin Deasy
A quarter of a century ago, 14-year-old Natalia Churikova was enjoying the outdoors in Kyiv the day after the Chornobyl disaster, unaware that every breath of fresh spring air she inhaled contained harmful radiation. The sun was out, she says, the sky was blue, "it was a perfect day."

Things were great until a phone call came later that evening that left her stepfather looking "very worried," says Churikova, who now works as a broadcaster for RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service.

Her father, she recalls, hung up the phone and looked at his daughter.

"He said, 'Look, we all need to take a shower,''' Churikova says. "I said: 'Why? I want to go to bed. I'm tired. I'm too tired to go to shower.' He said, 'Look, you do need to take a shower because there was some kind of an explosion at a nuclear plant not far from Kyiv, and you need to take some kind of precaution.'"

Churikova says that this was "first time I heard the name of Chornobyl, and it was the first time I heard about radiation."

The deadly accident at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant on April 26, 1986, released huge amounts of dangerous radiation into the air, contaminating millions and leading to the relocation of more than 300,000 people.

Thousands of children were born with birth defects or complications such as genetic cardiac disease, with scientists expecting that thousands more could still die from radiation-induced cancer.

Kremlin Kept Quiet

The Chornobyl site is now surrounded by a 30-kilometer exclusion zone where people are forbidden to live. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited the affected area on April 20 to mark the event's upcoming anniversary, which comes in the wake of the nuclear catastrophe at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant.

At the Chornobyl site, UN chief Ban Ki-moon called for "full transparency" from governments during such disasters.

Describing his visit as an "extremely moving experience," Ban also pushed for new international standards that would hold countries accountable for nuclear safety, calling on governments to implement better information sharing and stressing the need for "full transparency."

Transparency was not on the agenda in Soviet-era Ukraine when the Chornobyl disaster struck. Information was kept to a minimum as the Soviet government in Moscow appeared more concerned with protecting its reputation than protecting its citizens. In the crucial early days after the explosion, the authorities did their utmost to cover up the immensity of the disaster.

Churikova's family knew about the incident more quickly than many Ukrainians, thanks to her father's ties to the military. At the same time, the lack of information led to an atmosphere of intense paranoia in Kyiv, which is located just 100 kilometers south of Chornobyl.

For the latest news on an event that happened so close to home, Churikova says everyone relied on foreign media -- collectively referred to as "the voices" in Soviet Ukraine.

One day, while listening to foreign radio broadcasts in the hopes of learning more about what happened, the inquisitive 14-year-old heard an announcement that high levels of radiation had been detected in Sweden.

"Then I thought, 'Oh gosh, I didn't wash my hair in vain if they have radiation somewhere in Sweden -- that's very far from Kyiv,'" she says.

'Nothing To Worry About'

Basically, the authorities "tried to show the world that everything was normal," Churikova says, adding that they even "organized a cycling championship in Kyiv" in which people were expected to take their bicycles out and spend time outside. But she says people were already trying to escape the city.

Widows of Chornobyl victims attend a memorial ceremony in Kyiv in 2007.

The government appears to have spared no effort in convincing citizens to stay. Churikova says the 6-year-old grandson of Ukraine's then-Communist Party leader, Volodymyr Shcherbitskiy, was paraded around the capital as part of the annual May Day festivities in an effort to calm panic-stricken parents.

Meanwhile, rumors circulated about the best ways to offset the contamination. Churikova's grandmother would slip iodine into her food in one popular treatment that turned out to be largely ineffective.

People would believe almost anything. They were "drinking red wine," she says, "believing that it was cleaning the system because they have heard that Soviet submarine sailors, they were given red wine as part of their daily diet to clean the system from the radiation."

"But some people," she adds with a laugh, "took it further and they just decided that any alcohol will do the job."

The authorities, for their part, joined the rumor mill by airing TV segments with "so-called experts," Churikova says, who would appear on screen "and with a straight face explain that small doses of radiation were beneficial for rats' health."

Churikova says the reasoning went that "it could be beneficial for human health, too."

However, the charade convinced no one. Fear abounded in Kyiv and a new word, "radiophobia" was being used to describe the panic setting in.

"I've heard stories of people sending [off] their children," Churikova says, "packing them away into trains with notes that [said], 'Here is the name of my kid, take care of him.'"

Churikova went to Crimea on Ukraine's Black Sea coast. She later left Ukraine to study in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Chornobyl's Children

The children who were in Chornobyl at the time of the accident, meanwhile, were the subject of an international campaign aimed at providing them with world-class medical treatment abroad -- something that worried the Soviet authorities, who were then fearful of foreign influences.

Ukrainian children and adults, some of them victims of the Chornobyl accident, undergo medical treatment at a hospital in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk.

The Chernobyl Children International project, an Irish-led initiative, which was eventually brought under the wing of the United Nations, ultimately provided 21,000 children with some form of medical treatment.

Churikova herself accompanied a group of them to Australia. She says this encounter with the non-Soviet world produced "a whole generation" of young people who were less easily persuaded by the Soviet narrative.

But at the time, Churikova wasn't thinking about the geopolitical ramifications of the disaster. She was more concerned about losing one of her favorite T-shirts because of the radiation, explaining that as soon as they arrived after traveling to a city far from Chornobyl they were taken to a medical facility for testing.

The clothes they arrived in had to be destroyed because they had accumulated too much radiation, she says, recalling, "I had a beautiful blue T-shirt, acrylic T-shirt, which I had to say goodbye to."

Beloved personal belongings were just the beginning. In the end, the victims of Chornobyl had to part with much more, as some saw the disaster take their very lives.

RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, as well as correspondents Grant Podelco and Pavel Butorin contributed to this report

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EXTINCTION OF THE ALEWIFE: Maine Group steps up where Commissions have failed.


For years, I and others have been concerned that the State of Maine moved to exclude alewives from the international St. Croix River in order to satisfy the personal greed of a few bass fishing operations located upriver. So I am please to see this group of alewife fishermen and environmentalists step up to the plate on behalf of this important environmental and economic resource. Their lawsuit is the first concrete effort made to resolve this issue and I applaud them!

What I am not thrilled about is the failure of the St. Croix International Waterway Commission under the directorship of Lee Sochasky AND the International Joint Commission to affect this change. Both of these groups have spent thousands and thousands of taxpayers dollars, ostensibly to protect the resources of the St. Croix River and have publicly touted themselves as champions of alewife runs in the St. Croix River. But there has been no effective change or result from any of these so-called initiatives. After a while this wears thin for some of use who have been effectively blocked from making efforts to move this forward and participate in this issue. Makes one wonder what their real agenda is?

My opinion this morning. Art
****************************

Environmentalists and Fishermen Bring Earth Day Challenge of A Maine Law That Blocks River Herring from Native Habitat

St. Croix River Alewife population has plummeted by over 90 percent

PORTLAND, ME – Fishermen and river herring advocates are challenging a 2008 Maine Law that unconstitutionally blocks alewives and river herring from 98 percent of their native habitat in the St. Croix River Basin. Two Maine fisheries officials responsible for placing physical barriers called “stop logs” that prevent fish from migrating past the Grand Falls Dam on the St. Croix River are named in the suit filed today in U.S. District Court.

The 2008 Alewife Law directs Defendants Norman H. Olsen, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources, and Chandler E. Woodcock, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, to eradicate alewives and blueback herring from their historic spawning and nursery habitat in the St. Croix River basin.

“What the Maine legislature did in response to a few shrill voices is absolutely unconscionable as well as in total violation of the Clean Water Act,” said Ed Friedman, Chairman of Friends of Merrymeeting Bay, one of the plaintiffs. “Neither other fish species dependant on river herring nor the endangered Gulf of Maine groundfishing industry can afford the continued collapse of St. Croix alewives. We need healthy rivers to maintain a healthy Gulf and alewives make that connection.”

Attorney Roger Fleming with the public interest law firm Earthjustice and Attorney David Nicholas are representing Friends of Merrymeeting Bay, Douglas H. Watts, Captain Edward “Ted” Ames, and Kathleen McGee.

“Alewives and river herring are vital cogs in the wheel of the Atlantic Ocean ecosystem,” said Ted Ames, recently awarded a Macarthur Fellowship for his groundbreaking research on near-shore fisheries ecology. “My research shows that these fish played a critical role as forage for near shore populations of cod and other commercially valuable groundfish population. We must find ways to restore and protect them.”

“This law is like ordering that cardinals, bluebirds and chickadees be eradicated from Maine,” said Doug Watts, a wildlife photographer who has captured images of alewives for years.

This case specifically challenges a 2008 Maine law ordering Maine fish and wildlife officials to prevent alewives from migrating past the Grand Falls Dam. Prior to implementation of a similar law in 1995, the St. Croix River contained perhaps the largest population of alewives in North America and now only a small remnant remains. The law was put in place at the request of sport fishermen who catch non-native species of bass in that area with the mistaken belief that alewives were negatively affecting their Maine’s upstream sport fisheries.

“Good law is based on sound fact,” said Fleming. “Law also needs to be consistent with the U.S. Constitution. Maine missed on both counts here.”

“A vibrant Maine economy requires a healthy environment which, in turn, necessitates biodiversity in our rivers,” said Kathleen McGee. “The St. Croix must be opened to alewives to assure strong economic and environmental vitality.”

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
Under the U.S. Constitution, the 2008 Alewife Law is preempted by the federal Clean Water Act which establishes strict requirements for maintaining and changing water quality in our nation’s waters. Maine’s actions have caused the St. Croix River alewife populations to plummet from recent high of 2.6 million fish 1987 to only a few thousand fish today.

Alewives are ecologically, economically, historically, and culturally important to the St. Croix River basin and the entire Gulf of Maine ecosystem. The St. Croix River once produced the largest population of alewives in New England. Today, however, only a small fraction of that former population is found in a short section of the St. Croix River. Alewives play a keystone role in the river and coastal ocean ecosystem, serving as food for many other species of fish, marine mammals, and birds. They are fished for by commercial and recreational fishermen, and are valuable to fisherman and related coastal economies as bait for lobster and recreational fishermen, and as forage for commercially valuable species like cod, halibut, and tuna.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

HILARIOUS: POINTLESS UPSTAGES IGY ... FABULOUS PR!

Without a doubt one of the best photographic political satires ever ... send it on!!!


Photo credit: http://www.facebook.com/sharonmurphyflatt
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POLITICS: LePage wants to re-establish child labor.

LePage wants to re-establish child labour? Is there no end to this guy's darkness?


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NUCLEAR: Harper makes no mention of Lepreau on N.B. visit

Stephen Harper, Canadian politicianImage via WikipediaCBC News
Posted: Apr 21, 2011 8:28 AM AT
Last Updated: Apr 21, 2011 8:28 AM AT

N.B. Premier David Alward said Stephen Harper privately promised him that if re-elected, he would talk about compensating the province for delays at Point Lepreau. (CBC)

Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff both campaigned in New Brunswick on Wednesday, but only Ignatieff was talking about compensation for refurbishment delays at the Point Lepreau generating station.

Atlantic Canada's only nuclear reactor was supposed to be back generating power by September 2009 after the $1.4-billion refurbishment project was completed. The project is now $1 billion over budget according to N.B. Power officials, who hope the plant will be generating power by the fall of 2012.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff said he supports nuclear power and on Wednesday he repeated his promise that if he wins the election, he will negotiate some kind of settlement for the Lepreau delays by Atomic Energy of Canada.

"The government of Canada has responsibilities in respect of AECL and we have to shoulder our responsibilities," said Ignatieff.
Harper quiet on Lepreau

During his visits to Fredericton and Edmundston, Conservative leader Stephen Harper talked about government funding for a new Fredericton YMCA and the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, but made no public mention of Point Lepreau.
'You know you just can't, carte blanche, snap your fingers and say 'we're going to do this' before you know what the hell you're doing.'—Keith Ashfield, Conservative candidate

However Premier David Alward said Harper told him in a private conversation on his campaign bus that he is prepared to look at a full costing of the delays and talk about the issue.

"We are looking to be able to provide him with that information," said Alward. "He realizes that and he is open to discussing, and we will be getting that information to him."

Conservative candidate Keith Ashfield said voters shouldn't expect his leader to make any promises about Point Lepreau during the election campaign.

"You know you just can't, carte blanche, snap your fingers and say `wer'e going to do this' before you know what the hell you're doing," said Ashfield. "So we have to have all the information, and we'll see what happens after the process has taken place."

Alward said in his view, Harper's private promise matches Ignatieff's public commitment to do the same.

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NUCLEAR: NB: Liberals support nuclear power: Ignatieff

Michael IgnatieffImage via WikipediaNB: Nuclear power will provide energy baseload, but more renewable needed: IgnatieffPublished on April 21, 2011Staff ~ The Canadian Press

[SAINT JOHN, NB] - Michael Ignatieff says he supports nuclear power, but a Liberal government would do more to harness renewable energy, including New Brunswick tides.

Speaking in Saint John, N.B., Ignatieff was asked about nuclear power as a protester wearing a white, papier-mache elephant head stood behind him.

The protester wore a sign reading, “Pointless Lepreau,” referring to Point Lepreau, Atlantic Canada's only nuclear power plant, where a refurbishment project is three years behind schedule and $1 billion over budget.

Ignatieff says the crisis in Japan has people waking up to the risks of nuclear power, but he adds that it has helped keep the lights on safely in Canada for 50 years.

He says he would like to see it continue to provide some of the baseload of energy generation, but with a greater focus on renewables such as solar, wind and tidal power.

Ignatieff says he would also talk with premiers about improved interprovincial energy-sharing.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

ENVIRONMENT: Conservatives Flunk the Environmental Report Card

Just in from Sierra Club Canada:
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Sierra Club Canada releases its 2011 Federal Election Environmental Report Card


OTTAWA - In response to an overwhelming demand from members and supporters, Sierra Club Canada is today releasing its 2011 Election Report Card.
The five major parties are awarded grades based on their platforms, statements and actions.


The final grades are as follows:
Green Party: A
NDP: C+
Bloc: C
Liberals: C-
Conservatives: F
"Using and online survey tool, we asked our members what action we should take in the election," said John Bennett, Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada. "Over 1000 people responded in less than 48 hours - a strong majority of them requesting we provide information based on fair and accurate comparisons of the environmental positions of the parties."
The first draft of the Report Card was emailed to 12,000 supporters on Sunday, April 17 for their review and input.
"The feedback we received helped make the report card a much stronger document," said Bennett. "We have never seen such interest from our supporters. They are clearly disappointed the environment is not being discussed in this election."
The Election report Card was produced by experts, volunteers and staff from across Canada. The information provided by the parties was fairly compiled, scrutinized and judged against what needs to be done to protect Canada's natural environment.
The report card was not intended to be a comprehensive review of all the environmental issues of concern to Sierra Club Canada, but based on environmental policies touched on by the parties in this election.
"The report card was truly a cooperative, participatory effort from beginning to end. I want to thank everyone involved," said Mr. Bennett. "We look forward to the next opportunity to engage our grassroots supporters. They are a wealth of knowledge and an inspiration to us."
John Bennett, Executive Director
Sierra Club Canada
jb@sierraclub.ca
(613) 291-6888



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Monday, April 18, 2011

POLITICS: Algonquin, LNG, Lepreau: Hot topics in N.B. Southwest

Published Monday April 18th, 2011

Debate | Candidates lock horns to win seat formerly held by retiring MP Greg Thompson
A4
By CHRIS MORRIS
The Daily Gleaner

The future of the iconic Algonquin Hotel, liquefied natural gas tankers and cost overruns at the Point Lepreau refurbishment were some of the topics that ignited sparks in a spirited all-candidates debate on Sunday for the federal riding of New Brunswick Southwest.


The Daily Gleaner/James West Photo
Lots to talk about: Above, from left, are the New Brunswick Southwest candidates: Janice Harvey, Green party; John Williamson, Conservative party; Kelly Wilson, Liberal party; Andrew Graham, NDP; and Jason Farris of the Christian Heritage Party.

Five candidates are in the running for the riding, which had been represented for years by Conservative MP Greg Thompson until his retirement from politics last month, when the writ was dropped for the May 2 election.

Conservative candidate John Williamson, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's former communications director, appealed to voters "not to change horses in mid-stream," cautioning that the federal Tories still have much to do to secure the nation's economic recovery.

Liberal candidate Kelly Wilson, Green candidate Janice Harvey, NDP candidate Andrew Graham and Christian Heritage candidate Jason Farris urged voters to consider their positions on issues ranging from family values and climate change to the need for a pro-life, Christian point of view in Parliament.

The all-candidates debate held in Fredericton was the third in a series of 10 hosted by the Telegraph-Journal and broadcast by Rogers Television. It will be aired at 9 p.m. on Wednesday on Rogers TV.

A question as to whether Ottawa should help finance the troubled, provincially owned Algonquin Hotel in St. Andrews took all of the candidates by surprise.

Williamson said it wouldn't be wise for one level of government to bail out a Crown business owned by another.

"If we go down that path, it would take us back to the 1970s and the days of high taxes and high spending," Williamson said.

Wilson called the hotel "iconic", but warned "there are other companies in dire need" in the riding.

Only Harvey thought there may be a role for Ottawa in the Algonquin, complaining that the federal government has chronically under-invested in heritage in New Brunswick while it has put money in historical institutions in other provinces, including Nova Scotia.

The 122-year-old hotel and golf course is being put up for sale after the Fairmont hotel chain announced it won't renew its management contract at the end of the year. The resort needs between $15 million and $20 million in renovations and repairs, money the province said it can't afford.

There was unanimity from all candidates on the question of whether supertankers carrying liquefied natural gas should be banned from Passamaquoddy Bay - an issue that gained prominence in recent years with several U.S.-based proposals for LNG terminals on the Maine side of the bay.

"It would be too dangerous," Graham said. "And no one in Maine wants it, so why would we?"

Williamson said the LNG concern is another reason voters should support him, pointing out how Thompson was able to make the tanker issue a policy matter for the Harper government.

The federal Tories have said they won't permit tankers to cross the Canadian waters of the bay.

"This is why it's important to elect an MP who can get things done," Williamson said. "Other federal leaders have treated this as a local issue."

But Harvey said the Harper government has failed to pass any regulations that would prohibit the tankers.

"Your party has not put its money where its mouth is," she said to Williamson.

As well, Harvey said the outer Bay of Fundy should be protected from all heavy industrial development, possibly through designation as a marine conservation area.

On the question of whether Ottawa should pick up the tab for cost overruns at the overdue and over-budget Point Lepreau nuclear plant refurbishment, Williamson pointed out that the federal government already is spending a great deal of money supporting Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. and the extra costs it has incurred at the Lepreau re-tooling.

He said AECL is a poorly run corporation.

"AECL should be held more accountable for cost overruns," he said. "A reckoning is overdue."

Wilson said it's not right that AECL is refusing to be fully accountable for its delays after using the New Brunswick plant as a training ground for refurbishments in other countries.

"New Brunswickers should not be on the hook for the cost overruns," she said.

Both Harvey and Graham said it's time to pull the plug on Lepreau and begin the decommissioning process.

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POLITICS: Answers on LNG and Nuclear in SW NB from Jason Farris, CHP


QUESTION 1. Will you oppose the development of heavy industry, specifically LNG terminals, in Passamaquoddy Bay by prohibiting the passage of LNG  tankers through Head Harbour Passage?

Canada needs to defend its territory and protect its environment. This includes the ecosystem in the waters of Head Harbour and Passamaquoddy Bay. According to the LNG industry itself, the area in question is inherently unfit for an LNG facility. There is no way LNG Tankers could transit through Head Harbour without subjecting residents in numerous Canadian and American communities to the 2.2-mile “Hazard Zone” defined by the US Government that accompany these ships. Using this passage is in violation of the industry’s own best safe practices. While I’d like to heard more on this subject from both sides, I choose to err on the side of caution and proper stewardship of our environment.

QUESTION  2. Head Harbour Passage/ West Isles has been identified as an important and special ecological area of Canadian Significance. Will you pursue the establishment of a Marine Protected Area or some other type of management zone at this location to protect it from unsuitable and unsustainable future developments while honoring the traditional fishery, small-scale shipping, tourism and light manufacturing that currently exists? 

I'm a big fan of local, small-scale farming and fishing. I grew up around it and I believe it's extremely important to our society. I would definitely be in favour of protecting the Head Habour Passage from future large-scale development. Our world is all we have, and we need to act responsibly when using it.

QUESTION 3. Since nuclear development has been clearly demonstrated to be the single most destructive force on this planet, will you strive for the immediate decommissioning of the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station?

This is a huge issue, especially at this time in the world with the incident in Japan. NB Power is apparently losing $1 billion every day that the plant is offline. There has been a large sum of money already poured into the plant, yet it still isn’t finished. The question becomes, when do we suck it up and take a loss before we go further into debt? On having nuclear power in this province in general, I suppose I look at it like this... are the risks worth the benefits? It’s easy to say yes when things are good and jobs are on the line, but what if we had a situation like Japan? Would we be so quick to support nuclear power? Ok, so we’re not earthquake prone, I’ll give you that. (Though stranger things have happened.) But consider that if something ever did occur, none of the alternative power sources have the potential to contaminate massive areas of land for decades and to deliver chronically debilitating doses of radiation. What if we never even have a problem with the reactor? You still have to consider that nuclear power plants produce lethal toxic waste that must be isolated from nature and civilization for, well, pretty much all time. This is not good stewardship of our land. I would speak at length with the residents of this riding before making any final decisions, to hear all sides, but my personal opinion is yes, I would support the decommissioning of the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station. I would further encourage the development of clean, safe technologies and push for incentives to stimulate research into energy and pollution. This decision, however, would include a loss of jobs for our residents. Therefore, for those affected I would push to make retraining available in alternative power technologies and renewable energies, and provide interest-free loans to those that need them. Change is inevitable, but we can learn and adapt to make that change into something positive. 
 If you need any specific bio info on me, you should be able to find everything you need at http://www.jasonfarris.ca/candidate/candidate-bio/ My website is www.JasonFarris.ca and my public phone number is 1-888-527-5566. Thanks very much. Jason Farris New Brunswick President CHP Canada

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

NUCLEAR LOBBIES: Getting NB provincial politicians onside for decommissioning of Point Lepreau NGS will be a tough sell.

In spite of the rocky history of the Point Lepreau NGS which has included labour conflicts, questionable construction practices, reported sabotage, leaks, planned releases of radionuclides, questionable geological issues, inadequate monitoring, recent delays in refurbishment and a cost overrun of a billion plus dollars, it is unlikely that provincial politicians will lobby for decommissioning without a huge push from the concerned and knowledgeable citizens that will be affected by this untried and untested refurbished Candu reactor. And, as the Japanese and Russian and other nuclear disasters have shown, the affected citizens are not just those that live in the immediate vicinity of this reactor ... they include the citizens of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Maine and New England ... everyone who lives and draws their livelihood from the waters of the Bay of Fundy, Gulf of Maine and Scotian Shelf and the world ...  should a major event occur resulting from unforeseen or unpredicted events, including terrorism.

As is happening around the world, it is only by the actions of citizens that any change will be affected. Over 30,000 concerned citizens rallied to prevent the sale of NB Power to Hydro Quebec. The passion that was shown was truly amazing. Yet, when all is said and done, the ownership of NB Power will have little or no impact on our planet. However, nuclear events are already having serious global impacts. Yet people are hesitant to show as much passion for the destruction of their planet as they were over who owns a small public utility. It is, most say, all about jobs. OMG, we would destroy our planet for jobs that can be replaced by sustainable, environmentally friendly alternate energy sources.

The answer is for us to educate ourselves about the true dangers of radionuclide releases into our environment and to ban together by the thousands to get the attention of our politicians and force them to rethink their nuclear position at Point Lepreau NGS, as well as other Canadian and global nuclear sites.

Please join "No Candu" and add your voice to the plea to roll back our dependence on nuclear power generation while keeping in mind the value of nuclear techniques in medicine and science. We will continue to offer the information that people need to make informed judgements.

Join the "No Candu Group" at: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_203254803041614&ap=1

For a recent view of the position of NB politicians, review this article just out:
N.B. politicians united in call for Ottawa to pay extra costs of reactor refit
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NUCLEAR: A Survey of the World's Radioactive No-Go Zones from Der Speigal


Atomic Deserts

By Michail Hengstenberg, Gesche Sager and Philine Gebhardt
The Soviet nuclear testing site in present-day Kazakhstan is just one of many places in the world that remain dangerously radioactive to this day.
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The Soviet nuclear testing site in present-day Kazakhstan is just one of many places in the world that remain dangerously radioactive to this day.
Everyone knows about Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and, now, Fukushima. But what about Semipalatinsk, Palomares and Kyshtym? The world is full of nuclear disaster zones -- showing just how dangerous the technology really is.
Info
Wednesday, Mar. 28, 1979. In the Three Mile Island nuclear power station in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the nightmare scenario of nuclear physicists was about to unfold. At four in the morning, employees in the control room noticed the failure of a pump in the reactor's water cooling loop. When a bypass valve failed to trip, water stopped flowing to steam generators, resulting in an emergency reactor shutdown. But the reactor continued to generate so-called decay heat. A relief valve opened automatically but then failed to close, allowing coolant to flow out at a rate of one ton per minute. The control panel erroneously indicated that the cooling system was functioning normally, meaning technicians initially failed to recognize the problem.
By 6 a.m., the top of the reactor core was no longer covered in cooling water -- and the fuel rods began to melt. At the last moment, a technician noticed the problem and closed the relief valve. A full-scale meltdown was only barely averted.
Still, the series of events had a devastating effect: Not only was radioactivity released into the atmosphere, but contaminated coolant escaped into the nearby river. Cancer rates in the local population later rose dramatically. In addition, large parts of the reactor and the power plant site were contaminated. The clean-up operation in Harrisburg took 14 years and cost more than $1 billion. And the reactor ruins are radioactive to this day.
The case is instructive. It was the result of tiny construction errors and a small dose of human error. And now, as the world watches on in horror as the catastrophe in Fukushima continues to unfold, the debate on the safety of nuclear power has been reignited. The area around Fukushima will likely remain contaminated for decades, if not centuries. And many are once again wondering if the returns from nuclear technology justifies the risks. How can anything be considered under control which can so quickly mutate into an apocalypse?
Sadly, though, disasters like Three Mile Island and Fukushima are not as rare as one would hope. There have been plenty of atomic accidents resulting in significant radioactive leaks, spills and explosions. And the Chernobly Exclusion Zone, for all the attention it gets, is far from the only nuclear no-go area on the planet. A look at some of the worst incidents is enough to demonstrate just how high the price of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons truly is.

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