Tuesday, September 04, 2007

GNEP - Another Facet of SPP?

Until recently, I doubt that most Canadians had ever heard of GNEP, much less thought about it.

But then again, this is another one of Bush's bright ideas, which if you look at it puts Canada squarely in the field of play. Not only are we the United States' biggest trading partner, but we are one of the largest Uranium producers in the world as well.

But, then again, I didn't expect it to pop up as a under the table topic at APEC this week either. In general, I'm a trifle suspicious of our politicians on good days, Harper has always struck me as less trustworthy than most.

Sure enough, CTV observes the following:

Both Harper and Howard could see the GNEP become a major election issue, but to date, the Canadian government's position on the agreement has been a closely guarded secret.

At a briefing last week, one of the prime minister's most senior officials skirted a question on the GNEP.

"It doesn't feature on the APEC agenda, per se,'' said the official. "Whether the initiative has disappeared off the global agenda or the U.S. agenda, I really can't say.''

So ... the short answer is likely that Canada's government is engaging in secretive talks with the United States on this matter, just as they have been doing with the SPP - talks which they either categorically deny, or simply refuse to talk about. Like small children, when politicians go silent on something, you can pretty much bet that they are up to something - and they don't want you to know about it.

A brief perusal of the DOE GNEP site raises some interesting risks. The implication is that countries that produce Uranium would be responsible not just for mining and processing it into nuclear fuel, but also for accepting spent reactor fuel and subsequent reprocessing. This would mean that Canada would wind up accepting the return of a great deal of spent fuel from US reactors - when we have enough difficulties dealing with the waste from our own reactors.

Second, while transporting nuclear fuel rods is dangerous enough, it's comparatively safe when one considers the risk that transporting spent fuel poses.

This "partnership", like so many other things out of the current White House, is not a partnership, but a way for the US to get out of dealing with its own energy waste - by making it somebody else's problem. Even with the potential for positive research and revenue related to developing appropriate technologies, this vaguely spelled out plan raises more questions than it answers.

The silence of the Conservative government in Canada on this matter is neither acceptable or appropriate.

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