Tuesday, May 19, 2009

UDP not enough as Bruce Power, Cameco & AREVA invited to public consultations; CIC refusing to release minutes, McKinsey & Company RFP


It’s bad enough the Saskatchewan Party government stacked the Uranium Development Partnership (UDP) with pro-nuclear members and tried selling it to the public as an unbiased cross-section of stakeholders, but now it’s been learned that ten of the organizations represented on the panel have been invited to participate in the Future of Uranium in Saskatchewan Public Consultation Process.

AREVA Resources Canada, Bruce Power, Cameco Corporation, IBEW Local 2067, Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology, Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association, University of Regina, and University of Saskatchewan are among 60 organizations invited to attend a stakeholder conference on May 26 in Saskatoon. The organizations will also have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with the chair, Dan Perrins, to present and discuss their views on the UDP’s findings and recommendations.

It seems the $3 million, 136-page report the panel prepared behind closed doors with the help of pro-nuclear consultant McKinsey and Company isn’t enough and that UDP members should be given the chance to provide more input.

Just as outrageous is the fact that Golder Associates and the Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership (STEP) have been invited to participate as well.

Golder Associates is a consulting firm specializing in ground engineering and environmental services. They have Bruce Power as a client. In March, Golder conducted information sessions for the nuclear power company in North Battleford, Prince Albert and Lloydminster. Allowing Golder to take part in the public consultation essentially gives Bruce Power another voice at the table.

As for STEP it has two board members that were directly involved with the UDP: Keith Brown and Dale Botting.

Brown was the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce representative on the panel and Botting, who is the CEO of Enterprise Saskatchewan, was co-lead of the secretariat that was established by the government to assist the group.

AREVA Canada, Bruce Power, Cameco, Golder Associates and the University of Saskatchewan were singled out for special thanks in the UDP report for providing “information and support” during the course of the panel’s work. It seems their work is not finished.

As public consultation’s go, you might be hard pressed to find another one with less credibility than this one.

According to the website set up especially for the public consultation process (www.saskuranium.ca) members of the public will not be allowed to make a presentation at the community consultation meetings. Discussion instead “will be lead by a facilitator in the five areas covered in the UDP report.”

Community consultations will take place in ten communities across the province, which include Yorkton, Estevan, Swift Current, Regina, Prince Albert, Buffalo Narrows, Lloydminster, North Battleford, Saskatoon, La Ronge.

“A workbook will be made available at each meeting for participants to fill out and provide their comments,” the website states.

Individuals wishing to make a presentation to the chair could be out of luck: “Our priority at this time is for organizations to make a one-on-one presentation to the Chair as we can’t accommodate individual presentations. However, we are not ruling out the possibility of individuals making a presentation depending upon number of requests and the availability of the Chair.”

One of the most disturbing aspects of the consultation process is that prior to each session participants will be subjected to a video presentation by Dr. Richard Florizone, chair of the UDP, giving an overview of the panel’s findings and recommendations.

If Florizone’s video is anything like the 30-40 minute presentation he gave at the press conference in Saskatoon on April 3 when the UDP’s final report was released, it will be nuclear friendly with nary a negative word spoken. That Florizone’s words will be the last thing people hear before discussions begin will surely be to the government’s advantage. It’s naïve to think that this won’t in some way affect the final outcome of the consultation process.

On April 9 the Brad Wall government announced the appointment of Dan Perrins as the chair of the public consultation process, handcuffing him with a mandate focused solely on the findings and recommendations of the UDP report, Capturing the Full Potential of the Uranium Value Chain in Saskatchewan. No other reports, options or alternative viewpoints will be considered. Perrins will draft a report on what he heard from Saskatchewan people, stakeholders and communities by August 31, 2009.

To Perrins’ credit he appears to be more the willing to field questions or concerns.

Responding to a request for information, Perrins said in an email on May 15 that he “put together the invitation list” and “any organization that requests a one-on-one presentation will be accommodated.”

Perrins said facilitators for the sessions “are being arranged through the Dispute Resolution Office, Ministry of Justice” and that he hasn’t “ruled out hearing presentations from individuals if time permits.”

On the subject of Golder Associates and whether they should be allowed to participate, Perrins said: “I want a broad representation of organizations to participate throughout the process. Providing this variety of options for participation does not mean that any one organization’s voice will be privileged over another’s – or over the voices of citizens. I will be reporting on everything that I hear during the consultation process.”

The alarming thing is 10 organizations directly involved with the UDP are being permitted to comment on a report whose findings and recommendations they helped create. These groups have the advantage of having been on the inside. It’s their report that’s being considered, no one else’s. In that regard their voices are already privileged. Furthermore, these groups have had access to UDP records that the public doesn’t. How fair is that?

The Crown Investments Corporation of Saskatchewan (CIC) has not been very forthcoming with details about the UDP’s deliberations.

It remains unclear how many meetings the UDP held from the time it was established on October 20, 2008, to when it disbanded on April 3, 2009. The number of meetings could be as high as seven or eight.

The UDP’s draft work plan and timeline shows the group was tentatively scheduled to meet on October 20, 2008; November 17, 2008; December 19, 2008; January 26, 2009; and March 16, 2009.

According to two records released by CIC on May 4, the group may have met on February 27, 2009, March 11, 2009, and conducted a conference call on March 23, 2009. A final meeting and lunch were held in Saskatoon on April 3, 2009.

During the five month stretch that the UDP were active three separate requests under the province’s freedom of information legislation were made to CIC for copies of the complete agendas and minutes for any meetings it held. With the exception of the inaugural meeting on October 20, 2008, CIC denied access to nearly everything. No minutes for any meetings, other than the first one, have been released.

Additionally, on May 5 CIC advised that access to consulting firm McKinsey and Company’s request for proposals for support services to the UDP was denied. CIC consulted with McKinsey on the request but it appears permission to release the record was not granted.

The government violated The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act by not applying section 8 which is mandatory stating: “Where a record contains information to which an applicant is refused access, the head shall give access to as much of the record as can reasonably be severed without disclosing the information to which the applicant is refused access.”

It would seem that McKinsey’s interests trump the laws of Saskatchewan.

According to its contract McKinsey was hired to “identify, evaluate and make recommendations on potential economic development opportunities from value-added development of Saskatchewan’s uranium industry.” The firm was paid $2.205 million for a few months of work.








4 Comments:

At 10:30 AM, Blogger DC said...

Good overview of a totally unbalanced process. The sad thing is that this conservative government is using the people of Saskatchewan's trust in government to its own advantage. The people of Sask. think that the government will look after them. With great initiatives like medicare in the past the gov. has looked after the people. Now the gov. is really manipulating the people with the help of the right leaning media.
This 10 Billion dollar project is designed to collar the people of Sask. with central power and high energy costs for generations to come...shameful...this investment should be in renewable energy development. This 10 Billion dollar estimate will also balloon to over 20 Billion before this proposed project is complete. Can you imagine 10 Billion invested in renewable energy like wind? We have the chance to be pioneers in the real future of renewable energy but because of greed, short sight, and control issues this is threatened by people who really do not have the true WISDOM to be in leadership positions.

 
At 12:55 PM, Blogger Steve Aplin said...

Joe, I enjoyed reading your well written and well researched article. As a pro-nuclear advocate, I appreciate that you laid out the facts of the consultation process and that your criticism of that process was presented as editorial opinion.

Based on what you present, my own take, for what it's worth, is that the consultation actually was a fairly balanced and solid sounding of opinion. In the area of the uranium supply chain, it just makes sense to me that the major players through the nuclear fuel cycle should be part of the process -- after all, they are the hands-on experts in the field.

I have been present at nuclear consultations in which groups like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club dominated the microphone. In their capable hands, the whole process descends to the level of farce. The Saskatchewan process might have been designed by a nuclear-friendly government, but at least it involved people who know what they are talking about.

DC, I actually CAN imagine spending $10 billion on renewables. And I can see that it would be a massive waste of money. Mankind has used the wind and sun for thousands of years -- until very recently, the entire marine shipping sector was powered solely by wind. As soon as mankind found a better way to propel ships though the water, we dropped wind like a bad habit. If renewables are so great, then start up a sail-powered shipping company and go head-to-head against the fossil-powered incumbents and see if you can make money. For some reason, even with this example, people think wind can out-compete fossil and nuclear in the power generation sector. It clearly cannot and will not. The talk of renewables is pure fashion and political correctness, fueled by wishful thinking. I fear that we will waste many millions (but hopefully not billions) learning that the hard way.

 
At 12:58 PM, Blogger Steve Aplin said...

Joe, I enjoyed reading your well written and well researched article. As a pro-nuclear advocate, I appreciate that you laid out the facts of the consultation process and that your criticism of that process was presented as editorial opinion.

Based on what you present, my own take, for what it's worth, is that the consultation actually was a fairly balanced and solid sounding of opinion. In the area of the uranium supply chain, it just makes sense to me that the major players through the nuclear fuel cycle should be part of the process -- after all, they are the hands-on experts in the field.

I have been present at nuclear consultations in which groups like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club dominated the microphone. In their capable hands, the whole process descends to the level of farce. The Saskatchewan process might have been designed by a nuclear-friendly government, but at least it involved people who know what they are talking about.

DC, I actually CAN imagine spending $10 billion on renewables. And I can see that it would be a massive waste of money. Mankind has used the wind and sun for thousands of years -- until very recently, the entire marine shipping sector was powered solely by wind. As soon as mankind found a better way to propel ships though the water, we dropped wind like a bad habit. If renewables are so great, then start up a sail-powered shipping company and go head-to-head against the fossil-powered incumbents and see if you can make money. For some reason, even with this example, people think wind can out-compete fossil and nuclear in the power generation sector. It clearly cannot and will not. The talk of renewables is pure fashion and political correctness, fueled by wishful thinking. I fear that we will waste many millions (but hopefully not billions) learning that the hard way.

 
At 12:59 PM, Blogger Steve Aplin said...

Joe, I enjoyed reading your well written and well researched article. As a pro-nuclear advocate, I appreciate that you laid out the facts of the consultation process and that your criticism of that process was presented as editorial opinion.

Based on what you present, my own take, for what it's worth, is that the consultation actually was a fairly balanced and solid sounding of opinion. In the area of the uranium supply chain, it just makes sense to me that the major players through the nuclear fuel cycle should be part of the process -- after all, they are the hands-on experts in the field.

I have been present at nuclear consultations in which groups like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club dominated the microphone. In their capable hands, the whole process descends to the level of farce. The Saskatchewan process might have been designed by a nuclear-friendly government, but at least it involved people who know what they are talking about.

DC, I actually CAN imagine spending $10 billion on renewables. And I can see that it would be a massive waste of money. Mankind has used the wind and sun for thousands of years -- until very recently, the entire marine shipping sector was powered solely by wind. As soon as mankind found a better way to propel ships though the water, we dropped wind like a bad habit. If renewables are so great, then start up a sail-powered shipping company and go head-to-head against the fossil-powered incumbents and see if you can make money. For some reason, even with this example, people think wind can out-compete fossil and nuclear in the power generation sector. It clearly cannot and will not. The talk of renewables is pure fashion and political correctness, fueled by wishful thinking. I fear that we will waste many millions (but hopefully not billions) learning that the hard way.

 

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