Conference Proceedings Paper
NORTHERN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES & THE PROSPECTS FOR NUCLEAR ENERGY
4th International Technical Meeting on Small Reactors - 2016 Nov. 02-04
K. Coates (Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Saskatchewan)
D. Landrie-Parker (International Centre for Northern Governance and Development, University of Saskatchewan)
Northern and remote Indigenous communities face formidable infrastructure challenges, ranging from problems with water quality and housing to high costs of energy. In the latter instance, the difficulties involved with delivering fuel are further complicated by the need to maintain and operate the electrical systems under often-difficult conditions. The prohibitive cost, uncertain supply and often unreliable energy systems make it difficult to capitalize on emerging technologies that could make substantial contributions to improving the quality of life at the community level. Any proposed implementation of small nuclear plants would, of course, require the support of the local population, which is largely Indigenous in the northern regions. Most government or power utilities are unable to feasibly institute small nuclear power plants without the full understanding and concurrence of the local communities involved. This paper reviews the receptiveness of northern Indigenous peoples (northern Saskatchewan, the Yukon, and Northwest Territories) to alternate energy sources, focusing on small nuclear. Interviews with northerners revealed a residual concern about uranium mining that colours attitudes toward small nuclear, but a surprising level of openness to explore alternatives to existing systems. Across the North, energy costs and reliability have become one of the most critical issues facing communities, particularly small and isolated settlements. The research suggests a willingness of northern Indigenous peoples to at least consider small nuclear as a solution to a pressing community need.
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