It’s been a while since I posted, but when I started to write this blog, Japan had not experienced the biggest natural disaster in its recorded history. The earthquake and tsunami have resulted in human and environmental carnage that we can only imagine. The suffering of the Japanese people and economy will go on for years, long after the television cameras are gone.
Some are using this as a shameful opportunity to advance their political agendas. But the situation speaks for itself. Nuclear generating stations are dangerous places to work at and live near. And when the physical plants are compromised they put people and the environment at great risk of contamination. There should not be the need for debate about their safety or the need to build more. The human suffering and anxiety we see before our eyes should be enough to convince corporations and governments to STOP!
And as if events in Japan weren’t enough, yesterday there was a leak at the generating station in Pickering, just weeks before Public Hearings about expansion of this plant are to begin. Yet recent announcements by the Ontario government indicate they are not reconsidering the expansion of that facility. Although as I post this blog I have been informed that there are discussions about whether to proceed with the hearings at this time. You see, expansion without all worst case scenario considerations are not acceptable. And as we see, worst case scenarios can happen, even in Canada. Earthquakes (yes one did happen in Canada yesterday) and man-made disasters such as leaks (yes one did happen at Darlington this week) must be taken into account. Many of these have not been considered in the expansion plans for Darlington. Thus the need to put the hearings on hold and revisit the expansion plans.
So for now, I continue to work alongside the people who are trying to stop Bruce Power from transporting the steam generators to Owen Sound harbour and then onto Sweden for recycling.
I belong to a group called the Nuclear Free/Green Energy Task Force. We meet regularly by conference call and communicate daily by email. Soon after the CNSC hearings in September we heard that there would be some sort of Federal Public hearings in Ottawa. They were convened the week of March 6th, but in my opinion lacked a balanced local voice.
The week began with the CNSC and Bruce Power giving presentations to the standing committee. During the CNSC presentation, Mr. Binder the head of the CNSC had what media referred to as a “meltdown” (ironic in retrospect). Apparently he did not appreciate being on the receiving end of questions by the standing committee and said that this whole issue was caused by “anti nuclear groups.” So if I understand Mr. Binder correctly, all the research that the health and science professionals put forward and all the concerns that residents including the First Nations put forth was simply “anti nuclear.” I hate to break it to him, but it is far more complicated than this. It is a mixture of science, politics, law, health, and good old common sense.
On the second day of hearings the only local voices they heard from the Grey Bruce area were those in favour of the project. Mayors from Grey and Bruce County were there. Representatives from the Power Workers Union were there. Dr. Lynn, the Medical Officer of Health was there. I requested THREE times to be added to the agenda of presenters but was denied. I sent a letter of complaint but it likely didn’t have any impact.
Dr. Gordon Edwards kept us updated on the events of the two days. It began with the announcement by the Canadian Environmental Law Association and the Sierra Club that they were launching a law suit against Bruce Power. The basis of the suit is that the corporation made an agreement in 2006 that these generators would not move unless/until another environmental assessment was completed. Bruce Power and OPG are clearly in violation of this agreement.
Then there was a Press Conference on Parliament Hill. A group of presenters were there to make statements. Before the conference began, Murray Elston came in and sat down, but he was caught and told to leave against his protestations. You see, even Bruce Power executives can’t stay in a press conference if they aren’t media.
The morning of Day Two of the hearings Duncan Hawthorne gave an interview on CBC radio. He announced that the shipments may not leave until October….interesting.
The second day of the hearings were successful. According to Dr. Edwards the panel were interested and the presenters were well prepared and delivered excellent statements.
Now we wait and wonder will happen next.
As I write articles and talk amongst my colleagues I can’t describe how incredibly embarrassing it is. Our city leaders are SILENT. Many residents are SILENT. Yet all over the province, down the St. Lawrence Seaway, into the US especially in Michigan, over the ocean into the United Kingdom people are angry that Bruce Power is even considering this proposal. People do NOT want nuclear garbage transported in the Great Lakes and they don’t want it in the ocean. They don’t want their drinking water sources potentially contaminated and they don’t want Aboriginal Treaties violated.
This cargo will originate from Owen Sound. If this does happen, that is what people will remember and associate with Owen Sound.
The people who are working to stop this project are not all anti nuclear fanatics. They are First Nations residents, nuclear scientists, Public Health physicians, nurses, doctors, environmental scientists, stay at home moms, students, journalists, and the list goes on.
They have good arguments against the proposal. However, this is a Bruce Power region. Many people work at the plant. They live here and spend their money here. Sadly this has become a “Bruce Power” issue. But this is not an US against THEM issue. This does not mean that if you agree with the project you are pro Bruce Power and if you don’t you are anti Bruce Power.
We should be thinking about what is best for Owen Sound and the business community and the health of our residents. I simply don’t believe that the idea of sending nuclear garbage from our harbour is in our best interest, especially without an environmental assessment. And we must remember the precedent we are setting. Once we agree to this we will have a very difficult time saying no to nuclear garbage again!
We have apathetic leadership. Our city leaders are avoiding talking about the steam generators, but the Mayor does support the project.
As for other projects, I am preparing to make a presentation in early April at the Darlington hearings. They want to expand that generating station and the residents there are trying to stop that. I have been asked to speak there.
We are also planning to have an Earth Day event here. The planning is just beginning so watch for details.
You only have one opportunity to leave a footprint on the earth. You decide what kind of footprint you want to leave.