Steam Generators: Letters to the editor

3 so far...

October 7, 2010.

Dear Editor [Montreal Gazette]:

Nuclear concerns hysteria?

And “No less an expert than Ramzi Jammal, the chief regulatory officer of the Canadian Nuclear Regulatory Commission” has laid your fears utterly to rest?

Clearly, you have never attended a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) hearing! “Down the rabbit hole” is the operative phrase that always springs very quickly to mind.

Also, having the foxes minding the henhouse.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (yes, you got Jammal’s info wrong) has every appearance of being, as described by federal NDP MP Nathan Cullen, “a lapdog rather than a watchdog.”

I’ve been a CNSC watcher for years now, along the Ottawa River one way & another, and I attended the recent hearing about this proposed steam generator shipment.

Bruce Power has misled us with their plans and CNSC staff made serious factual errors in their reports, underestimating by 50% the shipment’s radioactive content. CNSC staff always minimize the nature of nuclear risks involved. Spills are always “small,” nuclear proponents’ plans are always “acceptable.” This is classic nuclear industry protocol.

There are so many things wrong with this plan, I can’t begin to do justice to them all in one short letter.

Rather than accepting the reassurances of the CNSC fox that minds the Canadian nuclear henhouse, I suggest you consult the expertise of the almost 80 intervenors who took their own time to marshall a boatload of valid objections to this plan. Your own province has more than 30 municipalities that are “just saying no.”

I think you need to dig a little deeper.


Janet McNeill


November 24, 2010.

Dear Editor [Sarnia Observer]:

Interesting. The Sarnia Observer piece headed “Anti-nuclear rage doesn’t hold water” is billed as a “news” item, yet reads a lot more like an angry rant. Gotta admire this DenTandt his fiery oratorical qualities – but please, let’s not call it news!

It isn’t only environmental “zealots” who strongly oppose Bruce Power’s proposed shipment of these highly radioactive steam generators through precious & irreplaceable water sources. First Nations communities, a boatload of American senators, mayors & municipalities along the route (more than 30 in Quebec, along the St. Lawrence River) and the City of Montreal are “just saying no.”

In fact, we “enviros” who oppose this scheme aren’t hysterical at all! I wish you could have heard the almost-80 intervenors who told the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission tribunal & staff in person why our reasons are so numerous & carefully-thought out. What an inspiring crowd!

CNSC staff and Bruce Power are trying to ramrod this shipment through. Gentlemen, there is no rush! The mothballed generators have been collecting dust for 15 years already.

There is a great deal to consider here. Exporting Canada’s nuclear waste & adding to the already-serious global problem of radioactivity getting into the world’s metal supplies & our consumer goods has apparently not yet hit your radar screen – but it needs to!

CNSC needs to put on the brakes and order up a full, new Environmental Assessment to go over this very controversial project with a fine-tooth comb.

Janet McNeill

February 11, 2011.

Dear Niagara Falls Review Editor:

According to Kalvin Reid, our choice is to let Bruce Power’s radioactive steam generators be shipped through precious, irreplaceable waters – or live in the dark.

I’m not sure whether this is a form of naivete, or some kind of fear-mongering.

Reid mistakes Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) claims for facts. He has not dug into the issue deeply enough to understand why the opposition to Bruce Power’s plan is so strong. This is a complex issue and he does neither it – nor his readers – justice.

Bruce Power made a commitment to keep those steam generators on site. Now they’ve changed their tune. They minimize the risks of a possible accident and offer factoids, not facts, to allay our fears. The CNSC skates along, working determinedly to smooth the way.

Those of us who’ve dealt over time with nuclear proponents (& the CNSC) know better than to take these people at their word. It is irresponsible – even immoral, in my view – to placate the public with empty promises. Municipalities that have taken the time to dig into the real risks are smart not to “buy” BP’s false assurances.

The steam generators contain far more genuinely dangerous radioactivity than Bruce Power (or CNSC) acknowledges. The risks of an accident are very real. A couple years ago some turbines were dumped into the St. John’s, New Brunswick harbour; fortunately, they were not radioactive.

This shipment is not a one-shot deal. Once this one is allowed to proceed, BP will be busy lining up more.

Bruce Power owes the Canadian public a thorough explanation of why their plan to keep the steam generators on-site has changed so massively. It also owes us an honest accounting – not half-truths – about the reprocessing that will take place in Sweden and that will likely result in radioactive materials entering the global scrap metal supply.

Canadians are entitled to a proper debate about the idea of exporting nuclear waste. Is sending our dangerous wastes across the ocean really the best solution we can come up with?

This is a good time for a thoughtful debate – not for more of the Ready, Fire!!!...Aim method of doing nuclear business.

Let’s not ever forget that the other BP assured the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2009 that an oil spill at the Deepwater Horizon site was “unlikely.” An environmental impact study was therefore waived.


Janet McNeill