Recycling: the good, the bad & the ugly

Recycling: such a nice “warm & fuzzy” word, isn’t it? A word with such positive associations.

And I'm a diehard recycler, believe me!! Been recycling for more than 30 years – newspapers, cans, glass; whatever I can possibly recycle (or compost!), I recycle (or compost).

In fact, I spent quite a few years as an activist focusing largely on waste reduction – at first because the idea of wasting good land for dump sites really gave me the willies – & because waste in general is just such a … waste! (& I hate waste – of all kinds.)

Eventually, I twigged to the fact that reusing resources also conserves energy – so critical when it comes to the climate issue. How many times have I repeated the phrase “You can run a TV set for 3 hours with the energy saved by recycling one aluminum can”? Tons. (Hmmm. Mind you, if we kept the darn TV turned OFF, we’d save even more energy, wouldn’t we??)

So, I faithfully recycle & compost, but I’ve noticed another positive form of “recycling” along the way.

Gratitude is a wonderful way to keep positive thoughts … recycling … around inside one’s head. I always say if one fills up one’s head with positive thoughts, the negative ones mostly just get squeezed out! (Lots about gratitude on this blog.)

I’ve also come to think of anger as something we do not want to recycle – although I see lots of evidence all around me that there is plenty of this happening. Heck, I’m guilty of it myself at times! When I catch myself recycling anger & resentments, I do my best to put a quick stop to it. Since what we focus on expands, I find I’m much happier (more filled with positive energy) when I keep that stuff from filling up my head.

So, recycling anger is what I think of as an example of “bad” recycling. (As wonderful writer Anne Lamott has a character say in her novel Crooked Little Heart, “Holding onto a resentment is like eating rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.” Brilliant, isn’t it?)

Which brings us around, finally, to the “ugly."

Bruce Power – one of Ontario (Canada)’s major producers of nuclear energy – is determined to ship radioactive steam generators from its plant near the shores of beautiful Lake Huron – & claims that the company they are shipping them to (Studsvik) in Sweden will … you guessed it! recycle them.

This is ugly. Not just's dangerous.

The outer shell of the internally very radioactively-contaminated steam generators (SGs) will be “recycled” – & guess where that contaminated scrap metal will go? It will be “free released” into the global scrap metal supply. It will then likely make its insidious way into cutlery, furniture (think cribs, eh?), toasters, bedposts, dental hardware…etc. etc. etc. (The blog posting ‘Radioactive Cutlery, Anyone?’ discusses this in greater depth).

Bruce Power (BP for short, hmmm?) wants us to “just trust them” about this preposterous project. There must be at least 50 reasons why I personally have zero trust for the nuclear industry in general & this project in particular (although as far as that goes, one need not be “anti-nuke” to be anti-steam generator shipment!).

For sure there are “15 Facts” about this proposal I’d suggest any & everyone, everywhere, read & digest. Then I’d suggest we ALL raise a big ruckus before a ship is permitted to set sail from Owen Sound, Ontario, sail through Georgian Bay & then 3 of the Great Lakes & the St. Lawrence River & then the Atlantic Ocean – with 16 school-bus-sized steam generators filled with radioactive contaminants. (Look here to see what the tube bundles look like & here & here for lists of the contents of these innocuous-sounding steam generators. Since plutonium has a starring role, you really ought to check it out!)

Bruce Power – & the nuclear industry – ain’t stupid! They’re deliberately highjacking the word “recycling” – a word with which most of us have positive associations – & claiming they are “doing the right thing” by “recycling” nuclear waste & gradually, insidiously, adding it to the world’s metal supply.

The United Nations has a report on this issue that you can see here. The NIRS group has many fact sheets on their Web site. The one here explains why reprocessing is not the answer with nuclear waste (unless the question is “How can we dupe the public into accepting radioactively-contaminated consumer products? How’s about a little plutonium with that new toaster…eh?”)

Btw, you can go here to see what the U.S.-based Steel Manufacturers Association has to say about the growing problem of radioactive metal contamination.

So. Recycling, eh?

For sure, it can be grand!

We can help our world in lots of ways by practicing waste reduction. By all means, please do recycle whatever things you can in your community’s local recycling program!

You may not want to recycle your anger, though. (It doesn’t just make you & the people around you miserable, it’s also bad for your health!)

And always, always, always, it’s critical to bear in mind that preventing waste from happening in the first place – waste of any kind – whether it’s resources, poisoning of any kind, problems of any kind, & especially wars – is ALWAYS the best strategy. (The “waste reduction hierarchy” is 1. Reduce 2. Reuse 3. Recycle. First choice = don’t make it/buy/create it in the first place, if you can help it!)

When it comes to nuclear waste that will remain hazardous for 1000’s & 1000’s, & 10’s of 1000’s, & 100’s of 1000’s of years – could we please just get smart & stop making it???? And for sure, not send it sailing through the drinking water of 40 million people!!


p.s. BP keeps kinda quiet about the fact that the Swedish company Studsvik they are dealing with will return the most highly radioactive & dangerous “leftovers” back to Canada, where they will land by ship in Halifax, on Canada’s East Coast, then make their way by truck, & public roads, to the Bruce Power site near Kincardine, Ontario. Trucking dangerous, radioactive materials all over the place – risking accidents at literally every turn – can anyone say “Gosh. This sure looks like a dumb & dangerous plan to me!! Aren’t we humans smarter than that????”

p.p.s. Albert Einstein said “Nuclear power is one hell of a way to boil water!” Thomas Alva Edison (1847–1931) said “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait ‘til oil and coal run out before we tackle that.” These dudes were smart, eh???? [tons more nuke-related quotations]

p.p.p.s. Lots more steam generator-related posts listed here

TONS of good info here also

Great Lakes United here

NIRS here

Beyond Nuclear here