Steam Generators: Parliamentary Hearing, Day 2

Day 1 posting here

So, Day 2. Different hearing room, slightly different crowd (some extra MPs, far fewer media) – everyone a lot wetter. (Ottawa is a wet slushy mess currently; unseasonable & heavy rainfall resulting in sloshy streets & an obstacle course of puddles for pedestrians to attempt to dodge. Uck! Can anyone say “climate change?”)

[Note: you can watch the hearing here]

Day 1 was for the proponents of the Bruce Power plan to send 16 retired, radioactive steam generators through the Great Lakes (source of drinking water for 40 million), St. Lawrence River (more millions in Quebec) & Atlantic Ocean to Sweden for so-called “recycling,” to defend their plans.

Day 1 was a little short on … truth, long on skimming over unpleasant & inconvenient details, & also the wee outburst from CNSC President Michael Binder about the nasty, “professional” anti-nuclear groups that have spread so much “disinformation.”

Day 2?

Testimony from Mike Smith, Warden of Bruce County (where Bruce Power’s plant is located); Dr. Hazel Lynn, Medical Officer of Health for that area & Power Union rep David Shier – all of whom favour BP’s plans. Oh yes, & also Mayor Alan Barfoot of the Township of Georgian Bluffs.

The “pro” forces Bruce County folks, who’ve lived with Bruce Power as a major employer for 50 years, apparently, may have a slight “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you” scenario going on, hmmm?

Mayor Barfoot had to admit on questioning that his Council had not drafted the resolution favouring BP’s plans; we were left wondering whether perhaps BP itself had done so. Dr. Lynn bravely asserted that, provided no accident occurs, drinking water would not be compromised.

Doh.

I guess some people don’t understand that accidents are very unpredictable by their very nature, & that unpredictable accidents are precisely what all the opposition is about! (Think Gulf oil spill, hmm?)

Opposing witnesses were Gaëtan Ruest from Amqui, Quebec; David Ullrich, Exec. Director ofthe Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Cities Initiative & Denis Lapointe (Mayor of Salaberry-Valleyfield, Que. & Chair/Director of that group) & Christopher Plain, Southwest Regional Chief
of the Anishinabek Nation Territory, Aamjiwnaang First Nation & Dr. Gordon Edwards, Co-Chair of the Great Lakes United (GLU) Task Force.

Lack of consultation was a key issue raised. (CNSC was very secretive about BP’s plan & only “consulted” after the lid was blown off last Spring. Lots of people were not consulted at all.)

Great Lakes ED Ullrich also targeted the CNSC’s inadequate environmental review, which glossed over real risks & painted a very “rosy assessment” of the plan. He stated that BP & CNSC reasoning appears to consist of an assumption that, should an accident/spill occur, the Great Lakes are big enough for the SGs’ radioactive contaminants to be diluted.

Dr. Edwards pointed out that CNSC is being deceptive by comparing shipments of medical isotopes to the proposed shipment of nuclear wastes, & also drew attention to the CNSC’s lack of bio-medical expertise. (One does notice, in dealings with the CNSC, that there is a sort of “gung-ho” mentality about technology, but very little (or no) consideration given to human health implications.)

Quebec MPs (Denis Coderre, Paule Brunelle, Roger Pomerleau, Francis Scarpaleggia) & B.C. NDP MP Nathan Cullen asked a number of hard-hitting questions of the witnesses.

The main overarching point that came out of the day’s testimony was this:

There is no pressing reason for this shipment to take place!

Bruce Power has stated it will cost them more money to ship the steam generators to Sweden than to leave them where they are. Given CNSC President Binder’s use of the phrase “If it works” during Tuesday’s hearing (in reference to Studsvik's reactor "recycling"), it would seem the technology is far from proven.

A person might conclude that BP needs to go back to the drawing board. Their & CNSC’s accompanying rosy prediction of “No risk” with their plans simply doesn’t … hold water.

And, as Mayor Denis Lapointe of Salaberry-Valleyfield pointed out, Canadians need to take responsibility for our own waste – not ship it around the globe, putting irreplaceable water bodies & millions of people at risk.

I’ll give David Ullrich the last word here. He said, in response to Bruce Power & CNSC’s apparent “solution of dilution,”

“That is not how we solve environmental problems.”