I’ve been blogging about the 3-week nuclear hearings now taking place in Courtice, Ontario.
** Note: if you go here, you can find hearing info such as the public hearing schedule, transcripts, Webcasts, etc.
Courtice is a small community east of Toronto; host to the gargantuan Darlington Nuclear Generating Station that is situated right on the shores of Lake Ontario. The hearings are part of the Environmental Assessment process Ontario Power Generation (OPG) & its licensing body, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), is required to take part in as they make plans for 4 new reactors at the Darlington site (all of this at the behest of the Ontario provincial government, btw).
Taking part in hearings involving nuclear projects always puts me in mind of going down a rabbit hole, à la Alice in Wonderland. A certain Mad Hatter Tea Party ambience is unmistakable.
I’ve said it many times before: there is really no adequate way to describe what this kind of hearing is like. (I’ve written about CNSC hearings in blog postings listed under the Steam Generator heading up at the top of this blog, & in a posting called ‘Speaking truth to power.’ I’ve been very upfront with CNSC tribunal & staff about my rabbit hole analogy.)
The other day I told some folks in Toronto that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission seems to have a somewhat limited vocabulary.
Favourite & very frequently-used CNSC words:
- SMALL: Spills are always small (even when they’re big!)
- LOW: Risks of nuclear activities of any sort whatsoever (including spills) are always low.
- SAFE: Nuclear operations of any kind (including spills & emissions) are always safe & without health risk to members of the staff or public.
- ACCEPTABLE: Nuclear proponent’s plans are always always always “acceptable.”
- HIGHLY REGULATED: CNSC always claims the nuclear industry is “highly regulated,” but since they just kind of make up their own rules, I say, “Yeah, sure, right…”
Considering how truly risky nuclear activities genuinely are, I always say CNSC language is pretty goshdarn MINGY. UNDERwhelming…
Ok. A quick review of the placards I’d like to hold up at CNSC hearings (where we are much too polite to actually do so, & of course would get kicked out of the proceedings for):
- Obfuscation Alert!
- Turn off the lie machine!
And more awards I would like to generously offer after last Tuesday (March 29, 2011)’s presentations, which were focused on the issue of nuclear waste. [Note: transcripts & Webcast of this entire hearing can be found here Please also note that presentations by citizen/NGO intervenors have been amazing! The Dr. Helen Caldicott one on March 24th was excellent, as was the SAGE (Safe & Green Energy) one by Dr. Ian Fairlie on March 28th. The Lake Ontario Waterkeeper one on March 28th was blow-you-right-out-of-the-water brilliant. First Nations presenters, also on Monday, March 28th, were awesomely articulate & inspiring.] The Northwatch intervention on the nuclear waste issue was also a show-stopper & generated a great deal of discussion (all of which, for my own part anyway, served to illustrate how shockingly shallow the nuclear industry’s understanding of nuclear waste actually is. Genuinely shocking…)
Understatement of the Millenium award goes to Joint Review Panel member Pereira for his brilliant observation “There are a number of challenges to be met” with respect to the proper, safe storage of high-level nuclear wastes that will be generated at the proposed new reactors.
I can’t believe you just said that! award to the OPG staffer who “reassured” panel members & the public with these shining statements about the need for containers that will last a million years: “We are looking at containers” & “We are learning as we are going along.”
OMG! & these are the folks who are “protecting” us from wildly hazardous & preposterously long-lived nuclear wastes!?!?
It leaves a person almost speechless…doesn’t it??
Other awards I recommend:
- Robot award – multiple possible recipients among both CNSC & OPG staff & heck, let’s be generous here – the 3 JRP panel members too.
- Lead face award – as above.
- Asbestos award – ditto.
- Cognitive Dissonance award to everyone employed in the nuclear industry. And all of the rest of us human beings for pretending the nuclear industry is “looking after us.” And especially to the OPG staffer who had the effrontery to state that OPG does not wish to put the burden of nuclear waste onto future generations. Talk about cognitive dissonance!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
- Pseudo-science award to CNSC staff for their consistent use of such deeply scientific phrases as “Tritium releases are very low.”
- Skating on VERY thin ice award – multiple possible recipients (including all of us! Our entire species seems to be skating on mighty thin ice, I’d have to say).
Finally, to the entire nuclear industry:
THE EMPEROR STILL HAS NO CLOTHES award.
I even decided to give myself an award:
The “I can’t believe I didn’t run screaming from the room when OPG staffer Laurie Swami used the phrase ‘bounding scenario’ for the 506th time” award.
(I had decided I’d rather stick a needle in my eye than hear her use this ridiculous phrase one more time.
And I’m not really all that much into sticking needles in my eyes…you know??)
Enough for now…