NW Conference: Awards! (part I)

<<December 2011: The Ottawa Citizen (Canadian newspaper based in our capital city) is doing a series on nuclear waste.>>

<Oct. 12/11.>

  • NW = Nuclear/nuke waste
  • AECL = Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.
  • CNSC = Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
  • OPG = Ontario Power Generation

 

This is my 4th post about the nuclear waste conference I attended in Toronto from September 12-14th. This is the fun one – finally!!   

The others are

I might add that awarding prizes to the nuclear industry is something I’ve done before. Under the heading ‘Darlington Hearings’ you’ll find at least 4 postings listed/linked involving awards for folks in the nuke biz.

Being in the anti-nuke biz can get a person down, you see. It can be pretty overwhelming & discouraging work. You have to make it fun somehow! Giving out awards is a way of introducing a little levity into an otherwise crazy-making preoccupation.

OK, here goes! Some awards are pretty much self-explanatory; no further explanation necessary!

Awards for the Nuclear Industry:

  • Barefaced OUTRAGEOUS Use of Language award: A tie between AECL for daring to use the phrase “Leaving an Honourable Legacy” in the same sentence as Port Hope & Port Granby waste clean-ups, & CNSC head honcho Michael Binder for claiming the nuclear industry (or, oops, I guess he meant the CNSC??) is “not going to tax future generations” with the nuclear waste problem. Right! Sure. Got it.
  • Boyish Enthusiasm award to ADM (Assistant Deputy Minister) Mark Corey, Energy Sector, Natural Resources Canada (yeah, a government dude) for his touching enthusiasm about some fences being put up around “some areas [with] real activity” (i.e., radioactivity) in the Bancroft area (post-uranium-mining-related, you understand) & his excitement about the 70-year Nuclear Legacy Liability Program & its $3.2 billion price tag (that is the figure he used, which is not consistent with the $7B figure quoted elsewhere; I guess when you get up into the billions like this, it all gets a little fuzzy??). No matter that nuclear waste will outlive by thousands & 100s of thousands of years any 70-year government program, however excited the not-very-long-term-thinking politicians & bureaucrats may be feeling about it. I betcha Mr. Corey might think twice about buying a cottage or house near those fences he’s so excited about, eh?
  • Buckets & Buckets of Bullshit award – self-explanatory, I’d say…
  • Cognitive Dissonance awards aplenty!! There is so much cognitive dissonance pervading this industry & its various organizations that I honestly have no idea how its foot soldiers are even able to sleep at night. One glaring thing from this conference was the continually repeated claim that the industry is transparent. No one who has paid any attention to the nuclear industry would ever in a million years claim it has even the slightest understanding of the word “transparency.” Come to think of it, there oughta be a Bullshit award! Or even an Outrageous Bullshit of the Century award!!
  • Don’t Worry – Be Happy   !! award to the nuclear industry (in this case, AECL) for basically taking this attitude about the sobering & truly appalling “legacy wastes” in Port Hope & Port Granby. Citizens are supposed to just not worry & be happy because after all, the federal gravy train has come to town & is leaking millions of $$ for a clean-up of all those wastes that are Hey! Not really a problem! Just smile & be happy, everyone!!  
  • Engineering Euphoria / Boys & Their Toys award to the many engineers of the nuclear industry – the profession the nuclear industry rests upon. They’ve always got a way to explain things away, & their boyish enthusiasm for solutions is … well, absurd & foolish, really, let’s just be honest about it, shall we? No solution for nuclear waste 60 years in. No admission that some technologies are just too darn dangerous to stick with. Technological optimism apparently knows no bounds. Even now, post-Fukushima…
  • Fancy Language / Creative Use of Jargon award (weasel words to watch for from the nuclear industry) for their fancy, sneaky use of terms to conceal rather than reveal what they are really up to. Words/phrases to watch for:
    • Below regulatory limits: emissions & spills are always below regulatory limits…have you noticed? They’re always small. Always “not harmful.” Always.
    • Blending: Mixing up different categories of radioactive waste so it can be disposed of in more convenient, less expensive fashion, e.g. into a regular landfill site or an incinerator (yes, burning radioactive materials – quelle idée, huh??)
    • Conceptual model: engineers & their “conceptual models,” eh? Can’t deal with reality, so fire up a conceptual model!
    • Free-release: this is about releasing radioactive materials hither & yon, even into the global scrap metal supply - scroll down to where it says ‘Radioactive Scrap - A Major Environmental Problem’)
    • Legacy wastes: fancy term for the bad old stuff from the good old days, decades ago. Just think, the new waste being created today will one day get to be called “legacy” too!!
    • Refurbish: innocuous-sounding term for spending billions of taxpayers’ dollars to tune up a nuke plant halfway through its operational life (creating a serious shitload of new nuclear waste while they’re at it, btw). See item about refurbishment here
    • Unconditional release: !?!?!?
    • Waste characterization: Fancy term meaning the nuke industry gets to call it whatever level of waste is convenient to them. We all need to remember, though, that “low level” does not mean “low risk.
  • Fox & Henhouse / Lapdog, Not Watchdog award to, of course, our very own dear (not) CNSC. They claim to be Canada’s nuclear regulator, but it’s kind of like leaving the drunk guy at the bar in charge of how much everyone drinks. You know?? The words nuclear & safety don’t belong in the same phrase, for one thing (oxymoron alert!!!), & for another, the CNSC is about as tough on the nuclear industry in Canada as over-permissive parents who permit their bratty offspring to swing from the chandeliers. (I don’t think the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in the U.S. is a whole lot different, btw.) Good article Who controls nuclear control agencies?,” written just after the Fukushima accident, about who the nuclear “regulators” are.
  • Golden Handcuffs/ He Who Pays the Piper Calls the Tune award to OPG head honcho Tom Mitchell. Mr. Mitchell, who earns (well, makes) $1,325,119.04 a year, did a charming imitation of …hmmm…the Mad Hatter maybe?? minimizing the dangers of radioactivity (an “unfounded but perceived fear of radiation”) & making a terribly reassuring pronouncement (not) about safety (“Safety is in fact our foundation”) along with a touchingly (in)sincere statement about how “those who come after us must not be” saddled with the waste problem. (Um, sir, nuke waste will be dangerous for 1 million years! Did they forget to tell you??).
  • How’d They Pull THAT One Off?? award goes to Cameco Corporation. This company (& its predecessor, a Crown Corporation called Eldorado, which is to say our federal government is in this up to its eyeballs & always has been) has created a nasty nuclear disaster in Port Hope (on Lake Ontario), a huge mess now being tackled with public money, & Cameco is selling land to the Port Granby site clean-up folks. They made the waste, made the mess that Canadian taxpayers are paying billions to have cleaned up, reaped huge profits in doing so – & now they sell land for the Port Granby clean-up?? (Am I missing something here??? Guess I should have gone to business school, eh??)
  • Hubris award goes to everyone involved in this secretive, dangerous industry. For lies & deception & the minimization of health & environmental risks from nuclear technologies, & the patronizing of those outside the industry who raise legitimate concerns, & the superior attitudes of industry insiders with their fancy jargon aimed only at shutting down questions & objections. This is an industry with a very seriously dishonest modus operandi (& that is an understatement!).
  • Kool-Aid award for everyone in attendance at the conference (apart from my fellow activist friends) for their brilliant performance of “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” – even in the wake of the very recent, unbelievably disastrous Fukushima accident, even in the full awareness of the deeply dangerous nuclear wastes that exist at the Chalk River Labs site, in Port Hope & at Port Granby, & all those sites in the U.S. & Great Britain & the nuclear holocaust that is the ongoing legacy of the Chernobyl accident. Whatever it is that goes into that Kool-Aid, the nuke folks have drunk it down well & deeply. It must be very, very tasty indeed.

Please proceed to NW Conference: Awards! (part II) to finish up with the award ceremony! Next up is the Obfuscation Well Above & Beyond the Call of Duty award…

Janet

p.s.  Very important paper on what the nuke industry is up to in the report 'Out of Control - on Purpose."