CNSC

OUTRAGEOUS!

Couple days ago I listened to the most recent Fairewinds Energy Education podcasts (all the podcasts are listed here). I learned about a nuke plant called Oyster Creek (in New Jersey) that has a damaged pipe (post-Hurricane Sandy) that could lead to serious problems if it breaks altogether. A special investigation team from the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) has been dispatched to Oyster Creek in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The plant is the only one in the U.S. without “a modern High Pressure Safety Injection System.” As also explained by Arnie Gundersen, the plant is the oldest operating nuke plant in the U.S. (lots more on the podcast!!) (A 2nd NRC team has gone to Turkey Point in Florida due to a similar problem which was not, I understand, due to Hurricane Sandy.)

This is all very disconcerting.

Then too, there are 3 plants on long-term shutdown in the U.S. – Fort Calhoun (Nebraska), San Onofre (California) & Crystal River (Florida) – that are still paying employees to keep them … hmmm. Keep them safe, I suppose.

But the thing is, ratepayers (in Canada we usually call them taxpayers) are paying hundreds of millions of dollars per year to keep these plants going while they are … not going.

Did I already say that taxpayers are paying for this??

Did I also mention that the nuclear industry makes GOBS of money every year (wish I knew how much; it would stagger us all, no doubt; we’d probably faint dead away in droves) & they do this by making energy in a preposterously dirty & dangerous way & not only do we all wind up being exposed to the toxic by-products of the entire nuclear fuel chain in a variety of ways, we get stiffed with the costs for the long-term waste that will still be dangerous to all living creatures long after there are any living creatures left, even (maybe at least partly because of all the nuke waste mess on the planet).

If that doesn’t make you annoyed or disgusted, consider that “ratepayers” are paying out $750 million per year to keep the staff at the Crystal River plant in Florida paid while the plant is on shutdown & “containment problems” are being sorted out.

San Onofre in California is also paying out close to $200 million per year in its “highly paid employment program to pay engineers to not produce power” … or words to that effect.

If this was my tax dollars at work so engineers can not work, I’d be pissed. (Of course I am pissed about the nuke scene in Canada … but that’s another story…)

What do I recommend?

  1. Listen to Arnie’s podcast. This one & others. (They are less than half an hour long, btw.) Become informed. Get a little mad. Take action. Raise your voice! You’ll be in fine company if you do!! (This blog posting provides a list of active groups you can check into.)
  2. Donate some money to Fairewinds so Arnie et. al can continue to provide us with the essential information he is so generously providing us with. Every donation counts!
  3. Donate some money to the Red Cross!! Hurricane Sandy did an awful lot of damage. Those of us who were not directly affected (or even those less so) need to pitch in. Donating will make you feel good, I absolutely promise you  .

 

As a well-known saying goes, Action is the best possible antidote to despair. I say it again & again, because it happens to be true!!

Janet

p.s. a day or so later: this posting is a bit lame, for which I apologize. I had only sporadic Internet access when I posted it & my life is kinda crazy lately (slight understatement). I really want you all to listen to the podcast, OK?? Arnie says important stuff. One seriously important thing he says is this: the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (called the Nuclear Rubberstamp Commission by many, kind of like the way I call the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission first of all an oxymoron - there is no such thing as "nuclear safety," folks!! - so I call it the Canadian Nuclear DANGER Commission. Anyway, what Arnie sez is this: the NRC has no intention of increasing safety post-Fukushima. It would cost the nuclear industry too much $$$. The NRC (& the CNSC in Canada) are far too concerned with making $$$ for the nuke industry to tighten up safety standards. What they really care about is profit for the nuke boyz. They don't really care about you & me. Arnie is an ex-nuke industry boy (as it were) himself. So he really knows what he's talking about....... We all need to get fussed up about this......OK???

p.p.s. also of some relevance to us here in Canada as our own so-called "nuclear regulator" prepares to license Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to build 4 new reactors & refurbish the existing ones is the lack of sufficient emergency planning down at Oyster Creek in New Jersey. Ontarians, take note! (see CELA report on this.)

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “So, organize. Teach the young. Teach the not so young. Recognize that this is a political problem & that problem lies in the law of the United States. It’s time to end the nuclear age, not to continue and expand it. I’m counting on all of you. ” – Dr. Judith Johnsrud, radiation & nuclear power specialist & long-time American activist, from a speech [many, many other great nuke-related quotes here]

Fukushima. Collusion. Only in Japan, you say?

The Japanese Parliament has been told by a panel of experts that the Fukushima nuclear accident of March 11, 2011, was a man-made disaster. It cannot be blamed on the earthquake or the tsunami – but on Japanese culture, human-made error…& collusion. Good articles & short YouTubes here:

 

What has my knickers in a knot right now is the statement “Its fundamental causes are to be found in the ingrained conventions of Japanese culture: our reflexive obedience; our reluctance to question authority; our devotion to ‘sticking with the program’; our groupism; and our insularity.” (from the article here)

Yes. Japanese culture does breed conformity & obedience.

What is our excuse in the other relentlessly nuclear countries?

In Canada, for example, say.

The level of collusion among nuclear industry, politicians & regulators is no less in evidence here.

Those of us who follow the goings-on of the un-aptly-named Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (an oxymoronic title, given the impossibility of “nuclear safety”) are all too aware of this collusion.

Come on, people!

We all know nuclear energy is not safe. Not safe, not reliable, not cheap. Wildly dangerous, wildly polluting & toxic, producing wastes that will remain dangerous for more years than we can even properly begin to conceive of.

Why don’t more Canadian citizens speak up?

Are we too obedient? Or just too lazy? Too complacent? “Too busy?” Too smug?

*****

I have to work a little at not letting nuclear goings-on make my blood boil (having my blood boil seems to be very bad for my own personal sense of equanimity. Heh heh).

But the apathy of my fellow citizens – on all environmental fronts – stuns me. Has stunned me for many years now.

Nuclear issues are complex, I grant you.

Tell me, though, how complex is this?

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has repeatedly licensed a company called SSI (short for Shield Source Incorporated, which is located in the small Ontario city of Peterborough since 1986) to make glow-in-the-dark products, using tritium – a wildly toxic by-product of the creation of nuclear energy. (They also license its competitor company, SRB, in Pembroke, Ontario. Therein lies another, quite similar, tale. Serious, stubborn polluters, both, of local air & water. Licensed over & over again to go on being so.)

Our so-called nuclear safety commission (or “regulator”) has done this knowing that the man who runs SSI used to run another tritium company in Almedia, South Centre Township, Pennsylvania (in the U.S.) by the name of Safety Light Corp. (Safety Light, btw, is one of the daughter companies of the old U.S. Radium Corp. No time to go down that road right now, though it’s an interesting one!) Safety Light had many safety violations while operating in Almedia, & frequently fell behind in its payments to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for site clean-ups that have now fallen to U.S. citizens to fund.

Mr. William Lynch – Safety Light’s head honcho – shut Safety Light down in 2007, leaving U.S. taxpayers on the hook for a $120 million Superfund site clean-up (this figure may be an under-estimate, btw. Nuclear waste clean-ups are wildly, even outlandishly, expensive).

& in 2009, our Canadian regulator once again re-licensed Mr. Lynch’s SSI (which they had been licensing since 1986) – knowing of his company’s safety violations while in Pennsylvania, his departure from tritium light manufacturing in the U.S., & his company’s decision to leave American taxpayers with an impossibly toxic & dangerous nuclear mess by the shores of the Susquehanna River. (If the CNSC didn’t know all this, how come they didn’t know? Either way, it makes them some regulator…eh??)

I think I’ve said enough. I think you can connect the dots here, can’t you? It’s not rocket science.

Everywhere on this planet this horrid (I call it evil) nuclear industry operates, it does so hand-in-hand, i.e., with collusion, among its industry members, local ruling political elites & the so-called nuclear “regulators.”

Relevant quotation/insight from Frank Zappa?

“Government is the Entertainment Division of the military-industrial complex.”

Janet

* Check out the February 2012 Greenpeace report called “Lessons from Fukushima” here 

* For info on SSI in Peterborough, Ontario, go to the Tritium Awareness Peterborough Facebook page & also this page 

* Plenty of information about tritium here & on the Tritium Awareness Project Web site (& also, I expect, on the NIRS & Beyond Nuclear sites) Probably on the CCNR site also.

* Lots of pithy quotations about nukes (also maps, films & other resources) here 

* An incomplete (but still useful) list of groups working on nuclear matters here 

* The essay here compares the lead & nuclear industries & finds 10 common elements.

* As regards U.S. Radium Corp., good luck getting it all straight! They started out in New Jersey (so says Wikipedia) & after leaving a big nasty mess there, moved on to other locations & messed them up too. The Harvey Wasserman & Norman Solomon book Killing Our Own –The Disaster of America’s Experience with Atomic Radiation (available on-line here) has info on the company on page 128.

* You can also check into The Press Enterprise from Bloomsburg, PA to seek out articles about U.S. Radium/Safety Light’s history in Almedia, PA (as well as some of the New Jersey piece of the story) over the years.

Relevant quotation from a Press Enterprise story by Michael Lester: “’The net effect of these corporate and name changes, restructuring and ownership transfers was to limit the liability of predecessor companies and protect their corporate assets while Safety Light maintained an active license,’ says an NRC [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] document.”

** company name changes & re-locations to avoid liability seem to be a common ploy of ... hmmm, maybe any kind of polluting industry?? Not sure about that. I am pretty sure the tritium-using industry is an old hand at it.

'Quote of the day' with this post: “Until we know how to safely dispose of the radioactive materials generated by nuclear plants, we should postpone these activities so as not to cause further harm to future generations. To do otherwise is simply an immoral act, and that is my belief, both as a scientist and as a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing.” – Dr Shoji Sawada

Steam Generator Shipments: Council of Cdns Release

MEDIA RELEASE FROM THE COUNCIL OF CANADIANS

February 2, 2012

Expiring nuclear waste shipping licence gives feds a second chance to do it right, says Barlow

The transport licence that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) issued to Bruce Power to ship 16 radioactive steam generators to Sweden will expire on February 3, 2012. Bruce Power had planned to use Swedish company Studsvik to ‘decontaminate’ the radioactive waste and sell the scrap metal back onto open markets. The most radioactive parts of the generators would be transported back to the Great Lakes and stored near its nuclear power plant on Lake Huron.

Bruce Power has been largely silent on the issue since it withdrew its application with the US Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration last May. While they delayed the shipment indefinitely to consult with First Nation communities, it is unclear which communities they are meeting with.

If Bruce Power applies to renew its licence, the Canadian Nuclear Safety and Control Act calls for the CNSC to hold another public hearing.

“If Bruce Power wants to forge ahead with this plan, the CNSC should respect the public’s will and stop the shipment,” says Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “This is an opportunity for the CNSC to begin a needed shift in Great Lakes governance by genuinely listening to public input and consulting with First Nations.”

City mayors, US senators, First Nation communities, residents and environmental groups opposed the plans. The CNSC held a public hearing at the end of September in 2010 where interveners raised concerns about the precedent setting nature of the shipment, the threat to the Great Lakes and the lack of an environmental assessment despite changes to original plans of leaving the waste on-site. Even though the majority of interveners opposed the shipment, the CNSC ignored public input and issued the transport licence anyway.

The shipment has also drawn international attention. Twenty European civil society organizations sent an open letter to Canadian, US, UK, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish governments demanding that they put a stop to the nuclear waste shipment. Over 101,000 people in Canada and around the world signed a petition calling on the Ontario government to “stand up for the safety and protection of the public and our shared environment by banning all nuclear shipments on the Great Lakes.”

The Council of Canadians is calling for the Great Lakes to be declared a commons and a public trust. Barlow’s report Our Great Lakes Commons: A People’s Plan to Protect the Great Lakes Forever says that “a true Commons is based on a co-management model and requires true collaboration between community and government and ability of regulatory agencies to implement public recommendations.”

“With the threat of pollution, invasive species, fracking and bottled water extraction, there is an even greater need to apply the precautionary principle in the Great Lakes Basin,” says Emma Lui, water campaigner, Council of Canadians. “The CNSC has a duty to protect the health, safety and security of Canadians as well as the environment and Bruce Power’s shipment is a clear threat to both.”

–30–

For more information:

Dylan Penner, Media officer Council of Canadians, 613-795-8685, dpenner@canadians.org

Twitter: @CouncilOfCDNswww.canadians.org

Bumper stickers: Wednesday

  • Oops. Toxic Wednesday again!! **
  • Just got lost on the Internet
  • Got lost inside my red notebook, too
  • Do we live on the same planet??? (more on this soon)
  • Spinning…spinning…spinning
  • I forgot to remember
  • I remembered to forget (more on this topic soon)
  • “Spiritual” people, eh?? What does this mean???

** Wednesday is cleaning day in this house, every other week. No one has told the cleaner/home owners how toxic most cleaning products are. Eeeeeeeek! I really need to remember to remember to be out of the house on these Wednesday mornings. Headache time…

Janet

p.s. we can thank the Canadian Nuclear Safety (sic) Commission head honcho, Michael Binder, for these recurring bumper sticker thoughts on my part. At the steam generator hearings in Ottawa in late September 2010, Mr. Binder asked Lake Ontario Waterkeeper Prez Mark Mattson what the “bumper sticker” question or thought was out of what Mattson had just said. Ahhhhhhhh. I guess all of our thoughts, in Mr. Binder’s mind, should be distill-able into bumper sticker phrases. Short thoughts for small minds?? Whatever

p.p.s. & I was dipping into There's Lead in Your Lipstick - Toxins in Our Everyday Body Care and How to Avoid Them (by Gillian Deacon) just last night. Conventional shampoos?? Scary...

'Quote of the Day' with this post: “Imagine if, for the last 50 years, we had sprayed the whole earth with a nerve gas. Would you be upset? Would I be upset? Yes! I think people would be screaming in the streets. Well...we’ve done that.We’ve released endocrine disruptors throughout the world that are having fundamental effects on the immune system, on the reproductive system. We have good data that show that wildlife and humans are being affected. Should we be upset? Yes - I think we should be fundamentally upset. I think we should be screaming in the streets!” – Prof Louis Guillette

 

 

Port Hope (Nuclear) Hearings: Award Ceremony!

So, I spent 3 days last week (January 17/18/19) in Port Hope, Ontario, at 3 different hearings of the CNSC (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, ‘though I staunchly maintain this is an oxymoronic term, or perhaps just plain moronic, in that there is no such thing as nuclear safety, however much otherwise we may all wish!)(1). My first posting on this, here, describes how it all made me feel. Good short article/YouTube on the hearing here (Transcripts of the hearings here & here & here & here & here)

My attendance at such events is never quite complete for me until I’ve handed out awards to the nuclear industry for its/their appalling behaviour. (There are posts similar to this one here & here & here.)

So hey! Here goes, already – only this time I’m providing minimal explanatory text, as I’m finding that the more I obsess about all this, the cruddier it is making me feel. So I’m going to breeze through it & get on to more pleasant pursuits, alright? Life is, after all, as they say, short…

  • ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) should read ALARM!! (I know, I know, this is more bumper sticker than award; indulge me!)
  • Arrogance above & beyond the call of duty
  • BBBBB award: Bleah Bleah Bleah Bleah Bleah… (everyone who was in attendance knows which CNSC staffer snags THIS one!!)
  • Confidence: Cameco Port Hope Conversion Facility Manager Dale Clark is very very VERY CONFIDENT!!!!! Hooey is he confident!! Confident is very clearly his most-extra-specially favourite word! (He’s proud too, but more confident than proud.)
  • Dance-Dance-Dance-Dance-Dance around the truth!
  • Denial award (SO many contenders for this one, & not all of them in the nuke biz)
  • Down the Rabbit Hole…always always always!
  • Eckhart Tolle award: to Mr./Dr. Binder(2) - President & CEO of the CNSC - who has apparently grown like crazy spiritually & is now a firm advocate of living in the moment! He will neither apologize nor explain nor take responsibility for the past crimes/misdemeanours of the nuclear industry; he is instead fully committed to the present moment. In this way he conveniently ducked/deflected questions about the use of Depleted Uranium at Cameco’s facilities & any questions about Cameco’s partaking in the manufacture of weapons, or the inevitable CNSC oversight of such activities. How very-very convenient!!! This is all quite brilliant & clever. Mr./Dr. Binder – head honcho of Canada’s nuclear “regulator” - proud recipient of the ET award. Who’d have thunk it??)
  • Follow the Money (always, always, always, follow the money, eh??)
  • Fuzzification above & beyond the call of duty
  • Gravy Train / Golden Handcuffs award
  • Healthy Outrage award to the Port Hope citizens who stand up year after year to nuclear nonsense (more on these folks below)
  • Hollow Language, Hollow Promises, Hollow…People??
  • Hubris...nuclear hubris
  • Humour (unintended? Or did she do this on purpose??) award to CNSC tribunal member Dr.Moyra McDill, who, after a presentation from someone from the Cobourg Waterfront Festival committee (there in support as their payment for Cameco’s corporate largesse…read donations), asked whether Port Hope has a waterfront festival. Well, this sent a bunch of us into fits of unexpected laughter. A waterfront festival in Port Hope? With its raped, ruined waterfront & industrial buildings & scarey stored barrels & tarp-covered radioactive waste right on Lake Ontario??? (note to Dr. McDill: please read Pat McNamara’s book Port Hope – Canada’s Nuclear Wasteland In Chapter 2 you can read about the harbour/waterfront & how the community lost its beach & the local youth their pavilion. No, Dr. McD - there is NO WATERFRONT FESTIVAL IN PORT HOPE!!!!! , & there is not liable to be one for, oh, I dunno, thousands of years???)
  • Integrity / Speaking Truth to Power award: this goes NOT to the nuclear industry but to the brave & determined Port Hope souls who have suffered so much for so long & who as a rule receive not credit but brickbats for standing up to the truly venal & nasty polluter of their community. (Have you read Ibsen’s play An Enemy of the People?? Well worth a read….). Faye More, Pat McNamara, Derrick Kelly, Dan Rudka, the Haskills. Pat & Tom Lawson. No doubt many others I have missed. Good, solid, courageous, determined citizens who truly speak on behalf of everyone (by which I mean, in the true interests of everyone), & who receive precious little thanks for doing so. Bless you bless you bless you & thank you, courageous truth-tellers!!!!!
  • Junk Science / Junk Language / Junk Ethics
  • Moral Vacuity
  • Nuclear Farce
  • Nuclear (Dysfunctional) Family
  • Selective Hearing
  • Shame on You!! (Cameco wins this one, hands down. For cavalier treatment of those harmed by their activities. Out of profits of well over $5 million per day, every day, you can spare nothing for those you have harmed?? Shameful, shameful, shameful!)
  • Team Player/s
  • Willful Naivete/Willful Ignorance/Willful Stupidity
  • Zoning Out: I am awarding this one to myself. I felt so appalled so much of the time at so much of what I was hearing the nuclear industry claim that I kept zoning right out. Flying off into La-La Land & ignoring what was being said (there is only so much BBBBB & nuclear b.s. a person can really absorb, you hear what I’m sayin’??)

Finally, language-wise, I just want to conclude that the letter “S” is the overall winner in this 3-day hearing.

The words that kept coming to mind were:

  • Scuzzy
  • Smooth
  • Slick
  • Slippery
  • Sleazy
  • Snake Oil Salesmen in their expensive
  • Suits(3)

& on that note, off I go for a lovely walk on a very-very-very lovely day. Every time I find myself in danger of having this horrid industry knock me too far off-kilter, I go out for a brisk walk in a world that, miraculously, is still abidingly abundant & beautiful!!**

Thank goodness, still & always, for “everyday magic”!!!!!

Janet

** no thanks to the many corrupt corporate rapers of our lovely Earth home – nuclear not the only one of course, but perhaps the most evil of them, given the beyond-forever nature of their toxic leavings. If only we humans had the good sense to stop working for these pillagers!! Like that old naïve question, “What if they gave a war, and nobody came??”

‘Quote of the day with this post: “It’s hard to be delicate when you realize your friends and families are being sacrificed to allow the nuclear industry to prosper.” – Pat McNamara in Nuclear Genocide in Canada

p.s. Lots of good nuke quotes/maps/films/books/resources/links listed on this page

p.p.s. relevant posting here, too


 

(1) It sort of seems to me as though the term Canadian Nuclear DANGER Commission might be a little more accurate…you know???

(2) Can’t seem to get straight on this Mr./Dr. thing with Michael Binder. He is said to have a Ph.D. in Physics (University of Alberta), yet his colleague Dr. McDill refers to him as “Mr.” This explains my little Mr./Dr. thing. I am just not clear on this.

(3) But I’m not bitter. Heh heh heh heh heh…

 

Experts, eh??

Experts. They sure don't always get it right, do they?

Think

 

Right.

The list is long.

I rest my case.

Janet

p.s. Good short (8 minutes) YouTube on the harmful effects of radiation here

p.p.s. Personally, I have come to very much dislike the word "expert." & lotsa folks I know who are wickedly smart & wickedly knowledgeable about, say, nuclear matters, would never call themselves experts. They have too much humility for that. Anyway, you always gotta ask yourself how deeply the person's self-interest is tied up in her/his so-called "expertise." Getting a salary (especially an extremely high one, or a ludicrously high "fee") can kinda turn a person's head around, hmmm? As I've been known to say in the past, some of us are bought. And some of us are not.

p.p.p.s. I recall something I once said to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in a letter. I recommended that all future CNSC hearings be conducted with everyone present sitting in a circle (instead of having the CNSC tribunal members elevated above all the participants the way they always are). And no fancy, expensive suits; everyone wearing her/his blue jeans & maybe a T-shirt. No pretensions, hmmm? Then it would quickly become clear who the real "experts" in the room were...

'Quote of the day' with this post: “Always be prepared to believe that experts are stupid. They very often are.” – Jane Jacobs in CBC interview with Eleanor Wachtel.

Irrevy: Gofman Quotes

Yesterday’s post was about “screwers & screwees,” with lengthy explanation from the brilliant John W. Gofman book “Irrevy” - An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power (published in 1979 by the Committee for Nuclear Responsibility) as to how things really function on our planet.

As I said, it ain’t a pretty picture – but it’s ... bracing! (Elizabeth Cady Stanton said “Truth is the only safe ground to stand on,” & I’m kinda with her on that.)

A few more gems from the book:

“We are treated to a remarkable spectacle. If we don’t like what is being done in our name and with our dollars, we can change things through law, by electing Tweedle-dee instead of Tweedle-dum. If we object to the activities of the Atomic Energy Commission or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, we have the fabulous privilege of “intervening” in license-hearings. Citizens are expected somehow to hire lawyers in such processes, while their tax dollars go to support an army of lawyers at the beck and call of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. There has not existed the slightest shred of meaningful evidence that the entire intervention process in nuclear energy is anything more than the most callous of charades and frauds. Short of direct proof that a nuclear reactor is sitting on Mount Vesuvius at the height of its eruption, there is little doubt that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will approve the site. Probably some of the Commissioners would suggest coming back next week … maybe the volcano will quiet down.” <page 125>

(I can say with confidence that this is equally true of nuclear hearings here in Canada, btw. Brilliant & determined activists (some of them scientists themselves) spend many hours doing research & writing wildly intelligent “interventions” for the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). Almost 80 such submissions were made last Fall in Ottawa on the issue of the preposterous Bruce Power proposal to ship radioactive steam generators through the Great Lakes & Atlantic Ocean & Baltic & North Seas to Sweden for “recycling” – yet the CNSC in its infinite wisdom simply ignored all this well-informed testimony & gave its OK to the shipment! (Lots of postings about this issue here on this blog.) Darlington hearings no different (postings here). You can beat your head bloody trying to defeat nuclear proposals, but almost invariably, no one in a position of power is really listening).

More Gofman:

On air shipments of plutonium-oxide into New York City (yikes!?) & how a health physicist for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) argued that the odds were good that a crash would not kill everyone in NYC (good of him, wasn’t it??). Congress wound up stopping the practice (this was back when Gerald Ford was President). Gofman comment: “Occasionally, even Congress comes to life if the idiocy of a situation is sufficient.” <page 46> Ahem.

On nukes, asbestos & lead: “I mentioned earlier that the nuclear power advocates often ask why they are singled out and not allowed to help destroy the planet, since others are permitted to do so. They could point out that lead and asbestos can also irreversibly poison the surface of the planet where life is sustained. In this, they would be correct, for these substances are not bio-degradable, and their half-lives are infinite. Are asbestos and lead indispensable for the good life? I have the distinct impression that we may be able to do without them too.” <pages 172-3>

I could add tons of pithy (& funny!) Gofman gems, but hey! It’s time for a walk – & as my sister says, “If I’m sane at all, it’s because I walk.”

Janet

p.s. you can find some more great Gofman quotes in the Nuke Quotes section.

Darl. Hearings: Dr. Baker (PGS) ~ Final Submission

NOTE to anyone who got here by querying "health effects in Elliot Lake" or similar queries: you may want to consider also having a look at the posting 'Uranium: Got 46 minutes?' ***************************

** Dr. Baker's submission printed here w. her permission, of course! Her first submission is here Lots of Darlington-related postings listed here

Once again I would like to thank you for the opportunity of having presented my submission to the panel.

You have heard from a number of physician, scientists and other citizens who are deeply concerned about the risks of expanding nuclear power. As presented in my submission, numerous scientists and physicians, including myself, have extensively reviewed the scientific literature and have come to the unwavering conclusion: there is no safe level of radiation exposure. The vast literature that I have personally reviewed includes the report theHealth Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation: BEIR VII Phase 2.”

The National Research Council panel found a linear dose curve, meaning that the higher the dose, the greater the likelihood of developing cancer. However they also recognized that “a single radiation track (resulting in the lowest exposure possible) traversing the nucleus of an appropriate target cell has a low but finite probability of damaging the cell’s DNA.”

Cumulative exposure increases the risk. There is no safe level of radiation exposure. The interpretation of the BEIR report given by Patsy Thompson, a toxicologist working for CNSC, was biased and misleading at best and not supported by a large number of the scientific community.

The evidence of increased risk to children living near a nuclear reactor of developing leukemia is also overwhelming and irrefutable. An analysis of the data presented by Rachel Lane, an epidemiologist for CNSC, and Patsy Thompson on March 31, which denies this connection, is both circular and flawed. Not expecting an outcome does not negate an outcome. Furthermore, finding other clusters of children with leukemia is completely irrelevant. In a world riddled with carcinogenic toxins, this too is expected and should be addressed. This does not negate the evidence that children living near a nuclear reactor are at higher risk of developing leukemia.

Ms. Lane also referred to studies done in Canada and stated “there is no substantive evidence that there are any adverse health effects related to environmental radiation exposures from these facilities.” In fact the studies are minimal, and lack medical collaboration, but do suggest possible health risks which require further study and improved design. There is no substantial evidence that environmental radiation exposures from these facilities are safe.

Additionally we are still discovering the devastating consequences of the Chernobyl disaster to human health and life. This nuclear disaster resulted in contamination of a large area of land, numerous deaths and many suffering from illnesses including thyroid cancer, leukemia, brain tumours, congenital defects and mental deficiencies. The data that Ms. Lane presented to the panel on March 31 on Chernobyl is not consistent with a recent report published by the New York Academy of Sciences. Russian and Ukraine physicians state that there have been almost one million people who have died as a result of the Chernobyl disaster. Ms. Lane claimed the “official” death count as 4000. Where the numbers are so far apart, there is good reason to doubt the accuracy of what we are being told.

The health dangers of radiation are clear. All the processes in the mining, milling, refining, and enriching uranium - and running the nuclear reactor - increase exposure to radiation, even when using Canadian standard precautions. Nuclear tailings and waste are also a particular risk to the environment. Nuclear technology increases individual exposure and the global burden of radiation. This will increase the incidence of cancer and other diseases linked to radiation exposure. Risks include cancer, genetic damage, birth defects, immune system dysfunction, diabetes and heart disease.

According to the Ontario Diabetes Database, there is a higher incidence of diabetes in the Central East Local Health Integrated Network, LHIN 9, than in Ontario in general. The incidence was particularly high in the region near Pickering. Diabetes is becoming a global pandemic and there is much blossoming evidence that radiation exposure, including from nuclear reactors, is contributing to this. While there is not substantial evidence to conclude that the nuclear reactors at Pickering and Darlington are responsible for this local increase, there is sufficient evidence to conclude that there might be a risk. It is consistent with evidence that the local population is exposed to increased levels of radiation and that that radiation is causing negative health effects. Based on the “Precautionary Principle,” this, alone, is substantial evidence to call for a moratorium on nuclear expansion.

The Precautionary Principle states that if there is a possibility of harm to a population or the environment from an action, we should not proceed with that action.

In my own practice as a Palliative Care Physician, I have seen a number of patients with cancer, particularly breast and lung cancer, who were living either in the area of the Bruce Nuclear reactor or in the Pickering/Darlington/Port Hope region at the time of their diagnosis. Just as smokers often quit smoking after they are diagnosed with lung cancer, many of these people left the area that they felt contributed to the etiology of their cancer. I have also had patients who spent many years in Elliot Lake and later developed lung cancer, colon cancer, pancreatic carcinoma or lymphoma. I know firsthand that there are no studies identifying, tracking, reporting or investigating any of these people.

There is cost to human health and to the taxpayer. The reactors at Darlington were almost $10 billion over the original budget. We spend well over $100 million a year in just protecting nuclear reactors in Ontario. We are squandering tax dollars on private armies. Investment in safe forms of sustainable technology pale in comparison. If health concerns were not enough to make using nuclear energy to boil water unacceptable, financial concerns should surely bring the industry to a halt. Every dollar wasted on expanding and protecting nuclear technology is a dollar diverted from the development of renewable, sustainable green energy.

We cannot continue to live in denial of the possibility of a significant accident happening in Canada. We have had numerous accidents.

There was a significant meltdown of a reactor in Rolphton, Ontario, Chalk River, in December, 1952. At that time the core was damaged. There was also an accident at Chalk River on May 24, 1958 in which fuel was damaged.

A severe nuclear event occurred in Pinawa, Manitoba in November, 1978. The reactor which was cooled by a type of oil, terphenyl isomer, experienced a major coolant leak as one of the pipes developed a hole and 2,739 litres of oil escaped.

It took several weeks for workers to find and repair the leak. Much of the leaked oil was then discharged into the Winnipeg River. According to Dr. Agnes Bishop of the Atomic Energy Control Board, (later the CNSC), the fuel reached high temperatures.

Although the temperature did not hit the meltdown level, it did result in three fuel elements being broken, with some fission products being released. The accident, which many consider significant especially to the health and safety of the people of Manitoba, was not reported for several years.

An attempt was made in 2000 to have the full report from this accident made public, but Atomic Energy of Canada refused, and labelled it “Protected.”

We may never know what radioactive carcinogens were vented or released into the air and water. There has been no systematic medical response to investigate or follow potentially affected workers or the local population.

On 9th August 1989, at the Pickering reactor an accident resulted in a mechanic being exposed to six times the yearly industry accepted radiation limit. Another worker who was standing nearby was also exposed. The workers were replacing a radioactive control rod, which is moved in or out of a reactor to control the nuclear process, when a radiation detection device one of the men was holding went off scale. It was later discovered that the equipment being used by the men was designed for training and did not contain lead, which provides workers with some shielding from radiation.

In early October of the same year, 1989, human error resulted in operations workers mistakenly putting Tritium-contaminated heavy water into the heat transport system of the Unit 2 reactor at the Darlington nuclear station.

Of interest, a significant accident was reported at Fukushima, Japan that same year.

Additionally, as many as 217 workers were exposed to radioactivity at the Bruce nuclear power station while refurbishing a reactor in November 2009. Again, no details have been released and there has been no systematic medical response to investigate or follow these workers.

Accidents and leaks continue. On March 16 of this year 73,000 litres of demineralised water were released into Lake Ontario when a pump seal failed at the Pickering Nuclear Power Plant. While this accident is considered by the industry to be small, it is a significant health risk and demonstrates once again that the Canadian system is not perfect.

Frequent leaks of contaminated water have also been a significant health risk at uranium mines and tailing sites. One example occurred in November 1989, when there was a 2-million litre spill of radioactive water at Rabbit Lake, Saskatchewan, due to a faulty pipe burst. The spill remained undetected for 14 hours even though there were Atomic Energy Control Board inspectors on site.

Moreover the current tragedy in Fukushima, Japan is of great importance. Already people have died; food, water and air have been contaminated. Every day we are hearing more about the impact of the local crisis and international consequences. We still have more to ascertain. This disaster has permanently increased the global burden of radiation and must not be repeated. Ontario has recently been found to have increased levels of radiation. The origin and significance of this must be evaluated. If governments and industry refuse to learn from history, it will repeat itself.

While it appears that the risk of terrorism is small, based on the amount we spend defending nuclear reactors, it is not negligible. The very technology which prevents the need for opening fuel cells has also been equated with an increased risk of theft, diversion and terrorism. Fuel can be removed from CANDU reactors at any time without shutting down the reactor, and the fuel elements are substantially smaller and more portable than is the case for LWRs (Light Water Reactors). In a LWR, the entire reactor core is a single large pressure vessel containing the light water, which acts as moderator and coolant, and the fuel arranged in a series of long bundles running the length of the core. In CANDU the pressure and the fuel bundle are contained in much smaller and lighter, easier to fabricate tubes. The CANDU technology has its own significant risks.

An accident or terrorist event in the Toronto vicinity would be devastating. A Public Health response is not ready for such a catastrophic occurrence. In medicine we do not perform a procedure unless we are prepared for the worst possible outcome of that procedure. We are not prepared for a nuclear accident.

In order to promote unbiased scientific method and uphold the principle of democracy, we desperately need studies in Canada on the health risks of nuclear power that are not in the control of the nuclear industry. We need to respect and value differing scientific opinion, not just those of nuclear physicists and industry representatives.

The nuclear industry has provided the Review panel with interpretations of data from their perspective. The scientific and medical communities are not in consensus with their biased and narrow-focused opinions. While CNSC and OPG officials have attempted to minimize the risks, they have not proven safety. The “Precautionary Principle” must be implemented. We need to invest in safe, sustainable, renewable energy now. The hunger for power does not justify leaving a toxic, radioactive inheritance for generations to come.

Nuclear technology must be phased out, not expanded.

Respectfully submitted,

Sharon Baker, MD, MCFP

Physicians for Global Survival

 

Darlington Hearings Over!!

Friday, April 8th was the last day of the 3-week hearings into the proposed building of 4 new nuclear reactors at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station near the town of Courtice, outside Toronto, Ontario.

Hallelulia!! I’ve been blogging about these hearings for weeks, & still have a few items I intend to add to the special section on the hearings, but my overall feeling is … relief!!

That, “OMG it feels good to stop bashing my head against a brick wall” feeling…you know what I mean??

There was an almost holiday atmosphere in the hearing room on Friday afternoon – among both those of us intervenor types who attended more of the hearings than is surely really good for a person’s mental health, &, pretty clearly, also among JRP (Joint Review Panel) members & CNSC (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission) staff who must all have been just about going nuts to be away from their families & homes for so long.

I have said repeatedly that the hearings have felt quite surreal. An escalating nuclear crisis has been taking place in Japan throughout the hearing process, & to many of us, the prospect of entertaining the idea of expanding nuclear capacity at this time is, well, foolhardy, to say the very least (absurd, actually).

Anyway. It’s been quite the slog, to put it mildly, & my own only intermittent access to the Internet has made it all doubly & triply challenging for me personally.

So…I’m greatly relieved the hearings are finally over, & while I have no faith in the impartiality of the panel to put a stop to this proposed nuclear expansion, I do hope & believe my own mental health will improve somewhat now that life can return to … “normal” – not that “normal” is what it used to be, given the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan.

Here in Canada we are simultaneously well into a federal election campaign, &, given the character of our political situation, this too seems surreal.

I guess maybe surreal is … “the new normal.”

I do look forward to blogging about some more, shall we say “ordinary” things in the days ahead.

Janet

‘Quote of the Day’ with this post: “After last year’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico & now the Fukushima Daiichi ‘‘gempatsu shinsai,’’ people must realize that business as usual is not an option. To claim that nuclear energy has a future represents a colossal failure of our collective imagination—a failure to imagine the risks involved & a failure to imagine how we could do things differently. If future generations are to say that there was a silver lining to the cloud of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, it will be because human beings now looked beyond their recent history and chose to build a society that was not subject to catastrophic risks of human making.” – Philip White Tokyo-based Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center

*** Lots of good nuke-related quotes/resources here

 

Darl. Hearings – Last Day, Final Awards

April 8 – Day 17 & the last day of the Darlington New Nuclear dog & pony show:

  • CNSC = Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
  • JRP = Joint Review Panel
  • NWMO = Nuclear Waste Management Organization
  • OPG = Ontario Power Generation

Also note: You can go here to find transcripts & audio & Webcast of the hearings.

Holy smokes! (I am repeating myself…)

The day began with a review of the “undertakings” that the JRP has … ordered undertaken during the panel hearings to dig up relevant reports & things. Most of the undertakings seem to be relatively meaningless, in that one doubts seriously that panel members will pay any attention to anything that doesn’t serve their agenda anyway, and/or when CNSC staff pass along whatever they’ve turned up, they bafflegab it so severely that everyone has fallen asleep by the time they’ve finished bafflegabbing it, or is quietly banging her/his head on a brick wall to staunch the pain of having to listen to so much meaningless CNSC staff nonsense/nukespeak.

More awards I feel are due…

CNSC Staff

Not ENOUGH Cancer award to CNSC staffer Patsy Thompson, who read a long statement in response to one of the aforementioned “undertakings.” She appeared to be saying, more or less, “Yes, it is true that radiation causes cancer. But how much cancer does it cause?” I guess what she meant was that her paycheque rests on the assumption that the nuclear industry doesn’t really cause enough cancer for them to own up / give a rat’s ass.

ALARA / ALARM award to aforementioned Patsy Thompson for reassuring us all that nuclear plants work hard to emit as little as possible. After all, they try hard to adhere to their ALARA principle. (Their ALARA principle, btw, stands for "As Low As Reasonably Achievable, economic & social factors taken into account." Needless to say, the economic interests considered are those of the nuclear industry, not that of the public, or public health). I believe the ALARA principle, as defined by the nuclear lapdog…oops, I mean watchdog, really ought to be re-named the ALARM principle. For sure, we cannot trust the nuclear industry to really look out for us, & we should ALL be alarmed at their cavalier attitude toward routine nuclear emissions, spills, public health, potential accidents, & long-lived nuclear waste for which no secure containment exists except in the fuzzy minds of nuclear industry personnel whose paycheques depend on this naïve, ill-placed, childlike & highly un-scientific, utterly baseless faith.

ROBUST LANGUAGE awardif we just repeat the word “robust” often enough, then apparently, this will make it so! Members of the nuclear industry say it a lot, so I guess it must be so!! It’s a robust industry; the reactors are robust; safety measures are robust…right. (For sure, we do know that nuclear waste itself is robust – very, very robust!!! It’s gonna be around FOREVER!)

WAITING…WAITING…WAITING award to the nuclear industry, that keeps ever so patiently waiting & waiting & waiting for a “solution” to the problem of long-lived nuclear wastes, & keeps expecting all of us to also keep waiting & waiting & waiting for a solution to these wastes that will be in their merest infancy in all of our lifetimes & will remain dangerous for my grandchildren’s grandchildren’s grandchildren’s grandchildren…& beyond.

JRP Panel Members:

DISPOSABLE PEOPLE award to Mme. Beaudet for her “sensitive” response to a local person’s heartfelt query as to “Where do we go?” in the case of a potential nuclear accident at Darlington. I will try to find the part in the transcript to get her exact words, but she seemed to be saying more or less “Don’t worry, be happy!” Or basically “Hey, dude, I’m sure you can find a friend to go & live with!”

AFFABLE GRANDAD award to JRP Chair Alan Graham who, after listening to the incredibly articulate & feisty young intervenors (who won the “Out of the mouths of babes” award; see below) & after hearing his fellow panel members bat some dumb questions back & forth, assured the young folks that they too can grow up & work in “the industry” (i.e., the nuclear industry). He said this twice & then corrected himself to broaden his language to “industry,” but Mr. Graham pretty clearly assumes it is the fond wish of ALL young people to grow up & work in the nuclear industry (I guess the money must be really REALLY good, eh??)

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it” (Upton Sinclair) award overall to all members of the Joint Review Panel & all OPG & CNSC staff & all participants in the nuclear nonsense for their apparently very thick skulls & impervious brains.

I DON’T GET IT / WE LIKE TO PAY LIP SERVICE if not any actual real concern award to JRP member Mme. Beaudet for her very imperfect grasp of the meaning of the precautionary principle. Mme. B. is invited to generously share this award with everyone in the nuclear industry for talking about how they buy into the precautionary principle & then go right on barging ahead making more nuclear waste that we have no reasonable solution or even reasonable assurance of ever properly safeguarding.

THAT OLD ENGINEERING MINDSET award to JRP member Pereira, who asks a group of young pro-nukers (all of whom work for OPG) – & with a straight face, btw, how they will safeguard nuclear waste created by the proposed new reactors at Darlington (as though these young folks know any better than the older ones how anyone can possibly promise to keep nuclear waste safe for a million years. No one on the planet can do that, so why long-time engineer dude Pereira would ask a bunch of engineers still wet behind the ears how they can do it…. Well. The mind boggles, hmmm? Magical thinking, perhaps…).

THE BIG DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY award to the Joint Review Panel members for their apparent assumption that, if a local mayor & a business organization & … whoever else… say the idea of nuclear expansion is great, they therefore represent everyone in the area. (This puts me in mind of my own birth family – highly dysfunctional, like so many, hmmm? Just ‘cos my Dad might have claimed “Our family all agrees everything is cool here” sure doesn’t mean it was so…you know??)

INTERVENORS’ Awards:

IT ISN’T ALWAYS WINDY & IT ISN’T ALWAYS SUNNY (& nuclear waste is FOREVER but I ain’t gonna worry my pretty little head about THAT) award to the intervenor who makes his income from nuclear energy & wants to be sure that the new build will move ahead (this person also commented “nuclear leads the way when it comes to safety,” giving him runner-up position for today’s Cognitive Dissonance award; see below).

CREATIVE LANGUAGE award to the young engineer who has such overwhelming confidence in nuclear energy & the ability of the nuclear industry to find a “willing host” community to host a deep geological repository for long-lived nuclear wastes that he has staked a career on it. After all, he asserted, they have a “conceptual study” of the possibility of properly minding nuclear wastes for a million years. (Wow!! Then I guess the problem is solved………right???? It’s all about those “conceptual studies,” eh??)

COGNITIVE DISSONANCE OFF THE CHARTS AWARD to the young nuclear engineer who says he is relying on the NWMO (a creation of the nuclear industry, btw) to safeguard current & future generations. Tied with the contractor who looks forward to lotsa cash in the future, for saying “nuclear leads the way when it comes to safety.” (Have I not been saying for weeks now that the proceedings here are SURREAL?????????) I dunno how many people get killed making solar panels & wind turbines – but I am betting not too many!?!? No million-year wastes, either, hmmm?

OMG SHE JUST SAID “TRUST PERMEATES THE ORGANIZATION” award to a young nuclear engineer whose naivete is very touching indeed…if very very very severely – not to mention dangerously – misplaced.

NO JOBS ON A DEAD PLANET award to the young nuclear engineers & also to the local provincial Member of Parliament who touts the 3200 jobs that will be created by the Darlington New Nuclear project. While a nuclear crisis in Japan escalates, the impacts of which will affect all human beings on the planet for many-many decades to come, all these folks can think about is jobs, jobs, jobs. (None of these dudes seem to be able to “get” that investment in conservation & efficiency & renewable energy strategies/projects has tremendous potential to create new jobs that are sustainable jobs – not jobs that negate even the very possibility of a future!)

BINGO award to the other young engineer who stated that he is not aware of any “willing host community” that has volunteered to take the high-level, long-term waste that already exists, never mind the potential waste of 4 new reactors at Darlington.

I DIDN’T RUN SCREAMING FROM THE ROOM award to me once again, for listening to the young engineers talk confidently about their ability to safeguard nuclear wastes for a million years, having clearly not heard OPG staff’s UNDERWHELMING testimony on the day waste was discussed, with their confident, strong assertions that “We are looking into containers” & “We are learning as we are going along.” Egad…

THE NUCLEAR EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES / OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES award to the young (very young!! High school age) & feisty intervenors who told the panel that, contrary to assertions by OPG that the public has been consulted, they have indeed not been consulted, & since they are the ones who will wind up having to pay all of their lives for the high costs/ongoing debts of nuclear power & be saddled with the-waste-that-is-forever, & also bear the health impacts, NO THANKS to any more nuclear reactors!! Hats off to these young people; what an inspiration!

CAN’T WE JUST START TELLING THE TRUTH?? award to the various citizen intervenors who pointed out that we humans need to dispense with our “technological optimism” & adopt the precautionary principle & the polluter pay principle & acknowledge the deadly risks of nuclear energy & the permanence of nuclear wastes & the reality of already-existing nuclear wastes leaking into Lake Ontario & rising cancer rates & the very real possibility of more nuclear accidents (& the fact that there have been many un-reported “near-misses” at nuclear plants) & that accidents by their very nature occur when we least expect them & finally, the utter immorality of an industry that does so much damage at every stage from uranium mining to refining to nuclear energy creation to routine emissions & finally, the waste-that-is-forever.

I could probably go on with awards forever, readers gentle & otherwise, but…enough already!!

Janet

p.s. For example, I should no doubt have handed out a “Shit happens!” award to the nuclear industry. That is perhaps their overall explanation…excuse…rationale...for all the harm their industry causes. Or maybe “Shit happens; suck it up, suckers!!” Or…. “Give Your Head a Shake.” I dunno. I am shaking my head…

Some Quotes for Today:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it” – Upton Sinclair

“No degree of prosperity could justify the accumulation of large amounts of highly toxic substances which nobody knows how to make “safe” and which remain an incalculable danger to the whole of creation for historical or even geological ages. To do such a thing is a transgression against life itself, a transgression infinitely more serious than any crime ever perpetrated by man. The idea that a civilisation could sustain itself on the basis of such a transgression is an ethical, spiritual, and metaphysical monstrosity. It means conducting the economic affairs of man as if people really did not matter at all.” – E.F. Schumacher

“29 years after passage of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, 36 years after the repository search began, 54 years into commercial nuclear power, and 69 years after Fermi first split the atom during the Manhattan Project, the U.S. still has no safe, sound, permanent storage plan for high-level nuclear wastes.”Kevin Kamps from Beyond Nuclear

“Authorizing construction of new nuclear reactors without first constructing a radioactive waste disposal facility is like authorizing construction of a new Sears Tower without bathrooms.” ~ Dave Kraft, director of Nuclear Energy Information Service

“Telling the truth is like making oxygen.” – Joanna Macy

** Lots of great quotes in a variety of categories in the ‘Quotation Central! section. Nuke quotes here

Darl. (New Build) Hearings – Apr. 4: Tweedle Day! (+ awards)

April 4 – 1st day of 3rd & final week of the dog & pony show.

  • CNSC = Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
  • JRP = Joint Review Panel
  • OPG = Ontario Power Generation

Also note: You can go here to find transcripts, Webcast & hearing schedule for/of the hearings. April 4th written transcript is here Audio recording here

Holy smokes!

The award-winning behaviour at the Darlington New Build hearing on Monday, April 4th, was right off the charts – so mind-boggling, in fact, that I will probably not return for days & days. My bullshit-tolerating circuits have been completely & utterly blown…

Lotta categories today!

The Joint Review Panel itself gets awards, some of the presenters get awards, CNSC & OPG staff (inevitably) get awards, & I am going to give myself at least one award (hey, why not, eh??).

First up were 2 very pro-nuclear presentnerds (OMG, I just made up a new word from a typo!?) from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) , whom I have very impolitely nicknamed Tweedledum & Tweedle-Dumber (in my notes I was referring to them as Bozo # 1 & Bozo # 2, but my Mom would say that’s really rude, so I’ll stick with TWD # 1 &TWD2)

1st up – Presenters’ Awards:

Fallacy of the Century award to the 2 Tweedles for their assertion that nuclear energy is the only answer for the climate change challenge.

I am so dim I am an argument against what I am arguing FOR award to TWD2 for his comment that he & others formed the thought some years ago that, if it isn’t safe to build a nuclear plant so close to a large population centre, it shouldn’t be built at all. BINGO, Tweedles 1 & 2 & Tweedles everywhere!!

Moral Vacuity Award of the Year award to TWD2 for dismissing concerns about nuclear emissions from nuclear plants because after all (he said), they are less than we would get from medical treatment. He gets 2 of these, actually – the 2nd for his rhetorical question “What will people remember 10 years from now (i.e., 10 years post-Fukushima nuclear accident), tens of thousands of deaths from the tsunami or a nuclear plant that had to be retired early?” (Yes, he actually said that!!)

Rocket Science Award (Not!) award goes to TWD # 1 for his brilliant statement that the good thing about nuclear waste is that, unlike the nuclear material that is still in the ground (as though all the man-made nuclear waste from nuclear projects pre-exists, in the ground), we know where it is. (I’m not kidding! He actually said this!!)

Rocket Science Award (Not!) # 2 award goes to TWD2 who made a very “scientific” comment about how, when he worked for Ontario Hydro in the 1970s, he worried more about his wife & son travelling in a car on the 401 than he did about nuclear accidents at Pickering.

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil award to the Tweedles for their utter inability to see any harm in nuclear energy, & their utter inability to grasp the utter immorality of the idea of creating dangerous wastes that will remain dangerous for a million years…

Note: I have awarded the “I have steam coming out of my ears” award to me, myself & I, after having to listen to the 2 Tweedles for their utterly preposterous, mindless, un-scientific & amoral claims that nuclear energy is the only way to deal with climate change, & their dismissal of the risks of nuclear emissions of any & all kinds. I kind of wanted to ask how a person whose groundwater has been contaminated with tritium (or a person whose entire territory has been ruined by uranium mining) would find comfort in Tweedle-ish pro-nuclear bromides & empty assurances – but I’d left the room in disgust & so missed my opportunity.

2nd Up – CNSC Staff Awards:

CNSC staff outdid themselves today!! By 11 AM, & after only speaking for about 5 minutes, CNSC staffers Barclay Howden & Dr. Patsy Thompson have been awarded a record # of awards for a record small amount of time:

Bafflegab Extraordinaire / I just went to sleep award goes to Barclay Howden & Patsy Thompson for their extraordinary, over-the-top ability at bureaucratic bafflegab in response to panel member Pereira about abandoned uranium mines. No information whatsoever about destroyed lives, rivers, lakes, people in the wake of uranium mining, & by the end of their little monologues, any of us listening had gone soundly to sleep, bored out of our skulls, heads aching from trying to actually extract anything sensible or comprehensible from all their bullshit. (Okay, Mom, sorry – nonsense).

How do you sleep at night? award to the aforementioned CNSC staffers who, gosh, now that I think of it, maybe DON’T sleep at night! They stay up all night, practicing their bafflegab & bullshit routines. Glad I figured that out!! I’d been wondering for years how they are able to make so much nonsense dance on the head of a tiny little pin.

Weasel word award to CNSC staff for their use of the word “legacy” to minimize the existence of very long-term (I mean permanent, actually) environmental damage & environmental & human health hazards from uranium mining (& all & sundry other nuclear operations). Calling it “legacy,” in CNSC-speak, means “We are being very, very good boys & girls NOW & we must not be blamed or held accountable for all that dangerous & despicable stuff we used to do in the past & will very likely go right on doing as long as is humanly possible & bleah-bleah-bleah-bleah-bleah – is everyone asleep yet?”

3rd Up – Joint Review Panel Awards:

Affable Chairman Award to Mr. Alan Graham. Mr. Graham (an ex-politician) is truly admirable as Affable Chairman of the Month (maybe even year). He is almost unfailingly polite & patient, & his apparent naïve enjoyment in assigning “undertakings” & especially in assigning the correct # to each new undertaking is downright touching. The meaninglessness of most of these undertakings is…well…never mind. It is the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, after all…

Cutting through CNSC bullshit & bafflegab to ask about a particular study cited by the … shall we say, low-toned CNSC staffer Dr. Patsy Thompson award goes to panel member Mr. Pereira. This man has special abilities to listen to OPG & CNSC staff nonsense (OPG & CNSC staff have Ph. D’s in Bafflegab & Bullshit & presumably JRP members have studied this curriculum as well) & manage to squeeze out a relevant-seeming question – usually a leading question aimed at establishing that nukes are just grand (it could alternatively be called the Foxes Minding the Henhouse award). I myself have sometimes run (almost) screaming from the room to stick another needle in my eye rather than listen to more CNSC staff bafflegab…

Leading Question award also goes to panel member Pereira, an engineering & ex-AECL (Atomic Energy of Canada) dude who pretty clearly favours the continued use of nuclear energy & whose bias in this regard is somewhat noticeable.

Ooops, darn, I sure wish I hadn’t asked THAT question award to member Mme. Beaudet for asking York University prof Jose Etcheverrez (sp???) about the intermittency of solar/wind power. His incredibly lengthy, detailed & informative answer blew us ALL out of the water…

Staying alert, awake &, apparently, even interested award while listening to stultifying babblegab from CNSC & OPG staff who speak in monotones & repeat their catchphrases & jardon endlessly, & especially for having to listen to the passionate interventions from members of the public who DO see evil, hear evil & speak evil when it comes to nuclear nonsense – & continue to feign interest or concern. Shoot, as I type this, I realize we oughta be talking Academy Awards for these folks!!

4th Up – OPG Staff Awards:

Gotta admit, I’m getting a bit tired of this whole exercise, so OPG staff get just 2 awards today…

Literacy award to Mr. Albert Sweetnam, Executive Vice President of the Darlington New Nuclear Project, who proved beyond the shadow of a doubt, after hearing the brilliant presentation by the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) that pretty much established that the multiple-year, who-knows-how-many-millions-or-billions-spent Environmental Impact Statement OPG submitted as part of the federally-mandated Canadian Environmental Assessment Act requirements, is a botch, could … wait for it!! actually read a statement from the OPG Web site. Well done, Mr. Sweetnam (1)!!! We were all soooooo impressed …

Robot award – do I even need to explain this???? (Okay, okay. They look like humans. They dress like humans. They walk sorta like humans. But… they speak like robots. Now, gotta say, CNSC staff are a very, very close 2nd for this award. Oh heck, let’s just call it a tie, shall we?? The 2 staffs can share it…)

Finally – another award to myself:

For NOT running screaming from the room. I DID leave in disgust more than once, I must admit, & was tempted more than once to put a needle in my eye rather than listen to any more nuclear nonsense…but didn’t actually scream on the way out (at least, not out loud). I might have huffed & puffed a little, & there may have been some steam coming out of my ears, but … I didn’t scream!! (Mom, you’d have been so proud of me! :)  )

Please do note, readers gentle & otherwise, if you go here on the CNSC Web site, you can locate transcripts & Webcasting of the hearings.

p.s. Did I mention that the Emperor STILL has no clothes??? THAT award keeps right on giving!!

p.p.s. & hey, I also failed to mention that the intervenors from York University's Faculty of Environmental Studies, Physicians for Global Survival, Libby Racansky, the NGOs Pembina Institute & the Canadian Environmental Law Association & finally, Zach Ruiter - were awesome & inspiring. Thanks a ton to all of you!!


 

(1) You can check out Mr. Sweetnam’s salary here, btw. A mere $686,238.00 per year, poor fellow!!

Darl. Hearings: Janet M. (aka me - March 31st)

March 31, 2011.

Members of the Joint Review Panel, OPG & CNSC staff & fellow members of the public:

I appreciate the opportunity to make this presentation to the Darlington New Build Joint Review Panel.

As I laid out in the outline I submitted in February, my presentation will consist of the following:

  • Introductory remarks
  • Comments on the limitations of the review process
  • Comments on projected costs & overall economics of this project
  • Nuclear fuel chain issues & implications
  • Issues of public trust
  • Concluding remarks

Introductory Remarks

I’ve been an environmental activist for more than 20 years now. I’m also a former long-time resident of Durham Region & spent most of my adult life in Durham Region & the Greater Toronto Area.

It was never my intent to become involved in nuclear issues & I’ll explain in a moment why I did. Most of my years of activism have been focused on waste, pesticides, cancer prevention & climate change initiatives.

It’s relevant that I am a mother. Concern for my children’s future began even before they were born, naturally enough, & the threats to their future seem to have multiplied exponentially.

Now that they are adults who might like to have children of their own one day, I have the motivation to keep on working on environmental issues – even though sometimes I’d like to just stop & pull the covers over my head – the way so many “ordinary people” seem to do.

I’ve been thinking for a couple of days now about panel member Mme. Beaudet’s question to Mark Mattson, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper President, about reaching “ordinary people” in this process.

For sure I am one of the ordinary people in the sense that, unlike so many of my brilliant colleagues who’ve spoken at this hearing, I am not a technical person. I don’t really have a clue how nuclear energy & nuclear power plants work. I’m not scientifically minded & I’m not mathematically minded, either.

I could never engage with an engineer about technical matters involving reactors, & most of the CNSC staff could silence me pretty quickly with their jargon.

But here’s the thing. Although I am not technical, I do have an ear for language, & I can still see pretty well. I can often tell when I’m being deceived, & I can spot when an Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes. I often recall that Jane Jacobs (internationally known for her work on urban issues) once said, “Always be prepared to believe that experts are stupid. They very often are.”

I’m a big believer in telling the truth, & in drawing attention to elephants in the room. This doesn’t always make me popular, of course! Sometimes we humans are pretty invested in leaving those elephants alone – whether on big scary matters like nuclear energy, or the “small” ones in our personal lives.

As regards telling the truth, I recall that Maggie Kuhn, founder of the Grey Panthers, once said “Speak your mind, even when your voice shakes.” …. so that’s what I am trying to do. Sometimes my voice does shake – it may very well be shaking now – but if we human beings are going to keep on living on this planet (something I am less & less convinced is going to be possible in the long-term), I think more & more of us are going to need to start telling the truth.

Now, as to how & why I became involved in nuclear issues.

After 24 years in Durham Region, I moved to Deep River for 6 years. Friends I made in Renfrew County told me about the little company in Pembroke that makes glow-in-the-dark products using tritium from CANDU reactors. The things I learned about the tritium pollution in air & groundwater in Pembroke shocked me deeply. That’s what motivated me to start attending Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission hearings. It’s been very illuminating!

The Limitations of This Review Process

The limitations of this process have been covered quite brilliantly by other intervenors – Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Northwatch, the International Institute of Concern for Public Health, Greenpeace, & others.

I would like to call attention to the document called Public Hearing Procedures (no file or document #) that states, in Section 1, ‘Background Information,’ that the proposal is “for the site preparation, construction, operation, decommissioning and abandonment of up to four new nuclear reactors” etc. etc.

The use of the word “abandonment” certainly sends up a red flag for me! I’m not sure how we can reasonably talk about “abandoning” nuclear reactors whose contaminants & waste will remain radioactive & dangerous for thousands & thousands of years. As far as I’m aware, the nuclear industry has no real experience in the safe decommissioning of used-up nuclear plants. The use of the word “abandonment” is a bit shocking to me, for sure.

In Section 2 of that same document, under “Role of the Panel,” it refers to this “environmental assessment of the complete life cycle of the project.” Again, I’m not sure how we can be properly said to assess the complete life cycle of a project whose carrying out involves the creation of dangerous wastes that will remain dangerous not just for my grandchildren’s grandchildren, but for their grandchildren’s grandchildren’s grandchildren… & perhaps beyond?? It seems a little preposterous, then, to me, to make this claim about the “life cycle” of the project.

There are other aspects of this plan for new nuclear reactors that I have trouble buying into. “Bounding scenarios.” “Multiple technology approach.” “Credible accident scenarios.”

The language all sounds more than a little absurd! It sounds like fancy jargon that intends not to illuminate or tell the truth, but to do quite the opposite. To cover up & obscure the truth.

I doubt very much that the BP oil spill – or the current nuclear crisis in Japan – would be classified as “credible accident scenarios.” Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean they didn’t happen. As one of the aboriginal speakers said on Monday, the unthinkable does indeed happen…

I have felt quite often during this hearing process that, like Alice in the story of “Alice in Wonderland,” I must have fallen down a rabbit hole. Some of the testimony I hear puts me in mind of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

OPG testimony on Tuesday about their ability to safeguard dangerous nuclear wastes for hundreds of thousands of years is an excellent case in point. I am not in the slightest reassured! In fact, OPG staff members’ inability to really get their heads around the really, really long-term storage challenge is frankly sobering & even downright scary to me.

I recall that a previous intervenor, Dr. Fairlie, called on the nuclear industry to demonstrate humility, not hubris, at this most extraordinary time, considering the escalating nuclear crisis in Japan.

Given the current nuclear crisis, this whole panel experience seems almost surreal. I doubt that I am alone in feeling this sensation.

As for the failure of this process to properly investigate non-nuclear alternatives, I’m reminded of Thomas Alva Edison – father of the light bulb – who 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.” Of course Edison very likely had no idea we’d come up with the madness of nuclear energy!

Comments on the projected costs & overall economics of this project

Many intervenors have by now made comments on this as well.

I do not recall how many millions of dollars over budget the first generation of reactors at Darlington came in at. (I do recall that an engineer friend of mine once said that if the money spent building the Darlington reactors had been put into solar panels for all the houses in Durham Region, Darlington wouldn’t have been needed. This friend is a nuclear engineer, by the way…)

How many millions of dollars over budget are all the current nuclear refurbishment projects? Some mind-boggling # that truly does boggle the mind so much that we “ordinary people” lay it aside almost casually & forget about it. We’ve heard it so many times before…

And yet, it is genuinely scandalous, really, isn’t it??

I also wonder how it is possible for OPG to give any realistic estimate of the costs for decommissioning reactors when, from what I gather, decommissioning nuclear facilities is not exactly “proven technology.”

Finally, I want to register my extreme frustration that, if all the money that’s been spent on this project had been put into research & implementation of conservation & efficiency measures (which have been known about for decades now, after all!) & renewable energy sources, a great many more jobs would have been created & they would be sustainable jobs.

The money that is being spent to conduct this hearing process would very likely fund a really efficient environmental non-governmental organization for years. So much waste of human energy, psychic potential & our hard-earned tax dollars! It’s enough to make a person weep….

Nuclear fuel chain issues & implications

I’m aware that you have chosen not to consider the entire nuclear fuel chain to be an integral part of your deliberations. But talking about building new nuclear reactors & failing to consider the rest of the stages involved is kind of like saying we’re going to undertake to protect fetuses from fetal alcohol syndrome – without bothering to talk to the fetuses’ mothers about giving up drinking!

Dave Kraft, director of Nuclear Energy Information Service has said “Authorizing construction of new nuclear reactors without first constructing a radioactive waste disposal facility is like authorizing construction of a new Sears Tower without bathrooms.”

The nuclear fuel chain is… bad news. Human health & the environment are damaged at every turn.

It is not precautionary at any point, & simply claiming it is so will not make it so.

The biggest single problem with the nuclear fuel chain, it seems to me, is the waste that will be created & left for future generations to “manage.”

It seems to me we have a moral duty as human beings to behave in such a way that future generations will be possible. A duty many of us are really only paying lip service to, I’d say.

We heard Dr. Caldicott speak last week, about the damage to children in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster. We all know there will be vast damage to the as-yet unborn in the wake of the current Japanese nuclear disaster.

I wonder about the possibility for future generations to survive at all, considering the overwhelming burden of nuclear pollution that already exists – never mind the bizarre & irresponsible notion of creating yet more.

We cannot properly deal with the wastes that have already been created. As has been pointed out by Mr. Kamps from Beyond Nuclear, “29 years after passage of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, 36 years after the repository search began, 54 years into commercial nuclear power, and 69 years after Fermi first split the atom during the Manhattan Project, the U.S. still has no safe, sound, permanent storage plan for high-level nuclear wastes.”

Nor, as we all know, does Canada.

In my opinion, put very very simply, nuclear energy is immoral.

I believe we have a moral duty to stop messing with it.

Issues of public trust

We know that the public does not trust the nuclear industry. We didn’t before Chernobyl, & we haven’t since. We didn’t before the accident in Japan & of course, we do so even less now.

I’m not sure that this matters much to the nuclear industry. Or to our governments.

There seem to be forces at work here that I don’t really understand.

I do believe, though, that one problem is an engineering mindset that is not serving us well.

I’ve had some interesting encounters with engineers in the past few years. Some of them have said things that have blown my mind.

One who used to work at the Chalk River nuclear facility expressed surprise that it had become clear that the ocean could not withstand all of humanity’s assaults on it. All the pollution we have dumped in it, & continue to dump in it. I was taken aback. He was serious! He thought we could go on & on & on using our precious water bodies as dumping grounds.

Another engineer (two, actually) outright denied what the retired, radioactive steam generators at the Bruce Power plant contain. It was pretty much a “Please! Don’t confuse me with the facts” conversation. The piece of paper I was showing them had information that had been provided by OPG – but these engineers were sure they knew better!

Hear no evil. See no evil. Speak no evil. This is a very dangerous mindset.

The nuclear industry seems to damage people at every stage along the way. People who live near uranium mines get sick. Bodies of water are destroyed forever. Workers at the Bruce were recently exposed to radiation.

Nuclear accidents happen & the public is lied to about the extent of the damage.

A previous speaker at this hearing (one of the articulate First Nations speakers on Monday) said, “No one is listening to us.”

We have good reason not to trust the industry.

Concluding Remarks

I’ve amended my remarks since I first wrote them. I was feeling pretty angry when I wrote my first draft.

Now we have another nuclear disaster, & now we have an opportunity to make this a watershed moment in human history. It may well be too late to save us, but it sure seems to me we ought to at least try!

I haven’t done a lot of stints in the corporate world in my working life. I do still have a powerful memory of one meeting I was part of, in my last corporate role.

I sat looking around the room at all the very bright & energetic people who were in the room & who were really working their butts off on the project we were engaged in. Well above & beyond the call of duty, for sure.

I thought, “Holy smokes. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could harness all the energy of all these brilliant minds to do the things that really need to be done to fix up the planet??”

And I’ve been having that thought again here, during the past days of hearings.

There’s a real “us & them” mentality at work here. It’s adversarial, & it sure doesn’t help us solve problems.

Last year I read an amazing book called Country of My Skull – Guilt, Sorrow & the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa, about the Truth & Reconciliation Commission. I recall from time to time (when I’m not feeling angry about what a mess things are & wondering about & blaming who is responsible for all these messes) that we really are all in this together, & that keeping on with the us & them dynamic isn’t going to take us anywhere we really want to go.

I can’t help but wish we’d use this time now, in the wake of this horrendous Fukushima nuclear disaster, to put our minds to a little “truth & reconciliation.” Put all our bright minds together & find solutions – not keep making more & more problems.

I’m terribly naïve – I know that. We environmental activists are idealists. I guess somebody has to do it!

Einstein, as we all know, said “Nuclear power is one hell of a way to boil water!” He also said “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

While I have no expectation that this panel will actually decide to put a halt to this project, that is what I very much hope you will do.

Earlier this week, on Monday, after I left the day’s hearing here, I went down to the gate at the Darlington Generating Station, where I looked at the plaque on the monument that was erected by the Nuclear Awareness Project group in 1989. The group put a time capsule in the ground & then put up a monument over top of it.

The plaque reads:

“In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next 7 generations.” – from the Great Law of the Haudenosaunee/Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy.

“This monument marks the opening of the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station. We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors – we borrow it from our children. The time capsule contained herein shall be opened after 7 generations, in the year 2129. The capsule contains information reflecting the debate on nuclear technology.

Our children shall judge us.”

It is surely so.

Thank you.

Darl. Hearings – March 29: WASTE Day: Awards (x 2)

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.)

I’ve posted recently about placards & awards during these hearings.

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):

  • Bafflegab!
  • Bullshit!
  • Obfuscation Alert!
  • Doh!
  • 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…

 

Darl. Hearing, Day 7 (Mar. 28): Pride, Inspiration, Disgust

Another day on Darlington (i.e., Monday, March 28th). The whole gamut of emotions. Even some quiet tears…

** Note: if you go here, you can find hearing info such as the public hearing schedule, transcripts, Webcasts, etc. Transcript for March 28th is here Audio recording found here

The SAGE (Safe & Green Energy – a Peterborough, Ontario-based group) presentation by Dr. Ian Fairlie (from London, England) was excellent. It was a delight for me to hear Dr. Fairlie explain why the CNSC’s use of the term “dose” is really just so much nonsense. (Techno-idiot me has never understood what the term millisievert means. As he explained, it really doesn’t mean much; it’s mostly a handy term for nuclear industry types to bandy about with gay abandon, while concealing the truth about how much radiation we are all actually being exposed to by nuclear plants/installations of this & that type, here, there & everywhere). He asked the panel for humility, in the face of the nuclear disaster in Japan – not hubris.

The Lake Ontario Waterkeeper intervention was blow-you-out-of-the-water awesome, & if life on this planet (& nuclear hearings) made any kind of sense at all, the darn Joint Review Panel of this crazy farce would have closed down its tent & skulked out with heads bent in shame. With the OPG & CNSC staff right behind them, tails between their legs… (more Waterkeeper info on this project here )

But this is a process not unlike the Mad Hatter's Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland, where nothing makes sense, the ground is tilting dangerously, the questions asked bear no relationship to reality & the answers given illuminate nothing & are merely preposterous non-sequiturs.

Well. I cited pride in the blog title. The pride came from the awesome presentations by groups proving that the nuclear Emperor has no clothes. (He really doesn’t, of course, & what’s more, never did.)

The quiet tears came when I looked over a brochure left outside the hearing room by someone from Port Hope. It’s called “Nuclear Garden,” about an art installation by Michèle White. Impressionistic paintings of spent nuclear fuel, inspired by Monet & Constable, & text that outlines the surreal nature of life in pretty small town Port Hope (Ontario), where small town innocence & ambience collide surprisingly with nuclear nightmare.

The tears were almost welcome alongside the emotion-less, overly “logical” & mind-numbing language of the OPG (Ontario Power Generation) & CNSC (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission) staff, who can somehow magically take fierce & wildly-articulately expressed concerns from the most intelligent, inspiring speakers & somehow soon transmute them into a perplexed & perplexing dull & gray bafflegab.

Inspiration came from the groups already mentioned, & then some over-the-top truth & more inspiration from First Nations presenters whose passion could be viscerally felt in a room where suddenly one could hear a pin drop.

Inspiration – admiration – sheer human fellow feeling from one Canadian to another. In this case, Canadians who have been here for thousands of years longer than we latter-day (mostly) white immigrants, who often seem to arrogantly suppose that everything we believe & think & do is somehow superior to the sensitivities & experiences of aboriginal Canadians. I was ashamed of the way the panel members patronized these awesome First Nations representatives – who not only out-spoke any panel members or OPG/CNSC staff mouthpieces, but whose dignity & intelligence ought to have humbled us all.

Which brings us, finally, to disgust. I had to leave the room in disgust when, after the First Nations individuals had left the room, a CNSC staff person began to detail “proof” of the so-called “consultation” with aboriginal groups, proudly rhyming off the numbers of emails & pieces of regular mail that had been sent to aboriginal groups.

& this after having just heard expressed so movingly, eloquently & sincerely, how appallingly poorly our governments have “consulted” with aboriginal groups.

I felt sick, embarrassed, &, as I say, disgusted.

****

This hearing process is a surreal one. I’ve said it before about CNSC hearings. You really can’t imagine how outright cuckoo they are, until you have attended one. The up & down roller coaster ride of sheer … illogic – well, really, I find it impossible to describe.

Ah well. Tomorrow is another day. (At least, we fervently hope so!)

Janet

 

Darl. Hearings – Day 4 (Mar. 24): Helen Caldicott, etc.

I attended the opening session of this 3-week hearing into the proposed expansion of the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station 3 days ago. Skipped Tues. & Wed., & went back yesterday for the afternoon session of Day 4. Mostly ‘cos Dr. Helen Caldicott was on the agenda…

** Note: if you go here, you can find hearing info such as the public hearing schedule, transcripts, Webcasts, etc. March 24th written transcript here Audio here

Since my mind is not particularly coherent right now, I’m really just jotting down some random thoughts:

  • Boy can government speakers ever be … dull!? Sometimes they actually read every line of their powerpoint presentation, & not only that, they speak in a monotone. Yikes…

  • I, meanwhile, was sneaking peeks at my copy of Alice in Wonderland, Chapter 7 – “A Mad Tea-Party,” since I always find this type of hearing (i.e., nuclear hearings) very reminiscent of going down a rabbit hole & taking part in a mad tea party at which absolutely nothing the nuke folks say seems to make any sense.

  • There sure are a lot of men in the nuclear industry!!! Lotsa men, lotsa dark suits, lotsa “experts.” I suppose a person could muse on why this industry is so male-dominated, & what that says about it…couldn’t one? (even maybe just that it’s a dinosaur…with no insult intended toward those innocent ancient dinosaurs…)

  • If you want to find passion at a hearing such as this one, don’t look for it among the corporate types. Or the government types. Not gonna happen. I think I first noticed this at a meeting of the International Joint Commission on the Great Lakes in the early 90’s. The people I came to refer to as “the suits” are so dull you’d think they were already dead. Sheesh…

  • The passion comes from the citizen intervenors. This same IJC meeting I just referred to got very livened up when activist extraordinaire Lois Gibbs came onto the scene. Hooey!!! (I’ve seen the same with David Suzuki. The minute he arrives at any gathering, the energy level takes a huge spike. Talk about passion!!)

  • Yesterday the passion came from Helen Caldicott, medical doctor & very long-time anti-nuclear activist. Lots of compelling testimony from Ms. Caldicott – about the health impacts of exposure to radionuclides, her passion as a doctor for preserving life, evidence from the Three Mile Island & Chernobyl nuclear accidents, & our need as a culture to stop adding these toxins unnecessarily to our world. Feisty lady! At one point she asked, given these deliberations amid the current nuclear crisis in Japan, “Have we all got a case of nuclear psychosis?”

  • Quotable & a vast understatement from Ms. Caldicott: “This is not a benign industry.” She also asked whether the world will end with a bang (nuclear war) or a whimper (endless & ongoing damage to human genetic material from the nuclear industry).

  • The panel? They didn’t even crack a smile when Helen C. made a joke. Yikes, what a serious-looking crowd… (But I have to admit, Chair Alan Graham was more than polite today, both to Helen Caldicott & very long-time Port Hope elder/activist, Pat Lawson. I’ve witnessed CNSC (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission) head honchos being outright rude at hearings, so this was a welcome thing…

  • There was lots & lots of bafflegab & bullshit today – as usual. One teeny-tiny little thing I noticed was the continual use of the statement “There are no adverse effects from the project.” It strikes me that the tense of this is a little off. How can there be any adverse effects in the present?? It’s in the days ahead that the problems lie…

And finally, after listening to too many suits & too much bafflegab, this little phrase came to me:

Some of us are bought…& some of us are not.(1)

Janet


(1)At the time I was attending the Darlington hearings & writing these blog entries, I had not yet seen the Web site that lays out the salaries of the OPG  bigshots. It was sent to me months later. It’s here. You can see for yourself that some of these folks probably have a bit of a “golden handcuffs” problem. They earn so damn much money, they’d very likely say anything at all!? I actually had no idea how bang on I was, with my "Some of us are bought…& some of us are not" comment!!

 

P.S. Ms.Caldicott quoted Albert Einstein twice. “Our world faces a crisis as yet unperceived by those possessing the power to make great decisions for good and evil. The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” – Einstein (1946) & “Nuclear power is one hell of a way to boil water!” I’m rather partial to this one too: “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.” - Albert Einstein

P.P.S. It’s all enough to make a person kinda crazy. The money that’s being spent on this exercise? All the staff time? Travel expenses? Accommodation expenses? Meal expenses? This kind of cash could keep an ENGO (environmental non-government organization) going for years

P.P.P.S. Lots of great nuke quotes/resources here