Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Sick Puppies, Morons & Moral Slackards

** March 31/19: just ran across this old posting. The quotes at the end are fantastic! Bummed that some of the links don’t work. 🙁 🙁

<Oct. 12/12.>

So, I was out on my walk this morning (a daily walk & a community of like-minded people are two of the things that help keep me out of the psychiatric ward…so far anyway!!) – & I was thinking about the upcoming Darlington Refurbishment hearings, & what I will be saying, & so I am musing on this, as I am walking along, okay?

When all of a sudden I spot dog poop on the path, & I think “Geez, why do some human beans (HBs) DO stuff like letting their dog poop right in the middle of the path & then LEAVING it there for other HBs to come along & step in. I mean…”

& then the phrase “sick puppies, morons & moral slackards” for some reason jumped into my head (yes I know, I know, I am a weirdo, but then tell me something I DIDN’T know, hmmmm?) – & btw just before my walk I’d been reading the NOW Magazine issue with the big “Is Rob Ford Really THAT Stupid?” on the front of the paper (Rob Ford being Toronto’s current mayor, heaven help us all)

& between the people who run the nuclear industry here in Canada & certain politicians I could name (but won’t; use your imagination!! Dunderhead politicians positively abound, & everywhere I move in Ontario I seem to land with a Member of Parliament even worse & more outrageous than the one before, & trust me, I have had to put up with some real DOOZIES).

It does seem as though I’ve had more experience than I might strictly care to have had with sick puppies & morons. For sure I’ve encountered some seriously sick puppies in my time, some of these not just sick but dangerous – sociopaths & psychopaths among them (not that I am 100% clear on the difference between these 2 categories, but whatever) – I do know not all the dangerous ones are incarcerated behind bars or the walls of psychiatric facilities, the way I wish they were – too many of them are out here wreaking havoc with their deficient moral capacity & non-existent concern for other HBs or even the human race as a whole, apparently…

& now I am wondering, as I scrawl all this down, how much do I prefer just slightly moronic types, as in, you know, people who are sort of “not the sharpest knife in the drawer” types, to the sick puppies who are deeply-deeply dangerous…

but when these not-very-sharp-knife types work for the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (oxymoron alert!!) – I can think of one or two of this type, there, they are certainly not greatly to be admired (slight understatement), for as Dr. Rosalie Bertell once said, “We know we face extinction if nuclear war ever begins. But we face the same extinction even if the bombs never fall. The production alone of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons is initiating the death crisis of our species.”

And…that I guess brings us along smartly to the moral slackards, hmmm? – a category of HBs far too numerous for my liking, if I may say so, & for sure I am myself among them, given my own contributions to the burden of climate change, for example – I do own a car, & while it is a small & very fuel-efficient one, & I do also use public transportation quite a bit – I’m a big-big fan of Ontario’s GO train system – but there it is, I DO own a car…

So this moral slackness category is a little bit uncomfortably close to home, isn’t it???

&, as most people who know me know, I’m also a little crazy (but not dangerously so…)

& I do speak up & raise my voice & even raise a bit of a ruckus on occasion

& if “The purpose of life is a life of purpose” as I have heard it said recently,

What is our purpose?   What is your purpose??

I sincerely hope you are not a sick puppy – or a moron, dear Reader

& I do wish more of us would try a little harder not to be moral slackards, too

& I wish we would begin to extract ourselves from jobs that require us to avert our eyes from the in some cases immoral & toxic & dangerous consequences thereof

& also, tell the truth a little more (even a lot more)

&, in the words of Anne Lamott, in one of her wonderful stories (‘Bastille Day’ in the book Grace (Eventually) – Thoughts on Faith), “Turn off the lie machine” a little more often

& … well.

Well, enough said, I guess.

Time to prepare those remarks for the Canadian Nuclear Danger (oops, I mean Safety) Commission, hmmm? Much as on this stunning, stunning Fall day I can think of at least 10 or 20 things I would rather do… but after all, the remarks will not write themselves, will they??

Janet

p.s. & as I came to the end of that truly glorious walk (on which, btw, I was mostly NOT thinking about dog poop or sick puppies, moral slackards or the nuclear monster that consumes so much of my time, but rather, gratefully drinking & breathing in the beautiful hills & trees & sky & earth with which I was surrounded), the phrase “Bozo Brigade” came to me. Do do do watch out for the Bozo Brigade, dear Reader. … & be ever so careful not to be part of it, hmmmm???

p.p.s. more on morons... as it were... here! [link now dead]

p.p.p.s. & more on psychopaths in a later post, here. [this link also now dead]

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Telling the truth is like making oxygen.” – Joanna Macy in a talk she gave in Toronto in June 2009 

Runners-up:

“I do not believe that we are only borrowing this planet from our children. Instead, I believe that we have actually stolen this planet from them, and that we must inspire our children to fight and take it back.” – Jane Goodall

“It is possible to be a great scoundrel without ever doing anything that is forbidden.” – Herman Hesse, German-Swiss author (1877-1962)

“The accepted, official version of anything is most likely false. All authority is based on fraud.” – Kenneth Rexroth

“You must locate your deepest private feelings – philosophical, religious, spiritual – and then decide to live out these beliefs in a commensurate way, in public, as much as possible without compromise.” – Marv Davidov, peace activist (quoted in Nukewatch Quarterly, Spring 2012 issue)

“Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.” – Benjamin Franklin, American statesman (1706-90) (more quotes about happiness here

“You possess only whatever will not be lost in a shipwreck.” – Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Ghazali, Persian philosopher (1058-1111)

“Grace happens when we act with others on behalf of our world.” – Joanna Macy & Molly Young Brown in Coming Back to Life – Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World (New Society Publishers, 1998).

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” – Elie Wiesel 

“Truth is the only safe ground to stand on.” – Elizabeth Cady Stanton (more quotations about truth 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

Nuclear Humour

So, although I am not managing to get much written about nuke stuff lately (hmmmm. I’m not getting much written about anything; it is apparently not a prolific writing time just now), it is still very present in my mind. That damn nuclear industry, eh?? They just don’t know when to quit. When to fold ‘em. You might think Three Mile Island, Chernobyl & Fukushima (not to mention a ton of other accidents & incidents, here, there & everywhere, all over the globe) would give these … people (I wanted to say morons, but I said people instead, okay?) pause. (I actually believe this industry is evil, but never mind, so what, eh? What difference does it make what I think about it?? Not a single solitary bit of difference, quite clearly.)

Okay. Lots to do. Let’s cut to the chase.

Nuclear humour.

I saw a statement recently from Don Howard, a nuclear something-or-other specialist with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (don’t even get me started on that oxymoronic term).

He was speaking about the current search for places in Canada to store what is called “high level” nuclear waste.

“As we produce fuel, we produce waste. We keep storing it and storing it. At some point in time, you have to find a disposal mechanism,” he said. “We have to go out and find (a long-term solution) so we don’t leave the legacy to future generations to deal with.” (from a Sudbury Star article here)

 “…so we don't leave the legacy to future generations to deal with.”

Now that’s pretty rich, wouldn’t you say???

Nuclear waste – expected to remain dangerous for, oh, only a million years or so – stored in places (in some cases) near major bodies of water, & calling this NOT leaving a “legacy to future generations to deal with.”

Pretty funny, in a gallows humour-ish sort of way…hmmm?

Well, what can I say. An industry as mixed up as this one, I guess we can expect their brand of humour to be a little, um, off the wall…eh?

Janet

p.s. speaking of Fukushima, this recent item may be of interest: ‘Commission Calls Fukushima Nuclear Crisis a Man-Made Disaster’ 

p.p.s. & speaking of nuclear humour, this is absolutely a must-see!!! One minute YouTube called 'Tritium Give-Away Days.' Laugh-out-loud funny (I guarantee it!!) item from the ever-hilarious (Canadian TV personality) Rick Mercer.

'Quote of the day' with this post: “Electricity is but the fleeting byproduct of nuclear power. The actual product is forever deadly nuclear waste.” – Michael Keegan, long-time Michigan, U.S.-based anti-nuclear activist (plenty more nuke quotes where that one came from!!)

Zombie Alert!

So, it was a gruelling week (see previous post for a graphic take on how 3 days at CNSC - Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission - hearings in Port Hope made me feel. You can also check out a short YouTube & article posted here.) I'm bagged!!

Having a "bed day." Taking a break.

Just thought I'd recommend an articulate blogger/author, Dave Pollard, whose site is called "how to save the world." Latest post, 'What We Like vs. What We Want,' is here

I'm too much of a zombie today to get my head around that post. Brain circuitry is not functioning just now.

But the one called 'Ten Things to Do When You're Feeling Hopeless' is pretty fine!

Computer going off. Time to read!!  

Janet

Nuclear Waste Conference: Slimed!

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

<Sept. 21/11.>

Foolish woman that I am, I recently spent 3 full days (Sept. 12-14th) at a nuclear waste conference held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Apparently I am a glutton for punishment???)

The conference was held at Toronto’s downtown Marriott Hotel, & in a perhaps fitting irony, the many small workshops held each afternoon on different aspects of nuclear waste were conducted in a series of small rooms named Trinity 1 through Trinity 5. Trinity was the name given to the U.S. Manhattan Project’s first atom bomb, set off on July 16, 1945 in the New Mexico desert. Ah, life’s odd little ironies, hmmm?

The official conference title was “Waste Management, Decommissioning and Environmental Restoration for Canada’s Nuclear Activities.” It was organized by the Canadian Nuclear Society (CNS) in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) & co-sponsored by the American Nuclear Society, the Argentina Nuclear Technology Association, the Atomic Energy Society of Japan, the Chinese Nuclear Society, the Indian Nuclear Society, the Korean Nuclear Society, the Nuclear Energy Agency of the OECD & the Romanian Nuclear Energy Association. (Yikes! & you should see the conference sponsors & exhibitors list!? Full program here )

I attended the conference at my own expense, as a retiree. No way do I have the kind of $$ for the regular conference fee they were charging. As pointed out elsewhere on this blog, I’ve been “downwardly socially mobile” all my life & live on peanuts, more or less. (Joyfully, I might add; I’m not complaining! )

The conference was for the nuclear industry, not for members of the public & certainly not for activists…although several of us in the latter category did attend. There were no members of the mainstream press present, & for sure I heard some publicity-worthy remarks made that would have garnered attention had the press been there (it is not an accident that media was/were absent, yes?).

I also spent a half-day the following week at OPG (Ontario Power Generation)’s University & College location in Toronto for a discussion about OPG’s plans to “refurbish” the 4 existing reactors at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station east of Toronto (right on the shores of Lake Ontario), at an estimated cost of $8-14 billion. (Other refurbishments currently underway in Canada, at Point Lepreau in New Brunswick & Bruce Power near Owen Sound are each running $2 billion over budget. Somehow, nuke projects always run late, & over budget, don’t they?? The 2 OPG staff members who gave the presentation about the planned Darlington refurbishment, btw, did not mention the expected price tag, & some of the inconvenient facts that should have come out in response to questions asked, such as, for example, how much waste it will generate, were put off.)

Though not a rocket scientist, I generally manage to learn a thing or two everywhere I go, & these two events proved no exception.

The best way to describe how I felt, though, if I try to articulate what it was like to spend 3 days surrounded by talk of nuclear waste, is … slimed. (1)

Yes, this is a nasty, judgmental & insulting thing to say, & no one knows better than I that the foot soldiers of the nuclear industry (quite a # of whom I know personally) are people too – living, breathing human beings like you & me who care for their families & want to “make a decent living.”

But I’m a truth-teller (it’s right there in my job description!), & the only accurate way to describe how I felt is…slimed.

I’ll be doing several postings about the conference – about things I learned, some things you might want (or more to the point need) to know, & lots of awards for the nuclear industry. I love giving out awards!!  (You can find quite a few here, under the Darlington Hearings heading on this blog).

Nuclear industry types (maybe only the bigshots?? I dunno) are very practiced at speaking out of both sides of their faces. They will say with perfectly straight faces (in this case, to quote Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Prez/CEO Michael Binder) things like “We have a real challenge” (as regards the nuclear operations they oversee) & “We’re not going to tax future generations.”

Say what?????

Nuclear waste by its very definition will tax future generations so far into the future you’d be forgiven for thinking human beings are moral cretins for entertaining for even one moment the notion that creating it is anything less than moronic – perhaps even evil. What kind of human being can utter such things without sprouting an immediate Pinocchio nose on the spot??

There was plenty of this kind of talk during the 3-day conference.

For example, Cameco Corporation’s Karen Chovan said one moment that most of Cameco Corporation’s waste is “low level or even very low level,” yet a moment later spoke of sending their 2010 inventory of depleted uranium (DU) to a recycler in the U.S. You’d have thought she was talking about used diapers, not a horrendous substance being used by the world’s militaries to slice through enemy tanks, leaving its traces inside soldiers’ bodies (& civilian ones, “collateral damage” victims, hmmm?) & causing horrific birth defects &…

Well, my mind boggled. It kept boggling & boggling & boggling.

(More on DU here & here & here)

I heard quite a bit about the Chalk River Laboratories (CRL) site (very near where I lived for 6 years, btw(2)) – a site generously endowed, shall we say, with “legacy wastes” from the early nuclear years (yes, the Manhattan Project & Cold War era) that leach into the Ottawa River (source of drinking water for the 100s of 1000s of citizens of Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, actually), & I also heard about waste sites (so-called “legacy sites”) in Port Hope(2) & Port Granby, Ontario (on the shores of Lake Ontario).

Nuclear industry people will tell you in the first half of a sentence that most of its waste is “low level or even very low level.” Then, in the next breath they will tell you how many millions or billions of dollars (of taxpayers’ money, btw) the Canadian government is giving them to clean up these “legacy” wastes. With – I repeat – straight faces.

A classic example of cognitive dissonance, something I find one encounters quite routinely in the nuclear biz.

“Don’t worry, be happy!! Our wastes are not a problem! It will only cost billions of $$ to clean up our messes!”

Sheesh.

I heard enough nuclear bromides in those 3 days to choke a horse. (Then I heard more during the Darlington refurbishment session.)

Let’s get on with it, shall we? On to the other posts…

Janet

P.S. On the first day of the conference, there was an explosion at a nuclear facility in the south of France. I only heard about this because one of my colleagues at the conference (Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility president Dr. Gordon Edwards) told our group about it. Not one word about this accident came up at the conference. (You can find some info about it hereIf French is not your first language, take advantage of the Google translating option.)

P.P.S. There are 6 posts altogether on this conference. The others are:

 

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


 

(1) A dear friend of mine tells me her sister used to say “If you sit on a candle, you’re gonna get your arse burned!” These folks in the nuke biz have to be prepared to stand up to the scrutiny the public is more than entitled to put them under, considering the hard truths about nuclear waste – its price tag in $$$ & in unparalleled risks to our fellow humans – both those living now & future generations.

(2) The Chalk River Labs, a sprawling facility built during the 1940s, are downriver from the community of Deep River, a quite stunningly beautiful small town about halfway between Ottawa & North Bay that was established as a bedroom community for the CRL scientists (Manhattan Project era). It is not, shall we say, by accident that the town of Deep River is located upriver (& mostly upwind) from Chalk River Labs…you hear what I’m saying?

(3) Three books I’m aware of that you can read about the Port Hope scene are Blind Faith, by Penny Sanger & Port Hope – Canada’s Nuclear Wasteland & Nuclear Genocide in Canada by Pat McNamara. You will be shocked & appalled at what you learn. But, as Elizabeth Cady Stanton once said, “Truth is the only safe ground to stand on.”

 

NW Conference: Words ‘R Important!

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

<Sept. 22/11.>

(NW = nuke waste)

I’m a person who’s kind of big on words. Words…phrases…quotations. I came up with a few phrases I wanted to highlight from the nuclear waste conference I attended recently. (My opening, explanatory post about the conference is here.)

The idea of “bumper stickers” came from Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Prez/CEO Michael Binder, at the hearings held last year about Bruce Power’s proposed radioactive steam generator shipments through the Great Lakes & Atlantic Ocean for so-called “recycling.”

Bumper Stickers, from the Nuke Industry side:

  • Don’t worry; be happy!     
  • Fukushima was a wake-up call. We hit the Snooze button! (Dr. Binder said the first part; the snooze part is mine).(1) (2)
  • Going forward! (vastly overused phrase; what, did they think we were all going to start going backward???)
  • It’s only ‘legacy’ waste! (see Fancy Language/Creative Use of Jargon award).

Bumper Stickers, from ours:

  • Boys & their toys, eh?
  • Duh!! (in response to so many statements, including CNSC staff person Don Howard’s profound observation that “Even in the design phase you have to plan for minimization” of waste. You’re just getting that now??)
  • Engineering Euphoria Alert!
  • Gotcher Hipwaders On? (Lotta s-it to wade through here!)
  • Hubris Alert!
  • It’s the WASTE, Stupid!
  • Lip Service Only!
  • Nuclear Emperor: Still No Clothes!
  • Told you so!
  • You wanna store it in YOUR basement??

Nuclear Industry Phrases to Watch For (& what they really mean)

  • Benchmarks (we move the bench all the time; whenever we feel like it!)
  • “Characterization” of the waste (meaning, the way we talk about the waste will determine how we dispose of it. If we call it “low level,” we get to throw it in your local landfill site – or burn it. Or add it to the world’s scrap metal supply. Or, hey, we’re creative! Count on it, we’ll think of even more ways to ensure that nuclear waste is everywhere!)
  • Conceptual model (we can’t promise to make things work properly in the REAL world, but we sure LOVE our conceptual models!!)
  • Free-release” (this is what we plan to do, so count on having LOTS of radioactive waste in the air, water, ground, oceans, consumer products…you name it!)
  • Legacy wastes / legacy liabilities (this is humongously dangerous nuclear waste, but if we call it “legacy” it doesn’t sound nearly so nasty, does it??)
  • “Relatively large volumes of low-level radioactive waste” (& low-level means whatever the nuclear industry feels like having it mean, pretty much. So, 2 things here: “Relatively large volumes” is pretty strong language for a nukehead, & low-level does not mean low risk)
  • Robust safety case (if we say it is robust, it must be, eh?? Fukushima was “robust,” but…well, shit happens, eh?)
  • “Significant nuclear legacy liabilities” is how Frank Doyle, President of the Canadian Nuclear Society, spoke of the wide variety of nuclear wastes now needing attention. (This probably constitutes a huge admission from this industry, actually.)
  • The 3 R’s waste hierarchy/reprocessing. If we decide to call it “recycling” you will have to love us for it!! And btw, we don’t want to do it in the right order, namely 1st Reduction, 2nd Reuse & 3rd Recycling, ‘cos then we’d have to actually stop making the waste in the first place.)
  • Unconditional clearance criteria (hmmmm…don’t much like the sound of that!)

Did You Really Just SAY That??

  • “Learning by doing, we create the base for the future.” – Dr. Robert (Bob) Walker, Senior VP at AECL (Atomic Energy Control Limited), Chalk River Labs. (What he was really saying was, we’ve been screwing up like crazy for decades, but we’ve finally caught on that nuke waste is nasty stuff.)
  • “Once you learn to fake sincerity, you can do anything.” – NASA's Keith Peecook in speaking of the community outreach program regarding the decommissioning of the Plum Brook Reactor Facility in Ohio.I only wish I were making this up. I was stunned to hear him say these words – quickly followed, admittedly, by his comment that you need to be honest with neighbouring members of the public, since they will trust you more & let you off a little more lightly when you tell them about the nearby tritium plume or … whatever – if you have been decently open with them previously. You will have “money in the trust bank.”
  • “Transport risk is quite high.” – Pauline Witzke of the Nuclear Waste Management Office (NWMO = a creation of the nuclear industry), speaking of trekking nuclear wastes around Ontario. (Duh. Duh, duh, duh.)
  • “We are finding things as we go along that we hadn’t quite expected.” – Mark Corey, Assistant Deputy Minister, Energy Sector, Natural Resources Canada, in speaking of some of the nuclear wastes at Chalk River. (He also said, in reference to uranium tailing waste near Bancroft, Ontario, “There were some areas that had some real activity”(radioactivity, that is to say). He was quite excited about the fact that a fence has since been put up. A fence?? To safeguard uranium waste???? Doh. Too bad birds & other critters don’t respect fences – or read, eh?? (Mr. Corey, btw, receives a Boyish Enthusiasm award.)

Say WHAT???

  • “Do enough monitoring but not too much” – phrase used by M. Rhodes, Canadian Standards Association (who btw wins an Obfuscation award).
  • François Bilodeau from Hydro Québec allowed as how refurbishment activities at the Gentilly-2 plant (the province of Québec’s only nuclear power reactor) – activities projected to cost $2 billion – will generate 5 times the amount of waste that they already have on site. Note: notice how the word “refurbish” has a nice innocuous sound to it, hmm? Here we go again, with nuclear language. Scrape away that pretty-sounding outer shell to discover the real crud underneath…
  • There are things that were “probably thought to be pretty clean in the 1960s that were ‘left in the environment’ for storage.” – Joan Miller, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited staff person, speaking of the Chalk River site northwest of Ottawa. Left in the environment?? Hmmmm…but hey – what’s a little Strontium-90 between friends??(1)
  • “We’ve got to use strategies of minimization – including the use of clearance levels.” – Don Howard, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (In other words, we gotta lower regulatory standards on what can be released into the environment & “free-release” radioactive waste into regular landfills, the air, consumer goods, etc. etc.)
  • This one takes the prize!!! At a small workshop led by Keith Peecook, from NASA (National Aeronautics & Space Administration), during which he was describing the activities involved in the decommissioning of the NASA Plum Brook Reactor Facility in Ohio, Peecook revealed in response to a question that this facility cost $5 million to build back in 1958. It took 1.68 million “man-hours” to decommission, in 2010 dollars, & cost…wait for it… $250 million.

Janet

p.s. Other posts on this conference are

 

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


 

(1) Dr. Binder’s powerpoint presentation from his speech at the conference is on the CNSC Web site here

(2) Article 'For nuclear, Fukushima was just a bump in the road' here

(3) Yes, there is Strontium-90 in the Ottawa River at the Chalk River Labs site. There were 3 or 4 workshops on this … “issue.” It doesn’t seem to greatly concern anyone, but…if this is the case, why all the workshops & all the studying that’s being done??? You gotta ask yourself, eh??

 

NW Conference: Kool-Aid & other insights

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

<Sept. 22/11.>

NW = Nuke waste

Other posts on this conference are

I’ve been to an awful lot of environmental conferences over the past 20+ years – but this was my 1st nuclear industry one ever.

So I learned a few things:

  • Nuclear industry conferences run on time! (There may be tons of completely inappropriate optimism & plans & statements & engineering euphoria & … hmmm, well, deception… but they run ‘em on time!!)
  • Nuke industry events (I guess any industry events) are a heck of a lot more extravagant than the conferences I’m used to! Fancy location, accommodations, meals, you name it (I bet we activists have more fun, though!)
  • Radioactive waste is not defined in the Nuclear Safety & Control Act (so explained Don Howard of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission or CNSC). In other words, the nuclear industry gets to play around & fuzzify what is classified as low-level, intermediate level & high-level waste (see ‘Nuclear Industry Phrases to watch for – & what they really mean’ in previous post. (This is a recurring theme in the nuke biz, btw: the way the industry uses loose terms & shifts the goal posts around in the absence of public scrutiny).
  • Canadian taxpayers are on the hook for the costs of dealing with the nuclear wastes left behind in Chalk River & Port Hope & Port Granby (& everywhere else, I guess!).  I haven’t quite figured out how this works. The industry gets the profits, we citizens/taxpayers get the building overrun costs, the refurbishment costs, & the costs of handling the waste. (Geez, lucky us, eh? Not. )
  • The degree of collusion between the nuclear industry & our government is mind-boggling!! Mark Corey, Assistant Deputy Minister, Energy Sector, Natural Resources Canada, spoke at the opening of the conference. His boyish, golly-gee enthusiasm about nuclear energy was touching, if more than a little misguided. He’s very excited about the tar sands, too. “We’re really lucky in Canada to have it,” he said. (It made me think that the joke-y alternative name for Natural Resources Canada that some friends & I came up with recently must be pretty bang-on: Grab the Resources & Run! Or maybe Exploitation Central.)
  • Very serious boatload of money to be made in this industry!!!! If you have lots of boyish/girlish enthusiasm & a startling lack of interest in connecting the dots, the nuclear industry certainly has a job for you. Not just a job, mind you – a career! Involving hefty pay & benefits packages, too. (Just be sure to leave those moral/ethical sensibilities back in the sandbox where they belong, OK?) If you want to get a sense of what the OPG (Ontario Power Generation) bigshots earn, have a look at this Web site (scroll down to OPG). Wish I had the figures for the AECL (Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.) crowd too – I’m sure their bigshots make plenty too.
  • There is something maybe sort of like a “frat boy” dynamic among the engineering-dominated crowd one encounters in the nuclear industry (this industry runs on “engineering euphoria”). Lots of enthusiasm for complicated technologies & machines. Seemingly also a corresponding lack of independent or critical thinking. I guess the money is so good that one does not stop to question the ethics/morality of what one is taking part in.
  • Kool-Aid. I’ve reached the sad conclusion that nuclear industry bigshots (& maybe littleshots, I dunno) have simply swallowed some kind of Kool-Aid that others of us have never found to our liking. The Kool-Aid apparently enables the drinker to deal with the overwhelming cognitive dissonance this industry positively brims with. Nukes are safe! Waste is not a problem! (or, alternatively, it is, but we’ll solve it! It’s been 60 years & we haven’t solved it yet, but Hey! We are “can do” people; keep waiting; we’ll solve it!) It takes millions/billions of $$ to clean up, but…don’t worry; be happy (while we take the money & run!).
  • What does the nuclear industry have in mind for dealing with the planet’s dangerous burden of long-lived nuclear wastes? Looks like there are 3 key strategies:
    • Export (from Canada to the U.S. in some cases & maybe the other way around, I dunno. Not sure what they will do elsewhere. Same kind of thing, very likely.)
    • Incineration e.g., export waste from the Point Lepreau refurbishment project in New Brunswick, Canada to Tennessee in the U.S. – for burning. I wonder how the folks in Tennessee feel about that?? Burning waste from Fukushima; quick 2-minute YouTube about this here
    • Free-release (nuke waste, nuke waste everywhere!!!!!)

Some Stuff You Might Not Know

  • Nuclear energy is very, very good for the economy. Not so good for the environment, mind you, & not so good for the taxpayers who are on the hook for cost overruns & nuke waste clean-ups – & not in the slightest bit good for human health – but it sure does create a lot of jobs & “economic activity”! (Tell that to communities where people are sick from nuclear operations, eh?? They might think it’s time for a new kind of economics & an end to this voodoo kind that doesn’t seem to give a damn about people. Schumacher’s brilliant quotation about this, here, springs to mind.)
  • There seems to be a black hole inside the brains of nuclear promoters where simple common sense does not penetrate. CNSC (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission) President Michael Binder seems naively puzzled as to why the public is terrified of nuclear energy & nuclear waste. Maybe the big paycheque knocks out brain cells or fries brain circuitry.
  • Lots of fancy language! Some of these dudes can talk for 20 minutes without uttering a single intelligible sentence (& I have a pretty decent grasp of the English language, you know??). See Awards post, Obfuscation award for details on M. Rhodes, Canadian Standards Association dude who could win a contest in how to pepper a talk with acronyms, use enough jargon to choke a horse, & fuzzify a seemingly straightforward conversation such that no one within 10 miles can make sense of a word he says.
  • Nuclear Legacy Liabilities Program From the conference program: “In 2006, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) and Natural Resources Canada began implementing a $7B CDN, 70-year Nuclear Legacy Liabilities Program (NLLP) to deal with legacy decommissioning and environmental issues at AECL nuclear sites.” Etc. Pssst. If you’re a Canadian taxpayer, guess what? You’re paying for it!!
  • Obfuscation: The nuclear industry uses fancy language to make things deliberately obscure so peasants like you & me will just buzz off & leave them alone. One teeny-tiny example: we want to talk about radioactive waste. Radioactivity in the environment. Health impacts from radioactive pollution. They talk about radiation, & how it is everywhere. “There is an unfounded but perceived fear of radiation. Radiation is a natural part of life,” gushes Tom Mitchell, President & CEO of Ontario Power Generation (annual salary: $1,325,119.04) at the nuke waste conference. Typical nuclear industry fuzzifying B.S. (This goes hand-in-hand with complete minimization of health impacts. Don’t worry, be happy!! What’s a little cancer between friends?? Or a little Strontium 90? Or maybe quite a lot of tritium, eh??)
  • We Canadian taxpayers are on the hook for nuclear waste clean-ups in Port Hope, Port Granby, Chalk River & goodness knows where-all else (I suspect there are plenty of locations). One speaker at the conference (Ken Nash from the nuclear industry-created Nuclear Waste Management Office) brightly suggested that those who benefit from nuclear energy have to pay. He meant taxpayers! Yikes! I guess he doesn’t see all those salaries being paid to all those nuclear hotshots & bigshots & littleshots, & the risks entailed as being something the industry itself needs to worry its pretty little head about. It’s up to you & me to pay for all that, & we are paying for it, dear Reader; we are indeed!
  • The nuclear industry appears to finally be admitting – using carefully crafted, understated language – that they have created a very large mess of nuclear waste on this planet. This would be a laudable & welcome development if one sensed that they plan to clean it up, finally, in responsible fashion. What one sees instead (as mentioned above) is that the real plan is to minimize-minimize-minimize. Lower standards & regulations. Call dangerous wastes by another name so they sound sweeter – & release them, release them, release them. This is an industry with a very, very severe hubris problem.
  • Finally, something I had known, but which was strongly reinforced: this is one depressing, difficult & discouraging issue to deal with; not gonna lie to you! It could make you go right cuckoo. But you know what? Ignoring it won’t make it go away. If it weren’t bad enough that the nuclear industry has blanketed the planet in nuclear waste for the past 60+ years, they now plan to add insult to injury by spreading it all over every square inch of our one & only planet, & our lives. More public involvement is needed!!

Janet

p.s. Highly recommended viewing for the full A- Z take on the nuclear industry – the 8-part short film “Knocking on the Devil’s Door – Our Deadly Nuclear Legacy.” The posting here also lists a decent # of groups I’m aware of in North America that are active on nuke issues (& they can all use help!!).

p.p.s. ‘Nuclear Roulette: The Case Against the “Nuclear Renaissance' is an excellent resource! (I donated a copy to my local library.)

p.p.p.s. Another good read: Killing Our Own – The Disaster of America’s Experience with Atomic Radiation by Harvey Wasserman & Norman Solomon (1982). Sobering, scary, essential reading!

p.s. # 4: Very important paper on what the nuke industry is up to in the report 'Out of Control - on Purpose."

p.s. # 5: Fact sheets on nuke waste here (down below the Scream YouTube).

# 6: Plenty of good nuke-related quotations here

 

NW Conference: Awards! (part II)

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

<Oct. 12/11.>

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

 

Other posts about this conference are:

 

 

Awards for the Nuclear Industry (continued)

(Part I, A – K, is here)

  • Obfuscation Above & Beyond the Call of Duty award to CSA (Canadian Standards Association) staff person M. Rhodes for a completely & utterly incomprehensible presentation on CSA Guideline N292.5 – a “Guideline for the exemption or clearance from regulatory control of materials that contain, or potentially contain, nuclear substances.” (check it out here! If you've got $200, they'll let you buy a copy!!) More from the conference program: [The guideline] “was recently developed to address a need for guidance on approaches for clearance [italics mine] and of materials from facilities licensed by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) consistent with Canadian and international recommendations. This guideline is also applicable to determining if an activity associated with materials that contain nuclear substances is exempt from requiring a CNSC licence. The guideline summarizes [are you snoring yet?] the regulatory requirements associated with the exemption and clearance [italics mine] of materials and provides a graded approach to designing a survey based on the risk of residual contamination being present.” In layman’s terms, this appears to be about an industry committee having loosened regulations for radioactive materials to be “re-characterized,” & thus released with less (or no) scrutiny or oversight. I think. (Note that this man has won the opposite of a plain speaking award, & that I was completely unable to cut through his incredibly dense jargon-speak.) When asked how the so-called “public consultation” on this took place, Mr. Rhodes replied that it was posted on the CSA Web site. What?? That’s what the nuclear industry/CNSC calls public consultation??? Yikes. (Surely there are rules about public consultation?? As in, um, you have to actually consult the public???)
  • Overused Phrase of the Week award goes to almost every single speaker at this 3-day conference, not one of whom, if I am not mistaken, failed to use the phrase “going forward” – quite as though they were entitled to some kind of prize for … for going forward (instead of backward? Or sideways?? Or, hmm. Maybe down a rabbit hole?? I dunno. I am just sooooooo tired of this hackneyed, overused phrase).
  • Plain Speaking award – 4-way tie here. François Bilodeau from Hydro Québec, who admitted the refurbishment of the Gentilly-2 reactor will create a huge amount of new waste. Adrian Simper from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority in the UK, who was upfront about the fact that there is a VERY BIG mess of nuke waste there. (Program reads: “The UK’s nuclear legacy is a major public liability, and arguably represents the largest, most important environmental restoration programme in Europe.” (See article here) Tom Mitchell, OPG Prez & CEO, who admitted, “Nuclear waste is growing” & alluded to the “increased waste from refurbishments.” Finally, CNSC Prez/CEO Michael Binder allowed as how “We have tended to be secretive” & that “most of our conferences are us talking to ourselves” & have not included the public or the press. True story!
  • Pollyanna award – to M. Laraia of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for his skimming-very-much-along-the-surface talk about decommissioning work at Yankee Rowe Nuclear Power Plant & various other locations, & his cheerful exhortation to “Be creative!” (Hmmm. Possibly his award should be for “Providing Practically No Details.”)
  • Preposterous Suggestion of the Week award to the man in the audience who suggested that nuclear waste shouldn’t be called waste – as though calling it something else would render it less dangerous. Of course it would also then be less of a concern to all those foolishly misguided members of the public (that’s us, btw) who are scared out of our wits about waste that will require careful handling for, count ‘em, one million years.
  • Refreshing Frankness award to the speaker – Ian Barnes, I believe his name was – who in discussing the decommissioning of a “redundant UK Research Facility” (AWE Aldermaston; he didn’t mention what had gone on there; not sure I want to know!) stated that an aspect of the work was “on program, which is quite unusual with decommissioning” (this right after having stated that building rubble was being released with 95% certainty of the “waste classification.” Only 95% certainty, with radioactive materials?? Yikes).
  • Rocket Science (not) / Doh!! award to many of the speakers at the conference, who seem to think they should get a prize for acknowledging the brilliant insight that, when you are dealing with nuclear projects, you need to “think about waste all the way through, not just at the end.” (Geez, & I thought I’m not a rocket scientist!?)
  • Screw the Taxpayers!! award to the nuclear industry (& our government) for, is it … $16 billion in federal tax $$ to the Nuclear Waste Management Office (NWMO)?? How much to the Nuclear Legacy Liabilities Program?? $7 billion? How much for Port Hope & Port Granby? Chalk River Labs clean-up & decommissioning costs? Taxpayers’ money, folks!! They make the waste & the profits, we get to own the wastes, & pay the clean-up costs. Quite the deal, eh? Remember that old phrase ‘corporate welfare bums’??
  • Surreal Moments award goes to – the nuclear industry!! For their “Investigation of Tritium in Groundwater” workshop at this conference. I was there! Both at the workshop & at a # of CNSC hearings that have been held regarding this preposterous situation – in the flesh, as it were. I am also intimately aware of the long, sick history of the SRB company in Pembroke, Ontario that makes glow-in-the-dark products from tritium & whose goings-on led to this ever-so-dry workshop at a nuclear industry conference where the hired gun consultant, hired to do a study & later report to this conference, utterly failed to mention how the excessive tritium emissions were discovered at great personal effort & no doubt considerable psychic cost by citizen activists who persistently went to the CNSC over years & years & years & gave about a zillion pounds of their flesh & their time to force this company to at least greatly reduce its tritium-emission-spewing (we wish they’d shut the sucker down, but at least their efforts have resulted in a massive reduction of emissions). Near the end of the workshop, someone asked how the company had managed to reduce its emissions so substantially. Guess who had to answer the question? One of those same citizen activists who has given thousands (or 10’s of thousands) of hours of his personal time over the past 20+ years to protect not only his own children’s health, but that of all the citizens of Pembroke, Ontario. Phew. Yes, I’m a little passionate about this issue, the very one that brought me to awareness of how the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission operates, how very down-the-rabbit-hole/Mad Hatter’s Tea Party the whole nuclear business is. It was surreal to hear this sanitized little workshop – this dry little consultant’s spiel – about a very, very serious situation – & hear no background whatsoever (not one single word) about the citizen activism that led to such big changes at SRB in Pembroke, & also led to the CNSC carrying out the Tritium Studies Project ...which cost Canadian taxpayers who knows how many millions of dollars, & at the public launch event of which I recall CNSC staffer Dr. Patsy Thompson sheepishly admitting that the groundwater plume had not been predicted accurately, based on CNSC's "computer modelling." I call it all the Grand Tritium Experiment. The GTE. Citizens of Pembroke, guinea pigs for the Grand Tritium Experiment. Unconscionable.
  • Team Player award to … gosh, let’s just give it to everyone in the nuke industry, shall we? The industry’s many foot soldiers are outstanding in their efforts to prop one another up, even in the face of preposterous lies & secrets, & are experts at not asking one another inconvenient questions that might lead to…actually telling the truth.
  • 3 R’s Waste Reduction Hierarchy Highjacking / We can spin that one! award for disingenuous talk about how the nuclear industry is “doing the right thing” by beginning to talk about “recycling” nuclear waste. The posting ‘Recycling: The Good, The Bad & the Ugly’ delves into this & provides links for further information.
  • Understatement of the Year award – 3-way tie here. Frank Doyle, President of the Canadian Nuclear Society (the organization that put on the conference), who said in his opening address that there is a wide variety of wastes & “significant nuclear legacy liabilities” to deal with (a huge admission from the nuclear industry, actually) & CNSC Prez/CEO Binder for two of his remarks: “Public confidence [about the nuclear industry] is waning” & “The March 11th event in Japan was a wake-up call” & finally, Tom Mitchell, Prez & CEO of OPG, who acknowledged that the accident at Fukushima is “humbling” to the nuclear industry, with its intimation that “the unthinkable might happen.”
  • Utter Obliviousness to Reality award – self-explanatory…no??
  • What a MESS!? award – self-explanatory, yes?
  • Wizard of Oz award – the nuclear genie, the nuclear expert, the nuclear booster – the politicians, the industry people who have shoved & continue to shove nukes down our throats – they are all like the Wizard of Oz. Smoke & mirrors. Sound & fury, signifying nothing. Nothing but destruction, that is. Yours, mine – even their own. They get the prize. (We get the ruined environment, incredibly long-lived waste, & the cancers – & all the heartbreak & pain associated with all those illnesses & deaths & losses).
  • You Want it in YOUR basement?? – self-explanatory, I’d say…

Awards for the Activist Crowd:

  • Can’t believe we stayed through the whole darn thing! award or, alternatively,
  • Didn’t run screaming from the room! award
  • Digging through jargon & bullshit & fancy language award
  • I TOLD YOU SO award for all the truths the environmental community has been telling for years that the nuke industry is finally having to admit to publicly (not that these mild admissions are much comfort, you understand; the waste is still there & it still has to be safely contained for a million years…), or alternatively,
  • It’s the WASTE, Stupid!!just as the environmental community has been saying all along!
  • Telling the Truth award – for telling the simple unvarnished truth, a truth any 6-year old could tell you: no nuclear power is safe.

Awards for the General Public

  • Deer in the headlights / Deeply snowed award for falling prey to nuclear bullshit / bafflegab / snow jobs / jargon. (It’s pretty easy to do!)
  • Deeply puzzled award (Why is it we taxpayers are footing the bill for all this nuke waste clean-up again??)
  • Enemy of the People award (what any person living in a nuclear community would receive for speaking up / truth-telling. See Henrik Ibsen’s play An Enemy of the People).
  • Innocence & naivete award for finding the secrets, lies, deceptions & nastiness of the nuclear industry simply too much to attempt to fathom or swallow.
  • Quotation of the Year award to Frank Zappa for this gem: “Government is the Entertainment Division of the military-industrial complex.” Hooey!!!

 

The final post about this conference is here.

 

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.

Maude Barlow: Stop radioactive waste shipment!

Press Release.........For Immediate Release.................June 13, 2011.

Maude Barlow urges Swedish Minister of the Environment to stop radioactive waste shipment

In a letter dated June 13, 2011, Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians urges Swedish Minster of the Environment Andreas Carlgren to intervene and revoke Studsvik’s permit to transport the radioactive shipment.

Canadian company Bruce Power plans to ship 16 bus-size radioactive steam generators from the Great Lakes in Canada to Nyköping, Sweden. Bruce Power is contracting Swedish company Studsvik to transport and decontaminate 90% of the steam generators and free release the scrap metal into the consumer market.

Barlow, who was the Senior Advisor on Water to the 63rd President of the United Nations General Assembly, warns, “With Studsvik’s plant in Nyköping, the recycling of this radioactive waste will further pollute the waters of the Baltic Sea, which is already known as one of the most radioactive seas in the world... This is the first of several shipments that threaten the North Sea, the North Atlantic Ocean, Canadian and US lakes and other bodies of water.”

The shipment of radioactive waste has drawn criticism from city mayors, US senators, environmental organizations and First Nation and other communities. The radioactive levels of the steam generators also exceed legal limits set out by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material by 50 times. The shipment sets a dangerous precedent. Michael Binder, President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, has admitted that there has never been a shipment of this magnitude on the Great Lakes before. Public consultation in Canada, the US and Europe has been inadequate.

In April, 20 European civil society organizations sent a letter to Canadian, US, UK, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish governments demanding a stop to Bruce Power’s plan to ship radioactive waste.

Bruce Power has delayed the shipment to consult with First Nations in Canada. While Bruce withdrew their application to the US Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration in May, Bruce Power and Studsvik still have permits with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Swedish Radiation Authority respectively to transport and decontaminate the radioactive waste.

-30-

For More Information:

Dylan Penner, Media Officer, Council of Canadians, (613) 795-8685, dpenner@canadians.org, Twitter: @CouncilofCDNs

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.