Mark notes that we've learned something here today: Thank goodness these steam generators don't fit in containers, or we wouldn't have even had a hearing! We've heard repeatedly that these wouldn't trigger a licence or a hearing at all if they weren't too big for the normal shipping containers. All that means is that there is inadequate oversight and regulation of these kinds of shipments.
Mark explains the public relations tactics we've heard at this hearing. Bruce and CNSC staff have been denying the risks, deflecting the issues (saying lots of other bad things are shipped all the time), diminishing the issue, applauding themselves for "recycling", and attacking the members of the public who have nothing to gain personally other than greater safety, environmental integrity, and better democracy.
Mark has pointed out that it is completely inappropriate for this Commission to apply the standards of the IAEA instead of Canadian ones when it comes to shipping nuclear waste in the Great Lakes. The CNSC has jurisdiction over the world's largest fresh water resource - the majority of places that the IAEA oversees are on salt water, where people do not drink the same water they ship on.
Mark has begun speaking to the Commission. He notes that it is about time we're having this hearing. We've heard here that shipping of nuclear substances happens all the time, all through the Great Lakes, so this new proposal is not a big deal. Mark points out that this is not an excuse - it is an embarrassment.
The disposal of these steam generators was already part of an Environmental Assessment, one carried out in 2005 that determined they should be stored at the long-term waste management facility adjacent to the Bruce facility. Now that they are being considered on their own, the CNSC has said their transport and recycling does not constitute a "project" and therefore, does not trigger an EA.
Earlier today, Theresa McClenaghan of CELA made a convincing case that this proposal does constitute a project, and therefore does require an environmental assessment, and LOW agrees. The CNSC should not be avoiding an environmental assessment on a technicality based on their staff's opinion of what is or is not a "project".
Lorraine Rekmans, Aboriginal Affairs Critic for the Green Party of Canada, just made an excellent point: "Consultation is not something that happens to us; it is something we do together."
She makes a point that LOW included in our initial request for a hearing on this matter - how can CNSC staff determine that there is no threat to health or environment, and thus no need to consult (with First Nations or the public generally), if they have not heard from those affected? It is circular reasoning at its worst.
There have been a number of excellent presenters thus far, including: the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, the Michigan Sierra Club, John Miller, the Saugeen Ojibway Nations, Pat Lawson, the Swedish Environmental Movement's Nuclear Waste Secretariat, Council of Canadians, the Provincial Council of Women, the Canadian Environmental Law Association, Penny Sanger, and more. We've also heard a lot of denial, deflection, and diminishing from groups like the Power Workers' Union, the proponent, Bruce Power, and from CNSC staff themselves. Mark will be speaking for LOW after the next presenter.
Bruce Power has applied to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for a licence to transport 16 steam generators that were removed from service at Bruce A Nuclear Facility to Studsvik, Sweden, for processing and recycling. Bruce wants to transport the generators by road to the Public Port of Owen Sound, then by ship through Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the Atlantic Ocean to Sweden. Once the generators are processed in Sweden, the concentrated radioactive waste will be shipped back along the same route to be stored in Ontario.
In response to significant public concern regarding the potential environmental and social impacts associated with the proposed shipment, the CNSC has decided to hold a public Commission hearing. Before it issues a licence, the Commission must be satisfied that Bruce Power has made adequate provision for the protection of the environment and for human health and safety.
Mark Mattson, President and Waterkeeper, will be presenting for LOW this afternoon. Joanna Bull, LOW Counsel, will be updating this blog during his presentation.
For more details on LOW's submission, click here.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper will be live-blogging during the afternoon session of today's hearing at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. You can also watch the hearing live online.