Time for Plan B on Proposed Nuclear Shipments

It’s time for a sober second thought on Bruce Power’s requested license to ship 32 100-tonne radioactive steam generators from Kincardine to Owen Sound, then through the Great Lakes to Sweden. In addition to serious health and safety concerns, the Green Party is worried that Ontario taxpayers will be on the hook for the high costs associated with any accidents.

Transporting nuclear waste through a water system that provides drinking water for 40 million people and contains a $4 billion fishery is troubling at best and catastrophic in a worse case scenario. The Green Party of Ontario is against this shipment.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has announced that it will hold a one day public hearing into the shipment on September 29. Can the safety issues of the drinking supply for 40 million people be adequately addressed in one day? To make matters worse, the conclusion appears to be foregone. CNSC has publicly stated that there are no significant safety issues associated with the proposed shipment.

With clean-up costs for the Gulf oil spill reaching over $30 billion dollars, do we really want to assume the risks of nuclear shipments without a thorough public hearing? Ontario ratepayers are already paying for cost overruns associated with the construction of nuclear facilities, and taxpayers, while shipments are in Ontario, would likely be on the hook since nuclear operators are only liable for $75 million in the event of an accident. Financial liability beyond our borders is undetermined at this time.

Bruce Power’s previous Environmental Assessment declared that used steam generators are radioactive waste and would be stored on site. Since the shipment request is a significant deviation from previous plans, the GPO believes a full EA with public consultation must take place before these unprecedented shipments proceed. Prudence should prevail in this case.

The Ontario government has a responsibility to ensure the safety of our drinking water. It’s time for Premier McGuinty and Ontario Power Generation, as a provincially-owned corporation, to take a sober second look at threatening our health and safety. It’s time for Plan B on these proposed nuclear shipments.

Plan B will require a heavy dose of transparency and accountability when it comes to the financial and health costs associated with nuclear waste. If Ontario chooses to generate electricity using nuclear facilities, then the province has a responsibility to deal with its own waste and to be transparent with and accountable to citizens on what that plan is.