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Canada

Canada is the world's largest exporter of uranium and operates nuclear reactors including on the Great Lakes. Attempts are underway to introduce nuclear power to the province of Alberta and to use nuclear reactors to power oil extraction from the tar sands.

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Thursday
May152014

"OPG dealt setback on plan for new reactors"

As reported by the Globe and Mail of Ottawa, Ontario, a Canadian judge's ruling in favor of an environmental coalition's legal challenge against new reactors proposed at the Darlington nuclear power plant on the Lake Ontario shore east of Toronto has dealt a setback to provincially-owned Ontario Power Generation's nuclear expansion plans.

As reported:

'A federal judge has invalidated Ontario Power Generation’s licence to build new reactors at its Darlington site, saying the federal regulator did not sufficiently consider the potential for a severe accident or waste issues involving spent fuel.

Justice James Russell ordered the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to re-establish a review panel and address the “significant gaps” in its assessment of chemicals on site, the risk of an extreme accident, and the disposal of spent fuel.

Greenpeace Canada, which launched the judicial challenge, welcomed the decision, saying it will force federal regulators to consider controversial aspects of nuclear construction projects that have typically been left to later assessments. “It’s unprecedented for any nuclear project in Canada to face the kind of regulatory scrutiny the court is demanding,” Greenpeace campaigner Shawn-Patrick Stensil said Thursday.

Justice Russell noted the review panel had acknowledged that “no solution has yet been implemented for the long-term management of used [radioactive] fuel,” but that it failed to adequately assess the implications of that situation.'

And, as the article concludes:

'[E]nvironmental groups have also challenged the regulator’s environmental assessment of OPG’s plan to refurbish existing reactors at Darlington, a project that is the cornerstone of the Liberal government’s long-term energy plan.'

There are currently four reactors at Darlington. At one point, OPG proposed adding four more, but more recently scaled back its expansion plans to two additional reactors.

Beyond Nuclear's Radioactive Waste Watchdog, Kevin Kamps, served on Northwatch's expert witness team in spring 2011. He challenged OPG's risky plans for high-level radioactive waste on-site storage associated with its proposed new reactors at Darlington. The Canadian federal regulatory review panel hearings took place in late March 2011, amidst the surreal aftermath of the beginning of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe.

Wednesday
May142014

"Scientist sheds new light on proposed nuclear waste site on Lake Huron"

Michigan Radio's host of Stateside, Cynthia Canty, interviews Frank Greening, a nuclear scientist who has worked for Ontario Power Generation (OPG) at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station. When Greening checked the figures for how much radioactivity OPG proposes to bury in a Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) at Bruce in Kincardine, Ontario, less than a mile from the Lake Huron shore, he found that OPG had underestimated some radionuclides by a factor of two or three, while others were low-balled by a factor of 100 or even 1,000.

[Note, Bruce Nuclear is 110 miles northeast of Port Huron, MI -- not 11 miles, as Cynthia Canty reported.]

Greening also found that OPG had depended on calculated values, rather than a vast data base of actual measurements -- many of which he himself had made.

OPG's error -- which Greening has called to the attention of the Canadian Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO, which OPG dominates), the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA), and the Canadian federal Joint Review Panel (JRP) overseeing the DGR's environmental assessment -- has caused him to call for an "extent of condition," to see if additional errors have been made elsewhere on the project.

Despite OPG, NWMO and CNSC's admission that Greening is correct, they have nonetheless stood by the "safety case" of OPG's DGR proposal. Greening, however, doesn't take "trust us, we're experts" as good enough, given their admitted error on radioactivity levels.

Greening questions the wisdom of burying radioactive waste on the Great Lakes shoreline. "Why tempt fate?" he asks.

Monday
May122014

Updated "Southeast MI in the Radioactive Cross Hairs" backgrounder

At the urging of environmental allies in southeast Michigan, Beyond Nuclear in March 2012 prepared a backgrounder on reactor, radioactive waste, and other nuclear risks in the region. The backgrounder has been updated for use at a presentation by Beyond Nuclear's Radioactive Waste Watchdog, Kevin Kamps, to be held at the Huron Valley Sierra Club Chapter meeting in Ann Arbor, MI on May 20th. The backgrounder complements the "Great Lakes Region Nuclear Hot Spots" map, prepared by Anna Tilman at International Coalition of Concern for Public Health last year.

The backgrounder and map include sections on the "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive waste dump targeted at Bruce Nuclear Generating Station in Ontario, on the Lake Huron shoreline, 50 miles from the tip of Michigan's Thumb.

Friday
May092014

Entergy's Palisades spills 70 gallons of oil on the edge of Lake Michigan

NRC file photo of Entergy's Palisades atomic reactor, as well as the Great Lake and surrounding countryside it puts at riskDespite the industry's claim that nuclear power is "clean energy," Entergy's Palisades atomic reactor has just spilled "approximately 70 gallons" of oil onto the ground, adjacent to the waters of Lake Michigan. As a headwaters for the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan supplies drinking water to 40 million people in eight U.S. states, two Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations.

The Kalamazoo Gazette has reported on this oil leak. This latest incident at Palisades was made public by an Event Notification posted at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's website.

The oil spill comes a year and two days after Palisades leaked 82.1 gallons of radioactive water directly into Lake Michigan. The radioactive spill prompted a protest vigil at Palisades' front entrace, organized by Beyond Nuclear and local concerned citizens' groups, after U.S. Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI), Chair of the powerful House Committee on Energy and Commerce (whose district "hosts" Palisades), as well as NRC Commissioner Svinicki, failed to even acknowledge requests for meetings after their hastily arranged emergency tour of the problem-plagued plant.

Palisades' oil spill also comes less than two months after British Petroleum spilled 1,638 gallons of Canadian tar sands crude oil into Lake Michigan at its refinery in Whiting, IN, and less than four years after the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history, upstream of Lake Michigan: 1.4 million gallons of Canadian tar sands crude, from Enbridge's Line 6B oil pipeline, into the Kalamazoo River at Marshall, MI. To protect irreplacable surface waters like Lake Michigan, Beyond Nuclear stands in solidarity with anti-dirty energy allies against oil pipelines.

The very title of a May 7, 2014 U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General report shows there is much to be concerned about: PHMSA's State Pipeline Safety Program Lacks Effective Management and Oversight. Before becoming PHMSA's Administrator, Cynthia L. Quaterman, she had represented oil companies, including Enbridge, as a legal counsel.

There were widespread calls for PHMSA Administrator Quaterman to block a permit for Bruce Nuclear to ship, by boat, radioactive steam generators on the Great Lakes, but she did not do so. However, it took Mohawk First Nation pledges to block the boats on the Saint Lawrence River before Bruce Nuclear stopped pushing the proposal.

Sunday
May042014

"A Rhetorical Outburst: Canadian ‘Experts’ Comfy with Radioactive Pollution of Great Lakes"

John LaForge of Nukewatch in Luck, WIJohn LaForge of Nukewatch Wisconsin has published an article at CounterPunch entitled "A Rhetorical Outburst: Canadian ‘Experts’ Comfy with Radioactive Pollution of Great Lakes."

It is John's response to an "expert report" done in support of Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) proposal to bury all of the province's so-called "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive wastes, from 20 reactors, less than a mile from the waters of Lake Huron. The dump would be immediately adjacent to OPG's Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, with eight operable atomic reactors, one of the single biggest nuclear power plants in the world.

40 million American, Canadian, and Native American First Nations residents drink from Great Lakes waters, which comprise more than 20% of the entire world's surface fresh water, and more than 90% of North America's.

John writes: "The ‘expert’ group’s report says it’s possible that as much as 1,000 cubic meters a year of water contaminated with radiation might leach from the dump, but calls such pollution 'highly improbable.' (Emphasis on 'predicted' and 'improbably' here: The US government’s 650-meter-deep Waste Isolation Pilot Project in New Mexico was predicted to contain radiation for 10,000 years. It failed badly on Feb. 14, after only 15.)"

In September 2013, John testified before the Canadian federal Joint Review Panel tasked with overseeing OPG's environmental assessment on OPG's proposed "Deep Geologic Repository," or DGR. (Critics have dubbed it the Deep Underground Dump, or DUD). He cited a 2008 OPG promotional brochure, which rhetorically asked “Will the [dump] contaminate the water?” then answered: “…even if the entire waste volume were to be dissolved into Lake Huron, the corresponding drinking water dose would be a factor of 100 below the regulatory criteria initially, and decreasing with time.”

This fatuous assertion prompted John to ask in his testimony: “Why would the government spend $1 billion on a dump when it is safe to throw all the radioactive waste in the water?”

As John writes, "Now, what I thought of then as a rhetorical outburst has become 'expert' opinion."

John and Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps will co-present "Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer," their annual workshop at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association fair held on summer solstice weekend in central WI.

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