Resistance builds to radioactive waste shipments on Great Lakes
August 26, 2010
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The Great Lakes United (GLU) Nuclear-Free/Green Energy Task Force has taken the lead in shining a spotlight on the proposal by Bruce Nuclear Power Complex in Ontario to barge 16 radioactive steam generators out the Great Lakes, and across the Atlantic, to Sweden for "recycling" the metal for un-restricted re-use in consumer products. A resolution signed by scores of organizations in the U.S. and Canada, as well as a cover letter to heads of government in the U.S. and Canada, signed by Task Force co-chairs Dr. Gordon Edwards and Michael Keegan, as well as GLU executive director Derek Stack, is posted at the GLU website. Also posted there are three documents written by Dr. Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility: a graphic image and photograph showing the radioactive "intestines" inside steam generatorss; an inventory of the hazardous radioactive isotopes that contaminate steam generators; and official company and government environmental assessment documents showing that the plan had been to store the radioactive steam generators on-site as waste, not ship them off for "recycling."

In addition to the radiological risks of one of these barges sinking -- including stigma impacts on economic sectors such as Great Lakes tourism and fisheries, even if there is not a radioactive release -- there is also the precedent setting nature of this proposal. As part of its Yucca Mountain plan, the U.S. Dept. of Energy has also proposed barging high-level radioactive wastes on the Great Lakes, as well as on the Chesapeake and Delaware Bay, various surface waters surrounding metro New York City as well as Boston, the California and Florida coastlines, and such inland rivers as the James in Virginia, the Mississippi, the Missouri, and the Tennessee. Unlike steam generators, irradiated nuclear fuel sinking risks accidental nuclear chain reactions underwater, due to the presence of fissile U-235 and Pu-239 in the high-level radioactive waste, which would make emergency response a "suicide mission," and would worsen radioactive releases to the environment. But any other "away-from-reactor" plans, such as reprocessing or "centralized interim storage" (aka parking lot dumps), could also involve such barge shipments.

Beyond Nuclear has delivered copies of the materials about the Bruce steam generator barge shipments proposal to the U.S. congressional delegations of the eight Great Lakes States (IL, IN, MI, MN, NY, OH, PA, WI). Please contact your own U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative via the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Urge them to take action, such as contacting the Obama administration, to protect the inland and coastal waters of the U.S. from the risks of shipping radioactive wastes.

Article originally appeared on Beyond Nuclear (http://www.beyondnuclear.org/).
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