Canada puts off decision on proposed nuclear waste dump near Lake Huron http://michiganradio.org/post/canada-puts-decision-proposed-nuclear-waste-dump-near-lake-huron#stream/0By STEVE CARMODY , 28 Nopv 15 The Canadian government has announced it needs more time to decide if it will OK permits for a nuclear waste storage facility near the shore of Lake Huron. Ontario Power Generation wants to bury approximately 200,000 cubic meters of low to medium level nuclear waste 680 meters – just under a half mile – below ground. The utility insists the rock formation in the area, less than a mile from Lake Huron, is geologically stable.
The Trudeau government had faced a December 2nd deadline to decide if it would approve the permits for the facility. But the agency responsible for the review announced today it is delaying the decision until March 1st.
Beverly Fernandez is with the group Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump. She welcomes today’s decision.
“We are hopeful that the minister will act to protect the Great Lakes and ultimately say ‘no’ to OPG’s plan,” says Fernandez, “This really is a matter that does affect all the people in Canada and the U.S. The Great Lakes are a shared natural resource.”
Fernandez hopes the decision to delay is a sign the Trudeau government may will willing to reject the project. The proposed nuclear waste storage facility has been controversial on both sides of the border. Dozens of local governments in Michigan have passed resolutions opposing it. Environmental groups have protested against it.
Michigan’s congressional delegation has raised serious concerns about the potential consequences to the Great Lakes if the facility fails to contain the radioactive waste.
The former Conservative Canadian government appeared friendly to the planned nuclear waste storage facility. But the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper was defeated by the Liberals in recent elections.
Residents and businesses within 10 kms of the the Pickering and Darlington Nuclear Generating Stations will receive potassium iodide pills, meant to protect in case of the nuclear disaster.
If you live in Durham Region or Scarborough, you may have just been mailed a package of pills in a calming sky blue box. Those pills are meant to protect you in the event of a nuclear disaster — a disaster that you, living within a sensitive 10km zone surrounding the Pickering and DarlingtonNuclear Generating Stations, would be on the frontlines of.
Ontario’s geriatric reactors at Darlington require major surgery http://www.pressenza.com/2015/09/canadas-darlington-nuclear-station-campaign-against-life-extension/ 05.09.2015 – Gordon Edwards While Ontario Power Generation (OPG) plans to permanently shut down the eight nuclear reactors at Pickering by 2020 (two of them are already retired), OPG is seeking an unprecedented thirteen year operating licence for its four nuclear reactors at Darlington. The Darlington reactors – the largest in Canada’s nuclear fleet – are sited on the north shore of Lake Ontario, between Toronto and Port Hope.
The Darlington reactors are seriously degraded and will require extensive rebuilding of the core and primary heat transport system to continue operating — a dirty and dangerous operation euphemistically called “refurbishment” that will cost at least TEN BILLION dollars. Thousands of highly radioactive pressure tubes and calandria tubes will have to be removed robotically and packaged for safe storage for a period of hundreds of thousands of years, along with tens of kilometres of radioactively contaminated “feeder pipes”. These dangerous radioactive wastes will be trucked north to the shore of Lake Huron near Kincardine to join the growing volumes of radioactive waste that are currently stored there.
Previous experience with refurbishment of CANDU reactors at other locations in Ontario and New Brunswick has been characterized by years of delay and billions of dollars in cost over-runs. During a refurbishment operation at the Bruce site, on the shore of Lake Huron, over 500 workers were exposed to inhaling plutonium-contaminated airborne dust for over three weeks in 2009 due to the incompetence or disregard of overseers who neglected to provide the men with respirators, failed to heed a radiation alarm, ignored company records that plainly revealed the presence of such contamination in the pipes that were being removed and subjected to a grinding operation, and neglected to properly test the air for contamination.
Anyone can intervene in the November licensing hearings by sending in a letter or a brief, with the option of appearing in person at the hearings and making a 10-minute oral presentation. It is even possible to testify by telephone using a tele-conferencing setup that the Commission has made available for intervenors; one only has to request it.
The Ontario Government, the sole owner of OPG, can decide not to refurbish the Darlington reactors by instead buying replacement power, investing in community-based energy conservation, and accelerating the installation of alternative energy sources such as solar, wind, and industrial cogeneration facilities. The province of Quebec has a very large surplus of water-generated hydropower at the present time and for the foreseeable future, and calculations have shown that the entire output of the Darlington reactors could be replaced if Ontario purchased excess power from Quebec at a price that would be mutually advantageous to both provinces, and much less expensive than the Darlington refurbishment option.
Although the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission staff promised to publish a report outlining the consequences of a severe nuclear accident at Darlington involving one, two, or all of the reactors there, they have instead produced a report that describes a release of radioactivity that is ridiculously low — at least 10 to 100 times less than what would be reasonably anticipated in the event of a severe nuclear accident. By misrepresenting the amount of radioactivity that could be released in such circumstances, the CNSC staff is misleading the public and government authorities who are responsible for putting in place emergency planning measures needed to cope with the aftermath of such a severe nuclear accident.
The IAEA recently published a report on the Fukushima triple meltdown in Japan. The following paragraph, taken from the first page of the IAEA report, is particularly applicable to the arrogant attitude of Canadian nuclear authorities who simply do not want to communicate to the public and to decision makers the results of their own internal calculations.
Incoming Canadian PM Justin Trudeau pledges new action on climate change ahead of Paris meeting, ABC News 22 Oct 15 The newly-elected Canadian leader Justin Trudeau will arrive in office with a pledge to improve the country’s battered environmental image, promising a new strategy for global climate negotiations in Paris this December.
The 43-year-old son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau swept to victory with 39.5 percent of the popular vote, in an election that saw the highest voter turnout since 1993.
Although he has yet to say how he will achieve his goals, the Liberal Party leader faces a tough task meeting expectations.
He has less than 40 days before the Paris climate conference begins, hardly time for yet-unnamed energy and environment ministers to get up to speed, let alone to forge a common position with Canada’s 10 provinces on carbon emissions cuts.
Yet he has pledged a break from the policies of defeated prime minister Stephen Harper — a politician from Alberta’s oil patch who pulled Canada out of the Kyoto treaty and fought to shield the energy industry from global commitments to cut carbon emissions.
During the election campaign, Mr Trudeau criticised Mr Harper relentlessly for turning Canada into a “pariah” on climate change issues.
He pledged to attend the Paris conference, and then convene the country’s provincial premiers within 90 days to create national emissions targets under a framework that would allow provinces to set a price on carbon.
That party platform had almost no specifics but it raised expectations both domestically and abroad that Mr Trudeau would change Canada’s course on climate…………. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-21/canadian-leader-justin-trudeau-faces-climate-change-challenges/6872344
Inside the ‘clandestine world’ of SNC-Lavalin’s fallen star Riadh Ben Aissa, Financial Post, Brian Hutchinson, Financial Post Staff | March 18, 2015 “……..This is one of the details revealed in a 98-page document prepared by Swiss prosecutors (called an acte d’accusation en procédure simplifiée, it is comparable to a North American plea bargain agreement) and obtained by the Financial Post. It brings to light previously unknown details of how Mr. Ben Aissa, a 56-year-old citizen of both Tunisia and Canada, and now facing charges in Canada on a different matter, directed 12.5 million euros and US$21.9 million into Swiss bank accounts controlled by Saadi Gaddafi, from 2001 to 2007.
These were kickbacks, paid to Saadi by Mr. Ben Aissa in return for certain Libyan contracts awarded to SNC. According to Swiss authorities, tens of millions more dollars moved through Mr. Ben Aissa’s own Swiss accounts, from September 2001 to March 2011. The money came from SNC……..
the Swiss proceedings raise new questions about SNC, its vulnerability, and its future, which even its current CEO, Robert Card, has publicly worried may be at risk of either breaking up, ceasing to exist or being taken over. Since it found itself embroiled in scandal, the company has seemed in perpetual crisis, with more drama this week in its boardroom, with the sudden resignation of its chairman, and in a Montreal courtroom, where Mr. Ben Aissa and another former SNC executive began a preliminary hearing over allegations of bribery in a Canadian hospital deal.
While some might question how SNC did not know about Mr. Ben Aissa’s conduct in Libya, some insiders still seem inclined to blame him alone for setting into motion the company’s stunning fall from grace.
“Good luck sorting out Riadh Ben Assia’s clandestine world,” former SNC chairman Gwyn Morgan wrote in a brief response to questions put to him by email about certain activities that allegedly took place during his leadership……..
SWwiss authorities identified five specific areas of corruption where SNC cash was used to obtain contracts in Libya. ……
Last month, the RCMP laid criminal charges against SNC Lavalin itself, in connection to allegedly corrupt activities in Libya. The charges came as a blow; sources claim the company’s management and its lawyers had negotiated with Canadian authorities for two years, in an attempt to avoid prosecution. A criminal conviction for corruption could result in the company being prohibited — “debarred” — from bidding on public works projects in Canada…….
On Monday, SNC announced the resignation of Ian Bourne, its board chairman, effective immediately. He’d been in the position just two years, having replaced Mr. Morgan in 2013. SNC did not give specific reasons why Mr. Bourne decided to leave.
The same morning, two former SNC executives walked into a Montreal courtroom for the start of a preliminary hearing on other corruption-related matters. One was Pierre Duhaime, SNC’s former CEO and president. The second was Mr. Ben Aissa, back in Canada after his Swiss incarceration and extradition. Both are charged with fraud, related to alleged construction bid-rigging in Montreal, in what one police investigator has called the “biggest corruption fraud in Canadian history.”
Mr. Duhaime, Mr. Ben Aissa, former SNC controller Stéphane Roy and five other men, among them Canada’s former spy watchdog, Arthur Porter, allegedly participated a corrupt scheme that saw an international consortium led by SNC win a $1.34-billion hospital construction and maintenance contract for the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), in 2010. Dr. Porter has publicly refuted the allegations and none have been proven in court. Mr. Duhaime has pleaded not guilty. Mr. Ben Aissa is also in court fighting the allegations………. http://business.financialpost.com/legal-post/inside-the-clandestine-world-of-snc-lavalins-fallen-star-riadh-ben-aissa
Plan for cleaning up uranium tailings ready for approval BY ALEX MACPHERSON, THE STARPHOENIX SEPTEMBER 28, 2015 The cleanup of a derelict northern Saskatchewan uranium mine could move one step closer this week.
The Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) — which is overseeing the multi-million-dollar Gunnar Remediation Project on behalf of the provincial government — will present its plan to cover the site’s three tailings deposits at a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) hearing in Ottawa on Wednesday.
Canada’s nuclear watchdog will consider evidence presented by all interested parties, including the SRC and northern First Nations, before making its decision, which is expected in about six weeks, a CNSC spokesman said Monday…..
After Gunnar ceased production in 1963, the open pit and underground works were flooded with water from Lake Athabasca. The mine was abandoned the following year with little other decommissioning work.
“There was no Department of Environment when those mines were abandoned,” said Ann Coxworth, a nuclear chemist and member of the Saskatchewan Environmental Society board. “At the time, there was, I would say, rather limited understanding of the hazards of leaving those tailings in an unmanaged condition.”
The absence of baseline studies and the insidious effects of radioactive contamination make assessing the Gunnar site’s environmental impact difficult, but it’s clear the work needed to be done, Coxworth said.
“We know that it can’t be cleaned up. (But) the situation can certainly be improved.”……..
Jack Flett, regulatory affairs coordinator for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, said he hopes work on the Gunnar site continues.
“For me, it’s water,” he said, noting that the northern Alberta First Nation is downstream of the Gunnar mine. “Water is everything. Water is life.”….. http://www.thestarphoenix.com/technology/plan+cleaning+uranium+tailings+ready+approval/11397802/story.html
Ken Buesseler, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Sep 14, 2015:
- 1:02:15 — Buesseler: “There have been ongoing releases… being maintained at higher levels… The groundwater is almost impossible to stop, so that will continue for decades… very hard to contain. Ice dams, things you can engineer to stop them, have never been done on this scale before, so it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen.”
- 1:09:30 — Audience Q&A: “Can anyone — scientists, physicists, anyone — really estimate the levels that are coming out of Fukushima on a daily basis? This rain event… how could anyone possibly estimate what is going… it’s disingenuous … to make these kind of assumptions — that it ‘probably’ won’t be a problem in the future. How can anyone say that? It’s never happened before… I don’t know where these predictions can really be nailed down, and was wondering your opinion on that as a couple of ‘good scientists’ (laughs).”
- 1:11:00 — Buesseler: “Fair points. It’s never happened before, it’s somewhat unpredictable and dynamic… There’s certainly not enough information. I was very frustrated after the rain event to find almost no information about the amount and levels that were in the ocean… There are some monitoring sites right in the harbor, and you can actually see the level of cesium go up from 1,000 of my units to 3,000 — so there was an impact. How long that’s going to continue? I can’t tell you… How it’s going to change in the future? We hope it gets back down to the levels that were near zero, but it never will be. It’s going to be — for decades, anyway — a site of continuous release… that’s what keeps me up at night, are continuous leaks that could happen at that site.”
Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission?
CBC News, By John Nicol, Dave Seglins, CBC News Posted: Sep 14, 2015 SNC-Lavalin Inc. announced this morning it has replaced president and CEO Bob Card with Neil Bruce, and told CBC News the move is “completely unrelated” to new allegations, published today, in a civil suit that claims giving bribes to win contracts was part of the past practices of the company.The Montreal-based engineering firm, which Card took over in the spring of 2012 to clean up past issues, faced new allegations Monday from a former executive who claims the company has made him a “scapegoat,” and alleges other top executives for years endorsed bribes and lavish gifts — including a yacht and even prostitutes — to win contracts from Libya’s Gadhafi regime.The serious allegations by Riadh Ben Aïssa, SNC’s former executive vice-president of construction, are contained in a newly filed court pleading as he defends himself against one of a number of civil lawsuits by the company, which itself is facing criminal charges of foreign corruption.
- SNC bribery case threatens billions in federal contracts
- Former SNC execs in court in bribery case
- PROFILES | Who’s who in McGill superhospital bribery case
“SNC is only trying to use Ben Aïssa as a scapegoat by presenting him as solely responsible for acts that SNC was fully aware of, accepted and encouraged,” the court pleading states, naming a list of former CEOs, executive vice-presidents and the former chief financial officer.
“After having behaved as such for many years, SNC now tries to escape unscathed by blaming all its acts on Ben Aïssa.”……..
Bribes won billions in workBen Aïssa is back in Canada after serving 2½ years in a Swiss jail, having admitted to corruption and money laundering tied to SNC projects in Libya. He’s awaiting trial alongside former CEO PierreDuhaime on charges of fraud for $22.5 million in alleged bribes paid to win SNC the contract to build a Montreal superhospital……….
Ben Aïssa sets out a long list of SNC contracts in Libya, worth billions, that arose from the partnership and that he alleges were won through kickbacks paid to side agents.
“Most of SNC’s senior executives knew that the so-called agency contracts were in reality bribes paid to Libyan foreign officials in exchange for the award of the sole-source contract,” the former construction executive alleges.
What’s more, Ben Aïssa declares the money was “fraudulently charged back” to the Libyan government by embedding the costs in the project before SNC submitted its offers.
Gifts: yacht, prostitutes, Spice Girls……… http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/snc-lavalin-card-bruce-1.3226097
World Bank’s appeal over SNC-Lavalin to be heard by Supreme Court JEFF GRAY – LAW REPORTER The Globe and Mail Jul. 02, 2015 A battle over whether the World Bank can be forced to produce its files on the bribery probe in Bangladesh that later resulted in Canadian criminal charges against three former SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. employees is going to the Supreme Court of Canada.
The Washington, D.C.-based World Bank is challenging an Ontario Superior Court decision that ordered it to produce documents related to its investigation of bribery allegations around a multibillion-dollar project to build a bridge in Bangladesh.
The Supreme Court of Canada announced on Thursday that it would hear the case. A date has not been set.
It’s the latest twist in the corruption allegations that for years have swirled around Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin, Canada’s largest engineering firm, which also faces separate RCMP charges related to allegations that $47.7-million in bribes were paid to win contracts in Libya under the regime of the late dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
Starting in 2010, the World Bank conducted its own investigation into allegations around a bid by SNC-Lavalin for a $10-million contract to manage the construction of Bangladesh’s multibillion-dollar Padma Bridge project, which was being financed by the World Bank.
In 2011, the World Bank brought those allegations, including information from four unnamed “tipsters,” to the RCMP. Based solely on this information, the Mounties obtained permission to wiretap conversations. The RCMP then raided SNC-Lavalin’s Oakville, Ont., offices in September, 2011.
In 2012, the RCMP laid bribery charges against two now former SNC-Lavalin employees: Mohammad Ismail, the company’s former director of international projects, and his boss Ramesh Shah, a former vice-president of SNC’s international division.
In 2013, it added charges against Kevin Wallace, who was SNC’s vice-president of energy and infrastructure, and Zulfiquar Bhuiyan, a businessman with dual Canadian-Bangladeshi citizenship who was not an SNC employee but who is alleged to have been a representative of a senior Bangladeshi official, Abdul Chowdhury……http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/the-law-page/world-banks-snc-lavalin-appeal-to-be-heard-by-supreme-court/article25236083/
Michigan residents urged to submit comments on Canada’s nuclear waste dump plan – Congressman Dan Kildee –
Congressman Dan Kildee Urges Michiganders to Submit Comments on Canadian Plan to Bury Nuclear Waste on the Shores of the Great Lakes August 19, 2015 Current 90-Day Comment Period ‘Critical Opportunity’ for Citizens to Have Voices Heard and Stop Plan, Kildee Says
Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) today announced a new community initiative today to protect the Great Lakes and encourage Michigan residents to get involved to stop a Canadian plan to bury nuclear waste less than a mile from Lake Huron.
Currently, Canada has opened a 90-day comment period seeking comments from both U.S. and Canadian citizens on the proposed plan. Today Congressman Kildee, joined by Michigan Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich and concerned citizens, announced a new write-in campaign to the Canadian Minister of the Environment to ensure that Michiganders’ voices are heard on this important issue that threatens our Great Lakes. Instructions on how to submit public comments are below.
“We must protect the Great Lakes from harm, including from the threat of Canadian nuclear waste,” Congressman Kildee said. “Burying nuclear waste less than a mile from Lake Huron just doesn’t make sense and is too much of a risk to take, especially considering nuclear material remains radioactive for thousands of years. There is growing opposition to this plan, both in the U.S. and Canada, and now Michiganders have a chance to be heard and express their views too. I encourage all Michigan residents to speak up and submit comments to Canadian officials during this open comment period to demonstrate that Michigan stands united against this threat to our Great Lakes.”
Today’s announcement in Flint is the latest effort by Congressman Kildee in recent weeks to raise awareness about the potential Canadian plan and stop the burying of nuclear waste so close to the Great Lakes. Last week, along with Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, Congressman Kildee announced new legislation to invoke the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 and mandate that a new study be conducted to examine the proposal’s risks………
To date, 168 municipalities – in both the U.S. and Canada – have passed resolutions opposing the plan, including Flint, Mich., Bay County, Mich.; Toronto, Ontario; Chicago, Ill.; Wayne County, Mich.; Milwaukee, Wisc.; Essex County, Ontario; and Rochester County, New York. The Michigan State Senate also has passed a resolution opposing the Canadian nuclear waste storage site.
To submit their comments, Michigan residents must write to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency by September 1, 2015. Comments can be submitted by mail or email.
Anyone who would like to submit comments by mail should send them to: Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency; 22nd Floor, 160 Elgin Street, Ottawa ON K1A 0H3
Anyone who would like to submit comments by email should send them to:firstname.lastname@example.org http://dankildee.house.gov/congressman-dan-kildee-urges-michiganders-to-submit-comments-on-canadian-plan-to-bury-nuclear-waste-on-the-shores-of-the-great-lakes/
Raw sewage backups at MUHC superhospital test relations with SNC-Lavalin AARON DERFEL, MONTREAL GAZETTE August 26, 2015 ,Black sewer water that “smells worse than rotten fish” is backing up drains and pooling in patient bathrooms at the new Montreal Children’s Hospital, angering staff who say the problem is widespread and keeps popping up despite the fact that plumbers are called in regularly to snake the drains.
The superhospital was built as a public-private partnership, with the Quebec engineering firm acting as the lead partner in a private consortium that is the landlord of the property. Unlike the Old Montreal Children’s where the MUHC could do what it wanted with the building as the sole owner, SNC-Lavalin is responsible for maintaining the superhospital and fixing plumbing, electrical and other problems.
South Australia’s Nuclear Fuel Chain Commission visited Toronto on 14tth July and had discussions on
the CANDU reactor design and technology. That CANDU technology is owned and marketed by SNC Lavalin.
RCMP charges SNC-Lavalin with fraud and corruption linked to Libyan projects Graeme Hamilton, Financial Post Staff | February
19, 2015MONTREAL – Once a jewel of the Quebec business establishment, SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. now stands criminally accused of fraud and corruption after the RCMP announced charges against the engineering giant Thursday.
The case against SNC and two of its subsidiaries stems from the company’s dealings in Libya between 2001 and 2011, when a senior executive established close ties with Saadi Gaddafi, son of dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Court documents allege the company offered bribes worth $47.7 million “to one or several public officials of the ‘Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,’” as Gaddafi called the nation he ruled until he was overthrown and killed in 2011.
SNC and its subsidiaries SNC-Lavalin Construction Inc. and SNC-Lavalin International Inc. are also alleged to have defrauded various Libyan public agencies of approximately $129.8 million.
“Corruption of foreign officials undermines good governance and sustainable economic development,” RCMP Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud said Thursday. “The charges laid today demonstrate how the RCMP continues to support Canada’s international commitments and safeguard its integrity and reputation.”
For SNC, the charges represent another black cloud in a storm the company has been trying to escape since a tip from Swiss authorities triggered the RCMP investigation, dubbed Project Assistance, in 2011……..
The RCMP investigation has already led to charges against former SNC executives Sami Bebawi and Stéphane Roy as well as Mr. Bebawi’s lawyer, Constantine Kyres. Riadh Ben Aissa, a former SNC vice-president, pleaded guilty in Switzerland last year to charges of corruption and money laundering related to SNC’s Libyan business. He has been extradited to Canada where he is facing fraud charges related to the awarding of the McGill University Health Centre contract to SNC. Former SNC CEO Pierre Duhaime is facing similar charges in connection with the MUHC project.
The charges, filed Thursday in Montreal, do not specify who received the bribes, but a previously released RCMP affidavit, containing unproven allegations, described Saadi Gaddafi as a major recipient of SNC’s largesse.
“Riadh Ben Aissa’s close relationship with Saadi Gaddafi was a major asset to SNC-Lavalin who was well aware of it and fostered the relationship,” the affidavit sworn in 2013 by Cpl. Alexandre Beaulieu said………
The contracts landed by SNC were grandiose projects with names to please the vanity of a dictator ……..
n Quebec, there was concern Thursday about the impact the new charges will have on a major economic player. The Federation of Quebec Chambers of Commerce issued a statement saying the charges cannot be allowed to harm SNC’s business. “We have to stop collectively knocking ourselves down and move to a reconstruction phase,” the federation said.
Karl Moore, a professor at McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management, said the charges come at a bad time for SNC. “They’ve actually really changed,” he said. “They’ve changed the culture and it’s squeaky clean. It’s one of the best engineering firms, from a compliance point of view, in the world.”
He does not think the company’s survival is at stake, but it will suffer. “This puts a bit of a cloud on them. When they’re out there seeing clients, there is some concern, and competitors will bring it up,” he said. “If I’m a competitor of SNC, I would take considerable delight in pointing out [its] weaknesses.”
The company has been ordered to appear in court in Montreal on April 14. http://business.financialpost.com/news/rcmp-charges-snc-lavalin-with-fraud-and-corruption-linked-to-libyan-projects
How Harper turned a nuclear watchdog into a lapdog http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/blog/Blogentry/how-harper-turned-a-nuclear-watchdog-into-a-l/blog/53839/
Greenpeace and other environment groups asked the Commission today to release a study censored by CNSC staff because it apparently reveals weaknesses of offsite emergency response around the Darlington nuclear station.
We learned the study had been suppressed by requesting documents under federal Access to Information legislation, but its cover-up fits with the Harper government’s ongoing attack on our democratic institutions.
For a decade now the Harper government has gagged scientists, intimidated independent government watchdogs, and gutted environmental protection laws. All these attacks have a common objective: prevent the release of any information at odds with Harper’s goal of making Canada an energy “super power”.Whether it’s Alberta’s tar sands or Ontario and Saskatchewan’s nuclear industry, Harper’s endgame was to deny Canadians information that puts dirty power in a bad light.
The CNSC decision to suppress this public safety shows how much Harper’s succeeded.
One of Harper’s first attacks on arms-length watchdogs was when he fired the CNSC’s former president Linda Keen in 2008.
Keen was fired because she had the audacity to tell the Canadian nuclear industry they’d need to meet modern international nuclear safety standards if they wanted to build new reactors.
This angered the nuclear lobby, and especially the engineering giant SNC-Lavalin, who wanted to build new reactors on the cheap by cutting back on safety systems by building an outdated pre-Chernobyl, pre-September 11th reactor design.
SNC-Lavalin set out to have Keen ousted and found a sympathetic ear with Harper. Letting environmental protection block industry expansion is anathema to goals of the Harper government. Harper fired Keen and installed a more industry-friendly president.
The new president Michael Binder quickly remade the Commission in Harper’s image. The CNSC became an industry cheerleader with Binder even providing promotional quotes for industry press releases.
While the Harper government gutted environmental laws, Binder let it be known that environmental reviews would be little more than a foregone conclusion under his watch anyway.
And the muzzling of government scientists appears to be alive and well at the CNSC.
A 2014 Environics survey of federal scientists found CNSC staff often feel that politics trumps science at the Commission
CNSC scientists are the most likely (94%) to report “interference” with their manuscripts in the civil service. They are also the second most likely (57%) to be aware of incidents where the safety of Canadians had been compromised due to political interference.
The censored study we asked for today is a tangible example of how public safety assessments are being re-written for political ends.
In 2014, the CNSC released a severe accident study purportedly assessing the impacts of a “severe”accident at the Darlington nuclear station.
Such an assessment is needed because Ontario Power Generation (OPG) wants to extend the lives of four aging reactors at Darlington. Sitting just 60 km from downtown Toronto the Darlington reactors are located in Canada’s densely populated. This raises questions about the ability of Canada’s largest city to cope with a major nuclear accident.
The public had also pushed for this study. Following the Fukushima disaster hundreds of citizens called for such a study. It was a reasonable request. Believe it or not, the CNSC has never studied the consequences of a major Fukushima-scale accident in Canada.
CNSC staff reluctantly relented and committed to produce an accident study before hearings on OPG’s application to rebuild the aging Darlington reactors later this year.
But eyebrows were raised when the CNSC finally published the promised study in 2014. Media coverage focused on the study’s rather anti-intuitive conclusion: a severe accident at Darlington would have a negligible impact on the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
I learned later the reason for the curious conclusion. Senior CNSC management had suppressed the original study, which did look at a Fukushima-scale radiation release.
According to documents I received through Access to Information, senior CNSC management stopped the release of the original study when apprised of its findings. They instructed staff to redo the study and exclude scenarios leading to a Fukushima-scale radiation release.
The justification to censor the study provided by CNSC Director Francois Rinfret shows how the CNSC has operationalized Harper’s policy of suppressing any evidence at odds with the expansion of major energy projects.
After Rinfret reviewed the study in early 2013, Rinfet told staff:
“I have taken a quick look at the draft submitted; indeed, this will become a focal point of any licence renewal, and despite brilliant attempts to caution readers, this document would be used malevolent-ly [sic] in a public hearing. It’s a no-win proposition whatever whatever (sic) we think the Commission requested.”
We were refused the details of the study, but Rinfret’s comments suggest the study reveals significant threats to public safety.
This makes sense. Ontario’s nuclear emergency plans effectively pre-date Chernobyl. Population is growing across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). There are surely weaknesses, especially in light of Fukushima.
An independent watchdog mandated to protect public safety would publish the data and use the information to improve safety requirements. But under Harper the CNSC is a lapdog with a mandate to protect the image and profits of the industry it regulates.
CNSC management were clearly concerned the study would be used to challenge the adequacy of the CNSC’s safety requirements. Worse, the public could decide the Darlington life-extension just isn’t worth the risk. Under the Harper regime, such inconvenient information is suppressed instead of being addressed by the government agencies.
We have nevertheless asked for the Commission to release the study. If public safety is at risk, it must be released – and we all need to call for its release.
Whatever the Commission’s response, Harper has created a dangerous culture at the CNSC. It puts Canadians at risk.
The public had good reason to ask for an assessment of the impacts of a Fukushima-type accident. Accidents are happening about once a decade internationally, and we need to know if Toronto could cope with such an event at Darlington before OPG is allowed to spend billions rebuilding the station.
As became clear after the Fukushima disaster, Japan’s industry-friendly nuclear regulator was a key cause of the accident.
Under Harper’s watch, the CNSC has been transformed from a watchdog into a lapdog. The parallels with Japan’s nuclear regulator before Fukushima are worrisome.
Let’s hope the next federal government cleans up the CNSC.
Researchers deployed time-series sediment traps 115 kilometers (approximately 70 miles) southeast of the nuclear power plant at depths of 500 meters (1,640 feet) and 1,000 meters (3,280 feet). The two traps began collecting samples on July 19, 2011—130 days after the March 11th earthquake and tsunami—and were recovered and reset annually.
WOODS HOLE – Researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have been studying the effects the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster in 2011 has had in the Pacific Ocean.
WHOI has recently released the results of a three-year study of sediment samples collected offshore in the American Chemical Society’s journal, Environmental Science and Technology.
The purpose of the study is to understand what happens to the Fukushima contaminants after they are buried on the seafloor off of coastal Japan.
The team, led by senior scientist and marine chemist Ken Buesseler, found that a small fraction of contaminated sea floor sediments off Fukushima are moved offshore by typhoons that resuspend radioactive particles in the water, which then travel laterally with Southeasterly currents into the Pacific Ocean.
Researchers used funnel-shaped traps to collect the data at depths of 500 meters and 1,000 meters starting 130 days after the disaster.
The research found radiocesium from the plant along with sediment with a high fraction of clay material in the samples. The clay material is characteristic of shelf and slope sediments and suggest a near shore source.
Buesseler says that more than 99 percent of the contaminated material from the plant moved with the water offshore and that less than 1 percent ended up on the sea floor as buried sediment.
Groups want full nuclear report released http://www.durhamregion.com/news-story/5804511-groups-want-full-nuclear-report-released/ By The Canadian Press, 19 Aug 15, OTTAWA – Environmental groups are urging the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to release a study on nuclear disaster scenarios that they say was suppressed.
The commission released a study last year looking at health and environmental consequences of accident scenarios, following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, but the groups say it wasn’t released in full.
Greenpeace, the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility and other environmental organizations say emails obtained through access to information requests show management at the nuclear commission censored the original draft.
They say the original study analyzed the impacts of a Fukushima-scale accident at the Darlington nuclear plant, 70 kilometres east of Toronto, but that wasn’t included in the version released to the public.
The groups cite an email from the director of the Darlington regulatory program division that says it would become a “focal point of any licence renewal” and would be used “malevolently” in a public hearing.
The nuclear commission is holding a hearing today in Ottawa on Ontario Power Generation’s application to extend the operating life of four aging Darlington reactors and the environmental groups want the Fukushima-scale analysis released before public submissions are due next month.
“The CNSC has betrayed the public trust by concealing a study revealing risks to Toronto,” said Shawn-Patrick Stensil, a senior energy analyst with Greenpeace. “The study should be released so these hazards can be addressed transparently and appropriate emergency plans put in place.”
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