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Point Lepreau Nuclear Power Station – there’s no way to make nuclear safe!

How ‘Worst-Case Scenario’ At New Brunswick Nuclear Plant Could Affect Down East Maine, Maine Public, 12 May  Point Lepreau is a nuclear power plant just across the border in St. John. Next month its operating license expires, and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is considering whether to renew it for another five years. While that’s not a long amount of time for a 30-year-old plant, there are passionate arguments for and against its operation and implications for an entire region.

This is the second of two parts. To read Part 1, a tour of Point Lepreau, click here.

Back in the 1950s, an U.S. Atomic Energy Commission film, “The Magic of the Atom,” was meant to ease the anxiety people might feel about living and working near a nuclear power plant.

“Today, if you were to take a trip in almost any direction across our great country, you might suddenly come upon a sign like this: Atomic City,” the film’s narrator says.

But after the 1979 disaster at Three Mile Island, nuclear plants developed a more sinister reputation, and ever since, facilities like Point Lepreau have been battling that legacy………

there are some who are speaking out against the facility’s license renewal.

“The health risks are too great. There is no way to make nuclear safe,” says Willi Nolan of Kent County, New Brunswick.

Nolan says she has made it her business to follow up on past major nuclear accidents, and she says the potential devastation to the environment is a deal breaker.

“I just spent some time with four survivors of Fukushima and I’m told, you know, after the worst-case scenario happened there, that there are now people dropping on the streets, 30 years old, 40 years old. We’re still not finished with Chernobyl. There are still human health effects, cancers, childhood conditions,” she says.

When it comes to a nuclear plant meltdown, there are two basic zones of concern: the critical emergency zone that extends for a 10-mile radius, and then what’s known as the ingestion pathway. That spans a 50-mile radius and, in the case of Lepreau, would include towns like Eastport, Calais, Lubec, and East Machias.

But how much do emergency responders in those towns know about nuclear events?

“Very little,” says Mike Hinerman, who runs Washington County’s Emergency Management Agency…….

the biggest problem, experts say, would come in the weeks, months and years after the event, because anything grown in or harvested from that 50-mile ingestion pathway could be tainted — for decades.

“What do you do with apples? What do you do with fish? What do you do with clams?” says Robert Gardiner, MEMA’s technological hazards manager……..a major Lepreau event would devastate the county’s economy, affecting everything from shipping at Eastport to aquaculture, forest products, fishing, tipping, hunting and tourism, and of course the region’s wild blueberries……..

While critics insist that the disaster risk doesn’t justify thee benefits, it’s the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission that will have the final decision.


May 13, 2017 - Posted by | Canada, safety

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