Oh boy, ohboy, ohboy! That’s some hot commodity!
The Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, Radioactive Waste Management Associates (Bellows Falls, Vermont), Beyond Nuclear (Takoma Park, Maryland), and the Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination (Michigan) have issued a media release as part of their co-ordinated attempt to block BP’s shipment of radioactive waste through the St. Lawrence Seaway and to Sweden.
Several prominent non-governmental organizations are accusing Bruce Power (BP) of misleading the public, the media and decision-makers about the kind of contamination inside the cargo of 16 radioactive steam generators it plans to ship to Sweden, by neglecting to state that it is mainly plutonium.
BP has applied to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for a licence to transport the radioactive cargo through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway en route to Sweden. CNSC staff has acknowledged that the proposed shipment exceeds by at least 6 times the maximum amount of
radioactivity normally allowed on a single vessel.
BP has trivialized the danger of this proposed shipment by referring to the cargo as “low level radioactivity.” But according to BP’s own figures, about 90 percent of the mass of radioactive material inside the steam generators is plutonium — a highly toxic, long-lived radioactive poison. On its web site, Studsvik – the Swedish company that plans to melt down most of the
radioactive metal and sell it as scrap for use in any number of commercial products – calls the innards of the steam generators “highy radioactive”
“Highly radioactive” seems too mild a phrase for the extremely dangerous nature of this substance. No wonder communities on both sides of the border are organizing to stop this!
The plutonium inside the steam generators gives off very little highly penetrating radiation, and therefore cannot be detected from the outside. But it gives off alpha radiation, which is 20 times more biologically damaging than beta or gamma radiation per unit of energy when deposited in living tissue. Any accidental spill will pose a serious long-lived contamination problem.
“Simple arithmetic shows that the amount of plutonium-239 inside the 16 steam generators is enough, in principle, to give more than 52 million atomic workers their maximum permissible ‘body burden’ of 0.7 micrograms,” said Dr. Marvin
Resnikoff of Radioactive Waste Management Associates in Vermont.
“And if the other plutonium isotopes inside the steam generator (plutonium-238, plutonium-240, plutonium-241 and plutonium-242) are factored in, the number of workers that could be overdosed is doubled,” added Dr. Edwards.
BP’s planned shipment of 1600 tonnes of radioactive waste through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence has been met with concerted opposition from over 100 municipalities and aboriginal communities along the route, as well as from
more than 70 NGOs. In response to this public outcry, CNSC held a public hearing in September with 79 intervenors. The outpouring of concern at that hearing led CNSC to extend the comment period for intervenors to give added input until November 22 — an unexpected and unprecedented development.
Most of the intervenors want Bruce Power to cancel the shipment and return to the original plan as laid down in a 2006 Environmental Assessment : to store the steam generators on site indefinitely as radioactive waste along with all the other radioactive waste materials produced by the Bruce reactors.
“Radioactive waste should be isolated from the human environment, not transported halfway around the world, and certainly not dispersed into consumer products,” said Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear.
I should think that consumer products made from nuked materials would be unacceptable the world over! Shouldn’t they? Wouldn’t they?