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Enviromentalists vow to stop shipment of radioactive waste

By Dave Battagello, The Windsor Star, February 7, 2011

WINDSOR, Ont. -- Regulatory approval to allow shipment of radioactive waste down the Great Lakes — passing Windsor — and through the St. Lawrence Seaway has triggered anger among environmentalists and a coalition representing cities along the proposed travel route.

Despite the one-year license granted Friday by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) they vow to continue the fight to stop Bruce Power from shipping 16 decommissioned steam generators through area waterways en route to a recycling plant in Sweden.

Further approvals in the U.S. and Europe are still needed before the power company can transport the materials which critics fear could be spilled or leaked into supplies of drinking water or contaminate fishing sources.

“This ramps up the potential for a nuclear accident,” said Derek Coronado of the local Citizens Environment Alliance which has been fighting the shipping plan since it was first unveiled over a year ago.

“We are not going to stop working on this. You are talking about moving around nuclear waste.”

A dangerous precedent for shipping hazardous waste trough the Great Lakes will also be established, he said.

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities initiative — representing 73 cities on both sides of the borders from Thunder Bay to Rimouski, Que. — has also joined the fight in the belief the proposed shipment violates safety regulations.

The two waterways combined form the largest body of fresh water in the world with over 40 million relying on them for their drinking water, said the coalition which has vowed to keep fighting.

“This is the first round,” said David Ullrich, Chicago-based executive director for the group.

The approval by CNSC to grant the license to Bruce Power speaks for itself in terms of risk, said company spokesman John Peevers.

“We have always believed the right thing to do is reduce our (nuclear) footprint,” he said. “We are pleased the soundness of the case was backed by CNSC.

Coronado countered pleas by opponents for the agency to conduct a full environmental assessment were ignored and CNSC has become too cozy with the industry.

“It is their role to protect safety and take a long, hard look at this,” Peevers said. “They examined various scenarios and have found there is no risk to the public that results from this.”

The next step of approvals for Bruce Power to is to approach the U.S. Department of Transportation and then a Swedish radiation safety regulatory body.

The power company last year planned the radioactive generators would be moved by around April, but that target date may be moved contingent on getting necessary approvals in place, Peevers said.

“Once the approvals are in place we will make a decision on timing,” he said.

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