Bruce Power trying to calm public about generator transfer

Shoreline Beacon: DENIS LANGLOIS - July 27, 2010

Bruce Power is holding three public open houses next week to discuss its plan to ship low-level radioactive steam generators through the Great Lakes from Owen Sound, but opponents of the proposal say it's not enough.

More than 50 anti-nuke and environmental groups have signed a petition to protest the shipments, with many calling for full- blown public hearings on the controversial plan.

"When you have these public open houses, there is no opportunity for both sides to be presented," said Gordon Edwards, president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is considering an application by the local nuclear generator for a transport licence to ship the school bus-sized, 100-tonne generators to a recycling facility in Sweden.

Bruce Power is not required to hold public meetings as part of the approval process. The CNSC says low-risk licences are typically issued by designated officers and not the commission tribunal.

"The rigour of the technical review is the same in each case and the decision is based on the recommendation of CNSC staff," the commission said in a statement, which is posted to its web-site.

The Bruce Power open houses are scheduled for tonight (Tuesday) from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre in Southampton, Wednesday from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Grey Bruce Health Unit in Owen Sound and Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Bruce Power Visitor's Centre near Tiverton.

Bruce Power spokesperson John Peevers said experts will be on hand to answer questions and receive comments on the company's plan. There will be no formal presentation or question- and-answer session.

"We want to let people know what (the steam generators) are and answer any questions they may have," he said.

Bruce Power officials have already spoken to municipal councils, including Owen Sound, along the proposed Bruce-Grey transportation route.

Edwards said a new environmental assessment should be required of Bruce Power to permit the shipments, since they are contrary to the plan outlined in an approved 2005 EA on the restart of Bruce A. The document states "the old steam generators . . . will be transferred to the Western Waste Management Facility. Transfer to the WWMF will occur entirely within the Bruce Power site and not require the use of public roads."

However, the EA does say that Bruce Power is committed to recycling wastes produced on site "to the extent possible."

It also says the "non-radioactive wastes will be reused or recycled to the degree possible."

The company said in a statement that the shell of the steam generators are "clean and can be melted down and recycled, while any components inside the vessels that cannot be recycled, due to low levels of radioactivity, will be returned for long-term storage."

Sixteen steam generators will be loaded onto a ship in Owen Sound this autumn. About 90 per cent of the metal will be melted down and recycled in Sweden. The rest will be shipped back to Canada and stored as low-level nuclear waste.

Groups like the Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Canadian Environmental Law Association, Provincial Council of Women of Ontario and Ontario Coalition of Aboriginal People are calling on the province to --at the very least --hold full-blown hearings on the shipment plan.

Others like the Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley, two United States representatives and several aboriginal and women's groups have signed a petition to oppose the shipments outright.