Radioactive shipment Coming through Erie


JARVIS -- Bruce Power is endangering the drinking water of millions of people in the Great Lakes area with plans to move 16 radioactive generators from its Kincardine plant by boat to be recycled overseas, says a local environmental activist.

"The human body cannot tolerate any amount of radiation," said Jim Elve of Waterford, a member of Energy Quest, the citizens group that fought against a nuke plant proposed for Nanticoke.

"The Great Lakes provides drinking water for more than 40 million people. No risk to that water source is acceptable, none whatsoever."

Bruce Power has said it wants to move the 16 used steam generators, each the size of a school bus, to Owen Sound where they would then be sent by boat through the Great Lakes and across the ocean to Sweden for recycling.

The shipment would go through Lake Erie and pass by the tip of Long Point, Elve said Wednesday night during a special symposium on energy and the environment put on by MPP Toby Barrett.

Bruce Power, Elve said, had originally agreed to the terms of an environmental assessment that suggested the generators be housed on site in a specially-designed building covered in thick concrete.

But the company changed its mind because sending the generators overseas for recycling costs less, he said.

What comes back from Sweden, he explained, is an oil-drum sized container of contaminated material.

"It is much easier to build a building to store one oil drum than eight school buses, and it is cheaper," Elve said.

Bruce Power, he said, is $2 billion over budget on the refurbishment of its Kincardine plant.

"They are looking for every way possible to save some money, and they are doing it at the expense of public safety."

Opposition to the shipment is growing, Elve said. Seventy mayors of cities on both the U.S. and Canada side are against it as well as seven U.S. senators. More than 2,700 people have signed a petition asking that the plan be scrapped.

Elve was one of a handful of speakers at the symposium held at the community centre here to discuss the future of energy use in the area.

Craig Wardrop, manager of OPG's coal-fired plant at Nanticoke, said his company is still exploring the feasibility of using other fuels at the lakeside facility, which is slated to close by 2014 along with the rest of Ontario's coal plants.

Possibilities include using natural gas, biomass such as wood chips or grasses, or a mixture of the two.

OPG, Wardrop said, is examining a route with Union Gas to extend a pipeline to the plant.

The future of Nanticoke will be determined by an upcoming review of Ontario's future electricity needs that will set out a "long-term framework" of where and how power will be generated, he said.

"We think Nanticoke will play a part in that. Certainly we are working hard at keeping the plant open."