This article appeared in the Sarnia Observer yesterday. Lambton County has voiced its opposition to Bruce Power‘s (now delayed) plan to ship decommissioned steam generators through the Great Lakes for recycling.
The opposition is unfortunate since Bruce Power has promised to work with stakeholders to address their concerns. The issue we have with this article, however, is that the author referred to the steam generators as radioactive waste, a gross misnomer and really, just plain irresponsible journalism. We sent a letter to clear things up.
Letter to the Editor Re: County opposes nuclear shipments (June 3)
Shipment of Steam Generators: Let’s Put this Issue in Perspective and Clear Some Things Up
On May 17th, Bruce Power announced a decision to delay the shipment of 16 steam generators to Sweden for recycling. The company’s decision is a prudent one which will allow further discussion with stakeholders seeking additional information. As Mayor Mike Bradley has chosen to continue the debate, calling it a “phony consultation” and saying mayors are “worried about the precedent-setting nature,” the Canadian Nuclear Association has an obligation to provide Canadians with the facts about this issue.
The nuclear industry in Canada has a long history of efficient management of its waste stream. For more than 50 years, the industry has demonstrated a strong record of identifying, cataloguing and monitoring its waste for the long term to ensure the safety of all Canadians.
Our industry has consistently looked to new technologies that allow us to reduce our environmental footprint. Bruce Power’s proposal to ship 16 decommissioned steam generators to a qualified facility in
Sweden for recycling of certain components is a positive step forward. It is, in fact, the right thing to do.
Although this project has attracted protest and scrutiny, I am asking your readers to put the issue into perspective.
For decades, radioactive material has been shipped through Canadian and global communities in cooperation with many industries and governments. Every day, thousands of units are shipped around the world ‐ including smoke detectors, instruments and gauges, medical and industrial isotopes, and many other products ‐ in ways that are strictly monitored to minimize the risk to the public or the environment. The transportation of any radioactive material is strictly regulated and has an impressive safety record spanning over several decades. No other form of transport is subject to a more stringent framework of regulation.
Low level radioactive waste is the result of beneficial uses of radioactive materials associated with medicine, education, research, agriculture and the nuclear industry. Common sources of low level waste include contaminated materials, discarded rags and protective clothing like gloves or masks. As such, low level waste should not be confused with high level waste or spent nuclear fuel.
The transportation of the 16 steam generators, which contain low‐level radioactive waste that is well within regulatory limits to ship, will be performed by qualified people with proven experience in moving heavy components. Bruce Power has been working with various experts in the practice of shipping and recycling along with governmental agencies to ensure the necessary approvals and permits are in place.
This will ensure the highest safety standards will be adhered to throughout the entire recycling plan. The extra dose given in an hour to a bystander will be less than what an extra day of background radiation gives to all of us every leap year. This is the same dose that could be received by eating 50 bananas. In fact, both the CNSC and the Medical Officer of Health for Bruce Grey County have concluded that the shipment poses no risk to either people or the environment.
The best indicator of future performance is past performance. In more than fifty years, there has been no transportation incident with radiological damage to people or the environment. As we move forward, let us not forget our industry’s record and our unparalleled commitment to safety.
President and CEO
Canadian Nuclear Association