Bruce Power lets transport permits lapse, Great Lakes shipment of radioactive goods on hold

LAKE HURON—Groups and citizens concerned with the possible shipment of retired nuclear steam generators through the Great Lakes are breathing a sigh of relief this week as news spread that Bruce Power, the company responsible for the transportation, decided against renewing its Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) transport licence and certificate—the documentation needed to allow such a shipment to occur.

In 2009, Bruce Power reached an agreement with Studsvik, a Swedish company, to ship 16 radioactive steam generators through the Great Lakes to a treatment facility in Nyköping, Sweden. Studsvik would then ‘decontaminate’ the radioactive waste and sell the scrap metal back onto open markets.

As the Expositor reported previously, despite the opposition of city mayors, US senators, First Nation communities, residents and environmental and other groups, the CNSC issued transport permits, which have since expired.

“The Anishinabek Nation Chiefs in Assembly still stand united and oppose any proposals or applications with the intent to export nuclear waste or radioactive contaminated equipment to other provinces or countries by either land or water,” Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee told the Expositor in a previous article. “The Great Lakes were never negotiated by treaty and we have inherent and treaty rights to all our waterways. Neither the Nuclear Safety Commission nor Bruce Power can guarantee that a disaster will not happen with this shipment. The spillage of any hazardous waste would infringe on our constitutionally-protected rights to fish, hunt, and gather lake-based traditional foods and medicines.”

Bruce Power spokesman James Scongack told media outlets the nuclear facility “did not seek to renew” the licence after it expired early in 2012, but that the company remains committed to finding a way to recycle its waste.

“This is by no means an indication that our position has changed on the importance of the ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ principle related to managing our waste,” he said.

Studsvik announced that the Bruce Power agreement been cancelled through an interim report released last week.

Mr. Scongack told Metro News that the cancellation is just a commercial position to recognize the fact that the original timetable for moving the steam generators had changed, adding that there are currently no official agreements with Studsvik for other plans and that any future plans will move forward with transparency.

“If we do ever decide to proceed, we will be the first to let people know,” he said.

The Union of Ontario Indians told the Expositor that Chief Madahbee was “pleased” that Bruce Power has abandoned its proposal to ship nuclear waste through the Great Lakes. “We had asked in the past if Bruce Power could decommission their old power plants and steam generators, moreover we found it curious that they could not find the funds to build their own recycling plant here in Canada instead of shipping their steam generators to Sweden,” said Jody Kechego, senior policy analyst with the UOI.