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Canadian Nuclear Power

Pickering Nuclear Power Station

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Before Chernobyl, before Three Mile Island, there was Windscale. History has a habit of repeating itself.

Unfortunately the Canadian government has been locked to the nuclear industry since the early 50s. At that time the nuclear technology was on the cutting edge of a new and expanding industry. AECL (Atomic Energy Canada Limited) a government-subsidized industry -- $100 million a year -- was formed. Nuclear scientists developed the CANDU reactor and praised it to the sky. They have since then expanded and attempted to sell these extremely expensive reactors around the world. They are about twice as expensive to build and operate as high-efficiency natural gas generating plants.
In the normal business world this type of nuclear industry could not survive because of these huge costs and extraordinary environmental problems. Normal people would not accept the extreme taxation to support these nuclear plants or the extraordinary risk of possible environmental disaster. But this is not the normal world. In Canada the government protects this industry. Therefore this industry gets the benefit of all government propaganda and does not have to make a profit. There is no limit to subservient taxpayers money. There is no limit to the waste of nuclear bureaucrats. There is no limit to the stupidity of ambitious politicians. And then it gets worse.
On March 28, 1979, a series of malfunctions, led to the worst nuclear accident the United States -- almost total meltdown -- the China syndrome. The Americans now have a de facto moratorium on new nuclear power plants. Unfortunately George W Bush may change this.
Is it possible the Canadians could learn something from the Americans because Canadian nuclear power plants have been plagued by problems:

Extremely high costs.
Erratic performance.
Technical problems.
The risk of catastrophic accidents.
Fires, -- remember Chernobyl.
Radiation releases into the air.
The possibility of meltdown -- China syndrome.
Tritium releases into the water the drinking water of millions of people.
What to do with the increasing number of highly radioactive spent fuel rods.
Ontario Hydro failed to report decades of copper and zinc emissions from steam condenser tubes 1,800 tonesinto Lake Ontario Southern Ontarios and northern New York States drinking water.
Ontario Hydro admitted that groundwater at Pickering nuclear power plant has been contaminated with high levels of tritium since 1978.
Ontario Hydro disclosed that up to 150,000 litres of waste oil had been illegally dumped in a landfill in the late 1970s.
Both the tritium contamination and the oil dumping were brought to light by whistle-blowers not Ontario Hydro.
In October 1997 it was revealed and widely reported in the media that the Pickering nuclear power plant had 30 fires the previous year thats more than two a month.
Canada is flirting with nuclear catastrophe said consultant Gerald Brown, a U.S. fire consultant. One of these days, you will have that infamous fire that you wont be able to put out, guaranteed.
This nuclear power plant is just outside Toronto in a densely populated area on the shores of Lake Ontario. The water of Lake Ontario is used as a coolant in the reactors and then pumped back into the lake -- the drinking water of Southern Ontario and Northern New York.

In 1996 the Chretien government loaned China $1.5 billion to buy two CANDU reactors. In 1997 the Chretien government agreed to provide $1.5 billion of government funds in financing for the two 700 megawatt CANDU reactors for the Turkish Akkuyu nuclear plant. But the Turks decided otherwise.
Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit of Turkey cancelled the proposed nuclear power plant for Akkuyu Bay on the Mediterranean coast in the summer of 2000.
The world is abandoning nuclear power, he said.
Why is this so obvious to the prime minister of Turkey and still the Canadian political elite in Ottawa cannot see it?
Canada became a signatory to the Kyoto Climate Conference Accord in Japan during December 1997. This binds Canada to reductions of greenhouse gases below the 1990 levels. In reality it locked Canada to the nuclear industry and all its sinister problems. Does the Canadian government control the nuclear industry or does the nuclear industry control the Canadian government? This horror story is not finished yet.
Fortunately, George W Bush may have thrown a spanner in the works of the Kyoto Agreement. But unfortunately he seems to like nuclear energy.
Unfortunately Canadian federal politicians seem to have bought into the nuclear industry. We may nuke ourselves yet because of our complacent attitude towards Ottawa.

Canadians have had nuclear power for 50 years and nuclear generated electricity already supplies 12% of Canada's power. Two thirds of Ontario's electricity comes from nuclear power. Therefore we should have the radiation problems of nuclear reactors ironed out by now. Unfortunately nuclear safety is like walking on thin ice.

Those who work for Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd or the nuclear industry tend to have a vested interest in nuclear power -- their education, their careers, their future, and their jobs. They are not shy about publishing their pro-nuclear views. Their faith in nuclear energy could be compared to ardent faithful followers of a new religion. But even they have to admit that a catastrophic nuclear accident is possible at a CANDU reactor. Therefore radioactive poisons could be spread over a large area, kill thousands, cause others to be susceptible to cancer, genetic defects and contaminate a large area for generations. Accepting this risk should not be in the cards for Canadians. Nuclear people should take their heads out of the sand and give themselves a shake. We should not have to wait until hindsight tells us how foolish we were. Being radioactive because of a nuclear accident is not fun as many of the citizens near Chernobyl will attest.

During the two OPEC oil crises of the 70s, nuclear energy was touted as a means for the US and Canada to be less dependent on OPEC oil. But then reality stepped into this economic plan. Only governments and their agencies with access to the deep pockets of the taxpayers, could afford to build, operate and safely maintain nuclear reactors. Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL)is such an agency.

Private industry was much more aware of the expense involved in building and safely maintaining these reactors. They recognized the possible radiation danger to employees and nearby residence. But powerful government agencies could overlook these problems. This obvious fact was brought home to humanity by the fires at Windscale, England, 1957, Three Mile Island, U.S. 1979 and Chernobyl, USSR, 1986.
History has a habit of repeating itself.

Those in favor of nuclear reactors scream the environmentalist propaganda that nuclear reactors do not produce greenhouses gasses and therefore they assist countries involved in the 1997 Kyoto Agreement on Climate Change. The environmentalists overlook the ever-present possibility of radiation danger in favor of the unknown future possible danger of climate change, which is known to be cyclical. They overlook a known present danger for an unknown hypothetical danger. George W Bush may have thrown a wrench into the Kyoto Agreement. Thanks George.

The vested interests of nuclear people and their bent logic are worthy of silent and bought politicians. Never underestimate human folly. The expansion of nuclear energy is an indication of dictatorial decisions being made in opulent government buildings. We the people who live downwind of these nuclear power plants are at their mercy. Their hidden nuclear expansion policies may have catastrophic implications for our children and our grandchildren.

Canadians have lots of expensive nuclear power but very little democratic input into political power. Indeed the issue of nuclear power stations in densely populated areas is a graphic illustration of how little input Canadians have in these nuclear-power decisions. Canadians are helpless. Unfortunately, as the pantomime of parliament has shown over the past year, Canadians down at ground-radiation level have no political influence in Ottawa. Isolated and bought politicians in Ottawa make decisions. Their arrogance and special interests are worthy of a Third World dictatorship. Canadians need the power of binding referenda when it comes to decisions about their own safety and nuclear reactors. Canadians need to be sure that their drinking water is clear of tritium and their air is clear of radiation.

Make yourself into a sheep and someone will make himself into a wolf.... Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

The Star reported on Tuesday May 29th, 2001 that the Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) a government supported company concealed several test failures of a nuclear reactor from the watchdog Canada Nuclear Safety Commission another government supported agency. They in turn accepted the AECLs false report without checking it. Therefore we had two government-supported agencies completely disregarding the Canadian public in a nuclear safety issue. This information was released to the Star under the Access to Information Act.

It involved a Maple nuclear reactor and its faulty shutdown system. They could not shut it down and it ran on continuously for two months in the summer of 2000. If a fire had occurred in this runaway reactior (just like Chernobyl) we would likely have had a meltdown and catastrophic reaction as radiation spread to the surrounding area.

The frightening aspect of this issue is that it is treated so casual as though nothing really mattered, as though this could be expected from time to time and no one person was really at fault. The individuals responsible for this problem were well hidden within government agencies. Therefore no one was responsible and the government would of course fix everything. Therefore the Canadian public could go back to sleep. These extremely dangerous government agencies could continue to write letters back and forth complaining about needless paperwork and insufficient personnel.

These are the same people who are building two new Maple reactors at Chalk River. And if they have another runaway nuclear problem or a nuclear leak into the Chalk River, it will flow downstream through Renfrew County so that our Canadian politicians and bureaucrats in Ottawa will have the opportunity to drink the radioactive stuff straight out of the taps. Are the Ottawa water filters specially designed to filter out nuclear radiation? How would you know? That document has not been released yet. What goes around comes around. Nothing to worry about.

This nuclear problem was hidden from Canadians by government agencies for a year. What other surprises are in store for Canadians? Are Canadians all compelled to wait for the big one before the truth comes out? Are we all just useless Canadian nerds at the mercy of the AECL? Is it possible for a government to be so completely out of touch with the citizens? It happened in the USSR. Should we wait patiently for the meltdown like good orderly citizens or is this just another reason why Canadians are denied binding referendums. Are we mentally ill?

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