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NEWS: British municipalities express ‘deep alarm’ over Great Lakes nuclear shipments

The Montreal Gazette reports that, “A radioactive shipload of decommissioned steam generators from Ontario’s Bruce Power plant is headed for a rough ride overseas, where a coalition of British municipalities is urging the U.K. government to prevent the atomic cargo from passing close to Ireland and Scotland.”

“The Nuclear Free Local Authorities, an umbrella group that includes 75 local governments throughout the British Isles, has expressed its ‘deep alarm’ that the Canadian shipment of ‘highly radioactive waste’ – 16 retired generators, each the size of a school bus — is expected to skirt the U.K. coastline sometime this year en route to a Swedish recycling plant. ‘We don’t want them passing by our waters and putting our communities at risk. The waste should remain in Canada and be safely managed there,’ NFLA chair Bailie George Regan said in announcing the launch of a campaign to stop the ship from passing by.”

“Local officials from northern Scotland’s Orkney Islands have (also) expressed concerns about the planned three-week, transatlantic voyage… And the Scottish government has said it is ‘always concerned’ about the movement of radioactive material and ‘will be seeking assurances that this waste is transported in a safe manner through Scottish waters.'”

The Shetland Marine News adds that, “Shetland-based marine environmental group KIMO has condemned Canadian plans to ship highly radioactive nuclear waste to Sweden for decontamination and called for European governments to refuse permission.” Shetland is a subarctic archipelago in Scotland and is the United Kingdom’s most northerly community. The news reports notes, “The decision (by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to allow the shipments) has been widely condemned in Canada, where the influential Council of Canadians has warned that the drinking water of 40 million people is being put at risk.”

The Montreal Gazette article notes that, “‘They’re saying it’s low level, but there’s a lot of generators,’ Emma Lui, national water campaigner with the Council of Canadians, said in response to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s statements last week. ‘If there’s an accident with more than one generator, then the water will be contaminated.'”

“The coalition of British municipalities says it is ‘in full solidarity with our friends in Canada that this decision needs to be reconsidered.'”

“The U.K. government’s Department of Transport told the Scotland on Sunday newspaper that the shipment was approved by the Canadian regulator under rules ‘that have been in place for decades and have ensured that such movements have maintained an excellent safety record.'” But there is still a fight to be had and permission is also required from the Norwegian, Danish and Swedish governments whose waters the radioactive materials would pass through.

Lui recently wrote in a blog that, “Organizations in Europe have expressed opposition including the Swedish Environmental Movement’s Nuclear Waste Secretariat, …Green World (Russia), Naturvernforbund/Friends of the Earth (Norway) and Sortie du nucléaire (France). Many European organizations are monitoring developments related to the shipment.”

The Montreal Gazette article is at http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/story.html?id=4289647. The Shetland Marine News article is at http://www.shetlandmarine.com/2011/08%20Shipping/Battle%20to%20stop%20radioactive%20shipments.htm.