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NEWS: High-level nuclear waste to be transported by truck near Lake Ontario this summer

The Ottawa Citizen reports, “As many as 76 transport truckloads of high-level nuclear waste could journey along the Trans-Canada Highway over the coming four years in an effort to ship decades’ worth of radioactive rubbish from Chalk River to a U.S. reprocessing site (in Aiken, South Carolina). …The shipments would begin moving under armed guard through Eastern Ontario late this summer, pending approvals from Canadian and U.S. nuclear safety regulators, according to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), part of the U.S. Department of Energy. …The shipments, says NNSA, are to cross into New York State, presumably over one of five Canada-U.S. bridges or a Quebec-New York land crossing. …The shipments are to halt in winter and presumably resume in the spring of 2014.”

The 2,000 kilometre route between Chalk River, Ontario to Aiken, South Carolina route would most likely take the 76 trucks close to the Ottawa River, the Saint Lawrence River, the eastern tip of Lake Ontario, and other waterways and watersheds.

The Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility has called for an environmental assessment in both countries on the risks of transporting this nuclear waste, while Friends of the Earth has made a formal request for a full assessment, including public hearings, to the U.S. Department of Energy. But given the level of public criticism that came with the Bruce Power nuclear plant’s plan to ship radioactive generators on the Great Lakes, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has recommended against a public comment period on these shipments to the Harper government.

The Council of Canadians will also call on the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the International Joint Commission – which has a jurisdictional responsibility over the Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence River waters and other waters along the border – to fully assess and hold public hearings on these planned shipments.

Chairperson Maude Barlow has written, “Nuclear waste poses a threat to the Great Lakes. There are more than 30 nuclear reactors along the shores of the Lakes and shipments of medical isotopes and radioactive materials are increasingly being transported through the Basin. The International Institute of Concern for Public Health has noted that radionuclides found in the Great Lakes water, including tritium, carbon-14, caesium and long-lived iodine-129, pose serious health hazards at even low levels.”

To read ‘NEWS: Harper’s nuclear security plan means dangerous shipments, no public consultation’, please see http://canadians.org/blog/?p=19294. That blog notes, “The planned shipments follow Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s commitment at last year’s global nuclear security summit to return additional HEU (highly enriched uranium) inventories to the United States by 2018 to lessen the risk of nuclear terrorism.” Barlow’s paper ‘Our Great Lakes Commons: A People’s Plan to Protect the Great Lakes Forever ‘, can be read at http://canadians.org/water/issues/Great_Lakes/index.html.