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NEWS: Saint John chapter expresses concern about fracking, nuclear power

The Telegraph-Journal reports, “Nearly nine months after a devastating earthquake and tsunami caused a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, the aftershocks are being felt in Saint John at licence renewal hearings for the Point Lepreau nuclear generating station. On the first of two days of public hearings, seismic safety played a central role as NB Power applies for approval to reload fuel and restart the refurbished Point Lepreau plant some time next fall.”

“John Adams, a National Research Council seismologist, said major earthquakes in Eastern Canada are extremely rare, with only minor quakes rocking the province from time to time. He said a 6.2 magnitude quake would be of concern to Point Lepreau, but he said according to measured and historical data, no temblors that size have been felt in this part of the country in the last several hundred years.”

“One voice of dissent came from Paula Tippett from the Saint John chapter of the Council of Canadians. Her group opposes the restart of Point Lepreau for several reasons, including environmental concerns. However Tippett also cited seismic activity brought about by hydro-fracking in the exploration for natural gas in the province. ‘We want to make sure studies into earthquake activity around injection wells are looked at closely,’ she said.”

“Adams said earthquakes from hydro-fracking are believed to be minor, and only occur near where exploration is taking place. Current exploration leases show injection wells, if used, would likely be drilled no nearer than 70 kilometres away, in Quispamsis, too far away to cause any issues, said Adams.”

But, in reference to the threat posed by an earthquake, CBC addds, “The NB Conservation Council says the plant can’t be licensed because it doesn’t meet new nuclear earthquake standards adopted after the disaster in Japan. ‘It’s very clear the kind of earthquake they require it to be protected against — that could cause damage to the core of the nuclear reactor it does not meet that standard,’ said David Coon, executive director of the council.”

While Fukushima may seem a long way from Saint John, the Ottawa Citizen reported last April, “Radiation monitors in Ontario, New Brunswick and British Columbia have detected minute traces of radioactive iodine suspected to be from Japan’s stricken Fukushima nuclear plant. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission characterizes the quantities of Iodine-131 as infinitesimal and stresses there are no health hazards to Canadians.”

The Council of Canadians rejects nuclear power because it poses an unacceptable risk to people and the environment, and staff and chapters are currently campaigning against the proposed shipments of nuclear waste from the Bruce Power nuclear plant on the Great Lakes, the disposal of nuclear waste in Saskatchewan, and the building of two new nuclear reactors on the north shore of Lake Ontario east of Toronto. As noted above, the Saint John chapter of the Council of Canadians has expressed its opposition to the relicensing of the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station. More on that, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=12403.