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Battle to stop radioactive shipments

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.

Canadian authorities have cleared energy company Bruce Power to ship 16 huge radioactive steam generators across the Canadian Great Lakes on its way to the Baltic coast, for decontamination at a plant south of Stockholm.

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The Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR) says the bus-sized generators are 50 times more radioactive than permitted for safe transport by the International Atomic Energy Authority.

Swedish firm Studsvik want to decontaminate 90 per cent of the materials and sell them as scrap metal on the open market, shipping back what is left to Canada for storage.

Bruce Power has at least 64 steam generators it hopes to ship to Sweden for treatment from its base on Lake Huron.

The shipments will contain materials like caesium, iodine-129 and tritium, which even at low levels are potentially dangerous to human health.

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The company must now seek permission from the UK, Norwegian, Danish and Swedish governments whose waters the radioactive materials would pass through.

KIMO International has written to the governments calling on permission to be refused so that a precedent for shipping highly radioactive materials around the world for treatment is not established.

KIMO president Mayor Albert de Hoop, of Ameland, Holland, said: “These shipments go completely against the proximity principle where the communities which have benefited from the power produced should deal with the waste generated.

“Instead coastal communities all along the transport route are being put at risk and the treatment will result in emissions to the Baltic Sea, which is already one of the most radioactive in the world.

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“I will be writing to the regulators in the affected countries and in Canada to request permission is not granted for these shipments and that these steam generators are treated and stored at Ontario Power Generation’s Western Waste Management Facility as was originally planned.”The Canadian authorities granted permission for the shipments to be made across the Great Lakes late on Friday. The decision 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.

“These shipments set an extremely dangerous precedent,” Canadian water campaigner Emma Lui said. “This opens the door to transporting radioactive waste that exceeds legal limits across our lakes.”
 
Nearly 80 groups have provided written submissions and half of them – including the Council of Canadians – intervened at a public hearing last September in Ottawa.

The groups expressed concerns regarding Bruce Power’s insufficient emergency response plans, the lack of an environmental assessment and the failure to consult adequately with communities.
 

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