MP planning sessions on nuclear waste shipments
Niagara West–Glanbrook MP Dean Allison says he has yet to be reassured about the safety of a plan to ship liquid nuclear waste possibly through Niagara.
“I’m just not convinced that it could potentially be safe.”
Allison hopes to meet with Niagarans this spring to discuss concerns about the U.S. Department of Energy plan to ship liquid nuclear waste from a facility in Chalk River, Ont., to a disposal site in Savannah River, S.C., 1,700 kilometres south.
A U.S. court ruling Feb. 2 supported claims by the DOE that the material poses no more danger in its liquid form than it would as a solid, clearing the way for as many as 150 shipments over four years that could travel through Niagara.
Allison wonders if the court decision took into consideration “what could actually happen should there be some kind of accident.”
“All things being equal, if there’s no accident there’s no issue. The material is just as safe, but that’s the wild card we don’t know.”
He says hundreds of thousands of vehicles travel back and forth on the QEW each day.
“That would be catastrophic if we ended up with some kind of freak or unfortunate accident that should show up there during the middle of the summer, or whatever,” he says.
Allison says he’s primarily concerned about first responders, “the ones that always are on our front lines dealing with this stuff.”
Environmental groups have said the material, a byproduct of the creation of medical radioisotopes at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, includes cesium-137, strontium-90 and plutonium-239.
The material is being shipped to the U.S. as part of a 2010 agreement to repatriate radioactive material that was produced in the U.S., to ensure it’s disposed of properly.
Allison says his staff is organizing a meeting for constituents, and they hope to include representatives from organizations such as the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, “either to assure us or convince us, but we’ll also like to have the other side of the coin there, too, which would be the potential huge risk that’s involved there as well.”
Allison also intends to shed light on the issue by discussing it during question period in the House of Commons.