My Thoughts XV: Activism, Protect the Water

I am posting this piece of writing in order to give an example of how individual people, such as You and I can have a significant impact on government policy and the different projects being developed in our societies by corporations and special interests. Many people may be inclined to think that as one individual, as one person, not much can be done in the face of giant corporations and powerful lobbyists. I would disagree.

Here in Toronto, the provincial government decided to refurbish a nuclear station, the Darlington Nuclear Plant. In light of what happened at Fukoshima, Japan last year and keeping in mind that there are alternatives to our energy sources, I am of the opinion that we do not need any more nuclear power plants, especially ones refurbished in such an irresponsible way as Darlington is supposed to be.

The project at Darlington was being fast tracked by lobbyists and the provincial government was just running along with all the terrible plans for refurbishment, last year. Environmental concerns were thrown out the window as if the water in Lake Ontario was only there to be used by the nuclear power plant. What about all the people who live around Lake Ontario (Canadians, Americans and people of the First Nations)? What about all the fish, the vegetation of the lake and so on? Ontario Power Generation (the company in charge of refurbishing the nuclear power plant) did not seem to care.

Water is critical to our survival. Actually, let me be specific here: clean water is critical to our survival. Having polluted water is of no help. Living in Canada and having so many lakes and rivers here is a blessing and this is not an opportunity to spoil the water, or to take it for granted. Lobbyists and corporate interests do not see matters in this way – all they care about is profit and perhaps that is why they chose the cheapest and most damaging way to the environment in which to refurbish the Darlington Nuclear Plant.

Thus, activists did what they do best: they took action. Letters and emails started going out last fall to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Many of us did so and on November 6th, 2012 I received an email from Greenpeace (I am a member of Greenpeace) which between other things stated: “We have exciting news. The federal government has delayed the hearings on the future of the Darlington project because of the overwhelming number of people requesting to intervene!” And not long after, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission also sent me a letter, which in short can be summarized in one of their sentences: “Due to the large number of submissions filed, the hearing will now be held from December 3 to 6, 2012”.

So, I suppose this is the point: if we unite and if we work together, we can achieve anything. Corporate power, wealth and privilege do not matter as long as people are knowledgeable, passionate and dedicated in protecting the Water: for the next generations.

We can all do something. We are all important and we all have Power. Just know that.

Below, I will post my letter of intervention which I wrote last fall to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, just as an example – maybe it will encourage others to act, or at least satisfy someone’s curiosity.

All the best to everyone!

Note: My photograph, Paarens Beach Provincial Park, 2011, British Columbia


“To whom it may concern,

My name is xxxxxx xxxxxx and I am a Canadian citizen and a Torontonian.

To begin with, I would like to clearly state that I am not happy that I need to be writing this letter/email. I do so because from what it seems, the authorities responsible for ensuring my safety and that of all other Canadian citizens living around the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station have aligned themselves with the Ontario Power Generation and turned a blind-eye on the plans for refurbishment of that nuclear station.

“The regulators should have taken a strong position on behalf of the public but failed to do so. As they had firmly committed themselves to the idea that nuclear power plants were safe, they were reluctant to actively create new regulations.”

The above quote seems to be explaining the situation with the refurbishment of the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station but even though it does, the quote is actually taken from “The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission” Report. There is much to learn from that report but it really does look like Canadian officials have never heard about it. Are the regulators aware of the melt-down which took place at Fukushima last year? They would be literally insane to allow the Ontario Power Generation to continue with the present plans of refurbishing the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station, if they had read that report and they cared about public safety.

Before I continue, let me say that I already lived through the Chernobyl accident and I was living in Romania at that time. The stress alone for my family, wondering if our health would be affected from that explosion was enough to deal with for a life-time. Why do I seem to be going on the same path again due to the negligence of government officials, here in Canada decades later? The carelessness with which these plans to refurbish Darlington have been put together, is mind-boggling.

Again, I will quote from “The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission” (page 16):

“The operator (TEPCO), the regulatory bodies (NISA and NSC) and the government body promoting the nuclear power industry (METI), all failed to correctly develop the most basic safety requirements – such as assessing the probability of damage, preparing for containing collateral damage from such a disaster, and developing evacuation plans for the public in the case of a serious radiation release.”

I, as a resident of Toronto (and in the line of fire if anything goes wrong at Darlington) was not made aware of any evacuation or emergency plans. How is that possible? I have spoken to other residents of Toronto and they were/are not even aware of the plans to refurbish the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station, never mind about the risks this proposal involves. The public has not been properly engaged in this conversation – do we, as residents of Toronto have no say in what is happening in our vicinity, in regard to our health and safety? This is outrageous!

“The International Institute of Concern for Public Health (IICPH)”, has put-out a report this past summer. On page two, it is stated that “a precautionary or protective approach on the effects of this Project on human health has not been taken, especially on front-line workers who risk harmful exposure to radiological and non-radiological substances during all stages of the Process. The consideration of potential accidents and malfunctions is completely inadequate ... The full range of cumulative impacts on the environment and human health is not addressed. The assumption that any and all problems can be adequately mitigated is unsound.”

So, we are basically playing with people’s health and well-being in order to create electricity? Is this a responsible way of behaviour?

As the same report from the IICPH states on page seven: “It has become customary for the government, business and industrial interests to treat the environment as an inconvenient impediment in their affairs ... With every breath, every sip, every bite, even through the skin, we take “environment” into our bodies. If that environment is polluted, degraded or radioactive, it will do damage.”

There is no excuse for such an attitude. Mr. Kioshy Kurukawa, the Chairman for the “The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission” wrote about the melt-down at the nuclear station in Fukushima - how “its fundamental causes are to be found in ... our reflexive obedience; our reluctance to question authority; our devotion to ‘sticking with the program’; our groupism; and our insularity.” It certainly seems that regarding the refurbishment plans at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station, we are on the same course as the Fukushima experiment. The mind-state of the Canadian government officials until now has been abysmal, in respect to our health and safety. The primary objective seems to be the refurbishment of the nuclear station, with the least amount of regulatory oversight as possible and the entire project seems to have been done in such a way, that the majority of the Torontonians (I speak of Toronto because this is where I live) are clueless of Ontario Power Generation’s plans. This is a very worrisome state of affairs...

In reading another report done by the “Lake Ontario Waterkeeper” organization and submitted to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, on July 17th, 2012, I came across some more shocking information regarding Darlington’s planned cooling system.

The once-through cooling system which has been proposed is outdated and if this nuclear station was to be built on the south side of Lake Ontario, that being the State of New York, the refurbishment plan would not have been allowed by the State. In that case, a closed-cycle cooling system would be required. Why is the United States standard much higher than ours? And why this (the closed-cycle cooling system) was not even an option in the refurbishment plans for the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station, is really beyond me. As the submission by the “Lake Ontario Waterkeeper” stated on page 25: “OPG and the Responsible Authorities have excluded the most effective and feasible measure to reduce environmental harms at Darlington from the EA process: closed-cycle cooling.”

The entire refurbishment proposal is a blunder done in haste and perhaps just to profit those involved in the refurbishment of the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station itself. The workers at the station, the public (those living in the vicinity especially) and the environment, are all put in danger in this situation. Instead of looking towards a safer and greener future, perhaps taking the lead in this world, like Germany for example, we Canadians seem to be heading backwards; even in light of the disaster which took place in Japan last year. Perhaps the Canadian government officials are suicidal but I am not and neither are the majority of Canadians; the refurbishment plans for the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station are disastrous. The station should in no way be refurbished as planned. It is simply insanity.

Thank You for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

I (xxxxxx xxxxxx)"

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Comments 18 comments

Curiad profile image

Curiad 3 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

This is a well written article and the letter you wrote was clear, and expressed the points responsibly and evenly. You are right in saying that we as a society do have the power and the responsibility to take a stand wherever we can.

Mark


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Thank You very much, Mr. Curiad.

It is critical that we work together I think. The troubling part is that many people are not aware of what is happening to our environment. Polluted water, clear cutting of forests and such, are happening in the background of public discourse for the most part. So, I try to bring awareness here.

I appreciate You taking the time to read and leave a comment.

Cheers!


Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 3 years ago from Isle of Man

This is an excellent hub a a wonderful example of the power of one! Keep up the great work that you are doing.


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 3 years ago from Central Texas

Excellent, excellent Hub and you took a magnificent stand on the subject (your letter was direct, to the point and definitely would demand attention). As I live 15 miles from the Comanche Peak Nuclear Plant in the State of Texas I can well understand your concern. I'm also 15 miles from the George W. Bush ranch (we're located about in the middle between them). It's long been a local joke that we either live in the safest or most dangerous place in America -- and most can't decide which! LOL! Again, super article and congratulations to you for taking a stand. Best/Sis


sligobay profile image

sligobay 3 years ago from east of the equator

Greetings to you Mr. Happy. Happy Ground Hog Day tomorrow. I lived in Ireland for five years and the Irish do not have any nuclear plants. They did experience fallout from Chernobyl, radiation illness and birth defects. We live in one shared World and must become one species politically. You have done an excellent job with this letter expressing your experience, knowledge and concerns. I agree with you and think that we should go further as One Humanity. Our Health and the health of our environment and our posterity are worthy of our best efforts to reverse the callous corporatism which neither assumes nor accepts social responsibility. You have demonstrated social responsibility in this article and I will follow your lead.

I wrote poetry in response to the Fukushima disaster. I wrote about Euan the Highlander to emphasize the risk to our environment of biological warfare and nuclear weapons. My message has been too abstract and misdirected. I need to focus my writing skills where they can have a direct impact upon events which threaten the safety and well-being of humanity. You have taught me a valuable lesson. in think that we should decommission all nuclear generation plants in North America., Through the NAFTA treaty, we may begin to act as one region. The fossil fuel reserves of Canada, Mexico and the United States are sufficient to remove nuclear power from our power grids. Many USA nuclear power plants are built along geological fault lines. General Electric designed and built plants identical to the Fukushima plant here in the USA. All nuclear plants should be decommisioned as they reach their planned expiration date. I believe that the Scotland has taken this approach independent of the United Kingdom policy. A nuclear catastrophe in England will have disastrous consequences in Scotland or Ireland depending upon which way the wind is blowing. National control of policy has become archaic in the light of global consequences.

India and China each have a population exceeding one billion persons, nearly 20% of the global population of 7 billion. Both countries are pursuing aggressive nuclear energy policies. There should be a global policy that assures the safety of the rest of the world. This includes sufficient insurance coverage to pay for the 10,000 year loss of use of the land affected. The premium would be enormous and should be calculated in the true cost of the nuclear generation of electricity. Presently, the risk is underwritten by the people who do not participate in the profits. Only when One Humanity demands that the global corporations bear the true cost of their harm or potential harm to the environment, will true change evolve.


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 3 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Dear Mr. Happy, Here in St. Louis, Missouri, our local affliate NBC news recently reported that in the 1970's, 8,000 lbs of nuclear waste from the Mahattan project was buried in West Lake Landfill, unlined, uncovered, and without a barrier, in a flood plan in an urban area. The landfill sits 8 miles from the Missouri River. Today, nearby unprecedented numbers of residents are sick or dying from exceedingly rare cancers, autoimmune diseases, MS and three sets of conjoined twins born in the last few years. A recent townhall meeting filled to capacity with sick residents listened to a limp, lame, inconclusive, unconvincing EPA representative flounder and fail in a weak attempt to allay their fears. The government performed the recent tests on the water to reveal high levels of radon contaminating 25 of the samples. The EPA responded to resident's alarm by stating that, though the levels are high, radon dissapates quickly. He made no mention that nuclear waste increases in toxicity with the years, and the contamination will be with us for billions of years. The government has proven to be corrupt and it's money that rules. The residents are left wallowing with devastating life threatening illnesses, while the gov't drags it's feet deliberating on resolving the problem with more EPA tests lagging towards an unknown future.

Thank you for a push for important action on a life-threatening problem that affects the world on a global scale. You said it all and said it well, Mr. Happy.


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Thank You Mr. Spirit Whisperer!

(The lunar landing comment from earlier today made me laugh ... You're a funny man.)

Cheers!


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Greetings Mrs. Blair,

So, if You live that close to Dubya's ranch, You must have witnessed all the protests there, several years back - how was that?

Thank You for the read and comment! I do really appreciate it. We really need to work together in order to get things done, on a grander scale; that's my opinion anyway ...

All the best! : )


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Mr. Sligobay,

As I started reading your comment, a reoccurring thought came-up: many of these projects are simply done by corporations to make a profit but their long term effects are deadly. Thus, are the people initiating these projects crazy, suicidal or are they just simply ignorant? It boggles my mind ...

Thank You for your comment though: food for though.

Cheers!


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Greetings Mrs. Becherer,

The situation You explained seem quite dire ... I would start knocking on the your congressman's door with photos, statements of what has happened, etc. Pressure, pressure and more pressure ... of course not everyone has the time to do that. I have gotten meetings with government representatives, like Congressmen for You but here they are called MP (Members of Parliament), just by going over to their offices a couple of times and I even told them that I'd sleep in front of the door outside and they'd have to step over me to get to work ... then, I got my appointments ...

Are there any activist groups involved with the case You spoke about? I am curious to know, if not perhaps now is a good time to start.

All the best and thank You for taking the time to read this article and comment! : )


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 3 years ago from St. Louis, MO

As far as activist groups, all I saw televised in a news clip at the meeting held to discuss the problem, were media, the affected residents and a representative from the EPA.

I've written a letter that was published online at the Post-Dispatch today, and with some help from interested, informed friends, we've only just begun. Inexperience in activism is not an excuse. We all learn at the beginning and proceed from there. Change only happens with necessity, persistence and insistence.


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Hmmm ... the only reason I mentioned activist groups is because they tend to mobilize quicker, as they usually have an already formed action-plan. It doesn't look like there are any working on this issue though, after a quick look ... I guess it is time to get something going. I will check with some activist groups see if anyone is available for some direct action on this topic.

I wish You all the best!! Good luck and Power!

Cheers. : )

P.S. I found Occupy St. Louis quite quick: http://www.occupystl.org/

Will check with Greenpeace too, gotta go for a late breakfast now ...


sligobay profile image

sligobay 3 years ago from east of the equator

Keep up the good work Mr Happy.


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Cheers Mr. Sligobay! Thank You. : )

And Mrs. Becherer,

I guess I started working a little on this Nuclear Waste Site near St. Louis. For now, I just wrote a few letters to my fellow Occupy Members in St. Louis, to Greenpeace and to the EPA.

I tried writing to congressman Lacy Clay but he does not receive emails from outside his district so, that didn't work but that is okay, I will find a way to get my message to him LOL

All the very best!

P.S. "Together United We'll Never Be Defeated!" - A message from your friendly Occupy Movement.


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 3 years ago from St. Louis, MO

I am taking the liberty of telling you, Mr. Happy, that it is sligobay who got me off the sidelines and collaborated with me in writing the letter published in the STL Post Dispatch. I have become disenchanted with the government and had gotten to the point where I felt the public bore little effect where government matters are concerned. But, it is silence that changes nothing. Every cause begins with a thought, but it is joining together that our voices our heard. Thank you Mr. Happy, and thank you, sligobay, for waking me up.


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

I read that article yesterday and I posted it on my Facebook page. It was very good: short and to the point.

I have some ideas of trying to raise awareness on this topic ... At this point, I think You could join the Idle No More Movement. I know a caravan just entered United States from British Columbia, Canada a couple of days ago and they are heading south towards Navajo Territory. Maybe they'll reach your way too ...

You might not be aware of the Idle No More Movement and it is a little complicated but it is very much to your advantage in terms of resolving the issue with the nuclear waste site near St. Louis. Perhaps I should write an article on Idle No More. Then You would know why I have been flying a Mohawk Warrior flag for the last little while. : )

Well, I got some thinking to do but thank You for your involvement, for raising awareness and for being persistent. Such matters affect us all and not only us but the generations to follow as well - we have to do something ... at least try ...

Thank You as well, Mr. Sligobay!

Cheers and all the best to everyone!


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 3 years ago from St. Louis, MO

I'll be looking for your article on Idle No More Movement, Mr. Happy. Thank you for your involvement. Now I'm curious about the Mohawk Warrier Flag so I'm going to google that right now. Cheers!


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

You can Google Idle No More. Here is a link for the Mohawk Warrior flag which I have been carrying lately: http://www.flickr.com/photos/-jm/8352042006/ - That's not me in the photo LOL

Cheers!

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