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.
I (xxxxxx xxxxxx)"