Globe and Mail
by Robert Matas
British Columbia Bureau
VANCOUVER - Joanne Manley can still taste the fear that shook her in 1962 at the height of the Cuban missile crisis. Five months pregnant, she thought a nuclear showdown was coming and she might not have her baby. Ever since, the nuclear threat has been part of her life. That's a big part of the loud opposition to the federal expropriation of the Nanoose torpedo-testing range.
More than three decades later, Ms. Manley and others are trying to turn public hearings on the federal expropriation of the seabed at Nanoose Bay, off Vancouver Island, into a forum for dissent over nuclear weapons, nuclear power and a faraway federal government that they see as arrogant and insensitive.
After two weeks in relative obscurity in Nanaimo, public hearings are to begin in Vancouver this morning.
The hearings are intended to let those who object to expropriation explain their reasons. Ottawa is not participating in the hearings and has made no effort to defend, or even explain, its rationale.
The site is used mostly by the U.S. Navy. Canada announced its decision to expropriate the testing range after B.C. Premier Glen Clark used the renewal of a federal lease for the site as a bargaining chip in federal-provincial negotiations over salmon.
Although the federal government has never before expropriated provincially owned lands, few doubt that Ottawa will push ahead this September and assert its ownership of the B.C. seabed.
Nevertheless, the expropriation has reawakened the dormant West Coast peace movement, which is turning once again to petitions and street theatre to dramatize its cause.
For the start of hearings today, objectors have planned a "seabed" demonstration on blue foamy camping mattresses outside the hearing room. On Friday, they will make the link between the expropriation hearings and the significance of Hiroshima Day, an international day of remembrance of the horrors caused by the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Aug. 6, 1945.
In the second week of hearings in Vancouver, Nanoose objectors are planning protests against Aerospace North America, a military trade show at the Vancouver Convention Centre, a few blocks away from the hearing room.
Ottawa received 2,600 objections to the expropriation, but hearing officer Michael Goldie restricted the process and fewer than 100 people were allowed to make submissions in the first two weeks of hearings, held in Nanaimo.
The Vancouver round of hearings is expected to be dominated by two days of submissions from the provincial government, beginning tomorrow.
B.C. will push for guarantees of environmental protection measures, including a no-nuclear-weapons commitment, said Greg McDade, a lawyer representing the province. B.C.'s inability to obtain a 1996 environmental assessment of the Nanoose Bay site may lead to an adjournment of the proceeding.
Despite the purpose of the hearings, the grounds for objecting have gone far beyond the issues normally raised in an expropriation proceeding.
In addition to accusations of misuse of federal expropriation powers, objectors have talked about environmental damage caused by the test range and the danger of a nuclear accident on a ship carrying nuclear weapons or on nuclear-powered submarines.
Objectors have expressed other concerns: about trespassing on property that may belong to First Nations, about traffic congestion and about possible violations of World Court rulings and Canada's international obligations on nuclear weapons. Some have also expressed fears about the range turning coastal B.C. into a military target.
Like many others who are speaking out at the hearings, Ms. Manley is a veteran of countless protests against the threat of nuclear war and the dangers of nuclear power.
Ms. Manley, who retired in 1993 as a buyer for the Greater Vancouver Regional District, said she first became concerned about nuclear power at the time of the Cuban crisis. "Probably everyone with a family thought the same thing. This is not why I was having a child. I wanted something better for my children."
Reflecting the convoluted politics on the West Coast, Ms. Manley is a strident critic of the expropriation but remains a fan of David Anderson, the federal minister responsible for the decision to expropriate the testing range. She supports him for the work he has done to protect the environment.
Canada and the United States establish an experimental range to test torpedoes and sonar equipment at Nanoose Bay, near Nanaimo, B.C.
Supreme Court of Canada rules that access to the Nanoose seabed is
Ottawa and B.C. sign a 10-year agreement on Nanoose.
B.C. officials link access to Nanoose to negotiations over the
B.C. issues 90-day notice of its intention to terminate the licence for
Ottawa goes to court to stop B.C.
Ottawa, B.C. talk about renewing the lease.
May 5, 1999:
Federal and provincial negotiators agree on a set of principles
May 10, 1999:
Talks break down. Ottawa says B.C. is making demands unrelated
May 14, 1999:
Ottawa announces its intention to expropriate the seabed.
July 19 - Aug 13:
Public hearings on the expropriation.
Federal lease of provincial seabed expires.
Globe and Mail
Senior federal officials have given assurances to the United States that surplus plutonium from Russian and U.S. weapons used in Ontario nuclear reactors will remain in Canada forever, a federal document obtained by The Globe and Mail says.
The document, a declassified 1995 memo from the Department of Foreign Affairs, was obtained through an Access to Information Act request.
It indicates that if Canada starts using plutonium as fuel in its generating stations, the country will become the permanent repository for some of the most dangerous waste products from the nuclear-arms race, even though Canada has not been able to develop a long-term storage site for atomic waste from its own generating stations.
The memo was written by Ian Smith, a Foreign Affairs nuclear-proliferation expert, to help guide staff at the embassy in Washington at a meeting with Charles Curtis, the U.S. deputy energy secretary.
At the meeting, officials from the two countries were to discuss Canada's offer to use weapons-grade plutonium left over from up to 40,000 surplus nuclear bombs as fuel at Ontario Power Generation's Bruce A nuclear station.
Canadian atomic plants usually use uranium but could, with a few design modifications, use plutonium.
A U.S. Department of Energy official had sought information from Foreign Affairs earlier in 1995 on what would happen to the spent plutonium after it was used at Ontario Power, one of the successor companies to Ontario Hydro.
"We have always presumed that storage and disposal would follow the same route as any other Candu fuel that is used in Ontario reactors, i.e. it will remain in Canada;
"The DOE [U.S. Department of Energy] should be advised that this is the Canadian government position and it is also the position of [Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.] and Ontario Hydro," said the document, written on June 7, 1995.
In an interview last week, Mr. Smith confirmed that high-level U.S. officials were given formal notice at the time that Canada would retain all the waste created after the plutonium was used to generate electricity.
He said "it would make no sense" to send the spent plutonium back to Russia or the United States once it had been through a reactor, because it would resemble the spent fuel normally produced in Canadian atomic generating stations. Canadian reactors normally produce small amounts of plutonium as waste.
An AECL document in the records indicates that the percentage of plutonium in the spent weapons-grade fuel will be 68 per cent higher than if regular uranium were used. Reactors using the plutonium would, however, use about 15 per cent less fuel.
Canadian officials have tried to sell the idea of using the bomb material as fuel by arguing that spent fuel at reactors burning uranium would be little different from spent fuel at those using plutonium.
The AECL document, however, indicates that the composition of radioactive materials in spent fuel can vary significantly depending on whether uranium or plutonium is used.
The document, one of hundreds of pages of records released to The Globe, also indicates that unidentified entities in the United States viewed Canada as a "political risk" whose offer to use plutonium in commercial nuclear stations would pose nuclear proliferation problems.
The federal government has been lobbying aggressively for five years to have Canada burn as much as 100 tonnes of surplus plutonium in Ontario reactors.
Using the material as reactor fuel would destroy some of the plutonium and render the balance unsuitable for use in future nuclear weapons programs, making it a contribution to world peace, according to the documents.
The plan to use the surplus weapons has been popular in Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's government as offering the opportunity to turn swords into plowshares.
"Canada has a long history of promoting international non-proliferation measures and encouraging disarmament. Canada shares the concern of the international community that plutonium, a key component of nuclear weapons, must remain inaccessible to rogue states or organizations," one of the documents says.
AECL, the federal nuclear company, has also been actively involved in the proposal because of the revenue it would gain by overseeing the operation. Although Ontario Hydro had been an enthusiastic backer of the plan in the mid-1990s under previous chairman Maurice Strong, the utility has since taken a low-key approach and has shut the nuclear station earmarked for plutonium use.
The documents did not indicate what revenue the two government companies expect to earn if they are selected to dispose of the plutonium.
To allay U.S. concern about Canada as a proliferation risk, Foreign Affairs staff were to assure the Americans that the country wanted to strengthen international non-proliferation rules.
The document from Mr. Smith also said the government considered that the highest risks of proliferation were from "renegade states seeking political and military influence through the possession and threat of a few nuclear weapons."
Under the access-to-information legislation, The Globe and Mail had sought all documents Foreign Affairs had compiled from 1994 to the present on the use of plutonium as fuel in Canadian reactors.
The department released a heavily censored list of documents covering the period from 1995 to 1997. It is still compiling the rest of the records being sought.
Other documents that were released shed light on many of the technical factors associated with using plutonium as fuel, as well as the intense political lobbying Ottawa has been doing for the scheme.
None of the documents indicates the origin of the idea, although many records concern public-opinion polling and strategies that Ottawa and the nuclear industry could adopt to sell the plan to the public.
The Bruce site, on Lake Huron, was chosen to burn the plutonium because it was remote from major population centres, near the U.S. border, and had a well-developed nuclear infrastructure, according to the records.
Canadian Peace Alliance
by Tryna Booth
TORONTO - Those who have been following the Expropriation hearings for the Nanoose seabed in British Columbia will be aware of the serious concerns being expressed by participants. We have heard that the hearing officer does not even have the power to make recommendations.
The Canadian Peace Alliance is asking member groups and individuals to register their dissent to both the hearing process and the expropriation directly to our political leaders.
In order to ensure that objections are heard by those in a position to decide, please write the Prime Minister and cc. letters to Axworthy, Eggleton, Gagliano (see below).
You may want to include some of the following points:
Please write the politicians to ensure that our objections are heard!
The Honourable Lloyd Axworthy
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Room 418-N, Centre Block
ph: (613) 995-1851
fax: (613) 996-3443
The Honourable Arthur Eggleton
Minister of National Defence
Room 365, West Block
ph: (613) 996-3100
fax: (613) 995-8189
Honourable Alfonso Gagliano
Minister of Public Works and Government Services
Room 435-S, Centre Block
The CPA/ACP is a member of the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
by Tom Spears
And the radioactive levels are rising. Teeth of children born since 1990 show some of the highest levels of radioactive materials since the early 1960s, when superpowers tested atomic bombs in the atmosphere.
Leaders of the Tooth Fairy Project, which asks parents to mail in their children's teeth after they fall out, will present detailed results in Ottawa at this week's World Conference on Breast Cancer.
The likeliest cause of the rising radioactive levels in teeth, they say, is leaks from nuclear power plants.
And they're hoping to collect teeth from Canadian children next. It's the easiest way of testing what's in children's bodies.
The US. and Soviet Union agreed to ban atomic bomb tests in the atmosphere in 1963. A crucial argument at the time was that baby teeth from U.S. children showed a buildup of strontium-90, a radioactive element
Now the strontium is coming back
"The data will be released at the meeting," said Dr. Janet Sherman, a speaker at this week's conference, which begins tomorrow. "But in general we are finding that strontium-90 levels in baby teeth of children born since 1990 are reaching the levels that were in existence during the above-ground bomb- testing years, which is very scary.
"Where's it coming from? Well, we're not doing above-ground testing of bombs, so there's only one place it could be coming from. And that is normally acting nuclear reactors."This should be a bombshell, if you'll pardon the expression," Dr. Sherman said.
She said the group has found strontium-90 in about 300 teeth from children living on Long Island, near New York
"Long Island has one of the highest breast cancer rates in the United States. We're finding that the area where the high breast cancer and childhood cancer rates [are found] is exactly where the plumes cross from two very big nuclear power reactors."
The two plants are the Millstone plant in Connecticut, just north of Long Island, and Oyster Creek in New Jersey.
People living in the paths of those "plumes" of radiation, downwind of reactors, have more radioactive material in their teeth, the project found. "We ultimately will want to collect some [teeth] from Canadians both upwind and downwind" from nuclear reactors here, Dr. Sherman said.
She said children with high levels of radioactive material also show a higher than normal rate of rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.
Dr. Sherman is an internal medicine specialist and toxicologist in Virginia. She has a regular medical practice but volunteers on the side for the Tooth Fairy Project. She is the author of two books: Chemical Exposure and Disease and Life's Delicate Balance: A Guide to Causes and Prevention of Breast Cancer.
Jay Could, director of the Tooth Fairy Project, said the project has already collected teeth from a few Canadian children, but not enough to see a pattern.
Coincidentally, the project already sends all the teeth it collects to Canada for analysis at the University of Waterloo.
The nuclear industry in Canada and the United States closely follows the health of nuclear workers, and says these people are, if anything, healthier than the general population.
But Dr Sherman says children are vulnerable in a way that adults are not.
Radioactive material from the air, either from bombs or from nuclear plant emissions, gets into vegetation, including grass and vegetables. If cows eat tainted grass, their milk picks up the radioactive material, which stays active for years.
"The mother eats milk and vegetables and cheese and the strontium-90 goes up the food chain. The biggest thing is pre-natal exposure," Dr. Sherman said.
Nanaimo News Bulletin, page 1 July 19 1999 by Catherine Litt So Little Time, So Much to Explain As dozens of objectors prepare for their presentations in the Nanoose Bay expropriation hearing today, some are saying the length of time they've been given to state their oral cases is not long enough.
And they say it's an insult.
"Our courts have consistently stated that 'justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done,'" says Nanaimo resident and lawyer David Wright.
"I suggest a similar principal should apply to these hearings. The public must not only be heard but must be seen to be heard."
Wright is among dozens of individuals from across the country who are scheduled to speak at the hearings over the next two weeks in Nanaimo and during two more weeks of hearings in Vancouver.
They are each being allotted 15 minutes to summarize why they don't want Ottawa to assume control over the waters surrounding Canadian Forces Maritime Experimental and Test Ranges.
The federal government launched the expropriation against B.C. last May after federal-provincial negotiations hit a snag over renewal of a 30-year lease of the seabed.
Ottawa offered the NDP government $4 million a year for the lease, but provincial negotiators wanted the lease renewal tied to Canada-U.S, salmon negotiations and a ban on naval vessels that carry nuclear weapons or are nuclear powered.
Wright says it isn't a simple case of land ownership and shouldn't be treatetl as such. He says the issues reach beyond the borders of B.C. and Canada and that's why objectors need more time for their presentations.
Norm Abbey of the Nanoose Conversion Campaign agrees.
He says experts are coming from across the country to express their concerns about the expropriation and they should be afforded more time to speak at the hearings.
Nanoose Bay expropriation hearings.
Owen Sound Sun Times
by Phil McNichol
OWEN SOUND, Ontario -- The federal government has quietly approved a controversial proposal to build a large dry storage facility for highly radioactive used nuclear fuel at the Bruce Nuclear Power Development.
Environment Minister Christine Stewart approved the project by Ontario Power Generation, formerly Ontario Hydro, on April 14.
But there was no public announcement of the decision at the time, although the proposed Bruce Dry Used Fuel Storage Facility went through an extensive public comment process late last year as part of the federal government's review of the project.
On Wednesday, the decision was made public after ministry officials and lawyers decided Stewart's letter to the Atomic Energy Control Board, approving the project, was a public and not a confidential document.
"I have concluded that the project. . . is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects," Stewart told Agnes Bishop, president of the AECB, in a letter obtained by the Sun Times.
In the letter, the minister recommended the AECB have a follow-up program to evaluate how Ontario Power will reduce any environmental impacts from the storage facility, which is considered temporary until a long-term storage solution can be found.
The AECB is expected to begin an approval process for construction this fall that will involve another public input phase, said board spokesperson Sunny Locatelli.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has been reviewing the proposal to build the 4.5-hectare facility to store the nuclear facility's growing pile of high-level nuclear waste since last year.
The storage area will keep more than 700,000 bundles of used highly radioactive fuel in 1,240 specially designed concrete and steel canisters.
Used fuel from Bruce nuclear reactors is now stored in large, underwater pools of water in the nuclear plants.
But the plants are running out of room. The government is studying solutions for long-term storage, including underground burial.
At the end of 1996, there were about 29,400 tonnes of used nuclear fuel bundles stored at Canadian reactor sites, enough to fill three hockey rinks up to the boards.
The current storage sites above ground have always been considered temporary and require surveillance and maintenance.
Even after 500 years, some of the waste could be harmful to health and the environment if it got into air, water or food.
During last fall's public comment period, the assessment agency heard concerns from the groups that wanted the federal government to put the project through a more detailed environmental assessment process.
Previously, Ontario Hydro's two-part environmental assessment said the facility would not have adverse effects on the environment or health and was needed if the power plant was to continue.
Ontario Power spokesman Terry Squire said the construction licence may be issued by January 2000.
Gordon Harris, spokesman for the assessment agency, said no public announcement was made about the project's approval as the letter from the minister was considered confidential.
But he said Wednesday that government lawyers advised it was a public document and could be released.
Nanaimo Daily News
by Andrew Lupton
A smattering of environmental, peace, labour and religious groups, some from as far away as Montreal, will descend on Nanaimo today and speak against Ottawa's expropriation of the Nanoose Bay seabed.
The 10 days of public hearings in Nanaimo, followed by 10 more in Vancouver, are billed as a chance to give those who have filed objections a chance to voice their opposition in a public meeting.
But discussion at the podium is likely to cover much more than simply whether or not the expropriation is justified.
Objectors are expected to use the hearings to raise other issues they see as related to the expropriation. In many ways, Ottawa's move to expropriate the provincially owned seabed has thrown new fuel on a decades-old debate about the Canadian Forces Maritime Experimental Test Ranges (CFMETR) at Nanoose.
It is expected nuclear power, B.C. autonomy, environmental protection and Canada's defence role will all be held to account at the hearings, which begin today at 9 a.m. at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel on Rutherford Road.
Public hearings are a legal requirement of the Expropriation Act, but Norm Abbey of the Nanoose Conversion Campaign says the hearings are a perfect opportunity to raise questions about CFMETR's operations.
Like many opponents, Abbey insists the issue is mainly about the threat posed by nuclear powered ships and submarines entering Canadian waters.
"We are not against the Canadian Navy, said Abbey. "But the submarines that use this base are nuclear-powered. They are basically floating reactors."
Abbey has helped assemble a group of objectors, including some experts, who will speak at the hearings.
Among those planned to speak this week in Nanaimo are:
Perhaps the important objection will be the province's special two-day submission scheduled for the Vancouver hearings.
Globe and Mail
By Robert Matas
British Columbia Bureau
NANAIMO - Public hearings on the Nanoose Bay torpedo testing range turned into a battle of wills yesterday between the chairman of the hearings and antinuclear groups.
At the opening session, federally appointed chairman Michael Goldie tried doggedly to keep the hearing focused on the issue of expropriation, repeatedly dampening expectations of those who hoped to turn the hearings into a forum to debate Canada's nuclear policies.
About 2,600 people have filed objections to the unprecedented move by the federal government to take over the stretch of seabed off the coast of Vancouver, which is used mostly by the U.S. Navy to test torpedoes.
Ottawa started expropriation proceedings after British Columbia tried to use the renewal of the federal government's lease of the site as a bargaining chip in a federal-provincial dispute over West Coast salmon fishing. But the issue now for most of the objectors is the risk inherent in the use of the seabed by nuclear-powered submarines or submarines that may be carrying nuclear weapons.
About 50 people attended the hearing yesterday, and about 100 people are slated to make submissions to Mr. Goldie over the course of the hearing, scheduled to continue for four weeks.
The hearing is intended to allow people to voice their objections They are not required to testify under oath and Mr. Goldie has no power to subpoena witnesses or documents. The federal government, which is not required to ex plain its reasons for expropriating the land, is not expected to participate in the hearings.
Mr. Goldie, who must submit a report on the objections by Sept. 3, said he is not required to hear every objector who served a proper notice of objection. He must only en sure that he has heard enough to submit a proper report. "I'm here to listen to the objections, record them and transmit them to the minister," he said.
In an attempt to hear at least 20 people yesterday, he tried to hold objectors to a 15-minute presentation, often interrupting them to speed up their presentations or to hold them to the time limit he imposed.
At one point, the objectors' frustration with his curt manner bubbled over and Jean McLaren, of the Nanoose Conversion Campaign, interrupted the proceedings to appeal to Mr. Goldie, a former B.C. Court of Appeal judge, to be gentler with the objectors.
"We're just ordinary people," she said from the back of the hearing room. "It would be really nice if you just listen until the person finishes and then ask your questions.
Nevertheless, the tension remained.
In an attempt to derail the proceedings, David Cadman, president of the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation, tried to make his submission in French. Mr. Goldie told Mr. Cadman to speak in English and he did, under protest.
Victoria Raging Grannies
........by Alison Acker, Raging Granny, Victoria, BC
We have invited the Stennis captain Douglas R. Roulstone to tea ''and a chat regarding matters of safety and mutual concern.'' Should he or another US navy officer turn up, we'll report what he has to say.
It's kind of Bill to send his ships so we can get a date.
With love boats coming into port, we too might find a mate.
But if they bring their toys along, we'd really rather wait --
'cause they're carrying ... nuclear ... bombs.
If you like living dangerously, call the base command.
Dial 363-2397 to get yourself a man.
But please remember, ladies, that there's no emergency plan
when they're carrying ... nuclear ... bombs.
July 29 1999
Given the American claim to the missile test site at Nanoose Bay, on Vancouver Island, is it possible that they are preparing to take it by force? Or are they using the ''big stick'' as intimidation?
Not only is the gigantic nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Stennis (CVN74) here in Victoria but just minutes ago the USS Asheville (SSN758), a Los Angeles class attack nuclear-powered submarine arrived.
Testimony of Al Rycroft
My name is Al Rycroft, and I live on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, near the transit route of nuclear ships.
I have been very concerned about nuclear ships since 1981. Having worked full-time for nine years opposing them, there is much I would like to say. But I will try to restrict myself to the 15-minute guideline.
Refused permission to represent me here today, is my Counsel, Victoria lawyer Andrew Gage. I trust the hearing will take the opportunity to listen to my lawyer soon.
From 1989 to 1995 I was a lead campaigner against nuclear ships in BC. During this period, little Victoria had up to 15,000 people walking for peace and opposing nuclear ships -- an impressive eight percent of the local population.
The vote against nuclear ships was a rare 51 to 1 in the BC Legislature. I was in the gallery listening, as all three parties declared British Columbia a nuclear-weapons free province, and called on the Federal Government to hold a full, public environmental review of nuclear ship visits.
Votes in eight of ten local municipal councils also called on the Federal Government to hold a public review. In seven of the municipalities, the votes were unanimous. All local Members of Parliament also got involved, and wrote letters to the Federal Government calling for a public review.
The Federal Government completely ignored this overwhelming display of political agreement. This strong anti-nuclear sentiment continues to cut across all political stripes in BC today -- and continues to be ignored by the Federal Government.
The Government has always claimed that nuclear warship visits are perfectly safe. However, when given an opportunity to prove it, the Canadian Government chose instead to go to court. They fought the VIP Society all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to avoid an independent, public inquiry into nuclear ship visits.
I submit that the Canadian Government is serving the will of neither the Canadian people, nor British Columbians, by allowing nuclear ship visits to continue on the West Coast of Canada.
In fact, the Federal Government is exposing millions of Canadians to the unacceptable risk of a nuclear accident. An accident which is 100% preventable by banning nuclear ships -- not just to Nanoose, but all Canadian waters and ports.
In June and July this year alone, the Juan de Fuca and Georgia Strait have been visited four times by nuclear-powered and nuclear-capable ships: the USS Charlotte, USS Salt Lake City, USS Houston, and the USS Stinson.
According to the Base Commander at Nanoose, over 75 percent of the activity is by the US.
Many of the tests are of nuclear weapons systems. No one is blowing up warheads here, but the US is testing weapons systems whose "payloads" are nuclear warheads.
Several years ago I paid a brief visit to the Nanoose Base. When I asked if I could take a tour, the man at the gate told me no, that they didn't give tours to the public. "Besides," he added, "the Americans aren't in, so nothing much is happening." He went on to explain that the Base was in reality controlled out of Washington, even if it was a Canadian base on paper.
I will briefly outline my legal concerns, without the aid of counsel. I want the record to note that I object to the silencing of either myself or my lawyer in this hearing. Both of us should have the right to speak.
On July 8, 1996, the threat or use of nuclear weapons was outlawed by the International Court of Justice. I suspect that any impartial application of international law would find that many of the tests at Nanoose are now illegal preparations for using nuclear weapons.
When I was a Director, the VIP [ Vancouver Island Peace ] Society prosecuted a lawsuit against the Federal Government, attempting to strike two key Cabinet Orders that allow nuclear ships into Canada. Approximately 800 pages of expert testimony were filed covering public safety, environment, health, and public opinion concerning nuclear ships.
Your study of these affidavits, would shed much light on the dangers of the nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors operated by foreign military in BC waters.
I now formally request from the Hearing full photocopy and delivery costs for three copies of these affidavits. The cost is estimated at $250. Will I be reimbursed?
On Friday, July 16 at four pm, the Hearing Registrar faxed me: "If you speak on your own behalf counsel will not be heard other than to introduce you and advise you."
In other words, I can speak for 15 minutes myself, but have no opportunity to professionally question procedural matters, introduce international law, or other legal matters that concern me. Or alternately, you can hear the legal arguments of my lawyer, but only second-hand of my expert opinions.
I would like the record to note that I object to the following:
I am requesting of you, that my lawyer Andrew Gage be given the first available opportunity to address procedural questions about this hearing, and that his time be appropriately reimbursed by the Government of Canada.
I also request that my lawyer be given an opportunity to present other legal arguments pertaining to the proposed expropriation of 225-square kilometers of British Columbia seabed, during the course of these hearings.
Can I have an answer today, or very soon, on proper legal representation for myself?
How in a democracy, can an expropriation be completed so quickly, when there is no immediate and compelling need for nuclear ships to be in British Columbia; when a real and present danger is posed by naval nuclear systems; and when such overwhelming and longstanding opposition exists to their presence?
These are some of the legal issues I believe need to be addressed by my lawyer in this hearing.
The military and the government assure us that they are, and that the US nuclear navy has a tremendous safety record. But I witnessed the same Canadian Government go to the Supreme Court of Canada to avoid any independent assessment of the potential risks of nuclear ships to our health and the environment.
The VIP Society's lawsuit demonstrated that when a nuclear warship is in Canadian waters, all Canadian laws are suspended. In my opinion, this is an extension of "diplomatic immunity" inappropriate for a democracy.
Thus the accident-prone USS Nimitz failed to report a three-kilometer long slick of jet fuel it leaked between Vancouver Island and the Mainland. The leak was spotted from a plane.
If the US military's attitude is so cavalier concerning petrochemical leaks, imagine their silence when the leak is nuclear -- and invisible.
The truth is, it is also the US government's policy to not release nuclear accident information even to host countries. When there is an accident, Canadian authorities will not be informed.
As BC author Kim Goldberg wrote in her 1991 book, "Submarine Dead Ahead":
"The US Department of Defense directive 5230.16 conveniently permits the US Navy or other government representatives to deny or conceal a nuclear weapon accident: 'Unified Commanders... may confirm or deny the presence of nuclear weapons or radioactive nuclear weapon components at the scene of an accident or significant incident…' "The insurance industry is also extremely wary of nuclear risks. They refuse to underwrite them. Every Canadian and American insurance policy has a legislated nuclear exemption clause which eliminates insurance coverage in the case of a nuclear accident or war. Mine reads, in part,
"This policy does not cover ... loss or damage caused by contamination by radioactive material."
University of California Professor Jackson Davis, did a study in 1987 of two plausible nuclear accident scenarios in Victoria and Esquimalt. I quote from the Executive Summary:
"The first accident scenario analyzed is incineration of a single nuclear warhead in a ship-board fire. Such an accident would produce a radioactive cloud containing plutonium-239, which would be carried toward the northeast, directly over Esquimalt/Victoria, by the most probable prevailing winds... Under unfavorable meteorological conditions the effects of such an accident could be experienced as far away as Vancouver."
"The second accident scenario analyzed is a hypothetical nuclear-reactor accident aboard a ship berthed at Esquimalt..."
"Although short-term casualties under the generally conservative assumptions of this analysis are relatively low, both accidents modeled would cause from hundreds to thousands of long-term casualties unless the contaminated urban areas were both evacuated and decontaminated. Rapid evacuation would appear impossible in the absence of effective emergency response plans."
"The most significant impact, however, could be economic. U.S. Government studies indicate that decontamination could cost tens of billions of U.S. dollars and take months to complete, during which time the local economy would be largely terminated. These cost estimates omit the on-site costs of clean-up, and they omit "indirect" losses from the termination of local economies and ripple effects on provincial and national economies."
These costs are in 1987 US dollars, and do not take inflation into account.
Nuclear ships are a danger to millions of residents along the Juan de Fuca and Georgia Straits, and to the ecosystems along the transit route. This danger can be completely avoided by just saying, "No!"
When the anti-nuclear heat is on, the Federal Government traditionally says a "recent" study has confirmed that nuclear ships are safe. They promise this document will soon be released -- but the documents never make their way to the light. I know, I've tried to get them several times.
The one time the government did release a so-called "environmental" study of Nanoose, it neglected to examine the nuclear issue. A major "oversight" that renders the study inconclusive, misleading and highly suspect.
On nuclear and military matters, the government hides its activities behind a veil of secrecy. A veil that is in opposition to democratic governance, due public process, and the rights of taxpayers.
The Federal Government is afraid of public scrutiny.
This Hearing is about more than the proposed expropriation.
It is also about the illegality of nuclear weapons and many of the activities at the Nanoose test range.
And finally, this Hearing is about abuse of power by the Federal Government, in needlessly allowing hazardous nuclear ships into the ocean backyards of millions of British Columbians, against their will.
In the name of "security", under a veil of secrecy, we are all put at risk.
Mr. Goldie, I urge you to recommend to the Federal Government:
I encourage you to go beyond narrow confines, and give a full accounting of what you hear during these weeks.
I urge you to study the many affidavits I would like to deposit, for they speak clearly and authoritatively of the dangers of nuclear ship visits, and the longstanding public desire to ban these deadly ships from British Columbia waters and ports, including Nanoose.
The affidavits cover far more ground than is possible in a short, 15-minute presentation.
Finally, I urge you to address the irregularities in the expropriation and Hearing process. And to allow my counsel to properly represent my own personal legal rights, interests and concerns.
I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
(250) 653-9973 phone/fax
- Physicians' Organization opposes the expropriation of Nanoose Bay.
Physicians for Global Survival
Testimony at the Nanoose Expropriation Hearings
Speaker: Dr. Mary-Wynne Ashford, MD, Ph.D.
I am speaking on behalf of Physicians for Global Survival (Canada) in opposition to the expropriation of Nanoose Bay by the Government of Canada. Physicians for Global Survival is the Canadian affiliate of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, the organization that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985. Physicians for Global Survival was formerly known as Canadian Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War. I am a medical doctor and an Associate Professor at the University of Victoria. I am currently Co-President of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.
Physicians for Global Survival has spoken in opposition to the Canadian Forces Maritime Experimental and Test Range (CFMETR ) for many years on the grounds that nuclear powered and nuclear weapons capable vessels in Canadian harbors bring an unacceptable level of risk of accident, and that the consequences of such accidents could be catastrophic. We also object on moral and legal grounds to the involvement of Canada in supporting US nuclear weapons policies.
Let me begin with the legal issues. On July 8, 1996, the International Court of Justice gave its advisory opinion that "The threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law." Furthermore, the Court clarified that Article Vl of the Preamble to the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty is a solemn treaty obligation for the Nuclear Weapons States to proceed to full and complete disarmament. At this time there are no ongoing nuclear disarmament talks between the US and Russia.
Canada, as a middle power, plays a significant role in international affairs as an advocate of nuclear disarmament. The recent review of Canadian nuclear weapons policy by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade reinforced the Canadian Government's support for nuclear disarmament. In permitting the continued use of CFMETR by the US Navy, Canada is supporting the infrastructure of the US nuclear force and is thus supporting a defense policy that is in contravention of international law.
Physicians for Global Survival considers that a secure and stable world must be based on strong international law, and that the undermining of existing agreements has very serious consequences. There is no international police force to ensure compliance with treaties that have been signed. Countries must demonstrate their integrity by complying voluntarily. When nations break their agreements, the entire system of international law is weakened and with it, the security of all nations is diminished.
Visits to BC ports by nuclear powered and nuclear weapons capable vessels bring with them risks that outweigh possible benefits to Canadian security. In the event of a nuclear attack, such harbors become prime targets. Although the risk of deliberate war between the superpowers had decreased since the fall of the Berlin Wall, this year brought an increase in tensions as a result of NATO bombings of Serbia. In fact, the Deputy Chairman of the Defense Committee of the Russian Duma stated in a speech to the North Atlantic Council that US-Russian relations are at the "worst, most acute, most dangerous juncture since the US-Soviet Berlin and Cuban missile crises." International law has been weakened by NATO taking action outside the United Nations Security Council, and one effect of this is Russian concern about the entire treaty process. I have appended to this statement my published report of meetings with Russian officials in Moscow in April, 1999.
Canada has an international reputation for constructive work on nuclear disarmament. Canada also has an obligation in its role as Chair of the First Committee of the U.N. to work to build the stability of international law and to refuse to support actions that undermine existing treaties.
Let me now discuss the risk of accident at Nanoose bay because this risk has been a grave concern of doctors for many years. In 1987, CPPNW and Greenpeace commissioned a study of the effects of a radiation accident in Esquimalt Harbor. Many of the findings of that study are relevant to Nanoose Bay. The study was carried out by an American biologist, Professor Jackson Davis. I am submitting a copy of his report to this Hearing.
Dr. Alan Phillips, a member of Physicians for Global Survival, provided a critical review of the findings. Dr. Phillips has a degree in nuclear physics and was a medical specialist in radiation oncology before his retirement. Dr. Phillips reported that he found no evidence of use of speculative assumptions from sources likely to be biased against nuclear technology; nor indeed of the use of assumptions when documented estimates were available. "On the other hand," he wrote, "I see no evidence of an attempt to minimize the risks described, just considerable care not to overstate them."
If a commercial reactor were proposed for a community, the public would have the opportunity to question and vote on whether they were willing to accept it. They would also be provided with a full emergency response plan. In the case of nuclear powered vessels coming into our harbors, the public is unable to register its objection, and there is not a public disaster response plan available. One factor commonly misunderstood about naval reactors is that although they are smaller than commercial reactors, they use uranium 30 times more enriched than commercial reactors because they must be able to stay at sea for 75 days.
In his report, Dr. Davis points out that military secrecy prevents scientists from having access to the data needed to calculate the risk of accident. Normally, risk is determined by multiplying the probability by the consequences of the accident. The US does not release full information about the number of accidents on board nuclear powered or nuclear capable vessels, and thus the probability must be inferred from accidents in commercial reactors, or from theoretical projections. The Navy does not provide technical information that would permit scientists to assess the consequences of an accident with a warhead, such as the fire-resistance of the nuclear warheads or the particular radionucleides that would be released in the event of accident. On May8, 1984, Admiral William Crowe, then Commander in Chief of the Navy in the Pacific, issued a directive that ordered Pacific Fleet commanders to "remove evidence" and treat any accident involving nuclear weapons as one involving "conventional explosives." "A denial should characterize the accident or incident as a non-nuclear event."
Human error has been the cause of many of the accidents in the nuclear industry. In the US Navy, approximately 125,000 people work in daily contact with nuclear weapons or nuclear reactors. Of these, some 5,000 are decommissioned annually for gross negligence, abuse of drugs or alcohol while on the job, or frank psychosis.
Dr. Davis describes two scenarios in his study. The first is that of the incineration of a nuclear warhead in a shipboard fire. Such a fire would not cause the bomb to explode, but would result in the plutonium burning and releasing a radioactive cloud that would contain plutonium239 among other radioactive components. Depending upon weather, the radioactive cloud would be carried upward and then spread on the wind, coming down as radioactive fallout. It is important to note that when inhaled, plutonium is one of the most carcinogenic elements known, with less than a picogram causing lung cancer with almost complete certainty. A 1981 California study reported "Plume behavior may be particularly erratic near coastal areas, thus complicating emergency protective measures and decontamination efforts. Land and sea breezes over large water surfaces may cause high effluent concentrations of radioactive material in our water during the night, which can then be transported back on shore during the following day. S Limited corridor zones of emergency response action will not work in large part because of unpredictable wind patterns."
The second scenario in Dr. Davis' study is that of a reactor meltdown. Although the probability of meltdown is regarded by the Department of National Defence as less than one in 10,000,000 years, research at the University of Auckland concluded that the upper limit for the probability of meltdown is around one chance in 1000 per reactor year. Even the US Navy regarded the possibility of reactor meltdown as sufficient to warrant formulating a disaster response for the submarine base at Pearl Harbor, but concluded that if this worst possible situation should occur, absolutely nothing could be done about it. The US has lost two nuclear submarines at sea: the Thresher in 1963 and the Scorpion in 1968. Some authorities believe the loss of the Thresher was due to a reactor accident after the coolant system was damaged. According to CIA reports, the Soviet icebreaker Lenin suffered a meltdown and was lost about 1965.
In a nuclear reactor meltdown, the white-hot reactor elements would melt through the bottom of the ship within hours. A steam explosion may then occur, but in any case, a radioactive plume would be released downwind. Evacuation would be ineffectual in the short time needed for the plume to move kilometers. In terms of health effects, a meltdown of a small 80 megawatt naval reactor would cause radiation exposure of 600 rems to a population for a distance of 1 Km. and would decrease exponentially further from the reactor. A Rem is a unit of dose that takes into account the relative biological damage due to various kinds of radiation energy absorbed by tissues. 600 rems is considered a lethal dose, 300 Rems makes all people seriously sick and kills about 10 per cent, and 50 Rems produces no radiation sickness but is expected to increase cancer, malformations and inherited genetic defects. The plutonium deposited on the ground, however, would be elevated beyond maximum permissible levels more than 100 Km from the accident scene. The Davis study assumes that the population would be evacuated within hours, despite the difficulties of moving large numbers of people where there is only one major highway. The mortality would be much higher if people remained in the area.
The August 1996 Technical Safety Assessment Berthing Reexamination Study of the DND concludes that the perimeter around the vessel that would need to be evacuated to mitigate against the effect of direct radiation from an exposed core melt would be limited to 250 metres This limit bears no relationship to the size or movement of a radioactive cloud released in the meltdown. The same report, however, states that the radiological Dose Assessment for Nanoose and Esquimalt Harbours indicates that to mitigate the effects of radiation released in a meltdown, consumption of cows' milk, vegetables and freshwater game fish would be prohibited. These foods could only be affected if the radiation had spread many kilometers from the harbor. Furthermore, such contamination would render the farmlands unusable without full decontamination. The decontamination of Three Mile Island , where radioactivity released by the accident was largely confined to the containment structure, is now projected to cost several billion US dollars.
Disaster planning for a radiation accident is extremely difficult. The military is responsible only for DND personnel in the immediate area. Civilians would have to be transported by ambulance to the nearest hospital for decontamination and treatment. Everything in contact with the victims would be contaminated with radiation - the ambulance , the decontamination area, the instruments, clothing, syringes - all would then be unusable. After the Chernobyl accident, two doctors died from the beta radiation they received from the skin of the patients they examined. Recommendations from the Vienna Commission following Chernobyl advised that the decisions made during the first four hours after the accident determined the life or death of many victims. Hospital Six in Moscow had had experience with radiation from an earlier nuclear disaster, yet they were still unable to contain the radioactive contamination of the building when victims were flown in from Chernobyl.
In order for a disaster plan to be effective, it must be well publicized and practiced from time to time. The details of any radiation disaster plan that may exist for Nanoose Bay have not been made public. The Nanaimo Regional General Hospital indicated in a 1997 letter to Mr. Norm Abbey of the Nanoose Conversion Campaign that should the worst case scenario occur at Nanoose Bay, only 2-3 casualties would be expected. "With the emergency response procedures that have been developed, the Hospital will be able to provide the required treatment to victims while providing protection to staff and the surrounding environment." This assessment of likely casualties in a worst case scenario is so unrealistic as to be irresponsible.
The World Health Organization has stated that the danger of nuclear war is the greatest threat to public health in the world today. The CFMETR base is part of a nuclear weapons infrastructure that supports a policy that is legally prohibited and is morally bankrupt. Nuclear powered and nuclear capable vessels in Nanoose Bay bring unacceptable risks to citizens of British Columbia, a province that has been declared a nuclear weapons free zone. The ongoing health consequences of the Chernobyl disaster show that we do not have the ability to significantly mitigate the effects of a major nuclear accident ; the damage has spread over vast areas and will continue for centuries. Physicians for Global Survival opposes the expropriation of Nanoose Bay and urges the Canadian Government to remove its support for US and NATO nuclear weapons policies.
Ashford, Mary-Wynne. (1999). Bombings re-ignite nuclear fears. Victoria Times Colonist, May 13, p. A15.
Davis, Jackson. (1987). Nuclear Accidents on Military Vessels in Canadian Ports: Site Specific Analysis for Esquimalt/Victoria. Canadian Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War. Victoria, BC.
Sahaydachny, Simeon A., (1985). A Nuclear Trojan Horse - The Navy's Plan to Base Nuclear Weapons in New York Harbor. The Riverside Church Disarmament Program and the Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy, New York.
Mann, L.R.B. (n.d.) Hazards of Nuclear Powered Ships and Submarines. IPPNW Fact Sheet No. 9. Auckland, N.Z.
Willis, Patricia. (1986). Nuclear Facilities in British Columbia: Nuclear Powered and Nuclear Weapons Capable Warships. New Democrat Enquiry into Nuclear Energy. Vancouver.
Dr. M.W. Ashford, MD, PhD
Box.30143, Saanich Centre P.O.
Victoria, British Columbia
Canada V8X 5W1
- Federal expropriation of Nanoose Bay for nuclear warheads.
CBC Radio Commentary
by David Cadman, President of SPEC:
Society Promoting Environmental Conservation
Take note Canada, the long knives are out during the summer doldrums.
Ottawa wants to expropriate 150 square miles of British Columbia at Nanoose Bay whether the people of BC like it or not. The Supreme Court of Canada has already decided Nanoose Bay falls under provincial jurisdiction.
This hostile expropriation, unprecedented in Canadian history, is more than a land grab. Ottawa is seeking a precedent -- the right to expropriate provincially controlled land. And that should worry every Canadian.
So why are Defence Minister Art Eggleton and the Federal Liberals taking this unprecedented action? So that US Navy nuclear-powered warships can bring nuclear warheads into the Nanoose Bay weapons test ranges in Georgia Strait - an area used by ferries, boaters, commercial fishers and the centre of a region that is home to three million people.
Minister Eggleton assures us "there has never been any problem and there will not be."
But, Mr. Minister, what about the nine nuclear reactors and 50 warheads already littering the ocean floor? And what about the 1995 Defence Department study that admits 30 years of torpedo testing has dumped over 93,000 kms of copper wire, 2,200 tons of lead, lithium batteries and other toxic materials into salmon-bearing waters just 2 kms from the major ferry route between Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland Vancouver.
And Mr. Minister, why are US warships exempt from Canadian environmental laws so that the nuclear-powered carrier Nimitz can get away with trailing a three-mile oil slick into Nanoose Bay?
And what of the 1996 World Court Ruling that the use or even threat of nuclear weapons is illegal? Current US Policy actually advocates a nuclear first strike.
And lastly, Mr. Minister, what about the long standing land claims of the Nanoose First Nation who were not consulted before this expropriation was launched ?
Whether its Indonesian dictator Suharto packing his guns at APEC, or Americans bringing their nukes into Georgia Strait, Ottawa Liberals don't care what the people of British Columbia want.
Japan, New Zealand, Scotland, the Philippines, Spain and Italy have all said no to US nuclear bases. Nanoose Bay, which is a branch plant of the Keyport Washington Underwater Warfare Station, remains the sole foreign base where US nuclear subs still operate.
The Cold War is over and the people of BC have made it clear we do not want these "floating Chernobyls" and their nuclear weapons in our waters. It is time to close down Nanoose Bay before there is an accident affecting millions of people.
The Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC) wants a full public Inquiry of Nanoose, including the issue of nuclear warheads on Canadian Territory. The BC Legislature called for just such a review in 1992 and Jean Chrétien promised one during the election campaign of 1993. So far all we're getting is a charade hearing on the procedures of the Expropriation Act.
Canadians need to shake off their summer lethargy and tell Eggleton and Chrétien they won't stand for this expropriation. After all, Quebec would hold a referendum tomorrow if Ottawa tried to expropriate a chunk of the St Lawrence for US nukes.
- U.S. Navy's torpedo test site in Canada comes under fire.
NANAIMO, British Columbia (AP) - Scenic and serene, the waters of the Georgia Strait west of Vancouver are the unlikely catalyst for a cancerous political tug-of-war over nuclear weaponry and U.S.-Canadian relations.
The dispute is at a pivotal point this week, with the start of public hearings that give British Columbians a chance to berate their own federal government for placing Washington's defense concerns above the province's aversion to nuclear arms.
Since 1965, a section of the Georgia Strait has been used by the U.S. Navy to test torpedoes -- thousands of them slamming into a unique muddy seabed from which they can be retrieved.
The lease for the provincially owned seabed is about to expire, and British Columbia's government is demanding a pledge that no nuclear-armed ships enter the strait.
But this would contradict U.S. Navy policy of neither confirming nor denying the presence of nuclear weapons aboard its ships. Canada's federal government, irked at British Columbia and wary of straining ties with Washington, is taking the unprecedented step of expropriating the 258 square kilometer area from the province so the torpedo-testing can continue.
Public hearings on the expropriation, required by law, began Monday in Nanaimo, a city on Vancouver Island just south of the Nanoose Bay testing range.
An array of antinuclear and environmental groups were on hand to oppose the expropriation. "No floating Chernobyls please" read one of their banners, alluding to use of the range by nuclear-powered submarines.
The provincial government will present its arguments next month, when the hearings shift to Vancouver. But it has released an outline of its case which notes that British Columbia's legislature voted 51-1 in 1992 to declare the province a nuclear-weapons-free zone.
"All British Columbia is saying is: On our own land, we have the right to impose those conditions." the province's lawyer, Greg McDade, said in an interview. "The federal government, in order to cater to the U.S. government and not offend them, is using expropriation as a sledge-hammer."
Canada's navy, which has no nuclear-armed or nuclear-powered ships, sometimes conducts tests at Nanoose, but the U.S. Navy is the main user. Anywhere from 300 to 800 torpedoes -- not rigged with explosives -- are fired annually from planes, surface ships and submarines.
McDade says the provincial government believes some nuclear-armed U.S. submarines have been at Nanoose in recent years, though it has no categorical proof. However, Canadian naval commanders say they are virtually sure no nuclear-armed vessels will enter Nanoose waters -- but in deference to U.S. policy, they have balked at requiring any formal pledge to this effect.
Several other countries have closed U.S. naval bases on their territory or restricted access by U.S. warships. British Columbia protesters say Canada is now the only foreign country that allows U.S. submarines to operate on a routine basis in its waters.
At the opening hearing Monday, a school teacher from the Vancouver Island town of Duncan urged Canada to reject the U.S. policy of neither confirming nor denying whether navy ships carry nuclear weapons.
"We don't accept that as an answer if someone tries to bring firearms into Canada." Beverly Wiren said to applause from the audience. "Why should we accept it in the case of nuclear weapons?"
The federal government, controlled by the centrist Liberal Party of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, has been at odds repeatedly with British Columbia's left-wing government. Many British Columbians believe expropriation would never have been attempted if the property in question was in the populous eastern provinces of Quebec or Ontario.
"This is once again an indication that Ottawa doesn't give a damn about the rest of this country," said environmental activist, David Cadman.
The activists argue the federal government's solicitude toward Washington is betraying its traditionally strong support for nuclear disarmament and Canada's key role in the international campaign to outlaw land mines.
The dispute almost didn't happen. British Columbia and the federal government reached a tentative agreement in May calling for a 30-year deal that would earn the province $25 million, a big change from the province's previous token income of $1a year.
But the deal swiftly collapsed when federal officials refused to endorse the ban on nuclear-armed ships.
Though the protest groups are glad to have a forum for venting their outrage, they are not overly optimistic of blocking the expropriation. The retired judge conducting the hearings, Michael Goldie, has no mandate to make recommendations: he will simply summarize the objectors' views and submit a report by early September to one of Chrétien's Cabinet ministers, who has the final say.
- Two Russians caught trying to sell nuclear material.
Agence France Presse English
MOSCOW - Two men who tried to sell stolen radioactive material for 50,000 US dollars were arrested in Saint Petersburg, ITAR-TASS reported Wednesday, quoting local police.
Nikolai Yefimovich, 43, an employee of the Murmansk shipping company and Yevgeny Balan, 50, a mechanic on the nuclear-powered ice-breaker Rosiya, stole the material from a stockpile of radioactive waste in the northern port of Murmansk, the news agency said.
The men stole an unspecified amount of radioactive Californium-252 used in nuclear reactors and 17 kilograms (48 pounds) of mercury, for which they hoped to get 11,000 dollars, according to police.
The material was placed in the trunk of a car, which the men drove to Saint Petersburg from Murmansk. Police are investigating the theft.
- In Cherbourg, controversial plutonium shipment is loaded for Japan.
Agence France Presse English
CHERBOURG, France - A British ship was being loaded Wednesday with reprocessed nuclear fuel for Japan as a Greenpeace protest ship sailed into this Channel port brandishing a banner reading "Stop plutonium!"
The first of five 90-tonne containers of mixed uranium and plutonium fuel was loaded in the morning aboard the Pacific Teal, one of two ships being sent to Japan by British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL).
The other vessel, the Pacific Pintail, is currently in the southern Irish Sea loaded with 225 kilos (495 pounds) of plutonium reprocessed by BNFL and is awaiting its sister ship for the journey to Asia.
The Pacific Teal, which arrived from the port of Barrow and is due to leave the French port later Wednesday, is to pick up a total cargo of 221 kilos of plutonium (552 pounds) reprocessed by the French firm COGEMA.
- Using plastic swords in a real war ~ a war against MOX.
by Craig Watson
looking beyond the protests yesterday over
nuclear energy, atomic bombs,and global terrorism
The jolly band of pirates marched down the Mound from the Scottish Parliament, boldly celebrating yet another successful "hijack" operation. The authorities had tried in vain to keep details of the shipment secret but it was eventually tracked down somewhere near French territory, they said.
Some time later, further acts of skulduggery were taking place on the high seas, well, Barrow-in-Furness harbour. On this occasion, the crew dragged a large inflatable white elephant across the harbour entrance in an apparent attempt to impede the progress of the French-bound freighter. Not, of course, a drug-fuelled vision of seventeenth-century buccaneers, but rather the weapons in the armoury of the modern-day environmental activist.
Both events took place yesterday, one in Edinburgh, the other off the Cumbrian coast. Both attracted international media attention and both highlighted protesters' concerns about nuclear energy, atomic bombs, and global terrorism.
Somewhat less dramatically, the actual target of their anger was the little-understood nuclear material prosaically called mixed oxide fuel, or MOX for short.Although the term may not be common parlance, it has long been the subject of heated debate among nuclear industry leaders, academics, politicians, and environmental campaigners.
The Government revealed its concern last month when it called for a third consultation exercise on proposals to operate Britain's first, purpose-built MOX-producing facility at Sellafield. The deadline for responses to the process ends on Friday and already it is clear that Environment Secretary John Prescott can expect a hefty mailbag.
The anti-nuclear activists who took part in yesterday's protests may wield only plastic swords and blow-up mammals, but they are unashamedly fighting a war.And they believe they are winning the current battle.
Those who took to the streets of Edinburgh, complete with fluttering Jolly Roger and stuffed parrot, carried a mock "shipment" of plutonium, which they said had been produced at "British Nuclear Fools, Sellafield" before being hijacked by the "plutonium pirates". Letters of protest were duly handed to French and Japanese Consulate staff.
The language may sound corny but it was effective in drawing attention to the very real transportation of MOX to Japan, via France.
That shipment, which triggered similar protests in around 20 other countries, will be carried on the British-flagged ships, Pacific Pintail and Pacific Teal. One was yesterday due to leave Barrow docks, the scene of the other main UK demonstration, apparently with a cargo of eight MOX fuel elements containing some 225 kilograms of plutonium. The other will pick up a similar cargo at the French port of Cherbourg and both will set off on the 20,000-mile voyage to Japan.
Already, the trip, which has come about because Britain is obliged to return waste it has reprocessed on behalf of other countries, has attracted fierce criticism.Safety fears mushroomed when it became known that the ships would not receive a Naval escort along their secret route. General concerns about nuclear proliferation were fuelled by suggestions that international terrorist groups could intercept the cargo and arguably build up to 60 nuclear weapons.
The fears are naturally played down by British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL), which operates the current Sellafield plant and has built the new £300 million MOX facility. The company insists security arrangements are robust and the shipments will be carried out under established international regulations.
Friends of the Earth Scotland (FoE-S) director Kevin Dunion says: "By allowing these shipments to proceed, we are actively helping to undermine international nuclear non-proliferation efforts. Japan is slowly increasing its stockpile of weapons-usable nuclear materials with the blessing of BNFL and our Government.
"As these ships criss-cross the world's oceans, they pose an unacceptable danger to the environment and the citizens of those countries they will pass en route.
"Scotland's coastline is already contaminated as a result of radioactive discharges at Sellafield and BNFL's application to begin operating a new MOX production facility will only add to this. Scots cannot sit back and allow this to happen."
Greenpeace was involved in the Barrow protest which resulted in a number of arrests amid BNFL threats that they would take legal action against the group. But campaigners last night remained defiant, proclaiming that they were close to winning the 20-year war against MOX. It was realised then that a source would have to be found for the growing stockpile of plutonium, a radioactive by-product of the nuclear generation process. Some was used in the weapon-making industry and the rest put in storage, though it was recognised that this was not a long-term solution.
"Fast breeder reactors" (FBR), such as the one sited at Dounreay in Caithness, were hailed as a solution to the problem as they were designed to burn plutonium.
And then, around 15 years ago, it was suggested that the plutonium could be mixed with the more valuable uranium to provide a new type of "mixed oxide" fuel rod.
However, the FBRs built in Scotland, France, Japan,Russia, and the United States failed to live up to expectations and are, without exception, being run down. Small-scale experiments in using MOX Fuel also proved disappointing, largely because of high costs and the release of alternative sources radioactive materials through arms decommissioning.
Yet, BNFL decided to push ahead with its plans to build a Sellafield MOX Plant (SMP), stressing that something had to be done to reduce levels of radioactive waste.There are currently around 60 tonnes of plutonium at Sellafield and perhaps the same amount in military establishments.
Yesterday's shipment was the first of up to 80 which activists say will take place should SMP be given the go-ahead.
The Government has so far responded with caution, no doubt mindful of the fact that two consultation exercises raised concerns about safety and the economic viability of the project. Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said he was provisionally in favour of allowing the plant to start operating commercially, though that appears only to have galvanised his opponents, as the Minister is likely to discover in four days.
Environmental groups have adopted a predictably hard-line stance, with the FoES response likely to highlight the fact that the MOX process produces highly-contaminated waste which still requires disposal. That, they believe, will simply continue to drive the "nuclear treadmill".
The group's response to the consultation exercise will add that the Government's environment watchdog, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, should take an active role in a process which could cause pollution north of the Border.
Pressure will also be put on the Government from academics working in the field. The head of a specialist energy unit at Sussex University, Gordon MacKerron, is also drafting a response. He is likely to say that the MOX option is "nonsensical" and waste would be better dealt with by vitrification, or encasing it in glass. He will claim that would be cheaper and safer to transport around the world.
Greenpeace has used the consultation process to generate a campaign of opposition to the MOX facility, which nuclear campaigner Pete Roche sees as the key to victory. He says: "We are winning the arguments but it all depends on the MOX plant decision. If that goes in our favour, MOX will be dead in the water and we will have won the fight. But we won't stop if that doesn't happen."
- UK plutonium shipments enrage countries on route.
The Guardian (UK)
By Paul Brown,
Fourteen Caribbean heads of government yesterday delivered a furious protest about the imminent departure of the first armed shipment of dangerous plutonium fuel from Sellafield to Japan.
The heads of state are angry that the nuclear shipment will be travelling through their waters and that they are not being consulted about the route.
Armed nuclear police were drafted in yesterday along the shoreline at Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria to protect the two nuclear transports as British Nuclear Fuels successfully applied to the high court in London for injunctions to prevent Greenpeace interfering with the shipments.
Greenpeace has ships off Barrow and Cherbourg, France, ready to intercept the two transports but refused to comment on its intentions or if it was going to shadow the nuclear convoy all the way to Japan. If protesters board the heavily armed nuclear vessels or use inflatables to obstruct them they face jail for contempt.
The Caribbean countries have long been opposed to the shipment of spent nuclear fuel from Japan to Sellafield via the Panama Canal but the prospect of dozens of shipments of potentially far more dangerous refined plutonium fuel going in the opposite direction has infuriated them.
The US insistence that the ships must be heavily armed to resist potential terrorist attacks only added to Caribbean alarm - especially since formal protests made to the foreign secretary, Robin Cook, had apparently been ignored.
In a statement, the heads of governments of Caricom, which includes Commonwealth countries such as The Bahamas, Jamaica, Barbados and Guyana, said they were "particularly outraged at the callous and contemptuous disregard of their appeals by the governments of France, the United Kingdom and Japan to desist from this dangerous misuse of the Caribbean Sea".
They also bitterly regretted that their appeal to the US to prohibit such shipments, using its authority as the nation in control of vessels through the Panama Canal, had failed.
"In light of these situations heads of government have vowed to take all necessary steps to protect their people and the fragile ecology of the Caribbean Sea from this highly dangerous threat to which they are now habitually exposed, as well as to safeguard the livelihood of the millions of people who depend on that unique resource for their well being."
Last night the foreign office said there had been delays but a meeting between Caribbean high commissioners in London and Baroness Symons, a government minister, would be held on Wednesday.
The diplomatic headache comes days after the government decided to privatise 49 percent of BNFL provided it could show, among other things, increased profits from this controversial plutonium trade with Japan.
The government has yet to approve fuel-scale production of plutonium fuel and the company has to prove that armed shipments of this type are financially viable.
Yesterday BNFL would not comment on when the two ships, the Pacific Pintail and the Pacific Teal, would sail for Japan. They are due to carry 450 kilograms of plutonium in new fuel for reactors mixed with depleted uranium, enough to make 40 high-grade nuclear weapons.
The company has repeatedly said that there is no risk from the fuel.
- Canadian firm CAMECO will accept Russian weapons uranium.
Daily News (Halifax)
by Eric Hicks
CAMECO CORPORATION is the only Canadian company involved in the production and processing of uranium. It is, however, the largest and lowest-cost producer in the world. This Saskatoon-based company was formed in 1988, when two crown-owned uranium companies [Eldorado Nuclear Limited and the Saskatchewan Mining Development Corporation] were merged, then sold to the public in 1991. The Saskatchewan government remains an owner of 9.4 per cent of the company, while the Canadian government has sold all of its shares.
Cameco has three operations.
27 MILLION POUNDS OF URANIUM
At its 1998 operating level of 27 million pounds of production, Cameco is the largest producer of uranium in the world.
The company's production represents a 31.4-per-cent share of the world market. Cameco refines uranium at its plants in Ontario, then markets its products to electric utilities around the globe.
The company has a virtual monopoly on the fuel that powers Candu reactors, and it also produces products for other electrical reactors.
Cameco has operated two small gold mines in Saskatchewan since the early 1980s, and in 1997, while the company geologists were in a remote area of Kyrgyzstan, they became aware of a major gold operation there.
The company negotiated a one-third interest in the mine by arranging financing for the project and guaranteeing it if required.
The total capital arranged amounted to $450 million US, of which Cameco has guaranteed $265 million US. Total production at the mine was 645,000 ounces last year, of which Cameco's share was 215,000 ounces. The cost of production is $179 per ounce.
Cameco has developed a strategic alliance with another major uranium player, COGEMA. The company has sold COGEMA an interest in some of its operations and together the two firms have negotiated a highly enriched uranium agreement with Russia.
URANIUM ARRANGEMENT WITH RUSSIA
This agreement was brought about because of an arrangement between the United States and Russia to convert much of the enriched uranium used in old Soviet nuclear weapons into usable electrical-reactor fuel.
This agreement enables the companies to have some control over the impact of supply from nuclear weapons fuel and provides an opportunity for them to sell this inventory to electric utilities at a profit in later years.
According to Ian Howat and Lawrence Smith, mining analysts at Levesque Beaubien Geoffrion, the current world oversupply of uranium will diminish during the next couple of years, and prices that averaged $10.70 per pound in 1998 should average $14 per pound by 2000.
The net asset value of Cameco shares is calculated at $55.84 per share and, at $30, the stock is trading at a 45-per-cent discount to NAV. Howat and Smith believe the shares of Cameco are significantly undervalued and, in their recent research report, have set a 12-month target price of $45 per share.
Eric Hicks is an investment adviser and the branch manager of the Halifax office of Levesque Securities Inc. Material in this column is for information only and does not necessarily represent the views of Levesque Securities Inc.
- Scared of the Y2K Bug? Head for the nearest nuclear reactor.
by Matthew Green
LONDON - Deadly radiation, complex computers and the year 2000 bug sound like an apocalyptic mix, but watchdogs say nuclear power plants will be as safe a place as any to spend the new year.
In Western Europe, technicians have been combing bugs from reactor systems and making contingency plans to cope with malfunctions for years.
Eastern Europe is lagging behind, but the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says it sees only a remote chance of catastrophe.
"One can never rule out some difficulties, but what I expect is that there won't be problems of a nuclear safety nature," said Zig Domaratzki, head of the Department of Nuclear Safety at the IAEA in Vienna.
He said the bug might cause faults, but only as trivial as those you would tolerate in a new car.
"There may be little glitches that show up here and there, but I'll make sure the brakes work and I can turn off the ignition."
Engineers say that even if computer systems freeze as the clock ticks midnight on New Year's Eve, reactor operators can simply throw a switch to shut them down.
PROBLEMS? JUST THROW A SWITCH
They say safety circuitry contains none of the software prone to the millennium bug, which can paralyse computers that have not been adapted to handle the change to 2000 and certain other dates.
"Our protection systems are not date sensitive, they don't know whether it's 1066 or the year 2000," said David Hunns, superintending inspector of the British government's Nuclear Safety Directorate.
But even if the big, red "shutdown" buttons are bug-proof, more mundane malfunctions could spring nasty surprises.
Plants should wedge doors open at new year to guard against errant security systems, said David Lochbaum, a nuclear safety engineer at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington D.C.
"We think that the emergency systems that these plants have are pretty much invulnerable," he said, "it is the support systems that are more susceptible."
Nuclear engineers admit that danger can also lurk beyond reactor walls.
A bug-induced failure in the electricity grid could cut a plant's outlet for the power it generates, forcing operators to turn it off to prevent overheating.
Unplanned shutdowns set controllers' adrenaline pumping, increasing the margin for error and piling stress on plants.
Reactors then depend on diesel to fuel coolers to prevent them melting down -- supplies of which could be disrupted if the bug hits transport networks.
Western European grids are working to ensure they do not fizzle out over New Year, updating computers that use only the last two digits of the year and could confuse 2000 with 1900.
"The focus is now turning to Eastern Europe," said Howard Ramsden, head of the Industry Observatory Unit at Unipede-Eurelectric, which groups international power producers and distributors.
ECHOES OF CHERNOBYL
Ever since the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine exploded in April 1986, wafting a radioactive cloud across Europe, millennium doomsayers have portrayed reactors in the former Eastern bloc as the most accident-prone.
A lack of year 2000 compliance data from more than 60 ageing plants across Russia and Eastern Europe makes risk assessment tricky.
"They think that they can get by without a problem, but we're not entirely convinced that that's the case," said IAEA spokesman David Kyd.
Chernobyl's operators have said the plant is too obsolete to suffer serious year 2000 problems and the IAEA said it agrees.
But former Chernobyl director Serhiy Parashin told reporters in March that Ukrainian officials misunderstood the bug and it could paralyse the country's five nuclear power plants.
To nuclear energy's opponents, the Chernobyl disaster showed that the consequences of a millennial meltdown make even the tiniest chance of an accident unacceptable.
"The very term "risk" implies some possibility of elimination, but when you look at Chernobyl you see that the worst can always happen," said Dominic Jenkins, nuclear campaigner for environmental group Friends of the Earth.
Meanwhile, in Britain as much of the nation prepares to party over the new year, government engineers plan to hunker down in an emergency room -- just in case.
- Is Europe really going non-nuclear? [Feature Article in Germany]
ReutersP> by Mark John
BONN - Europe's 40-year love affair with nuclear power is on the rocks.
But while more and more countries are either halting further growth of their atomic industries or seeking to phase them out altogether, energy experts are reluctant to declare the romance dead.
"I wouldn't bet my pension on it," said Jan Murray of the the World Energy Council, a London-based non-governmental organisation. "Phasing out nuclear is a huge task, with significant obstacles along the way."
Post-World War Two leaders turned Europe into the world's largest nuclear energy testbed, seeing the technology as vital to their reconstruction plans despite disquiet among small lobby groups who warned of potential dangers.
Utility firms poured billions into the power form, so that Europe as a whole is now home to half the world's 400-plus reactors and 35 percent of the European Union's power comes from nuclear energy.
But with Greens and pro-ecology left-wingers now holding unprecedented sway in governments from Rome to Stockholm, the political consensus has gradually tipped anti-nuclear.
Sweden's early decision to withdraw from the sector after a 1980 referendum -- six years before the Soviet Chernobyl disaster pushed the issue to the top of political agendas across the continent -- was followed last year by a similar pledge by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's new "Red-Green" coalition.
Belgium's fledgling Liberal-Socialist-Green alliance this week announced plans to do the same, while Spain has had a moratorium on the building of new plants since 1983.
ONLY FRANCE RESOLUTELY PRO-NUCLEAR
Elsewhere in western Europe, the building of new plants has ground to a halt. Only France - which derives three-quarters of its power from nuclear energy - is still resolutely pro-nuclear.
But despite the political about-turn, it has always been clear that nuclear power could not be scrapped overnight.
Warning of huge compensation claims for loss of business, Germany's four top nuclear providers have persuaded Schroeder to overrule demands by his Greens partners for a rapid pull-out and instead to negotiate a gradual withdrawal more on their terms.
Disagreements over the issue seem the biggest threat at present to the survival of the nine-month-old coalition.
In Sweden, similar resistance has meant that plans exist to close just two of the country's 12 nuclear reactors. The planned Belgian withdrawal is spread over 40 years.
Observers say the stage is being set for a waiting game that will be played out between politics and industry over the next two decades.
"We are still expecting steadiness in the use of nuclear for the next couple of decades. The crunch, if it happens, could occur after around 2020," said John Paffenberger, an expert at the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA).
That, analysts believe, is when power firms will have to decide if it is economically viable to invest in replacing today's reactors, many of which will be due for renewal by then.
COULD NUCLEAR POWER MAKE A COMEBACK?
If the current political climate persists, they are unlikely to countenance such substantial investments and could switch increasingly to fossil fuels like oil and gas, or even start taking wind, wave and other "green" power forms seriously.
But with Europe expected by then to be under pressure to meet commitments in the 1997 Kyoto protocol on global warming, many believe nuclear energy - free of the fossil fuel-produced "greenhouse gases" blamed for the phenomenon -- could find itself back in favour.
"The climate change issue will get more important," noted Paffenberger, saying that possible future ecology levies on fossil fuels could make nuclear energy economically more attractive.
Not surprisingly, the nuclear industry, preparing to sit out what it acknowledges could be a difficult near future, sees global warming as its trump card.
"There is some short-term political risk for us but we are confident our message is getting through," said Gerald Clark, head of London-based atomic lobby The Uranium Institute.
"Provided the industry keeps its nerve, we can ride this one out."