|*Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout * Canadian Coalition
for Nuclear Responsibility *
Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes * Nuclear Information and Resource Service
For Immediate Release:
November 14, 2002
Shawn Patrick Stensil, CNP, Ottawa, 613.789.3634
Dr. Gordon Edwards, CCNR, Montreal, 514.853.5736
Michael Keegan, CNFGL, Monroe, Michigan, 734.241.6998
Kevin Kamps, NIRS, Washington, D.C., 202.328.0002
Bruce High Level Nuclear Waste
Must Be Addressed by Secretary Powell and Minister Graham
Ottawa, Ontario . . . Michigan United States Senators Debbie Stabenow and
Carl Levin have expressed their concerns to U.S. Secretary of State, Colin
Powell about a proposal to add nearly 2,000 dry storage casks filled with
high-level radioactive waste at the Bruce nuclear power complex near the
shoreline of Lake Huron in Ontario. The Senators stated that "In the wake
of the events of September 11, 2001 the establishment of such a
high-profile and large facility for the storage of high-level radioactive
waste on the shorelines of the Great Lakes needs to be thoroughly evaluated
and carefully considered." The U.S. Senators have urged Secretary Colin
Powell to contact the Canadian government to discuss this issue formally at
the next Canadian - U.S. bilateral meeting. (Letter from Senators Debbie
Stabenow and Carl Levin dated 10/17/02 to U.S. Secretary of State, Colin
Today U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell will meet with Canadian Foreign
Affairs Minister, Bill Graham to discuss security and border issues. While
it is not known if Secretary Colin Powell will discuss this with Minister
Bill Graham, American and Canadian public interest groups believe that
there could be no greater security border issue for our respective
countries and for the drinking waters for tens of millions of Canadian and
American and Canadian public interest groups warned today that the
unparalleled concentration of radioactive risk at the Bruce nuclear power
complex on the eastern shore of Lake Huron in Ontario makes it a
particularly attractive terrorist target. Canada was explicitly named as a
potential target for future terrorist attack in the latest al Qaida
tape-recorded threats, aired on the Arab satellite television network Al
Jazeera on Nov. 12th, allegedly featuring Osama bin Laden's voice. A
terrorist attack on the Bruce Nuclear Complex could have cataclysmic
consequences for millions of people living on both sides of the border, as
well as the entire Great Lakes ecosystem.
• The Bruce nuclear complex is, according to the American Nuclear Society,
among the largest in the world.
(American Nuclear Society, 2001 wall map)
• There are eight large nuclear power reactors at Bruce (a ninth reactor
Douglas Point was shutdown 1984).
• All of the "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive waste from 20 power
reactors across Ontario is buried at Bruce in shallow containers.
• The already large inventory of "high-level" radioactive waste millions of
times more radioactive than the other reactor waste has overwhelmed the
Bruce Storage Pools, and yet that inventory is still growing.
--- more ---
• Ontario Power Generation's imminent loading of the first of 2,000 dry
storage containers to be filled with high-level radioactive waste would
make the Bruce Complex a highly visible and defenseless target for
• The Bruce dry cask facility would be 100 times larger than anything of a
similar nature on the US side of the border on the Great Lakes.
• If dispersed into Lake Huron in massive quantities, these radioactive
wastes are capable of contaminating the entire volume of water in the Great
Lakes to unacceptable levels.
Bruce is located upstream from the drinking water supplies of millions of
Canadian and American citizens. The Michigan shoreline is just 50 miles
across Lake Huron from Bruce, and Detroit is only 150 miles to the
southwest (see Detroit News, "Nuke foes fight expansion of Canadian plant,"
July 24, 2002).
As reported in the Sept. 9, 2002 UK Guardian (Sunday Times), al Qaida
spokesmen have stated that nuclear power reactors were among the original
targets considered for the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and that
nuclear power plants have not been ruled out as targets in the future. In
his January 2001 "State of the Union" address, George W. Bush mentioned
that documents relating to US nuclear power plants had been seized by US
personnel from al Qaida enclaves in Afghanistan.
Security policies, procedures and personnel at nuclear reactors in both the
US and Canada are strained to the breaking point (see New York Times,
"Guards at Nuclear Plants Say They Feel Swamped by a Deluge of Overtime,"
Oct. 20, 2002, and New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal E-Brief, "Mounties
protecting Lepreau burnt out," Nov. 6, 2002. See also the Project on
Government Oversight report, "Nuclear Power Plant Security: Voices from
Inside the Fences," Sept. 12, 2002).
Calling the proposal a "radioactive bull's eye in the heart of the Great
Lakes," U.S. environmental and public interest organizations spoke out
against the Bruce dry cask facility at a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
hearing on Sept. 13, 2002 in Ottawa. Growing concern led US Senators Debbie
Stabenow and Carl Levin (Chairman, US Senate Armed Services Committee) from
Michigan to express concern over the Bruce nuclear complex and its waste in
an Oct. 17, 2002 letter to US Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Despite al Qaida's explicit threats against nuclear power plants, the
unprecedented concentration of radioactive risk at the Bruce site, and the
strained state of security at US and Canadian nuclear reactors, the US
Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs Paul V. Kelly
responded on Oct. 29 to Senators Levin and Stabenow that "intense
collaboration" between US and Canadian agencies, "combined with other
security measures," provided adequate "physical security of nuclear
materials" and "protection of the Great Lakes" at Bruce. Whether or not
Secretary Powell has discussed Bruce nuclear complex security concerns with
Canadian Foreign Minister Graham, as requested by the US Senators from
Michigan in their letter, is not yet clear.
"In addition, the US, Canadian, and Russian governments have not abandoned
their consideration of using weapons-grade plutonium as fuel in Bruce
reactors," said Michael Keegan of Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes
in Monroe, Michigan. "Weapons-grade plutonium, whether being shipped on the
Great Lakes, trucked or railed through Michigan to be used at Bruce, would
be yet another terrorist target with catastrophic potential. This proposal
should be officially canceled once and for all."
A joint US/Canadian/Russian project to determine the feasibility of using
weapons plutonium in Canadian reactors is still underway at the Chalk River
Nuclear Lab in Canada, utilizing samples of US and Russian weapons
plutonium in a Canadian research reactor. The Bruce nuclear complex has
been considered as a site for the use of such mixed oxide (MOX)
uranium/plutonium fuel derived from US and Russian weapons plutonium.
--- more ---
"Given that half the electricity would be exported to the US, and profits
would be exported to the UK, we oppose the restart of Bruce A units 3 and
4," said Dr. Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear
Responsibility. "After all, the high-level radioactive waste and all its
perpetual risks and liabilities would stay in Canada," he said.
British Energy, the nearly bankrupt UK utility, operates the Bruce reactors
under a lease agreement with Ontario Power Generation. Ontario Power
Generation is responsible for managing the high-level radioactive waste
generated by British Energy's operation of the Bruce reactors.
(Documentation in this press release is available, upon request, from Kevin
Kamps at NIRS, 202.328.0002)