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Mayor blocks nuclear waste transport on St. Lawrence

Safety commission says risks are low; city disagrees

Last week, the City of Montreal announced that it will not allow a shipment of 16 decommissioned Bruce Power nuclear generators to be transported through Montreal on the St. Lawrence.

The shipment is one of the biggest of its kind to be transported in Canada. The 16 generators were to be shipped from the Bruce Power plant in Tiverton, Ontario through the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence to a nuclear recycling plant in Sweden. Each of the generators are approximately the size of a school bus.

After receiving the transportation request from Bruce Power, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) investigated the safety of the generators and found that thus far, the proposed transportation method is safe and there would be a minimal amount of contamination if there is spillage from the shipment. The CNSC will make a final decision on the request after it can hear from citizens. In an interview with The Daily, Marc Drolet, Public Affairs and Media Relations Representative for the CNSC, said that the commission should reach a final decision by mid- to late December.

Despite the research carried out by the CNSC, the city of Montreal still has doubts about the safety of the shipments. According to Valérie Desgagné, spokesperson for the city, Montreal’s main concern is the risk of contamination as the “shipment’s radioactive waves would be fifty times higher than the international limit.”

If the CNSC accepts Bruce Power’s request and allows the generators to be shipped through Montreal, then the city could simply prevent the ships from docking in Montreal’s harbour.

Montreal’s decision comes shortly after municipal governments across Ontario voiced their opposition to the shipment. In September, Sarnia, Ontario mayor Mike Bradley stated his concern that a possible spill from the shipments would affect residents’ drinking water. In addition to the municipalities, the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility has argued that allowing these generators through will set a precedent for turning Canada’s lakes and seaways into highways for nuclear product transportation.

If the CNSC decides to grant Bruce Power’s request, the power of municipalities to block the shipment’s transportation will be called into question.