SRASOS guest speaker at public forum addresses nuclear energy
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Audience of 200 gathers in Southampton Annex to hear Dr. Gordon Edwards
Dr. Gordon Edwards, President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility and an anti-nuclear activist spoke to an audience of approximately 200 on Saturday, August 28th in Southampton.
Dr. Gordon Edwards addresses audience about nuclear energy
Edwards, who has a PhD in Mathematics, was brought in as guest speaker by the Southampton Residents Association-Save Our Saugeen Shores (SRASOS) group that is in opposition to locating a proposed deep geologic repository for high level nuclear waste in Saugeen Shores.
John Jackson, who is a director with Great Lakes United and who has been a guest speaker on two past occasions on the subject of the DGR siting process, was also part of a panel that included Town Councilor Taun Frosst, that fielded audience questions.
(L-R) Town Councilor Taun Frosst and John Jackson of Great Lakes United
Jackson complimented SOS for reaching out to the other communities that have also put their names forward in the siting process to host a DGR. He said that the issue/real problem is "... what do we do with the waste." He added that there is divisiveness in the community and he encouraged the community to stop before moving to the next step in the process of a site selection for a willing host community.
Edwards spent most of his allotted time explaining radioactivity and how nuclear fuel is formed and operates. He explained the technical details of the Fukushima disaster saying that a nuclear reactor's radioactivity cannot be shut down. "Uranium is the basic fuel for nuclear reactors that releases an incredible amount of energy with the splitting of atoms that creates fission products that are highly unstable and that cannot be stopped. Plutonium for instance is a man-made element that is derived from uranium."
According to Edwards, "The industry (nuclear) likes to use phrases such as 'spent' fuel which leads you to believe it is spent and 'tired'. It also uses 'decay' that suggests a gradual process but that is not what it is ... if you have a prolonged blackout, anywhere in the world, a reactor will self-destruct.
He went on to say that one of the things that came out of the Three Mile Island incident was that one of the most dangerous things was the complacent attitude of the nuclear employees. "The Japanese attitude toward nuclear power was very friendly but that has changed. They now realize that the stuff (waste) is still there."
"A microwave oven has an off switch, an x-ray machine has an off switch but you cannot turn off radioactivity and it is not really radiation," he pointed out. He also referred to workers (500) at Bruce Power who were exposed to alpha radiation through inhaling plutonium because of a bad decision not to wear respirators that no one was held accountable for. "The major concern is non-penetrating radiation that builds up every year," he added. "It is often flippantly said that nuclear power is just another way to boil water and the attraction is that it is clean energy."
Fuel bundles that are in the calandria (of CANDU reactor) are highly radioactive and have to go into pools of water to cool for a number of years. "The idea of burying it is not really true," said Edwards, "It is only the old stuff that will be buried and not the new spent fuel."
"Wanting to put this so close to Lake Huron, is a political convenience. NWMO has admitted that this (burying) is not really a solution and we are fooling ourselves if we say that we do a have solution."
Edwards also added that he thinks there should be a totally independent waste management organization independent of the nuclear industry. "Instead", he said, "the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is made up entirely of people from the nuclear industry ... NWMO should also give money to the community to use as they see fit for education."
He also said however, that he felt there is no point in moving this (nuclear waste) to any other location. "We would have to package and un-package it, extract it, transport it, lift and unlift - all of which adds to the danger and, after all that work, we still have not solved the problem. We have to package it as best we can and give instructions to the next generation that they have to be prepared to spend money to try to find a solution."
Dr. Gordon Edwards, PhD.
During the question and answer period, many questions were directed to Councilor Taun Frosst. "Like you," he said, "I am here to learn more about this subject. I am not saying I am for or against a DGR just that I want to learn more about it."
Councilor Taun Frosst
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Monday, August 20, 2012