Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Chalk River Nuclear, Silkwood III and Lisa Raitt

Thank God Halton elected the incompetent and reckless Conservative Lisa Raitt! Minister Raitt is in charge of the ever-disconcerting and ongoing natural disaster known as the Chalk River Nuclear plant.

Linda Kean warned of this disaster long, long ago and was immediately dispatched by the Conservative Government. I'm certain she'll win a lawsuit in the future for this very reason. Minister Raitt has been playing plug the leak for her entire tenure. The minister should dismiss herself from her position and apologize to the Canadian public.

We here at TWDIKG have been on this sorry story since the FIRST leak back in December '08. Apparently to no avail... that is, until now.

Sent: May 19, 2009 17:13


For immediate release
May 19th 2009

Latest Chalk River shutdown and delayed public notification poses health and safety risk to Canadians

Canadians were only informed today about last Thursday's radiation leak and unscheduled shutdown of the Chalk River Laboratories' NRU reactor, highlighting the Conservative government's continued failure to provide Canadians with a safe and reliable supply of medical isotopes, according to Liberal Party critics.

On Friday evening, a posting on the Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) website - not a public media release - noted that the NRU reactor at Chalk River had shut down unexpectedly on Thursday due to a power outage and was unable to restart due to a heavy-water leak. This is the third such leak in the last 6 months. The reactor is scheduled to remain shut-down for at least a month.

"One leak at any time should be of great concern to Canadians," said Geoff Regan, Liberal Natural Resources critic, "but the third leak in 6 months and the public only learns about it 4 days after the fact? It is unacceptable that the Harper government did not immediately inform Canadians."

The NRU reactor supplies the vast majority of the world's supply of medical isotopes, which are used in hospitals across the globe to diagnose various diseases. Three days after the initial incident, the government finally informed other suppliers of the coming shortage. With the supply now threatened, Canada needs a back-up plan, but there doesn't appear to be one, says Carolyn Bennett, Liberal Health critic.

A Dutch reactor, which supplies 60% of Europe's medical isotope supply, is currently under repair and not operating at full capacity, leaving many questions unanswered.

"This government has no plan to deal with another isotope crisis," said Dr. Bennett. "Is there a plan to deal with a month-long shutdown at Chalk River? Can this government offer any hope to Canadians that they have a strategy to ensure Canada continues to be a world-leader in nuclear medicine? Based on the government's handling of this file, the answer to each of these questions is a resounding 'no'."

Environment critic David McGuinty expressed further concern at how the information was released - not through a wide public release by AECL or the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, but through brief postings on their websites.

"Canadians have a right to be immediately notified about any type of nuclear leak - no matter its type, size, or level of radioactivity. Given the aging conditions at Chalk River, its recent history, and its proximity to the Ottawa Valley and its over one million inhabitants, anything less than proactive transparency will only exacerbate a situation such as this."

All three Liberal MPs called on the government to implement a contingency plan for medical isotopes, so that Canada is prepared not only for the potential problems of today, but continues to lead the global community in the field of nuclear medicine for years to come.



Contact :

Office of Geoff Regan, MP
(613) 996-3085

Office of Carolyn Bennett, MP
(613) 995-9666

Office of David McGuinty, MP
(613) 992-3269

I'm not sure who will be running against Lisa Raitt in the next election, but I sure wish it were me.



tedhsu said...

When I worked at AECL from 1992-1994 people were already predicting this sort of thing could happen. NRU was already old then.
What the Mulroney government did not do when it privatized Nordion (Nordion marketed and sold the isotopes and was assured of a supply from AECL, i.e. future taxpayers) was properly price the cost and risk of building the MAPLE reactors that were to provide isotopes for Nordion. I think AECL engineers will tell you that MAPLE failed because they were forced to try to design and build them on the cheap.

There is plenty of blame to go around all the way from the Mulroney era to the present government, and governments in between.

James Curran said...

Lots of blame to go around for everyone Ted. I suspect that is why we have been silent on this for a while. But there's a new Sheriff in town now.

Lisa Raitt has to accountable on this one. She's endangering the general public by not giving them fair warning.

Jennifer Smith said...

I'm sure I'll work myself up to a blog post on Lisa and the latest Chalk River debacle eventually - I just haven't come up with a title that doesn't include the term 'Tar Baby' yet.

"I'm not sure who will be running against Lisa Raitt in the next election, but I sure wish it were me. "We're taking applications. I personally think either Cindy Lunau or Jan Mowbray would kick her bony ass, but we'll see.

James Curran said...

Now that I live in the hood, I am taking an added interest in the defeat of Ms. Raitt.

Jennifer Smith said...

Really? I didn't know. Well, I've just been volunteered to be Halton's Volunteer Chair, so I'd be happy to add you to the list. We've also got a couple of open spaces on the board.

Let's talk. jsmith25 at cogeco.ca