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Aug 23/00 - Radioactive pollution: excess brain cancer in Port Hope.

Hamilton Spectator
page B03

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Aug 23/00 - Plutonium airlift: why doesn't Ottawa listen to the people?

page D 2

by Gordon Edwards

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Aug 04/00 - Nuclear Sunset: It's time to axe AECL (Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.).

Toronto Star
page A17

by David H. Martin

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Aug 01/00 - Flying plutonium fuel from Russia: High Radioactivity, Low IQ.

Montreal Gazette and
Kamloops Daily News


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July 29/00 - Change of Plans: Russian plutonium to be flown into Canada.

Windsor Star
page A9

by Mike Trickey

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Aug 01/00 - Plane forced down in Calgary carrying radioactive cargo.

Edmonton Journal
page B8

by Howard Salkow

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Aug 17/00 - New wrinkle in plan to burn plutonium: aging of the test reactor.

Toronto Star

Peter Calamai
Science Reporter

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Aug 02/00 - Groups accuses government of dishonesty over plutonium airlift.

Broadcast News

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Aug 02/00 - Activists demand Ottawa call off airlift of Russian plutonium.

Various Papers (CP)

by Sue Bailey
Canadian Press

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Aug 03/00 - Groups demand end to plan to fly nuclear fuel to Canada.

Globe and Mail
page A2

by Clark Campbell
Parliamentary Bureau

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Aug 10/00 - Plutonium (MOX) reactor fuel is far from harmless.

Kitchener-Waterloo Record
page A10

by Gordon Edwards, President
Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility

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July 29/00 - Nuclear Nightmare revealed in Kazakhstan: the human fallout.

BBC News

by Sue Lloyd-Roberts

Babies born with deformities
are often abandoned

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July 28/00 - Nuclear fuel made from weapons plutonium to be flown from Russia.

Gov't of Canada
Media Release

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July 27/00 - With no CANDU sales in sight, AECL should justify its existence.

Globe and Mail
Comment - page B10

by Janet McFarland
Report on Business

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July 24/00 - Japan admits public fears over nuclear energy amid fresh incident.

Agence France Presse

by Kiriko Nishiyama

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July 25/00 - Turkey cancels plans for the first nuclear power reactor at Akkuyu.

Nuclear Awareness Project
Media Release

by Dave Martin

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July 18/00 - Nanoose military acts are poisoning fish in Georgia Straight.

Vancouver Sun
page A15

by Randy Christensen
Sierra Club Legal Defence Fund

The U.S. military is polluting Canadian waters with toxins

Environment Minister David Anderson should
stop passing the buck and protect Georgia Strait

Silver schools of herring, long green lingcod, cave-dwelling wolf eels and a pair of octopuses named Stimpy and Pulpo are among the biggest attractions this summer at the Vancouver Aquarium -- and part of the new Georgia Strait exhibit, which offers a splendid floor-to-ceiling window on the underwater world of one of Canada's richest and most fragile ecosystems.

As readers of The Vancouver Sun's Fate of the Strait series know, however, Stimpy and Pulpo's pristine world may soon be found only in aquarium tanks. The pressures of human development and emissions from pulp and paper mills, fish-farming and invasive species, damage from industrial logging of watersheds and other stresses have already torn holes in the Georgia Strait's delicate web of life.

And as a major ruling by the Federal Court of Appeal released July 4 indicates, a truer depiction of the underwater world in Vancouver's aqueous back-yard might show our herring, wolf eels and lingcod skimming over rusted lithium batteries, heaps of lead from torpedo shells and lengths of coiled copper wire.

More precisely, 93,000 kilometres of copper wire, 1,300 tons of lead and 51,000 lithium batteries, according to the military's own estimates of the debris from weapons testing in the 197-square-km Nanoose Bay marine testing range, north of Nanaimo. As the Honourable Justice A.M. Linden notes in the ruling, the activities that littered the seabed with these debris over the last three decades are not subject to Canada's ocean-dumping regulations.

Canada's ocean-dumping regulations do not apply to activities related to the "normal operations" of ships, which in the case of warships, includes weapons testing, Justice Linden says. Military ships are also exempt from the Canada Shipping Act, which regulates shipping and navigation in Canada.

This is bad enough. But when you consider that nearly all the military testing at Nanoose is done by the United States and that the United States does not allow such unregulated tests by its own military in its own territorial waters, you begin to wonder why Canada continues to offer itself as a ocean-dumping ground.

Similar tests in U.S. waters would be subject to a plethora of environmental laws that protect the marine environment, and an environmental assessment would have to be conducted. And the U.S. military is so concerned about lead contamination at weapons firing ranges that it is phasing out the use of lead bullets in favour of tungsten-based bullets. Meanwhile, every year, the U.S. military continues to dump tons of lead into the waters of the Georgia Strait.

Environmentally hazardous military tests are not the only activity being towed from U.S. to Canadian waters. Canadian environmental officials have long been aware that commercial ships often dump oils and toxic chemicals in Canadian waters to avoid the stronger laws and enforcement in U.S. waters. These incidents may become even more common as the cruise industry has stirred the wrath of U.S. regulators. In the last two years, Royal Caribbean has been fined over $27 million (US) for dumping oils, dry-cleaning fluids and other pollutants off Alaska and other U.S. territories.

If cruise ship companies dump more oil and effluents in our waters -- and they will, as long Canadian laws lag behind U.S. standards -- they will be proving the contention of free-trade critics that as borders become more porous businesses will seek out jurisdictions with lax environmental laws and enforcement.

Military organizations are free to play the same game -- and are doing so -- as highlighted by last week's Federal Court ruling.

Canada could, however, halt this ugly aspect of globalization in its rich coastal waters.

Federal environment minister David Anderson, however, is not keen to do so. Reacting to the Federal Court decision, Anderson told CBC Radio on July 7 that he was confident that the Ministry of Defence would protect marine life and the public from the harmful effects of weapons testing.

This is a cop out, particularly for a politician who has shown courage and vision in the past by speaking out in favour of protecting British Columbia's waters from the damage caused by oil and gas development.

Mr. Anderson knows that the ministry is free to do as it pleases, with no respect for the environmental regulations that industries and citizens flout at their peril. He also knows that to protect Georgia Strait, he and Parliament must amend the law to ensure that militaries -- domestic and foreign -- are prevented from shooting more holes in one of Canada's most precious webs of life.


Sierra Legal Defence Fund staff lawyer Randy Christensen
represented the Nanoose Conversion Campaign in its unsuccessful Federal Court of Appeal challenge of ocean-dumping
in the Nanoose Bay marine testing range.

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Sept 22/00 -

Environment News Service

OTTAWA -- Weapons grade plutonium fuel will be flown from Russia to a nuclear laboratory in northern Ontario after the Canadian government approved an emergency response plan on Thursday.

The shipment's schedule and route will be kept secret.

Now groups campaigning to stop the flight on safety grounds are concerned the public will not be informed of the mixed oxide fuel's arrival, even after the fact. Groups such as Greenpeace claim that plutonium is unsafe for transport for safety and security reasons and should remain in Russia to be turned into glass or ceramic logs -- a process known as vitrification.

The United States and the Russian Federation have each declared about 50 metric tons of weapons plutonium surplus to their defence needs. The Canadian government has agreed to examine the concept of using Canadian CANDU reactors to make electricity from mixed oxide fuel (MOX) derived from U.S. and Russian surplus weapons plutonium.

Tests will involve irradiating three experimental CANDU fuel bundles, containing laboratory produced MOX fuel fabricated with plutonium derived from weapons. The goal is to assess the suitability of CANDU MOX fuel for rendering weapons derived plutonium permanently inaccessible for use in nuclear weapons.

A MOX shipment from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico was flown to Canada in January amid much protest. A coalition of groups sued Transport Canada claiming that the government ruled out air transport and then flew the plutonium at the last minute, without prior public notification or consultation.

That suit has since been dropped because Transport Canada agreed to a longer public consultation for the second shipment, due from the A.A. Bochvar Institute in Moscow. That consultation period ended September 15 and yesterday, Transport Canada announced its approval of the emergency response assistance plan.

The final plan submitted by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited explains how the government owned company would assist in the event of an accident with the material to be shipped.

The shipment will contain 528 grams of weapons derived plutonium contained in 14.5 kilograms of ceramic MOX fuel pellets housed inside 28 Zircaloy seal-welded metal tubes.

The original plan had to be revised after Transport Canada asked AECL to describe how it would deal with the plutonium fuel powder escaping into the environment. That led to the public consultation period being extended by two weeks.

Association (CELA) wrote to Transport Canada on behalf of several groups raising what it called serious deficiencies in the plan, principally the lack of information on cleanup. It asked for a further extension to the plan's public consultation period.

John Read, director general of Transport Canada's Dangerous Goods Directorate replied two days later that cleanup is not part of an emergency response assistance plan. "The fire department does not clean up the site of a fire," wrote Read. "Similarly, an emergency response assistance plan operates to remove any immediate threat to public safety but does not address cleanup and restitution of an accident site."

CELA legal counsel Theresa McClenaghan who wrote the letter said that in light of Read's reply and Transport Canada's approval for the plan, further legal avenues to prevent the shipment are limited. "In theory, there's always the possibility of judicial review but whether we will pursue that given the limited time, I don't know," said McClenaghan.

She fears that under new regulations, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, which regulates transport of radioactive material with Transport Canada, could keep the shipment's arrival secret.

"I'll be contacting Transport Canada in the next few days to find out if this is the case," said McClenaghan.

Sierra Club of Canada policy advisor Andrew Chisholm told ENS that the emergency response plan crafted by AECL raises more questions than it answers. "In the long term though we are concerned that Canada will become a repository for nuclear waste and that similar shipments will come from other areas," he said.

AECL spokesman Larry Shewchuk denied information surrounding the shipment's arrival would be kept secret. "I have a draft press release sitting on my desk waiting to be sent to media outlets as soon as the shipment arrives," said Shewchuk.

Shewchuk added that the emergency response plan does deal with cleanup, although just briefly. "A radiological assessment team accompanies the shipment, and in the event of an accident it would have the cleanup responsibility. If the tubes got out of the container and if -- unfathomable as it may be -- the MOX pellets got out of the tube, well, the guys would put on rubber gloves and pick them up."

Shewchuk said the radioactivity of the pellets is so weak it cannot penetrate paper, nor could it penetrate skin. He added that the containers used to package the MOX shipment have been through tests similar to those for the black boxes that protect flight data recorders.

Citing expert testimony from Dr. Edwin Lyman of the Washington, DC based Nuclear Control Institute, the Sierra Club maintains accidental release of plutonium fuel powder is still possible.

"It is known that the container chosen by AECL can be destroyed by a severe impact, such as that caused by an aircraft accident," said Sierra Club spokeswoman attorney Elizabeth May. "The ceramic fuel pellets would be partially pulverized by such an impact, and can become almost completely pulverized by exposure to fire in the presence of oxygen for as little as 30 minutes."

Dr. Gordon Edwards, president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear responsibility, said, "Full face respirators, plastic body suits and double rubber gloves for AECL personnel are for the first time described as mandatory, but there is no training program outlined for teaching firefighters, medical personnel, and other emergency responders how to use this kind of equipment. Nor is there any indication of how to prevent the inadvertent spread of plutonium contamination during the disrobing operation."

AECL plans to transport the Russian fuel to Canada by chartered aircraft from Moscow, transiting via a military airport in either Trenton, Ontario or Bagotville, Quebec en route to the Chalk River Laboratories site in Chalk River, Ontario. The MOX fuel will be transported from the military airport directly to Chalk River by helicopter.

Transport Canada expects to publish a report on its decision and on the comments received during public consultation by mid-October.

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Sept 3/00 -- Tests show that Gulf war victims suffer from uranium poisoning.

Sunday Times

by Jonathon Carr-Brown and Martin Meissonnier

NEW evidence that Gulf war syndrome exists and was caused by radiation poisoning will be revealed today by a former American army colonel who was at the centre of his government's attempts to diagnose the illness.

Dr Asaf Durakovic will tell a conference of eminent nuclear scientists in Paris that "tens of thousands" of British and American soldiers are dying from radiation from depleted uranium (DU) shells fired during the Gulf war.

The findings will undermine the British and American governments' claims that Gulf war syndrome does not exist and intensify pressure from veterans on both sides of the Atlantic for compensation.

Durakovic, who is professor of nuclear medicine at Georgetown University, Washington, and the former head of nuclear medicine at the US Army's veterans' affairs medical facility in Delaware, will tell the conference that he and his team of American and Canadian scientists have discovered life-threateningly high levels of DU in Gulf veterans 10 years after the desert war.

His findings, which have been verified by four independent experts, is embarrassing for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and American Defence Department, which have consistently refused to test Gulf war veterans for DU.

Durakovic will tell the European Association of Nuclear Medicine that tests on 17 veterans have shown DU in the urine and bones of 70% of them. Depleted uranium does not occur naturally. It is the by-product of the industrial processing of waste from nuclear reactors and is better known as weapons-grade uranium. It is used to strengthen the tips of shells to ensure that they pierce armour.

Durakovic, who left America because he was told his life was in danger if he continued his research, has concluded that troops inhaled the tiny uranium particles after American and British forces fired more than 700,000 DU shells during the conflict.

The finding begins to explain for the first time why medical orderlies and mechanics are the principal victims of Gulf war syndrome.

British Army engineers who removed tanks hit by DU shells from the battlefield and medical personnel who cut off the clothes of Iraqi casualties in field hospitals have been disproportionately affected.

Once inside the body, DU causes a slow death from cancers, irreversible kidney damage or wastage from immune deficiency disorders.

In the UK, where more than 400 veterans are estimated to have died from "Gulf war syndrome", at least 50 of those victims came from Reme (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) units. Others, such as Ray Bristow, 42, of Hull, who was a theatre technician for 32 Field Hospital, are now wheelchair-bound.

Tests carried out by Durakovic on Bristow showed that, nine years after leaving the Gulf, he had more than 100 times the safe limit of DU in his body.

Durakovic said: "I doubt whether the MoD or Pentagon will have the audacity to challenge these results. I can't say this is the solitary cause of Gulf war syndrome, but we now have clear evidence that it is a leading factor in the majority of victims.

"I hope the US and UK governments finally realise that, by continuing to use this ammunition, they are effectively poisoning their own soldiers."

An MoD spokesman said it would study any new evidence: "Our aim is to get the best care for British veterans and our views are based on the best evidence around."

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Aug 23/00 -- Brain cancer is high in Port Hope; but not the overall cancer rate.

Toronto Star
page A4

by Peter Calamai

The overall cancer rate in Port Hope is no higher than in the rest of Ontario, despite almost 70 years of radioactive pollution from Canada's sole uranium refinery.

Yet a study by federal health experts released here yesterday found statistically significant higher incidences of brain cancer among the town's women and young people. Brain cancer rates in men were elevated but not significantly so.

Brain cancer is not closely linked to radiation exposure, unlike leukemia which scientists call a "sentinel" cancer.

Radioactive contamination has been a Port Hope issue for 30 years. Local activists accuse the federal government of complicity because the uranium refinery was owned by Ottawa for most of its existence.

The federal nuclear safety regulator has approved continuing daily emissions of radioactive dust by the refinery now owned by Cameco Corp.

Brain cancer struck the daughter of Pat Lawson, a leading campaigner for community health studies in the town. Lawson says the health of her children is being sacrificed to Canada's nuclear industry.

"This is our nightmare that we live daily," said Lawson who is looking after her ailing 41-year-old daughter.

But a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission epidemiologist said misdiagnosis and poor residence records could have artificially inflated the number of brain cancer cases.

"It's not clear that there really is an excess of brain cancer in the (Port Hope) community," said Suzana Fraser [Federal regulator epidemiologist].

Fraser said Cancer Care Ontario will delve deeper into the brain cancer finding. People listed in cancer registry records as living in Port Hope may have been from the surrounding rural area, she said.

Brain cancers often are misclassified because the primary cancer site may be elsewhere and later spread to the brain, she added.

The federal laboratory centre for disease control study found cancer of the brain and nervous system was reported for 11 Port Hope women between 1986 and '96 -- more than twice the number forecast by provincial rates.

Also elevated above provincial averages were the five brain cancer cases in residents, 19 or younger, between 1971 and 1985. In all, 589 residents of Port Hope were diagnosed with one of 45 different cancers between 1986 and '96, when medical records are most accurate.

The study looked only at the incidence of cancer among people still living in Port Hope. For a more accurate picture scientists need to track down most of those exposed who have moved away.

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