1999 GREAT LAKES WATER QUALITY FORUM
SEPTEMBER 24-26, 1999
LIGHTLY EDITED, VERBATIM TRANSCRIPT
SUNDAY MORNING, SEPTEMBER 26
Sydney Behman, Chicago, Illinois
I am concerned about the health effects of radiation. I've been writing books and lecturing for the last 20 years on this topic. The fact that nuclear power plants and weapons, bombs and so forth, are polluting our planet, causing many illnesses such as breast cancer, prostrate cancer, and so forth. Not just cancer by the way, diabetes, all these other diseases are increased with the lowering of the immune system, including Alzheimer's, Downs Syndrome, including radiation. I mean everything has been talked about but radiation concerning the Great Lakes.
I have a few things to talk about. One thing is my friends who are from NEIS -- Nuclear Energy Information Service -- in Chicago have also, Cory Cahn, you've heard them talk. I want to reiterate those statements about trying to get to zero discharge with the radioactive nuclides. In your 1997 report, the Commission began to prioritize and selected radionuclides of concern, naming tritium, carbon-14, iodine-129, isotopes of plutonium and radium-226, technetium-99, phosphorus-32, chromium-51, cesium-134, 137, cerium-141, 141, and strontium-90, 89, 90 which is a very important one regarding children because the body thinks that strontium is calcium so it goes to the bones, and iodine-125 which has created a lot of thyroid cancer in the children around Chernobyl. Cobalt-60 which is been found in the - I won't go into that right now.
My point is that we, and I know you have to deal with the governments and this is not a very popular subject with your governments, particularly Canada. I think, what my concern is if you are not doing this, you say you have to have a reference, you could say that maybe the public could instigate with the governments, not just rely on them. Say the public does not like nuclear power. This is a known fact. The utilities in the United States know that we the public do not like nuclear power for all the obvious reasons. This should be made known to the Canadian people. The fact is that I think it is unconscionable, dealing with all the nuclear accidents that we have had, and particularly you in Canada with your Candu reactors, and Chalk River, okay.
Did you know in 1952 that President Carter was a jumper in the Chalk River accident? In other words, he went in for 10 minutes and helped to clean up the accident. That's because he was in the Navy. I think that's why he was the only president that had solar energy panels on the Whitehouse. I think he learned something from that experience. He was also the only president that didn't want to revive the reprocessing - like England is doing, reprocessing the spent irradiated nuclear fuel into plutonium and uranium. Now England, namely British Nuclear Fuels Limited. I guess you're cousins of England or something because your government seems to be very pro-nuclear, like that of the U.K., which is promoting this MOX fuel. I think it is unconscionable that you're allowing this MOX fuel to be transported through Michigan, up through Mohegan, up to Chalk River to do a test run.
For the benefit of the people here, MOX fuel is a mixed oxide. It's taking the plutonium which comes from weapons-grade plutonium and from reprocessing, and combining it with uranium and making a new fuel called MOX. It's much more dangerous than the original fuel which is already very dangerous that we use in the nuclear power plants. It's dangerous in the waste afterwards, and also it proliferates the whole plutonium energy business. Plutonium fuel program will increase the risk of nuclear terrorism and international proliferation of plutonium. Now I wonder if you could just report back. I know it's October 12 or 15th, this cargo is coming from Michigan, Detroit on up to your Chalk River for a test run. Fortunately in Chicago, we defeated the MOX program. Thanks to our Dave Craft and our NEIS people, Cory Cahn and all the rest of us, we helped to defeat the program. They wanted to do it in Commonwealth Edison with its 14 nuclear reactors, God forbid. Here we have two companies might take it on. Duke Power Company and one in Virginia. So we're asking for shrinking of the whole nuclear industry and what have here has always been augmented. I think you should report this. I think it's unconscionable in view of the Y2K and all the dangers coming up. You're going into a more dangerous project.
Again, I want to bring up the Y2K issues. NIRS, Nuclear Information Resource Service, I heard yesterday when I talked, Oh we can rely on the NRC, they'll take care of safety problems, but I'm afraid that's not really true because they are way, way too lax, and we call them not really concerned. That's our definition of the NRC. We know that Allan Greenspan and these people messed up the whole computer thing. They had two digits ... (tape change) ... Besides fixing the problem is not the end of the remediation process. Next comes testing the prepared programs and debugging them for unintended new bugs introduced doing the first round of Y2K housecleaning. When a plant is off-line, it uses outside power. Now, it's absolutely essential when plants are off-line, that means they're not running, they're shut down because something went wrong, and believe me something will go wrong with the Y2K in one of these plants around here, then you rely upon diesel generators. NIRS did a study. Go back to the petitions, the three petitions were made up by NIRS, given to the NRC. The most important part of the three petitions is that they should have safe and running diesel generators. Now, they are saying that the nuclear reactors are not Y2K compliant. They should be shut down. Okay, well what's the definition of compliant? Is it profits first? Oh we can let that slide, we've got to make a quarter dividend so we'll keep them running. This unfortunately, NRC is in bed with industry. That's my point. They will not protect us. They said nothing could happen with Three Mile Island, and what did happen? We had a terrible accident. People there were very patriotic. Republican Americans had the flag up everyday and believed everything NRC told them, but they think differently now right about governments and how they are going to take care of them.
So, one of the most important parts of these petitions with NIRS handed over to the NRC was the fact that every plant should have two healthy running diesel generators because when the plant shuts down, the uranium core has to be kept cool. The spent fuel rods, which are already overdecked and redecked in the spent fuel pool has to have circulating cool water. Now if you don't have outside power and you don't have power from the plant, what do you have? Diesel generators. Do you think our workers are going to go out in sub-zero weather carrying kerosene or whatever it is to these diesel generators. I don't think they are going to be so dedicated as the Chernobyl workers. I don't think we can expect that kind of dedication of our plant workers if there is an emergency, have them come out at 3 in the morning to help rescue us. I don't think they'll do this. The point is that NRC is just paying lip-service to these petitions that NIRS submitted. I think you have to bring up the fact that of the 104 plants in the U.S., they found at least 80 incidences where these diesel generators were not working for one reason or another. Thank you.
(en français) I'll translate that for you. The Canadian people is a very proud people and is cousin to no one.