Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Nah... it'll be fine. Really.

Ottawa thwarts nuclear watchdog

A Three-Mile-Island-type of nuclear accident could occur at Canada's Chalk River reactor unless a backup power supply system, capable of withstanding natural disasters such as earthquakes, is installed, according to an assessment by the president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

It is “essential” that the safety equipment be installed on two crucial pumps before the reactor, which makes more than half the world's nuclear medicines, is restarted, Linda Keen wrote in a blunt letter to two federal government ministers.

... AECL had shut the reactor for routine maintenance in November and then voluntarily kept it shuttered after discovering it wasn't in compliance with a long-standing CNSC licence condition requiring the backup power system. The equipment, known as motor starters, is designed to ensure pumps continue operating during earthquakes, floods, tornados and fires, among other disasters.

Hmm... water pumps... backup systems... addressing safety concerns before a reactor is re-started... Why am I having flashbacks to "The China Syndrome"?

But Uncle Stevie knows better, of course.

“There will be no nuclear accident,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper asserted in the House of Commons, saying the government has received independent advice indicating there is no safety concern.

“On the contrary, what we do know is that the continuing actions of the Liberal-appointed Nuclear Safety Commission will jeopardize the health and safety and lives of tens of thousands of Canadians. We do have the responsibility to demand that Parliament step in and fix this situation before the health of more people is put in jeopardy.”

Hey, at least he can pronounce 'nuclear'!

And BTW, that 'independent advice' Stevie chose to listen to? That would be from a couple of former employees of AECL which, while technically a Crown Corporation, sounds an awful lot like a private one in it's stated mandate.

I guess we should all just keep our fingers crossed for the next 120 days.

(edit - Garth Turner posted this gem. Thanks, Garth!)

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