Posted By Paul Jankowski Owen Sound Sun Times
Ontario Provincial Police officers are making the rounds in Grey Bruce, speaking to opponents of Bruce Power’s plans to ship 16 decommissioned steam generators from Owen Sound Harbour through the Great Lakes to Sweden.
Two officers — Calum Rankin and Ian George — from the force’s western regional headquarters called Sharen Skelly, a spokeswoman for the group Citizens Against Radioactive Generators in Owen Sound (CARGOS), on Tuesday afternoon and met with her that evening, Skelly said Friday.
“I wasn’t expecting it,” Skelly said of the call.
Rankin called her again on Friday to say he was willing to speak with anyone about the issue, she said. “He said they wanted to be open and transparent about it.”
However, George would not answer questions from The Sun Times about who the officers where visiting or how they were chosen.
“Yeah we have been out in the area. Our mandate with the PLT (OPP’s provincial liaison team) is to speak with all stakeholders involved in an event,” George said. He also said while he wasn’t attempting to hide anything, he was uncomfortable speaking with the media and referred questions to Sgt. David Rektor, the OPP’s supervisor of communications for the Western Region.
Rektor said the OPP doesn’t talk about “day-to-day policing business . . . However, with regards to this matter, we have officers that are part of negotiation teams that deal with the public that want to make sure that people who have interest in the transportation of the generators have an ability or a venue to voice their concern.”
The OPP, he said, have “a responsibility to ensure the smooth transportation of the generators” when and if the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission approves Bruce Power’s proposal.
But asked which groups or individuals the OPP would be speaking to, Rektor said “How we conduct our business and the day to day operation is certainly not something we’re going to go public with.”
“We have no obligation to divulge our operational information with members of the media or with the public. What we do and who we speak to is confidential . . . and not something we’ll be divulging with the media.”
The OPP, he added, has to plan for potential demonstrations. “We encourage people to express their concerns respectfully and to maintain the peace and public order. That’s our role in any situation, maintain peace and public order, and we’ll continue to do that.”
Ellen Anderson, the mayor of The Blue Mountains, said she had spoken over the phone with the OPP officers and that they had also met with Owen Sound Mayor Ruth Lovell Stanners.
“I was wanting to meet with them this week, but my calendar didn’t allow that. They’re quite a pair,” Anderson said. “They’re mediators in times of demonstrations and that sort of thing. They specialize in communication, in how shall I put it? muscling riots and demonstrations, like settling them down and keeping them sensible. That’s their specialty . . . they’ve been doing this for years.”
Skelly, Anderson said, may have been startled by receiving a call from police “but it’s not uncommon in a situation like this. When you start talking about the possibility of demonstrations and so on it brings in a whole different level of security.”
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has set aside two days to hear proponents and opponents to the Bruce Power proposal, which would see 16 generators trucked from the nuclear power development to Owen Sound, put aboard a ship and sent to Sweden. A company there will recycle 90% of the steel from the generators and send the rest back to the Bruce site, where it will be stored as low-level radioactive waste.
CNSC staff concluded there are “no significant safety issues” associated with the proposed shipment, the agency said recently, but decided to hold a one-day public hearing in light of public concern about the plan. However, because of the number of submission the CNSC received, the agency has expanded the hearing. It will now take place Sept. 28 and 29 in Ottawa.
Bruce Power is “focused on the hearing,” company spokesman John Peevers said Friday.
“The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission we think is going to be a good forum for people to have their questions answered and it’s going to be science-based factual information. There has been a lot of misinformation on this subject and we’re looking forward to this so we can clear the air,” he said.
“Our position on this all along is that we had other options . . . and this one made the most sense to us. We’re reducing our environmental footprint. As a society we’ve embraced that idea of recycling and despite what a lot of people have said, this isn’t really different.
“We’re shipping steel that happens to have a very small amount of radiation. Both the CNSC staff and out own medical officer of health have taken a look at it and made the determination this is either negligible or no risk to the public . . . we do really believe this is the right thing to do.”
The other option for Bruce Power, Peevers said, is to keep the generators in a waste management storage facility.
While the “philosophy” behind the proposal is environmental, “if this was not commercially viable we wouldn’t do it just because we believe in it,” he admitted.
“We are a business. But it is commercially viable and environmentally viable.”