How about a UN monument?
When we think about Chernobyl, Three Mile Island or Fukushima – of dikes bursting, cities flooded, and infrastructure built on earthquake lines or on eroding sea cliffs – and when the inevitable does then happen, we inevitably exclaim, “What were they thinking!”
That response is our polite way to comment, “Wow, those folks back then, those planners, leaders, and scientists – and all the citizens back then – all who allowed this to happen, boy, were they clueless!” Or worse.
On top of the suffering and loss, the vast damage, which, for example, may near-bankrupt Japan in Fukushima’s case, there’s also the sheer stupidity of projects like Chalk River’s dump that will reflect terribly on everyone from back when the project was undertaken – do you want your name on that list?
We avoid picturing the wholesale damage of a washout or a steady leak from this radioactive dump. Its material will remain toxic for thousands of years, and it’s located on a major waterway, on an earthquake zone, upstream from millions of Canadians – Ottawa, Gatineau, Montreal, Laval, Trois Rivières, Quebec City, and every town between ... sure, what could possibly go wrong?
And all of this with no back-up plan.
One more outrageously stupid part of this proposal: no backup. Will there even be sirens? Ottawa City Council hopes so – and what will they do? Move Ottawa in two days? If a leak develops over the next few hundreds of years, what will the nuclear folks do? How can they remedy a significant leak under tonnes of radioactive waste?
Here’s a suggestion as ridiculous as the dump plan itself: You and I may not want this project, and we certainly don’t want to be blamed when it springs its leak, or worse. This question of blame is tiny, but it is one we should address now while we’re still around. We ask the United Nations to build a monument at Chalk River, near the “15-football-field-sized radioactive dump, five stories tall”. That monument will not be for the victims of yet another avoidable tragedy. No, there will be plenty of monuments and testimonies to those unfortunate people (our grandchildren and descendants).
We want a monument to the immoral and intransigent folks who planned, approved, and helped approve this disaster-in-waiting.
A monument listing from the top down Prime Ministers J. Trudeau and S. Harper, their silent MPs along the Ottawa Valley spill route, the scientists and planners, mayors and media people who facilitated this project, if only by not speaking out against it. Who else? Silence can be criminal.
OK, maybe this is better a project of our own, say, on this newspaper’s website, the city’s 311 line, our MNA/MPs’ offices? Who would you name -- officials and facilitators who deserve to be identified for posterity on the UN’s Monument to Colossal and Criminal Stupidity at Chalk River? (Add a plaque for those who argue that nuclear energy, but not its clean-up, is “cheap”.) Start jotting down your ideas. Call them in.