EDITORIALCovid deaths & Fukushima
----- Remembering the unforgettable
March 11, the tenth anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, was our day
to commemorate those Canadians who have lost their lives to Covid-19. Twenty-two thousand people, plus, lost their lives here to this virus and its effects. A near majority were senior citizens. This commemoration is crucial .
The Fukushima nuclear disaster, and the tsunami that had initiated several months of meltdown, explosions, and toxic gas releases, also killed about 23,000 people, a near majority of them seniors. Much of that devastation still remains out-of bounds to humans -- to any living creatures. Covid may also cause lingering devastation, but it is more in the nervous systems of those affected, not their homes, schools, farms, and workplaces.
It's tough, comparing death and destruction. Yet today's Covid situation is somewhat positive -- vaccinations rolling out, the second wave declining; let's celebrate these, besides our memorials to those lost. To compare, Fukushima, ten years later, is still burning, emitting toxic pollution, radioactive debris has reached our west coast. Six hundred square kilometers remains toxic, homes unusable, schools empty and factories shuttered. Not positive in the slightest. We should stick with the positive, with Covid's present decline.
Yet I cannot. To us in the Outaouais, Fukushima is terribly relevant. Fukushima was a man-made disaster. We designed those reactors and their infrastructure. And today we are doing it all over again -- in the Outaouais, our own back yard, in our own future.
The Chalk River labs above Pembroke are planning a first-in-the-world sized nuclear dump, seven football fields of toxic waste, upstream from Ottawa, Gatineau, the Outaouais, Montreal, and beyond. Ottawa, understanding the expense of dealing with highly toxic wastes, privatized the job (under Harper) and then wrote the buying consortium a nuclear-explosion-sized cheque to pay for the work (with a lovely profit for themselves).
The dump is bad enough, but these same actors want more. They want to build more actual reactors at this same site -- mini-reactors which can be spread across the north or sold anywhere in the world. The federal government wants to pass this off to the private sector -- with a massive, annual subsidy. This private initiative is led by SNC Lavalin, the Quebec corporation charged with bribery in foreign lands. (Remember Jody Wilson Raybould's humiliation?) Here's the corporation which cannot deliver to Ottawa a reliable urban railroad -- yet the Liberals want to entrust them with disposing of football-fields of nuclear waste, and with building a new breed of reactor to market around the world (ten years behind Russia's own micro-reactor program).
How can I NOT write about Fukushima on its tenth anniversary?
It, with Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, are harbingers of humanity's future. I have children and grand-children, neighbours, friends and co-workers living within the shadow of any nuclear disaster at Chalk River. Why would we even take such a chance, gamble on such destructively high stakes? Nuclear is not green. So, this plan, is it again merely to enrich SNC Lavalin?