More than one truck in seven carrying radioactive cargo has been pulled off the road by Ontario transportation inspectors since 2010
By: John Spears Business reporter, Published on Fri Nov 15 2013
Since 2010, more than one truck in seven carrying radioactive material has been pulled off the road by Ontario ministry of transportation inspectors for failing safety or other requirements.
The information is contained in a notice quietly filed with a panel studying a proposal to store low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste in deep underground near Kincardine.
The information filed doesn’t specify what sort of radioactive cargos the trucks were carrying. In theory, it could have been anything from uranium fuel for nuclear reactors, to radioactive isotopes for medical use.
A spokesman for Ontario Power Generation said that none of its nuclear shipments has failed a vehicle inspection.
“We have zero tolerance” for failed inspections, Neal Kelly said. “We’ve got no infractions. Period.”
What the information does show is that since 2010, inspectors have examined 102 trucks carrying “Class 7 Dangerous Goods (Radioactive material.)”
Of those, 16 were placed “out-of-service,” which means the vehicle “must be repaired or the violation corrected before it is allowed to proceed.”
Among the violations:
Faulty brake lights; unspecified “load security” problems; flat tires; false log; damaged air lines; and driver with no dangerous goods training.
Critics of the Kincardine waste project have said not enough attention has been paid to the transportation of radioactive material.
A federal panel is considering a proposal by Ontario Power Generation to bury 200,000 cubic metres of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste in chambers carved out of limestone 680 metres deep.
The billion-dollar depository would be constructed at the site of the Bruce nuclear plant on the shore of Lake Huron, north of Kincardine.
The site would not contain used fuel (although a separate process is considering sites for a used fuel disposal site in the area, as well as in other regions of Canada.)
The material destined for the site would range from mops and protective clothing – much of it incinerated – to components from reactor cores, which will remain dangerously radioactive for many thousands of years.
Some opponents of the site have closely questioned planners about transporting material to the site, which will contain waste from the Pickering and Darlington nuclear stations as well as the Bruce plant.
That material is already being trucked to the Bruce site, and stored in warehouses or shallow underground vaults.
Brennain Lloyd of Northwatch said in an interview that the number of trucks pulled over until defects are remedies is “shocking.”
“It only heightens the need for a real substantive discussion on transportation and what are the transportation safeguards,” she said.
The lack of detail in the statistics adds to the need for further information, she said.
“I think it raises more questions than it retires, for sure,” she said.
Toronto city council joined the ranks of municipalities calling for the project to be halted this week.
In a motion adopted unanimously, councillors urged that “neither this proposed nuclear waste repository near Kincardine, Ontario, nor any other underground nuclear waste repository, be constructed in the Great Lakes Basin, in Canada, or in the United States.”
Councillor Mike Layton, who made the motion, said it’s impossible to guarantee the depository won’t leak over the millennia.
“We have a massive endowment of fresh water,” he said in an interview. “We shouldn’t be putting it at risk.”