By Valerie Osborne, Ellen Gould, Bruce Pope | 1988-02-01 12:00:00


Defence Minister Turns Halifax Harbour into "Nuclear Shopping Mall"

Voice Of Women (Nova Scotia) says that Defence Minister Perrin Beatty's desire to spend between $8 and $15 billion on nuclear submarines is turning Halifax Harbor into a "nuclear shopping mall" filled with expensive and hazardous toys. The project might well be called "Beatty's Folly."

Following the sales visits to Halifax of a British Trafalgar class submarine and the French Rubis class vessel Saphir, and anticipating a similar visit from a French Amethyst class sub in the near future, the group issued a statement condemning the cost of the nuclear submarines. It also warned of the increased risk to the cities where the proposed vessels would be based.

"Although there have been more than a hundred accidents at sea involving nuclear powered vessels, nearly half of which have involved the ship's reactor, the commonest and most serious accidents have taken place when the vessel is being built or serviced," said Gillian Thomas , of VOW, citing 13 accidents involving loss of radioactive coolant in a three- month period at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Seattle. "A similar accident occurred while the USS Proteus was docked at Aspra Harbor in Guam in 1975, resulting in radiation levels at nearby public beaches measuring 100 millirems per hour." [The maximum permissible radiation dose is 500 millirems per year.] Ms. Thomas also pointed out that naval reactors have narrower "meltdown margins" than their commercial counterparts because they operate at higher temperatures and they are not subject to the same inspections, controls, and licensing system as commercial reactors.

"The uranium used in naval reactors is enriched to near-weapons-grade and thus involves increased risks of transportation and handling," said Ms. Thomas."Canada has no uranium enrichment facilities, so Canadian uranium would first have to be sent to Britain, France, or the U.S. for enrichment. This process is hazardous, but it is also in violation of international agreements signed by Canada not to involve itself in the sale or transportation of nuclear materials for military purposes."

Apparently at least three of the proposed ten submarines will undergo repairs either in Halifax or in Esquimault, B.C. "People living in Halifax and Victoria will have the increased risk of a nuclear vessel maintenance facility as well as having to pay, as tax-payers, their portion of the cost of billion dollar subs." For more information contact: Gillian Thomas 757-3352 or 420-5714. Suellen Bradfield-- 423-7706. p

Valerie Osborne


LARRY ROSS, CHAIRPERSON OF THE NEW Zealand Peacemaking Association, gave Regina activists some insights. He pointed out that over 65 percent of Canadians now live in nuclear free zones, which was the same percentage New Zealand had achieved when the nuclear free question bcame a critical issue in the national elections in 1984.

Ross challenged Canadians, saying " The nuclear weapons free zone campaign is an empowering campaign. It shows that people power can beat the power of nuclear weapons."

* Rosalie Bertell played a key role in a conference held at Fort Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan. She encouraged people living in Saskatchewan, the largest exporter of uranium in the world, to make contact with the native people and farmers who live near the plants where Saskatchewan uranium is processed and suffer the effects of a poisoned environment.

Bertell also warned not to take comfort in government assurances that Canadian uranium cannot be used in nuclear bombs. The U.S. ignores this restriction on the use of depleted Canadian uranium. Also, the law does not forbid use of Canadian uranium for other military purposes, such as the production of fuel rods for military reactors or the manufacture of uranium bullets.

* In 1988, both Brandon and Edmonton Ploughshares will have staff to coordinate their peace resource centres.

* Veterans Against Nuclear Arms have started up a new chapter inSaskatoon, after a visit in October by Giff Gifford, the national chairman of VANA.

Ellen Gould


Tritium Transport Update

COMMUNITY BASED GROUPS FROM KINCARDINE to Bowmanville are working to stop the transport and export of tritium. People from the farms, towns, and neighborhoods through which Hydro plans to move this deadly material are opposing it. Tritium can be used in hydrogen bombs. Canada is not supposed to create or handle this grade of material.

Tritium-contaminated heavy water coolant at CANDU sites is dangerous to workers and must be isolated or removed-- but by a method that does not yield weapons-grade material. Facilities for the isolation or removal at each site would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but that is less than a cent per kilowatt hour. Concern for life should be put ahead of cheap convenience. Nuclear Awareness Project (NAP), working with other groups, advocates health and safety measures for workers at CANDU sites, but tritium must not leave the original sites in any form. A cavalcade will drive from Kincardine to Darlington in April to make this point. Contact your local group to see if they are involved yet. If not, call NAP at 416/ 725-1565.

Bruce Pope

Peace Magazine Feb-Mar 1988

Peace Magazine Feb-Mar 1988, page 28. Some rights reserved.

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