Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hearing On Great Lakes Transport Of Radioactive Steam Generators

Jul 29: The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) announced that it will hold a one-day public hearing to consider the application by Bruce Power Inc. (Bruce Power) for a transport license for the shipment of 16 radioactive steam generators by ship through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway to Sweden for recycling in the fall of 2010, from Bruce Power's site located in Kincardine, Ontario. The hearing is set for September 29, in Ottawa, Ontario and will be webcasted live on the Internet and archived for a period of 90 days.
    The CNSC received a transport license application from Bruce Power on April 1, 2010. The company proposes to transport 16 steam generators to Sweden for recycling. Since receipt of the application, Bruce Power's proposal has been the subject of formal technical reviews by CNSC staff. No recommendation for the issuance of a transport license will be made unless the Commission is convinced that the shipment will be completed safely, without risk to the health, safety or security of Canadians and the environment.
    According to the public notice, a low risk license application like this one would normally be decided by a Designated Officer (DO). CNSC staff has concluded that there are no safety significant issues associated with the proposed shipment. However, in light of the public concern and the value to ensuring both a proper understanding of the scope of the undertaking and the presentation of accurate information relating to the health, safety and risk, the DO has asked that the Commission review the application at a one-day public hearing.
    Some environmental activist are saying, "This would also put shipments of radioactive wastes from reactors on the Great Lakes for the first time -- a major policy decision that would affect everyone who depends on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway watersheds, and should not be rushed through, over the heads of other nations and communities, who share both the use and responsibility for these invaluable and irreplaceable fresh waters."
    Access the public hearing notices with further details (click here). Access a posting from environmental interests and comments (click here). Access the CNSC website for further information (click here).

NOAA Grant For Great Lakes Microcystis Research

Aug 3: NOAA has awarded New York-based Stony Brook University (SBU) $285,895 as part of an anticipated three-year, nearly $500,000 project to determine how different kinds of phosphorous, a nutrient required by all plants for growth, trigger toxic blooms of blue-green algae in the Great Lakes. The project will focus on the algal species Microcystis, which frequently causes massive and unsightly blooms in Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Microcystis sometimes produces toxins that can cause acute and chronic illness in humans and is a growing problem that impacts drinking water and recreation worldwide. It has long been known that nutrient pollution, especially phosphorus, stimulates excessive growth or blooms this alga.

    Phosphorus, however, can be present in several different chemical forms, which are difficult to measure. The researchers will test whether specific forms of phosphorus cause Microcystis to grow or become more toxic and whether controlling those forms might reduce blooms or their toxicity. Using new information about how Microcystis genes regulate uptake and utilization of these different kinds of phosphorus, the researchers will develop new tools to overcome the measurement difficulties. They will then apply these tools during natural blooms in order to identify which types of phosphorous are most instrumental in stimulating bloom formation. Christopher Gobler, associate professor at SBU and lead investigator from the project said, "There are many types of phosphorus and knowing which types can trigger a toxic algal bloom is paramount. Coastal managers and local officials need this data to make important decisions to protect public health and the coastal ecosystem."

    Access a release from NOAA and links to related information (click here).