In Fukushima’s wake, Canadian nuclear plants prepare for the worst

Photo by Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Wednesday, May 04, 2011 – Globe and Mail

Canada’s nuclear operators are taking extra steps to make plants safe in response to the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe – the first admission that, despite assurances Canada’s nuclear facilities aren’t vulnerable to that kind of meltdown, Japan’s Chernobyl-scale disaster is forcing them to re-evaluate how the industry prepares for emergencies.

In the weeks after the nuclear plant in Japan was damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission asked all operators to review their safety and emergency procedures. Their responses, due last week, assure the national regulator and the public that Canada’s plants are safe. But they also set out plans to make them safer – an indication of a renewed urgency in preparing for the worst-case emergencies, no matter how farfetched.

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Fukushima’s fallout: Ripple effects on nuclear power in Canada

Darlington Nuclear Plant's is designed to suck any radioactive steam that could be released. to date, this has not been needed. Photos taken April6 2011 during a media tour of the Ontario Power Generation's Darlington Nuclear facility near Oshawa, Ont.
(Photo by Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

Anna Mehler Paperny – Globe and Mail
Thursday, April 07, 2011
The disaster in Japan is forcing this country to re-evaluate the way in which it pursues – and safeguards – nuclear power

The rectangular concrete bay tasked with containing 150,000 bundles of spent uranium looks like a swimming pool, with a temperature – 30 C – to match.

But the tranquil-looking body of demineralized water at Ontario’s Darlington nuclear generator belies the painstaking, energy-intensive effort to keep it cool.

Its fuel-cooling counterpart at 40-year-old Fukushima Daiichi spent weeks emitting high levels of radiation. A blast of liquid gas stemmed a leak this week, barely 48 hours before another powerful quake further complicated efforts to contain the damage.

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In Fukushima’s aftermath, Canada’s nuclear industry girds for change

Greenpeace protesters hold up a banner to disrupt the second day of hearings into four proposed nuclear reactors in Ontario.
(Photo by Anand Maharaj/The Canadian Press)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 – Globe and Mail

Nuclear energy operators should prepare to face greater scrutiny and meet higher demands for safety precautions after the crisis in Japan, according to one of the industry’s major Canadian players.

“I would expect some changes; I just don’t know what those changes are,” says Alun Richards, a spokesman for Areva Canada, the nuclear developer whose operations range from mining uranium ore to building reactors and storing spent fuel.

Areva is preparing a feasibility study into Nunavut’s first uranium mine, at Baker Lake, even as community consultations this month reveal mounting opposition to the proposal.

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A deafening roar, then chaos in Chile

Anna Mehler Paperny and Eva Salinas
From Sunday’s Globe and Mail
Saturday, February 27, 2010

Toronto and Santiago — The building pitched. The windows rattled. Items flew off the shelves and the air was filled with the sounds of rumbling buildings and heaving earth.

Thrown from her bed at 3:34 a.m. by one of the biggest earthquakes ever recorded, Claire Buré ran to a door frame in her Santiago apartment and held on for dear life.

“It was panic.”
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Earthquake in Haiti: A fallen city, a fleeing population, a new crisis

Monday, February 8, 2010 – Globe and Mail

PAPAYE, HAITI — The Rosier family was always close. Just not this close.

Twenty-five people – parents, grandparents, children, nephews, cousins and in-laws – have been living in the family patriarch’s farmhouse in Haiti’s Plateau Central for close to a month.

Standing outside, hacking his palm trees to pieces to build shacks for his growing household, patriarch Ilson Rosier smiles and shrugs.

“They’re family – of course I have to take them in. We’ll do what we can.”

But his seven children and their families now sharing cooking, washing and living space are starting to worry how they’ll make ends meet.

The Rosier brood is among the hundreds of thousands who have fled devastated Port-au-Prince to seek refuge in the provinces.

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In deathly devout Haiti, the spirits go unserved

Saturday, February 6, 2010 – Globe and Mail

PORT-AU-PRINCE — The cemetery reeks of death. Dozens of tombstones are overturned. Crypts have been upended, inverted and emptied of their macabre contents. It would look centuries old were it not for the bright blue paint bouncing sunlight off the broken gravestones.

The overpowering smell comes from the far side of the labyrinthine cemetery, where a plot near the street has been excavated and filled with corpses. More than 2,000 of them.

The plan is to pave over the spot and turn it into a memorial to those killed in the earthquake. But for now it’s simply a mass grave, holding corpses covered with pale dirt and concrete dust.

“Next Ghede will be wild,” says voodoo priest Menahem Laurent, referring to a holiday in early November similar to the Latin American Day of the Dead. “There will be so many ghosts.”

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Americans charged with kidnapping in Haiti

Friday, February 5, 2010 – Globe and Mail
With a report from the Associated Press

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Ten American Baptists face charges of child abduction and criminal association after trying to take 33 Haitian children across the border into the Dominican Republic without the government’s permission.

The group members, accused of flouting Haiti’s child-protection laws when the country is at its most vulnerable, were led out of a closed-door courtroom session yesterday afternoon, through a crush of reporters and onlookers and into police vehicles waiting to escort them back to the makeshift jail cells where they have spent the past week.

The Haitian government has imposed a moratorium on international adoptions following the earthquake, fearing that in the ensuing chaos the risk of child-trafficking, already a mounting problem in Haiti, would increase.

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With no food and no hope, parents sent their kids away with U.S. Baptists – and they say they would do it again

Thursday, February 4, 2010 – Globe and Mail

CALEBASSE, HAITI — This is the town that sent its children away.

Its subsistence vegetable plots are all but destroyed; its buildings reduced to debris. If it was poor before the earthquake, it is desperately so now.

And the parents of Calebasse say they were just trying to do what was best for the kids they can no longer feed when they gave them to a group of American Baptists arrested for trying to spirit the 33 children across the border.

Many of them say they would try the same thing again.

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In post-quake Haiti, rebuilding an education system that was already broken

Wednesday, February 3, 2010 – Globe and Mail

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Their classrooms are rubble. So are their houses – scattered around Port-au-Prince, most of them are living “sous les belles étoiles.” Many of their professors are missing or dead.

But in the fissured remains of their university, these would-be teachers are planning a revolution. They sit at desks, taking scribbled notes as their rapid-fire ideas overlap one another over the sounds of 400 families living in tents outside, and one lone, loud rooster by the window. As Haiti’s already inadequate education system lies in ruins – and with it, one of the country’s best shots at sustainable development – these upstart students are among those who hope to reinvent what it means to learn in Haiti.

“We don’t just want to rebuild. We want to begin over again,” says Michel Fresner, a first-year education student at the Centre Formation d’Education Fondemontal.

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Quake left a security nightmare in its wake

Wednesday, February 3, 2010 – Globe and Mail

PORT-AU-PRINCE — It’s a strange sight on a traffic-choked downtown street across from a park that has become a crowded tent city: several dozen young men locked behind the wrought-iron bars of a rectangular, birdcage-like structure outside a police station.

The police say the men are looters, caught in the act. An officer gestures over his shoulder to rolls of fabric, building materials and dusty electronics.

A prison it’s not. But for now, and for no one knows how long, that’s where the alleged looters will stay.

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