Interesting reading. But I'm not sure if the statement "We don't treat other spills and leaks so fearfully" is necessarily true. Do you remember the media noise surrounding the transformer being moved in northern Ontario in 1985, the one that leaked PCB-laced oil?
"The first major incident occurred on April 13, 1985, when a PCB transformer that was being transported across Canada on a flat-bed truck leaked PCB fluid over 100 kilometres of the Trans-Canada Highway. The contaminated highway pavement was ultimately torn up and replaced. There was great concern expressed in the media about the potential health implications for people travelling the highway behind the truck."
"Because there were very few incinerators most PCB's would have to be trucked long distances to reach them, and because humans are not perfect some would be spilled in transit. We saw one example of what that could mean in April of 1985 when a transformer being hauled from Ontario to Alberta developed a leak and dripped PCB on the Trans Canada highway between Thunder Bay and Kenora, Ont. The total amount leaked was a much less than one percent of the PCB sprayed every year on that same road few years earlier, but this happened during a provincial election campaign. Further it was a desperate campaign for then-premiere Frank Miller because his predecessor Bill Davis had figuratively stabbed Miller in the back before retiring. Miller was a chemical engineer and he must have known better, but he was more politician than engineer. He reacted as a politician looking for votes and contemptuous of the facts, rather than as an engineer with a problem to solve. He had the highway closed and traffic detoured hundreds of miles on a winding two-lane road through Fort Francis. Aside from the danger of detouring heavy traffic over a second-rate road the detour alone did more ecological damage than the spill, because cars and trucks on the detour burned tens of thousands of gallons more gas than they would have on the direct route. Meanwhile doctors explained the danger with the illustration that if you walked through the whole area of the spill and smoked one cigarette, you would be in more danger from the cigarette than from the spill. This was in the days when cigarettes were not considered dangerous. Then finally Miller came up with the ultimate solution. Rather than try to wash the spilled PCB off the highway his government would just re-pave the highway and lock the PCB into the pavement. As a chemical engineer Miller knew that the PCB would last longer than the pavement and that it would certainly be released some day, but as a politician he found a way to spend money and to be seen to be doing something about a problem. "
- Morgan Brown
Any opinions are those of the author(s).
From: Jaro [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 16, 2003 1:49 PM
To: multiple cdn
Subject: [cdn-nucl-l] FW: Article on radiation fear and disaster
FYI, forwarded from Radsafe.....
Sent: Tuesday, September 16, 2003 11:57 AM
To: radsafe; know_nukes
Subject: Article on radiation fear and disaster response.