Environmentalists and some local government officials are protesting a Canadian power company's proposal to haul 16 scrapped generators with radioactive components across three of the Great Lakes on their way to a recycling plant in Sweden.
Bruce Power Inc., based in Kincardine, Ontario, is seeking a license from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for the shipment. It would depart from a port on Lake Huron's Owen Sound and also traverse Lakes Erie and Ontario and the St. Lawrence River before reaching the Atlantic Ocean.
Commission staffers have recommended approval, saying the shipment would pose little if any threat to human health or the environment. But complaints and questions from the public led the panel to schedule a hearing for Sept. 28-29 in Ottawa.
If the Canadian government grants the license, Bruce Power also will need approval of the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration because the ship would enter U.S. territory, an agency spokeswoman said Friday.
Bruce Power, whose 4,700-megawatt power plant 155 miles northwest of Toronto is the largest in North America, says the generators have been welded shut to prevent radioactive leaks. Each is the size of a school bus and weighs about 100 tons. They would be ferried aboard a 387-foot ship.
"We have as much of a stake as anybody to make sure this is done safely," spokesman John Peevers said. "It would not be good business for us to do this if we thought it was risky."
Opponents include environmental groups, an organization representing Great Lakes cities, and American Indian tribes. They say even the remote possibility of an accident that would release radiation is too big a gamble for the lakes, which provide drinking water to some 40 million people.