Sunday, September 22, 2013

For the record I have known Tony McQuail

Dear Editor; For the record I have known Tony McQuail, the author of August 14th letter titled "Anti-nuclear group branches out from Huron-Kinloss" and we have found some commonality on issues associated with social justice for example. However, his letter found in the August 14th edition latches onto the "anti-nuclear" lobby's pattern of bringing nuclear weapons and items such as debt retirement to their articles. One is clearly fear mongering and does not belong in any article where a credible debate on the peaceful use of nuclear energy is on the table. Further, the debt component of his article has less to do with issues with nuclear energy and more to do with bad government policy that related to delays in bringing on the Darlington Nuclear Power Station. Suggesting that community members strike out and gather information on any item of public policy is prudent, but to intimate that organizations (such as NWMO,) who have stored and continue to store nuclear waste in a regulated and responsible manner for many years, is intentionally denying or twisting the message to mislead people is rather bizarre. The title of organization noted is the Nuclear Waste Management Organization and it is regulated by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). Not sure where the confusion lies! In the same article Tony uses the term nuclear dump; once again the call of the anti-nuclear groups. Any deep geological repository or high level waste storage facility is about as far away from a "dump" as one can get. As it is today the waste is will be highly regulated by the CNSC and any and all provincial and federal regulators with jurisdiction. To provide an example of how well this has been managed just take the entire accumulated waste of sixty years of peaceful nuclear activity in Canada and you will find that all the waste is held in an area that is equal in size to about seven ice hockey rinks up to about the height of the boards. This is storage is the low and medium waste and the high level waste, or fuel, is already stored above ground in highly regulated facilities. No other form of electricity production can lay claim to 60 years of safe and efficient production with such small amounts of waste. Nuclear plants in Canada have mitigated the emission of billions of tons of climate changing greenhouse gases from fossil fuel generation that would have had to be used without the success Ontario and Canada's nuclear fleet. Perhaps in the interest of complete fairness Tony's next article will discuss the $100 plus per megawatt hour that some renewables used to generate electricity actually cost as compared to Ontario's nuclear fleet that is subject to considerably less revenue per megawatt hour or that the renewables with extremely poor capacity factors are all backed by fossil fuelled power plants. At the end of the day Tony has to be respected for his social justice values, but the anti nuclear lobby is clearly out of touch with the current state of nuclear industry and its regulators.

Another year is drawing to a close and tradition insists that 2012 is up for review

Dear Editor; Another year is drawing to a close and tradition insists that 2012 is up for review. The year is bracketed by two hopeful events. The first of these events was the rally by thousands of workers and the efforts of trade unions in January in support of sustaining the jobs at London’s Electro-Motive plant and in support of the Charter right to free collective bargaining. These efforts fell to the destructive forces of neo-liberalism, unbridled greed and globalization. The end of year and ongoing event, with the outcome still ahead of us, is the “Idle No More” campaign. In light of this First Nations lead campaign the face of seeking social justice and a civil society may change forever. Unions have witnessed the significant successes of government, corporate forces and right wing extremist media working tirelessly to disenfranchise workers and the union representatives that work in the interests of all workers. Some of the rallying cries of the attacks on workers in 2012 were austerity, pensions, public service employee compensation, right to work, return to work legislation, bill 115 and bill 377. Regan, Thatcher and Mulroney represent the pioneers of the modern day method of governing by ideology and the politics of division instead of governing in the collective good. The present day ilk of Regan, Thatcher and Mulroney have far exceeded the move to the right that these well known predecessors could have hoped for and it is in this context that this annual review is done. In 2012 we hear of the likes of Walker of Wisconsin, McGuinty of Ontario, Stephen Harper, Snyder of Michigan and the never ending demands for austerity measures. In looking at this list we see the paradigm shift that now sets 2012 apart. The approach by government and corporations is not to negotiate with workers or meet in the realm of free collective bargaining or try to find anything close to a position where collaboration may be reached. Instead it is, in 2012, to take the most repugnant nature of the right wing belligerently forward by cowardly changing legislation to undermine any and all organizations that may stand in opposition to right wing oppression of the rights of working people and the unions that democratically represent them. In 2012 workers and unions worked very hard to elect people that would work to secure their rights and maybe turn back the attacks. For this effort unions are called undemocratic special interest groups, but when people like the republicans in the Michigan state legislature ram through right to work legislation solely to undermine union membership it is strangely labeled as fair and democratic. If there is a common descriptor of 2012 it is the undeniable effort of the right to secure a perverted version of a future where only the reactionary version of conservatives and republicans survives and the recognition that “The Labour Movement is the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress”, as noted by Martin Luther King, no longer exists. With Wal-Mart workers demanding justice, unions seeking mergers to increase density, teachers fighting bill 115, workers in Michigan pushing back on right to work legislation, workers striving to hold onto collective bargaining rights and workers across the world fighting austerity in 2012 there is always hope that the improvements made in workers lives over the last 150 years won’t be lost. At the end of 2012 let there be no mistake that the goals of the right and many corporations and governments, if not all, is to push the rights that workers enjoy right off the map and to a place where there will no longer be anyone to fight for those rights. Dave Trumble, Kincardine

A long overdue look at where union dues go is needed for Canadians-Dec 24, 2012

In Reply to Brian Lilley’s “Another Opinion”; A long overdue look at where union dues go is needed for Canadians-Dec 24, 2012 Dear Editor; In his use of the term “Union Boss” Mr. Lilley has tipped his hand early. He immediately exposes his lack of knowledge of the union movement or perhaps his open intention to be provocative and display his ideological contempt for the very movement he declares some understanding of. The term “Union Boss” is not in any way an accurate description of people freely elected by the membership or an elected representation of the membership of the union to positions of leadership. Upon election these officials are governed by a constitution and by-laws that are approved by methods similar to that for the above noted elections. The constitution and by-laws dictate the disclosure of the information, including financial affairs, about the union and if the members wish to know this information then attending membership meetings is required. Lilley would also have people believe that unions have no requirement to report anything to financial regulators or agencies and that in some fashion they are above the law. Of course this is not true and unions, as employers, report as any other employer must do. As if he has some domain over their use Lilley’s article is decorated with the language of disclosure and fairness as those of his ilk are pre-programmed to use in this way in any discussion where socially responsible organizations that ally themselves with working people and their needs are involved. The use of this language is in common use as it is believed that it engenders support for people like Lilley who under the cloak of this language are working to undermine the effectiveness of socially progressive organizations such as unions. Lilley quotes things like 86 % of union members want to know what is going on with their union dues without setting the context of the question. As it so often is the question is open to perversion in that his statistic is likely correct, but he never notes what percentage of the 86% already receive this information by attending membership meetings of their unions. Sadly there are a percentage of union members that can’t be bothered to attend membership meetings and they will not likely be offered financial information and this is no different than for any organization where financial records are supplied. Lilley expresses surprise, even to some degree a sense of indignation, that unions and unions leaders are ready to fight back on this legislation. Lilley’s opinion makes the assumption, or at least he conveniently ignores the fact, that there are no other attacks of any kind on trade unions when in fact the implementation or the planning of attacks on the trade union movement is the current initiative of choice for countless leaders such as Harper, Wall of Saskatchewan and McGuinty of Ontario. Harper’s conservatives have legislated away collective bargaining rights for postal workers and Air Canada employees, Wall is beginning to make noise about the repugnant right to work legislation seen in Michigan and McGuinty has launched an attack on the bargaining rights of teachers that could reach all public service union members. The lack of government will to do anything to protect charter rights to free collective bargaining and the abandonment of the Electro-Motive workers in London and other manufacturing sector workers only adds to the list of attacks on workers. Even the most simple minded would see why the ideologically driven bill C- 377, in concert with the foregoing, would drive union leaders to speak and act strongly against bill C-377. Lilley expresses what has been done in other countries relative to similarities to bill C-377; this is perhaps the final undoing of his position. No trade unionist in their right mind would ever look to America as the benchmark. Beginning with Regan America leads the western industrialized world in attacks on the union movement and the destruction of the working and middle class. Not to mention the fact that the rules of engagement as found in labour law legislation are entirely different in America than in Canada thus negating any reasonable comparison. Despite what people read in the typical right wing controlled media, standards of living have always fallen when the trade union movement has been diminished. Lilley’s attempt to coast his position forward on the typical right wing ideological framework fails on all levels and is easily seen for what it is; another opinion veiled in the right wing rhetoric that would hopefully sway those unfamiliar with the real issues at stake on to their side and thus to, under false pretense, try and get people to believe that bill C-377 is anything other than what it is; “another cowardly federal lead attack on workers” There is only one fair process and that is meeting across the table where the charter right to free collective bargaining must take place and must be preserved no matter what the price and governing by ideology is eradicated. Dave Trumble, Kincardine

In response to the author of “reader delves into concerns on tritiated water and nuclear waste”

Dear Editor; In response to the author of “reader delves into concerns on tritiated water and nuclear waste” letter of February 12th 2013 I feel a few counterpoints are justified. The author of the letter stumbles through a few issues and attempts to create anxiety and fear by questioning the regulatory environment that nuclear power plants and the waste management organization on the Bruce Site operate in. This genre of letter is often dressed up as some kind of environmental rescue mission when in reality the insertion of doubt, fear and anxiety is the intent and is done so with limited technical data to exacerbate the goal of generating fear at the expense of clear and concise data. The author does make some statements about the Code of Conduct within Bruce Power and OPG and that is for the companies to comment on. Further, the letter states that the incineration of waste at the WWMF is some kind of secret when it is clearly noted in publicly available information on the internet (posted by OPG). The majority of technical issues the author of the Feb 12th letter touches on are done so with little or no research. To debunk all the author’s information is not possible in a letter to the editor, but I will focus on three items; thermal environmental emissions, derived emission levels and storage of waste. The author speaks to the temperature difference between condenser cooling water inlet and outlet or more accurately known as thermal environmental emission monitoring. This temperature difference is of such high priority that if the temperature difference approaches Ministry of Environment action limits the generating units must take action up to and including shedding load. Derived emission levels are attached to all nuclear plant emissions and in the case of nuclear operators in Canada actions to mitigate emissions begin at one percent of the allowable emission limit. It is reasonable to limit my comments to refurbishment waste and low and intermediate waste and in the most highly regulated industry in the world every piece of this waste is documented and stored such that location, level of activity and level of control is known and retrievable by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission at anytime. The author of the original letter does speak to green politicians, but it is a little odd that in that context there is no doubt cast by the author on the greenhouse emitting gas plants that must be run to back up all the “so called” green alternatives. The emissions from these plants are without a doubt harmful and under the poorly named green energy act they are built instead of the prudent course of fully utilizing the first class nuclear plants in Canada and converting the already existing coal plants at Nanticoke, Lambton and Thunder Bay to be run on natural gas and biomass. Once again the anti-nuclear / pro wind lobby throws themselves into the discussion with little preparation and a desire to create anxiety instead of recognize the future as a well mixed electrical grid with new and refurbished nuclear plants, converted coal plants, hydro-electric plants and some level of renewables that does not propagate the use of natural gas or play any role in base load generation. Dave Trumble, Kincardine

In Response to the Feb 26th, 2013 letter “Reader feels that nuclear industry dishonest

Dear Editor; In Response to the Feb 26th, 2013 letter “Reader feels that nuclear industry dishonest, fears for safety” Predictability is one word that can be applied to the anti nuclear lobby. The lobby has a couple of strategies and without exception applies them consistently. In no particular order they suggest that their interest is environmental protection and then they move to trying to connect the peaceful use of nuclear technology to nuclear weapons. Each approach is defined by technical inaccuracies and is often single sourced as was the case with the letter by Ralph Splettoesser that was published in the Feb 26th edition of the Kincardine News. If I can start with the simple numbers; the author of the letter states that a full 1.5 % of nuclear reactors have melted down; according to the World Nuclear Association (April 2012) the world’s operational reactors break down along these lines; • The first commercial nuclear power stations started operation in the 1950s. • There are now over 430 commercial nuclear power reactors operating in 31 countries, with 372,000 MWe of total capacity. • They provide about 13.5% of the world's electricity as continuous, reliable base-load power, and their efficiency is increasing. • 56 countries operate a total of about 240 research reactors and a further 180 nuclear reactors power some 150 ships and submarines. The data shows 850 operational reactors and that does not add in the number of reactors that have been taken responsibly out of service due to factors such as age. The 1.5 % would work out to 13 reactors if we only calculate based on the currently operational reactors. Clearly the numbers stated in the Feb 26th letter are exaggerated and intentionally designed to mislead. Splettoesser speaks to the activities of Chalk River Nuclear Labs (CRNL) during the Second World War in the context of nuclear weapons. When did it become a secret that CRNL was part of the multi-national effort to create an atomic weapon during that war? To suggest that the efforts in the middle of a world war have any connection to the focus and philosophy of the current highly regulated peaceful use of CANDU reactors worldwide is indicative of the various disingenuous arguments put forth by many people in the anti-nuclear lobby. The author of the Feb 26th letter points to CANDU reactors as plutonium factories. I am not a fuel expert, but I do know that in contrast to the “drive through” window for plutonium that Splettoesser tries to paint any extraction of plutonium requires hundreds of millions of dollars in investment towards fuel reprocessing facilities of which only a limited number of countries have actually erected. Further, is it not strange that if this extraction and high level of plutonium production was so easy to come by why did the Americans and Russians, the two largest manufacturers of atomic weapons over the five decades after the Second World War, not build anything but CANDU plants? They did not build one. The author of the Feb 26th letter is certainly good for a tale of conspiracy, but starkly poor on facts or logic. The Feb 26th author once again makes it look like tritium is available by simply asking for it. Tritium is a by-product of CANDU technology and tritium occurs naturally in nature also, but in neither case is it a matter of driving up to the window and asking for it. Tritium does not roam randomly amongst CANDU nuclear power plants, but resides chemically bonded and deep inside the processes of the of the plants. In contradiction to Splettoesser as of Dec 2012 GE-Hitachi is going to make nuclear power components for use in China and indeed France is going to put efforts into wind, but that is not to say that the attention to wind is going to put nuclear “out of business”. If France is making the same mistakes as Ontario in regards to wind power no wonder companies are investing and no one should suggest that the investment is based on the “all in” costs such as the additional fossil fuel costs associated with backing up wind power with gas. Splettoesser takes a shot at the cost of CANDU technology, but fails to mention that CANDU technology generates seven billion dollars in economic activity in Canada and that the uniquely Canadian design with features such as “on-line” refueling more than justifies any cost separation. Those in the anti-nuclear lobby, like Splettoesser, have one redeeming feature-consistency-and that consistency as noted at the front of this letter provides ample opportunity to refute their positions with a few facts and little logic. Dave Trumble Kincardine

Gratitude towards the pioneers and architects

Dear Editor; Gratitude towards the pioneers and architects of corporate tax cuts, corporate greed, austerity, privatization, destruction of public services, collective bargaining and the clear and decisive attack on the working and middle class as was found in the article in the April 9th issue of the Kincardine News is to say the least misplaced. The Klein and Harris (as Harris is mentioned in the article) mantra is a throwback to the economic destruction created in the Mulroney, Thatcher and Reagan era and a harbinger of such things as the tea party and the wanton disregard of the needs of working people found in today’s conservatives, republicans and their associated media bullies / masters. This ilk of people has no right to gratitude as they have “off shored” the work of millions of people, throwing these same people into unemployment and under employment. They then used the excuse of tax cuts to encourage economic development while producing few jobs and providing industry the opportunity to accumulate hundreds of billions of dollars. These two steps ultimately lead to what is likely the most important part of their plan-destruction of any organized opposition. This was accomplished by legislating away social safety nets and doing all things possible to destroy trade unions while ensuring any future work created is done so in a non-union environment to limit any possibility that people may be able secure decent wages, pensions for a dignified retirement and safe workplaces. The foregoing and other items such as balanced budgets on the back of workers, attacks on pensions and public services and workers, destruction of the wheat board and intolerance are merely a few more of the of the legacies that we could do without and more of the reasons to show zero gratitude to any and all of those aligned with any of those mentioned in the article published on the 9th of April. Looking at Klein and their genre through this prism gives not one shred of reason for gratitude. Dave Trumble Kincardine

To say the least we should all be finding it difficult to understand the Ralph Splettoesser view that democracy

Dear Editor, To say the least we should all be finding it difficult to understand the Ralph Splettoesser view that democracy is at stake in the process of establishing the Deep Geologic Repository (DGR). Democracy at stake, not likely! Each and every step of the process is overseen by the public regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), and is open to public hearing in front of the commission throughout the entire approval process lifecycle and continually after that in the context of licensing and re-licensing. That does not sound even remotely like democracy is at stake in this process. To call the process evil is does not warrant any debate or discussion! To suggest such a thing is ludicrous on its face and grossly insulting to the thousands who make their living in the nuclear industry and the thousands that have benefited from such things as nuclear medicine. I see Mr. Splettoesser does also say, as he has said in numerous letters, that people working in the nuclear industry in this community are gagged by their employers. I have no intention of speaking on the behalf of any employers, but I worked in the nuclear business for three different employers over 31 years and was never once gagged. The facts will bear out that the industry invites critics and supporters alike to engage in the public process of input at CNSC hearings and public meetings alike; something that the authors of the green energy act, for example, never invited. As I look back at Mr. Splettoesser’s letters it is unclear as to what issue he is really attacking. Not that there is anything wrong with talking to multiple issues, but Mr. Splettoesser attacks nuclear power and the DGR simultaneously. Over and over again the record will show that those like Splettoesser, who oppose the nuclear industry, are very good at throwing as much mud out as possible. This mix contains little credible or multi-sourced information, but generally is designed to divert the debate from a discussion of technically relevant items to a confusing mix and match of information intentionally designed to confuse the general public. Like so many in the anti-nuclear movement Mr. Splettoesser invokes Three Mile Island (TMI). The nuclear industry has never hidden from open discussion of TMI and in light of TMI the entire nuclear industry took on an even more deeply embedded openness that continues today in the CNSC public hearing process and its equivalent around the globe. The nuclear core at TMI was destroyed, yet in spite of this about the only thing that was released to the public was mounds of paper; paper that intentionally misleads people about what actually took place at TMI and ignores the fact that the design of TMI prevented danger to the public. Why is this an important detail?-it underscores the limited repertoire of provocative language and exaggeration that keeps the anti nuclear lobby in the news Sweden is indeed experiencing debate on their DGR front, but to suggest that it is significantly different than the debate in our area is to again intentionally mislead. The Swedish nuclear program is still active and seeing a renewal as more people realize that producing electricity from nuclear energy is the future of electrical generation without the production of greenhouse gases. No such claim can be made about wind, solar or other renewables as each is backed up by greenhouse producing generation methods and huge tax subsidies. Mr. Splettoesser and his ilk speak to openness, democracy and public input; all already firmly embedded and the claim that anything other than such a democratic open process exists as it relates to the DGR is plainly untrue and underscores Splettoesser’s ideological bent.

Dear Editor;MPP Lisa Thompson frustrated with Ontario Liberal government

Dear Editor; MPP Lisa Thompson frustrated with Ontario Liberal government; a Lisa Thompson stealth campaign letter by any other name! In this time of ever increasing suspicion of our politicians who could not express some frustration with any and all politicians? However, if people think a Conservative government in Ontario is the answer please think back to the Harris days. Tim Hudak, leader of the Ontario Conservative party, is Harris on steroids. A Hudak lead government, of which Thompson could very well be a member, is steeped in a list of failed of policies and draconian legislation. The Harris government started off with creating a crisis in education and then graduated to gross underfunding of social assistance programs, unnecessary privatization of public services that continues to line the pockets of PC friends while costing tax payers more and more, unnecessary municipal amalgamation, destruction of fair and equitable labour laws, degradation of the WSIB, failure to enforce pay equity laws, loss of thousands of nurses and other healthcare providers and underfunding of occupational health and safety inspectors to name a few. The NDP continue to support the Ontario Liberals for many reasons, but if they support the Ontario Liberals if only to ensure that the Hudak Conservatives don’t make it into government I am just fine with that. Hudak has already made it clear that he will take this province further towards the right than anything Harris even dreamed of and anyone or anything that keeps the Hudak Conservatives out of government should be applauded. A Hudak government stands for the 1 % and will undermine working people in Ontario at every opportunity. So if Thompson is frustrated-too bad! We will all be frustrated and worse off under a Hudak lead Ontario government. Dave Trumble Kincardine

Sarnia Mayor Bradley Claims Victory?

Sarnia Mayor Bradley Claims Victory? Anti-Nuclear groups, whether it is in relation to initiatives such as new build, DGR, relicensing or the transportation of the steam generators from Bruce Power all get headlines by heaping a cast of inaccuracies into the public arena or exploiting one piece of a story at the exclusion of other parts of the story for the express purpose of neglecting information that would ensure proper context. Aligning with one of these groups is simple and easy; it requires little effort and often grabs cheap political points and to this end one has to give Mayor Bradley credit for hooking his wagon to this easy target. The facts of the proposed shipment do not bear out the negative publicity about shipping the steam generators. Approximately 90 per cent of the metal in the steam generators can be decontaminated, melted down and safely reused. The rest would have to be returned to the Bruce Power site for long-term storage. Each steam generator contains 100 tonnes of steel but less than four grams of radioactive substances. Perhaps putting some context to this statement is valuable. Smoke detectors in countless homes contain a source of ionizing radiation. It is generally Americium 241 and weighs about 0.5 grams. The shipment is made up of 16 steam generators with each steam generator containing approximately 4 grams of low level radioactive substances. The total radiation in the shipment is about 64 grams or the aggregate radiation of about 130 smoke detectors. In other words the sum would be equivalent to the radiation found in a block or two of homes equipped with smoke detectors. Knowing these facts is crucial if the debate is to remain reasonable. Instead publicity from the anti-nuclear side would have people believe that the shipment is some overwhelming shipment of nuclear waste when in reality it is an extremely low level shipment steeped in the long history of the nuclear industry in judicious and regulated of storage of waste, fuel, etc. When this shipment is targeted by politicians it is always clear that it is aimed at political outcomes or the same effort and indignation would be applied to each and every shipment of toxic material on the lakes and on the road each and every day on a 24 hour basis. Claiming a victory; if Mayor Bradley of Sarnia is claiming a victory in the battle for cheap political points, then well done! He has garnered no points as an educated and thoughtful politician in relation to this issue. Dave Trumble Kincardine

A Reply to the letter Ontario’s Debt Clock-September 5, 2013

A Reply to the letter Ontario’s Debt Clock-September 5, 2013 Dear Editor; In reading the letter the reader needs to be constantly aware that the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation (CTF) is a staunchly right wing organization and not significantly different than other organizations such as the Fraser Institute and the conservative governments throughout Canada that hide their true agenda behind their battle cry of lower taxes. Perhaps not all, but I am yet to come across an organization on the right of the political spectrum that has any understanding or appreciation of history. An example within the letter is the author’s mention of green energy. The fact that the green energy act is stupendously flawed is not at issue. It is not surprising that a conservative group such as the CTF fails to mention that the green energy act could only have been spawned where public power in public hands no longer exists. The destruction of public power in public hands is laid squarely on the shoulders of the conservatives of Mike Harris despite the fact that McGuinty and Wynne have done nothing to repair the damage. Speaking of history I see the CTF takes aim at Unions. Having such groups take aim at unions is such a regular part of their repertoire that it is almost now cliché. Integrating Detroit into the argument shows complete disregard and disdain for even the most basic understanding of recent history. The taxpaying middle class along with corporations paying their fair share only materialized in the post second world war era. There was virtually no middle class prior to the Second World War as there was limited union density. As the public service and manufacturing base grew through perhaps the first 40 years after WW II union density increased and with it the wave of prosperity, spending and families able to pay taxes to support the infrastructure that supported this robust economic growth and support the prosperity of places like Detroit. Throughout this period governments had not yet entered the era of attacking unions for purely ideological reasons. The CTF suggests that unions should concede (and I don’t care on which side of the ocean this demand comes from as the root cause of corporate greed and government ideology play out equally on both sides of the Atlantic) collectively bargained benefits for the singular purpose of catering to the conservative failings of the 30 years since government and corporations chose not pay their fair share of taxes and to seek out labour where people can be exploited as they have no legislations to protect them. The CTF is just another organization in its ignorance, intentional or otherwise, that seeks to further undermine the union movement and underfund public services such as healthcare and education by calling for concessions and lower taxes. This approach is the antithesis to what is needed. To recreate prosperity the CTF needs to demand that corporations pay their fair share of taxes and that these same corporations cease what has been an intentional process since at least 1988 of sending millions of well paying jobs offshore. In other words come to the table to think for themselves and not to parrot the conservative mantra of lower taxes and attacks on unions.