News Local

Moving is the only answer: Caldicott

By Joyce Cassin, Northumberland Today

PORT HOPE - Dr. Helen Caldicott, a pediatrician from Australia who has been devoting her life to fighting the nuclear industry, reiterated in a Tuesday-afternoon media session an earlier comment that cleaning up the low-level radioactive waste in Port Hope is not possible and people should move out.

"I can't think of any place more dangerous than Port Hope," Caldicott said.

She said she heard anecdotally, from some doctors, that cancer rates are high in Port Hope.

"But I'm more concerned, particularly by that diabolical thing down there," she said, pointing toward the Cameco plant.

She said no one seems to know what is being taken from, recycled into, the lake.

"I was very concerned to see fisherman fishing in the harbour which has about 100,000 cubic metres of highly toxic waste," she said.

"That spot should be absolutely prohibited from fishing because radium can leach off the site and into the fish."

"Cameco is being very secretive," she said. "You have a right to know all this data."

Earlier in the day, Caldicott visited the Port Hope Area Initiative Management Office and asked numerous questions about Port Hope and the details about the cleanup.

Manager Bob Neufeld said that she met with PHAI MO manager of project engineering Glenn Case, and public information representative Sandy Holmes.

"She came to our offices for about 75 minutes and she asked a number of questions and we provided her with answers," Neufeld said in an interview later.

Afterward, the PHAI members took her on a quick road trip during which she continued to ask questions.

"Now it's up to her to use the information we gave her," he said.

"What (Cameco is) doing there is making rods for nuclear power plants from uranium," Caldicott said. "Every country that has a nuclear power plant can make a bomb."

She said it's emblematic of the nuclear problems in the world.

"A lovely little town that was polluted by the federal government (which owned Eldorado nuclear) taking no responsibility, leaving it for the poor people to deal with, plus a factory they sold to a private industry who are very secretive, who are exporting rods to the rest of the world to produce radioactive waste which, over time will produce epidemics of disease in children and genetic disease and/or a nuclear war," she said. "Apart from that it's a really safe place."

She added that the uranium for all bombs that had been made up to 1957 came from Canada.

"So you've been an integral part of the nuclear weapons system right from the start," she said. "So Canada's been the source of material for the bombs."

She said the federal government should compensate everybody and the town should be moved to a safe site with beautiful new houses built and the federal government should pay for the lot, she said.

"They had no right to pollute your beautiful town like this."

No level of radiation is safe, she said, except in the case of isotopes to treat cancers - and that because they have a half-life of only eight days.

But even then, while it kills cancer, a slight slip and a hit on healthy cells would cause cancer down the road, she said.

Caldicott's appearance was originally scheduled to take place Tuesday evening at St. Mark's Anglican Church parish hall, but Sanford Haskill, acting chair of Families Against Radiation Exposure (FARE) said the group was told the hall was no longer available to host the Caldicott talk. The venue was changed to Oshawa.

Then, Haskill said, a restaurant gave them the "golden toe," forcing them to move to a private residence for both the Monday-evening dinner and the media availability Tuesday afternoon.

Haskill said Port Hope is not a very safe place to be - at least not in his shoes.

He said he's received threats on his life, as well as some rather unpalatable threats to his well-being, to the point he's very concerned for his safety, as well as Caldicott's.

"I've been threatened before, but this is the worst it's been," Haskill said.

And he said the allegations that FARE was behind the sensationalism generated by a national newspaper last week are false.

"I don't think FARE deserves what it's getting," he said. "It's been a long and trying 10 days. I never thought it would get to this point."

He explained FARE's reasons for persevering in bringing Caldicott in to speak.

"I want to hear the meat and guts tonight," he said. "I want to see the scientific facts she based her comments on."

Asked why she continues to spread the word against the nuclear industry, Caldicott said, "I do it because I'm concerned as a doctor practicing preventative medicine."