To the Editor:
Recently, Protect Our Waterways – No Nuclear Waste (POW) drew attention to a reservoir of water in Florida, near Tampa, that was, and still is, on the verge of breaking through its dam and releasing water contaminated with, potentially, a number of materials, including some that are radioactive.
The news was presented as both an indictment of nuclear waste management, and of making South Bruce into a “mining town” by hosting a deep geological repository for Canada’s nuclear materials.
It’s time they realized that they do not exist in a bubble. They happily sneer at any industry that isn’t agriculture – like power generation, industrial laundry, or mining – on their heavily-moderated Facebook page, without acknowledging how intimately interwoven seemingly-separate industries really are. The agricultural industry relies on lots of other industries – transportation and distribution, retail, chemical manufacturing, heavy equipment manufacturing, and even mining.
This brings us back to the reservoir in Florida. It is a tailing pond for a mining operation that extracts phosphorus ore for production into phosphoric acid, a major component in agricultural fertilizers. The byproduct of that refinement is phosphogypsum, notable in this case and to POW in particular as it is radioactive. Agriculture, mining, and nuclear waste management are intertwined; one can’t exist as we know it today without the other.
Abdicating responsibility for that waste is dangerous. We see right now the potential for harm by adhering to the status quo, hoping the next generation will deal with it. So this is the reality check: we owe it to everyone to dispose of the waste permanently, safely, and responsibly.