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Bruce Power gets approval to ship 16 radioactive generators through Great Lakes

Bruce Power has been given the go-ahead to transport 16 decommissioned steam generators from southwestern Ontario to Sweden for recycling.

On Friday, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission issued Bruce Power a transport licence that will be valid until Feb. 3, 2012.

Environmentalists, First Nations and residents along the proposed route had expressed concerns about shipping the radioactive, school bus-sized generators through the Great Lakes from Owen Sound, Ont.

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The commission said it's satisfied that Bruce Power's application meets Canadian and international regulations for the transport of nuclear substances.

The commission said the risk to the health and safety of the public and the environment is negligible.

Bruce Power promised that the generators will be welded shut before they're shipped, but opponents fear an accident would contaminate the lakes with radiation.

"Bruce Power is qualified to carry out the activities to be permitted under the licence and certificate," the commission said in a release. "Bruce Power will make adequate provisions to protect the environment, the health and safety of persons, and to maintain national security and measures required to implement Canada's international obligations."

Mayors of cities on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River said on Friday that they're disappointed with the decision.

More than 20 million Canadians and Americans live close to the Great Lakes and 40 million rely on them for their drinking water, the Cities Initiative group noted in a release.

The Cities Initiative is a bi-national coalition of more than 70 mayors from Quebec, Ontario and the eight Great Lakes states.

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"Mayors of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence remain concerned that this proposed shipment of 1,600 tonnes of radioactive equipment and waste from the Bruce Power facility exceeds the International Atomic Energy Agency's own safety standard," said Denis Lapointe, mayor of Salaberry de Valleyfield, Que.

St. Catharines, Ont., mayor Brian McMullan said the group remains concerned over the risk of an accident and the potential for radioactivity to get into drinking water.

Bruce Power has said the transport will be delayed until the St. Lawrence Seaway reopens in spring.

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