The U.S. Dept. of Transportation gave notice this week that it has begun considering whether to grant the Canadian company Bruce Power permission to move 16 radioactively contaminated steam generators through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway.
In a notice in the March 30 Federal Register DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration wrote that on Feb. 24 Bruce Power asked for special arrangements so that it could transport the large generators for recycling and volume reduction in Sweden.
The initial leg of transport would be by road and entirely within Canada. The steam generators would then be loaded on a vessel in Owen Sound, Ontario for transport to Sweden via Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario and interconnecting waterways as well as the St. Lawrence River. At various times the vessel would necessarily enter U.S. waters. Therefore, under IAEA special arrangement provisions, the U.S. would need to revalidate the Canadian certificate in order to permit transport.
PHMSA is recognized as the IAEA Competent Authority for the U.S. and is responsible for competent authority approval in these cases.
PHMSA intends to conduct a fully independent review of the proposed transport including safety, environmental, and fitness assessments, in consultation with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and U.S. Coast Guard. PHMSA must approve, deny, or institute additional controls regarding
the transport in the request for competent authority approval.
A group of over 70 mayors from U.S. and Canadian towns along the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway have warned that this shipment could endanger public water supplies.
By Ilya Shapiro
Today being St. Patrick’s Day, it seems appropriate to revisit the unlikely juxtaposition of two of my favorite legal policy topics: alcohol and the Commerce Clause. (Listen to my podcast on the subject or read its transcript.) The point of all this is that alcohol is no different from any other commodity in that states cannot erect arbitrary regulations that privilege in-state interests (be they retailers, wholesalers, or producers) ahead of their out-of-state counterparts.
But St. Paddy’s Day is not the only reason the issue is topical. Last week, the Supreme Court declined to review the Fifth Circuit’s indefensible decision in Wine Country Gift Baskets.com v. Steen. It did so despite the Fifth Circuit’s upholding of a Texas law designed to protect Texas’s in-state liquor retailers from out-of-state competition, a holding that disregarded recent high-court precedent.
In Granholm v. Heald (2005), decided together with the Institute for Justice’s Swedenberg v. Kelly, the Supreme Court struck down a similar protectionist law. Both cases challenged laws that permitted in-state wine producers to sell directly to consumers while prohibiting similar sales from out-of-state producers. The Court held that, notwithstanding a provision in the 21st Amendment (which repealed prohibition) that allows states to regulate their own liquor industries, the Commerce Clause prohibits states from disrupting free trade by discriminating against out-of-state businesses in favor of in-state businesses. This interpretation of the Commerce Clause grew out of the common-sense understanding that, if left unchecked, state governments have strong incentives to protect in-state businesses (who are voters) at the expense of their (non-voting) out-of-state competitors. Without constitutional checks, such laws could eviscerate Congress’s constitutionally enumerated power to “regulate [make regular] commerce … among the several States.”
Nevertheless, the Fifth Circuit decided to limit Granholm to wine producers. As is evident by the name, however, the Wine Country Gift Baskets.com case concerns a wine retailer. Yet Granholm explicitly said that states “may not enact laws that burden out-of-state producers or shippers simply to give a competitive advantage to in-state businesses.” It is dismaying that the Supreme Court didn’t care about the Fifth Circuit’s neglect of this language.
Granholm was an important blow against the heavily protectionist and cartelized liquor industry. As was documented in a pre-Granholm article in Cato’s Regulation magazine, the prohibition on direct shipment has been used to strangle small wineries as they struggle to access larger markets without having to go through the state-controlled distribution networks. Despite an explosion of wine-drinking and -making in this country in the last 30 years — with consumption increasing by nearly 50% between 1991-2001 and wineries quadrupling between 1974-2002 — the small winery still fights against an old-boy network of producers and distributors. In 2003, the top 30 wine companies still provided 90% of U.S. wine although they were less than 1% of the producers.
This is, of course, exactly how the top 30 wine companies want it.
Granholm dismantled some of this network. Unfortunately, Wine Country Gift Baskets.com will allow this unconstitutional infringement of the right to earn an honest living (see Timothy Sandefur’s excellent book of the same name) to persist in some states.
But Americans, like most of the world, appreciate their booze. During prohibition, Americans endured Tommy-guns, corruption, gangsters, and speakeasies just for a drink. If the government made it illegal to drink responsibly, many Americans were willing to thwart the law and drink irresponsibly.
The negative effects of prohibition were too visible to deny and, after 13 years of waging war on a non-compliant population, prohibition ended. In its wake, however, prohibition left another war, an 80-year “on-going, low-level trade war” (in the words of Granholm) between states and their three-tiered monopolies over the production, distribution, and sale of alcohol. And so, 21st Amendment or not, prohibition lives on — though the colorful characters in spats carrying Tommy-guns have been replaced by iPad-wielding lobbyists and politicians who do their bidding.
Thanks to Trevor Burrus for his help with this blog post.
Yesterday the Israelis intercepted a ship called the Victoria, bound from Turkey to Egypt and ultimately for Gaza. The Victoria held thousands of containers but, apparently unknown to its crew, four of those containers contained weapons that were manufactured in Iran and shipped out of Syria.
The Israelis brought the Victoria to the port of Ashdod, where they displayed some of the Iranian munitions for reporters. These are 120 mm mortar shells:
This is a C-704 missile, which has a range of 35 km and delivers a payload of around 280 pounds of explosives:
This one shows a 120 mm mortar shell, along with other munitions:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Ashdod and spoke with reporters about the seized weapons:
Examining the weapons at this port in southern Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to “smash” what he called a Syrian-Iranian “axis of terror.”
“All those who question why Israel must stop … and inspect ships en route to Gaza can find the answer right here in Ashdod,” he said. “They were en route to terror organizations in Gaza but their ultimate target was the Israeli civilian population.”
Over the last year or two, forces sympathetic to the Palestinian terrorists have gone to great lengths to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. These terrorist sympathizers have pretended that the issue somehow relates to “humanitarian supplies,” when in fact food, medicines and other innocuous products have no difficulty being shipped into Gaza. The real purpose of these efforts to break the blockade, most notably the Mavi Marmara, has been to facilitate the shipment of weapons into Gaza for the purpose of murdering Israeli civilians. That was demonstrated once again yesterday.
Iranian military commander Maj. Gen. Ataollah Salehi denied Israeli charges a ship seized by Israeli commandos carried 50 tons of Iranian weapons.
“Israel is a regime made of lie, making lies and fabrications,” Salehi told the Iranian state news agency IRNA Wednesday.
“The Zionist regime will drown in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, God willing, after the collapse of the Egyptian pharaoh,” Salehi said, rejecting Israel’s claims the weapons found aboard the ship headed for Gaza were from Iran.
He also insulted Europe and the US, but that part didn’t make it into the UPI report:
“The arrogant countries of the nineteen century condemned militarism, but now, they all resort to militaristic means and seek to repress regional wronged nations,” he said referring to the regional turmoil.
But not to worry. Iran’s message is one of peace!
“Last year we successfully sent our vessels to the Mediterranean Sea and we expect our navy will navigate in the oceans which will manifest our power carrying a message of peace and friendship,” he added.
Meanwhile, an intriguing report:
Turkey’s government says a cargo plane from Iran has been required to land in Turkey so its shipment could be searched.
But the Foreign Ministry denied a Dogan news agency report that Turkish military jets forced the plane to land at Diyarbakir airport on Tuesday night to search it for an alleged cargo of arms from Iran to Syria.
The ministry says it is standard procedure for Iranian cargo planes to request permission to fly over Turkey and sometimes be required to make unscheduled landings to be searched.
Turkey’s official Anatolia news agency confirmed that the plane, heading from Tehran to Aleppo, Syria, was searched Wednesday.
But Anatolia and the government did not say what the cargo plane was found to be carrying.
I can’t wait for the peaceful Iranian regime to extend its benevolent hegemony over the entire world!
“It is at odds with Iran’s claim to the international community and to its own people that it supports stability and security in Afghanistan.”
Sure, Iran says it wants “security” in Afghanistan. But on its own terms, and only on its terms. No one should be surprised Iran is waging jihad by proxy to its east as it does to its west. “Hague fury as ‘Iranian arms’ bound for Taliban seized,” from BBC News, March 9 (thanks to all who sent this in):
The foreign secretary has condemned Tehran’s “completely unacceptable” behaviour after British Special Forces seized a shipment of suspected Iranian arms intended for the Taliban.
The 48 rockets are understood to have been intercepted in Nimruz Province, in southern Afghanistan, on 5 February.
UK officials say technical analysis showed they had come from Iran.
William Hague said Iran’s actions were at odds with its claim to “support stability and security in Afghanistan”.
The rockets are understood to have a much greater range than the weapons currently available to Taliban insurgents.
It is believed that both UK and Afghan troops were involved in the operation to intercept them in Nimruz, which borders Iran.
Mr Hague said: “This is completely unacceptable. It is not the behaviour of a responsible neighbour.
If the world’s nations were a kindergarten, Iran’s report card would read, “Does not play well with others.”
“It is at odds with Iran’s claim to the international community and to its own people that it supports stability and security in Afghanistan.”
The foreign secretary said technical analysis and the circumstances of the seizure left him in “no doubt” the weapons came from Iran.
“I am extremely concerned by the latest evidence that Iran continues to supply the Taliban with weaponry – weapons clearly intended to provide the Taliban with the capability to kill Afghan and Isaf [International Security Assistance Force] soldiers from significant range.”
He said the British Ambassador in Tehran had raised the issue with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Defence Secretary Liam Fox said: “This confirms my often repeated view of the dangers that Iran poses not only through its nuclear programme, but its continuing policy of destabilising its neighbours.
“Supplying weapons to help the Taliban kill Isaf soldiers is a clear example of the threat they pose.”
Mark Sedwill, Nato senior civilian representative to Afghanistan, said all of the country’s neighbours had an obligation to prevent weapons falling into insurgent hands.
“These rockets represent a step-change in the lethal impact of weaponry infiltrating Afghanistan from Iran,” he added….
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has approved a controversial plan to ship radioactive waste from Ontario’s Bruce Nuclear Generating Station through the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence seaway.
On Friday the commission announced that Bruce Power will be allowed to ship 16 school-bus sized decommissioned steam generators to Sweden to be recycled.
An organization of mayors from the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region and environmental groups on both sides of the border condemned the decision.
“This shipment contains more than 6 times – and arguably more than 50 times – the maximum
amount of radioactivity allowed by [International Atomic Energy Agency] regulations,“ said Dr. Gordon Edwards, president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility. “Because of this, the CNSC had to make a “Special Arrangement” exempting Bruce Power from those IAEA regulations.”
“By bending the rules, the CNSC has demonstrated that they are champions of the nuclear industry rather than defenders of the public interest – for there is no public benefit to be served by allowing these shipments.”
“… The timing of the shipment will be determined once all of the approvals are in place and conditions are determined to be optimal,” Bruce Power said in a statement.
The planned shipment of more than a dozen radioactive nuclear generators from Canada to Sweden via the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway has been postponed until at least next year.
A Canadian electric power company is postponing a shipment of 16 old generators with radioactive contents across three of the Great Lakes but remains committed to the plan, despite claims by environmentalists that it’s too risky, a spokesman said Thursday.
The company hoped the shipment would take place this fall. But the onset of winter weather means it’s no longer safe, so it will be put off until spring, spokesman John Peevers said.
“The window for this year has closed,” he said.
Critics said they hoped the delay would buy time for them to build their case against the shipment, which also would need permission from the U.S. Department of Transportation because the vessel would at times pass through U.S. territory. They are pushing the Canadian commission to conduct a more comprehensive review than has been undertaken thus far.
The plan has provoked concern from environmentalists and from local officials along the route through the Great Lakes.
A group of over 70 mayors from U.S. and Canadian towns along the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway is warning that a planned shipment of radioactive materials from the Bruce Power nuclear complex could endanger public water supplies.
Bruce Power operates North America’s largest nuclear power plant in Kincardine, Ontario near the shore of Lake Huron. The company plans to ship 16 school bus-sized radioactive steam generators over the Great Lakes to a metal recycling facility in Sweden.
The Environmental News Servicereports that the mayors of the Cities Initiative say that they are seriously concerned about what they see as flaws in the environmental review of the proposed shipment.
“Safety scenarios do not consider more serious accidents, rely on a series of assumptions, and lack an assessment of ecological risk,” the mayors warned.
“The [Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission] revised staff report confirms many of our concerns,” said George Heartwell, mayor of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and past chair of the Cities Initiative. “However,” he said, “we disagree with the conclusions of the revised report, and feel that an accident involving this shipment does pose a significant environmental and public health risk.”
In addition, the mayors are concerned about the potentially precedent-setting nature of the shipment. They warn that the amount of radioactive waste to be shipped exceeds by 50 times the international allowable limit for a single shipment in inland waters.
The removal of the generators is part of a project to restart two reactors at the complex.