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Sunday, 1 December 2013

Meltdown at GE Hitachi’s Open House

Activists get in the way of uranium processor’s PR show

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Photo By Saul Chernos
Rob Ford and City Hall aren’t the only sideshow in town.
An open house for GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Canada held at the Wallace Emerson Community Centre on Dufferin Tuesday night (November 19) devolved into a shouting match between a vocal supporter of the uranium-processing facility and opponents looking for answers.
The event, part of a public consultation strategy GE Hitachi needed to fulfill its licencing obligations, would have been an almost sleepy affair had it gone the way corporate open houses usually do.
Neighbours of GE Hitachi’s Lansdowne Avenue plant would have gone from table to table, speaking one-on-one with company personnel and reps from Ontario’s environment ministry and Toronto Public Health.
In general, such info sessions are useful for companies worried about containing critics, and are far less helpful to residents than actual meetings where questioners can benefit from hearing answers to each other's concerns.
Ladha told Ruiter he would be willing to talk on camera, but his colleagues, including GE Hitachi president and CEO Peter Mason and EHS (environment, health and safety) and licensing manager Paul Desiri, would not. Ruiter replied that neighbours deserved on-the-record answers because individual conversations lack a wider public accountability.
Things really began to unravel when a woman identifying herself as an area resident, insisted that she, too, did not want to be videotaped.
Here’s the activists’ video of the event:
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