Mock disaster aboard visiting US nuclear submarine

Editor's note: Although the vast majority of Canadians want a nuclear-free Canada, the Government of Canada continues to welcome the increasing visits of nuclear-capable warships with open arms: no questions asked. The U.S. Navy gives no information whatsoever to Canada regarding these menacing deployments and has a very convenient policy of "neither confirming nor denying" the presence of nuclear weapons on its ships. This allows the American and Canadian governments to sidestep and divert the issue of whether we are allowing these weapons into Canada. About 85 per cent of the major combat vessels in the U.S. fleet are equipped to carry nuclear weapon. In the words of retired U.S. Admiral Eugene Carroll, "It has been my experience...that all U.S. warships that are capable of carrying nuclear weapons, do carry nuclear weapons." The U.S. Navy, which is the best equipped and trained in the world, admitted to having over 600 nuclear accidents between 1965 and 1987. Just one detonated nuclear attack submarine could devastate a port city with the power of five thousand 1917 Halifax explosions. The nuclear arms on these warships include tactical, intermediate, and strategic weapons. Nuclear depth charges are the nuclear weapons most frequently carried into Canada. In 1985 the Pentagon revealed secret plans for installing nuclear depth charges within Canadian waters and ports along with anti-cruise missiles; it continuously uses berthing facilities at CFB Shearwater in the community of Eastern Passage for its nuclear-armed submarine fleet.

For the information of our readers, we are posting the following sensationalist news report which, while confusing both the origin and the nature of the threat posed to Nova Scotians and the people of Canada, acknowledges the grave dangers posed by the "visits" of U.S. and NATO warships to Canadian ports. These threats all emanate from the lack of control by the people over their harbour and nation. As a result, programs are being put in place in our ports by the Canadian cabinet working with Homeland Security and Northern Command under the pretext of "security," "interdicting the drug trade" and "stopping asylum seekers" aimed at protecting the warships of foreign powers.

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Planning for disaster
"Terrorist" attack focus of exercise
By CHRIS LAMBIE, Staff Reporter, The Chronicle-Herald

HALIFAX (12 October 2006) - MILITARY and civilian officials responded to a mock disaster aboard a visiting nuclear submarine Wednesday in Halifax.

Organizers used a temporary shower set up in an ambulance bay at the Halifax Infirmary to decontaminate about a dozen victims of the fictional accident. While Wednesday's scenario involved a sub, officials stressed it also tested how everyone from sailors to doctors would respond to a terrorist attack.

"The objective of the exercise is to prepare Canada for a radiological, nuclear, counter-terrorist event," said Diana Wilkinson, a radiation biologist with Defence Research and Development Canada.

"In the event that something does happen within Canada, we want to be prepared."

The Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre has never dealt with patients contaminated by radiation, though staffers practise disaster planning regularly, said Karen MacRury-Sweet, director of heart health and emergency for the Capital district health authority.

"You will only use it once, or maybe never, but you have to know what to do," she said.

It's important to plan for such a disaster, said Dr. Katrina Hurley, an emergency medicine resident at the QEII.

"As professionals, it's important to provide whatever care can be provided," Dr. Hurley said.

From 8-13 June 2005, close to 3,000 French military members of France's Charles de Gaulle Carrier Group visited Halifax. The NATO Carrier group comprised the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, the anti-submarine warfare frigate Tourville, the anti-air warfare frigate Jean Bart, the support tanker Meuse, the nuclear attack submarine Rubis, and the Royal Navy's anti-air warfare frigate HMS Nottingham. The fleet participated in naval-air exercises with Canadian Forces. During the carrier group's port visit, opposed by anti-war activists, several so-called "cultural events" were organized for their benefit and that of local residents, including a photography exhibit, a production of Moliere's play "Le bourgeois gentilhomme," a concert at the Grand Parade and a picnic on Citadel Hill co-sponsored by CBC.

"But realistically, if Halifax were to be targeted for a nuclear attack, then the probability of our disaster plan being able to be successfully carried out is very low because chances are the facilities and the people involved would be injured and incapacitated. We wouldn't be able to provide the care."

In the case of something leaking from a nuclear sub's reactor, the hospital would be able to provide care, she said, noting some types of radiation cannot be washed off.

"Patients might come in complaining of diarrhea and vomiting. More seriously injured patients might have bleeding, burns and over time the injuries can progress and they can have bone marrow suppression (where they stop producing white blood cells) and become sick and die."

Dr. Hurley, who belongs to an organization called Physicians for Global Survival, is lobbying politicians to make Halifax Harbour a nuclear-free zone.

"There is no treatment as good as prevention," she said. "Much, much, much more effective than trying to wash people off in showers and conduct disaster exercises would be to prevent such a thing from occurring in the first place.

"Halifax doesn't have any nuclear power plants. We don't have any nuclear weapons in Halifax or in Canada in general. What we have then is they're essentially bringing a disaster to us. They're bringing nuclear-powered subs and I don't know if they actually have nuclear-armed subs in our harbour, but those risks are being brought to us. They're not risks that we have inherent in being the city of Halifax."

The nuclear emergency response team from CFB Halifax was part of Wednesday's training scenario, which started with a pretend sub accident at 12 Wing Shearwater. Military officials said there was no real sub involved in the exercise, though visiting British and American nuclear subs can sometimes be spotted at the Shearwater dock.

There has never been an accident in a Canadian port involving a nuclear-powered vessel.

About 25 nuclear-powered vessels visit Canada every year, according to the document
"The likelihood of a nuclear reactor accident involving a nuclear-powered vessel visiting a Canadian port is extremely remote, even though it cannot be entirely ruled out," says a Defence Department backgrounder on the topic. About 25 nuclear-powered vessels visit Canada every year, according to the document.

Halifax and Esquimalt are bound by international agreements to accept nuclear-powered warships belonging to some of Canada's closest allies. (This is incorrect, as the agreements are bilateral - editor) Nanoose, B.C., is the only other Canadian port where they can tie up.

"Just the fact that they had this exercise (Wednesday) shows that they're a big risk to the local people," said Muriel Duckworth, a 98-year-old Halifax peace activist. "We should not allow them in here."


Archerfish (SSN-678), 14 September 1971, off the east coast of the United States. (USN 1194880) one of the many U.S. nuclear attack submarines which has "visited" the port of Halifax (summer, 1973)

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