2006 Nuclear-Free Future Education Award
Dr. Gordon Edwards, Canada
Canada is still a close-knit, vast frontier: talk around the campfire on Hudson Bay soon makes the rounds at Great Bear Lake – and vice versa. In the great North a person's reputation rings far. Whether it's an environmental scandal in Labrador or an ecological crisis in the Rocky Mountains, the man to get a hold of is British Columbia broadcaster David Suzuki. The same holds true when it comes to a nuclear mishap: be it a radioactive discharge at Bruce Nuclear Power Complex, or a breached tailings pond dam in northern Saskatchewan, everyone knows Dr. Gordon Edwards is the expert to seek out. The professor from Montreal is sure to get you answers, quick.
For over three decades Gordon Edwards has worked to bring transparency and accountability to every aspect of Canada's nuclear industry. His ability to communicate his specialist knowledge of mathematics and physics to lay minds greatly facilitates his role as activist: with charm and analytical expertise, he employs powerful images to demolish the popular myth of ‘clean nuclear energy’ – especially in its latest guise as our savior from global warming. Gordon Edwards has helped communities across Canada prevent the construction of nuclear facilities and to come to grips with radioactive contamination. The high point of any major Canadian anti-nuclear rally comes when this man takes the microphone.
Dr. Edwards has acted as a consultant to many governmental and non-governmental organizations, including the Auditor General of Canada, the Ontario Royal Commission on Electric Power Planning, the Select Committee on Ontario Hydro Affairs, the United Steelworkers, the Mohawks of Kanesetake, the Siting Task Force for Radioactive Wastes... In 1975 he co-founded the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR), and has been its president since 1978. Together with his friend and colleague Robert Del Tredici, founder of the Atomic Photographers Guild, he published the first maps detailing Canada’s nuclear infrastructure, and educational pamphlets illustrating the environmental effects of uranium mining.
Through his research, briefs, articles, public presentations, and radio and television appearances, Gordon has engaged a broad range of nuclear issues. He stopped the Atomic Energy of Canada district-heating reactor program in its tracks; was influential in the cancellation of a geologic high-level nuclear waste repository in the northeastern US near the Quebec border; played a key role in bringing about a moratorium on new reactors in Quebec, as well as moratoria on uranium mining in Labrador, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia; broke the story that radon gas was six times more toxic than official Canadian government numbers attested (a finding later confirmed by the British Columbia Medical Association and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences); and torpedoed the fatal fallacy that plutonium produced by CANDU-reactors is unusable in nuclear weapons.
Gordon Edwards is Canada's foremost nuclear critic. His advice to the worldwide anti-nuclear movement: »Examine each nuclear problem directly, without fear or denial – because you cannot solve a problem until you understand it. Work to expose the cult of the expert by demystifying nuclear technology. Give real meaning to numbers by using the language of common sense. Ensure that information gets into the public record in a comprehensible form so that it can have a lasting impact. And cooperate with all interested parties because the essence of activism is interaction – one thing invariably leads to another«.