Canso Spaceport concerns aired at community meeting

    CANSO: Earlier this month, residents were given the opportunity to hear from panelists as they expressed their concerns about the proposed Canso Spaceport project – some even aired their own.

    On August 1, a public meeting was held at the Canso Lions Club with roughly 100 community members in attendance, to hear from invited panelists, which included; Donald Bowser, an expert in corruption; Karen McKendry, a wildness outreach coordinator for the ecology action centre; Chris Surette and Jan-Sebastian LaPierre of A for Adventure, and Michael Byers, a UBC professor whose work focuses on outer space and climate change.

    Byers focused on his research into the well-documented health and environmental effects of unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) as a rocket fuel in Russia and Kazakhstan – the same type of rocket Maritime Launch Services (MLS) plans to use in Canso.

    “The Russian’s call it ‘The Devil’s Breath,’ [and] it’s the same fuel that Maritime Launch Services proposes to use in the second stages of rockets launched from Canso,” Byers told The Reporter. “I also explained that other developed countries have stopped using UDMH as a rocket fuel. This includes the United States as well as Japan and European countries.”

    He explained the type of rocket that MLS plans to use is new and untested, and that failure rates for first launches of new types of rockets are typically quite high.

    “If there were to be a failure, the 10 tonnes of UDMH in the second stage could be spilled in Canso or, worse yet, released as an aerosol cloud over the whole region.”

    Surette and LaPierre’s place in the conversation was from the perspective of ecotourism in the Canso area and they didn’t want to see that disrupted “to chase a dollar.”

    Bowser questioned who really benefits from this project, while McKendry spoke on the environmental impact of the proposed spaceport particularly, the local water supply and the marine environment.

    Following the panelist discussion, residents were given the opportunity to ask questions.

    One resident felt the municipal government hasn’t been acting in the best interest of the people; another resident who has called Canso home for over eight decades said “it looks like these people play dirty pool and they’re looking for a new table.”

    No one from the municipality was in attendance to address the resident’s concerns, nor were there any notable supports of the project invited to sit on the panel.