Chalk River reactions (on Colin Chisdale)
While it is true that near surface disposal facilities are recognized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as a preferred way of managing low-level radioactive waste, CNL’s proposal is for an above-ground mound, not a near surface disposal facility. This was conceded by CNL official Jim Buckley at a July 2017 meeting in Fort William (Pontiac). Mr Quinn’s use of the misleading term “NSDF” to suggest that CNL’s mound proposal is proven technology is troubling.
Pat Quinn (June 20 letter) also misleadingly calls the proposed NSDF facility “watertight”. Wastes would be exposed to rain and snow, leaching radioactive contaminants from the mound and necessitating long-term operation of a complex and expensive water treatment facility that at best would only remove a portion of the contaminants. Radioactive tritium would routinely be discharged to adjacent wetlands. The proposed location of the mound, a kilometre from the Ottawa River, makes this extremely problematic.
Not all the wastes that CNL wants to put in the mound would be “low-level”, as Mr Quinn claims. The IAEA classifies waste with significant quantities of long-lived radioisotopes as “intermediate-level”. These are found in large amounts at Chalk River -- and CNL is bringing in more from the WR-1 reactor at Manitoba’s Whiteshell Laboratories. CNL’s intent, stated in the environmental impact statement, is to put all these wastes in the mound.
The formal environmental assessment process is well behind schedule. CNL requested more time to respond to hundreds of critical technical comments. While Mr Quinn says members of the public may participate in this process, there may be no further opportunities to do so for more than a year.
The NSDF project is wasting taxpayer dollars and delaying action to deal with the federal government’s 70-year legacy of nuclear waste. The project should be abandoned in favour of a geological repository that can isolate the waste from the biosphere and drinking water sources - the IAEA’s preferred option for managing long-lived radioactive waste.
Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area