Liberal MP says ‘wait and see”
Pontiac Liberal MP William Amos’ open letter September 21 addressed some constituents' concerns about plans for the needed clean-up of the Chalk River Laboratories site. His position on Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ (CNL) proposal to permanently landfill one million square metres of radioactive waste in an above-ground mound held together by a geotextile membrane on the shores of the Ottawa River upriver from the territory he represents is either naive or dishonest.
His two-page letter is what he has produced after over a year of considering the hundreds of submissions by his constituents, community organizations, First Nations and municipalities critiquing this irresponsible plan. Two pages from an expert in environmental law who for years has been advocating for environmental protection?
Mr Amos raises no specific concerns about CNL's proposal, its technology or its location. His main concern seems to be to shame citizens groups challenging the plan without proposing their own solutions. As if it is a layperson's responsibility to do the job we are paying the experts huge sums of taxpayer dollars to do.
Amos mentions only low-level radioactive waste already on site and nothing about the 10,000 cubic metres of intermediate waste, or the unknown amounts of long-lived waste, or the 100,000 cubic metres of waste that will be shipped in from other Canadian sites.
CNL’s claims their liner will last 300-500 years while some of their waste will remain toxic for 1,000, 10,000 and 100,000 years. Silence from Mr Amos on these specific concerns; his constituents will be among the first affected when the liner begins to leak.
Mr Amos asserts that we should have confidence in the “transparent” and “objective” environmental assessment process of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). He has abstained from any comments about the project to the CNSC himself. Without submissions by elected officials and municipalities, like Deep River, Laval and the Province of Quebec, the process he defends would be even more of a shell than it is already. His own Liberal government commissioned an expert panel, citing the conflict of interest with having environmental assessments done by the same agency responsible for promoting the industry. They concluded that industry self-regulation results in extremely poor transparency and objectivity. (For example, the CNSC has proposed only three public consultations in October and for local communities only, ignoring the concerns of the millions of citizens in Gatineau, Ottawa, Montreal and Laval whose drinking water would be directly affected by the inevitable contamination. At least Mr Amos supports the call for more of these open houses.
This letter by Will Amos reflects the “wait and see” approach we have come to expect from the Federal Liberal Party on this issue. This “trust the process” response is disturbing since Canada has no effective environmental assessment process and the recently privatized nuclear industry is essentially self-regulating.
Please continue to put pressure on all elected representatives at all levels to take a clear position on this issue. Will Amos proposes we accept the status quo process handed down from the Harper administration his government was elected to change.