Enviro-impact study rewritten
SNC-Lavalin & Texas firms argue for Ottawa River nuclear dumps
Pontiac Journal team
Citizen groups remain opposed to two radioactive dumps along the Ottawa River, despite studies released December 12. Citizens argue that tweaking will not put the projects within international safety standards.
The consortium’s plans for a giant mound of one million tonnes of radioactive waste and to entomb a defunct reactor in concrete alongside the Ottawa River have citizens and retired nuclear scientists objecting. First Nations, NGOs, federal government departments, Quebec’s government, and over 140 municipalities have also protested the federal plan.
“Radioactive waste must be kept from contact with the biosphere for as long as it is radioactive,” said Ole Hendrickson, a scientist with Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County, adding “the mound and the tomb are the wrong strategies; they can’t keep radioactive toxins out of our air and water; both facilities would release heavy metals and toxic compounds during and after construction.” Not to mention flooding, seismic shocks and tornadoes.
Canadians are calling on the federal government to cancel both quick-and-dirty dumps and to support world-class radioactive waste storage facilities for Canada’s $8 to $10 billion nuclear waste legacy. Ottawa admits it has no detailed policy on long-term management of radioactive wastes.
“Radioactive wastes should never be (stored) beside major water bodies”, says Gordon Edwards, president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility. “They should be monitored and retrievable so future generations can cope with them. They will be radioactive for more than one hundred thousand years - for eternity. However, the consortium chose sites for convenience and low cost, not public safety.”
The proposed facilities do not meet international guidelines. The IAEA requires long-lived radioactive waste in a moderately or very deep underground facility. The IAEA adds that flooding a defunct reactor with concrete is only for emergencies, for a meltdown.
The citizens claim CNL misrepresents the volume and life-spans of material for its five-to-seven-storey mound. The revised environmental impact statement (EIS) lists storing 30 radioactive materials; 25 are very long-lived, with a half-life of over four centuries; 22 have half-lives over a thousand years, 17 have half-lives over 100,000 years, and 7 have half-lives over a million years. None meet the IAEA definition of short-lived waste. Nevertheless, the most recent EIS asserts only low-level waste that “primarily contains short-lived radionuclides” would go into the mound.
“This is how CNL misleads the public and decision-makers - by playing with terms such as “near surface”, “low level” and “short-lived,” says Johanna Echlin, of the nearby Old Fort William (Quebec) Cottagers’ Association.
According to Echlin, federal world-class facilities for radioactive waste would have many benefits. “We have the expertise in Canada to be a world leader in looking after these radioactive wastes,” Echlin said. “Many well-paying jobs and careers could be created.” Instead, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, owned by the “Canadian National Energy Alliance”, a consortium of SNC-Lavalin and two Texas firms, is under federal contract to reduce Canada’s $8 billion nuclear waste stockpile “quickly and cheaply”.
Environmental assessments of the giant mound and the reactor tomb are underway. Licensing hearings for the projects are expected in late 2020.