Regulator recommends OK to radioactive dump beside the Ottawa River
Canada’s nuclear regulatory agency, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), recommended on January 25 approval of a controversial above-ground nuclear waste dump for one million tonnes of mixed radioactive and hazardous waste alongside the Ottawa River. Citizens’ groups say the document is seriously flawed and vow to fight the recommendation in licensing hearings, February 22 and May 31, 2022.
Ole Hendrickson, scientist and researcher, said the CNSC “has failed to assess the project in a scientifically credible manner”, citing “critical omissions in the document” that he says “make it impossible for the Commission to make a sound decision about whether or not to license the dump.”
“The recommendation to approve this dump, given that it would leak and eventually disintegrate, is reckless and irresponsible on the part of CNSC staff," said Johanna Echlin of the Old Fort William (Quebec) Cottagers' Association.
Critical omissions in the assessment, noted citizens' groups, include the following:
Failure to consider future human exposures to waste containing plutonium and other long-lived substances that will remain radioactive for thousands of years
No identification of the impacts of constructing a pipeline to discharge contaminated effluent into Perch Lake, which drains into the Ottawa River; presented un-ironically as a “mitigation measure”
Failure to seriously consider alternative sites not near a major water body, and to avoid placing wastes where there is a risk of flooding
Inadequate consideration of alternative facilities not exposing wastes to rain, wind, and snow; and that would not require unproven water treatment and “weather cover structure” technologies
No consideration of risks to workers from accidents involving cobalt-60 irradiator wastes
Failure to consider contamination of groundwater from the hundreds of tonnes of lead required to shield these highly-radioactive commercial wastes
Astonishingly, the environmental assessment report contains no references
The report fails to address the fact that the mound would degrade and that HYPERLINK "https://concernedcitizens.net/2021/02/22/what-would-go-into-the-chalk-river-mound-2/" n _blankmixed radioactive and hazardous industrial wastes (arsenic, beryllium, mercury, benzene, dioxins, PCBs, etc.) would leak into the Ottawa River, essentially forever.
Previous studies by the dump proponent identified HYPERLINK "https://concernedcitizens.net/2021/02/23/how-would-the-near-surface-disposal-facility-leak-let-us-count-some-of-the-ways/" n _blankmany ways the mound would leak, and described the HYPERLINK "https://concernedcitizens.net/2020/11/04/the-proponents-own-study-shows-that-the-chalk-river-mound-will-disintegrate/" n _blankinevitable disintegration of the mound within 400 years of “normal evolution.” Leakage is expected to flow into wetlands draining into the Ottawa River, a drinking water source for millions downstream.
According to Hendrickson, "This is ... what happens when HYPERLINK "http://concernedcitizens.net/2021/04/12/reforms-needed-at-canadian-nuclear-safety-commission-say-activists/" n _blankgovernment agencies are captured by the industries they are supposed to regulate.
Opportunities for public comments on the project’s environmental impacts ended in August 2017 after a flood of negative concerns from First Nations communities, civil society groups, municipalities, independent scientists and individuals. The Assembly of First Nations, and HYPERLINK "http://concernedcitizens.net/2022/02/02/updated-list-of-first-nations-and-municipal-resolutions-against-cnls-plans-for-radioactive-dumps-on-the-ottawa-river/" n _blankmore than 140 downstream municipalities have passed resolutions opposing the dump plan.
Members of the public will have their final opportunity to submit concerns about the proposed project at the “Part 2 licensing hearing”, scheduled to begin May 31, 2022. April 11 is the deadline to apply to "intervene" in the May 31 public hearing.
Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area
Pembroke, Ont & Chapeau, Qc