The post below is from our friends at Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area, who have been closely monitoring recent developments on nuclear waste disposal plans at Chalk River.
Just before the 2015 federal election, the Harper government handed control of the Chalk River Laboratories nuclear site to a consortium of five multinational corporations.
In 2013, the Canadian member of the consortium, SNC Lavalin, was barred from World Bank contracts for ten years because of corruption charges.
The 70-year-old Chalk River site, created to research and develop nuclear weapons, has over half a million cubic metres of radioactive waste, including over 100 unwanted contaminated buildings.
The for-profit consortium proposes to bulldoze these and other radioactive wastes from across Canada – 1 million cubic metres in all – into a giant mound less than a kilometre from the Ottawa River, source of drinking water for millions. Much of this is “legacy waste” for which the federal government is responsible: a 6.5 billion dollar liability for Canadian taxpayers.
Now the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), widely perceived as a “captured regulator” according the Report of the Expert Panel on Environmental Assessment reform, is proposing a stripped-down 10-year licence that would delete most of the current safety and environmental provisions for the Chalk River site. The CNSC brags that its decisions are “not subject to any political review, nor may they be overturned by the Government of Canada.”
The CNSC was surprised to receive 87 interventions responding to its proposal, 2/3 of them critical. They had to add a day to hearings in Pembroke, January 23-25. Here are some excerpts:
- The Canadian Environmental Law Association: “the level of generality and vagueness being introduced into the text of this legal instrument, and the accompanying licence condition handbook, is an open invitation for non-compliance.”
- Ottawa River Keeper: “A 10 year licence should not be granted when there is no approved plan to deal with legacy wastes.” River Keeper asks if removing the current prohibition against controlled liquid waste releases to the ground is intended to allow discharges from the giant waste mound.
- Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area: The consortium is implementing a plan to consolidate all of the federal government’s radioactive waste at Chalk River, even though the site is unsuitable for a long-term waste management facility. And one of the consortium’s key objectives is to build and operate “small modular reactors”, which will create more waste and safety risks.
Billions of Canadian tax dollars support the consortium. Shareholders will be their top priority. We have to deal with the mess and any accidents.
Did you know any of this? Canadians, make your voices heard on this issue! Tell everyone you know.
Sign and circulate e-petition 1450, calling on the federal government to reform the nuclear governance system, to take responsibility for its own nuclear waste and to take profit motives out of radioactive waste management.
Take part in the “Canoe March for Nuclear Safety” on Jan. 18 at 11:00 am, starting near the flame on Parliament Hill.
Browse https://concernedcitizens.net/ for reports and information.
By Ole Hendrickson, Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area