Demande d’enquête sur l’escalade des coûts de gestion des déchets radioactifs fédéraux

Lettre au Comité permanent des comptes publics de la Chambre des communes

Le 29 juin 2020

Cher M. Allison et membres du Comité permanent des comptes publics,

Dans son rapport d’examen spécial, à l’automne 2017, sur Énergie atomique du Canada limitée, le vérificateur général du Canada a fait la recommandation suivante:

La Société [EACL] devrait élaborer un cadre d’information plus détaillé afin d’améliorer les évaluations réalisées et de mieux démontrer à la population canadienne qu’elle renforce son efficacité et efficience tout en maîtrisant et en réduisant les coûts et les risques au fil du temps.

EACL a tenté de donner suite à cette recommandation mais, à notre avis, elle n’a pas réussi. Le document de travail ci-joint “Les déchets radioactifs du gouvernement du Canada :  La croissance des coûts et obligations en partenariat public-privé” note que depuis le début d’un partenariat public-privé en 2015, le financement public d’EACL a pratiquement quadruplé pour atteindre 1,3 milliard de dollars en 2020/21. De 2015 à décembre 2019 (données les plus récentes), le passif déclaré d’EACL a augmenté de 332 millions de dollars. 

Voici les conclusions du document de travail:

1.  Le coût du nettoyage des déchets nucléaires du gouvernement fédéral, estimé à 8 milliards de dollars, est supérieur à l’ensemble des 2 000 autres obligations environnementales du gouvernement.  Mesurées en dollars courants, ces obligations sont beaucoup plus élevées et ont récemment été évaluées à 16 milliards de dollars.

2. Le précédent gouvernement conservateur a tenté de réduire les coûts et d’accélérer la réduction des obligations relatives aux déchets nucléaires en mettant en œuvre un partenariat public-privé – un contrat d’organisme gouvernemental exploité par un entrepreneur (OGEE) entre Énergie atomique du Canada limitée (EACL) et un consortium multinational.

3. Le financement public d’EACL destiné à réduire les obligations fédérales en matière de déchets nucléaires a plus que quadruplé depuis le début du contrat OGEE ; les obligations nucléaires augmentent plutôt que de diminuer malgré un déboursé de milliards de dollars de fonds publics.

4. Dans le processus de la mise en oeuvre du contrat OGEE, la surveillance du gouvernement a été considérablement réduite et le contrôle des installations nucléaires et des déchets radioactifs du gouvernement canadien a été largement transféré à des intérêts américains.

5. Le contractant d’OGEE fait avancer des installations de déchets radioactifs de qualité inférieure qui ne sont pas conformes aux normes et obligations internationales ; les évaluations environnementales sont embourbées dans la controverse et accusent plusieurs années de retard.

6. Le Parlement devrait intervenir pour rétablir le contrôle et la surveillance des installations nucléaires fédérales et des déchets radioactifs, et devrait s’assurer que les fonds publics sont sagement investis dans les meilleures stratégies disponibles pour maintenir les déchets radioactifs hors de notre air et de notre eau potable, afin de protéger les générations actuelles et futures de Canadiens.

Nous soutenons qu’EACL n’a pas démontré aux Canadiens qu’elle améliore son efficacité et sa productivité ni qu’elle maîtrise ses coûts.  En fait, il semble que ce soit le contraire. Nous vous demandons instamment d’enquêter sur cette question et nous vous demandons instamment d’enquêter sur cette question et nous vous suggérons de lire le document de discussion complet. 

Nous sommes impatients de vous entendre et serions heureux de fournir des informations supplémentaires et / ou de répondre à toutes les questions des membres du comité.

Nous regrettons que le document de travail ci-joint ne soit pas encore disponible en français; nous vous ferons parvenir la version française dès qu’elle sera disponible.

Veuillez agréer, Monsieur le Président et membres du comité, l’expression de nos salutations distinguées,

Gordon Edwards, Ph.D, Regroupement pour la surveillance du nucléaire

Éric Notebaert, MD, M.Sc., Association canadienne des médecins pour l’environnement
Ole Hendrickson, Ph.D, Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area

Document ci-joint: (anglais) “Les déchets radioactifs du gouvernement du Canada :  La croissance des coûts et obligations en partenariat public-privé”

Don’t approve Nuclear Waste regulations which put Canadians at risk, says NDP Natural Resources Critic Richard Cannings

Office of/Bureau du Richard Cannings MP South Okanagan – West Kootenay

June 17, 2020

South Okanagan MP Richard Cannings has self-isolated after ...

Don’t approve Nuclear Waste regulations which put Canadians at risk,
says NDP Natural Resources Critic Richard Cannings

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) should not approve a suite of regulatory documents on radioactive waste at its meeting June 18, 2020 and instead live up to the Liberal government’s commitment to openness and transparency for regulatory development. Some of these regulations developed by commission staff are at best vague guidelines that leave nuclear waste policy decisions in the hands of private industry, instead of actually prescribing actions that are in the public interest.

These regulatory changes would pave the way for several controversial nuclear waste disposal projects, including a giant mound at Chalk River, Ontario, two entombments of shut- down reactors, and a proposed deep geological repository for the burial of high-level nuclear fuel waste.

This proposal does not meet Canada’s commitment to meeting or surpassing international standards for the handling of nuclear waste. For example, the entombment of nuclear reactors is designated as “in-situ decommissioning”, a practice that the International Atomic Energy Agency says should only be used as a last option for facilities damaged in accidents.

Of further concern is the lack of clarity in the proposed regulations. In many cases the licensee is directed to develop safety requirements with no explicit directions as to what those safety requirements are. The giant mound at Chalk River is meant to contain up to 1 million cubic metres of low- to intermediate-activity nuclear waste but these activity levels are not defined and the private owner of the facility would get to decide what materials are stored in that mound of nuclear waste.

The Minister of Natural Resources has committed to consulting Canadians on a policy framework and strategy for radioactive waste. Instead we have this backdoor process with limited public input and no parliamentary oversight. The minister should be conducting a public process to develop a Canadian framework for radioactive waste management that meets or exceeds international best practices, a framework that does not allow the nuclear industry to police itself.

Le Devoir Op Ed: Des déchets radioactifs de faible activité

le 13 juin, 2020 (English translation follows)

https://www.ledevoir.com/opinion/libre-opinion/580766/des-dechets-radioactifs-de-faible-activite?fbclid=IwAR3gIbn_hyfpS63do9M3Z9G-jWnHm9JLiSTOE6Y3Q85IyYN_mYDYXwwBRv4

Par Gilles Provost, journaliste scientifique à la retraite

Pendant que les médias parlent de coronavirus et d’émeutes raciales, le Canada s’affaire à tromper le public en détournant la définition de ses déchets radioactifs. 

The regulations stipulate that a radioactive product will be "of low activity" as soon as it is possible to dispose of it safely within 30 meters, maintains the author.

Les déchets de faible activité, par exemple, sont depuis toujours des produits radioactifs assez inoffensifs pour qu’on puisse les manipuler à main nue, sans blindage de protection. Or, dans quelques jours à peine, ces mêmes mots « déchets de faible activité » vont désigner des produits radioactifs mille fois plus dangereux, souvent mortels au toucher. 

Ce détournement linguistique est caché dans un règlement-fleuve que la Commission canadienne de sureté nucléaire (CCSN) prévoit adopter le 18 juin prochain. Le règlement prévoit qu’un produit radioactif sera « de faible activité » dès qu’il sera possible de l’éliminer sécuritairement à moins de 30 mètres de profondeur (« près de la surface »), quitte à l’envelopper d’une chape de plomb ou de béton! 

Un seul critère à respecter : ces déchets devront contenir surtout des produits radioactifs à vie courte, dont le danger aura disparu en « quelques siècles ». La logique ici, c’est qu’un dépotoir près de la surface est vulnérable à l’érosion et aux intrusions humaines. Comme ses systèmes d’isolement et de protection ont une espérance de vie limitée, on ne devrait y mettre que des déchets qui vont se désintégrer rapidement. Leur danger doit disparaître plus vite que le dépotoir. 

L’illogisme, ce n’est pas de créer cette nouvelle classe de déchets; c’est plutôt de conserver l’ancienne appellation qui devient alors trompeuse. On ne peut pas parler de déchets de faible activité si on ne tient même plus compte de leur niveau d’activité! 

Pire, on se heurte alors à une absurdité scientifique : L’activité d’un produit radioactif, en physique, c’est sa vitesse de désintégration. Plus il se désintègre rapidement, plus son activité est forte.  Cela veut dire qu’un produit radioactif de forte activité selon la physique serait maintenant un déchet de faible activité, selon la nouvelle définition décrétée par la Commission canadienne de sûreté nucléaire

L’erreur est si grossière qu’elle en devient incroyable, compte tenu de l’expertise de la Commission. Je m’attendais donc à ce que tout soit vite corrigé si je signalais le problème à ses experts et à sa présidente. 

Pas du tout! La dernière version du règlement, vieille de quelques jours, définit pour la première fois que les déchets de faible activité « sont appropriés pour évacuation dans des installations de gestion près de la surface » mais elle ne change pas leur nom pour autant. On persiste à les dire « de faible activité » même quand leur activité réelle est astronomique et mortelle. L’erreur est délibérée!

L’erreur a aussi des effets pratiques puisque la Commission se prépare à approuver une « installation de gestion de déchets près de la surface » à Chalk River, à côté de la rivière des Outaouais dont l’eau potable alimente Gatineau, Laval et Montréal. Ce dépôt recevra plus d’un million de tonnes de déchets radioactifs civils et militaires qui appartiennent au gouvernement fédéral. Celui-ci nous promet que l’installation durera 500 ans même s’il s’agit d’un monticule de déchets entassés sur une colline. (C’est aussi cela, « près de la surface »!)

Depuis octobre 2017, le promoteur de ce monticule radioactif répète sur toutes les tribunes qu’il va y stocker « uniquement des déchets de faible activité ».  C’était chaque fois un mensonge. Ses communications secrètes avec la Commission, obtenues grâce à la loi sur l’accès à l’information, révèlent au contraire qu’il n’a jamais eu l’intention d’exclure de son projet les déchets trop radioactifs pour qu’on puisse les toucher sans blindage. Parmi les 134 000 mètres cubes de barils et de conteneurs radioactifs qu’il prévoit entasser dans son monticule, aucun ne contient des déchets que vous pourriez toucher sans blindage.

Désormais, par la magie du nouveau règlement qui change le sens des mots, tout déchet radioactif placé dans ce dépôt deviendra par définition « de faible activité ». Toutes les promesses mensongères des trois dernières années deviendront vraies. 

Heureusement que la Commission de sûreté nucléaire veille à notre sécurité!    

It’s Only Low Level Radioactive Waste!

By Gilles Provost, retired science journalist

 While the media are talking about coronaviruses and racial riots, Canada is trying to deceive the public by hijacking the definition of its radioactive waste.

Low-level radioactive waste, for example, has always been harmless enough to be handled with bare hands without protective shielding. However, just a few days from now, these very same words “low level waste” will refer to radioactive products a thousand times more dangerous, often deadly to the touch.

This semantic perversion is hidden in a mega-regulation the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) plans to adopt on June 18. This new  regulation stipulate that any radioactive waste will be “Low Level” (faible activité/weak activity in French) as soon as it can be disposed of safely at less than 30 meters underground (“near-surface”), even if it also needs to be wrapped in a lead or concrete screed!

Only one constraint: this waste must mostly made of short-lived radioactive elements, the danger of which will have disappeared “a few hundred years” from now. The rational here is that any near-surface dumping site will be vulnerable to erosion and human intrusion. Since its isolation and containment systems have such a limited life expectancy, it should only contain waste that decay quickly. The hazard must disappear faster than the dump.

The absurdity here is not to create this new waste classification; it is rather to keep the old name which then becomes misleading. We cannot talk about low-level/weak activity waste if we don’t even take its activity level into account!

Worse, this is also a scientific nonsense: The activity of a radionuclide, in physics, is its decay rate. The faster it decays, the stronger the activity. This means that any radioactive waste which has a high activity level according to physics would now be a Low Level/weak activity waste, according to the new CNSC definition!

The mistake is gross enough to be unbelievable, given the Commission expertise. So much so that I expected everything to be fixed quickly if I reported the problem to its experts and its president.

Not at all! The latest version of the regulation, a few days old, now defines Low-Level waste as  “suitable for disposal in near surface facilities” but has not changed the name accordingly. They persist in calling it Low Level/weak activity” waste even when its real activity level is astronomical and deadly. The misunderstanding is  intentional!

The confusion also has practical effects since the Commission is preparing to approve a “Near Surface Disposal Facility” at Chalk River, next to the Ottawa River which serve as the drinking water source for Ottawa, Laval and Montreal. This facility will receive at least a million tons of civilian and military radioactive waste belonging to the federal government. We are also being told that this dumping ground will last for 500 years even if it is a mound of waste piled up on a hill. (Yes, “near surface” may also mean that!)

Since October 2017, the promoter of this radioactive mound has been repeating again and again that it will only contain ” Low Level Waste”. It was a lie each and every time. His secret communications with the Commission, obtained thanks to the Access to Information Act, reveal on the contrary that he never intended to exclude any waste that we should not touch without shielding. Among the 134,000 cubic meters of barrels and radioactive containers he plans to pile up in his mound, none contains waste that could be touched without shielding.

From now on, by the magic of this new regulation which redefines word’s meaning, any radioactive waste placed in this repository will by definition become “Low Level/Weak Activity Waste”. All the false promises of the past three years will become true.

Thankfully, the Nuclear Safety Commission is keeping us safe!

Hill Times Op Ed: Proposed radioactive waste disposal rules are weak and industry-friendly

OPINION

Proposed radioactive waste disposal rules are weak and industry-friendly

By OLE HENDRICKSON      JUNE 12, 2020

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is on the cusp of approving new rules for the disposal of nuclear waste in Canada.

Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan, pictured delivering the opening keynote at the Canadian Nuclear Association’s annual conference in Ottawa on Feb. 27, 2020. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission reports to Parliament through Mr. O’Regan. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

On June 18th, Canada’s industry-friendly regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), will formalize new guidance and requirements for disposal of radioactive waste. The CNSC’s new rules are tailored to allow the nuclear industry to “solve” its waste problem as easily and cheaply as possible.

While the CNSC claims to have consulted the public in preparing five new regulatory documents (“REGDOCs”) for radioactive waste storage and disposal, the documents largely reflect the agency’s separate interactions with industry giants such as Cameco, Ontario Power Generation, Bruce Power, and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (a privately-owned corporation controlled by U.S. interests).

With Canadian nuclear reactors approaching the end of their useful life, or already shut down, the CNSC’s proposal to allow permanent, on-site disposal (and eventual abandonment) of radioactive waste at existing nuclear facilities is attracting criticism.

This strategy, known as “in-situ decommissioning”, is expressly supported in a new CNSC decommissioning REGDOC, even though its use is specifically proscribed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Plans to use existing nuclear facilities for permanent waste disposal were initially set out in a 2014 Canadian Standards Association document prepared by industry and government nuclear officials.  This document identifies “in situ confinement—to place the facility in a safe and secure condition with the intention to abandon in-place” as a decommissioning strategy option.

In 2015, the consortium of multinational companies that owns Canadian Nuclear Laboratories and operates the federal government’s nuclear sites (including six shut-down reactors) proposed to use this option for federal reactors in Ontario and Manitoba—to entomb them in concrete and grout. These proposals triggered federal environmental assessments that are being led by the CNSC.

In February 2020 the IAEA released a review of Canada’s nuclear safety framework, and observed that “The CNSC is currently considering two licence applications related to in situ confinement of legacy reactor facilities. This strategy of in-situ confinement is not consistent with SSG-47.”

SSG-47 is the 2018 IAEA Specific Safety Guide, Decommissioning of Nuclear Power Plants, Research Reactors and Other Nuclear Fuel Cycle Facilities.  The IAEA suggested that CNSC “consider revising its current and planned requirements in the area of decommissioning to align with the IAEA guidance.”

But tather than following IAEA guidance that “entombment is not considered an acceptable strategy for planned decommissioning,” the CNSC decommissioning REGDOC to be approved on June 18th says “In situ decommissioning may be considered a solution… for legacy sites.”

The REGDOC then goes further, opening the door for abandonment of future nuclear facilities such as small modular reactors if their removal is not “practicable”.

Approval of this REGDOC and four others dealing with radioactive waste is being rushed by the CNSC behind closed doors during the coronavirus pandemic. The CNSC dismissed a written request from civil society groups to speak at, or even make written submissions for, its so-called “public meeting” on June 18th.

Civil society groups have long noted that Canada lacks policies and strategies for managing radioactive waste. Federal policy is limited to a 143-word Radioactive Waste Policy Framework that does not mention the fundamental principle of dealing with radioactive waste in a manner that protects human health—now and in the future—without imposing undue burdens on future generations.

In February, the IAEA recommended that “The Government of Canada should enhance the existing policy and establish the associated strategy to give effect to the principles stated in its Radioactive Waste Policy Framework.” The government responded that “Natural Resources Canada will review its existing policy for radioactive waste, and consider how it may be enhanced.”

NRCan officials say this review will include consultation with Indigenous groups and the public, but its start has been delayed by the pandemic.

It appears that the CNSC has decided to move quickly to pre-empt this government review, so as to allow maximum flexibility for the nuclear industry to use quick and cheap options to deal with its vexing challenge of radioactive waste disposal. When it comes to protecting people from exposure to harmful radiation, the fox is guarding the chicken house.

Ole Hendrickson is a retired environmental scientist, and a member of the Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area.

Update on EAs for CNLs nuclear waste disposal projects

from Kerrie Blaise, Legal Counsel, Canadian Environmental Law Association

For both NPD and Whiteshell, the revised EIS has been found to be incomplete and the CNSC has sent it back to the proponent. The CNSC is currently undertaking their completeness review for NSDF. 


1. Whiteshell DecommissioningStatus: Revised EIS deficient and sent back to proponentProject Page: https://iaac-aeic.gc.ca/050/evaluations/proj/80124

April 30, 2020 – On March 27, 2020, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) submitted a revised draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed In Situ Decommissioning Of the Whiteshell Reactor #1 Project to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), which included an updated EIS, updated technical supporting documents, and consolidated responses to all federal and provincial information requests. CNSC staff conducted a completeness check and determined that insufficient information was provided to enable the federal and provincial review team to proceed with the EIS technical review. CNL is expected to provide additional information and resubmit the revised EIS and supporting documents at a later date. 

   
2. Near Surface Disposal FacilityStatus: Completeness review underwayProject Page: https://iaac-aeic.gc.ca/050/evaluations/proj/80122

April 9, 2020 – The Federal and Provincial Review Team (FPRT) has completed their technical review of Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ (CNL) revised draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed Near Surface Disposal Facility, including updated supporting documents, and responses to all federal and provincial comments and information requests (IRs) (step 26 in Appendix A of the CNL–CNSC Administrative Protocol for the Proposed Near Surface Disposal Facility), available here.

Led by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), the federal and provincial authorities that participated in the technical review included Environment and Climate Change Canada, Health Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, and the Quebec Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changement climatiques. The FPRT technical review resulted in 37 IRs in total, several of these follow-up comments on existing IRs as well as several new IRs resulting from the review of new information. The CNSC submitted the consolidated table of federal and provincial comments from the FPRT technical review to CNL on April 3, 2020. CNL must now respond to these additional federal and provincial comments. The CNSC, in collaboration with the FPRT, will then make a determination on whether the information provided in CNL’s submissions is complete.

3. Nuclear Power Demonstration Status: Revised EIS deficient and sent back to proponentProject Page: https://iaac-aeic.gc.ca/050/evaluations/proj/80121

May 05, 2020 – On March 31, 2020, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) submitted a revised draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed Nuclear Power Demonstration (NPD) Closure Project to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), which included an updated EIS, updated technical supporting documents, and responses to all federal and provincial comments and information requests. CNSC staff conducted a completeness check and determined that insufficient information was provided to enable the federal and provincial review team to proceed with the EIS technical review. CNL is expected to provide additional information and resubmit the revised EIS and supporting documents at a later date.  

Une centaine de groupes exigent un gel de tous les projets en courstant qu’Ottawa n’aura pas bouché les trous béants de sa politique

COMMUNIQUÉ DE PRESSE Déchets radioactifs 

Ottawa le 19 mai 2020. Plus d’une centaine d’organisations citoyennes et d’éminents scientifiques de toutes les régions du Canada ont demandé au ministre canadien des Ressources naturelles, Seamus O’Regan, de suspendre toute décision sur l’élimination des déchets radioactifs au Canada tant que le pays ne se sera pas doté d’une politique complète sur les déchets radioactifs.


En février 2020, l’Agence internationale de l’énergie atomique (AIEA) a fait savoir au gouvernement canadien que sa politique-cadre en matière de déchets radioactifs n’inclut pas tous les éléments de politique requis ni la stratégie détaillée qui fourniraient un plan d’action national pour la gestion à long terme des déchets radioactifs et pour le démantèlement des installations nucléaires au Canada. Dans leur lettre, les signataires demandent que le Canada « s’engage à vraiment consulter les peuples autochtones, [et] à fortement impliquer le public dès le départ » dans l’élaboration des politiques sur les déchets nucléaires canadiens et des stratégies associées à ce développement.


Les signataires soulignent aussi l’urgence de leur demande puisque la Commission canadienne de sûreté nucléaire qui réglemente le nucléaire au Canada se prépare à prendre des décisions sur plusieurs demandes de permis qui concernent les déchets radioactifs. Les signataires craignent donc que les lacunes de la politique-cadre canadienne en matière de déchets radioactifs ne viennent miner les décisions qui vont affecter la santé et la sécurité des générations futures et de notre environnement. C’est pourquoi ils exigent que le Canada manifeste son leadership en définissant un cadre adéquat et une politique nationale.


Le Canada devrait aussi établir des objectifs et les principes qui devraient fonder cette politique et cette stratégie sur les déchets radioactifs, disent les signataires. Ils veulent en outre que le Canada décrive clairement les problèmes et les enjeux que soulève l’accumulation constante des déchets radioactifs.


Le texte de la lettre adressée au ministre est disponible en français et en anglais.
Lien :  http://ccnr.org/Lettre_Ministre_ORegan_15_mai_2020.pdfLink :  http://ccnr.org/Letter_Minister_ORegan_15_May_2020.pdf
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Civil society urges suspension of decisions involving radioactive waste after international body finds Canada’s nuclear waste policy deficient

Civil society urges suspension of decisions involving radioactive waste after international body finds Canada’s nuclear waste policy deficient

Ottawa (May 19, 2020) – Over one hundred civil society organizations and prominent scientific experts from across Canada have called on the federal minister of Natural Resources (Hon. Seamus O’Regan) to suspend all decision-making involving radioactive waste disposal until Canada has a sufficient radioactive waste policy in place.

In February 2020, it was reported by the International Atomic Energy Agency that Canada’s Radioactive Waste Management Policy Framework “does not encompass all the needed policy elements nor a detailed strategy” necessary to provide a national strategy for long-term radioactive waste management in Canada. In the letter, signatories request that the development of Canada’s radioactive waste policy and associated strategy must be based on “meaningful consultation with Indigenous peoples and strong public engagement from the outset.”

Signatories underscored the urgency of their request as Canada’s nuclear regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, presses ahead with regulatory licence decisions on a number of radioactive waste projects. Fearing Canada’s deficient radioactive waste framework will imprint itself on decisions affecting the health and safety of future generations and the environment, signees urged Canada to provide leadership, and establish sufficient guidance and federal policy.

Other commitments requested by signees included that Canada establish objectives and principles to underly a nuclear waste policy and strategy. They also requested Canada identify the problems and issues posed by existing and accumulating radioactive waste.

The full text of the letter sent to the Minister, may be found on the Nuclear Waste Watch website here: “Canada Needs a National Radioactive Waste Policy” May 15, 2020

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Links:Find the letter to Minister Seamus O’Regan and the media release in English and French here:  https://nuclearwastewatch.weebly.com/May2020Mai.html
A full list of deficiencies in Canada’s nuclear safety framework, identified by the IAEA, is available here: “International peer review finds deficiencies in Canada’s nuclear safety framework”

Radiation Exposure and Cancer Incidence (1990 to 2008) around Nuclear Power Plants in Ontario, Canada

This study, by staff of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission purports to show that radioactive emissions from nuclear power plants in Ontario are not harming Canadians. It may in fact show the opposite. We offer the following observations about this study:

The Pickering results are suspect.  The authors should have noted that emissions of nuclear substances from the six, 500-megawatt operating reactors at Pickering over the period of the study were less than from the four, 900-megawatt reactors at Darlington or the eight, 800-megawatt reactors at Bruce.  But they did not.


Inclusion of Pickering skews the study.  The very large population living within 25 km of the Pickering facility would be subject to many other influences on cancer incidence, including positive factors. 


The authors should have looked at a smaller radius around Pickering – say, 10-15 km.  In general, the study would have been much stronger had they done variable radii around all three reactor sites.


Also, the positive associations between cancer incidence and proximity to the Bruce and Darlington reactors are much stronger that the weak (and spurious) negative association in the Pickering data.

From the study:

“However, the number of cases varies considerably between the three
NPPs due to the large differences in population size of people living
within 25 km of Pickering, Darlington and Bruce NPPs (1,580,000;
380,000; and 24,500 respectively, based on the 2006 census year).”
(quote from p. 893).

Table 10, Bruce – 9% significant increase in incidence of all
cancers, 17% significant increase in incidence of lung cancer, 17%
significant increase in incidence of colon and rectal cancer.  Total
observed cancers – 2570.  Total expected cancers – 2362.  Excess
cancers – 208 out of a population of 24,500.

Table 9, Darlington – 8% significant increase in incidence of all
cancers, 12% significant increase in incidence of lung cancer, 7%
significant increase in incidence of colon and rectal cancer, 8%
significant increase in incidence of thyroid cancer, 19% significant
increase in in incidence of bladder cancer, 26% significant increase
in in incidence of leukemia.  Total observed cancers – 24,707. Total
expected cancers – 22,853.  Excess cancers – 1,854 out of a
population of 380,000.

Excess cancers at Bruce and Darlington – 2,062 over an 18-year
period in a population at the end of that period of 404,500 – more
than a 0.5% increase of cancer.

Table 8, Pickering – The much larger population (1,580,000) within 25
km of the Pickering NPPs – which includes portions of Scarborough,
Ajax and Whitby – showed a lower overall cancer incidence than the
Ontario average, although incidence of thyroid cancer was
significantly increased (by 41%).

Our comment:

Lane et al. dismiss radiation as an explanation for the elevated
cancer incidence around Bruce and Darlington because “public doses
from environmental releases of radionuclides from Ontario NPPs
represent a very small fraction of natural background radiation (1.338
and 2.02 mSv/year) in the regions where the NPPs are located.”  Based
on their “dose” calculations, they say that “Therefore, on the basis
of current radiation risk estimates and the supporting epidemiological
literature, radiation is not a plausible explanation for any excess
cancers observed within 25 km of any Ontario NPP.”

In fact it would appear that there is clear evidence of excess
cancers within 25 km of the Bruce and Darlington nuclear reactor
sites, but that the authors dismissed radiation as a cause of these
cancers because that would conflict with “current radiation risk
estimates”.