LETTRE OUVERTE au premier ministre Justin Trudeau et au Conseil des ministres fédéral ~ ARRÊTEZ le dépotoir radioactif de Chalk River

Le 25 janvier 2021


Monsieur le Premier Ministre et mesdames et messieurs les Membres du Conseil des Ministres,

La rivière des Outaouais est une rivière du patrimoine canadien qui coule au pied de la Colline du Parlement. Sa valeur comme site naturel et comme trésor historique est inestimable. La rivière est sacrée pour le peuple algonquin, dont elle définit le territoire traditionnel.

La rivière des Outaouais est menacée par un dépotoir géant, d’une hauteur de sept étages, conçu pour abriter un million de tonnes de déchets radioactifs. Un consortium multinational (SNC-Lavalin, Fluor et Jacobs) prévoit construire ce monticule sur les terrains des Laboratoires nucléaires canadiens (LNC) près de Chalk River, en Ontario, à 150 km au nord-ouest d’Ottawa.

Les scientifiques indépendants et le public n’ont pas eu d’occasion de s’exprimer officiellement sur le projet depuis août 2017, alors que des centaines de commentaires critiques ont été soumis à la Commission canadienne de sûreté nucléaire (CCSN). La CCSN est l’« autorité responsable» en vertu de l’ancienne Loi canadienne sur l’évaluation environnementale et prévoit tenir une audience sur l’émission d’un permis cette année. Un Comité d’experts recommandait en 2017 que la CCSN ne soit pas chargée de l’évaluation environnementale des projets nucléaires. Le Comité avait aussi noté que la CCSN était largement perçue comme un « régulateur captif » des entreprises plutôt qu’un organisme indépendant.

L’Assemblée des Premières nations et plus de 140 municipalités du Québec et de l’Ontario ont adopté des résolutions s’opposant au dépotoir nucléaire de Chalk River.

Voici six raisons d’ARRÊTER ce projet:

1. Le site proposé est tout simplement inapte à recevoir un dépotoir, de quelque type qu’il soit. Le site est à moins d’un kilomètre de la rivière des Outaouais, qui forme la frontière entre l’Ontario et le Québec. La rivière fournit l’eau potable à des millions de Canadiens. Après avoir passé les LNC, elle coule entre Ottawa et Gatineau, au pied de la colline du Parlement, puis jusqu’à Montréal. Le site est exposé aux risques de tornades et de tremblements de terre; la rivière des Outaouais constitue d’ailleurs une ligne de faille géologique majeure. Le site est partiellement entouré de milieux humides et le substrat rocheux est poreux et fracturé.

2. Le monticule prévu contiendrait des centaines de matériaux radioactifs, des douzaines de produits chimiques dangereux et des tonnes de métaux lourds. Parmi les matériaux radioactifs destinés au monticule, on trouve du tritium, du carbone 14, du strontium 90, quatre types de plutonium (un des matériaux radioactifs les plus dangereux lorsqu’inhalé ou ingéré), et jusqu’à 80 tonnes d’uranium. Vingt-cinq des 30 radionucléides cités dans l’inventaire de radionucléides pour le monticule ont une longue durée de vie. Ces renseignements donnent à penser que le dépotoir demeurerait dangereusement radioactif pour quelque 100 000 ans.

La très grande quantité de cobalt 60 dans le dépotoir émettrait tellement de radiation gamma que les travailleurs devraient utiliser un blindage en plomb pour éviter une exposition dangereuse. L’Agence internationale de l’énergie atomique (AIEA) considère le cobalt 60 à haute activité comme un « déchet de moyenne activité », qui doit être stocké en profondeur.

Le dépotoir recevrait aussi des dioxines, des BPC, de l’amiante, du mercure, jusqu’à 13 tonnes d’arsenic et des centaines de tonnes de plomb. Il contiendrait aussi des milliers de tonnes de cuivre, de fer et 33 tonnes d’aluminium, des métaux qui pourront amener des voleurs à creuser dans le monticule après la fermeture du site.

3. Le monticule laisserait s’écouler des matériaux radioactifs et dangereux dans la rivière des Outaouais durant son opération et après sa fermeture. L’énoncé des incidences environnementales décrit plusieurs des façons dont le monticule pourrait laisser fuir son contenu. On prévoit que le monticule se désintégrera avec le temps, un processus qualifié d’« évolution normale ».

4. Il n’existe pas de niveau sécuritaire d’exposition aux radiations qui s’écouleraient du monticule de Chalk River dans la rivière des Outaouais. Chacun des matériaux radioactifs qui s’échapperait du site augmenterait les risques de malformations congénitales, d’altérations génétiques, de cancer et d’autres maladies chroniques. L’AIEA considère que les déchets radioactifs doivent être soigneusement stockés à l’écart de la biosphère et non dans un monticule en surface.

5. Les normes internationales de sécurité n’autorisent pas l’utilisation de dépotoirs pour disposer des déchets radioactifs. L’AIEA considère que seuls des déchets de très faible activité peuvent être placés dans une installation en surface, comme un dépotoir. Le Canada se déroberait à ses obligations internationales comme État membre de l’AIEA et signataire d’un traité international sur les déchets nucléaires s’il autorisait ce dépotoir à obtenir sa licence.

6. Le monticule géant de Chalk River ne réduirait pas la responsabilité légale du Canada face aux déchets nucléaires, qui s’élève déjà à 8 milliards de dollars. Il pourrait au contraire l’alourdir. La remise en état de cette colline de déchets radioactifs serait très difficile. Les coûts d’assainissement pourraient dépasser ceux de la gestion des déchets s’ils n’avaient pas été mis dans le monticule.

Monsieur le Premier Ministre et mesdames et messieurs les Membres du Conseil des Ministres: Retirez à la CCSN le pouvoir de décision en cette matière et arrêtez le dépotoir nucléaire de Chalk River. Protégez la rivière des Outaouais pour les générations actuelles et futures de Canadiens.

Veuillez recevoir l’expression de nos sentiments les plus sincères,


Gordon Edwards, Regroupement pour la surveillance du nucléaire, Montréal, QC

Éric Notebaert, Association canadienne des médecins pour l’environnement, Montréal, QC

Réal Lalande, Action Climat Outaouais, Gatineau, QC

Paul Johannis, L’Alliance pour les espaces verts de la capitale du Canada, Ottawa, ON

Lynn Jones, Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area, Ottawa, ON

Johanna Echlin, Old Fort William (Quebec) Cottagers’ Association, Sheenboro, QC

Robb Barnes, Écologie Ottawa, Ottawa, ON

Beatrice Olivastri, Les ami(e)s de la terre Canada, Ottawa, ON

Ole Hendrickson, Ottawa River Institute, Ottawa, ON

Eva Schacherl, Coalition Against Nuclear Dumps on the Ottawa River, Ottawa, ON

CC:
Hon. Erin O’Toole, Chef de l’opposition

Yves-François Blanchet, chef du Bloc québécois

Jagmeet Singh, Chef du Nouveau Parti démocratique

Annamie Paul, Chef du Parti vert du Canada

To Prime Minister Trudeau and members of the federal cabinet ~ Stop the Ottawa River radioactive waste dump


January 25, 2021


Dear Mr. Trudeau and members of the federal cabinet:

The Ottawa River is a Canadian Heritage River that flows past Parliament Hill. It has untold value as a beautiful natural and historical treasure. The river is sacred for the Algonquin People whose traditional territory it defines.

The Ottawa River is threatened by a giant landfill for one million tonnes of radioactive and other hazardous waste. A multinational consortium (SNC-Lavalin, Fluor and Jacobs) plans to build the seven-story mound on the grounds of the Chalk River Laboratories, northwest of Ottawa, directly across the Ottawa River from the province of Quebec.

Independent scientists and the public have not had a formal opportunity to comment on this project since August 2017 when hundreds of critical comments were submitted to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. CNSC is the “responsible authority” under the old Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and plans to hold a licensing hearing this year. An Expert Panel  recommended in 2017 that the CNSC not be in charge of environmental assessment for nuclear projects. The panel also noted that the CNSC is widely perceived to be a captured regulator.

The Assembly of First Nations and more than 140 Quebec and Ontario municipalities have passed resolutions opposing the Ottawa River nuclear waste dump.

Here are six reasons to STOP this project:

1. The proposed site is unsuitable for a dump of any kind. The site is less than one kilometre from the Ottawa River which forms the border between Ontario and Quebec. The river is a drinking water source for millions of Canadians. After passing the Chalk River Laboratories, it flows downstream through Ottawa-Gatineau, past Parliament Hill, and on to Montreal. The site is tornado and earthquake prone; the Ottawa River itself is a major fault line. The site is partly surrounded by wetlands and the underlying bedrock is porous and fractured.

2. The mound would contain hundreds of radioactive materials, dozens of hazardous chemicals and tonnes of heavy metals. Radioactive materials destined for the dump include tritium, carbon-14, strontium-90, four types of plutonium (one of the most dangerous radioactive materials if inhaled or ingested), and up to 80 tonnes of uranium. Twenty-five out of the 30 radionuclides listed in the reference inventory for the mound are long-lived. This suggests the dump would remain dangerously radioactive for 100,000 years. 

A very large quantity of cobalt-60 in the dump would give off so much intense gamma radiation that workers must use lead shielding to avoid dangerous radiation exposures. The International Atomic Energy Agency says high-activity cobalt-60 is “intermediate-level waste” and must be stored underground.

Dioxin, PCBs, asbestos, mercury, up to 13 tonnes of arsenic and hundreds of tonnes of lead would go into the dump. It would also contain thousands of tonnes of copper and iron and 33 tonnes of aluminum, tempting scavengers to dig into the mound after closure.

3. The mound would leak radioactive and hazardous contaminants into the Ottawa River during operation and after closure. Many ways the mound would leak are described in the environmental impact statement. The mound is expected to eventually disintegrate in a process referred to as “normal evolution.”

4. There is no safe level of exposure to the radiation that would leak into the Ottawa River from the Chalk River mound. All of the escaping radioactive materials would increase risks of birth defects, genetic damage, cancer and other chronic diseases. The International Atomic Energy Agency says radioactive wastes must be carefully stored out of the biosphere, not in an above-ground mound.

5. International safety standards do not allow landfills to be used for nuclear waste disposal. The International Atomic Energy Agency says that only Very Low Level Radioactive Waste (VLLW) can be put in an above-ground landfill-type facility. Canada would be shirking its international obligations as a member state of the IAEA and a signatory to an international nuclear waste treaty if it allowed this dump to be licensed.

6. The giant Chalk River mound would not reduce Canada’s $8 billion federal radioactive waste liabilities and could in fact increase themThe giant pile of leaking radioactive waste would be difficult to remediate. Remediation costs could exceed those of managing the wastes had they not been put in the mound.

Prime Minister Trudeau and Members of Cabinet, we urge you to take the decision-making authority out of the hands of CNSC for this project and stop the Chalk River nuclear waste dump. Protect the Ottawa River for current and future generations of Canadians. 

Yours sincerely,

Gordon Edwards, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, Montreal, QC

Éric Notebaert, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, Montreal, QC

Réal Lalande, Action Climat Outaouais, Gatineau, QC

Paul Johannis, Greenspace Alliance of Canada’s Capital, Ottawa, ON

Lynn Jones, Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area, Ottawa, ON

Johanna Echlin, Old Fort William (Quebec) Cottagers’ Association, Sheenboro, QC

Robb Barnes, Ecology Ottawa, Ottawa, ON

Beatrice Olivastri, Friends of the Earth Canada, Ottawa, ON

Ole Hendrickson, Ottawa River Institute, Ottawa, ON

Eva Schacherl, Coalition Against Nuclear Dumps on the Ottawa River, Ottawa, ON

CC

Hon. Erin O’Toole, Leader of the Official Opposition

Yves-François Blanchet, Leader of the Bloc Québécois

Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada

Annamie Paul, Leader of the Green Party of Canada

Ottawa River looking north; photo taken opposite Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories

Hill Times Letter to the Editor ~ We need parliamentarians to stop project, prevent Ottawa River from being permanently contaminated by gigantic radioactive landfill

January 18, 2021

Re “CNL working to accomplish responsible action in managing Canada’s nuclear research and development legacy” (The Hill Times, Letters to the Editor, December 14, 2020).

https://www.hilltimes.com/2021/01/18/278089/278089

This letter from Joe McBrearty, President and CEO of Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) deepens my concern about the handling of Canada’s $8 billion nuclear waste liability. 

Mr. McBrearty claims that the Chalk River Mound beside the Ottawa River, 150 km north of Ottawa-Gatineau, “will contain only low-level radioactive waste which contains radionuclides that require isolation and containment for only a few hundred years.”

Unfortunately this claim does not stand up to scrutiny.

Last month CNL published its final environmental impact statement listing a partial inventory of radionuclides that would go into the gigantic five-to-seven story radioactive mound (aka the “NSDF”).

Twenty-five out of the 30 radionuclides listed in the inventory are long-lived, with half-lives ranging from four centuries to more than four billion years. To take just one example, the man-made radionuclide, Neptunium-237, has a half-life of 2 million years such that, after 2 million years have elapsed, half of the material will still be radioactive. 

The inventory includes four isotopes of plutonium, one of the most deadly radioactive materials known, if inhaled or ingested.

It is incorrect to say that these materials “require isolation and containment for only a few hundred years.” Many of them will be dangerously radioactive for more than one hundred thousand years. The International Atomic Energy Agency states that materials like this must be stored tens of meters or more underground, not in an above-ground mound.

The CNL inventory also includes a very large quantity of cobalt-60, a material that gives off so much strong gamma radiation that lead shielding must be used by workers who handle it in order to avoid dangerous radiation exposures. The International Atomic Energy Agency considers high-activity cobalt-60 sources to be “intermediate-level waste” and specifies that they must be stored underground. Addition of high-activity cobalt-60 sources means that hundreds of tons of lead shielding would be disposed of in the mound along with other hazardous materials such as arsenic, asbestos, PCBs, dioxins and mercury.


CNL’s environmental impact statement describes several ways that radioactive materials would leak into surrounding wetlands that drain into the Ottawa River during filling of the mound and after completion. It also describes CNL’s intent to pipe water polluted with tritium and other radioactive and hazardous substances from the waste treatment facility directly into Perch Lake which drains into the Ottawa River.

I stand by my original conclusion: We need parliamentarians to step up now to stop this deeply flawed project and prevent the Ottawa River from being permanently contaminated by a gigantic, leaking radioactive landfill that would do little to reduce Canada’s $8 billion nuclear waste liability.

Letter to the editor published in the Hill Times Monday January 18, 2021

Hill Times letter ~ No, not all nuclear materials and by-products are safely stored in a highly regulated environment

The Hill Times, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021
Letters / opinions
No, not all nuclear materials and by-products are safely stored in a highly regulated environment, says letter writer (https://www.hilltimes.com/2021/01/11/276503/276503)

Re: “We cannot afford to be naive about climate change—renewables and nuclear must work together,” by John Gorman, The Hill Times, Dec. 14, 2020.

Mr. Gorman states “the nuclear industry is the only energy industry that can account for all its by-products. While fossil-fuel emissions go into the atmosphere and other industrial waste goes to landfill, all nuclear materials and by-products are safely stored, managed, and monitored in a highly regulated environment.”

Mr. Gorman appears to be unaware that all CANDU nuclear reactors routinely emit large volumes of radioactive water vapour and other radioactive gases into the atmosphere. CANDU reactors also routinely emit radioactive materials into water bodies (including drinking water sources) such as tritium, carbon-14 and radioactive cesium, strontium and cobalt.

There are numerous leaking radioactive waste areas on the Chalk River Laboratories site north-west of Ottawa-Gatineau on the Ottawa River. These leaking waste sites were described in detail in an Ottawa Citizen article in 2011 by Ian McLeod, entitled “Chalk River’s Toxic Legacy.”

The multinational consortium running Chalk River Laboratories is planning to build a gigantic above-ground landfill for one million tonnes of radioactive waste including plutonium and other materials that would remain radioactive for more than 100,000 years. This way of dealing with radioactive waste contravenes international safety standards and best practices.

The consortium’s own studies show that the mound would leak during operation and after closure. The mound is expected to eventually disintegrate in a process referred to as “normal evolution” described in a study called the “Performance Assessment,” produced by the proponent as part of a protracted and controversial environmental assessment that is ongoing.

So much for Mr. Gorman’s assertion that “all nuclear materials and by-products are safely stored, managed, and monitored in a highly regulated environment.”

Lynn Jones

Ottawa, Ont.

Frequently Asked Questions

OPEN LETTER ~ Federal funding for new nuclear reactors is a serious mistake that blocks swift action on climate change

Note: this letter was also published in English as a full page ad in the Hill Times on December 7, 2020.

December 6, 2020

The Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos, President

The Hon. Joyce Murray, Vice-Chair

The Hon. Bardish Chagger, Member

The Hon. Catherine McKenna, Member

The Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Member

The Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson, Member

Treasury Board of Canada

Dear Mr. Duclos and Members of the Treasury Board:

On September 21, 2020 we wrote to you as women who are Indigenous and non-Indigenous community leaders in science, medicine, law and environmental protection to ask you to stop funding new nuclear reactors. Canada is a member of an international nuclear waste treaty and has a legal obligation to minimize generation of radioactive waste. Federal funding for new nuclear reactors would be an abnegation of this treaty obligation.

Today we are joined by women colleagues from all provinces and territories in Canada and several Indigenous communities. We strongly urge you to reject new nuclear reactors, called “SMRs.” They are being promoted to your government as a silver bullet to address the climate emergency. This is a false notion.

We strongly urge you to reject new nuclear reactors, called “SMRs.” They are being promoted to your government as a silver bullet to address the climate emergency. This is a false notion.

In fact, SMRs prevent swift, effective action to address the climate emergency. SMRs are many years away from production. They would take far too long to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They suck money and attention away from inexpensive low-carbon technologies that are ready to deploy now.

Solar and wind power are already the cheapest and fastest-growing electricity sources in the world. A 2018 Deloitte report, “Global Renewable Energy Trends: Solar and Wind Move from Mainstream to Preferred” concluded: “Solar and wind power recently crossed a new threshold, moving from mainstream to preferred energy sourcesacross much of the globe”. The report noted that solar and wind power enhance electrical grids. It also pointed out that intermittency is no longer a concern owing to rapid advances in storage technology. Canada should fund much wider deployment of solar and wind power.

More funding for energy efficiency and energy conservation would also be a much better use of tax dollars than handouts to the nuclear industry. The 2018 report presented by the Generation Energy Council to Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources found that: “Canada’s greatest opportunities to save money, cut greenhouse gas emissions and create jobs can be found in slashing energy waste. Fully one-third of our Paris emissions commitment could be achieved by improving energy efficiency.” 

We urge you to say “no” to the nuclear industry that is asking for billions of dollars in taxpayer funds to subsidize a dangerous, highly-polluting and expensive technology that we don’t need. Instead, put more money into renewables, energy efficiency and energy conservation. This will create many thousands of jobs and quickly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

We must never forget that the main product of nuclear reactors — in terms of planetary impact — is deadly radioactive poisons that remain hazardous to all life on earth for hundreds of thousands of years. The electricity they produce for a few short decades is but a minor by-product.

We must never forget that the main product of nuclear reactors — in terms of planetary impact — is deadly radioactive poisons that remain hazardous to all life on earth for hundreds of thousands of years. The electricity they produce for a few short decades is but a minor by-product. There is no proven safe method for keeping radioactive waste out of the environment of living things for hundreds of thousands of years.

Please see Environmental Petition 419, submitted to the Auditor General of Canada in November 2018, for more detail on why Canada should refuse multibillion dollar handouts to subsidize the nuclear industry.

We urge you to bring this matter to the attention of your Cabinet colleagues, and stop all government support and taxpayer funding for so-called small modular nuclear reactors.

Yours sincerely,

Alma H. Brooks, Wolastoqew and Eastern Wabanaki (New Brunswick)

Chief April Adams-Phillips, Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (Quebec)

Candyce Paul, English River First Nation (Saskatchewan)

Ellen Gabriel, Mohawks of Kanehsatà:ke (Quebec)

Eriel Deranger, Member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Treaty 8 (Alberta) 

Hilu Tagoona, BA, Qairnimiut Inuk, (Nunavut)

Dr. Imelda Perley Opolahsomuwehs, Neqotkuk First Nation (New Brunswick)

Joan Scottie, Inuk, Nunavut Makitagunarngningit, Baker Lake, Nunavut 

Lorraine Rekmans, member of the Serpent River First Nation (Ontario)

Dr. Lynn Gehl, PhD, Algonquin – Pikwakanagan First Nation (Ontario)

Mary Alice Smith, BA, Metis Cree, Robinson-Superior Treaty area, Longbow Lake (Ontario)

Mary Lou Smoke, Anishinawbe Kwe, Bear Clan

Neecha Dupuis, Ojibway Nation of SAUGEEN Indian Tribe No. 258 Savant Lake (Ontario)

Renee Abram, Oneida First Nation of the Thames (Ontario) 

Serena Kenny, Lac Seul First Nation (Ontario)

Stefanie Bryant, BA, Lac Seul First Nation (Ontario)

Alexandra Hayward, BSc, JD Candidate, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador

Angela Bischoff, Toronto, Ontario

Anna Tilman, BA Physics, MA Medical Biophysics, Aurora, Ontario

Ann Coxworth, MSc, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Ann Pohl, MEd, Killaloe, Ontario

Anne Lindsey, Order of Manitoba, MA, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Dr. Auréa Cormier, PhD, Order of Canada, Moncton, New Brunswick

Dr. Barbara Birkett, MDCM, FRCPC, Oakville, Ontario

Beatrice Olivastri, Ottawa, Ontario

Betty L. E. Wilcox, BA, BEd, Stanhope, Prince Edward Island

Brenda Brochu, BA, BEd, Peace River, Alberta

Brennain Lloyd, North Bay, Ontario

Carole Dupuis, Saint-Antoine-de-Tilly, Québec

Carolyn Wagner, MEd, Fredericton, New Brunswick

Catherine Cameron, BSc., MBA, Perth Ontario

Dr. Cathy Vakil, MD, Kingston, Ontario

Dr. Cecily Mills, PhD Microbiology, Edmonton, Alberta

Chantal Levert, Montréal, Québec

Dr. Charlotte Rigby, PhD, Gatineau, Quebec 

Chris Cavan, BEd, Almonte, Ontario 

Dr. Dale Dewar, MD, Wynyard, Saskatchewan

Dr. Darlene Hammell, MD, Victoria, British Columbia

Deborah Powell, BA, BEd, Bristol, Quebec

Diane Beckett, BES, MA, Churchill, Manitoba

Diane Fortin, Gatineau, Québec

Dr. Dorothy Goldin Rosenberg, PhD, Toronto, Ontario

Elizabeth Logue, Wakefield, Quebec 

Elssa Martinez, MSW, Montreal, Quebec

Emma March, MA, JD candidate, Kingston, Ontario

Dr. Erica Frank, MD, MPH, FACPM; Nanoose Bay, British Columbia

Eva Schacherl, MA, Ottawa, Ontario

Evelyn Gigantes, BA, former MPP, Ottawa, Ontario

Gail Wylie, Fredericton, New Brunswick

Gini Dickie, BA, Toronto, Ontario

Ginette Charbonneau, Physicist, Oka, Quebec

Gracia Janes, Ontario Medal for Citizenship, Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario

Gretchen Fitzgerald, BSc, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Janet Graham, MA, Ottawa, Ontario

Dr. Janet Ray MD, Victoria, British Columbia

Dr. Janice Harvey, PhD, Fredericton, New Brunswick

Jean Brereton, Golden Lake, Ontario

Jean Swanson, Order of Canada, BA, City Councillor, Vancouver, British Columbia

Dr. Jeannie Rosenberg, MD, Huntingdon, Quebec

Jessica Spencer, Moncton, New Brunswick

Joann McCann-Magill, MA, Sheenboro, Quebec

Joanne Mantha, MA, Gatineau, Quebec

Jocelyne Lachapelle, Framton, Québec

Johanna Echlin, MEd, Westmount, Quebec

Julie Reimer, MMM, Kingston, Ontario

Dr. Judith Miller, PhD, Ottawa, Ontario

Kathrin Winkler, BA, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Dr. Kathryn Lindsay, PhD, Renfrew, Ontario

Kay Rogers, BA, MA, MSc, Perth Ontario

Kerrie Blaise, MSc, JD, North Bay, Ontario

Kim Reeder, MEM (Environmental Management), Saint Andrews, New Brunswick

Dr. Kringen Henein, PhD, Ottawa Ontario

Larissa Holman, BSc, MREM, Gatineau, Quebec

Dr. Laure Waridel, PhD, Order of Canada, Montréal, Québec 

Lenore Morris, BA, MBA, JD, Whitehorse, Yukon

Liette Parent-Leduc, B.A.A., D. Fisc, Saint-Robert, Québec

Lisa Aitken, MEd, HRM, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Dr. Louise Comeau, PhD, Keswick Ridge, New Brunswick

Louise Morand, l’Assomption, Québec

Dr. Louise Vandelac, PhD, Montreal, Quebec

Lorraine Hewlett, BA, MA, BEd, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories 

Lucie Massé, Oka, Québec

Dr. Lucie Sauvé, PhD, Montréal, Québec

Lynn Jones, MHSc, Ottawa, Ontario

Margo Sheppard, BES (Environmental Studies), Fredericton, New Brunswick

Maria Varvarikos, BA, MLS, NDG, Montreal, Quebec

Dr. Marianne Rev, MD, Vancouver, British Columbia 

Marion Copleston, BA, BEd, Past Mayor of Bonshaw, Prince Edward Island 

Dr. Martha Ruben, MD, PhD, Ottawa, Ontario

Martine Chatelain, Montréal, Québec

Dr. Mary-Wynne Ashford, MD, PhD, Victoria, British Columbia

Dr. Meg Sears, PhD, Dunrobin, Ontario

Megan McCann, RMT, Fredericton, New Brunswick

Megan Mitton, MLA, Sackville, New Brunswick

Dr. Melissa Lem, MD, Vancouver, British Columbia

Meredith Brown, BSc (Engineering) MRM, Wakefield, Quebec

Michele Kaulbach, Westmount, Quebec

Nadia Alexan, Montréal, Québec

Dr. Nancy Covington, MD, Halifax, Nova Scotia 

Nira Dookeran, MA, Ottawa, Ontario

Odette Sarrazin, St-Gabriel-de-Brandon, Québec

Dr. Paula Tippett, BSc, MD, MPH, Saint John, New Brunswick

Pippa Feinstein, JD, LLM, Toronto, Ontario

Dr. Rashmi Chadha MBChB, MScCH, Vancouver, British Columbia

Roberta Frampton Benefiel, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador

Roma De Robertis, MA, Saint John, New Brunswick

Dr. Sarah Colwell BSc, MD, FRCPC, Moncton, New Brunswick

Dr. Silvia Schriever,  MD, Victoria, British Columbia

Dr. Susan O’Donnell, PhD, Fredericton, New Brunswick

Dr. Sylvia Hale, PhD, Fredericton, New Brunswick

Sylvia Oljemark, Montréal , Québec

Theresa McClenaghan, BSc, LL.B., LL.M., Paris, Ontario

Valerie Needham, MA, Ottawa, Ontario

Venetia Crawford, BA, Shawville, Quebec

Willi Nolan-Campbell, New Brunswick

CC

Hon. Erin O’Toole, Leader of the Official Opposition

Yves-François Blanchet, Leader of the Bloc Québécois

Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada

Annamie Paul, Leader of the Green Party of Canada

Greg Fergus, Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

~~~~~~~

Treasury Board urged to investigate ballooning costs and ethics issues at AECL

La version française suit 

September 15, 2020
The Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos, President

The Hon. Joyce Murray, Vice-Chair

The Hon. Bardish Chagger, Member

The Hon. Catherine McKenna, Member

The Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Member

The Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson, Member

Treasury Board of Canada

Dear Mr. Duclos and Members of the Treasury Board:


We would like to bring to your attention problems with the handling of Canada’s $8 billion federal nuclear waste and decommissioning liability by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL).

As detailed in the attached discussion paper, “The Government of Canada’s Radioactive Wastes:  Costs and Liabilities Growing under Public-Private Partnership”, taxpayer funding to AECL roughly quadrupled to $1.3 billion between 2015/16 and 2020/21. During this period, AECL’s reported liabilities increased by $332 million. 

The previous Conservative Government attempted to cut costs and accelerate reduction of federal nuclear waste liabilities by implementing a public-private partnership or GoCo (“Government owned, Contractor operated”) contract between AECL and a multinational consortium.

The GoCo contractor is advancing substandard radioactive waste projects that do not comply with international standards and obligations. Environmental assessments are mired in controversy and several years behind schedule.

Morning Brief: New poll has Duclos ahead in Quebec City riding - iPolitics
Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos (iPolitics/Matthew Usherwood)

In the process of implementing the GoCo contract, Government oversight was greatly reduced and control over Canada’s federally-owned nuclear facilities and radioactive wastes was largely transferred to American-owned interests. It appears that AECL’s president Richard Sexton, is an American national and former senior executive in two of the original corporations awarded the GoCo contract in 2015 as members of the Canadian National Energy Alliance (CNEA) consortium. Mr. Sexton is also the Fee Distribution Officer who determines the “award fees” received by the consortium. AECL’s Lead Contracts Officer is an American national. The board of CNEA is comprised of a majority of American nationals. The GoCo contract was recently renewed unexpectedly, 18 months prior to its official expiry date, with no information provided as to the reason for the early renewal.

Issues of ethics and accountability have arisen in connection with the GoCo contract. The Caretaker Convention appears to have been disregarded in September 2015 when the multi-billion dollar GoCo contract was signed during a federal election campaign. The Integrity Regime appears to have been disregarded when the GoCo contract was quietly renewed by AECL in April 2020, during the early days of the pandemic lockdown, despite the conviction in Canada in late 2019 of the Canadian consortium partner SNC-Lavalin on a charge of fraud.

We believe that intervention is required by Cabinet and/or Parliament to restore control of and oversight over Canadian nuclear facilities and radioactive wastes, and to ensure that public funds are spent wisely.

Yours truly,
Gordon Edwards, Ph.D, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility

Éric Notebaert, MD, M.Sc., Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment

Ole Hendrickson, Ph.D, Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area

CC: Karen Hogan, Auditor General of Canada

Greg Fergus, Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board 

Attachment:“The Government of Canada’s Radioactive Wastes:  Costs and Liabilities Growing under Public-Private Partnership”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Le 15 septembre, 2020


L’Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos, Président

L’Hon. Joyce Murray, Vice-Présidente

L’Hon. Bardish Chagger, Membre

L’Hon. Catherine McKenna, Membre

L’Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Membre

L’Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson, Membre

Conseil du Trésor

Cher M. Duclos,


Distingués Membres du Conseil du Trésor,

Nous désirons porter à votre attention des problèmes liés à la manière dont Énergie atomique du Canada Ltée (EACL) gère les $8 milliards de déchets nucléaires et de déclassements qui relèvent du gouvernement fédéral.


Comme on le constate dans le document ci-joint « Les déchets radioactifs du gouvernement du Canada :  La croissance des coûts et obligations en partenariat public-privé », le financement public d’EACL a pratiquement quadruplé depuis 2015-16 pour atteindre $1,3 milliard en 2020-21. Pendant cette période, les obligations d’EACL se sont accrues de $332 millions.

Le précédent Gouvernement Conservateur avait tenté de réduire les coûts et d’accélérer la réduction des obligations nucléaires fédérales en créant un PPP, un partenariat public-privé (« propriété du Gouvernement, géré par un entrepreneur ») entre EACL et un consortium multinational.

Pour les déchets radioactifs, l’entrepreneur de ce PPP met de l’avant des projets inadéquats qui dérogent aux règles internationales et à nos obligations. Embourbées dans la controverse, les évaluations environnementales accumulent des années de retard.

Dans le cadre de ce PPP, le Gouvernement a considérablement réduit sa surveillance, tandis que la gestion des installations nucléaires et des déchets radioactifs de propriété fédérale se voyait en bonne partie transférée à des intérêts américains. Il semble que Richard Sexton, le président d’EACL, soit un citoyen américain et un ex-dirigeant senior de deux entreprises qui avaient originellement obtenu ce contrat de PPP en 2015, au sein de l’Alliance nationale de l’énergie canadienne (ANEC). M. Sexton est aussi responsable de la répartition des revenus au sein de ce consortium. Le principal responsable des contrats d’EACl est aussi un citoyen américain. Le contrat en PPP a récemment été renouvelé à l’improviste, 18 mois avant sa date d’expiration officielle, sans qu’on ne fournisse la moindre explication du renouvellement hâtif.

Plusieurs enjeux d’éthique et d’imputabilité ont surgi de ce contrat en PPP. On semble avoir ignoré la convention de transition quand on a conclu ce contrat en PPP de plusieurs milliards de dollars pendant la campagne électorale fédérale de 2015. On semble aussi avoir ignoré le régime d’intégrité quand EACL a discrètement renouvelé ce contrat en PPP en avril 2020, au début du confinement attribuable à la pandémie, même si le partenaire canadien du consortium, SNC-Lavalin, avait été condamné pour fraude à la fin de 2019.

Nous estimons que le Conseil des ministres et/ou le Parlement devraient rétablir leur contrôle et leur surveillance des installations nucléaires et des déchets radioactifs fédéraux, afin que les fonds publics soient dépensés avec prudence.

Sincèrement vôtres,
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

Cc. Karen Hogan, Vérificatrice générale du Canada

Greg Fergus, Secrétaire parlementaire du président du Conseil du Trésor 

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

Letter to Treasury Board from women leaders across Canada re small nuclear reactors

September 21, 2020

The Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos, President

The Hon. Joyce Murray, Vice-Chair

The Hon. Bardish Chagger, Member

The Hon. Catherine McKenna, Member

The Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Member

The Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson, Member

Dear Mr. Duclos and Members of the Treasury Board:

We write to you as women community and Aboriginal leaders in science, medicine, law and environmental protection to request your urgent attention to the need for Canada to uphold its legal obligation, as a party to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, to minimize generation of radioactive waste.

Radioactive waste is dangerous, poses risks to all living things and must be kept out of the biosphere for as long as it poses a radioactive hazard (many tens of thousands of years). Article 11 of the Joint Convention states that parties shall “ensure that the generation of radioactive waste is kept to the minimum practicable”. 

Small modular nuclear reactors, currently under consideration for taxpayer-funded development in Canada, would produce long-lived hazardous nuclear waste as part of normal operations. These reactors are proposed for Northern, remote and First Nations communities in some of Canada’s most fragile and globally important ecosystems. UNDRIP principles of free prior, and informed consent with indigenous communities have not been respected. 

Production of plutonium and other fuels for small modular nuclear reactors would create long-lived hazardous nuclear waste. Small modular nuclear reactors would themselves become hazardous, long-lived nuclear waste; too hot to handle after their short lifespan of a few decades, and too costly to transport, they would likely be abandoned in place leaving permanently contaminated, radioactive exclusion zones, a few hectares in size, everywhere they were deployed.

Low-carbon alternatives to nuclear technology for electricity generation are readily available, faster to deploy, much less expensive and do not generate radioactive waste. They also create more jobs. Small nuclear reactors are therefore not a useful or necessary climate change mitigation strategy.Canada can much more easily, cheaply and quickly get to net zero carbon with a combination of energy conservation and renewables. For details please see Environmental Petition 419 to the Auditor General of Canada.

Small nuclear reactor proponents tout the notion that small reactors will use existing nuclear waste for fuel. This is a dangerous fantasy. In reality, “recycling” radioactive waste creates more radioactive waste, passing the buck to future generations. Worse, reactor technologies that use recycled fuel require extraction of plutonium, creating serious national security risks associated with nuclear weapons proliferation. 

We submit that federal support and funding for development of small modular nuclear reactors would constitute an abnegation of Canada’s international commitment to minimize generation of radioactive waste. 

We urge you to bring this matter to the attention of your Cabinet colleagues, and cease all government support and taxpayer funding for small modular nuclear reactors.

Yours sincerely,

Anne Lindsey, MA, O.M., Winnipeg, Manitoba

Brennain Lloyd, North Bay, Ontario

Candyce Paul, English River First Nation, Saskatchewan

Dr. Cathy Vakil, MD, Kingston, Ontario

Dr. Dale Dewar, MD, Wynyard, Saskatchewan

Dr. Dorothy Goldin-Rosenberg, PhD, Toronto, Ontario 

Eva Schacherl, MA, Ottawa, Ontario

Ginette Charbonneau, Physicist, Oka, Quebec

Gretchen Fitzgerald, BSc, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Johanna Echlin, M.Ed., Montreal, Quebec

Dr. Judith Miller, PhD, Ottawa, Ontario

Dr. Kathryn Lindsay, PhD, Renfrew, Ontario

Kerrie Blaise, MSc, JD, North Bay, Ontario

Lynn Jones, MHSc, Ottawa, Ontario 

Dr. Martha Ruben, MD, PhD., Ottawa, Ontario

Pippa Feinstein, JD, LLM, Toronto, Ontario

Dr. Susan O’Donnell, PhD, Fredericton, New Brunswick

Letter to Prime MinisterJustin Trudeau requesting urgent attention to nuclear safety gaps in Canada

April 3, 2020

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister of Canada

Dear Mr. Trudeau,

We are writing to request your urgent attention to a number of serious concerns related to nuclear governance and nuclear safety in Canada. 

We recognize that you are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and that many urgent matters demand your attention at this time. We appreciate your leadership and the actions of your government to date. However, inadequate nuclear safety and governance in the nuclear field entail very serious risks for the health of current and future generations of Canadians. We therefore earnestly urge that the issues raised herein be given their rightful place on the priority list of your government in the coming months.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently reviewed Canada’s nuclear safety framework and its final report [1], released in Canada on February 18, identified numerous deficiencies [2] requiring attention by the Government of Canada. Deficiencies include:

  • failure to establish a national policy and a strategy for radioactive waste management,
  • lack of alignment with IAEA guidance on nuclear reactor decommissioning, 
  • failure to expressly assign the prime responsibility for safety to the person or organization responsible for a nuclear facility, 
  • failure to explicitly address the principle of justification – a requirement to demonstrate an overall net benefit prior to approval of any new sources of radiation exposure, new nuclear facilities or activities, 
  • inconsistent dose constraints for nuclear facilities, 
  • unsatisfactory transportation management systems for nuclear materials, and 
  • inadequate radiation protection for nuclear workers such as regulations allowing four times higher radiation doses for pregnant women than IAEA standards would countenance

We believe all these failings require urgent attention by the Government of Canada.

Environmental Petition 427  [3], “Nuclear Governance Problems in Canada, submitted to the Auditor General of Canada in June 2019, identified numerous serious problems in Canada’s nuclear governance regime, including outdated and inadequate legislation, lack of government oversight, no checks and balances, a federal policy vacuum on nuclear waste and nuclear reactor decommissioning, and regulatory capture of the 

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). The petition recommended creation of a high-level, interdisciplinary, multi-stakeholder task force with representation from civil society groups, First Nations and industry to advise on nuclear governance reforms in Canada.

It is our strong conviction that Canada’s nuclear governance and nuclear safety framework are failing to adequately protect Canadians from hundreds of dangerous radioactive substances that are produced by nuclear reactors. Exposure to these radioactive substances can cause serious chronic diseases, birth defects and genetic damage that is passed on to future generations. According to the US National Research Council  BEIR VII report  [4], there is no safe level of exposure to ionizing radiation released from nuclear reactors and nuclear waste facilities. We urge you to make it a priority to correct the deficiencies noted by the IAEA peer review and in Environmental Petition 427 to the Auditor General.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canadian Press photo


We also have serious concerns about the recent appointment of CNSC President Rumina Velshi to chair the IAEA Commission on Nuclear Safety Standards. Our concerns are explained in a letter to IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi [5] which requests that the appointment be reconsidered. Briefly, we believe the CNSC is a captured regulator with a documented record of disregarding IAEA safety standards or watering down their domestic application; therefore its president – a previous senior officer within Ontario Power Generation – should not chair this IAEA commission.


In the absence of a strong nuclear governance regime and a comprehensive nuclear safety framework, the Government of Canada’s rush to promote and to invest in small modular nuclear reactors is, we believe, ill-advised. In particular, the absence of a requirement in Canada’s nuclear safety framework to justify the increased radiation exposures and increased legacy of radioactive waste of all kinds that would result from developing and deploying SMNRs, is enabling your government to proceed without due consideration of faster, cheaper and lower risk alternatives available for reducing Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, as documented in Environmental Petition 419 to the Auditor General of Canada [6] “Concerns about investment in new nuclear technology”.


Finally, we note a fundamental conflict of interest in having the CNSC report to Parliament through the Minister of Natural Resources, who is responsible for promoting nuclear power under the Nuclear Energy Act. This reporting relationship could be changed through an Order-in-Council decision without any change to existing legislation.

We urge you to act swiftly to establish sound nuclear governance and a comprehensive nuclear safety framework in Canada. We respectfully point out that the needed reforms are not only an issue for your Minister of Natural Resources, but also require attention from departments including Justice, Health, Finance, Treasury Board, and Environment and Climate Change. 

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours truly,

Gordon Edwards, Ph.D, 

Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility

Éric Notebaert, MD, M.Sc.

Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment

Ole Hendrickson, Ph.D

Ottawa River Institute

CC:

The Hon. François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs

The Hon. Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Natural Resources

The Hon. David Lametti, Minister of Justice

The Hon. Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance

The Hon. Patti Hajdu, Minister of Health

The Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos, President of the Treasury Board

The Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

The Hon. Andrew Scheer, Conservative Party of Canada

Yves-François Blanchet, Bloc Québécois

Jagmeet Singh, New Democratic Party

Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada, Parliamentary Caucus Leader

Sylvain Ricard, Auditor General of Canada

Andrew Hayes, Interim Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development

Contact Information:

Links

  1. REPORT OF THE INTEGRATED REGULATORY REVIEW SERVICE MISSION TO CANADA, International Atomic Energy Agency https://www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/documents/review-missions/irrs_canada_2019_final_report.pdf
  2. International Peer Review Finds Deficiencies in Canada’s Nuclear Safety Framework. Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area, February 2020. https://concernedcitizens.net/2020/03/07/international-peer-review-finds-deficiencies-in-canadas-nuclear-safety-framework/
  3. Environmental Petition 427 to the Auditor General of Canada, June 2019. Petition summary: https://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/pet_427_e_43421.html and full text of petition: https://concernedcitizens.net/2019/11/30/environmental-petition-nuclear-governance-problems-in-canada/
  4. National Research Council. 2006. Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation: BEIR VII Phase 2. Washington, DC : The National Academies Press. https://www.nap.edu/catalog/11340/health-risks-from-exposure-to-low-levels-of-ionizing-radiation
  5. Letter to IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi, March 12, 2020. http://ccnr.org/Letter_IAEA_2020_e.pdf
  6. Environmental Petition 419 to the Auditor General of Canada, November 2018. Petition summary: https://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/pet_419_e_43275.html and full text of petition: https://tinyurl.com/Env-Petition-419

Letter to IAEA Director General March 12, 2020

March 12, 2020

Mr. Rafael M. Grossi

Director General

International Atomic Energy Agency

Vienna International Centre

PO Box 100

1400 Vienna, Austria

Dear Mr. Grossi,

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission announced on February 25 that CNSC President Rumina Velshi has been named to Chair the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Commission on Safety Standards. We are deeply concerned about this appointment for the reasons explained below.

Firstly, we submit that the head of a national regulatory body with a documented history of failing to meet IAEA safety standards should not chair the IAEA Commission on safety standards. According to the recently released report (1) from the IAEA peer review of Canada’s nuclear safety framework,

  • CNSC regulations “do not comprehensively cover all IAEA Fundamental Safety Requirements.” 
  • CNSC “has no systematic approach to conduct a gap analysis between the new IAEA requirements and its regulatory framework.” 
  • Canada’s style of legislative practice “may create difficulties to find exact wording when searching where and by what provision individual requirements of the IAEA Safety Standards are addressed.” 

A concrete example of the CNSC’s disregard of IAEA safety standards is its decision to allow three nuclear waste disposal plans to proceed to environmental assessment even though all three projects clearly contravene IAEA safety standards.The proposed facilities include:  a giant, above-ground mound for permanent storage of one million tons of mixed radioactive and non-radioactive wastes including long-lived radionuclides such as plutonium-239, americium-243, zirconium-93, nickel-59, carbon-14 and many more as well as the planned entombment in concrete of two shut-down reactors beside major rivers that provide drinking water for millions of Canadians.

All three facilities would leak radioactive contaminants into the environment for millennia. The CNSC dismissed warnings from scientific experts about serious flaws in the three proposals during the project description phase of the environmental assessments.  Hundreds of substantive concerns about the projects have been voiced by federal and provincial government departments, First Nations, civil society groups, municipalities, retired scientists, and concerned citizens. Nevertheless, the environmental assessments have been in progress for close to four years, far longer than the normal one-year period allowed for non-nuclear projects. The CNSC has changed the timelines more than once to give the proponent extra time to attempt to address concerns, and there are still no clear final deadlines for completion of the assessments. We and many of our colleagues brought our concerns about these proposed projects to the attention of your predecessor in April, 2018. (see letter to Dr. Yukiya Amano ) (2)


The CNSC has also been working to make “in-situ decommissioning” an acceptable strategy for shut-down nuclear reactors despite clear guidance from the International Atomic Energy Agency that the strategy should only be used in emergency situations such as during a severe accident. The recent IAEA peer review said Canada should “revise its current and planned requirements in the area of decommissioning to align with the IAEA guidance”.  However the CNSC continues to work to expand the meaning of “exceptional circumstances” and include in-situ decommissioning as an acceptable strategy for “legacy” reactors. 

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is widely perceived in Canada to be subject to regulatory capture, as noted by the Expert Panel on Reform of Environmental Assessment in April 2017.* This problem of regulatory capture on the part of CNSC was highlighted in Environmental Petition 427, “Nuclear Governance Problems in Canada”(3), to the Auditor General of Canada, in June 2019. The nuclear industry publication, Nuclear Energy Insider, recently promoted Canada as an excellent place to develop small modular reactors, partly because of Canada’s “benign regulatory environment”. (4)

In our experience the CNSC prioritizes the needs of industry over protection of the public from the adverse effects of man-made ionizing radiation that is routinely released from all nuclear facilities. According to CNSC staff, the CNSC commissioners did not ever refuse to grant a license in the agency’s 17 year history to 2017. (5) 

We believe the leader of a “captured” regulatory agency that fails to meet IAEA guidance on nuclear waste management and works to weaken safety standards for nuclear reactor decommissioning in their domestic application should not be eligible to chair the IAEA commission on international safety standards.

We would like to point out that we believe that Ms. Velshi may be in a conflict of interest situation in her current position as President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Prior to her appointment as head of the CNSC, Ms. Velshi worked for seven years at Ontario Power Generation, in senior management positions. Therefore she may not qualify as “independent” according to IAEA General Safety Guide No. GSG-12 (Organization, Management and Staffing of the Regulatory Body for Safety), whichspells out in considerable detail the need for independence of the regulatory body in order to ensure that regulatory judgements can be made, and enforcement actions taken, without any unwarranted pressure from interests that may conflict with safety. We submit that Ms. Velshi’s perceived lack of independence from the nuclear industry makes her unsuitable to serve as the chairperson of the IAEA’s commission on safety standards.

Ms. Velshi has stated that she intends to use her chairmanship “to champion the importance of greater harmonization of standards and ensure they support nuclear innovation while never compromising safety”. We fear that Ms. Velshi’s chairmanship could result in the lowering of international standards, with an emphasis on benefits to the industry and support of “innovation” at the expense of public protection. We note that the CNSC successfully advocated for exemption from environmental assessment for small modular reactors in Canada (6); we would not like to see such an exemption become part of the “harmonization” of international standards envisioned by Ms. Velshi.


We value IAEA safety standards; at the moment they are all that is of an official nature standing between Canadians and three nuclear waste disposal projects that would adversely affect the environment and public health in Canada for generations. We urge you to maintain the integrity of IAEA safety standards and to continue to emphasize the vital importance of ensuring independence and objectivity.

Please reconsider the appointment of Rumina Velshi to the chairmanship of the IAEA commission on safety standards.


Yours sincerely,


Gordon Edwards, Ph.D, 

Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility

Éric Notebaert, MD, M.Sc.

Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment

Ole Hendrickson, Ph.D

Ottawa River Institute


CC:

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs

The Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Natural Resources

The Hon. Andrew Scheer, Conservative Party of Canada

Yves-François Blanchette, Bloc Québécois

Jagmeet Singh, New Democratic Party

Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada, Parliamentary Caucus Leader

Sylvain Ricard, Auditor General of Canada

Andrew Hayes, Interim Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development

 * Excerpt from the Expert Panel Report: “A frequently cited concern was the perceived lack of independence and neutrality because of the close relationship the NEB and CNSC have with the industries they regulate. There were concerns that these Responsible Authorities promote the projects they are tasked with regulating. The apprehension of bias or conflict of interest, whether real or not, was the single most often cited concern by participants with regard to the NEB and CNSC as Responsible Authorities. The term “regulatory capture” was often used when participants described their perceptions of these two entities. The apprehension of bias on the part of these two Responsible Authorities eroded confidence in the assessment process.“ https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/themes/environment/conservation/environmental-reviews/building-common-ground/building-common-ground.pdf

Links

  1. REPORT OF THE INTEGRATED REGULATORY REVIEW SERVICE MISSION TO CANADA, International Atomic Energy Agency https://www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/documents/review-missions/irrs_canada_2019_final_report.pdf
  2. Letter to Dr. Yukiya Amano from five first nations and 39 civil society organizations in Canada, April 23, 2018 https://concernedcitizens.net/2018/04/23/letter-to-iaea-director-general-from-first-nations-and-civil-society-groups/
  3. Environmental Petition 427 to the Auditor General of Canada, June 2019. Petition summary: https://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/pet_427_e_43421.html and full text of petition: https://concernedcitizens.net/2019/11/30/environmental-petition-nuclear-governance-problems-in-canada/
  4. Nuclear Energy Insider, promotional material for SMR’s, excerpt from the internet December 13, 2017. https://tinyurl.com/benign-regulatory-environment Excerpt from white paper: https://concernedcitizens.net/2020/03/03/nuclear-energy-insider-says-canada-has-a-benign-regulatory-environment/
  5. Email message from CNSC staff: “Number of licence refusals by CNSC commissioners” February 27, 2017. http://ccnr.org/CNSC_licence_refusals_2017.pdf
  6. Federal nuclear regulator urges Liberals to exempt smaller reactors from full panel review. Globe and Mail, November 6, 2018 https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-federal-nuclear-regulator-urges-liberals-to-exempt-smaller-reactors/

Lettre au Ministre Ressources naturelles M. Sohi

English version follows

2 novembre 2018

L’Honorable Amarjeet Sohi
Ministre des Ressources naturelles

Objet : Traitement des déchets radioactifs et futurs développements nucléaires

Monsieur le ministre Sohi,

La gestion incomplète et temporaire des déchets radioactifs au Canada a déjà des conséquences désastreuses. Nous réclamons des solutions sécuritaires et conformes aux normes internationales pour les entreposer à long terme.

Nous apprécions que vous preniez le temps de lire cette lettre qui résume notre opinion de citoyens responsables. Nous aimerions faire confiance à votre ministère pour redresser la situation.

Selon les données publiées dans le rapport Inventaire des déchets nucléaires au Canada en 2016 publié par Ressources naturelles Canada, il y avait 33 155 m3 de déchets nucléaires de moyenne activité dans tout le Canada. Selon les projections, la quantité augmenterait à 82 824 m3 en 2100.

OPG : 12 041 m3 (36 %)
EACL : 20 596 m3 (62 %)
Hydro-Québec :347 m3 (1 %)
Énergie NB : 158 m3 (moins de 1 %)

À date, seulement Ontario Power Generation (OPG) planifie d’entreposer dans un site géologique profond ses déchets radioactifs de moyenne activité avec ses déchets radioactifs de faible activité. Énergie atomique du Canada limitée (EACL), la société d’État fédérale qui donne les mandats aux Laboratoires nucléaires canadiens, a la responsabilité de 20 596 m3 de déchets radioactifs de moyenne activité. Dans le plan d’affaires quinquennal d’Énergie atomique du Canada limitée, il n’y a aucun plan pour construire un site géologique profond pour entreposer les déchets radioactifs de moyenne activité; par conséquent, il n’y a aucune mention de le faire dans les plans des Laboratoires nucléaires canadiens qui reçoivent leur mandat d’Énergie atomique du Canada limitée.

Nous sollicitons le leadership de votre ministère pour planifier plus rapidement l’entreposage adéquat à long terme des déchets radioactifs de moyenne activité et conformément aux normes de l’Agence internationale de l’énergie atomique.

EACL a deux missions : celle de développer le nucléaire avec profit et celle de gérer les déchets radioactifs en dépensant le moins possible. Évidemment, le développement du nucléaire passe en premier et la gestion adéquate des déchets radioactifs, qui coûte très cher, en souffre.

Pour la remise en état du site de Chalk River, on ne peut pas trier les déchets radioactifs de faible, moyenne et haute activité et en disposer de façon permanente s’il n’y a pas d’endroit approprié. Les solutions temporaires utilisées sont des bunkers de béton à la surface du sol, les MAGS, qui ne peuvent durer assez longtemps pour contenir et isoler les substances radioactives ayant une demi-vie de milliers d’années. Les Laboratoires nucléaires canadiens ont tenté d’inclure des déchets radioactifs de moyenne activité dans leur dépotoir en surface qui ne devrait loger que des déchets de faible activité, selon les normes de l’Agence internationale de l’énergie atomique. Ils n’ont pas les moyens concrets de régler le problème des déchets radioactifs de moyenne activité à long terme, car il n’y a pas de site d’enfouissement profond pour ces déchets. Ils ont aussi l’intention de mettre en tombeau des réacteurs en fin de vie sous un coulis de béton sans respecter les normes internationales de l’Agence internationale de l’énergie atomique, faute d’un site d’enfouissement approprié. Les responsables de la gestion des déchets radioactifs à Chalk River ont les mains liées. Ils n’ont pas les moyens de traiter correctement les déchets radioactifs les plus dangereux à long terme. Ils adoptent des solutions boiteuses par manque de moyens. Si des dépôts géologiques en profondeur pour les déchets radioactifs existaient au Canada, les déchets de moyenne activité et de haute activité pourraient être entreposés de façon sécuritaire et permanente.

Il est essentiel que votre ministère agisse rapidement pour instaurer un plan d’action d’entreposage à long terme des déchets radioactifs de moyenne activité, en plus de celui des déchets radioactifs de haute activité. Linstaurer un site géologique profond pour les déchets de moyenne activité conformément aux normes de l’Agence internationale de l’énergie atomique.

Comment peut-on envisager un futur développement nucléaire au Canada sans une capacité de traitement rigoureux des déchets nucléaires. Le réchauffement climatique est dramatique, et le développement nucléaire n’est pas nécessairement une solution réaliste à cause des déchets nucléaires engendrés, de la sécurité, des coûts élevés et des longs délais avant qu’ils soient mis en service. Si le Canada n’est pas capable de traiter adéquatement ses déchets radioactifs actuels, comment pourrait-il le faire pour des petits réacteurs nucléaires dispersés?

Nous demandons à votre ministère d’accorder la plus haute priorité au traitement adéquat des déchets radioactifs avant de promouvoir tout futur développement nucléaire. Cette situation déplorable mérite une attention immédiate autant que celle du réchauffement du climat car c’est une pollution qui affecte toute la biosphère!

Nous vous remercions de votre considération et nous vous demandons d’exercer votre leadership pour instaurer un site géologique profond pour les déchets de moyenne activité conformément aux normes de l’Agence internationale de l’énergie atomique.

 
Ginette Charbonneau et Gilles Provost, porte-paroles du Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive
Réal Lalande et Lucie Massé, coordonnateurs du Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive

C.c. L’Honorable Catherine McKenna, Ministre de l’Environnement et du Changement climatique

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November 2, 2018

The Honorable Amarjeet Sohi, P.C.
Minister of Natural Resources

 

Subject : Treatment of the radioactive wastes and future nuclear development

Dear Minister Sohi,

Inadequate and temporary storage of radioactive waste in Canada is having serious consequences. We demand solutions for long-term radioactive waste storage that meet international safety standards.

We would appreciate it if you would take the time to read this letter that summarizes our concerns as responsible citizens. We would like to trust your ministry to correct this situation.

According to data in Natural Resources Canada’s Inventory of Nuclear Waste in Canada, there were 33,155 cubic meters of intermediate-level nuclear waste across Canada in 2016.

OPG: 12,041 m3 (36%)
AECL: 20,596 m3 (62%)
Hydro-Québec: 347 m3 (1%)
NB Power: 158 m3 (less than 1%)

This is projected to increase to 82,824 cubic meters in 2100.

To date, only Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has plans to store its intermediate-level radioactive waste with low-level radioactive waste in a deep geological repository.

Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL). the federal Crown Corporation with the mandate to fulfill Canada’s radioactive waste and decommissioning responsibilities, has contracted the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories to manage its wastes, including the 20,596 cubic meters of intermediate level radioactive waste. AECL’s five-year business plan has no plan to build a deep geological repository to store intermediate-level radioactive waste; therefore, there is no mention of this in the plans of the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, whose mandate comes from AECL.

We are seeking the leadership of your department to more effectively plan the long-term storage of intermediate-level radioactive waste in accordance with International Atomic Energy Agency safety standards.

Atomic Energy of Canada Limited has two missions: enabling nuclear technology and managing radioactive waste. Obviously, nuclear development comes first and the proper management of radioactive waste suffers, because it is very expensive.

In order to remediate the Chalk River property, one cannot separate low, medium and high level radioactive waste and dispose of them permanently unless a suitable site is available. Concrete bunkers on the soil surface – the Modular Above-Ground Storage (MAGS) facilities – cannot last long enough to contain and isolate radioactive substances with half-lives of thousands of years. Canadian Nuclear Laboratories has attempted to include intermediate-level radioactive waste in their proposed above-ground disposal facility, which should store only low-level radioactive waste according to the standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency. They lack a means to address the problem of intermediate-level radioactive waste in the long term because there is no deep geological repository for this waste. They intend to entomb end-of-life reactors under concrete grout – in conflict with the standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency – because of the lack of an appropriate deep geological repository.

The managers of the radioactive wastes at Chalk River have their hands tied. They do not have the means to properly handle the most dangerous radioactive wastes over the long term. They adopt inappropriate solutions owing to the lack of acceptable alternatives. If deep geological repositories for radioactive waste existed in Canada, intermediate and high level radioactive wastes could be stored safely and permanently.

It is essential for your department to move quickly to establish an action plan for the long-term storage of intermediate-level radioactive waste in addition to storage of high-level radioactive waste.

How can we envisage future nuclear development in Canada without a rigorous capacity for managing nuclear waste? The Earth is warming at a dramatic rate. Nuclear reactors are not necessarily a realistic solution because of the nuclear waste generated, the safety issues, the high costs and the long delays before they are in operation. If Canada cannot adequately manage its current radioactive waste inventory, how could this be done for wastes from small nuclear reactors scattered around the country?

We ask your department to give the highest priority to proper management of current radioactive wastes before promoting any future nuclear development. This deplorable situation deserves immediate attention as much as climate change, because radioactive pollution affects the entire biosphere!

We thank you for your consideration and we ask you to exercise your leadership in establishing a deep geological site for intermediate level waste in accordance with the standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

 

Ginette Charbonneau and Gilles Provost, spokespersons of Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive
Réal Lalande and Lucie Massé, Coordinators of the Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C.c. The Honorable Catherine McKenna, Ministre of Environment and Climate Change