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

la version française ici

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


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:


  2. International Peer Review Finds Deficiencies in Canada’s Nuclear Safety Framework. Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area, February 2020.
  3. Environmental Petition 427 to the Auditor General of Canada, June 2019. Petition summary: and full text of petition:
  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.
  5. Letter to IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi, March 12, 2020.
  6. Environmental Petition 419 to the Auditor General of Canada, November 2018. Petition summary: and full text of petition:

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


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.“


  2. Letter to Dr. Yukiya Amano from five first nations and 39 civil society organizations in Canada, April 23, 2018
  3. Environmental Petition 427 to the Auditor General of Canada, June 2019. Petition summary: and full text of petition:
  4. Nuclear Energy Insider, promotional material for SMR’s, excerpt from the internet December 13, 2017. Excerpt from white paper:
  5. Email message from CNSC staff: “Number of licence refusals by CNSC commissioners” February 27, 2017.
  6. Federal nuclear regulator urges Liberals to exempt smaller reactors from full panel review. Globe and Mail, November 6, 2018

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


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