How would the “Near Surface” Disposal Facility leak? Let us count some of the ways

 REVISED and UPDATED, February 23, 2021

by Dr. Ole Hendrickson, PhD

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) – run by a consortium of profit-making multinational  companies – is proposing to build a“Near Surface Disposal Facility” for a  million cubic meters of radioactive waste at its Chalk River facility along the Ottawa  River. CNL’s final environmental impact statement (EIS) describes several ways that contents  of the proposed “engineered containment mound” of radioactive waste could leak into the Ottawa River. 

During operation… 

1. Wastes being added to the mound would be exposed to the elements. 

Rain and melting snow would leach radioactive contents down through the mound. Different  radioactive elements would leach at different rates depending on how strongly they were  bound to the wastes. Radioactively contaminated leachate would be collected in a system of  pipes and pumped uphill to a water treatment plant. Some but not all radioactive contaminants  would be removed prior to releasing the treated leachate into adjacent wetlands (for part of the year) or directly into Perch Lake, which drains into the Ottawa River via Perch Creek. Table 3.4.2-2 on page 3-58 of the final EIS shows levels of different radionuclides in leachate that would be discharged from the water treatment plant. 

2. Tritium as radioactive water would leach in very large amounts from the  mound.

Tritium – a radioactive form of hydrogen with a half-life of 12.3 years – is readily taken up by living organisms and incorporated in body tissues. When tritium decays it emits  “beta radiation” damaging to DNA and other cell constituents. Tritium is part of the water  molecule and cannot be removed by water treatment. The EIS estimates that the tritium in a liter of leachate would emit 140 thousand beta particles per second.  After passing through Perch Lake and Perch Creek, water containing roughly 7 thousand beta particles per liter per second (the current Ontario drinking water standard) would be released into the Ottawa  River, be incorporated in fish and other aquatic life, and enter downstream drinking water supplies. Large amounts of tritium would also be released from the mound and Perch Lake as water vapour. 

3. Other toxic substances such as PCBs leaching from the mound would be only partially removed by water treatment.

Table 3.4.2-3  on pages 3-59 and 3-6 of the EIS indicate that leachate from the mound would include a very wide range of  non-radioactive toxic compounds such as arsenic, mercury, lead, chloroform, ethylene dibromide, PCBs  and dioxin. Measurable amounts would be released to the environment. 

4. Heavy storm events could erode the mound’s surface and wash toxic  substances into low areas.

The EIS proposes an elaborate system of contact water ponds, non-contact water ponds, surface water management ponds, drainage ditches, and culverts.  Highly contaminated water washing off active dumping areas would flow into a contact pond and be pumped to the water treatment plant. Water washing off “inactive” areas (but contaminated by dust from active dumping areas) would flow into non-contact water ponds, be pumped to a perimeter ditch and three storm-water management ponds.  These ponds would discharge to adjacent wetlands that are already contaminated by existing nearby leaking radioactive waste areas.

5. The capacity of storm-water ponds would be exceeded during extreme  rainfall events or snowmelts.

The EIS (page 3-76) says that “when the probable maximum precipitation flow will exceed the surface water management ponds attenuation capacity,” adjacent emergency outlet structures “will be able to convey this flow.”

6. Clearing 34 hectares of mature forest and discharging waste water would  impact wetlands.

The existing forest recharges adjacent wetlands. Loss of the forest’s infiltration  and recharge capacity would tend to dry out these wetlands and expose their radioactive contents  (such as tritium, strontium-90 and carbon-14) to erosion. The EIS notes (page 5-278) that waste water discharge to adjacent wetlands and Perch Lake “may cause changes to water levels, flows, and channel and bank stability, and scouring of the wetland, affecting water quality at downstream locations.”

7. Other possible ways the facility might leak during operations

(not described  in detail in the EIS) include pump failures during extreme storm events with loss of electrical power,  improper installation of the base liners, puncture of the base liners by heavy or sharp materials, melting  of liners by radioactively hot materials, and blockage of the leachate collection system. 

After closure… 

1. Wastes in the mound would be re-exposed to the elements when the top  cover fails.

After waste dumping ended the leachate collection system and water treatment plant  would be shut down, and a top cover placed over the wastes. The EIS acknowledges that the top cover would inevitably fail with “normal evolution” through forces such as erosion, extreme storms,  burrowing animals, root penetration, etc.  It proposes the “conversion of a largely undisturbed, mature forested area to a permanently fenced, turf-grass habitat that is highly modified (i.e., mown, fertilized and maintained as tree-free to avoid the disruption of roots to the cover structure)” (p, 5-509).

2. Failure of the top cover while the more protected base liners remain intact  would initiate a “bathtub scenario”.

Rain and melting snow would again leach the  radioactive wastes, but the leachate collection and pumping system would no longer be operational.  Contaminated leachate would be trapped by the bottom liner and accumulate in the space between the  mound and the surrounding berm. Leachate levels would rise and spill over along the low point of the  berm.  A different scenario involves failure of the bottom liner, releasing leachate into groundwater.

3. Radioactive wastes would flow directly into Perch Creek and the Ottawa  River less than 1 kilometer away, essentially forever.

Long-lived radioactive elements  such as plutonium and uranium, exposed to wind and water erosion, would flow into the river for  thousands to millions of years. Table 5.2.3-8 on page 5-155 of the draft EIS estimated that, under the bathtub scenario, plutonium (Pu)  isotopes (Pu-239 and Pu-240) would exit the dump at 21.4 million and 32.4 million Becquerels per year.  Eventual failure of the bottom liners would also allow radionuclides to move through groundwater,. These details were removed from the final EIS, but it is clear that the Ottawa River would be permanently contaminated by radioactive waste, and countless  generations of people drinking its water would be exposed to increased cancer risks.

How Do I Know if I Have a Leaky Gut? | The Wholesome Heart

What would go into the Chalk River Mound? (Ottawa River radioactive waste dump)

December 2020

Canadian taxpayers are paying a consortium (Canadian National Energy Alliance) contracted by the federal government in 2015, billions of dollars to reduce Canada’s $16 billion nuclear liabilities quickly and cheaply. The consortium is proposing to construct a giant mound for one million tons of radioactive waste beside the Ottawa River upstream of Ottawa-Gatineau. The proposed dumpsite is partially surrounded by wetlands that drain into the Ottawa River less than one kilometre away. 

There is considerable secrecy about what would go into the mound; the information that follows has been  derived from the proponent’s final environmental impact statement (EIS) (December 2020) which lists a partial inventory of radionuclides that would go into the gigantic five-to-seven story radioactive mound (aka the “NSDF”). The EIS and supporting documents also contain inventories of non-radioactive hazardous materials that would go into the dump.

Here is what the consortium says it is planning to put into the Chalk River mound (according to the final EIS and supporting documents)

1)  Long-lived radioactive materials

Twenty-five out of the 30 radionuclides listed in Table 3.3.1-2: NSDF Reference Inventory and Licensed 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 this radioactive substance will be present, together with its radioactive decay products such as Uranium-233. At the time of closure of the mound, the neptunium-237 will be giving off 17 million radioactive disintegrations each second, second after second.

The mound would contain up to 80 tonnes of Uranium and 6.6 tonnes of thorium-232.

2) Four isotopes of plutonium, one of the most deadly radioactive materials known, if inhaled or ingested.

John Gofman MD, PhD, a Manhattan Project scientist and former director of biomedical research at the DOE’s Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, stated that even one-millionth of a gram of plutonium inhaled into the lung, will cause lung cancer within 20 years. Sir Brian Flowers, author of the UK Royal Commission Report on Nuclear Energy and the Environment, wrote that a few thousands of a gram, inhaled into the lungs, will cause death within a few years because of massive fibrosis of the lungs, and that a few millionths of a gram will cause lung cancer with almost 100% certainty.

The four isotopes of plutonium listed in the NSDF reference inventory are Plutonium-239, Plutonium-240, Plutonium-241 and Plutonium-242. According to Table 3.3.1-2 NSDF Reference Inventory and Licensed Inventory from the EIS, The two isotopes 239 and 240 combined will have an activity of 51 billion Bq when they are emplaced in the dump. This means that they will be giving off 51 billion radioactive disintegrations each second, second after second. These plutonium isotopes could constitute a significant hazard to workers during emplacement of plutonium wastes and plutonium contaminated debris in the mound.

3) Fissionable materials 

Fissionable materials can be used to make nuclear weapons.

The mound would contain “special fissionable materials” listed in this table extracted from an EIS supporting document, Waste Acceptance Criteria, Version 4, (November 2020)

4) Large quantities of Cobalt-60 

The CNL inventory includes a very large quantity of cobalt-60 (91 quadrillion Becquerels), contained in waste cobalt-60 irradiating devices. Cobalt-60 when concentrated in irradiators gives off so much strong gamma radiation that lead shielding must be used by workers who handle them in order to avoid dangerous radiation exposures. The International Atomic Energy Agency considers high-activity cobalt-60 irradiators to be “intermediate-level waste” and specifies that they must be stored underground. Addition of high-activity cobalt-60 irradiators means that hundreds of tons of lead shielding would be disposed of in the mound.

5) Very Large quantities of tritium

The mound would contain 890 trillion becquerels of tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen. Tritium readily combines with oxygen to form radioactive water. It moves readily through the environment and easily enters all cells of the human body where it can cause damage to cell structures including genetic material such as DNA and RNA. For more on the hazards of tritium see the Tritium Primer on the TAP website:

Because it is part of the water molecule, removal of tritium from water is very difficult and expensive. There are no plans to remove tritium from the mound leachate. Instead the consortium plans to pipe the contaminated water directly into Perch Lake which drains into the Ottawa River.

6) Carbon-14

The mound would contain close to two trillion becquerels of Carbon-14, an internal emitter that is hazardous in similar ways to tritium. Carbon is a key element in all organic molecules. When it is inhaled or ingested it can become incorporated into organic molecules and cellular components including genetic material.

7) Many other man-made radionuclides 

Radionuclides such as caesium-137, strontium-90, radium, technetium, nickel-59, americium-243 are listed in the partial inventory of materials that would go into the dump. See the partial inventory here:

8) Non-radioactive hazardous materials

Hazardous materials destined for the dump include asbestos, PCBs, dioxins, mercury, up to 13 tonnes of arsenic and hundreds of tonnes of lead. (Reference)

9) Large quantities of valuable metals that could attract scavengers

According the the final EIS, the mound would contain 33 tonnes of aluminum, 3,520 tonnes of copper, and 10,000 tonnes of iron. It is well known that scavenging of materials  occurs after closure of facilities such as the Chalk River mound. Scavengers would be exposed to high radiation doses as they sought to extract these valuable materials from the dump.

10) Organic Materials

80,339 tonnes of wood and other organic material are destined for the mound. These materials would decompose and cause slumping in the mound, therefore potentially compromising the integrity of the cap.


Most of the radioactive and hazardous material would get into the air and water, some sooner, some later.

Some would get into ground and surface water during creation of the mound, such as tritium which is very mobile and cannot be removed by the proposed water treatment plant. Others would get into the air, during construction and could be breathed by workers. Some materials would leach slowly into groundwater. Still others would be released when the mounds deteriorates over time and eventually disintegrates several hundreds of years into the future. For details on the expected disintegration of the mound in a process described as “normal evolution” see this post:


The mound would actually get more radioactive over time

See the submission entitled “A Heap of Trouble” by Dr. Gordon Edwards, president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility for a chilling description of this process. Here is a quote from the submission:

The Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF) project is presented not as a temporary, interim
storage facility but as a permanent repository that will ultimately be abandoned. We are
dealing with a potentially infinite time horizon. The proponent seeks approval not just for a
few decades, but forever. Such permission has never before been granted for post-fission
radioactive wastes in Canada, nor should it be granted. Long-lived radioactive waste
should not be abandoned, especially not on the surface beside a major body of water.

The facility will remain a significant hazard for in excess of 100,000 years.

This point was raised by Dr. J.R. Walker, a retired AECL radioactive waste expert in his submission on the draft environmental impact statement. You can read his full submission here:

“There is no safe level of exposure to any man-made radioactive material.

“There is no safe level of exposure to any man-made radioactive material. All discharges, no matter how small,  into our air and water can cause cancer and many other diseases as well as genetic damage and birth defects.”

~ Dr. Eric Notebaert, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

This dump would not not meet international safety standards for radioactive waste management. Details

Groups oppose plans to abandon defunct nuclear reactors and radioactive waste ~

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Ole HendricksonFebruary 3, 2021ENVIRONMENT

Signs indicating the presence of radioactive waste. Image credit: Dan Meyers/Unsplash

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has just given a green light to the preferred industry solution for disposal of nuclear reactors — entomb and abandon them in place, also known as “in-situ decommissioning.” This paves the way for the introduction of a new generation of “small modular” nuclear reactors or SMRs.

SMRs bring many challenges, including safety of untested designs, nuclear weapons proliferation risks, high costs, disposal of radioactive waste, and public acceptance. Groups concerned about nuclear safety are objecting to plans in the works to abandon these nuclear reactors and the radioactive waste they produce once they are shut down.

Over 100 Indigenous and civil society groups have signed a public statement opposing SMR funding, noting that the federal government currently has no detailed policy or strategy for what to do with radioactive waste. Many of these groups are also participating in a federal radioactive waste policy review launched in November 2020.

The Assembly of First Nations passed resolution 62/2018 demanding that the nuclear industry abandon plans for SMRs and that the federal government cease funding them. It calls for free, prior and informed consent “to ensure that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in First Nations lands and territories.”

SMR waste includes not only reactor fuel but also the reactors themselves.

An SMR emits no radiation before start-up (other than from uranium fuel) and could easily be transported at that stage. But during reactor operation, metal and concrete components absorb neutrons from the splitting of uranium atoms — and in the process, transform into radioactive waste. Removing an SMR after shut-down would be difficult and costly, and comes with the need to shield workers and the public from its radioactivity.

Abandoning nuclear reactors on site has been in the works for some time. CNSC helped draft a 2014 nuclear industry standard with in-situ decommissioning as an option and then included it in a July 2019 draft regulatory document.

However, when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a peer-reviewed report on Canada’s nuclear safety framework last February, it said in-situ decommissioning is “not consistent” with IAEA safety standards.

The IAEA suggested that CNSC “consider revising its current and planned requirements in the area of decommissioning to align with the IAEA guidance that entombment is not considered an acceptable strategy for planned decommissioning of existing [nuclear power plants] and future nuclear facilities.” It also noted that CNSC is reviewing license applications for in-situ decommissioning of shut-down federal reactors in Ontario and Manitoba, and encouraged Canada “to request an international peer review of the proposed strategy” for legacy reactors.

But CNSC continued to pursue this strategy. Clever language in a June 2020 document appeared to rule out on-site reactor disposal, but left the door open where removal is not “practicable”:

“In-situ decommissioning shall not be considered a reasonable decommissioning option for planned decommissioning of existing nuclear power plants or for future nuclear facilities in situations where removal is possible and practicable.”

At public meeting last June, CNSC Commissioner Sandor Demeter asked: “why are future facilities in this sentence when in fact we should be designing them so that in-situ decommissioning is not the option?” Former CNSC staff member Karine Glenn replied that “leaving some small parts of a structure behind…especially if you are in a very, very remote area, may be something that could be considered.” 

Glenn is now with the industry-run Nuclear Waste Management Organization, tasked with leading the development of a radioactive waste management strategy for Canada.

Commissioners decided to approve the regulatory document, but with added text to clarify where in-situ decommissioning would be acceptable. They asked for additional text on “legacy sites” and “research reactors,” stating that “[t]he Commission need not see this added text if it aligns with the oral submissions staff made in the public meeting.”

But no new clarifying text was added to the final version of the document published on January 29, 2021. It enables abandonment of SMRs — by retaining the reference to future nuclear facilities — and of “research and demonstration facilities, locations or sites dating back to the birth of nuclear technologies in Canada for which decommissioning was not planned as part of the design.”

The CNSC seems willing to ignore international safety standards — and a decision of its own commission — to accommodate nuclear industry proponents of SMRs and allow radioactive waste to be abandoned in place.

Meanwhile, the federal government has assigned the nuclear industry itself — via the Nuclear Waste Management Organization — the task of developing a radioactive waste strategy for Canada. Barring public outcry, that strategy will be abandonment.

Ole Hendrickson is a retired forest ecologist and a founding member of the Ottawa River Institute, a non-profit charitable organization based in the Ottawa Valley.

LETTRE OUVERTE ~ Le financement fédéral pour de nouveaux réacteurs nucléaires est une grave erreur qui détourne d’une action rapide contre le changement climatique

Le 6 décembre 2020

Honorable Jean-Yves Duclos, président du Conseil du Trésor

Honorable Joyce Murray, vice-présidente du Conseil du Trésor

Honorable Bardish Chagger, membre du Conseil du Trésor

Honorable Catherine McKenna, membre du Conseil du Trésor

Honorable Chrystia Freeland, membre du Conseil du Trésor

Honorable Jonathan Wilkinson, membre du Conseil du Trésor

Distingués Monsieur Duclos et membres du Conseil du Trésor,

Le 21 septembre 2020, nous vous avons écrit en tant que femmes dirigeantes dans des milieux communautaires et autochtones, en sciences, médecine, droit et protection de l’environnement afin de vous demander de cesser de financer le développement de nouveaux petits réacteurs nucléaires modulaires (appelés PRM). Le Canada est membre d’un traité international sur les déchets radioactifs et il doit s’acquitter de ses obligations légales de minimiser la production des déchets radioactifs. Le financement fédéral des PRM serait une abnégation de ses obligations en vertu de ce traité.

Aujourd’hui, d’autres femmes dirigeantes de toutes les provinces et territoires du Canada et de plusieurs sites des Premières Nations se joignent à nous. Nous vous exhortons fortement à rejeter les nouveaux PRM. Le gouvernement fédéral fait la promotion des PRM comme une solution miracle pour faire face à l’urgence climatique. C’est complètement faux!

En fait, les PRM ne constituent certainement pas une action rapide et efficace pour faire face à l’urgence climatique. Ils ne pourront atteindre la phase de production avant 10 ou 15 ans. C’est trop tard pour réduire les gaz à effet de serre. C’est engloutir de l’argent inutilement qui serait mieux dépensé dans des technologies à faible émission de carbone peu coûteuses et prêtes à utiliser.

Les énergies solaire et éolienne sont devenues les sources d’électricité les moins coûteuses et les plus répandues dans le monde. En 2018, le rapport de Deloitte, Global Renewable Energy Trends: Solar and Wind Move from Mainstream to Preferred a conclu que « les sources d’énergie traditionnelles solaires et éoliennes ont franchi un nouveau seuil, car elles sont devenues les sources d’énergie préférées dans une grande partie du monde ». Selon le rapport, les énergies solaire et éolienne alimentent davantage les réseaux électriques. Elles comptent parmi les sources d’énergie les moins chères au monde et elles sont très prometteuses. Le rapport souligne que l’intermittence des énergies solaire et éolienne n’est plus un problème étant donné les progrès rapides des technologies de stockage. Le Canada devrait financer un plus vaste déploiement des sources d’énergie solaire et éolienne.

Le financement pour améliorer l’efficacité et la conservation de l’énergie constituerait une meilleure utilisation des deniers publics que les subventions à l’industrie nucléaire. Un rapport présenté en juin 2018 par le Conseil Génération Énergie au ministre des Ressources naturelles Canada a révélé que : « Les meilleures possibilités qui se présentent au Canada pour économiser, diminuer les émissions de gaz à effet de serre et créer des emplois sont liées à une réduction radicale du gaspillage d’énergie. L’amélioration de l’efficacité énergétique nous permettrait d’atteindre un tiers de notre engagement en matière d’émissions en vertu de l’Accord de Paris sur le climat. » 

Nous vous exhortons à dire «non» à l’industrie nucléaire qui demande des milliards de dollars de fonds publics pour subventionner une technologie dangereuse, excessivement polluante et coûteuse, et dont nous n’avons pas besoin. Investissez plutôt dans les énergies renouvelables, et dans l’efficacité et la conservation de l’énergie. Cela créera des milliers d’emplois et réduira rapidement les émissions de gaz à effet de serre.

Il ne faut jamais oublier que le principal produit des réacteurs nucléaires – en termes de répercussions planétaires – sont les déchets radioactifs dangereux et même mortels pour toute vie sur terre, et ce pendant des centaines de milliers d’années.

Il ne faut jamais oublier que le principal produit des réacteurs nucléaires – en termes de répercussions planétaires – sont les déchets radioactifs dangereux et même mortels pour toute vie sur terre, et ce pendant des centaines de milliers d’années. Il n’existe pas de moyen sûr éprouvé pour empêcher les déchets radioactifs de pénétrer dans l’environnement des êtres vivants. 

Veuillez consulter la pétition environnementale 419, soumise au vérificateur général du Canada en novembre 2018, pour plus de détails sur les raisons pour lesquelles le Canada devrait refuser d’octroyer des subventions de plusieurs milliards à l’industrie nucléaire. 

Nous vous exhortons à porter cette question à l’attention de vos collègues du Cabinet et à mettre fin à tout soutien gouvernemental aux petits réacteurs nucléaires modulaires avec l’argent des contribuables.

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

Alexandra Hayward, B. Sc., candidate au diplôme Juris Doctor, St. John’s, Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador.

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

Angela Bischoff, Toronto, Ontario

Ann Coxworth, M. Sc., Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

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

Ann Pohl, MEd, Killaloe, Ontario

Anna Tilman, B. Sc. Physique, M.A. Biophysique médicale, Aurora, Ontario

Chef April Adams-Phillips, Conseil Mohawk d’Akwesasne (Québec)

Auréa Cormier, M.D., C.M., Moncton, Nouveau-Brunswick

Bea Olivastri, Ottawa, Ontario

Betty L. E. Wilcox, B.A., B. Éd., Stanhope, Île-du-Prince-Édouard

Brenda Brochu, B.A., B. Éd., Peace River, Alberta

Brennain Lloyd, North Bay, Ontario

Candyce Paul, English River First Nation, Saskatchewan

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

Carolyn Wagner, M. Éd., Fredericton, Nouveau-Brunswick

Catherine Cameron, B. Sc., MBA, Perth Ontario

Cathy Vakil, M.D., Kingston, Ontario 

Cecily Mills,M.D., Ph. D. Microbiologie, Edmonton, Alberta

Chantal Levert, Montréal, Québec

Charlotte Rigby, M.D., Ph. D., Gatineau, Québec 

Chris Cavan, B. Éd., Almonte, Ontario 

Dale Dewar, M.D., Wynyard, Saskatchewan

Deborah Powell, Hon. B.A., Bristol, Québec

Diane Beckett, BES, M.A., Churchill, Manitoba

Diane Fortin, Gatineau, Québec

Dorothy Goldin Rosenberg, Ph. D., Toronto, Ontario 

Elizabeth Logue, Wakefield, Québec 

Ellen Gabriel, Mohawks of Kanehsatà:ke (Quebec)

Emma March, M.A., candidate au diplôme Juris Doctor, Kingston, Ontario

Elssa Martinez, M.S.S., Montréal, Québec

Eriel Deranger, membre de l’Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Treaty 8 (Alberta) 

Eva Schacherl, M.A., Ottawa, Ontario

Evelyn Gigantes, B.A., ancienne députée provinciale, Ottawa, Ontario

Gail Wylie, Fredericton, Nouveau-Brunswick

Ginette Charbonneau, physicienne, Oka, Québec

Gini Dickie, B.A., Toronto, Ontario

Gracia Janes, OMC, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario

Gretchen Fitzgerald, B. Sc., Halifax, Nouvelle-Écosse

Hilu Tagoona, B.A., Qairnimiut Inuk, Nunavut

Imelda Perley Opolahsomuwehs, M.D., Neqotkuk First Nation, Nouveau-Brunswick

Janet Graham, M.A., Ottawa, Ontario

Janice Harvey, Ph. D., Fredericton, Nouveau-Brunswick

Jean Brereton, Golden Lake, Ontario

Jean Swanson, membre de l’Ordre du Canada (C.M.), B.A., Vancouver, Colombie-Britannique

Jessica Spencer, Moncton, Nouveau-Brunswick

Jocelyne Lachapelle, Framton, Québec

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

Joann McCann-Magill, M.A., Sheenboro, Québec

Joanne Mantha, M.A., Gatineau, Québec

Johanna Echlin, M. Éd., Montréal, Québec

Julie Reimer, MMM, Kingston, Ontario 

Judith Miller, Ph. D., Ottawa, Ontario

Kathrin Winkler, B.A., Halifax, Nouvelle-Écosse

Kathyn Lindsay, Ph. D., Renfrew, Ontario

Kay Rogers, B.A., M.A., M. Sc., Perth Ontario

Kerrie Blaise, M. Sc., J.D., North Bay, Ontario

Kim Reeder, MEM (gestion environnement), Saint Andrews, Nouveau-Brunswick

Kringen Henein, Ph. D., Ottawa, Ontario

Larissa Holman, B. Sc., MREM, Gatineau, Québec

Laure Waridel, écosociologue, Ph. D, CM, Montréal, Québec

Lenore Morris, B.A., MBA, J.D., Whitehorse, Yukon

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

Lisa Aitken, M. Éd., gestion des ressources humaines, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Lorraine Hewlett, B.A., M.A., B. Éd, Yellowknife, Territoires du Nord-Ouest 

Lorraine Rekmans, Osgoode, Ontario

Louise Comeau, Ph. D., Keswick Ridge, Nouveau-Brunswick

Louise Morand, l’Assomption, Québec

Louise Vandelac, Ph. D., professeure titulaire, UQAM, Montréal, Québec

Lucie Massé, Oka, Québec

Lucie Sauvé, Ph. D., Montréal, Québec

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

Lynn Jones, maîtrise en sciences de la santé, Ottawa, Ontario 

Margo Sheppard, BES (études environnementales), Fredericton, Nouveau-Brunswick

Maria Varvarikos, B.A., maîtrise en études juridiques, Westmount, Québec 

Martha Ruben, M. D., Ph. D., Ottawa, Ontario

Martine Chatelain, Montréal, Québec

Marion Copleston, BA, B. Éd., ancienne mairesse de Bonshaw, Île-du-Prince-Édouard

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

Mary Lou Smoke, Anishinawbe Kwe, Bear Clan

Mary-Wynne Ashford, M.D., Ph. D., Victoria, Colombie-Britannique

Meg Sears, Ph. D., Dunrobin, Ontario

Megan McCann, RMT, Fredericton, Nouveau-Brunswick

Megan Mitton, députée, Sackville, Nouveau-Brunswick

Melissa Lem, M.D., Vancouver, Colombie-Britannique

Meredith Brown, B. Sc. (Ingénierie) MRM, Wakefield, Québec

Michele Kaulbach, Westmount, Québec

Nadia Alexan, Montréal, Québec

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

Nira Dookeran, MA, Ottawa, Ontario

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

Paula Tippett B. Sc., M.D., M. Sc. (santé publique), Saint John, Nouveau-Brunswick

Pippa Feinstein, J.D., LL.M., Toronto, Ontario

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

Roberta Frampton Benefiel, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador

Roma De Robertis, MA, Saint John, Nouveau-Brunswick

Sarah Colwell, B. Sc., M.D., associé du Collège royal des médecins et chirurgiens du Canada, Moncton, Nouveau-Brunswick

Serena Kenny, Lac Seul First Nation (Ontario)

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

Susan O’Donnell, Ph. D., Fredericton, Nouveau-Brunswick

Sylvia Hale, Ph. D., Fredericton, Nouveau-Brunswick

Sylvia Oljemark, Montréal, Québec

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

Serena Kenny, Lac Seul First Nation (Ontario)

Valerie Needham, MA, Ottawa, Ontario 

Venetia Crawford, BA, Shawville, Québec

Willi Nolan-Campbell, Nouveau-Brunswick


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

Greg Fergus, secrétaire parlementaire du président du Conseil du Trésor

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


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