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

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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

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

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

La version française ici

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

~~~~~~~

Does the CNSC president meet IAEA requirements for “independence”?

The International Atomic Energy Agency provides explicit guidance on the necessary independence of the nuclear regulatory agency in order to ensure safety and public confidence. The guidance is provided in the  IAEA “General Safety Guide No. GSG-12, Organization, Management and Staffing of the Regulatory Body for Safety”. Here is a screen capture from page 22 of that publication (emphasis added).

The guidance is quite clear that the regulatory body must be separate from the “promoters of nuclear technology”. The guidance also suggests that CNSC should be independent from NRCan; more detail on this is provided in this post.

The CNSC’s current president, Rumina Velshi, prior to her appointment at CNSC, worked for Ontario Power Generation for eight years in senior management positions and led the OPG commercial team involved in a multi-billion dollar proposal to procure new nuclear reactors as noted below in the announcement of Ms. Velshi’s appointment on the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission website. 

It would seem that Rumina Velshi fails to meet the IAEA’s guidance that staff of the regulatory body must be separate from “promoters of nuclear technology”. As the leader of a multi-billion dollar project to procure new nuclear reactors, Ms. Velshi was quite clearly a “promoter of nuclear energy” before her appointment at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

CNSC president should not report to the Minister of Natural Resources, according to IAEA guidance

Having the CNSC report through the Minister of Natural Resources who is charged with producing (and promoting) nuclear energy under the Nuclear Energy Act is not consistent with the IAEA’s guidance on “independence”.  


IAEA General Safety Guide No. GSG-12, Organization, Management and Staffing of the Regulatory Body for Safety says:

2.3  …the credibility of the regulatory body with the general public depends on whether the regulatory body is regarded as being independent from the organizations it regulates, as well as independent from other government agencies or industry groups that promote nuclear technologies.

The IAEA recommends that the CNSC’s independence from Parliament and government not be absolute:

2.6. Paragraph 2.8 of GSR Part 1 (Rev. 1) [2] states that:“To be effectively independent from undue influences on its decision making, the regulatory body: …Shall be free from any pressures associated with political circumstances or economic conditions, or pressures from government departments, authorized parties or other organizations”.  

2.7. The regulatory body should, however, be accountable to the government and to the general public with regard to effectively and efficiently fulfilling its mission to protect workers, the public and the environment…

More specifically, it is unacceptable that the CNSC’s funding requests come through the Minister of Natural Resources:

2.14. …Review and approval of the regulatory body’s budget should be performed only by governmental agencies that are effectively neutral in respect of the development, promotion or operation of facilities and conduct of activities. Such an approach provides additional assurance of the independence of the regulatory body 

Under the Nuclear Energy Act, the Minister of Natural Resources is Canada’s promoter of nuclear technologies:

Powers of Minister 10(1) The Minister may

(a) undertake or cause to be undertaken research and investigations with respect to nuclear energy;

(b) with the approval of the Governor in Council, utilize, cause to be utilized and prepare for the utilization of nuclear energy;

(c) with the approval of the Governor in Council, lease or, by purchase, requisition or expropriation, acquire or cause to be acquired nuclear substances and any mines, deposits or claims of nuclear substances and patent rights or certificates of supplementary protection issued under the Patent Act relating to nuclear energy and any works or property for production or preparation for production of, or for research or investigations with respect to, nuclear energy



The President of Canada’s nuclear regulatory body (CNSC) reports to the Minister of Natural Resources.  The Nuclear Safety and Control Act says

12(4) …the President shall make such reports to the Minister as the Minister may require concerning the general administration and management of the affairs of the Commission…

Hence, the Minister in charge of nuclear energy, including federal (AECL) properties for production and research of nuclear energy, is also in charge of the regulatory body that is supposed to protect workers, the public and the environment. 

 
This creates a lack of independence of the regulatory body. 

 
The Nuclear Safety and Control Act does allow for the President of the CNSC to report to a minister other than the Minister of Natural Resources.  From section 2, Definitions:

Minister means the Minister of Natural Resources or such member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada as the Governor in Council may designate as the Minister for the purposes of this Act.


A quick and cheap fix to CNSC’s lack of independence would be to designate the Minister of Environment and Climate Change as the “the Minister for the purposes of this Act”. 

 
That being said, both the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and the Nuclear Energy Act are more than 23 years old and have never been reviewed by Parliament.  Such a review is long overdue.

Several ex-AECL scientists have pointed out that all three of CNL’s proposed nuclear waste projects fail to meet international safety standards

Several ex-AECL scientists have pointed out, in comments on the environmental assessments, that all three of CNL’s proposed nuclear waste projects fail to meet international safety standards for radioactive waste facilities. The comments are publicly available on the website of the Impact Assessment Agency. Links to the submissions are compiled in this post. Below we highlight some that are especially pertinent to lack of compliance with international safety guidelines. See also the Globe and Mail article from June 2017 “Scientists decry plan for Ontario nuclear-waste site”

Concerns about the proposed Whiteshell reactor entombment

Dr. J.R. Walker, former Director of Safety Engineering and Licensing at AECL, explains that the Whiteshell Reactor Entombment would not meet IAEA guidelines.

The proposed facility [1] is in noncompliance with international requirements and guidance, for
example:
• Entombment is not acceptable as a decommissioning strategy [2];
• Near surface disposal is not acceptable for intermediate level waste [8]; and
• Perpetual institutional control is not acceptable [6 – 10, 13].

Source: https://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/documents/p80124/121207E.pdf page 9

Peter Baumgartner and six colleagues, former AECL scientists and engineers, outline many serious concerns and note that IAEA doesn’t consider entombment to be a decommissioning strategy except in emergencies. Read their submission on the IAA website: https://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/documents/p80124/114856E.pdf page 9

Dr. Michael Stephens, former Manager, Business Operations, Liability Management Unit; and former Manager, Strategic Planning, Nuclear Legacy Liabilities Program at AECL states:

It is surprising that the proponent is proposing to entomb the WR-1 reactor, which was successfully operated throughout its operating lifetime and underwent a planned permanent shutdown in 1985. Entombment is not an accepted practice in the world’s nuclear community in such a situation.

Source: https://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/documents/p80124/114855E.pdf page 1

Concerns about the Rolphton Entombment

Dr. Michael Stevens and Dr. J.R. Walker both also commented on the proposed entombment of the NPD reactor at Rolphton, noting the lack of compliance with IAEA guidance.

Here are the links to two of their submissions on the Rolphton project:

Here are the links to two of their submissions on the Rolphton project:

Dr. Michael Stephens (former Manager, Business Operations, Liability Management Unit; Manager, Strategic Planning, Nuclear Legacy Liabilities Program, AECL)

“It is surprising that the proponent is proposing to entomb the NPD reactor, which was successfully
operated for 25 years and underwent a planned permanent shutdown in 1987. The proponent must
surely be aware that entombment is not an accepted practice in the world’s nuclear community in such
a situation.”

J.R. Walker (former Director, Safety Engineering & Licensing; Champion, NLLP Protocol, AECL)

“The proposal described in the Draft EIS [1] would cause Canada to be in violation of its obligations
under the Joint Convention [17], since:
• Internationally endorsed criteria and standards have been ignored, e.g., General Safety
Requirements Part 6: Decommissioning of Facilities [4] and Specific Safety Requirements:
Disposal of Radioactive Waste [7];
• Reasonably predictable impacts on future generations are greater than those permitted for the
current generation; and
• Undue burdens are imposed on future generations.”

“4.6 Summary
NPD will remain a radiological hazard for tens of thousands of years (see, for example, Figure G-75 of
[20]). It is absurd to conclude that cement grout, a reinforced concrete cap above the reactor vessel, and
an engineered barrier (fill, geomembrane, soil, and vegetation) over the building footprint will protect
the public for that period of time”

“The Draft EIS [1] and the associated project proposal contain numerous deficiencies.
These deficiencies include:
a) The proposal does not discharge Canada’s liabilities concerning the NPD Reactor, since it
neither safely disposes of the radiological hazard nor does it get the liability off the books;
b) The proposal fails to address Canada’s international obligations, since it fails to meet the
requirements of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the
Safety of Radioactive Waste Management [17]; and
c) The proposal and its assessment lack credibility, since it employs inadequate technology that
would result in radiological doses to future residents that exceed those that are permissible in
Canada today.”

Bill Turner also commented on the Rophton project. Mr. Turner is a retired AECL Quality Assurance Specialist and Environmental Assessment Coordinator/Strategic Planner. He points out that according to the IAEA, entombment is not considered a decommissioning strategy and is not an option in the case of planned permanent shutdown. He quotes from IAEA guidance document Decommissioning of Facilities, General Safety Requirements Part 6, IAEA, Vienna, 2014 on page 1 of his 10 page submission. Here is a link to his full submission: https://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/documents/p80121/114830E.pdf

Concerns about the Near Surface Disposal Facility (Chalk River Mound)

Dr. Michael Michael Stephens, former Manager for Strategic Planning for the Canadian Nuclear Legacy Liabilities Program at AECL

I am commenting as a resident of Deep River, as a Canadian taxpayer, and from my 25 years’ working experience in radioactive waste management and decommissioning of nuclear facilities, including as
former Manager for Strategic Planning for the Canadian Nuclear Legacy Liabilities Program.

source: https://www.ceaa.gc.ca/050/documents/p80122/119775E.pdf page 2

The concept of the NSDF project deviates significantly from internationally-accepted waste management principles and practices. Before consideration is given to allowing it to be implemented, it should be,subjected to a comprehensive technical review by an international group of experts arranged through the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the results should be made public.

source: https://www.ceaa.gc.ca/050/documents/p80122/119775E.pdf page 5

DR. J.R. Walker, former Director of Safety Engineering and Licensing at AECL

A must-read submission on the NSDF (Chalk River Mound)

This quote is about non-compliance with international guidlines:

The proposed project does not meet Canadian and international guidance and would require members
of the public to be subject to unacceptable radiological risks into the far future.

source: https://www.ceaa.gc.ca/050/documents/p80122/119034E.pdf page 7

This quote is about eventual failure of the mound:

The institutional control period ends 300 years post-closure, and the design life of the facility is 500 years post-closure. Subsequently, the facility will fail and the radionuclide inventory will be released
into the environment. As noted previously, the predicted doses exceed the public dose limit specified in Canadian Regulations [10] for more than 100,000 years.

source: https://www.ceaa.gc.ca/050/documents/p80122/119034E.pdf page 8

These are Dr. Walker’s concluding remarks about the NSDF environmental impact statement:

5.0 Concluding Remarks
The Draft EIS [1] and the associated project proposal contain numerous deficiencies. For example,


• The proposal employs inadequate technology and is problematically located;
• The proposal does not meet regulatory requirements with respect to the health and safety of
persons and the protection of the environment; and
• The authors have failed to meet the requirements of the Canadian Environmental AssessmentAct 2012.

The extent and gravity of these deficiencies preclude a conclusion that the project is unlikely to cause significant adverse environmental effects, taking into consideration the implementation of mitigation measures.

Source: https://www.ceaa.gc.ca/050/documents/p80122/119034E.pdf page 10