Updated Letter to Auditor General Michael Ferguson from 87 organizations, citizens groups and First Nations

From the cover note to the Office of the Auditor General ~

 
… This letter is a revised version of a letter sent to Mr. Ferguson on August 21, 2018 by 44 First Nations, NGOs and citizens groups. Wording in the introductory paragraphs has been changed slightly to clarify the type of nuclear waste about which we are most concerned at present.
 
In the interval since the letter was first sent, 43 additional parties including two First Nations Grand Chiefs, NGOs and citizens group from eight provinces across Canada,  along with five national and two international organizations, have requested the opportunity to sign the letter. This confirms our view that Canada’s current approach to nuclear waste management is a matter of great and widespread concern …

De la note de couverture au Bureau du vérificateur général ~

… Cette lettre est une version révisée de la lettre que 44 Premières nations, ONG et groupes de citoyens avaient déjà expédiée à M. Ferguson le 21 août 2018. L’introduction a été légèrement modifiée pour dire plus clairement que nous sommes surtout inquiets des déchets nucléaires qui ne sont pas du combustible irradié.En outre, les signataires se sont multipliés: 43 autres groupes, dont deux grands chefs des Premières nations, des ONG et des groupes de citoyens de huit provinces canadiennes, cinq organisations nationales et deux organisations internationales ont demandé à signer la lettre. Cela confirme que la manière dont le Canada gère ses déchets nucléaires est une source de grande préoccupation…

Le français suite 

September 21, 2018

Michael Ferguson

Auditor General of Canada

240 Sparks Street

Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G6

Dear Mr. Ferguson

We are writing to express as an urgent matter our deep concern that the Government of Canada is failing to meet its commitments to sustainable development in its handling of radioactive waste other than irradiated nuclear fuel. The nuclear wastes we refer to include a wide variety of post-fission wastes, including those involved in nuclear reactor decommissioning. Our concerns also have to do with the regulation of all these activities.

We are equally concerned that money is being spent by Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL) without due regard for economy, efficiency, and environmental protection. We believe these failures and inappropriate expenditures of public funds create serious risks to the health of current and future generations of Canadians and our environment.

In May 2014, the Government of Canada “launched” the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, Limited (CNL) as a “wholly-owned subsidiary” of AECL.  In 2015, the Government of Canada entered into a “Government-owned, Contractor-operated” (GoCo) arrangement with the multinational consortium Canadian National Energy Alliance (CNEA), giving the consortium all the shares in CNL, and awarding contracts (to both CNL and CNEA) to manage all of Canada’s federally-owned nuclear facilities.

AECL itself was reduced to a 40-person contract management organization with a mandate to “enable nuclear science and technology and fulfill Canada’s radioactive waste and decommissioning responsibilities.”  These “responsibilities” include dealing with a federal nuclear liability estimated at over $7.9 billion as of 31 March 2016 (1).

One of the contracts between AECL and CNL emphasizes speed in reducing this liability:

1.3.5.4 CNL shall seek the fastest, most cost effective way(s) of executing the DWM [Decommissioning and Waste Management] Mission including disposal of all waste. (emphasis added)

In the first three fiscal years of the GoCo arrangement (2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19), Parliamentary appropriations to AECL for “nuclear decommissioning and radioactive waste management” averaged $547,577,479 per year.  This represented a four-fold increase over the $137,800,000 per year appropriated during the 2006/08 to 2015-16 period when decommissioning and waste management was funded by Natural Resources Canada through the Nuclear Legacy Liabilities Program.

It does not appear that increased funding has yielded good results.  CNL, supported by AECL, is proposing three projects that do not meet Canada’s international commitments for responsible radioactive waste management:

  • An above-ground landfill for one million cubic meters of “low level”radioactive waste, including significant quantities of long-lived alpha and beta/gamma emitters, beside the Ottawa River at Chalk River, Ontario.   The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says above-ground disposal is unsuitable for waste with long-lived radionuclides.  It recommends isolating such waste from the biosphere below ground for the duration of its radiological hazard (3).

 

  • “Entombment”of the Whiteshell WR-1 reactor beside the Winnipeg River in Pinawa, Manitoba; and of the Nuclear Power Demonstration reactor beside the Ottawa River in Rolphton, Ontario.  During entombment, the highly radioactive remains of the reactor would be covered in concrete and left in place, even though they contain radionuclides that will remain hazardous for hundreds of thousands of years beyond the lifetime of their concrete “tombs”. The IAEA does not recommend reactor entombment except in emergencies (4).

These projects are mired in controversy.  Their environmental assessments have been delayed owing to numerous critical comments submitted by provincial and federal government agencies, retired AECL scientists, First Nations, and NGOs. Contracting for the fastest and cheapest “disposal of all waste” creates perverse incentives to downplay negative environmental effects of the projects, to place undue burdens on future generations, and to ignore sustainable development principles.

We are concerned that “entombment” may be under consideration for other federally- owned defunct nuclear reactors, such as the Gentilly-1 reactor at Bécancour, Quebec; the Douglas Point reactor near Kincardine, Ontario; and the NRX and NRU reactors at Chalk River, Ontario.  We are also concerned that Canada may be actively promoting entombment internationally and pressuring the IAEA to sanction “entombment” for routine decommissioning. These concerns are addressed in a new environmental petition entitled “Need for a national policy on decommissioning of nuclear reactors”.

Environmental Petition 411, submitted to your office in September 2017, notes that the Government of Canada is grossly deficient in policies and strategies to guide the disposal or long-term management of the federal government’s 600,000 cubic meters of radioactive waste (excluding irradiated nuclear fuel) (5). The Government of Canada has only ever released a “Radioactive Waste Policy Framework” composed of three bullets (6). This “Framework”, developed with no public discussion or consultation, is now more than 20 years old. It states that waste owners must meet their responsibilities “in accordance with approved waste disposal plans.” However, the Government of Canada, as “owner” of the vast majority of Canada’s non-fuel radioactive wastes, has never released an approved plan for long-term management of its own wastes.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) appears to be promoting the three nuclear waste disposal projects described above. As responsible authority under the Canadian Environment Assessment Act, CNSC initiated environmental assessments (EAs) of the projects even though they do not align with IAEA guidance. CNSC dismissed warnings from scientific experts about serious flaws in the three projects during the project description/scoping phase (7) (8) (9).  This allowed CNL to issue sub-contracts for environmental impact studies and for supporting documentation – a waste of millions of dollars of public funds.  CNSC’s mishandling of these EAs is the subject of Environmental Petition 413, submitted to your office in January 2018 (10).

CNSC is widely perceived to be subject to “regulatory capture” (11). To the extent that CNSC serves the interests of the industry it is supposed to regulate – rather than the interests of current and future generations of Canadians – this creates waste and inefficiency. We believe that Canada lacks checks and balances in its nuclear governance system, and that the involvement of multiple agencies and departments is needed to strengthen the system.

All of the above concerns lead to our urgent request that you undertake an inquiry into whether the Government of Canada, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission are expending public funds for nuclear waste management and nuclear reactor decommissioning in a responsible manner, and whether they are handling these matter in ways that are compatible with sustainable development principles. We feel it is urgent to address these questions now, as Canada has just begun to face the monumentally difficult and expensive task of safely managing over seven decades’ accumulation of nuclear waste.

Yours sincerely,

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

Theresa McClenaghan, Canadian Environmental Law Association

 

Grand Chief Glen Hare, Anishinabek Nation

Grand Chief Joseph Tokwiro Norton,Mohawk Council of Kahnawake

Chief James Marsden, Alderville First Nation

Norm Odjick, Director General, Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council

Candace Day Neveau, Bawating Water Protectors

 

Andrea Harden, The Council of Canadians (National)

Angela Bischoff, Ontario Clean Air Alliance

Beatrice Olivastri, Friends of the Earth Canada

Brennain Lloyd, Northwatch

Chandler Davis, Science for Peace

Cheryl Keetch, Ottawa River Institute

Christian Simard, Nature Québec

Elizabeth Hutchinson, Provincial Council of Women of Quebec

Dr. Éric Notebaert, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment

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

Gracia Janes, Provincial Council of Women of Ontario

Gretchen Fitzgerald, Sierra Club Canada Foundation

Guy Garand, Conseil régional de l’environnement de Laval

Jacinthe Châteauvert, Conseil régional de l’environnement de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue

Joceline Sanschagrin, Coalition Eau Secours

Kathryn Lindsay, Ph.D., Bonnechere River Watershed Project

Marc Bureau, Conseil régional de l’environnement et du développement durable de l’Outaouais

Mark Mattson, Swim, Drink, Fish Canada

Meg Sears, Prevent Cancer Now

Nicole DesRoches, Agence de bassin versant des 7

Patrick Nadeau, Ottawa Riverkeeper

P. T. Dang, Ph.D., Biodiversity Conservancy International

Pierre Cartier, Organisme de bassin versant du Témiscamingue
Raymond Thibert, Unifor

Rob Barnes, Ecology Ottawa

Robert Del Tredici, Atomic Photographers’ Guild

Sandra Cohen-Rose, National Council of Women

Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Greenpeace Canada

Dr. Vinay Jindal (M.D.), Physicians for Global Survival
Abdul Pirani, Montreal Chapter of Council of Canadians (Québec)

André Belisle, Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique

André Michel, Les Artistes pour la Paix

Anna Tilman, Watershed Sentinel Educational Society

Candyce Paul, Committee for Future Generations (Saskatchewan)

Carolynn Coburn, Environment Haliburton!

Cassie Barker, Women’s Healthy Environments Network (Ontario)

Céline Lachapelle, Action Environnement Basses-Laurentides

Chris Rouse, New Clear Solutions (New Brunswick)

Daniel Stringer, National Capital Peace Council

Dave Taylor, Concerned Citizens of Manitoba

David G.Newman, Q.C., Donor Advisor for the Walter C. Newman, Q. C. Legal Research Fund (Manitoba)

Don Ross, Prince Edward County Sustainability Group

Elaine Hughes, Quill Plains Chapter of the Council of Canadians (Saskatchewan)

Elena Schacherl, Citizens Advocating the Use of Sustainable Energy (Alberta)

Eugene Bourgeois, Friends of Bruce (Ontario)

Eva Schacherl, Coalition Against Nuclear Dumps on the Ottawa River

Faye Moore, Port Hope Community Health Concerns Committee

Gareth Richardson, Green Coalition Verte

Gary Schneider, Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island (PEI)

Georges Karpat, Coalition Vigilance Oléoducs

Gilles Provost and Ginette Charbonneau, Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive

Jacques Boucher, le Centre Wampum (Québec)

Jamie Kneen, Mining Watch Canada

Jo Hayward-Haines, Peterborough Chapter of Council of Canadians

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

John Jackson, Nuclear Waste Watch Canada

Janet McNeill, Durham Nuclear Awareness

Karen Weingeist & Dave Geary, Clean Green Saskatchewan

Kate Chung, Raging Grannies of Toronto (Ontario)

Kirk Groover, Petawawa Point Cottagers’ Association

Laura Tylor, Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition

Linda Murphy, Inter-Church Uranium Committee Educational Co-operative (Saskatchewan)

Louise Morand, Comité vigilance hydrocarbures de L’Assomption

Marc Brullemans, Regroupement vigilance hydrocarbures Québec

Marc Nantel, Regroupement Vigilance Mines de l’Abitibi et du Témiscamingue (Québec)

Marie Durand, Alerte Pétrole Rive-Sud

Marlyn Rannou,  Association pour la Préservation du Lac Témiscamingue

Martha Ruben, Ottawa Raging Grannies

Maryanne MacDonald, Water Care Allies, First United Church, Ottawa

Michael J. Keegan, Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes (International)

Michelle Blanchette, Renewable Power The Intelligent Choice (Saskatchewan)

Patrick Rasmussen, Mouvement Vert Mauricie

Dr. Paula Tippett (MD), Concerned Citizens of St John (New Brunswick)

Paul Johannis, Greenpeace Alliance of Canada’s Capital

Phyllis Creighton, Hiroshima Nagasaki Day Coalition (Ontario)

Réal Lalande, Action Climat Outaouais

Roger Short, Lecourt Renewables (Ontario)

Samuel Arnold, Sustainable Energy Group, New Brunswick

Siegfried (Ziggy) Kleinau, Bruce Peninsula Environment Group

Theodora Carroll, MySea-to-Sky and Squamish Environment Society (British Columbia)

cc.

The Right Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Chief Perry Bellegarde, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations

Ms. Julie Gelfand, Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development, Canada

 

The Hon. Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Natural Resources, Canada

The Hon. Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Canada,

The Hon. Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Canada

The Hon. Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, Canada

 

Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada

Luc Thériault, Bloc Québécois

Mario Beaulieu, Bloc Québécois

Shannon Stubbs, Conservative Party of Canada Natural Resources Critic

Marilyn Gladu, Conservative Party of Canada, Health Critic

Ed Fast, Conservative Party of Canada, Environment and Climate Change Critic

Richard Cannings, NDP Natural Resources Critic

Don Davies, NDP Health Critic

Alexandre Boulerice, NDP Environment and Climate Change Critic

Monique Pauzé, Bloc Québécois Environment Critic

 

L’Hon. Isabelle Melançon, Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change, Québec

The Hon. Rod Phillips, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, Ontario

The Hon. Rochelle Squires, MLA, Minister of Sustainable Development, Manitoba

Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa

____________________________________________________________________________

References

(1)  Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Board of Directors of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. Independent Audit Report, Special Examination – 2017.  Cat. No. FA3-126/2017E-PDF.  http://www.aecl.ca/site/media/aecl/2017_OAG_SE_AECL_En.pdf

(2) Canadas Nuclear Legacy Liabilities: Cleanup Costs for the Chalk River Laboratories. Environmental Petition number 405 to the Auditor General of Canada, June 20, 2017, summary and response at http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/pet_405_e_42449.html, full text of petition at https://tinyurl.com/environmental-petition-405

(3) IAEA 2009. Policies and Strategies for Radioactive Waste Management. Nuclear Energy Series Guide No. NW-G-1.1. International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, https://wwwpub.iaea.org/MTCD/Publications/PDF/Pub1093_scr.pdf.

(4) IAEA 2011. Policies and Strategies for the Decommissioning of Nuclear and Radiological Facilities.  Nuclear Energy Series No. NW-G-2.1. International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna. https://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/Publications/PDF/Pub1525_web.pdf

(5) Policies and Strategies for Managing Non-Fuel Radioactive Waste.  Environmental Petition number 411 to the Auditor General of Canada, September 21, 2017, summary and response at http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/pet_411_e_42850.html, full text of petition at  https://tinyurl.com/AG-petition-411

(6) Radioactive Waste Policy Framework. Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa, 1996.   https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/uranium-nuclear/7725

(7) CNSC Disposition Table of Public and Aboriginal Groups’ Comments on Project Description – Near Surface Disposal Facility Project.  http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/documents/p80122/118862E.pdf

(8) CNSC Disposition Table of Public and Aboriginal Groups’ Comments on Project Description – Nuclear Power Demonstration Closure Project.  http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/documents/p80121/118857E.pdf

(9) CNSC Disposition Table of Public and Aboriginal Groups’ Comments on Project Description – In Situ Decommissioning of Whiteshell Reactor #1 Project. http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/documents/p80124/118863E.pdf

(10) Environmental Assessment of Nuclear Projects. Environmental Petition number 413 to the Auditor General of Canada, January 29, 2018, summary and response at http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/pet_413_e_43085.html, and full text of petition at  https://tinyurl.com/Environmental-Petition-413

(11) Building Common Ground: A New Vision for Impact Assessment in Canada. The final report of the Expert Panel for the Review of Environmental Assessment Processes. April 2017.https://www.canada.ca/en/services/environment/conservation/assessments/environmental-reviews/environmental-assessment-processes/building-common-ground.html

Note: this letter replaces the letter sent on August 21 and includes 43 additional co-signers representing First Nations, NGOs and citizens groups from across Canada, for a total of 87 signatures. There has been a slight change in wording in the introduction to clarify the types of nuclear waste being referred to.

 

21 septembre 2018

Michael Ferguson

Vérificateur général du Canada

240 rue Sparks

Ottawa (Ontario) K1A 0G6

Monsieur Ferguson,

Nous vous écrivons pour exprimer avec urgence notre grave préoccupation relative au fait que le gouvernement du Canada ne respecte pas ses engagements en faveur du développement durable dans le traitement des déchets radioactifs autres que le combustible nucléaire irradié. Les déchets auxquels nous faisons référence incluent une large gamme de déchets post-fission. Ils résultent parfois du déclassement des réacteurs nucléaires. Nous nous préoccupons aussi de la réglementation de toutes ces activités.

Nous nous inquiétons également de voir Énergie atomique du Canada Limitée (ÉACL) dépenser tant d’argent sans assez d’égard à l’économie, à la performance ou à la protection de l’environnement. Nous croyons que ces défaillances et ce gaspillage des fonds publics mettent gravement en péril la santé des Canadiens présents et futurs ainsi que celle de notre environnement.

En mai 2014, le gouvernement du Canada a «lancé» les Laboratoires nucléaires canadiens Ltée. (CNL) à titre de «filiale en propriété exclusive» d’EACL. En 2015, le gouvernement du Canada a conclu avec le consortium multinational Canadian National Energy Alliance (CNEA) un accord «d’organisme gouvernemental exploité par un entrepreneur» (OGEE) en vertu duquel il cédait au consortium toutes les actions des LNC et confiait par contrat (à la fois aux LNC et à CNEA) la tâche de gérer toutes les installations nucléaires du gouvernement fédéral canadien.

EACL elle-même a été réduite à une organisation de 40 personnes qui gère ce contrat avec mandat de «mettre en œuvre la science et la technologie nucléaires et d’assumer les responsabilités du Canada en matière de déchets radioactifs et de déclassement».  Ces « responsabilités » incluent la gestion d’obligations nucléaires fédérales que l’on évaluait  à plus de 7,9 milliards $ au 31 mars 2016 (1)

L’un des contrats entre EACL et les LNC met l’accent sur la rapidité dans la réduction de ces obligations:

1.3.5.4 Les LNC rechercheront les moyens les plus rapides et les plus performants d’exécuter la mission DWM [Déclassement et gestion des déchets], et l’élimination de tous les déchets. (soulignement ajouté)

Au cours des trois premiers exercices de l’accord OGEE (2016-2017, 2017-2018, 2018-2019), les crédits parlementaires accordés à EACL pour le «déclassement nucléaire et la gestion des déchets radioactifs» s’élevaient en moyenne à 547 577 479 $ par année. C’est quatre fois plus que les 137 800 000 $ par année affectés pour la période de 2006-2008 à 2015-2016 pendant laquelle Ressources naturelles Canada finançait les déclassements et la gestion des déchets dans le cadre du Programme des responsabilités nucléaires héritées.

Il ne semble pas qu’un financement accru ait donné de bons résultats. Les LNC, avec l’appui d’EACL, proposent trois projets qui ne respectent pas les engagements internationaux du Canada en matière de gestion responsable des déchets radioactifs:

  • Un site d’enfouissement hors-sol qui doit recevoir un million de mètres cubes de déchets radioactifs de «faible activité», dont d’importantes quantités d’émetteurs alpha et bêta / gamma à vie longue, à côté de la rivière des Outaouais à Chalk River, en Ontario. L’Agence internationale de l’énergie atomique (AIEA) affirme que l’élimination en surface ne convient pas aux déchets qui incluent des radionucléides de longue vie. L’AIEA recommande d’isoler ces déchets de la biosphère à des dizaines de mètres sous la surface du sol, aussi longtemps qu’ils présenteront un risque radiologique (3).
  • La «mise en tombeau» du réacteur Whiteshell WR-1 en bordure de la rivière Winnipeg à Pinawa, au Manitoba, ainsi que celle du réacteur de la centrale nucléaire de démonstration, en bordure de la rivière des Outaouais à Rolphton en Ontario. Pendant la mise en tombeau, les restes fortement radioactifs du réacteur seraient recouverts de béton et laissés en place, même si les radionucléides qu’ils contiennent resteront dangereux pendant des centaines de milliers d’années après la défaillance de leur «tombe» en béton. L’AIEA ne recommande pas la mise au tombeau du réacteur, sauf en cas d’urgence (4).

Ces projets sont enlisés dans la controverse. Leur évaluation environnementale a été reportée en raison des nombreux commentaires critiques qu’ont formulés des organismes gouvernementaux provinciaux et fédéraux, des scientifiques  à la retraite d’EACL, des Premières nations et des ONG. Le fait d’exiger par contrat «l’élimination de tous les déchets» la plus rapide et la moins chère incite de manière perverse à sous-estimer l’impact sanitaire et environnemental des projets, à imposer un fardeau excessif aux générations futures et à négliger les règles du développement durable.

Nous craignons que cette mise en tombeau ne soit aussi envisagée pour d’autres réacteurs nucléaires désaffectés de propriété fédérale, comme le réacteur Gentilly-1 à Bécancour au Québec, le réacteur Douglas Point près de Kincardine en Ontario et les réacteurs NRX et NRU à Chalk River en Ontario. Nous craignons également que le Canada ne fasse la promotion de cette mise en tombeau sur la scène internationale et  qu’il ne fasse pression sur l’AIEA pour qu’elle permette la «mise en tombeau» lors des déclassements de routine.

La pétition 411 en matière d’environnement, soumise à votre bureau en septembre 2017, note que le gouvernement du Canada souffre d’un manque flagrant de politiques et de stratégies pour guider l’élimination ou la gestion à long terme des 600 000 mètres cubes de déchets radioactifs du gouvernement fédéral (5). Le gouvernement du Canada n’a publié qu’une «politique-cadre en matière de déchets radioactifs» qui tient en trois alinéas (6). Cette “politique-cadre”, développée sans discussion ni consultation publique, a maintenant plus de 20 ans. Elle stipule que les propriétaires de déchets doivent s’acquitter de leurs responsabilités «conformément aux plans approuvés d’évacuation des déchets». Cependant, le gouvernement du Canada, à titre de «propriétaire» de la vaste majorité des déchets radioactifs canadiens autre que le combustible irradié, n’a jamais publié de plan approuvé pour la gestion à long terme de ses propres déchets.

La Commission canadienne de sûreté nucléaire (CCSN) semble faire la promotion des trois projets d’évacuation des déchets nucléaires décrits ci-dessus. Comme autorité responsable en vertu de la Loi canadienne sur l’évaluation environnementale, la CCSN a entrepris des évaluations environnementales (EE) des projets même s’ils contreviennent aux directives de l’AIEA. La CCSN a écarté les mises en garde des experts scientifiques relatives aux graves lacunes des trois projets, pendant leur phase de description/définition de projet (7) (8) (9). Cela a permis aux LNC d’émettre des sous-contrats pour des études d’impact environnemental et pour la documentation justificative – un gaspillage de millions de dollars des fonds publics. La mauvaise gestion de ces évaluations environnementales par la CCSN fait l’objet de la pétition 413 en matière d’environnement qui a été soumise à votre bureau en janvier 2018 (10).

La CCSN est largement perçue comme victime  d’une «capture du régulateur» (11). Dans la mesure où la CCSN sert les intérêts de l’industrie qu’elle devrait réglementer – plutôt que les intérêts des Canadiens actuels et futurs – cela crée du gaspillage et de l’improductivité. Nous croyons que le Canada manque de freins et de contrepoids dans son système de gouvernance nucléaire et qu’il faudrait renforcer le système en y impliquant plusieurs organismes et ministères.

Toutes ces préoccupations nous incitent à demander avec urgence  que vous fassiez enquête pour savoir si le gouvernement du Canada, Énergie atomique du Canada limitée et la Commission canadienne de sûreté nucléaire dépensent de manière responsable les fonds publics destinés à la gestion des déchets nucléaires ou au déclassement des réacteurs nucléaires et s’ils traitent ces questions en conformité avec les règles du développement durable. Nous pensons qu’il est urgent de répondre à ces questions dès maintenant, alors que le Canada s’attaque tout juste à la tâche éminemment difficile et coûteuse de gérer de manière sécuritaire tous les déchets nucléaires que nous avons accumulés pendant plus de sept décennies.

Veuillez agréer, monsieur, nos salutations distinguées,

 

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

Theresa McClenaghan, L’Association canadienne du droit de l’environnement

 

Grand Chief Glen Hare, Anishinabek Nation

Grand Chief Joseph Tokwiro Norton, Mohawk Council of Kahnawake

Chief James Marsden, Alderville First Nation

Norm Odjick, Director General, Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council

Candace Day Neveau, Bawating Water Protectors

 

Andrea Harden, Le Conseil des Canadiens

Angela Bischoff, Ontario Clean Air Alliance

Beatrice Olivastri, Friends of the Earth Canada

Brennain Lloyd, Northwatch

Chandler Davis, Science for Peace

Cheryl Keetch, Ottawa River Institute

Christian Simard, Nature Québec

Elizabeth Hutchinson, Conseil des Femmes du Québec

Dr. Éric Notebaert, Association Canadienne des Médecins pour l’Environnement

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

Gracia Janes, Provincial Council of Women of Ontario

Gretchen Fitzgerald, Fondation Sierra Club Canada

Guy Garand, Conseil régional de l’environnement de Laval

Jacinthe Châteauvert, Conseil régional de l’environnement de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue

Joceline Sanschagrin, Coalition Eau Secours

Kathryn Lindsay, Ph.D., Bonnechere River Watershed Project

Marc Bureau, Conseil régional de l’environnement et du développement durable de l’Outaouais

Mark Mattson, Swim, Drink, Fish Canada

Meg Sears, Prevent Cancer Now

Nicole DesRoches, Agence de bassin versant des 7

Patrick Nadeau, Garde-rivière des Outaouais

P. T. Dang, Ph.D., Biodiversity Conservancy International

Pierre Cartier, Organisme de bassin versant du Témiscamingue

Raymond Thibert, Unifor

Robb Barnes, Ecologie Ottawa

Robert Del Tredici, Atomic Photographers’ Guild

Sandra Cohen-Rose, Conseil National des Femmes du Canada

Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Greenpeace Canada

Dr. Vinay Jindal (M.D.), Physicians for Global Survival

 

Abdul Pirani, Montreal Chapter du Conseil des Canadiens

André Belisle, Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique

André Michel, Les Artistes pour la Paix

Anna Tilman, Watershed Sentinel Educational Society

Candyce Paul, Committee for Future Generations (Saskatchewan)

Carolynn Coburn, Environment Haliburton!

Cassie Barker, Women’s Healthy Environments Network (Ontario)

Céline Lachapelle, Action Environnement Basses-Laurentides

Chris Rouse, New Clear Solutions (New Brunswick)

Daniel Stringer, National Capital Peace Council

Dave Taylor, Concerned Citizens of Manitoba

David G.Newman, Q.C., Donor Advisor for the Walter C. Newman, Q. C. Legal Research Fund (Manitoba)

Don Ross, Prince Edward County Sustainability Group

Elaine Hughes, Quill Plains Chapter du Conseil des Canadiens (Saskatchewan)

Elena Schacherl, Citizens Advocating the Use of Sustainable Energy (Alberta)
Eugene Bourgeois, Friends of Bruce (Ontario)

Eva Schacherl, Coalition Against Nuclear Dumps on the Ottawa River

Faye Moore, Port Hope Community Health Concerns Committee

Gareth Richardson, Green Coalition Verte

Gary Schneider, Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island (PEI)

Georges Karpat, Coalition Vigilance Oléoducs

Gilles Provost et Ginette Charbonneau, Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive

Jacques Boucher, le Centre Wampum (Québec)

Jamie Kneen, Mining Watch Canada

Jo Hayward-Haines, Peterborough Chapter du Conseil des Canadiens

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

John Jackson, Nuclear Waste Watch Canada

Janet McNeill, Durham Nuclear Awareness

Karen Weingeist & Dave Geary, Clean Green Saskatchewan

Kate Chung, Raging Grannies of Toronto (Ontario)

Kirk Groover, Petawawa Point Cottagers’ Association

Laura Tylor, Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition

Linda Murphy, Inter-Church Uranium Committee Educational Co-operative (Saskatchewan)

Louise Morand, Comité vigilance hydrocarbures de L’Assomption

Marc Brullemans, Regroupement vigilance hydrocarbures Québec

Marc Nantel, Regroupement Vigilance Mines de l’Abitibi et du Témiscamingue

Marie Durand, Alerte Pétrole Rive-Sud

Marlyn Rannou, Association pour la Préservation du Lac Témiscamingue

Martha Ruben, Ottawa Raging Grannies

Maryanne MacDonald, Water Care Allies, First United Church, Ottawa

Michael J. Keegan, Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes (International)

Michelle Blanchette, Renewable Power The Intelligent Choice (Saskatchewan)

Patrick Rasmussen, Mouvement Vert Mauricie

Dr. Paula Tippett (MD), Concerned Citizens of St John (New Brunswick)

Paul Johannis, Greenpeace Alliance of Canada’s Capital

Phyllis Creighton, Hiroshima Nagasaki Day Coalition (Ontario)

Réal Lalande, Action Climat Outaouais

Roger Short, Lecourt Renewables (Ontario)

Samuel Arnold, Sustainable Energy Group, New Brunswick

Siegfried (Ziggy) Kleinau, Bruce Peninsula Environment Group

Theodora Carroll, MySea-to-Sky and Squamish Environment Society (British Columbia)

 

cc.

Le très honorable Justin Trudeau, Premier ministre du Canada

Perry Bellegarde, Chef de l’Assemblée des Premières nations

Mme. Julie Gelfand, la commissaire à l’Environnement et au Développement durable

L’Hon. Amarjeet Sohi, ministre des Ressources Naturelles, Canada

L’Hon. Carolyn Bennett, ministre des Relations Couronne-Autochtones, Canada,

L’Hon. Catherine McKenna, ministre de l’Environnement et du Changement Climatique, Canada

L’Hon. Ginette Petitpas Taylor, ministre de la Santé, Canada

 

Elizabeth May, Chef, Parti vert du Canada

Luc Thériault, Bloc Québécois

Mario Beaulieu, Bloc Québécois

Shannon Stubbs, Parti conservateur, critique en matière des Ressources naturelles, Canada

Marilyn Gladu, Parti conservateur, critique en matière de Santé et Services sociaux, Canada

Ed Fast, Parti conservateur, critique en matière de l’Environnement et Changement climatique

Richard Cannings, NPD, critique en matière de Ressources naturelles, Canada

Don Davies, NPD, critique en matière de Santé et Services sociaux, Canada

Alexandre Boulerice, NPD, critique en matière d’Environnement et de changement climatique

Monique Pauzé, Bloc Québécois, critique en matière d’Environnement

L’Hon. Isabelle Melançon, ministre du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, Québec

L’Hon. Rod Phillips, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, Ontario

L’Hon. Rochelle Squires, ministre du Développement durable, Manitoba

Jim Watson, Maire d’Ottawa

_______________________________________________________________

Références

(1) Rapport du vérificateur général du Canada au Conseil d’administration d’Énergie atomique du Canada limitée — Examen spécial — 2017 Cat. No. FA3-126/2017  http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/Francais/parl_oag_201711_07_f_42672.html

(2) Responsabilités nucléaires héritées du Canada : Le coût du nettoyage des Laboratoires de Chalk River,  pétition 405 en matière d’environnement, adressée au vérificateur général du Canada le 20 juin 2017. Sommaire et réponse: http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/Francais/pet_405_f_42449.html Texte complet de la pétition: https://tinyurl.com/environmental-petition-405

(3) IAEA 2009. Policies and Strategies for Radioactive Waste Management. Nuclear Energy Series Guide No. NW-G-1.1. International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, https://wwwpub.iaea.org/MTCD/Publications/PDF/Pub1093_scr.pdf.

(4) IAEA 2011.  Policies and Strategies for the Decommissioning of Nuclear and Radiological Facilities.  Nuclear Energy Series No. NW-G-2.1. International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna.  https://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/Publications/PDF/Pub1525_web.pdf

(5) Politiques et stratégies de gestion des déchets radioactifs non combustibles,  pétition 411 en matière d’environnement, adressée au vérificateur général du Canada le 21 septembre 2017. Sommaire et réponse:  http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/Francais/pet_411_f_42850.html Texte complet de la pétition: https://tinyurl.com/AG-petition-411

(6) Politique-cadre en matière de déchets radioactifs , Ressources naturelles Canada, Ottawa, 1996.  https://www.rncan.gc.ca/energie/uranium-nucleaire/7726

(7)  Tableau des observations du public et des groupes autochtones sur la description du Projet d’installation de gestion des déchets près de la surface (IGDS)  http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/documents/p80122/118862F.pdf

(8)  Tableau des commentaires du public et des groupes autochtones sur la description du Projet de fermeture du réacteur nucléaire de démonstration http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/documents/p80121/118857F.pdf

(9)   Tableau des observations du public et des groupes autochtones sur la description du projet – Déclassement in situ du réacteur nucléaire de Whiteshell-1 http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/documents/p80124/118863F.pdf

(10) Évaluation environnementale des projets nucléaires , pétition 413 en matière d’environnement, adressée au vérificateur général du Canada le 29 janvier 2018. Sommaire et réponse: http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/Francais/pet_413_f_43085.html Texte complet de la pétition: https://tinyurl.com/Environmental-Petition-413

(11) Bâtir un terrain d’entente : une nouvelle vision pour l’évaluation des impacts au Canada, Rapport final du comité d’experts,    https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/themes/environment/conservation/environmental-reviews/building-common-ground/batir-terrain-entente.pdf

Note: cette lettre remplace la lettre envoyée le 21 août et inclut 43 autres signataires représentant des Premières Nations, des ONG et des groupes de citoyens de partout au Canada. Un total de 87 signataires. Il y a eu un léger changement de formulation dans l’introduction pour clarifier les types de déchets nucléaires auxquels cette lettre fait référence.

 

A call to protect the Ottawa River ~ letter to municipal candidates

Letter to all candidates in the Ontario municipal election, whose districts border the Ottawa River (from Deep River to the Quebec border) sent September 10, 2018

Dear
We note that you have declared your candidacy for elected office this fall.  We commend your community service and wish you success.
We have a major concern with nuclear waste disposal projects being proposed at Chalk River and Rolphton. Your constituents are very worried that large amounts of radioactive waste could contaminate the Ottawa River if these plans are not changed. These nuclear facilities are now operated by a consortium of international engineering companies under a Federal Government contract through Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL). CNL has recently been granted a 10-year licence from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).
The contract includes the requirement to “seek the fastest, most cost-effective means” to dispose of all the radioactive waste which has been accumulating at Chalk River and other federal nuclear sites. The contract also includes decommissioning and entombing the nuclear reactor at Rolphton.
The consortium, known as Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), plans to put the radioactive waste at Chalk River into an engineered containment mound that CNL refers to as a “Near Surface Disposal Facility” (NSDF). The waste will be contained in a “geomembrane” and be covered over by a combination of sand, stone, gravel and top soil.
 This “mound”:
  • will be 65 to 80 feet high and cover 27 acres.
  • will contain one million cubic metres of radioactive nuclear waste.
  • will contain radioactive and other wastes transported from decommissioned nuclear sites in Canada.
  • is directly over an active earthquake zone above porous and fractured rock.
  •  is less than a kilometre from the Ottawa River.
  • is beside a small lake which drains directly into the Ottawa River through a small creek.
As CNL’s plans now stand, portions of the mound will remain uncovered for over 50 years. Radioactive material will mix with precipitation creating a continuous volume of contaminated water that is very difficult to treat. This radioactive waste will be released into the environment and make its way back to the Ottawa River. Climate change brings unpredictable, catastrophic weather that could cause permanent radioactive contamination of the Ottawa River.
Please see the Background Information at the end of this email.
Retired AECL senior nuclear scientists have raised many serious concerns in comments submitted as part of the environmental assessments that are currently underway. For example, Dr. J.R. Walker says the mound proposal “employs inadequate technology and is problematically located” and “does not meet regulatory requirements with respect to the health and safety of persons and the protection of the environment.” Despite CNL’s claim, their radioactive waste dumping proposal is not based on proven technology.
There are serious concerns about CNL’s plan to decommission the Rolphton reactor by “entombing” it in concrete and grout which would make Rolphton a permanent nuclear waste disposal facility. Dr. Walker points out that entombing radioactive waste lacks credibility and fails to address Canada’s international obligations. He quotes at length from the International Atomic Energy Agency regarding the “inappropriateness of entombment.”
In summary, we are asking you to:
1) raise as election issues the Chalk River nuclear waste proposal and the Rolphton decommissioning proposal.
2) be prepared to state your position on CNL’s present proposals
3) when you are elected, work towards having your Council:
a.   pass resolutions to oppose CNL’s proposals as they currently stand and oppose the importation of nuclear waste to Chalk River from other locations as over 135 municipalities in Ontario and Quebec have already done.
b.  question the process now in place with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for approving CNL’s radioactive waste plans.
Thank you for your consideration of these issues. We look forward to hearing from you. Please let us know what your position is so we can share it with members of the groups we represent.  Please note that we are not taking issue with the ongoing work at the Laboratories, but only with where and how the nuclear radioactive waste is managed. We are alarmed by CNL’s plans to dispose legacy radioactive waste at Chalk River and to entomb the nuclear reactor at Rolphton. Both of these sites are far too close to the Ottawa River and the potential for ongoing and greater lethal contamination is too great a risk to take.
Please show leadership in joining 135 municipal councils along the Ottawa River from Sheenboro to Montreal on the Quebec side who have passed resolutions questioning CNL’s waste proposals. Your colleagues in Ontario have also acted in response to the alarm of their constituents. East Hawkesbury has adopted a resolution in opposition to CNL’s current Chalk River AND Rolphton proposals. Both Alfred and Plantagenet’s and Clarence Rockland’s resolutions have opposed more radioactive waste being brought to Chalk River for storage or disposal.
If you would like to discuss this matter further or would like more information from independent experts, we would be pleased to assist you. For further information, you may find the links below helpful.
Yours sincerely,
Johanna Echlin
Old Fort William Cottagers’ Association
On behalf of:
Dr. Ole Hendrickson and the Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area
Ottawa Riverkeeper
Coalition Against Nuclear Dumps on the Ottawa River (CANDOR)
Old Fort William Cottagers’ Association (OFWCA)
Petawawa Point Cottagers’ Association (PPCA)
LINKS FOR FURTHER READING
Articles from mainstream media:
Canada has a dirty big nuclear secret at Chalk River Editorial by Eva Schacherl, Ottawa Citizen – April 23, 2018
Taxpayers are getting a bad deal The Hill Times – July, 2017
Fact sheets produced by Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area:
  
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Please note that we are not advocating for the closure of Chalk River nuclear laboratories. Our concern is only CNL’s proposed plan of how and where to remove and dispose of their radioactive nuclear waste.
We are asking you to support our efforts to petition the Government of Canada to move the proposed radioactive nuclear disposal site much farther away from the Ottawa River and to use more secure containment methods. Other sites and safer containment methods are available.
•    Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL) had been operating a nuclear facility at Chalk River for    over 65 years.
•    A large amount of radioactive nuclear waste has been collecting there over that period of time.
•    AECL (a Federal Government Crown Corporation) has been ordered by the current government to dispose of their radioactive nuclear waste.
•    AECL has contracted with a private company called Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) to undertake this project. CNL is a PRIVATE company owned by a consortium of  international engineering companies, including SNC-Lavalin. The previous Conservative government directed CNL to reduce Canada’s $10 BILLION federal radioactive waste legacy liabilities in the FASTEST and MOST COST EFFECTIVE way.
•    CNL has chosen a “dump” site that is less than a kilometre from the Ottawa River.
•    CNL has proposed what they call a “Near Surface Disposal Facility” (NSDF). They propose to put the nuclear waste inside a “geomembrane” and cover it over with a combination of sand, stone, gravel and top soil.
•    This mound will contain one million cubic metres of radioactive nuclear waste. It will cover an area of 16 hectares. It will reach a height of a 6-storey building. This is not “NEAR SURFACE.”
•    The mound will be situated close to a small lake (Perch Lake) less than a kilometre away from the Ottawa River. This lake flows directly into the Ottawa River through a small creek.
•    The radioactive nuclear waste in the mound will remain hazardous for thousands of years.
•    CNL claims that there is “scientific” certainty that the geomembrane and its earthen covering will endure for hundreds of years. Independent scientists contracted by the Ottawa Riverkeeper assert there is a lack of evidence to support this claim. In addition, the dump site is directly over an active earthquake zone.
•    The Ottawa Riverkeeper and many other scientists believe that there is a high likelihood of leaking from this mound. This would contaminate the Ottawa River — the source of drinking water for millions of Canadians along the River including Petawawa, Pembroke, Ottawa, Gatineau, Montreal and Laval — with lethal radioactivity.
•    CNL will receive more than 600 million dollars of taxpayer money to do this project.
•    In addition to the Chalk River site, CNL is also planning an equally unacceptable radioactive decommissioning project at Rolphton, Ontario. This site is a mere 100 metres from the River.
•    CNL plans to “entomb” the defunct nuclear reactor without properly dealing with the radioactive water which continues to leach into the Ottawa River through fractured rock in which it is encased.
•    This plan is referred to as “in situ” and involves covering over the existing facility with grout and concrete. This is contrary to standards set by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
•    CNL has no liability in the event that things go wrong. Canadian taxpayers are on the hook financially and risk having the Ottawa River radioactively contaminated for future generations.
Please join us and your other constituents to STOP the radioactive nuclear waste dump at Chalk River and the reactor entombment at Rolphton.  They are dangerous projects and are located too close to the Ottawa River that is the source of drinking water for millions of Canadians in the Ottawa Valley and St. Lawrence Valley.

Letter to Auditor General Michael Ferguson, August 21, 2018

La version française suit

August 21, 2018

Michael Ferguson
Auditor General of Canada
240 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G6
Dear Mr. Ferguson

We are writing to express as an urgent matter our deep concern that the Government of Canada is failing to meet its commitments to sustainable development in its handling of radioactive waste and nuclear reactor decommissioning and in the regulation of these activities. We are also concerned that money is being spent by Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL) without due regard for economy, efficiency, and environmental protection. We believe these failures and inappropriate expenditures of public funds create serious risks to the health of current and future generations of Canadians and our environment.

In May 2014, the Government of Canada “launched” the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, Limited (CNL) as a “wholly-owned subsidiary” of AECL.  In 2015, the Government of Canada entered into a “Government-owned, Contractor-operated” (GoCo) arrangement with the multinational consortium Canadian National Energy Alliance (CNEA), giving the consortium all the shares in CNL, and awarding contracts (to both CNL and CNEA) to manage all of Canada’s federally-owned nuclear facilities.

AECL itself was reduced to a 40-person contract management organization with a mandate to “enable nuclear science and technology and fulfill Canada’s radioactive waste and decommissioning responsibilities.”  These “responsibilities” include dealing with a federal nuclear liability estimated at over $7.9 billion as of 31 March 2016 (1).

One of the contracts between AECL and CNL emphasizes speed in reducing this liability:

1.3.5.4 CNL shall seek the fastest, most cost effective way(s) of executing the DWM [Decommissioning and Waste Management] Mission including disposal of all waste. (emphasis added)

In the first three fiscal years of the GoCo arrangement (2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19), Parliamentary appropriations to AECL for “nuclear decommissioning and radioactive waste management” averaged $547,577,479 per year.  This represented a four-fold increase over the $137,800,000 per year appropriated during the 2006/08 to 2015-16 period when decommissioning and waste management was funded by Natural Resources Canada through the Nuclear Legacy Liabilities Program.

It does not appear that increased funding has yielded good results.  CNL, supported by AECL, is proposing three projects that do not meet Canada’s international commitments for responsible radioactive waste management:

  • An above-ground landfill for one million cubic meters of “low level” radioactive waste, including significant quantities of long-lived alpha and beta/gamma emitters, beside the Ottawa River at Chalk River, Ontario.   The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says above-ground disposal is unsuitable for waste with long-lived radionuclides.  It recommends isolating such waste from the biosphere below ground for the duration of its radiological hazard (3).
  • “Entombment” of the Whiteshell-1 reactor beside the Winnipeg River in Pinawa, Manitoba; and of the Nuclear Power Demonstration reactor beside the Ottawa River in Rolphton, Ontario.  During entombment, the highly radioactive remains of the reactor would be covered in concrete and left in place, even though they contain radionuclides that will remain hazardous for hundreds of thousands of years beyond the lifetime of their concrete “tombs”. The IAEA does not recommend reactor entombment except in emergencies (4).

These projects are mired in controversy.  Their environmental assessments have been delayed owing to numerous critical comments submitted by provincial and federal government agencies, retired AECL scientists, First Nations, and NGOs. Contracting for the fastest and cheapest “disposal of all waste” creates perverse incentives to downplay negative environmental effects of the projects, to place undue burdens on future generations, and to ignore sustainable development principles.

We are concerned that “entombment” may be under consideration for other federally- owned defunct nuclear reactors, such as the Gentilly-1 reactor at Becancour, Quebec; the Douglas Point reactor near Kincardine, Ontario; and the NRX and NRU reactors at Chalk River, Ontario.  We are also concerned that Canada may be actively promoting entombment internationally and pressuring the IAEA to sanction “entombment” for routine decommissioning. These concerns are addressed in a new environmental petition entitled “Need for a national policy on decommissioning of nuclear reactors”.

Environmental Petition 411, submitted to your office in September 2017, notes that the Government of Canada is grossly deficient in policies and strategies to guide the disposal or long-term management of the federal government’s 600,000 cubic meters of radioactive waste (excluding irradiated nuclear fuel) (5). The Government of Canada has only ever released a “Radioactive Waste Policy Framework” composed of three bullets (6). This “Framework”, developed with no public discussion or consultation, is now more than 20 years old. It states that waste owners must meet their responsibilities “in accordance with approved waste disposal plans.” However, the Government of Canada, as “owner” of the vast majority of Canada’s non-fuel radioactive wastes, has never released an approved plan for long-term management of its own wastes.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) appears to be promoting the three nuclear waste disposal projects described above. As responsible authority under the Canadian Environment Assessment Act, CNSC initiated environmental assessments (EAs) of the projects even though they do not align with IAEA guidance. CNSC dismissed warnings from scientific experts about serious flaws in the three projects during the project description/scoping phase (7) (8) (9).  This allowed CNL to issue sub-contracts for environmental impact studies and for supporting documentation – a waste of millions of dollars of public funds.  CNSC’s mishandling of these EAs is the subject of Environmental Petition 413, submitted to your office in January 2018 (10).

CNSC is widely perceived to be subject to “regulatory capture” (11). To the extent that CNSC serves the interests of the industry it is supposed to regulate – rather than the interests of current and future generations of Canadians – this creates waste and inefficiency. We believe that Canada lacks checks and balances in its nuclear governance system, and that the involvement of multiple agencies and departments is needed to strengthen the system.

All of the above concerns lead to our urgent request that you undertake an inquiry into whether the Government of Canada, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission are expending public funds for nuclear waste management and nuclear reactor decommissioning in a responsible manner, and whether they are handling these matter in ways that are compatible with sustainable development principles. We feel it is urgent to address these questions now, as Canada has just begun to face the monumentally difficult and expensive task of safely managing over seven decades’ accumulation of nuclear waste.

Yours truly,

Ole Hendrickson, Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area

Theresa McClenaghan, Canadian Environmental Law Association

 

Chief James Marsden, Alderville First Nation

Norm Odjick, Director General, Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council

Candace Day Neveau, Bawating Water Protectors

 

Angela Bischoff, Ontario Clean Air Alliance

Beatrice Olivastri, Friends of the Earth Canada

Brennain Lloyd, Northwatch

Cheryl Keetch, Ottawa River Institute

Gretchen Fitzgerald, Sierra Club Canada Foundation

Guy Garand, Conseil régional de l’environnement de Laval

Jocelyne Sanschagrin, Coalition Eau Secours

Mark Mattson, Swim, Drink, Fish Canada

Meg Sears, Prevent Cancer Now

Nicole DesRoches, Agence de bassin versant des 7

Patrick Nadeau, Ottawa Riverkeeper

Rob Barnes, Ecology Ottawa

Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Greenpeace Canada

 

Dr. Éric Notebaert, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment

Dr. Gordon Edwards, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility

Dr. P. T. Dang, Biodiversity Conservancy International

 

André Michel, Les Artistes pour la Paix

Carolynn Coburn, Environment Haliburton!

Céline Lachapelle, Action Environment Basses-Laurentides

Daniel Stringer, National Capital Peace Council

Dave Taylor, Concerned Citizens of Manitoba

Faye Moore, Port Hope Community Health Concerns Committee

Gareth Richardson, Green Coalition Verte

Georges Karpat, Coalition Vigilance Oléoducs

Gilles Provost and Ginette Charbonneau, Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive

Jamie Kneen, Mining Watch

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

John Jackson, Nulcear Waste Watch

Janet McNeill, Durham Nuclear Awareness

Kirk Groover, Petawawa Point Cottagers’ Association

Louise Morand, Comité vigilance hydrocarbures de L’Assomption

Marc Brullemans, Regroupement vigilance hydrocarbures Québec

Marlyn Rannou,  l’Association pour la Préservation du Lac Témiscamingue

Martha Ruben, Ottawa Raging Grannies

Maryanne MacDonald, Water Care Allies, First United Church, Ottawa

Paul Johannis, Greenspace Alliance of Canada’s Capital

Réal Lalande, Action Climat Outaouais

Samuel Arnold, Sustainable Energy Group, New Brunswick

Siegfried (Ziggy) Kleinau, Bruce Peninsula Environment Group

 

cc.

The Right Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Chief Perry Bellegarde, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations

Ms. Julie Gelfand, Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development, Canada

 

The Hon. Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Natural Resources, Canada

The Hon. Carolyn Bennett, MP, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Canada,

The Hon. Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Canada

The Hon. Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, Canada

 

Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada

Luc Thériault, Groupe parlementaire québécois

 

Mario Beaulieu, Bloc Québécois

 

Erin O’Toole, Conservative Party of Canada Foreign Affairs Critic, Canada

Shannon Stubbs, Conservative Party of Canada Natural Resources Critic

Marilyn Gladu, Conservative Party of Canada, Health Critic

Ed Fast, Conservative Party of Canada, Environment and Climate Change Critic

Hélène Laverdière, NDP Foreign Affairs Critic

Richard Cannings, NDP Natural Resources Critic

Don Davies, NDP Health Critic

Alexandre Boulerice, NDP Environment and Climate Change CriticMonique Pauzé, Groupe parlementaire québécois Environment Critic

 

The Hon. Isabelle Melançon, MNA, Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change, Québec

The Hon. Rod Phillips, MPP, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, Ontario

The Hon. Rochelle Squires, MLA, Minister of Sustainable Development, Manitoba

References

(1)  Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Board of Directors of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. Independent Audit Report, Special Examination – 2017.  Cat. No. FA3-126/2017E-PDF.  http://www.aecl.ca/site/media/aecl/2017_OAG_SE_AECL_En.pdf

(2) Canada’s Nuclear Legacy Liabilities: Cleanup Costs for the Chalk River Laboratories. Environmental Petition number 405 to the Auditor General of Canada, June 20, 2017, summary and response at http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/pet_405_e_42449.html, full text of petition at https://tinyurl.com/environmental-petition-405

(3) IAEA 2009. Policies and Strategies for Radioactive Waste Management. Nuclear Energy Series Guide No. NW-G-1.1. International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, https://wwwpub.iaea.org/MTCD/Publications/PDF/Pub1093_scr.pdf.

(4) IAEA 2011.  Policies and Strategies for the Decommissioning of Nuclear and Radiological Facilities.  Nuclear Energy Series No. NW-G-2.1. International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna.  https://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/Publications/PDF/Pub1525_web.pdf

(5) Policies and Strategies for Managing Non-Fuel Radioactive Waste.  Environmental Petition number 411 to the Auditor General of Canada, September 21, 2017, summary and response at http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/pet_411_e_42850.html, full text of petition at https://tinyurl.com/AG-petition-411

(6) Radioactive Waste Policy Framework. Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa, 1996.   https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/uranium-nuclear/7725

(7)   CNSC Disposition Table of Public and Aboriginal Groups’ Comments on Project Description – Near Surface Disposal Facility Project.  http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/documents/p80122/118862E.pdf

(8)   CNSC Disposition Table of Public and Aboriginal Groups’ Comments on Project Description – Nuclear Power Demonstration Closure Project.  http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/documents/p80121/118857E.pdf

(9)   CNSC Disposition Table of Public and Aboriginal Groups’ Comments on Project Description – In Situ Decommissioning of Whiteshell Reactor #1 Project.  http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/documents/p80124/118863E.pdf

(10) Environmental Assessment of Nuclear Projects. Environmental Petition number 413 to the Auditor General of Canada, January 29, 2018, summary and response at, http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/pet_413_e_43085.html, full text of petition at https://tinyurl.com/Environmental-Petition-413

(11) Building Common Ground: A New Vision for Impact Assessment in Canada. The final report of the Expert Panel for the Review of Environmental Assessment Processes. April 2017. https://www.canada.ca/en/services/environment/conservation/assessments/environmental-reviews/environmental-assessment-processes/building-common-ground.html

 

requête VG français finale.pages

21 août 2018

Michael Ferguson
Vérificateur général du Canada 240 rue Sparks
Ottawa (Ontario) K1A 0G6

Cher M. Ferguson

Nous vous écrivons pour exprimer avec urgence notre grave préoccupation relative au fait que le gouvernement du Canada ne respecte pas ses engagements en faveur du développement durable dans le traitement des déchets radioactifs, dans le déclassement des réacteurs nucléaires et dans la réglementation de ces activités. Nous nous inquiétons aussi de voir Énergie atomique du Canada Limitée (EACL) dépenser tant d’argent sans égard à l’économie, à la performance ou à la protection de l’environnement. Nous croyons que ces défaillances et ce gaspillage des fonds publics mettent gravement en péril la santé des Canadiens présents et futurs ainsi que celle de notre environnement.

En mai 2014, le gouvernement du Canada a «lancé» les Laboratoires nucléaires canadiens Ltée. (CNL) à titre de «filiale en propriété exclusive» d’EACL. En 2015, le gouvernement du Canada a conclu avec le consortium multinational Canadian National Energy Alliance (CNEA) un accord «d’organisme gouvernemental exploité par un entrepreneur» (OGEE) en vertu duquel il cédait au consortium toutes les actions des LNC et confiait par contrat (à la fois aux LNC et à CNEA) la tâche de gérer toutes les installations nucléaires du gouvernement fédéral canadien.

EACL elle-même a été réduite à une organisation de 40 personnes qui gère ce contrat avec mandat de «mettre en œuvre la science et la technologie nucléaires et d’assumer les responsabilités du Canada en matière de déchets radioactifs et de déclassement». Ces « responsabilités » incluent la gestion d’obligations nucléaires fédérales que l’on évaluait à plus de 7,9 milliards $ au 31 mars 2016 (1)

L’un des contrats entre EACL et les LNC met l’accent sur la rapidité dans la réduction de ces obligations:

1.3.5.4 Les LNC rechercheront les moyens les plus rapides et les plus performants d’exécuter la mission DWM [Déclassement et gestion des déchets], et l’élimination de tous les déchets. (soulignement ajouté)

Au cours des trois premiers exercices de l’accord OGEE (2016-2017, 2017-2018, 2018-2019), les crédits parlementaires accordés à EACL pour le «déclassement nucléaire et la gestion des déchets radioactifs» s’élevaient en moyenne à 547 577 479 $ par année. C’est quatre fois plus que les 137 800 000 $ par année affectés pour la période 2006-2008 à 2015-2016 pendant laquelle Ressources naturelles Canada finançait les déclassements et la gestion des déchets dans le cadre du Programme des responsabilités nucléaires héritées.

Il ne semble pas qu’un financement accru ait donné de bons résultats. Les LNC, avec l’appui d’EACL, proposent trois projets qui ne respectent pas les engagements internationaux du Canada en matière de gestion responsable des déchets radioactifs:

Un site d’enfouissement hors-sol qui doit recevoir un million de mètres cubes de déchets radioactifs de «faible activité», dont d’importantes quantités d’émetteurs alpha et bêta / gamma à vie longue, à côté de la rivière des Outaouais à Chalk River, en Ontario. L’Agence internationale de l’énergie atomique (AIEA) affirme que l’élimination en surface ne convient pas aux déchets qui incluent des radionucléides de longue vie. L’AIEA recommande d’isoler ces déchets de la biosphère à des dizaines de mètres sous la surface du sol, aussi longtemps qu’ils présenteront un risque radiologique (3).

La «mise en tombeau» du réacteur Whiteshell-1 en bordure de la rivière Winnipeg à Pinawa, au Manitoba, ainsi que celle du réacteur de la centrale nucléaire de démonstration, en bordure de la rivière des Outaouais à Rolphton en Ontario. Pendant la mise en tombeau, les restes fortement radioactifs du réacteur seraient recouverts de béton et laissés en place, même si les radionucléides qu’ils contiennent resteront dangereux pendant des centaines de milliers d’années après la défaillance de leur «tombe» en béton. L’AIEA ne recommande pas la mise au tombeau du réacteur, sauf en cas d’urgence (4).

Ces projets sont enlisés dans la controverse. Leur évaluation environnementale a été reportée en raison des nombreux commentaires critiques qu’ont formulés des organismes gouvernementaux provinciaux et fédéraux, des scientifiques à la retraite d’EACL, des Premières nations et des ONG. Le fait d’exiger par contrat «l’élimination de tous les déchets» la plus rapide et la moins chère incite de manière perverse à sous-estimer l’impact sanitaire et environnemental des projets, à imposer un fardeau excessif aux générations futures et à négliger les règles du développement durable.

Nous craignons que cette mise en tombeau ne soit aussi envisagée pour d’autres réacteurs nucléaires désaffectés de propriété fédérale, comme le réacteur Gentilly-1 à Bécancour au Québec, le réacteur Douglas Point près de Kincardine en Ontario et les réacteurs NRX et NRU à Chalk River en Ontario. Nous craignons également que le Canada ne fasse la promotion de cette mise en tombeau sur la scène internationale et qu’il ne fasse pression sur l’AIEA pour qu’elle permette la «mise en tombeau» lors des déclassements de routine.

La pétition 411 en matière d’environnement, soumise à votre bureau en septembre 2017, note que le gouvernement du Canada souffre d’un manque flagrant de politiques et de stratégies pour guider l’élimination ou la gestion à long terme des 600 000 mètres cubes de déchets radioactifs du gouvernement fédéral (5). Le gouvernement du Canada n’a publié qu’une «politique-cadre en matière de déchets radioactifs» qui tient en trois alinéas (6). Cette “politique-cadre”, développée sans discussion ni consultation publique, a maintenant plus de 20 ans. Elle stipule que les propriétaires de déchets doivent s’acquitter de leurs responsabilités «conformément aux plans approuvés d’évacuation des déchets». Cependant, le gouvernement du Canada, à titre de «propriétaire» de la vaste majorité des déchets radioactifs canadiens autre que le combustible irradié, n’a jamais publié de plan approuvé pour la gestion à long terme de ses propres déchets.

La Commission canadienne de sûreté nucléaire (CCSN) semble faire la promotion des trois projets d’évacuation des déchets nucléaires décrits ci-dessus. Comme autorité responsable en vertu de la Loi canadienne sur l’évaluation environnementale, la CCSN a entrepris des évaluations environnementales (EE) des projets même s’ils contreviennent aux directives de l’AIEA. La CCSN a écarté les mises en garde des experts scientifiques relatives aux graves lacunes des trois projets, pendant leur phase de description/définition de projet (7) (8) (9). Cela a permis aux LNC d’émettre des sous-contrats pour des études d’impact environnemental et pour la documentation justificative – un gaspillage de millions de dollars des fonds publics. La mauvaise gestion de ces évaluations environnementales par la CCSN fait l’objet de la pétition 413 en matière d’environnement qui a été soumise à votre bureau en janvier 2018 (10).

La CCSN est largement perçue comme victime d’une «capture du régulateur» (11). Dans la mesure où la CCSN sert les intérêts de l’industrie qu’elle devrait réglementer – plutôt que les intérêts des Canadiens actuels et futurs – cela crée du gaspillage et de l’improductivité. Nous croyons que le Canada manque de freins et de contrepoids dans son système de gouvernance nucléaire et qu’il faudrait renforcer le système en y impliquant plusieurs organismes et ministères.

Toutes ces préoccupations nous incitent à demander avec urgence que vous fassiez enquête pour savoir si le gouvernement du Canada, Énergie atomique du Canada limitée et la Commission canadienne de sûreté nucléaire dépensent de manière responsable les fonds publics destinés à la gestion des déchets nucléaires ou au déclassement des réacteurs nucléaires et s’ils traitent ces questions en conformité avec les règles du développement durable. Nous pensons qu’il est urgent de répondre à ces questions dès maintenant, alors que le Canada s’attaque tout juste à la tâche éminemment difficile et coûteuse de gérer de manière sécuritaire tous les déchets nucléaires que nous avons accumulés pendant plus de sept décennies.

Sincèrement vôtre,

Ole Hendrickson, Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area Theresa McClenaghan, Canadian Environmental Law Association

Chief James Marsden, Alderville First NationNorm Odjick, Director General, Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council Candace Day Neveau, Bawating Water Protectors

Angela Bischoff, Ontario Clean Air Alliance Beatrice Olivastri, Friends of the Earth Canada Brennain Lloyd, Northwatch

Cheryl Keetch, Ottawa River Institute
Gretchen Fitzgerald, Sierra Club Canada Foundation
Guy Garand, Conseil régional de l’environnement de Laval Jocelyne Sanschagrin, Coalition Eau Secours
Mark Mattson, Swim, Drink, Fish Canada
Meg Sears, Prevent Cancer Now
Nicole DesRoches, Agence de bassin versant des 7 Patrick Nadeau, Ottawa Riverkeeper
Rob Barnes, Ecology Ottawa

Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Greenpeace Canada

Dr. Éric Notebaert, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment Dr. Gordon Edwards, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility
Dr. P. T. Dang, Biodiversity Conservancy International

André Michel, Les Artistes pour la Paix
Carolynn Coburn, Environment Haliburton!
Céline Lachapelle, Action Environment Basses-Laurentides
Daniel Stringer, National Capital Peace Council
Dave Taylor, Concerned Citizens of Manitoba
Faye Moore, Port Hope Community Health Concerns Committee
Gareth Richardson, Green Coalition Verte
Georges Karpat, Coalition Vigilance Oléoducs
Gilles Provost and Ginette Charbonneau, Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive Jamie Kneen, Mining Watch
Johanna Echlin, Old Fort William (Quebec) Cottagers’ Association
John Jackson, Nulcear Waste Watch
Janet McNeill, Durham Nuclear Awareness
Kirk Groover, Petawawa Point Cottagers’ Association
Louise Morand, Comité vigilance hydrocarbures de L’Assomption
Marc Brullemans, Regroupement vigilance hydrocarbures Québec
Marlyn Rannou, l’Association pour la Préservation du Lac Témiscamingue
Martha Ruben, Ottawa Raging Grannies
Maryanne MacDonald, Water Care Allies, First United Church, Ottawa
Paul Johannis, Greenspace Alliance of Canada’s Capital
Réal Lalande, Action Climat Outaouais
Samuel Arnold, Sustainable Energy Group, New Brunswick
Siegfried (Ziggy) Kleinau, Bruce Peninsula Environment Group

cc.

The Right Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
Chief Perry Bellegarde, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations
Ms. Julie Gelfand, Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development, Canada

The Hon. Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Natural Resources, Canada
The Hon. Carolyn Bennett, MP, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Canada, The Hon. Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Canada The Hon. Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, Canada

The Hon. Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada The Hon. Luc Thériault, Groupe parlementaire québécois

The Hon. Mario Beaulieu, Bloc Québécois

The Hon. Erin O’Toole, Conservative Party of Canada Foreign Affairs Critic, Canada
The Hon. Shannon Stubbs, Conservative Party of Canada Natural Resources Critic
The Hon. Marilyn Gladu, Conservative Party of Canada, Health Critic
The Hon. Ed Fast, Conservative Party of Canada, Environment and Climate Change Critic The Hon. Hélène Laverdière, NDP Foreign Affairs Critic

The Hon. Richard Cannings, NDP Natural Resources Critic The Hon. Don Davies, NDP Health Critic

The Hon. Alexandre Boulerice, NDP Environment and Climate Change Critic The Hon. Monique Pauzé, Groupe parlementaire québécois Environment Critic

The Hon. Isabelle Melançon, MNA, Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change, Québec
The Hon. Chris Ballard, MPP, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Ontario
The Hon. Rochelle Squires, MLA, Minister of Sustainable Development, Manitoba

Références

(1) Rapport du vérificateur général du Canada au Conseil d’administration d’Énergie atomique du Canada limitée — Examen spécial — 2017 Cat. No. FA3-126/2017 http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/Francais/parl_oag_201711_07_f_42672.html

(2) ) Responsabilités nucléaires héritées du Canada : Le coût du nettoyage des Laboratoires de Chalk River, pétition 405 en matière d’environnement, adressée au vérificateur général du Canada le 20 juin 2017. Sommaire et réponse: http://www.oag- bvg.gc.ca/internet/Francais/pet_405_f_42449.html

Texte complet de la pétition: https://tinyurl.com/environmental-petition-405

(3) IAEA 2009. Policies and Strategies for Radioactive Waste Management.
Nuclear Energy Series Guide No. NW-G-1.1. International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, https://wwwpub.iaea.org/MTCD/Publications/PDF/Pub1093_scr.pdf.

(4) IAEA 2011. Policies and Strategies for the Decommissioning of Nuclear and Radiological Facilities. Nuclear Energy Series No. NW-G-2.1. International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna. https://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/Publications/PDF/Pub1525_web.pdf

(5) Politiques et stratégies de gestion des déchets radioactifs non combustibles, pétition 411 en matière d’environnement, adressée au vérificateur général du Canada le 21 septembre 2017.
Sommaire et réponse: http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/Francais/pet_411_f_42850.html Texte complet de la pétition: https://tinyurl.com/AG-petition-411

(6) Politique-cadre en matière de déchets radioactifs , Ressources naturelles Canada, Ottawa, 1996. https://www.rncan.gc.ca/energie/uranium-nucleaire/7726

(7) Tableau des observations du public et des groupes autochtones sur la description du Projet d’installation de gestion des déchets près de la surface (IGDS)

http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/documents/p80122/118862F.pdf

(8) Tableau des commentaires du public et des groupes autochtones sur la description du Projet de fermeture du réacteur nucléaire de démonstration

http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/documents/p80121/118857F.pdf

(9) Tableau des observations du public et des groupes autochtones sur la description du projet – Déclassement in situ du réacteur nucléaire de Whiteshell-1

http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/documents/p80124/118863F.pdf

(10) Évaluation environnementale des projets nucléaires , pétition 413 en matière d’environnement, adressée au vérificateur général du Canada le 29 janvier 2018.

Sommaire et réponse: http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/Francais/pet_413_f_43085.html Texte complet de la pétition: https://tinyurl.com/Environmental-Petition-413

(11) Bâtir un terrain d’entente : une nouvelle vision pour l’évaluation des impacts au Canada,

Rapport final du comité d’experts, https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/themes/ environment/conservation/environmental-reviews/building-common-ground/batir-terrain- entente.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

First Nations, NGOs condemn federal plans for defunct nuclear reactors

EMBARGOED TO 10:45 AM, AUGUST 21, 2018

 

(this press release was contained in the press kit for the media briefing and press conference held at the National Press Theatre on August 21, 2018. The full briefing and press conference may be viewed on You tube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jf_XqoA56bU&t=6s)

Ottawa, August 21, 2018 — Forty First Nations, citizen groups and NGOs have asked Canada’s Auditor General to hold an inquiry into spending by Natural Resources Canada, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) on nuclear reactor decommissioning.

“The plan to entomb and abandon radioactive carcasses of nuclear reactors next to major rivers is an abomination,” says Dr. Gordon Edwards, President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility. “Billions of taxpayer dollars are being spent on plans that are clearly designed for the convenience of industry rather than the protection of human health and the environment for hundreds of thousands of years. The Government of Canada must consult First Nations and Canadian citizens to arrive at a meaningful and enforceable policy on how to manage these wastes in the very long term. There is no such policy now.”

“Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) wants to turn reactor sites in Pinawa, Manitoba and Rolphton, Ontario into permanent nuclear disposal facilities that don’t meet international guidelines,” says Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association.

The groups are worried those plans will set a precedent for other federal reactor sites in Ontario and Quebec.

CNL is owned by a consortium of multinational corporations that was contracted in 2015 by the previous Conservative government to quickly and cheaply reduce Canada’s $10 billion worth of federal nuclear legacy liabilities. The clean-up costs for Canada’s 70 years’ worth of nuclear waste exceed those for all of Canada’s 2,500 other federal environmental liabilities combined.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is meeting on August 22, 2018 in Ottawa to review progress on CNL’s nuclear waste plans at the Gentilly-1 reactor on the St. Lawrence River, the Douglas Point reactor on Lake Huron, the NPD reactor on the Ottawa River, Whiteshell Laboratories on the Winnipeg River in Manitoba, and in the Port Hope Area, among other topics. Groups will be demonstrating outside the meeting.

“Several federal reactors are located on unceded aboriginal traditional territory,” noted Chief April Adams-Phillips of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne. “Now we

hear that these defunct reactors may be turned into giant radioactive hulks, covered in cement as a monument to folly. We cannot stand by and let this happen.”

“For decades, the Government of Canada and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission have promised that all Canadian nuclear reactors will be dismantled at the end of their useful life and that the land will be returned to its natural state,” says Gilles Provost, spokesperson for the Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive. “They must live up to their commitments rather than turn our reactors into perpetual radioactive waste repositories!”

Federal funding for ‘nuclear decommissioning and radioactive waste management’ has increased 400% in the last three years, since these functions were handed to the consortium of multinational corporations that includes SNC Lavalin.

In the first three fiscal years of the GoCo (government owned – contractor operated) arrangement (2016/17 to 2018/19), Parliamentary appropriations to AECL for “nuclear decommissioning and radioactive waste management” averaged $547,577,479 per year. This represented a four-fold increase over the $137,800,000 per year appropriated during the 2006/07 to 2015/16 period when decommissioning and waste management was funded by Natural Resources Canada through the Nuclear Legacy Liabilities Program.

Canada has no policies restricting how nuclear reactors can be decommissioned or nuclear waste managed. It is up to proponents to suggest how they will decommission or manage wastes and then defend their chosen method to the CNSC.

The groups are asking the Auditor General to investigate whether the federal government is handling nuclear waste and reactor decommissioning in ways that are compatible with sustainable development principles.

– 30 –

Contact: Eva Schacherl, Media Liaison, Concerned Citizens ~ 613-316-9450

CNL misusing definition of “Near Surface Disposal” ~ Letter to the editor of the Aylmer Bulletin

Letter from Dr. Ole Hendrickson, Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area, to the editor of the Aylmer Bulletin, June 27, 2018

While it is true that near surface disposal facilities are recognized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as a preferred way of managing low-level radioactive waste, CNL’s proposal is for an above-ground mound, not a near surface disposal facility. This was conceded by CNL official Jim Buckley at a July 2017 meeting in Fort William (Pontiac). Mr Quinn’s use of the misleading term “NSDF” to suggest that CNL’s mound proposal is proven technology is troubling.

Pat Quinn (June 20 letter) also misleadingly calls the proposed NSDF facility “watertight”.  Wastes would be exposed to rain and snow, leaching radioactive contaminants from the mound and necessitating long-term operation of a complex and expensive water treatment facility that at best would only remove a portion of the contaminants.  Radioactive tritium would routinely be discharged to adjacent wetlands. The proposed location of the mound, a kilometre from the Ottawa River, makes this extremely problematic.

Not all the wastes that CNL wants to put in the mound would be “low-level”, as Mr Quinn claims. The IAEA classifies waste with significant quantities of long-lived radioisotopes as “intermediate-level”.  These are found in large amounts at Chalk River — and CNL is bringing in more from the WR-1 reactor at Manitoba’s Whiteshell Laboratories.  CNL’s intent, stated in the environmental impact statement, is to put all these wastes in the mound.

The formal environmental assessment process is well behind schedule. CNL requested more time to respond to hundreds of critical technical comments. While Mr Quinn says members of the public may participate in this process, there may be no further opportunities to do so for more than a year.

The NSDF project is wasting taxpayer dollars and delaying action to deal with the federal government’s 70-year legacy of nuclear waste. The project should be abandoned in favour of a geological repository that can isolate the waste from the biosphere and drinking water sources – the IAEA’s preferred option for managing long-lived radioactive waste.

Ole Hendrickson
Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area

 

Dr. Hendrickson’s letter was written in response to the following letter from Pat Quinn of CNL published in the Aylmer Bulletin on June 20, 2018.

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories responds(This letter is in response to Colin Chisdale’s letter on CNL’s proposed Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF) at Chalk River in the Bulletin d’Aylmer (June 6), I invite Colin to contact me by email at communications@cnl.ca .)

There are misconceptions about the proposed NSDF, so I want to be clear that this facility is designed to protect the environment, not harm it. CNL employees care about the area and the Ottawa River, we are local residents and have a shared interest in responsibly addressing waste at the Chalk River Laboratories site. The NSDF will allow us to clean up and isolate historic, low-level contamination that is currently at the site, and dispose of the waste in a watertight enclosure that has been designed to withstand sabotage, earthquakes and flooding. These facilities are recognized internationally as a safe and appropriate way to dispose of low-level waste, and are being used successfully in Canada and the United States.

For two years CNL has engaged with the public about the NSDF project.  We have hosted many public meetings throughout Ontario and Quebec, including  a recent town hall meeting in Gatineau, hosted by MP for Hull-Aylmer, Greg Fergus. This is in addition to public information sessions, meetings, discussions, project orientations and site visits with elected officials, media, members of the public, members of the industry and non-governmental organizations. At each of these engagements we have openly discussed the project and have responded to requests for information. These events will continue, and I’d encourage Mr. Chisdale to stay tuned for future sessions and on the project’s progress.

This project is subject to a federal government-led, and very public, environmental assessment process. In order to proceed CNL requires an environmental assessment decision and authorization from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Members of the public are welcome to participate in this assessment, and are encouraged to raise any concerns they have through this formal review process.

Pat Quinn, Corporate Communications
Canadian Nuclear Laboratories
Ottawa

No safe level of exposure to manmade radioactive emissions from nuclear facilities; release limits for radionuclides are permissive and set by licensees

Letter to the editor of the Pontiac Journal, May 6. 2018

Dear Editor

Michael Rinker of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) writes in your April 25 edition, “As Canada’s independent nuclear regulator, I assure readers that radiation limits are set by the CNSC to protect human health”.  He goes on to say that derived release limits “restrict” the amount of radioactive material released to the environment by a licensed facility.

Your readers should know that the US National Research Council has reviewed all of the scientific evidence several times since 1980 and has repeatedly concluded that there is no safe level of exposure to manmade radioactive emissions from nuclear facilities. (1) Each and every release, no matter how small, increases risks of cancer, genetic mutations, birth defects and other adverse effects on humans and other living organisms exposed to them.

So does Mr. Rinker’s statement hold up? No unfortunately it does not. In fact, rather than protecting human health, “release limits” are doing quite the opposite. They are allowing risks to human health, in exchange for benefits to society-at-large produced by the nuclear industry. Since the benefits are not always clear, and since no one asked people downwind and downstream if they agree to being exposed for the sake of society-at-large, this is a problem.

Here are some other problems with CNSC “release limits” for radioactive material that might interest your readers:

– The release limits are actually created by the licensees not the CNSC. And, the CNSC allows licensees to create a separate release limit for each and every one of hundreds of radionuclides it releases, each one based on releasing up to the public dose limit for that radionuclide.

– CNSC allows each facility to create release limits that theoretically allow it to release each radionuclide up to the public dose limit, even though members of the public can be exposed to releases from more than one facility. For example, people in the Ottawa Valley are subject to radioactive releases from the defunct NPD reactor at Rolphton, from the Chalk River Laboratories, and from SRB Technologies in Pembroke which releases tritium to the air, groundwater, and the sewer system. Each one of these facilities sets its own release limits that allow it to release up to the public dose limit for each and every radionuclide it releases.

– Release limits are set quite high such that actual releases look very small in comparison. The CNSC is fond of telling us for example, that such and such release was only one ten thousandth of the release limit.

The CNSC acknowledged problems with its approach to setting derived release limits in a discussion document in 2012, called “Process for establishing release limits and action levels at nuclear facilities.  Discussion Paper DIS-12-02.   February 2012.

The problems remain. The fact that CNSC allows these problems to persist, appears to be further evidence that the CNSC is a “captured agency” that prioritizes promotion of the nuclear industry over protection of health and the environment.

Yours sincerely,

Lynn Jones, M.H.Sc.

L’isle-aux-Allumettes, Quebec

(1) National Research Council. 2006. Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation: BEIR VII Phase 2. Washington, DC : The National Academies Press.

 

Schacherl: Canada has a dirty, big nuclear secret at Chalk River

Ottawa Citizen

A boat flotilla protest against the nuclear waste site is held in August, 2017, across from Chalk River. (Photo courtesy of Old Fort William Cottagers’ Association) OTTWP
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What makes Canada stand out in the world is unlimited natural beauty: miles of unspoiled forests, lakes, rivers, prairies and tundra. We are a green, clean country. Or so we like to think.

So it may come as a surprise that we plan to put 40 per cent of Canada’s radioactive waste in a gigantic dump at Chalk River, next to the Ottawa River. The dump will hold “low-level” waste that contains radioactive uranium, plutonium, cesium, strontium, iodine and tritium (among others).

Rain and melting snow will leach radioactive elements from the dump. Every year, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories estimates an average of 6.5 million litres of this water will be treated and discharged into a nearby wetland and thence the Ottawa River. 

An unforeseen event – earthquake, deluge or explosion – could contaminate the Ottawa River and its riverbed from Chalk River to Montreal.

Across Canada, there are 2,400,000 cubic metres of radioactive waste, a volume that could hold 32 million Canadians, or 1,000 Olympic swimming pools.

The wastes at Chalk River are the size of the Titanic – but will grow to one million cubic metres by decommissioning more than 100 buildings and bringing in radioactive waste from Manitoba and elsewhere over the next 50 years.

The proposed Near Surface Disposal Facility will be a super-sized landfill: seven stories high and the size of 70 NHL hockey rinks. Nothing like it exists in Canada, and it will be the largest of its kind in the world. The mound would hold five times as much radioactive waste as a controversial deep geologic repository on Lake Huron.

The proposal has been roundly criticized by environmental groups and even retired Atomic Energy of Canada Limited scientists. Critics say it’s the wrong plan at the wrong site – surrounded by water, sitting on fractured bedrock, exposed to rain and snow for 50 years until it’s capped. They say any permanent home for radioactive waste should be in vaults deep underground in impermeable rock.

The wastes at Chalk River are the size of the Titanic.

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) is the private sector proponent, under contract to the federal government, of the mega-dump at Chalk River. CNL is also planning to “entomb” two defunct nuclear reactors, 100 metres from the Ottawa River and next to the Winnipeg River.

But their plans are not going unnoticed. On April 23, representatives of the Anishinabek Nation and the Mohawk Nation will hold a workshop at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York about radioactive waste and Canadian First Nations.

Millions of people draw their drinking water from the Ottawa River and the St. Lawrence into which it flows. Gatineau city council voted unanimously to oppose the mega-dump. Ottawa Council has not discussed the issue.

In September, 37 groups, including the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and the National Council of Women of Canada, wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging him to suspend CNL’s waste disposal projects and hold hearings with First Nations and other Canadians on radioactive non-fuel wastes.  There has been no substantive response.

In 1952, the world’s first nuclear reactor meltdown took place at Chalk River. It was then a top-secret government research facility on the Ottawa River, 200 km upstream from the capital. Chalk River was chosen during the Second World War to research production of nuclear material for atomic weapons. Until 1965, Chalk River produced plutonium for the Cold War nuclear weapons buildup by our U.S. allies.

The highly radioactive debris from that 1952 accident was hastily buried onsite in sandy trenches. A second reactor accident took place in 1958, when an irradiated fuel rod caught fire, releasing 10,000 curies of radioactivity.”

Those wastes are still at Chalk River. Radioactive particles have half-lives of up to millions of years: in human terms, forever.

Since then, Canada has steadily created more radioactive waste. Used fuel bundles are the most lethal wastes of nuclear reactors. Canada has more than 2.5 million of them. A federal agency is still trying to find a place to put them long-term.

The biggest volume of Canada’s reactor waste, though, is everything else: the reactor cores, the water used for cooling, whole buildings, materials used by the workers. The industry calls these wastes “low-level” or “intermediate-level.”  But they are still highly toxic, especially if swallowed or inhaled.

Given this legacy, it’s deplorable that 66 years after the first Chalk River accident, Canada still has no policies on radioactive wastes (other than fuel) that reactors produce.  (Our Radioactive Waste Policy Framework, at 143 words, would fit into four tweets.)

CNL received $866 million in federal funding in 2016-17 to manage those wastes and federal sites such as Chalk River and Port Hope. In November, CNL is holding a “global forum” in Ottawa on the future of nuclear energy. It will promote development of “small modular reactors” for “deployment in remote or off-grid locations” in Canada’s North. Its plans include siting a small modular reactor at Chalk River by 2026.

The future looks bright. But not for the people who live downstream from the nuclear waste dumps, and for fish, birds and other creatures that live in the Ottawa River, the Great Lakes and the North.

For the sake of their futures, the Trudeau government should put an immediate halt to CNL’s mega-dump and reactor entombment proposals. They don’t meet the standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and they don’t make sense. We need a national debate on how to safely deal with the waste, and whether to pour billions more into reactor technology, when we haven’t begun to clean up the existing mess.

These are not just energy decisions. They are decisions about the fate of our green, clean, home and native land, and of the people and wildlife that we hope will live here in a thousand years and, who knows, a thousand thousand years.

Eva Schacherl is the former executive director of the Canadian Environmental Network.

First Nations and environmental groups call on International Atomic Energy Agency to investigate Canada’s radioactive waste management

Ottawa, April 23, 2018—Five First Nations and 39 Canadian environmental and citizen groups today are calling on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to investigate radioactive waste abandonment plans in Canada. They charge that Canada is “grossly deficient” in failing to formulate stringent policies for managing radioactive waste other than irradiated nuclear fuel.

 

In a letter to the IAEA Director General, the groups say that Canada is failing to meet its commitments under the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management. Five First Nations chiefs are delivering this same message at UN Headquarters in New York.

 

“Canada has a policy vacuum when it comes to managing its most voluminous radioactive waste, which is not irradiated nuclear fuel,” said Dr. Gordon Edwards, President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility. “This waste contains long-lived radionuclides like plutonium, and Canada is irresponsibly planning to abandon them at insecure sites beside major water bodies – sites chosen for convenience rather than for long-term safety.”

 

The letter to the IAEA points out that Canada’s classification of nuclear waste allows highly dangerous radionuclides like plutonium to be classified as “low level” and not isolated from the biosphere for 240,000 years as is needful.

 

The letter also notes that three current proposals for abandoning the federal government’s radioactive wastes are “completely out of alignment with IAEA guidance.” The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is currently assessing proposals for:

 

  • An above-ground landfill at Chalk River, Ontario, beside the Ottawa River, for the permanent storage of 1 million cubic metres of radioactive waste  including significant amounts of long-lived alpha and beta/gamma emitters;
  • Entombment of the radioactive remains of the NPD nuclear power reactor 100 metres from the Ottawa River at Rolphton, Ontario; and
  • Entombment of the radioactive remains of the Whiteshell-1 nuclear reactor beside the Winnipeg River in Manitoba.

 

The letter informs the IAEA that the CNSC has dismissed warnings from scientific experts, including ex-AECL staff, about the three proposals, and charges that the CNSC has given “incomplete and misleading information” to the Joint Convention.

 

The letter is signed, among others, by the Anishinabek Nation and four other First Nations, as well as the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, Friends of the Earth Canada, Nature Québec, Sierra Club of Canada, Eau Secours!, Greenpeace Canada, the Canadian Environmental Law Association, le Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, and the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.

 

Today’s announcement in Ottawa, followed by a rally on Parliament Hill, coincides with a special event taking place at the 17th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York City. This afternoon, Grand Chief Patrick Madahbee of the Anishinabek Nation and four Chiefs of the Mohawk Nation attending the UN event will cite the letter to the IAEA and will ask the UN to determine whether Canada’s radioactive waste plans are in violation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which calls for “free, prior and informed consent” when toxic materials are stored on indigenous lands.

 

WEBCAST: “Radioactive Waste and Canada’s First Nations” will take place April 23 at 1:15 PM at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York and will be webcast live on the United Nations web site:   http://webtv.un.org/

 

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MEDIA CONTACTS:

 

 

Resources:

 

Chalk River Nuclear Waste Dump:  https://concernedcitizens.net/chalk-river-mound/

 

NPD reactor entombment and other news:  https://concernedcitizens.net/news/

 

Fact sheet on disregard of IAEA standards

Ten Things Canadians need to know about the Chalk River Radioactive Mega-dump

Ten MORE things Canadians should know about the Chalk River radioactive mega-dump

Nine quick facts about the NPD reactor “entombment”

 

Citizens denounce rubber stamp approval of 10-year nuclear site license for SNC Lavalin consortium

For immediate release 

Chalk River consortium gets 10-year licence

Nuclear regulator confirms its reputation as a rubber stamp organization

Decision paves the way for a giant radioactive dump at Chalk River, a new generation of subsidized reactors and growing stocks of toxic long-lived radioactive waste that Canadian taxpayers will be on the hook for 

(Ottawa/Montreal, 4 April 2018)   In a clear attempt to avoid public scrutiny, just before the Easter weekend the CNSC gave a consortium of multinational corporations based in the U.S., U.K. and Canada, an unprecedented 10-year license to run the Chalk River Laboratories. The licence gives the consortium free rein to advance its nuclear business at the federally-owned facility, located on the Ottawa River 200 km upstream from the nation’s capital, using billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money.

 

The new license sets the stage for SNC Lavalin and its consortium partners to build and test a new generation of small nuclear reactors at Chalk River, and to create a giant radioactive dump on the surface that would leach radioactive waste into the Ottawa River, a primary source of drinking water for the residents of Ottawa, Gatineau, Laval, Montreal and other populations downstream.

 

Canada’s Auditor General has noted that SNC Lavalin and other members of the consortium operating Chalk River received at least $866 million in federal money for contractual expenses in the 2016–2017 fiscal year alone. The federal allocation for fiscal year 2017-2018 was also close to a billion dollars.

 

In 2013 SNC Lavalin was banned from bidding on any international engineering projects funded by the World Bank for 10 years, because of fraudulent practices. That same year, CH2M, another consortium member, was convicted of criminal fraud-related charges in the USA. SNC Lavalin also faces criminal charges for multimillion dollar bribes in connection with the building of the Montreal Superhospital.

 

The questionable past activities of some of these corporations, the unprecedented licence duration, the elimination of vitally important licence conditions, the billions of dollars in federal subsidies, and the inevitable exposure of millions of Canadians to radioactive pollutants were among the concerns raised by First Nations, citizens’ groups and independent experts at a three-day January 2018 public hearing.

 

Citizens’ groups charge that the CNSC completely disregarded thorough and well-documented concerns and recommendations on the licence proposal presented by dozens of intervenors, including former Chalk River scientists, at the January hearings. This confirms critics’ views that Canada is in urgent need of a credible, responsible nuclear authority that puts protection of health and the environment ahead of the convenience of the nuclear industry. CNSC shows all the signs and symptoms of a “captured regulator”.

 

The Chalk River licence, signed by CNSC President Michael Binder on the 39th anniversary of the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster, eliminates numerous safety compliance criteria that were previously included in the licence to govern operations at the Chalk River facility. The previous 17-month Chalk River licence had 2020 words and was accompanied by a 257-page “Handbook”, with licence compliance criteria “written in mandatory language”.  The new licence has 590 words and its Handbook is only 61 pages long.  Prepared by CNSC staff, the new Handbook replaces most of the previous explicit compliance criteria with references to standards that have been prepared by the nuclear industry.

 

“There is an urgent need for responsible, credible, public interest-driven management of Canada’s nuclear industry and its ever-growing waste problem,” says Dr. Ole Hendrickson of the Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area. “In particular, there is a policy vacuum at the federal level when it comes to the long-term management of highly toxic post-fission radioactive wastes, other than nuclear fuel wastes.”

 

The Government of Canada carries an eight billion dollar liability on its balance sheet for the waste generated by past operations at Chalk River and other federal nuclear sites. The Trudeau government, far from showing leadership in addressing this waste problem, recently launched a campaign to champion a new generation of nuclear reactors. It plans to promote nuclear power as “clean” and “NICE” (Nuclear Innovation – Clean Energy) at a May 22-23 Clean Energy Ministerial meeting in Scandinavia, without public consultation or parliamentary debate.

Incredibly, the licence indicates that no financial guarantee is required from the multinational consortium for possible damages arising from its operations. It states that the federal government, as ultimate owner of the Chalk River Laboratories and its assets, is responsible for any resulting liabilities.

“The cozy relationship between the nuclear industry, the CNSC, and the political class has been hidden from the public for too long,” says Dr. Gordon Edwards, President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR).  The CCNR and other citizens’ groups are calling for reform of nuclear governance, including (1) widespread public hearings to establish guiding principles for long-term nuclear waste management; (2) suspension of existing plans to abandon nuclear wastes beside major water bodies; (3) removal of the CNSC from playing a decisional role in environmental assessments, and (4) a thorough review of Canada’s Nuclear Safety and Control Act.

In the 17-year history of the CNSC, the Commissioners have never once refused to grant a licence requested by the nuclear industry.

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Media contacts:

Dr. Gordon Edwards, 514-489-5118

Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility

 

Dr. Ole Hendrickson, 613-234-0578,

Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area

 

Background information:

 

Fact Sheet

Eleven key concerns ignored by CNSC in approval of 10-year license for Chalk River

 

Hearing transcripts and interventions: http://nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng/the-commission/hearings/documents_browse/results.cfm?dt=2018-01-24

 

Record of Decision: 

https://tinyurl.com/CRL-record-of-decision-2018

Experts say high release limits for radioactive tritium endanger humans and other species that drink water from the Ottawa River

 

 

(Ottawa, Ontario, March 22, 2018) An environmental scientist and a health expert say that dumping of tritium-contaminated water into the Ottawa River from a defunct nuclear reactor in Rolphton, Ontario is a risk to humans and other species, and that the practice is part of a systemic problem with the regulation of the nuclear industry in Canada.

 

The multinational consortium responsible for the dumping, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, has defended its actions, saying that the concentration of tritium it has dumped into the Ottawa River is 10,000 times below the discharge limit in its federal license.

 

Tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen that is released in very large quantities from Canadian nuclear reactors. A small amount is also produced naturally in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Tritium combines with oxygen to form radioactive water molecules that travel rapidly through the human body right into cell nuclei, where tritium can be incorporated into genetic material. Once there, it acts as a ticking time bomb that will eventually decay, giving off a beta particle that can cause severe damage on the molecular level.

 

The risks of exposure to tritium have been greatly underestimated by the nuclear industry in Canada, according to Dr. Éric Notebaert, a physician and board member for Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. “Each and every release of tritium increases risks of cancer, birth defects in offspring and genetic mutations in humans who drink the contaminated water or breathe the contaminated air,” Notebaert said, adding: “There is no safe level of exposure to tritium or any other manmade radioactive element.”

 

According to Dr. Ole Hendrickson, environmental scientist and researcher for the Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area, discharge limits for radioactive substances in Canada do not protect the public from exposure to man-made radioactive materials that are routinely released from nuclear facilities. These discharge limits, known in the industry as “Derived Release Limits” or DRLs, are calculated by the facilities themselves, using voluntary guidelines, and are based on many assumptions about how the emissions will be absorbed by humans. The release limits do not take into account humans being exposed to multiple radioactive pollutants and to cumulative emissions from more than one source of pollution.

 

“The nuclear industry has been hiding behind DRLs for years. The limits are set very high so that actual releases look low in comparison. It is time that the industry was called out on these absurd limits that allow very high levels of contamination to be characterized as low, confusing the public and decision-makers in the process,” Hendrickson stated.

 

Hendrickson calculates that the tritium release limit for the Rolphton reactor — upstream from Ottawa —  is so high that, if the facility released the permitted amount, the Ottawa River would be contaminated with tritium at a level 8,000 times higher than the natural background level. It would also be more than twice the Ontario drinking water standard of 7,000 Becquerels/litre — a standard that the Ontario Drinking Water Advisory Council recommended in 2009 should be reduced to 20 Becquerels per litre.

 

“A one-litre bottle of water from the Ottawa River would contain 17,000 Bq of tritium, meaning that it would be giving off 17,000 radioactive disintegrations from tritium every second, second after second,” said Hendrickson. “This gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘sparkling water.’”

 

Hendrickson cites other examples that he says illustrate the absurdity of DRLs and their lack of connection to health protection.  “Before it closed in 2013 Shield Source, a tritium light factory in Peterborough, Ontario had a DRL for tritium gas that was over 200 times higher than the total global natural tritium production rate.  Each year, in theory, Shield Source could have emitted more than ten times the world’s natural tritium inventory. Had they done so, tritium levels in rainfall, and in every water body in the world, would have risen several hundred-fold, exceeding those measured at the peak of nuclear weapons testing in 1963.

 

“Another tritium light factory, SRB Technologies in Pembroke, Ontario during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s released more radioactive tritium annually to the local environment than all of Canada’s nuclear power stations combined, while well within its DRL.”

 

During a recent review of the Environmental Impact Statement for the proposal to entomb the Rolphton Nuclear Power Demonstration (NPD) reactor in cement and grout, it was revealed that the reactor basement continuously fills with water that seeps in through cracks in the foundation, becoming highly contaminated with radioactive tritium and other toxic substances like PCBs, mercury and lead. The facility manager, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, routinely dumps batches of the contaminated water directly into the Ottawa River, even though it exceeds Ontario and Canadian surface water quality standards by hundreds and thousands of times.

 

Canada’s nuclear regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, widely perceived to be a “captured agency”, published a discussion paper in 2012 on establishing release limits at nuclear facilities. The discussion paper acknowledged that Canadian DRLs are not meeting international standards and need to be lowered. CNSC has not yet taken any regulatory action on these recommendations.

ABOUT CCRCA

The Concerned Citizens of RenfrewCounty and Area was formed in 1978 to research and advocate about nuclear waste and other pollution issues in Eastern Ontario and the Ottawa River watershed. The group works closely with other citizen and environmental groups to promote responsible management of radioactive wastes and protection of the environment.