Analysis of Canada’s Policy for Radioactive Waste Management and Decommissioning

by Ole Hendrickson, Ph.D. CCRCA researcher

April 20, 2023

Canada’s Policy for Radioactive Waste Management and Decommissioning 

Background: In 2017, civil society groups were trying to understand how three irresponsible radioactive waste projects (the giant Chalk River mound and two legacy reactor entombments), could be undergoing environmental assessment in Canada. The lack of a substantive federal radioactive waste policy was noted as a serious problem that had allowed the projects to proceed. The policy vacuum was brought to the attention of the IAEA, the Prime Minister, the Auditor General and many other Canadian officials. In September 2019, an international peer review team from IAEA flagged Canada’s lack of a radioactive waste policy as a serious problem. In response, Natural Resources Canada began a review process which took place from 2020 to 2023. The review included extensive involvement from civil society groups and concerned individuals across Canada. The new policy, released in March 2023, is a huge disappointment to many people who, in good faith, worked hard to provide many valuable suggestions only to find their input virtually ignored by the captured bodies (CNSC and NRCan) that developed the policy. In the words of our Quebec colleagues at Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive, the policy is “a fiasco and a slap in the face to democracy.” What follows is a detailed analysis of the many serious failings of Canada’s new “modernized” radioactive waste policy.


Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) uses “ensure” in its various forms 28 times in the final version of its new radioactive waste policy, up from 14 times in the draft.  

Use of “ensure” in a policy context represents an empty promise – a promise that is not associated with any specific action and that lacks a verifiable, measurable, time-bound target.  Reliance on such language indicates an intent to avoid further discussion.

For example, NRCan’s claim that Canada could “ensure nuclear non-proliferation” if plutonium reprocessing were to be allowed (and plutonium-fueled reactors were to be exported to other countries) demonstrates the policy’s superficial and specious nature.

The closest thing to a target in the policy is found in one of the “vision” statements:

By 2050, key elements of Canada’s radioactive waste disposal infrastructure are in place, and planning is well under way for the remaining facilities necessary to accommodate all of Canada’s current and future radioactive wastes.

This begs the questions, “What are those “key elements?” and “What are the remaining facilities?” To achieve this rather weak and vague vision: 

The federal government accordingly ensures… that responsibility for maintaining institutional controls over the long term, including the preservation of records and knowledge management of radioactive wastes, is assigned, in an open and transparent manner, to an appropriate entity.

It appears that the federal government is unprepared to accept responsibility at this time for managing radioactive waste, even the waste that it has generated.  The federal government created the nuclear industry and generated a massive (~ $16 billion) waste liability through R&D work carried out by the crown corporation Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) over the past 75 years.  AECL continues to receive annual appropriations exceeding a billion dollars.  

The policy only promises that at some indefinite time in the future the government will “ensure” that an “appropriate entity” is created to maintain institutional controls over the long term. This side-steps the key issue of governance.  A public entity to oversee radioactive waste management is urgently needed.  Hundreds of submissions on the draft policy called for the government to establish an independent oversight body now.

Although the policy gives the nuclear industry free rein in managing its waste, with no oversight, it assigns no real responsibility to the industry, either.  It calls upon the industry to develop “conceptual approaches” and to submit an “Integrated Strategy for Canada’s radioactive waste to the federal government for review and consideration.”

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report prompted the government to undertake a radioactive waste policy review.  The IAEA specifically recommended that the government “enhance” the principles contained in its previous Radioactive Waste Policy Framework.  The most important principle was “polluter pays”:

The waste producers and owners are responsible, in accordance with the principle of “polluter pays”, for the funding, organization, management and operation of disposal and other facilities required for their wastes. 

Rather than being enhanced, this principle was deleted from the new policy.  This opens the door to subsidies from the federal government for management of radioactive wastes produced by non-federal entities.

The policy lacks acceptable language regarding assessment of radioactive waste management facilities.  NRCan rejected the following civil society proposal:

Amend the Physical Activities Regulations under the Impact Assessment Act to include construction and operation of new nuclear reactors, decommissioning of nuclear reactors, and all phases in the development, operation and closure of long-term waste management facilities.

Instead, NRCan said:

The Policy recognizes and is aligned with federal legislation, particularly the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, the Impact Assessment Act and the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act, as well as other legislation, associated regulations, and other policy tools that further support radioactive waste management,

adding that

These policy tools are regularly reviewed and updated by the federal government, as required, to ensure they remain relevant and effective.  

This is a dubious claim, given that the government had not reviewed or updated the previous waste policy “framework” for 27 years, and has not reviewed or updated the Nuclear Safety and Control Act for 26 years.

Stating that the new policy “is aligned with” the Impact Assessment Act fails to mention that the Physical Activities Regulations under this Act exempt decommissioning of reactors and other nuclear facilities, new radioactive waste storage facilities, fuel waste reprocessing facilities with an annual production capacity of less than 100 tonnes of plutonium per year, and construction and operation of small modular reactors (and management of their wastes).  

Hence, nearly all major nuclear activities are exempted from assessment.  

Most current nuclear decommissioning activities are occurring on federal lands owned by AECL.  In theory, impact assessment is required for all projects occurring on federal lands under section 82 of the Impact Assessment Act.  

AECL, despite being a federal authority under the Act, ignores decommissioning projects, and delegates the determination of the significance of other waste-related activities (such as a new intermediate-level waste storage facility) to its private contractor, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories.  This is not allowed under the Act.

With regard to health, safety and environmental aspects of radioactive waste management, NRCan rejected the following civil society suggestions on the policy draft:

Radioactive waste will be contained and monitored to ensure it remains isolated from the accessible biosphere for the time frame relevant to the category of waste;” and “Prioritize the health, safety and security of people and the environment by requiring that radioactive wastes are kept contained and isolated from the biosphere.”

These suggestions were based on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safety standard for radioactive waste disposal. The IAEA says: 

The specific aims of disposal are:

(a) To contain the waste;

(b) To isolate the waste from the accessible biosphere and to reduce substantially the likelihood of, and all possible consequences of, inadvertent human intrusion into the waste;

(c) To inhibit, reduce and delay the migration of radionuclides at any time from the waste to the accessible biosphere;

(d) To ensure that the amounts of radionuclides reaching the accessible biosphere due to any migration from the disposal facility are such that possible radiological consequences are acceptably low at all times.

The new policy does not contain the words “biosphere”, “isolation”, “migration” or “intrusion”, instead substituting vague phrases such as “ensure protection of the environment”.  The policy’s failure to commit to isolating waste from the biosphere allows the nuclear industry to use the environment – particularly water bodies – as a way of diluting and disposing of its radioactive waste.  

The policy’s failure to commit to isolating waste from the biosphere allows the nuclear industry to use the environment – particularly water bodies – as a way of diluting and disposing of its radioactive waste.  

Dilution is the strategy employed by the “NSDF project”, announced by a consortium of multinational companies immediately after the Harper government contracted them to deal with the 75-year accumulation of radioactive waste at AECL’s nuclear sites across Canada.  The NSDF would be Canada’s first permanent disposal facility for radioactive waste from nuclear reactors – a million-cubic-meter mound of waste next to the Ottawa River, including a pipeline that would discharge partially-treated leachate from the mound into a lake that drains into the river.  It would set a terrible precedent for future facilities. 

First Nations have expressed serious concerns about the NSDF project and two other permanent disposal projects that involve entombing AECL prototype reactors in concrete and grout and abandoning them next to the Ottawa and Winnipeg Rivers.  

After the public comment period on the draft policy, a new section was added entitled “Canada’s commitment towards building partnerships and advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.” It calls for “early, continuous and meaningful engagement” in future radioactive waste projects. However, the policy is silent on the question of whether the current disposal projects – announced without that early engagement – could be approved without the free, prior and informed consent of First Nations.  Nor does the new policy commit to First Nations “consent” for future projects.

Another new section, entitled “Scope of the Policy,” adds confusion about reprocessing and fails to address Canada’s experimental work with plutonium fuels. The language on reprocessing says: 

Reprocessing, the purpose of which would be to extract fissile material from nuclear fuel waste for further use, is not presently employed in Canada, and so is outside the scope of this Policy. 

However, the federally-owned Recycle Fuel Fabrication Laboratories have been conducting plutonium fuel research for many years.  Furthermore the government has given a private company $50.5 million to develop a commercial reprocessing facility under the guise of waste “recycling”.  

Despite thousands of letters requesting a ban on plutonium reprocessing in the policy and noting the dangers of this technology for nuclear weapons proliferation, the word “plutonium” appears nowhere. Claiming that reprocessing is “outside the scope” of a radioactive waste policy is irresponsible.  Furthermore, a new phrase in section 1.7 of the final policy encourages “recycling and reuse of materials.” This could be read as promoting “recycling” of used fuel to extract plutonium.

Also highly problematic is the following phrase in the new policy:

The government of Canada remains deeply committed to the 1970 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which remains the only legally binding global treaty promoting nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) entered into force on 22 January 2021.  State Parties to this treaty “undertake never under any circumstances to… Develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”  

While Canada may refuse to acknowledge the existence of the TPNW, this does not alter the fact that the international community has acted to ban nuclear weapons.   


The section on “Scope of the Policy” also contains contradictory and confusing wording on naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM).  The IAEA says NORM is “Radioactive material containing no significant amounts of radionuclides other than naturally occurring radionuclides.” The IAEA definition explicitly includes “Material in which the activity concentrations of the naturally occurring radionuclides have been changed by a process.”  

In contrast, the new policy defines NORM as “material found in the environment that contains radioactive elements of natural origin.” This would appear to exclude from the policy the waste that is created when NORM is extracted from the environment and then processed. 

The CNSC regulates many facilities that process NORM (using the internationally agreed definition): uranium mines, Cameco’s processing facilities in Blind River and Port Hope, fuel fabrication facilities, etc.  The new policy also says:


“this Policy does not address NORM other than those associated with the development, production or use of nuclear energy or technologies and those associated with the transport and import/export of nuclear substances.”

This statement is both grammatically incorrect (NORM refers to “material”, not “materials”) and does not adequately address the contradiction inherent in defining NORM in a manner that excludes the many processing activities occurring in Canada, and the wastes they generate.  

The terms “process” and “processing” appear nowhere in the policy. Even the word “uranium” is absent from the policy, further illustrating the superficial nature of the new policy.


Also problematic is the reference to “an independent nuclear regulator that makes decisions using inclusive, open, and transparent public hearings.”  Self-serving promotion of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission does not belong in a radioactive waste policy.  Claims of transparency and openness do not match reality.  The real issue is that the CNSC invariably dismisses public input in making its decisions.

Public input has also been dismissed in this new policy. It reads as if it was written by the CNSC, which may be true. The CNSC is widely considered to be completely “captured” by the nuclear industry, with a revolving door between CNSC, the nuclear industry, and Natural Resources Canada.


The policy rejects the demand by civil society organizations for a ban on imports of radioactive waste from other countries.  It says that the federal government:

is committed to the principle that radioactive waste generated in other countries are [sic] not to be disposed of in Canada and radioactive waste generated in Canada will be disposed of in Canada, with the exception of certain radioactive wastes subject to return arrangements.

The policy lists as exceptions the “repatriation of disused sources to Canada.” It adds that “radioactive sources that were not from Canada may be brought to Canada.” 


This is a clear admission that Canada is importing radioactive waste from other countries and intends to continue doing so.  The ownership of this waste is eventually transferred to the Government of Canada, and the waste is stored at the federally owned Chalk River Laboratories of AECL.  

The financial arrangements involved in these waste transfers are completely non-transparent.  In this way, the waste imports could be adding to the liabilities recorded in the Public Accounts of Canada.  Canadian taxpayers may be subsidizing not only Canada’s own nuclear industry, but the nuclear industry of foreign nations as well.


Chalk River Labs ~ Comprehensive Preliminary Decommissioning Plan (CPDP)

January 15.2023

This document, dated 2014 is the current version of the plan developed over many years for decommissioning and cleanup of the Chalk River Laboratories property. It is a requirement under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act that licensed nuclear facilities have decommissioning plans in place.

The plan was developed as part of the multimillion dollar “Nuclear Legacy Liabilities Project” prior to privatization of CRL in 2015. The work outlined in this plan will cost billions of dollars, possibly close to $16 billion which is a recent government of Canada estimate for the cost of cleaning up its federal nuclear legacy liability, the bulk of which is at Chalk River.

Interestingly, the CPDP includes no mention of a “Near Surface” disposal facility, aka the giant Chalk River Mound that has caused so much consternation on the part of Indigenous communities, downstream municipalities, and civil society groups over the last six years.

The private sector consortium that owns Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) and is now running Chalk River Laboratories and other Canadian federal nuclear facilities, does not appear to be following this CPDP, and the plan is not publicly accessible on the CNLwebsite.

We are posting the CPDP here because it is an important document that should guide decision making about Canada’s largest federal environmental liability and we believe it should be publicly available.

There is a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission requirement (in REGDOC 2.11-2, Decommissioning) that a Preliminary Decommissioning Plan shall include… a public consultation plan.   The IAEA also says that planning for decommissioning includes activities for public consultation in accordance with national requirements.

 The photo above is the “active area” at Chalk River Laboratories on June 24, 2022, showing some of the buildings and structures that need to be decommissioned. The NRU reactor, closed in 2018, is the red brick building in the foreground. The Plutonium Tower – the grey structure to the left of the “Molybdenum-99 Stack” – is also visible in the photo,

A call for World-class Cleanup at Chalk River Laboratories

April 2022

Canada’s $16 billion nuclear waste legacy is in danger of being abandoned in substandard facilities and allowed to leak into our rivers and drinking water. Instead, let’s use our expertise  to turn Canada into a world leader in the cleanup and safe storage of  radioactive waste.  

WORLD-CLASS NUCLEAR WASTE CLEANUP would protect  health, drinking water, property values and peace of mind.    

What do experts say is needed?  

The International Atomic Energy Agency says that radioactive waste  facilities must be carefully sited and waste placed below ground to keep  radioactive materials out of air and water and protect current and future  generations. The IAEA says that siting is a fundamentally important activity in the disposal of radioactive waste. Location of a disposal facility in a “stable geological formation” provides protection from processes such as erosion and glaciation.  It says that  nuclear reactor entombment should only be used in the case of a “severe accident”, such as a meltdown.

Retired AECL scientists say that IAEA guidance must be followed, that  Canada has an obligation to follow the guidelines as a signatory to the  Joint Convention on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management.  

First Nations, in a Joint Declaration, endorsed by resolution at the  Assembly of First Nations, say that nuclear waste should be managed  according to five principles: 1) no abandonment, 2) monitored and  retrievable storage 3) better containment, more packaging, 2) away from  drinking water and major water bodies and 5) no unnecessary transport  (exports and imports) 

The Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility says radioactive  waste should be carefully managed in monitored and retrievable condition  so that repairs to packaging can be made as needed, to keep the contents  out of the biosphere, our air, soil and drinking water. The CCNR suggests  that a “rolling stewardship” strategy whereby each generation teaches  each subsequent generation how to look after the wastes and keep them  out of the biosphere.

Some countries such as Finland have made good progress building  facilities to keep radioactive waste out of the biosphere. Finland puts  low- and intermediate-level radioactive wastes produced by its four nuclear reactors in bedrock  geological facilities 100 meters deep. It has over 25 years of experience  with these facilities. They will also house the radioactive remains of the  reactors when they are shut down and dismantled. 

WORLD-CLASS NUCLEAR WASTE CLEANUP would bring  money into the Ottawa Valley economy and support good  careers for generations of valley residents.  


Thoroughly characterizing all wastes

Establishing an impeccable record-keeping system for use by current and future generations.

Careful packaging and labelling of the wastes. Repairing packages  when they fail and improving them if safer packaging materials become  available. 

Regional mapping to locate a site with stable bedrock 

Construction and operation of an in ground or underground storage facility. Materials that will be radioactive and  hazardous for thousands of years cannot be safely stored on the surface.

While waiting for all of the above steps to be completed, wastes should  be stored in above ground monitored and reinforced (and shielded if  necessary) concrete warehouses; such facilities were pioneered by  Atomic Energy of Canada Limited in the 1990s.  

WORLD-CLASS NUCLEAR WASTE STORAGE FACILITIES  would protect the Ottawa River and future generations.  

Inadequate siting process for the NSDF

April 14, 2022 (Updated May 13, 2022)

IAEA Safety Guide SSG-29, Appendix 1, Siting of Near Surface Disposal Facilities, says siting is a “fundamentally important activity in the disposal of radioactive waste.” (Ref:, p. 83)

SSG-29 says the first two stages in the siting process are a “conceptual and planning stage,” during which “projected waste volumes and activities should be quantified,” and an “area survey stage,” involving “regional mapping or investigation.”   

The NSDF facility type and site were selected without quantifying volumes and activities of federal wastes awaiting disposal, and without a regional investigation, thus skipping the first two stages identified in the IAEA Safety Guide.

Proximity to contaminated structures being demolished at the Chalk River Laboratories — not safety or environmental protection — appears to have been the priority is choosing the site of the NSDF. No serious consideration was given to sites other than those on AECL’s 3700-ha Chalk River property,

Alternative sites should be sought to avoid rapid discharge of radioactive and hazardous substances to a major water body and to avoid placing wastes in an area with a high water table (Ref: CMD 22-H7, Section 3.2, Design Options Evaluation). 

Flat, sandy portions of the 30,770-ha Department of National Defence Garrison Petawawa property, adjacent to the Chalk River Laboratories, would accommodate a larger, less expensive, and safer in-ground concrete vault facility.  Vegetation was removed from extensive portions of this property to create a parachute training zone for the Canadian Airborne Regiment, which was disbanded in 1995.

A regional investigation of crown land for geological formations suitable for a shallow rock cavern facility should also be conducted.

IAEA Safety Requirement SSR-5, Disposal of Radioactive Waste, indicates that an in-ground concrete vault or a shallow rock cavern could contain a wider range of waste types than an above ground, landfill-type facility such as the NSDF. (Ref:

The southern portion of the site chosen for the NSDF is underlain by a feature categorized in 1994 as a ““high-probability” fracture zone,” ten meters wide and over a kilometer long – a potential groundwater flow pathway with “permeability values several orders of magnitude greater than bulk rock mass.” (Ref:, p.5-109).This feature should have eliminated the proposed site from further consideration.

Original site selection criteria announced by the proponent would have excluded any site with more than a 10% slope. This criterion was changed to 25% to allow CNL’s desired site (Ref: Near Surface Disposal Facility Site Selection Report 232-10300-TN-001 Revision 2. Oct. 2016).  .

Site selection criteria were also supposed to exclude known or proposed critical habitats for species listed under the Federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) or by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).”  However, construction of the NSDF would destroy 30 hectares of mature and semi-mature forest that provides high-quality maternity roosting habitat for three endangered bat species (Little Brown Myotis, Northern Myotis and Tri-colored Bat) and nesting habitat for six at-risk bird species (Canada Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, Wood Thrush, Eastern Wood Pewee, Whip-poor-will, Wood Thrush).  It would also have adverse impacts on at-risk aquatic species such as the Blanding’s Turtle.

The proposed NSDF site is on a hillside, over fractured rock, with a high water table, surrounded on three sides by wetlands that drain into Perch Lake 50 metres from the base of the hill. Perch Creek flows from Perch Lake into the Ottawa River, one kilometre away.  The entire Chalk River Laboratories property — with its proximity to the Ottawa River, high groundwater table, uneven terrain, and fractured bedrock — is a very poor location for permanent radioactive waste disposal.  The NSDF would destroy habitat for many at-risk species.  Volumes and activities of federal wastes were not quantified prior to selection of a landfill-type disposal facility, so there is no certainty that the NSDF could safely  accommodate a significant portion of these wastes.

This is why concerned citizens say this is the “Wrong Plan” in the “Wrong Place”.  

Chalk River Laboratories

MEDIA RELEASE: Nuclear regulator’s case to approve giant nuclear waste mound is fraught with serious errors and omissions, citizens’ groups say

OTTAWA, February 22, 2022 – Citizens’ groups from Ontario and Quebec provided Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) President Rumina Velshi with a searing critique of CNSC’s case to approve a giant radioactive waste mound alongside the Ottawa River in advance of a February 22nd hearing.

If approved, the giant landfill would stand 60 feet high and hold one million tonnes of mixed radioactive and hazardous wastes. Some of the contents would remain dangerously radioactive for thousands of years, but the mound itself is only expected to last a few hundred years according to studies produced by the proponent, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, owned by a consortium of multinational corporations. International safety standards prohibit disposing of long-lived radioactive wastes in landfills.

The citizens’ critique of key licensing documents found eleven critical flaws ranging from a failure to provide detailed information about what would go into the dump, as required under the Nuclear Safety and Control Regulations, to a failure to note serious deficiencies in the siting process for the facility.

“You couldn’t find a worse site for this dump if you tried,” said Johanna Echlin of the Old Fort William (Quebec) Cottagers’ Association, one of the groups that co-authored the citizens’ critique. “The site is on the side of a hill, and is surrounded on three sides by wetlands that drain into the Ottawa River, a kilometre away. The water table is just inches under the surface at that location and the bedrock is highly fractured.” 

The site of the proposed facility is also of concern to downstream communities who take their drinking water from the Ottawa River, including Ottawa, Gatineau and Montreal. The three cities are among the more than 140 municipalities that have passed resolutions of concern about the proposed dump. The Assembly of First Nations has also passed a resolution opposing the facility.

Ole Hendrickson, a scientist and researcher for the group Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area said there are a number of serious errors in the licensing documents including a 1000-fold overestimate of radioactivity in nearby uranium ore bodies. “That gross overestimate is used by the proponent and the regulator to make the case that the giant mound would be less radioactive than surrounding rocks after a few hundred years,” Hendrickson said.  “In fact, high-radioactivity waste containers in the dump would exceed levels in surrounding rocks for thousands of years.”

The Quebec-based Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive contributed a number of findings to the critique. The group is very concerned about the presence of cobalt-60, which alone will provide 98% of the initial radioactivity in the dump, even though its radioactivity will decline rapidly thereafter. Used cobalt-60 sources require lead shielding because they emit intense gamma radiation that endangers workers. 

Physicist Ginette Charbonneau, a spokeswoman for the Ralliement, says that only low-level cobalt-60 sources could be accepted in an above-ground mound and that the criteria for accepting such waste in the dump must be tightened.

“It is also out of the question that long-lived radioactive substances like plutonium be disposed of in a landfill,” Charbonneau said. “This is simply a senseless proposal, which is not in line with international standards at all,” she added.

The citizens’ groups say the case to approve the giant radioactive landfill, called the NSDF by the proponent, is so seriously flawed that CNSC Commissioners cannot make a sound licensing decision based on the contents of the documents. They have asked that the citizens’ critique be distributed to Commissioners at the hearing on Feb 22 and that all of the flaws, errors and omissions be fully addressed before the Commission is asked to make a decision on the license for the dump. 

The licensing hearings for the giant radioactive waste dump will take place in two parts. Part 1 will take place February 22.  Part 2 will start on May 31, but is expected to take several days as it will include presentations from Indigenous communities, municipal representatives, NGOs and members of the public. Requests to intervene in the hearings must be submitted in writing to the CNSC by April 11, 2022.  See Notice of Public Hearing for details.

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Graphic above from Radio Canada Découverte, March 2018, showing the mound overflowing as part of the degradation and erosion process, described by the proponent in its Performance Assessment report.

Plus sécuritaire de manger des déchets radioactifs que des roches ?

21 février 2022

La Commission canadienne de sûreté nucléaire (CCSN) a commis une erreur massive dans un document qu’elle a préparé pour une audience du 22 février pour autoriser un monticule géant de déchets radioactifs près de la rivière des Outaouais, à 180 km en amont de la capitale du Canada.

La présentation de la CCSN (diapositive 23) montre la radioactivité du monticule tombant sous la radioactivité des roches environnantes entre 10 et 100 ans après la fermeture de l’installation fédérale de gestion des déchets.

Mais la bande grise montrant la radioactivité des roches de la région est fausse – environ 1 000 fois trop élevée.

« C’est très inquiétant, car la Commission est le seul organisme au Canada à superviser l’industrie nucléaire et à contrôler la sécurité de ses activités », a déclaré Ole Hendrickson, PhD, scientifique et chercheur pour Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area. “Les colis dans le monticule seront plus radioactifs que la grande majorité des échantillons de minerai, même dans 10 000 ans.”

La CCSN utilise la « gamme de radioactivité dans les roches » erronée pour conclure que le dépotoir de déchets radioactifs ne poserait pas de risque important à long terme pour la santé du public et recommande d’autoriser sa construction.

L’organisme de réglementation nucléaire du Canada a passé quatre ans à évaluer la proposition pour une « installation de gestion des déchets près de la surface (IGDPS)» des Laboratoires Nucléaires Canadiens (LNC), mais n’a pas réussi à détecter l’erreur de plusieurs ordres de grandeur.

Le monticule comprendra des déchets emballés à vie longue avec jusqu’à 10 000 000 de Becquerels par kilogramme de radioactivité. Cela signifie que 10 millions d’atomes se désintègrent – émettant une rafale de rayonnement – chaque seconde par kilo. Le dépotoir contiendrait plus d’un million de tonnes de déchets.

Dans sa proposition, les LNC ont également calculé une « dose d’ingestion » et ont conclu qu’il serait plus sécuritaire de manger des déchets dans le monticule que de manger du minerai d’uranium local, environ dix ans après la fermeture du dépotoir.

La diapositive de la CCSN fait référence à un rapport de 1981 de la Commission géologique de l’Ontario. Même l’échantillon le plus radioactif du rapport serait beaucoup moins radioactif que la bande grise prétendant montrer une « gamme de radioactivité dans les roches » dans la région de Pembroke-Renfrew. Cet échantillon aberrant (avec 1100 ppm d’uranium) a été trouvé près du lac Merchands, à 100 km de Chalk River.

Le rapport a analysé 74 échantillons et en a trouvé 67 avec de faibles niveaux, de 1 à 100 parties par million, d’uranium.

L’erreur apparaît d’abord dans le dossier de sureté préparé par le promoteur du monticule. Les Laboratoires Nucléaires Canadiens (LNC) sont une société privée engagée par le gouvernement fédéral en 2015 pour exploiter des installations nucléaires appartenant à la société d’État fédérale Énergie atomique du Canada limitée (EACL). Le dossier de sûreté est le principal document utilisé par la CCSN pour prendre une décision de permis.

Hendrickson a ajouté : « La répétition de l’erreur massive des LNC soulève des doutes majeurs quant à la crédibilité de l’évaluation par la CCSN des risques du projet. »

MEDIA RELEASE: MPs and groups oppose hearings to license Canada’s first permanent radioactive waste dump

Le français suit

OTTAWA, February 16, 2022 – Members of Parliament and 50 environmental and citizen groups are opposed to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC)’s forthcoming hearings to license Canada’s first permanent “disposal” facility for radioactive waste.

statement calling for suspension of the hearings is signed by three MPs: Laurel Collins, NDP environment critic; Elizabeth May, Parliamentary Leader of the Green Party of Canada; and Monique Pauzé, environment spokesperson for the Bloc Québécois. 

Union signatories of the statement include SCFP Québec, Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ) and Health, safety and environment committee of Unifor Québec.

Other signatories include Friends of the Earth, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive, National Council of Women of Canada, Ontario Clean Air Alliance, and Quebec’s Front commun pour la transition énergétique. Ottawa Valley groups include Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area, Old Fort William Cottagers’ Association, Action Climat Outaouais, and Pontiac Environmental Protection, among others.

On January 31, the Kebaowek First Nation asked that the hearings be halted until a consultation framework between them and the CNSC is in place. The hearings are for authorization to build a “Near Surface Disposal Facility” for nuclear waste at Chalk River, Ontario, on unceded Algonquin Anishinaabeg lands alongside the Ottawa River.

The CNSC staff report recommends licensing the construction of the mound for 1 million cubic metres of radioactive and toxic wastes accumulated by the federal government since 1945. The CNSC has scheduled licensing hearings on February 22 and May 31. No separate environmental assessment hearing is scheduled.

The proposed facility would be an aboveground mound a kilometre from the Ottawa River, upstream from Ottawa and Montréal. 140 municipalities have opposed the project and fear contamination of drinking water and the watershed.

In 2017, the CNSC received 400 submissions responding to its environmental impact statement, the overwhelming majority of them opposed to the plan.

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Des députées et des groupes s’opposent aux audiences pour autoriser la première décharge permanente de déchets radioactifs au Canada

OTTAWA, le 16 février 2022 – Des députées et 50 groupes environnementaux et citoyens s’opposent aux prochaines audiences de la Commission canadienne de sûreté nucléaire (CCSN) pour autoriser la première installation permanente de « gestion » de déchets radioactifs au Canada. 

Trois députées ont signé une déclaration appelant à la suspension des audiences : Laurel Collins, porte-parole du NPD en matière d’environnement; Elizabeth May, Chef parlementaire du Parti vert du Canada; et Monique Pauzé, porte-parole de l’environnement pour le Bloc Québécois. 

Les signataires syndicaux de la déclaration incluent le Syndicat canadien de la fonction publique (SCFP) – Québec, la Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ) et le Comité de santé, de sécurité et environnement d’Unifor Québec.

On retrouve, parmi les autres signataires, les Amis de la Terre, le Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive, l’Association canadienne des médecins pour l’environnement, le Conseil national des femmes du Canada, l’Ontario Clean Air Alliance et le Front commun pour la transition énergétique du Québec. Des regroupements de la vallée de l’Outaouais l’ont également signée, dont Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area, Old Fort William Cottagers’ Association, Action Climat Outaouais, et Protection environnementale de Pontiac, entre autres. 

Le 31 janvier, la Première Nation de Kebaowek a demandé que les audiences soient suspendues jusqu’à ce qu’un cadre de consultation entre elle et la CCSN soit mis en place. Les audiences portent sur l’autorisation de construire une « installation de gestion des déchets près de la surface (IGDPS) » pour les déchets nucléaires à Chalk River, en Ontario, sur les terres algonquines Anishinaabeg non cédées le long de la rivière des Outaouais.

Le rapport du personnel de la CCSN recommande d’autoriser la construction du monticule pour 1 million de mètres cubes de déchets radioactifs et toxiques accumulés par le gouvernement fédéral depuis 1945. La CCSN a prévu des audiences d’autorisation les 22 février et 31 mai. Aucune audience d’évaluation environnementale distincte n’est prévue.

L’installation proposée serait un monticule hors sol situé à un kilomètre de la rivière des Outaouais, en amont d’Ottawa et de Montréal. 140 municipalités se sont opposées au projet, craignant une contamination de l’eau potable et du bassin versant.

En 2017, la CCSN a reçu 400 soumissions en réponse à son étude d’impact environnemental : la grande majorité d’entre elles s’opposent au plan.

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Nuclear waste dump would tip $445b into South Australian ...

Déclaration pour suspendre les audiences d’autorisation d’un monticule de déchets radioactifs au bord de la rivière des Outaouais

le 16 février 2022

Nous nous opposons à la tenue d’audiences d’autorisation pour la construction d’une « installation de gestion des déchets près de la surface » (IGDPS)  à Chalk River, en Ontario, sur les terres algonquines Anishinaabeg non cédées le long de la rivière des Outaouais.

Récemment, le personnel de la Commission canadienne de sûreté nucléaire (CCSN) a recommandé l’approbation de ce dépotoir controversé pour un million de tonnes de déchets radioactifs et dangereux mixtes. La CCSN a prévu des audiences sur les permis demandés les 22 février et 31 mai 2022.

Nous appuyons la Première Nation de Kebaowek qui a demandé que les audiences soient suspendues jusqu’à ce qu’un cadre de consultation entre elle et la CCSN soit en place. Il s’agit d’une demande de longue date de la Première Nation de Kebaowek, et elle demeure en suspens. La réconciliation et un dialogue significatif doivent être le point de départ de toute décision gouvernementale affectant les terres et les droits autochtones.

Le Comité parlementaire permanent de l’environnement et du développement durable vient d’entreprendre un « examen complet de la gouvernance des déchets radioactifs au Canada et de ses impacts sur l’environnement ». Une vérification sur la gestion des déchets radioactifs est actuellement en cours par le vérificateur général du Canada. Nous exigeons que les deux processus soient terminés avant toute audience d’autorisation pour les installations de gestion des déchets radioactifs.

L’Assemblée des Premières Nations et plus de 140 municipalités en aval, dont la Ville de Gatineau et le Conseil municipal de Montréal, ont adopté des résolutions s’opposant au plan de l’IGDPS.

Des citoyens et des groupes environnementaux ont relevé de graves lacunes et omissions dans le rapport d’évaluation environnementale (EE) de la CCSN. Quand l’installation aura des fuites et commencera à se décomposer, les déchets radioactifs et autres contamineront les eaux souterraines, les terres humides et la rivière des Outaouais, la source d’eau potable de millions de personnes, de la capitale nationale et de la communauté métropolitaine de Montréal.

Le rapport d’EE ne tient pas compte d’autres emplacements ou types d’installations qui protégeraient mieux l’environnement. Le site choisi a une nappe phréatique élevée et un risque d’inondation et est également sujet aux tremblements de terre.

Le rapport néglige les risques pour les travailleurs qui manipuleront des sources de cobalt 60 dans la décharge. De plus, il néglige la pollution par le plomb et par d’autres déchets industriels dangereux qui se déverseraient dans la rivière des Outaouais.

L’installation est proposée par les Laboratoires Nucléaires Canadiens (LNC), exploités par un consortium de SNC-Lavalin et de sociétés multinationales. Ils dirigent les Laboratoires nucléaires du Canada en vertu d’un contrat signé par le gouvernement fédéral Harper en 2015.

En 2021, la Ville d’Ottawa a adopté une résolution exhortant la CCSN et les LNC à cesser de transporter des déchets radioactifs provenant d’autres provinces vers Chalk River, à renforcer les mesures de protection pour la rivière des Outaouais pendant les activités de démolition du site et de transfert des déchets, et à empêcher les précipitations de pénétrer dans l’IGDPS. La ville a également demandé une évaluation régionale des projets de déchets radioactifs dans la vallée de l’Outaouais en vertu de la Loi sur l’évaluation d’impact, mais la demande a été rejetée par le ministre fédéral de l’Environnement et du Changement climatique.

Pour toutes ces raisons, nous demandons au gouvernement du Canada de mettre fin aux audiences pour l’autorisation de licence pour le projet de l’IGDPS et de mettre sur pied un organisme indépendant pour aborder le problème des déchets radioactifs du Canada d’une manière qui soit socialement acceptable et qui ne compromette pas la sécurité des générations futures.


Elected representatives

Laurel Collins, MP, Critic for the Environment and Climate Change, New Democratic Party

Elizabeth May, Chef parlementaire du Parti vert du Canada

Monique Pauzé, Députée et porte-parole de l’environnement pour le Bloc Québécois

Theresa Kavanagh, Ottawa City Councillor

Catherine McKenney, Ottawa City Councillor

National organizations

Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment     

Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility

Friends of the Earth

National Council of Women of Canada

Nuclear Waste Watch

Prevent Cancer Now

Organizations based in Ontario

Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area 

Council of Canadians – Kitchissippi-Ottawa Valley Chapter

Council of Canadians – Ottawa Chapter

Greenspace Alliance of Canada’s Capital        

Integral North


Ontario Clean Air Alliance

Petawawa Point Cottagers’ Association

Pontiac Environment Protection

United Church Water Care Allies

Watershed Sentinel Educational Society

Westboro Beach Community Association         

Organizations based in Québec/N.B.

Action Climat Outaouais 

Action Environnement Basses-Laurentides

AmiEs de la Terre – Québec

Artistes pour la Paix

Association Canadienne des Médecins pour l’Environnement

Association québécoise des médecins pour l’environnement

Association Québécoise de Lutte contre la Pollution Atmosphérique 

Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick

Coalition Verte/Green Coalition

Collectif Femmes pour le climat

Comité de santé, sécurité et environnement d’Unifor Québec

Eau Secours

Extinction Rebellion Québec 

Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ)

Fondation Rivières

Front commun pour la transition énergétique

Lucie Sauvé, professeure émérite, UQAM

Laurence Brière, professeure, UQAM

Mouvement d’éducation populaire et d’action communautaire du Québec

Old Fort William Cottagers’ Association

Oxygène Laval en amont

Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive

Regroupement des citoyens de Saraguay

Regroupement pour la surveillance du nucléaire

Regroupement vigilance hydrocarbures Québec

Réseau québécois des groupes écologistes

Santé Cannabis

Sauvons la falaise

Sierra Club – chapitre Québec

Société pour vaincre la pollution

Syndicat canadien de la fonction publique (SCFP) – Québec


Vigilance OGM