The crazy plan to entomb the Rolphton nuclear reactor

The crazy plan to “entomb” a nuclear reactor beside the Ottawa River

1. A multinational consortium plans to “entomb” a defunct nuclear reactor beside the Ottawa River at Rolphton, Ontario, 200 km upstream of Ottawa-Gatineau. The Nuclear Power Demonstration (NPD) reactor entombment is one of three unsafe and irresponsible plans by the consortium to abandon nuclear waste beside major Canadian waterways.

2. The defunct NPD reactor is contaminated with large amounts of “post-fission” radioactive materials, such as plutonium and other long-lived radionuclides, as well as mercury, lead, asbestos and PCBs.

3. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) clearly states that “entombment” should only be used in exceptional circumstances (e.g. following a severe accident).

4. The Rolphton NPD site is located in unceded Algonquin territory, less than 100 meters from the Ottawa River, a heritage river that flows past the Houses of Parliament and provides drinking water to millions of Canadians. The area is seismically active; the Ottawa River is a major fault line. It is a highly unsuitable location for permanent disposal of long-lived and hazardous radioactive waste.

5. Long-lived radionuclides and other hazardous substances including lead, mercury, asbestos, and PCBs would leak into the Ottawa River. After deterioration of the concrete and grout, and/or during earthquakes, floods, other extreme weather events, or dam breaks, leaks from the radioactive “mausoleum” would enter the Ottawa River contaminating drinking water for millions.

6. Retired nuclear scientists have very serious concerns about the proposal. They note that the proposal lacks credibility, employs inadequate technology, would result in radiation doses higher than acceptable to future Canadians, and fails to address Canada’s international obligations. Here is a quote from the submission by J. R. Walker: “NPD will remain a radiological hazard for tens of thousands of years …It is absurd to conclude that cement grout, a reinforced concrete cap above the reactor vessel, and an engineered barrier…over the building footprint will protect the public for that period of time.”

7. Much better alternatives are available. The IAEA strongly recommends that long-lived radioactive wastes be put in a geological repository. Dismantling the NPD reactor, removal of wastes from the site, and placement in stable rock below the earth’s surface is technically and economically feasible.

8. The sole decision maker for the “NPD entombment” project is Canada’s nuclear regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). According to the report of the Gélinas Expert Panel on Reform of Environmental Assessment, the CNSC is widely perceived to be a “captured regulator” that promotes the projects it is charged with regulating.

9. Ask your MP to halt the NPD reactor entombment proposal. Canada must manage its nuclear waste responsibly and keep radioactive substances out of the biosphere. Contact your provincial and municipal elected representatives to ask their position on this project.

10. Send a letter to your MP and ministers from the Ottawa Riverkeeper website:

July 2018 ~ Produced by Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area ~