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Walkers Count on Local Politicians to Oppose Nuclear Waste in North West Ontario By NetNewsLedger, September 18, 2022,

THUNDER BAY – ENVIRONMENT – Approximately 75 walkers took to the streets of Thunder Bay on Saturday to oppose the proposed burial of all of Canada’s nuclear fuel waste in the bedrock of Northwestern Ontario.

The group walked from MP Patty Hajdu’s constituency office (Thunder Bay-Superior North and Minister of Indigenous Services) to MPP Lise Vaugeois’ constituency office (Thunder Bay-Superior North).

The federal government oversees Canada’s nuclear operations including nuclear waste management in Canada, while Ontario’s government makes decisions about the province’s energy sources, and can issue directives to Ontario Power Generation. Ontario Power Generation is the largest shareholder in the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, owns more than 90% of the high-level nuclear waste in Canada, and contributes more than 90% of the NWMO’s operating budget.

The Walk was organized by the local group Nuclear Free Thunder Bay, in solidarity with a similar event earlier in September: Ojibway Nation of Saugeen member Darlene Necan’s “Peaceful Walk Against Nuclear Waste on Treaty 3 Lands”, in which walkers left Ignace on September 1 and walked from Ignace to Dryden and then from Dryden to Sioux Lookout.

“Darlene Necan has done her Walk three years in a row,” said Charles Faust, a member of Nuclear Free Thunder Bay. “The idea of this nuclear waste burial project going forward deeply disturbs our group. Northwestern Ontario is not an empty land – it is home to many people, and is the traditional territory of our Anishinaabe friends and neighbours. It is also one of the least spoiled natural areas in the world. Radioactive contamination of the extensive watersheds there would be disastrous.”

Lise Vaugeois MPP was present at her constituency office and had supportive words for those gathered.

Nuclear Free Thunder Bay, part of the We the Nuclear Free North alliance, opposes the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s (NWMO’s) proposed plan to bury all of Canada’s nuclear fuel waste – more than 3 million fuel bundles – in a deep geological repository (DGR) between Ignace and Dryden. There is no operating DGR for nuclear fuel waste anywhere in the world.

The group prefers the alternative of maintaining the waste in hardened and more secure facilities close to the nuclear reactors where it was produced. Such an approach would eliminate the dangers of transporting the waste up to 2,400 km by road or rail into Northwestern Ontario and would allow ongoing monitoring of the waste in the event of future problems.

The group believes that burying the waste would mean forgetting the deadliest, most long-lived toxic substance a society has ever produced.

September 20, 2022 Posted by | Canada, opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

Walk held to protest storing nuclear waste in Northwest

The group of over 50 people gathered outside MP Patty Hajdu’s office before their walk and shared their concerns over the possible storage of nuclear waste in the region Staff, 18 Sept 22

THUNDER BAY – Nuclear Free Thunder Bay held a walk on Saturday in solidarity of other walks happening in Northwestern Ontario throughout September to protest the transport and burial of nuclear waste in the north.  

The group of over 50 people gathered outside Thunder Bay-Superior North MP Hajdu’s office before their walk and shared their concerns over the possible storage of nuclear waste in the region. 

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization currently has two potential siting areas the Municipality of South Bruce in southern Ontario and The Township of Ignace in northwestern Ontario. 

The site selected will then be home of Canada’s deep geological repository where nearly 5.5 million spent nuclear fuel bundles from across Canada will be shipped to and then stored. 

“We are opposed to it largely because there are all kinds of weaknesses with the DGR and no one can predict over the next hundred-thousands of years how safe it’s going to be for your next generation and generations to come,” said Dodie Legassick, co-organizer of the walk. 

“And we’re also opposed because it is a real transportation issue. There’s going to be two to three truckloads carrying UFTPs (Used Fuel Transportation Packages) per day for 45 to 50 years and there are going to be super loads in addition to that and they want to bring in.” 

Charles Faust, co-organizer, says that they’re also concerned with the lack of transparency from the NWMO. 

“We have major concerns with the citing process that they’ve undertaken. Which is, as I said, not a legislative or regulatory requirement,” he said. “It’s a public relations exercise, where they are looking for an impoverished community like Ignace to accept them as a willing host for this project.” 

The walk ended at the office of Thunder Bay-Superior North MPP Lise Vaugeois’ to petition the Ontario Government to adopt the proximity principle which advocates that waste should be disposed of (or otherwise managed) close to the point at which it is generated. 

“We’ve got a petition out that we’ve that we’re getting signed to present to the Legislature of Ontario,” said Faust. “So, we’re asking people to get involved, to tell their friends, to tell her family to walk with us, to take a sign and to write letters to the editor and basically to spread the word.”

September 20, 2022 Posted by | Canada, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Ontario nuclear waste site selectors delay announcement until 2024

Nishnawbe Aski Nation chiefs opposed to storage site based on environmental grounds

Northern Ontario Business Staff, 15 Aug 22,

The site selectors for a proposed underground nuclear waste repository in Ontaro say they won’t make a decision on a preferred location until the fall of 2024.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is pushing back the naming of a site by one year, attributing it to a series of pandemic-related lockdowns that hampered their work in the selection process.

Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation-Ignace area, an hour’s drive east of Dryden, in northwestern Ontario and the Saugeen Ojibway Nation-South Bruce area in southern Ontario are the two communities on the short list to host the deep geological repository.

Last week, 49 chiefs of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) passed a resolution at their annual conference in Timmins opposing plans to haul and store nuclear waste in the region. Though the potential site of the repository is not in NAN’s treaty area, leadership hold concerns about the downstream impact of such a facility in the waterways of their traditional territories……………………………………….

Since 2010, NWMO has been engaged in this process to find a permanent storage place for the long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel……………..

The organization said the plan will only proceed in a host area with “informed and willing hosts, where the municipality, First Nation and Métis communities, and others in the area are working together to implement it.”………………


August 14, 2022 Posted by | Canada, wastes | Leave a comment

Nishnawbe Aski Nation opposes possible site for storage of nuclear waste

Globe and Mail, MARSHA MCLEOD, 11 Aug.22,

Nishnawbe Aski Nation’s chiefs-in-assembly passed a resolution Wednesday “vehemently” opposing the possibility of an underground repository for nuclear waste in Northern Ontario.

The chiefs’ resolution calls on Nishnawbe Aski Nation, or NAN, which represents 49 First Nation communities within Northern Ontario, to take action to stop such a possibility, including through protest and possible legal action.

We’re fighting for our young people. We’re talking hundreds of years from now – that’s who we’re speaking up for,” said Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Derek Fox in an interview. “NAN is going to do all it can – and I was mandated by the chiefs to do all we can – to stop this from happening.”

Chiefs, youth leaders and women’s advocates raised concerns during NAN’s annual Keewaywin Conference, which is being held in Timmins, Ont., this week. Some leaders also expressed anger at a lack of consultation of NAN’s communities over the possible site. The chiefs’ resolution speaks to a years-long search by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, or NWMO, for a site to build a “deep geological repository,” or GDR, which would see Canada’s spent nuclear fuel stored in a facility located at least 500 metres below-ground.

That search has been narrowed to two possible sites: one located between Ignace and Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation in Northern Ontario, which is the site of concern to NAN, and another near South Bruce, Ont. A decision between the two sites is expected by the end of 2023, said Bob Watts, NWMO’s vice-president of Indigenous relations and strategic programs.

If the site near Ignace is selected, the township of Ignace, as well as Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation, would hold approval power over the project going forward, Mr. Watts confirmed.

Wabigoon Lake is not a member of NAN and the site would sit just south of NAN’s territory – within Treaty 3, but Mr. Fox pointed out that any issue with the site will not just affect Treaty 3, but the entire region.

“All rivers flow north from that area,” he said. “Nuclear waste doesn’t know treaty boundaries. A spill does not know treaty boundaries. A nuclear waste accident is not going to say, okay, well, we only agreed to pollute Treaty 3.”

Any kind of pollution in the rivers, lakes and waterways of the region would have “devastating” effects, he said………………………………….

In discussions ahead of Wednesday’s vote on the resolution, chiefs and other leaders expressed their concerns about the possible location of the site.

“Northern Ontario is not a garbage can,” said Constance Lake First Nation Chief Ramona Sutherland. “We work for seven generations of our people – I don’t want to pass this down to my son, my grandson, and then his sons.”

Neskantaga First Nation Chief Wayne Moonias called the proposal “disturbing,” and added, “the thought of having a nuclear waste site in our area – it’s just not something that we can live with.”

August 9, 2022 Posted by | Canada, indigenous issues, opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

New leader of Canada’s New Brunswick Liberals breaks ranks with the party’s previous support for Small Nuclear Reactors

New Liberal leader questions small nuclear reactors. Susan Holt says it’s not clear the technology is a responsible energy solution

Jacques Poitras · CBC News · Aug 10, 2022 

The new leader of the New Brunswick Liberals is questioning whether small modular nuclear reactors are the answer to the province’s energy needs, a more cautious stance than her party’s previous full-throated support for the technology.

Susan Holt said after winning the leadership Saturday that while the potential jobs created by SMRs would be good for the province, she was looking for more evidence they were the right bet for clean energy.

“It’s an interesting project on the economic development level … but I’m not sure it’s the solution for electricity generation for our province,” Holt told reporters.

“I think it’s not clear yet if it will really give us energy in a way that’s responsible and efficient with our investments, so there’s still more to determine there.”

Two companies based in Saint John, ARC Clean Energy and Moltex Energy, have received tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer funding to develop reactors………..

Last year the province handed ARC $20 million, while Moltex received more than $50 million from the federal government.

The previous provincial Liberal government gave each of them $5 million.

Holt held the title of chief of business relationships at the Jobs Board secretariat under then-Liberal Premier Brian Gallant at the time ARC and Moltex got that initial funding.

Both the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives have been enthusiastic supporters of SMRs until now, ………………..

at legislative committee hearings in January, former N.B. Power CEO Gaëtan Thomas and officials from Saint John Energy warned that SMRs may not be ready in time to replace electricity from the Belledune generating station, which must stop using coal by 2030.

Louise Comeau, the director of climate change and energy solutions for the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, welcomed Holt’s comments.

“It sounds to me like the new leader is open to more information and analysis, which is what we desperately needed on the question of small modular nuclear reactors,” she said.

“We’ve been more in a phase of hype and boosterism. … I think what she’s said is we need to have more information, we need to look at all options, and we would really agree with that. Wind and solar and efficiency and other options all have to be part of the portfolio.” 

Susan O’Donnell, a member of the Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick, said she was happy Holt was “reading the independent research about SMRs instead of the nuclear industry sales and promotional materials.”…………………..

In January, the Pembina Institute, a clean energy think tank, released a report that said small nuclear reactors would be more expensive and generate less electricity than a combination of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.

August 9, 2022 Posted by | Canada, politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Lantern ceremony in Winnipeg calls attention to threat of nuclear weapons

Ceremony marked 77th anniversary of Hiroshima bombing

Cameron MacLean · CBC News ·: Aug 07 22

Winnipeggers lit lanterns and set them afloat on the fountain outside the Manitoba Legislature on Saturday evening to call attention to the threat of nuclear war.

The lantern ceremony marks the 77th anniversary of the United States dropping an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.

This year, organizers of the event in Winnipeg hope to put pressure on the Canadian government to sign the 2017 United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

“We’ve seen in recent years that more and more the danger of nuclear confrontation is growing,” said Glenn Michalchuk, chair of Peace Alliance Winnipeg, in an interview with Keisha Paul on CBC Manitoba’s Weekend Morning Show……………………..

The event was sponsored by Peace Alliance Winnipeg, Japanese Cultural Association of Manitoba, Council of Canadians Winnipeg chapter and the Winnipeg Quakers.

August 6, 2022 Posted by | Canada, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Pickering nuclear station is closing as planned, despite calls for refurbishment

Nationa lObserver , By Jessica McDiarmid | News | July 29th 2022 The Ontario government will not reconsider plans to close the Pickering nuclear station …………

In a report released this week, a nuclear advocacy group urged Ontario to refurbish the aging facility east of Toronto, which is set to be shuttered in phases in 2024 and 2025. The closure of Pickering, which provides 14 per cent of the province’s annual electricity supply, comes at the same time as Ontario’s other two nuclear stations are undergoing refurbishment and operating at reduced capacity.

Canadians for Nuclear Energy, which is largely funded by power workers’ unions, argued closing the 50-year-old facility will result in job losses, emissions increases, heightened reliance on imported natural gas and an electricity deficit.

But Palmer Lockridge, spokesperson for the provincial energy minister, said further extending Pickering’s lifespan isn’t on the table…………………………

The Ontario Clean Air Alliance, however, obtained draft documents from the electricity operator that showed it had studied, but not released publicly, other scenarios that involved phasing out natural gas without energy shortfalls, price hikes or increases in emissions.

One model suggested increasing carbon taxes and imports of clean energy from other provinces could keep blackouts, costs and emissions at bay, while another involved increasing energy efficiency, wind generation and storage.

“By banning gas-fired electricity exports to the U.S., importing all the Quebec water power we can with the existing transmission lines and investing in energy efficiency and wind and solar and storage — do all those things and you can phase out gas-fired power and lower our bills,” said Jack Gibbons, chair of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance.

July 30, 2022 Posted by | Canada, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear industry veteran to lead nuclear waste group’s board – ( the revolving industry-govt door)

Nuclear expert to lead nuke waste group’s board,

The new chair of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s board of directors is a familiar face with an extensive background in the nuclear industry.

Glenn Jager, who was previously a vice-chair on the group’s board, is a retired chief nuclear officer with Ontario Power Generation and has worked in the nuclear sector for more than 30 years, the agency said this week in news release.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization is to select a site next year for a proposed underground facility to store spent fuel rods from nuclear reactors.

One of the sites under consideration is a remote area 35 kilometres west of Ignace. The other is in South Bruce in southwestern Ontario in the vicinity of an existing nuclear-power station.

July 22, 2022 Posted by | Canada, wastes | Leave a comment

YES! Experimental nuclear reactors (SMRs) DO need an impact assessment: Speak Out! 15 July 22 The nuclear industry plans to build experimental nuclear reactors (SMRs) in New Brunswick, aiming that one day they can be used in different towns and remote communities across Canada.

Pressure from the nuclear industry lobby changed our federal environmental assessment law in 2019, exempting many nuclear projects like SMRs from undergoing a full environmental impact assessment (IA)

The exemption not only erodes public involvement and oversight of the project but also means there will be no full reckoning of the alternatives to the energy project and its impacts to social, economic, Indigenous and environmental values.

The Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick (CRED-NB) is challenging the exemption for the “SMR Demonstration Project” planned for Point Lepreau on the Bay of Fundy.

CRED-NB is asking the federal government to order an impact assessment for this project which could have profound and lasting impacts on the Bay of Fundy and the coastal communities and marine life it supports.

For more information about why an impact assessment is required, please read the full request by CRED-NB to federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault,HERE

Please join us in this effort. Use our action tool to write Minister Guilbeault to support the CRED-NB request for a full impact assessment for the SMR Demonstration Project.

Your message will be sent to Minister Guilbeault, other relevant members of the federal Cabinet, your MP, leaders of the federal opposition parties, and provincial representatives in New Brunswick.

July 13, 2022 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Say “yes” to an impact assessment for nuclear experiment on the Bay of Fundy.

This is not just a New Brunswick issue. If successful, these SMRs could be deployed in hundreds of communities across the country, their radioactive waste added to our existing stockpiles for which no solution currently exists. 

Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick (CRED-NB) 15 July 22, To learn what this nuclear project on the Bay of Fundy is all about, read our request to federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault HERE. (French version HERE.)

Once again, NB Power wants to limit public input on their latest experiment. But this time it’s a nuclear experiment! We need to have a say!

The nuclear industry wants to build experimental nuclear reactors (SMRs) at Point Lepreau on the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick. They want to do it without a federal impact assessment!

This means the public will have limited input, it’s not fair and it’s not right.

Pressure from the nuclear industry lobby changed our federal environmental assessment law in 2019, exempting SMRs from undergoing a full environmental impact assessment (IA). 

We’re asking the federal government to order an impact assessment for this nuclear experiment which could have profound and lasting impacts on the Bay of Fundy and the coastal communities and marine life it supports.

Click here to use our action tool to write to Minister Guilbeault to support our request – it takes less than a minute! We’re working with the Ontario Clean Air Alliance to gather support across the country. Please use it and share!

The Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick (CRED-NB) is challenging the exemption for the “SMR Demonstration Project” at Point Lepreau on the Bay of Fundy. and asking asking the federal government to step in and order the project undergo a full, IA under the Impact Assessment Act. 

For more information about why an impact assessment is required, read the formal request to federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault HERE. (French version HERE.)

The current exemption not only erodes public involvement and oversight of the project but also means there will be no full reckoning of the alternatives to the energy project and its impacts to social, economic, Indigenous and environmental values.

In contrast, an IA is a “look before you leap” process allowing the public to weigh in on alternatives to the project, risks emanating from all stages of the project (from building to eventual decommissioning and oversight of the radioactive materials) and the project’s cumulative social, economic and environmental impacts. 

CRED-NB is asking people across Canada to support the campaign. This is not just a New Brunswick issue. If successful, these SMRs could be deployed in hundreds of communities across the country, their radioactive waste added to our existing stockpiles for which no solution currently exists. 

Please join us in this effort. Use our action tool to write Minister Guilbeault to support the CRED-NB request for a full impact assessment for the SMR demonstration project.……. more

July 13, 2022 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

We need a safer interim storage solution for Ontario’s nuclear wastes.

– Angela Bischoff, Ontario Clean Air Allance. 15 Jul 22. The International Joint Commission’s Great Lakes Water Quality Board is calling for Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) nuclear waste storage facilities to be “hardened” and located away from shorelines to prevent them from becoming compromised by flooding and erosion.

According to a report prepared for OPG, the total capital cost of building above-ground, attack-resistant, reinforced concrete vaults at the Pickering, Darlington and Bruce Nuclear Stations would be approximately $1 billion. This safer interim storage solution can be fully paid for by OPG’s nuclear waste storage fund, which has a market value of $11.3 billion.

We need a safer interim storage solution for Ontario’s nuclear wastes

The International Joint Commission’s Great Lakes Water Quality Board is calling for Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) nuclear waste storage facilities to be “hardened” and located away from shorelines to prevent them from becoming compromised by flooding and erosion.

According to a report prepared for OPG, the total capital cost of building above-ground, attack-resistant, reinforced concrete vaults at the Pickering, Darlington and Bruce Nuclear Stations would be approximately $1 billion. This safer interim storage solution can be fully paid for by OPG’s nuclear waste storage fund, which has a market value of $11.3 billion.

As our new report, A Safer Interim Storage Solution for Ontario’s Nuclear Wastesreveals this is urgent for multiple reasons:

–        The total radioactivity of the nuclear wastes stored at the Pickering, Darlington and Bruce Nuclear Stations is 700 times greater than the total radiation released to the atmosphere by the Fukushima accident in 2011.

–        OPG is currently storing these wastes in conventional commercial storage buildings.

–        According to OPG, a new off-site facility for the storage of these wastes will not be in service until 2043 at the earliest. 

       Above-ground, attack-resistant, reinforced concrete vaults will provide much greater protection against deliberate attacks and greater radioactivity containment in the event of leaks, ruptures or other incidents than conventional commercial storage buildings.

–        Building safer interim storage facilities will also create good jobs.

In Germany, six nuclear stations have hardened storage facilities. The concrete walls and roofs on these facilities are 1.2 to 1.3 metres thick. This is the kind of much safer design that Ontario should be copying as we wait for the Nuclear Waste Management Organization to find a “willing host” community to take these dangerous wastes.

What you can do

Please contact Premier Ford and Energy Minister Todd Smith and tell them that we need a safer interim storage option for OPG’s nuclear wastes. Ask them to order OPG to store its high-level radioactive wastes in above-ground, attack-resistant, reinforced concrete vaults at its nuclear stations.

July 13, 2022 Posted by | Canada, safety, wastes | Leave a comment

Problem maintenance outage at Lepreau nuclear plant adds to N.B. Power money troubles

Costly spring shutdown of Point Lepreau nears day 100

Robert Jones · CBC News  Jul 15, 2022

A troubled maintenance outage at the Point Lepreau nuclear generating station that began back in April has dragged on a month longer than planned and is adding to the financially challenged utility’s money troubles by the day.

N.B. Power expects Lepreau will be back in service sometime next week after what has turned into a 100-day outage, but with key work left unfinished. This work will require additional downtime next spring to fully complete…………………………

Point Lepreau is N.B. Power’s most important generating station, but its reliability has been a frustration since it emerged from a 4½-year, $2.4-billion refurbishment in late 2012.

In its annual reports, N.B. Power claims unscheduled outages at the nuclear plant cost the utility’s bottom line between $28,500 and $45,700 per hour depending on the time of year and market conditions, plus the cost of required repairs. 

According to filings with the New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board, Lepreau has experienced 8,000 more hours of downtime than projected since 2012, not including the current outage.

That has been a major factor in N.B. Power missing corporate profit targets for the last six years in a row and failing to execute on plans to reduce its debt load

In a third-quarter financial update released in February, N.B. Power reported its net debt hit $4.97 billion on December 31, 2021.  That’s $40 million higher than last year and $810 million above levels it had projected for itself just six years ago………………………………………


July 13, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, Canada | Leave a comment

The world’s nuclear powers need to come to the table to try and change the course of history

JOHN POLANYI, GLOBE AND MAIL, JUNE 18, 2022   John Polanyi is a Nobel laureate at the University of Toronto who has written widely on the dangers of nuclear war.

The UN Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons is law for 61 states, and it awaits ratification in 28 more, totalling almost half the countries in the world. The first meeting of these states is scheduled to take place in Vienna later this week.

Missing, however, will be every country with a nuclear weapon. Canada, a member of NATO, will also be among those not present.

This is inconsistent with our history. Was it merely by chance that Canada opposed stationing any nuclear weapons on its soil? Was it also by chance that, after a countrywide debate in 2005, we rejected the protection of U.S. national missile defence?

It seems far likelier that Canadians take a longer view of our security, believing that the better path lies in international restraint, given the devastating power of nuclear weapons. Our first priority should be to support the United Nations when it calls for the prohibition of the most destructive weapons the world has ever known.

So why, then, have we failed to support the TPNW? Is it because of conventional thinking in a transformed world?

In a single century, the nuclear age has already passed through three phases: It began with a U.S. nuclear monopoly, which was then transformed into bilateral U.S.-Soviet deterrence, and now stands at the brink of an era of multiple superpowers.

 . But it all began with science……………………………..

Today, the bipolar standoff is an even more fraught multipolar one. Satellite observation shows China approaching nuclear parity with the U.S. and Russia, and so we must prepare for a world in which one superpower tries to deter two. Can three gunmen – two of them dictators, all with a strong incentive to shoot first – survive this Wild West shootout? The stakes have never been so high, since soot from nuclear war can bring nuclear winter.

The nuclear powers have responded by speaking of “modernization,” introducing a lexicon of AI, hypersonics and cyber. But the fact is, our future depends instead on the visionaries of the new treaty, blocking the path to war with clearly criminal weapons. The Vienna meeting gives us the opportunity to change course.

June 20, 2022 Posted by | Canada, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Indigenous groups challenge New Brunswick’s costly radioactive waste legacy

Difficulty, cost of managing radioactive waste underlined by hearings, by Kim Reeder and Susan O’DonnellJune 8, 2022

The recent re-licencing hearing for New Brunswick’s Point Lepreau nuclear reactor highlighted the difficulty and cost of managing the province’s long-lived legacy of radioactive waste.

Most of the radioactive materials generated by the Lepreau nuclear facility were never found in nature before the discovery of nuclear fission 83 years ago.

The Point Lepreau facility, however, has produced – and will continue to produce – thousands of tons of these toxic radioactive materials in the form of high, intermediate and low-level radioactive waste which must be kept isolated from all living things for a period of time that dwarfs the span of recorded human history.

When the Point Lepreau reactor was first built, the materials used in the core area – the metal, the concrete, even the heavy water that fills the vessel – were ordinary, non-radioactive materials. However, these items have all been transformed into extremely radioactive material during the normal operation of the reactor.

In fact, because these materials are so toxic, once the plant is shut down, NB Power has a plan to let the facility sit for approximately three decades before dismantling it, a strategy referred to as ‘deferred decommissioning’. During this time, referred to as the ‘dormancy’ period, the radioactivity will decrease significantly. However, the radioactivity will still be sufficiently high as to require handling by robotic equipment and careful packaging so as not to deliver a lethal dose of radiation to an unshielded worker or the environment.

The second consideration is that currently, no waste disposal site exists for the Point Lepreau facility itself, which will become thousands of tons of radioactive rubble, classified as intermediate and low-level waste. By deferring decommissioning, NB Power avoids the need to store and monitor the wastes until a disposal facility becomes available. As well, they avoid potential double-handling of wastes to meet unknown future disposal facility requirements.

NB Media Co-op’s Harrison Dressler described in a previous article that during the re-licencing hearing for Point Lepreau, a main focus of the Peskotomuhkati Nation’s intervention reflected their concerns about the lack of adequate planning for the toxic decommissioning waste. The Nation is and always has been opposed to producing and storing radioactive waste on its territory, which includes Point Lepreau.

The Nation does not want the regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), to ‘approve’ NB Power’s inadequate plan and financial guarantee for decommissioning Point Lepreau.

The Nation’s expert on the topic, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility president Gordon Edwards, compared NB Power’s financial guarantee with an OECD study of dozens of reactors that have already been dismantled. In his report, Edwards notes that NB Power’s financial guarantee is less than 40 percent of what is needed according to the OECD study. Indeed, the total amount NB Power plans to set aside is more than a billion dollars less than what the OECD estimates is likely required.

NB Power’s current decommissioning plan assumes much of the decommissioning waste will be sent off-site to a licensed facility for permanent disposal. Currently no such facilities exist, which is recognized as an industry challenge.

Edwards also found that NB Power has so far made no effort to locate a repository to receive the decommissioning waste, which is solely the responsibility of NB Power and the provincial government. Without a storage site, and without adequate funding, where will it all go?

During the re-licencing hearings in May, both the CNSC and NB Power were questioned by the regulator about the unrealistic nature of their plan, considering the plan assumes there will be a permanent home for this waste – and that no plans are being made for such a facility.

CNSC staff explained that the current plan is all that is required under Canadian law, and NB Power said that because of the deferred decommissioning strategy, they have a long time to figure out a solution to the problem. Experience shows, however, that NB Power and the New Brunswick government are already late in starting the effort, if they indeed do intend to have a site approved in the 2050s. Lepreau is scheduled to be shut down around 2040.

At the CNSC hearing, the Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Inc., and Kopit Lodge – representing Elsipogtog First Nation – also raised similar concerns about radioactive waste. The Wolastoq Nations did not participate in the hearing. However, in March 2021, the traditional Wolastoq Grand Council issued a declaration against producing more radioactive waste at Point Lepreau. No Indigenous community in Canada – or elsewhere – has so far declared itself in favour of storing radioactive waste on its traditional territory.

Without a dramatic increase in the financial guarantee that NB Power must accumulate while the reactor is still earning money by selling electricity, and without a concerted effort to develop a concrete long-term strategy for New Brunswick’s radioactive waste legacy, both the Peskotomuhkati Nation and the New Brunswick population will be left with a permanent dump for radioactive waste right on the shore of North America’s Natural Wonder: the Bay of Fundy.

Kim Reeder, a senior policy analyst with the RAVEN project at the University of New Brunswick, coordinated the CNSC intervention for the Passamaquoddy Recognition Group. Susan O’Donnell, the lead researcher for RAVEN, also participated at the CNSC hearing.

June 9, 2022 Posted by | Canada, indigenous issues, wastes | 1 Comment

Canada’s nuclear waste liabilities total billions of dollars. Is a landfill site near the Ottawa River the best way to extinguish them?

Gordon Edwards, an activist and consultant with the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, accused CNL of obscuring the origin and hazardous nature of much of the waste. He said the worst of it includes cobalt-60 imported into Canada from other countries by private companies. He questioned why taxpayers should pay for its disposal.‘They’re not being up front in telling people where these wastes are coming from,”

This is big business: Ottawa sends AECL more than half a billion dollars annually to pay for remediation efforts alone.

“It’s just piled right on top of a sloping hillside surrounded by wetlands, one kilometer from the Ottawa River,” “It would be hard to come up with a worse technology and site for permanent nuclear waste disposal.

The Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ proposed site for disposing radioactive waste has opponents watching with apprehension. Here’s what you need to know about the Near Surface Disposal Facility

  GLOBE AND MAIL,  MATTHEW MCCLEARN, 6 June 22, DEEP RIVER, ONT.   One glance at Building 250 confirms that its demolition will be complicated.

Workers clad in protective gear are busy removing its asbestos cladding, which has been gridded off in orange ink into alphanumerically labelled boxes. The four-story wood structure cannot simply be knocked down with a wrecking ball. Before methodical dismantling can begin, virtually every plank, floor covering and panel must be studied and characterized.

Building 250 is one element of a multi-billion-dollar headache for the federal government. It’s among the oldest buildings at Chalk River Laboratories, 200 kilometers northwest of Ottawa, which long served as Canada’s premier nuclear research facility. Today the facility’s operator, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), is addressing the resulting radioactive waste. It has already torn down 111 buildings, but Building 250 is among the most hazardous: it contained radioactive hot cells and suffered fires that spread contaminants throughout.

CNL needs a specially designated place to dispose of this hazardous detritus. This week, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission held final hearings for its environmental review of the Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF), CNL’s proposed landfill site for radioactive waste on what is now a thickly wooded hillside at Chalk River. Its decision is expected sometime around the end of this year, and no small number of opponents are watching with apprehension.

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June 7, 2022 Posted by | Canada, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment