For Immediate Release
November 19, 2015
Public Interest Groups Urge Federal Environment Minister:
Reject Nuclear Waste Dump
Ottawa – Calling the federal review report issued in May on a proposal to bury nuclear waste beside Lake Huron “deeply flawed”, sixty-five Canadian and U.S. public interest groups have sent a joint letter to the federal minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna, urging her to reject Ontario Power Generation’s bid to bury radioactive wastes right beside Lake Huron.
McKenna has a deadline of December 2nd to issue a “Decision Statement” under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The previous government made drastic changes to that Act, including setting strict timelines. They also gave themselves an extension to the original deadline for responding to the hearing Panel’s May 6th report so that the decision date would fall after the October 19th federal election.
Ontario Power Generation’s proposal was to bury 200,000 cubic metres of low and intermediate level radioactive wastes produced during reactor operations deep underground in a series of underground caverns carved out of limestone. Weeks before the federal hearing began in September 2013, OPG publicly acknowledged its intention to double that amount by adding decommissioning wastes - including radioactive reactor components and contaminated building materials and rubble – through a license amendment after approval based on the initial proposal has been issued.
In May of this year a panel appointed by the former Conservative federal Minister of the Environment Peter Kent and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in 2012 provided the Minister with its final report on the review of Ontario Power Generation’s proposed Deep Geologic Repository for Low and Intermediate Level Radioactive Wastes. The Joint Review Panel (JRP) recommended that the federal minister approve the proposed repository, despite the expert evidence they heard throughout the public hearings about numerous technical uncertainties, and an incomplete plan. The review panel effectively delegated the most important parts of the assessment to bureaucrats within the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, after additional research has been done.
The proposal faces large and growing public opposition. 179 municipalities representing more than 22 million people have passed resolutions opposing OPG’s proposed waste repository. On November 5, 2015, a bipartisan group of six U.S. Senators and 26 U.S. Representatives from a number of Great Lakes states wrote to Prime Minister Trudeau urging him to block the deep geological repository. On September 26, 2015 the Great Lakes Legislative Caucus, a nonpartisan group of state and provincial lawmakers from eight U.S. states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) and two Canadian provinces (Ontario and Quebec) passed a resolution opposing the OPG proposed nuclear waste repository or any nuclear waste repository in the Great Lakes Basin. The Great Lakes are the drinking water supply for 40 million people, in eight U.S. states and two Canadian provinces and numerous First Nation communities.
“These wastes have to be isolated from the environment for hundreds of thousands of years; burying them in limestone right beside Lake Huron simply makes no sense”, said Kevin Kamps a radioactive waste specialist with U.S. based group Beyond Nuclear.
“Ontario Power Generation’s experts during the hearing talked about Lake Huron being large enough to dilute radioactive wastes that leaked from the repository. That a federal hearing panel would accept using the Great Lakes for the dilution of radioactive pollution as a solution to the industry’s waste management problems robs their report of any credibility.” Said Eugene Bourgois, an area resident and the closest neighbour to the proposed dump.
“The Joint Review Panel got one thing right: they named OPG’s proposed burial plan as “precedent-setting” and described it as “likely … to assist” in the push to bury high level nuclear waste. We’ve always seen this project as the nuclear industry’s trial balloon for nuclear waste burial”, said Brennain Lloyd, a spokesperson with Northwatch.
Ontario Power Generation also holds majority control in the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, an association of provincial utilities in Canada who operate nuclear reactors. The NWMO is currently investigating nine communities as potential burial sites for high level nuclear fuel waste, including 6 in northern Ontario and three in the vicinity of the Bruce nuclear site.
This update just in from Brennain Lloyd of Northwatch and Nuclear Waste Watch:
Yesterday, our letter with 65 signing organizations went to Minister McKenna, urging her to reject OPG's nuclear waste dump.
So what's next?
The federal minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna has a deadline of December 2nd to issue a “Decision Statement” under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Still new to office (she was sworn in on November 4th) and with the Paris negotiations on the Climate Change Convention occupying centre stage, the Minister (and her staff) need to hear the message more than once that approving Ontario Power Generation's plan to bury radioactive waste beside Lake Huron is not an option. In addition to signing the Joint Letter, here's what you can do:
- Send your own letter to Minister McKenna (if you sent final comments at the end of the 2014 hearing or sent comments on the "potential conditions" produced by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, consider sending a copy of those comments as an attachment to your letter).
- Sign the petition calling on the Minister to reject OPG's nuclear waste dump
- Ask your local elected officials to contact the Minister and express concern on your behalf
- Hold an event to let others know about this issue and send the Minister a report, passing on the concerns of others who participated
- Follow the Minister on Facebook and / or Twitter and message her about OPG's plan
- If you missed signing on to the November 19th Joint Letter send us an email and we'll add you on; next week we'll send an update to the Minister's office, letting her know that more groups have signed on.
Joint Review Panel Report [very large document -- takes time to download]
[Email Nuclear Waste Watch at: email@example.com ]