"..The consortium proposes a “Near Surface Disposal Facility” (NSDF), a mound of one million cubic meters of nuclear waste on a hillside draining into the already highly contaminated Perch Creek wetlands, less than 1 km from the Ottawa River. This historic river supplies drinking water to wildlife along its banks and to millions of people, including those in Ottawa, Gatineau, Montreal and in between.."
The NSDF (Near Surface Disposal Facility) near Ottawa River
In 1944 the U.K, U.S. and Canada created the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) at Chalk River to produce plutonium for nuclear bombs. This facility, about 200 km northwest of Ottawa, on the banks of the Ottawa River, had numerous serious accidents in the early decades of atomic energy and weapons. Over a hundred CNL buildings now await decommissioning.
In 2015 the former Conservative Government contracted a multinational consortium of five U.K, U.S. and Canadian companies (including SNC Lavalin) to operate CNL, to dispose of waste there quickly and cheaply.
The consortium proposes a “Near Surface Disposal Facility” (NSDF), a mound of one million cubic meters of nuclear waste on a hillside draining into the already highly contaminated Perch Creek wetlands, less than 1 km from the Ottawa River. This historic river supplies drinking water to wildlife along its banks and to millions of people, including those in Ottawa, Gatineau, Montreal and in between.
Radioactive, commercial, and industrial wastes to be shipped into Chalk River
“Bulk demolition” techniques would dump radioactive equipment, building rubble, contaminated soils, drums, pails and tanks of waste into the mound. Commercial and industrial wastes - and wastes from other federal facilities - would be shipped to Chalk River.
Like a municipal landfill, the mound would have plastic liners on the bottom. Radioactive wastes would be exposed to wind, snow and rain for 50 years, then covered. A waste water treatment plant would remove some, but not all, of the toxic contaminants in the leachate.
The treatment plant would close when dumping is finished. The mound cover would deteriorate and radioactive leachate (along with mercury, lead, PCBs, dioxins, etc.) would migrate through Perch Creek into the Ottawa River.
The environmental assessment, led by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), has attracted over 200 comments, most highly critical. But CNSC has never turned down a major nuclear facility. The only remaining legal hurdle for the project is CNSC’s environmental assessment hearing, scheduled for June 2018. If CNSC approves the project, construction of the dump can begin.
Once old buildings are bulldozed into the dump and the Chalk River site is “modernized”, CNL hopes to use some of its billion-dollar/year federal subsidies to build as many as seven “small modular reactors”.
Photo of Ottawa citizens protesting the NSDF, obtained from Ottawa Riverkeeper website.
The companies now want a 10 year operating licence for the entire Chalk River site, which would allow the consortium maximum freedom to demolish buildings and build new facilities. All is being done under a heavy veil of secrecy.
Call-to-Action: Please sign the E-Petition
Please help us defeat this potentially dangerous facility by signing this petition: e-petition 1220 - it is open for signature until December 9th 2017 - and share it with your friends and family. The petition calls upon the Government of Canada to suspend environmental assessments of permanent radioactive waste disposal projects, restart these projects under new environmental assessment legislation, and replace the CNSC as, decision maker.
For more information, please visit:
Ottawa Riverkeeper: www.ottawariverkeeper.ca
Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County: www.sites.google.com/site/concernedcitizensrca/
This article was written by Ole Hendrickson, PhD., and Researcher at Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County.