June 15, 2007
For Immediate Release

Nuclear Waste Dump Idea Okayed by Feds
Northern Ontario Could be Targeted by Nuclear Waste Dump Promoters

Northeastern Ontario - The federal government has accepted the nuclear industry's proposal to bury highly radioactive nuclear fuel waste created by nuclear power reactors, giving the green light for the nuclear waste owners to begin siting of the underground waste dump.

In an announcement yesterday the federal Minister of Natural Resources Gary Lunn called the approval of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization's proposal to bury nuclear fuel waste "vital to the future of nuclear energy in Canada." The lack of any safe means of managing the extremely hazardous waste over the very long time frames required - millions of years - has continued to be seen by the industry as a massive public relations problem and by the public as one of the key reasons for phasing out nuclear power.

"Giving a green light to make more waste doesn't make the current or proposed means of dealing with nuclear waste over the long term any more acceptable, and it certainly doesn't make it safe," remarked Brennain Lloyd, a spokesperson for Northwatch, a regional coalition of environmental and social groups in northeastern Ontario.

The idea of burying nuclear waste has been around for decades, but the Canadian proposal has never been demonstrated to be safe or acceptable, even after decades of research, and permanent placement of the nuclear waste underground has not been done anywhere in the world. A ten year federal environmental assessment concluded that further research should be done by an agency independent of the nuclear industry. In response to that report, the federal government created the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, comprised of nuclear industries from the provinces of Ontario, New Brunswick and Quebec.

The NWMO reported to the federal government in November 2005 with a recommendation that the government approve a proposal to bury nuclear waste. Remarkably similar to the proposal which had failed to gain environmental assessment approval a decade earlier, it is the NWMO's approach which the federal government has now okayed, 19 months after having received it.

"They messed up. They should have at least followed the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act and had a committee hearing on whether the NWMO met their legal obligations, but they did a sloppy job, just like the NWMO", commented Lloyd.

"Unfortunately, now we've got a mess for the next government to sort out, but in the meantime we might find the nuclear industry back on our doorsteps, trying to sell struggling communities on the idea of a nuclear waste dump for economic gain."

Northern Ontario was previously identified by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited as a preferred location for an underground repository for nuclear waste. The NWMO has broadened its search criteria, and considers any rock formation - not just the Canadian Shield - to be a possible location for a nuclear waste dump.

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For more information:

  Brennain Lloyd   Northwatch  705 497 0373

Announcement by Natural Resources Canada is available on-line at http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/media/newsreleases/2007/200750_e.htm
Response by the Nuclear Waste Management Organziation is available online at www.nwmo.org
 

Link to
NWMO Final Report
(November 2005)