NEW: Visit nukewaste.ca - Northwatch's site about nulcear waste

"You could dig a deep geological pit, I presume, store it (nuclear waste) underneath there, and that could provide protection."
The Honourable Herb Dhaliwal, Minister of Natural Resources
Presenting to Parliamentary Committee, November 2001

 
Nuclear Waste Owners On Tour
NWMO Holds"Information Centres" on Proposed Method of Siting for Nuclear Waste
Sudbury - May 25th, 2009 - Howard Johnson Hotel, 50 Brady Street - 2 pm to 9 pm

Northwatch News Release    Backgrounder     NWMO May 25th Event Details

Northwatch Hosts Workshops on Nuclear Expansion at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station
June 9-12, 2008 - Blind River, Sault Ste. Marie, Manitoulin Island and Port Elgin (June 2008)

Nuclear Industry Launches Next Search for Nuke Waste Dump (April 2008)

Dougal McCreath Accepts NWMO Appointment (2008)

Ontario goes for more nukes prior to Energy Board Review (Spring 2008)

Uranium Refinery Expands Production and Incineration (Spring 2008)

New Reactors and Waste Dump for East Shore of Lake Huron (Spring 2008)

Nuclear Waste Dump Idea Okayed by Feds - Northern Ontario Could be Targeted by Nuclear Waste Dump Promoters
(June 2007)

No Environmental Assessment of Plan to Build $40 Billion of New Nukes (Summer 2006)

City of Temiskaming Shores Passes Nuclear Waste Resolution(August  2005)

North Bay Council Passes Nuclear Waste Resolution (June 2005)

Environmentalists Challenge NWMO Radioactive Waste Plan  (May 2005)

Ontario's Nulcear Follies: McGuinty Considering Building More Reactors

North Shore Threatened with Nuclear Expansion

Rio Algom and Denison Award Contract to SGS Lakefield; Elliot Lake Field Research Station Threatened

Nuclear Waste Management Organization Releases Final Report

Ontario Opens a Summer Debate on Electricity Options

NWMO Recommends Burying Nuclear Waste

Nuclear Waste Campaign Gears Up for Federal Decision

Nuclear Waste Agency Heading for Northern Ontario

Nuclear Waste Dates to Note! November-December 2004

McGuinty Goes Nuclear - Announces Negotiations for Bruce Restart

Nuclear Waste Debate Heats Up Across Northern Ontario

ELECTION 2004: Northwatch's Candidate Survey on Nuclear Waste and Northern Ontario

Nuclear Waste Agency Using Web Site and Focus Groups to Hear from Canadians

Nuclear Waste Agency Releases Discussion Paper, Holds Sessions in Northeast

Nuclear Waste Watch - Citizens Challenge Radioactive Waste Plans

Nuclear Waste Management Organization says they are "on track" with Phase II
Discussion Paper to be Released Fall 2003

ITER Action Alert

Nuke Waste Agency Releases Plan to Produce Final Report for November 2005

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Releases Rad Waste Policy - Comment by August 1

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Funds Nuke-Waste Storage Study

Mismanagement at Yucca Mountain: Staff Reassigned to Cover Up Flaws in Project Procedure

Ontario's electricity future in jeapordy? Report cites nuke phaseout as best response

Nuke Waste Agency Launches Web Site, Northwatch Launches Nuke Waste Watch

Nuclear Fuel Waste Act Comes into Force
Feds Launch Web Site, Canadian Nuclear Industry Creates Nuclear Waste Management Organizations

Nuclear Waste and Northern Ontario - Coming Soon?

Nuclear Fuel Waste Act Bill C-27 Becomes Law

Background on Nuclear Waste in Canada

Plutonium Overhead: Mox Fuel and Northeastern Ontario

For more information ....



Ontario goes for more nukes prior to Energy Board Review

A hearing to review the Ontario Power Authority's 20 year "Integrated Power Supply Plan" is now set to get underway in early August, according to a procedural order issued by the Ontario Energy Board on April 7th.

The Ontario Power Authority filed its 4,000 page plan with the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) last fall, outlining its very modest conservation goals and its ambitious nuclear and transmission programs.

Without waiting for the outcome of the OEB review, the Ontario government has issued a bid for new nuclear reactors, saying that "the lights can't stay on without new nuclear capacity". Ontario plans to spend up to $40-billion building two new nuclear reactors and refurbishing up to half-a-dozen others over the next two decades. Four companies have been asked to submit proposals by the end of June, including Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., Areva NP, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy and Westinghouse Electric.

Northwatch is intervening in the OEB review, primarily because of concerns that the Plan places a disproportionate burden on northern Ontario. Northwatch's case will focus on a few key areas, including conservation and efficiency measures, and their ability to replace demand for new supply; generation projects proposed for northern Ontario, including and particularly new hydro-developments and biomass projects; transmission system expansions and upgrades, including and particularly proposed additions to the system that would be sited in northern Ontario but not be designed to serve northern Ontario; and nuclear extensions and expansions, including potential impacts on the north.
 

Northwatch News, Spring 2008

Nuclear Industry Launches Next Search for Nuke Waste Dump

Almost a year after having received the federal government's rubber stamp for their "Adaptive Phased Management" approach to the long term management of nuclear fuel waste, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization has surfaced again, this time with the first of its "implementation" efforts. But like a groundhog on a cold day, the NWMO poked its head up only long enough to extend and then cancel invitations to a series of national "dialogues" in which they had intended to "seek input and discussion on its plans for early implementation activities".

In mid-January the NWMO issued an invitation to a number of organizations - including Northwatch - to participate in a two day session looking at the early stages of implementing the NWMO's approach to site and then construct an underground repository for nuclear fuel waste. The sessions were canceled two weeks later when, according to the NWMO "our communications with invitees showed that a limited number were available to participate at this time in a multi-interest session".

The NWMO's "Adaptive Phase Management" approach is the nuclear industry's response to federal legislation which directed the industry to establish the Nuclear Waste Management Organization and to spend three years examining three different options for the long term management of nuclear fuel waste, including leaving the waste at the reactor site, moving it to a centralized storage facility, or creating an underground repository.

In June 2007 federal Minister of Natural Resources Gary Lunn announced their approval of the NWMO approach, saying that the approval of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization's proposal to bury nuclear fuel waste was "vital to the future of nuclear energy in Canada."

The idea of burying nuclear waste has been around for decades, but the Canadian "concept" has never been demonstrated to be safe or acceptable. 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.

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 an underground nuclear waste dump.

The NMWO has posted a "concept" paper "Preparing for Implementation" on its web site at www.nwmo.org, and has indicated that it will be releasing a draft of its five year implementation plan in mid-April, with an unspecified comment period. NWMO Board approval is expected in mid-June.

Prior to another round of planned "multi-party dialogues" in the fall of 2008, the NWMO intends to release a discussion paper outlining its proposed approach to selecting a site for the underground nuclear waste repository.
 

Northwatch News, Spring 2008

Uranium Refinery Expands Production and Incineration

Cameco Corporation has applied for an amendment to their air discharge permits for their uranium refinery in Blind River to allow an increase in production from 18,000 tonnes of uranium trioxide to 24,000 tonnes per year and changes in the refinery's "operating status", including receiving shipments from Port Hope of radioactive waste and uranium contaminated oil to be burned in the refinery's incinerator.

Northwatch identified numerous concerns during the 30 day review period in November 2007, with one of the most significant being that the Ministry of the Environment had allowed consultants for Cameco Corporation to set the limits for uranium emissions to air. In addition, the proposal to amend the permit did not appear to include a total loading or total release limit.

Northwatch has previously raised concerns about Cameco's environmental performance to both the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Ministry of the Environment. Concerns relate to worker health and safety, the environment, and public health at both of Cameco's Port Hope and Blind River facilities. In July 2007, after discovering leaks of uranium and arsenic into the soil under its conversion plant, Cameco suspended operations at its facility in Port Hope.

There are numerous examples of their poor performance at the Blind River refinery, including increases in average whole body doses, average skin doses, lung count dose rates and maximum skin doses during the licensing period, numerous excedences of the CNSC monthly action levels, and uranium concentrations in soil at the Refinery's perimeter with an average which is more than double background level.

A decision on the amendments to the permit for discharges to the air has not yet been posted on the Environmental Bill of Rights registry
 

Northwatch News, Spring 2008

New Reactors and Waste Dump for East Shore of Lake Huron

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission released draft guidelines on April 7th for the environmental review of two separate projects proposed for the Bruce Nuclear Station near Kincardine, on the eastern shore of Lake Huron.

Bruce Power Inc. and Ontario Power Generation are the proponents for the projects. Bruce Power is proposing the construction of up to four new nuclear reactors at the existing Bruce Nuclear Site, located on the eastern shore of Lake Huron, north of Kincardine. The project is expected to generate approximately 4,000 megawatts of electricity to the Ontario grid.

Ontario power Generation is proposing to construct and operate a deep-geologic disposal facility on the Bruce Nuclear Site to receive low and intermediate-level radioactive wastes, produced from the continued operation of OPG-owned nuclear generating stations at Bruce, Pickering and Darlington, Ontario. Low-level waste consists of industrial items that have become contaminated with low levels of radioactivity, during routine clean-up and maintenance activities at nuclear generating stations. Intermediate-level radioactive waste consists primarily of used nuclear reactor components - such as the ion-exchange resins and filters used to purify reactor water systems

Review participants, including Northwatch, have until June 18th to review and comment on draft guidelines for the Environmental Impact Statement. The guidelines identify the information needed to examine the potential environmental effects of the proposed project, as well as its requirements for a licence to prepare a site. A draft Joint Panel Review agreement is also available for public review. The JRP agreement deals with the establishment of an environmental review panel to perform an assessment of the project's environmental impact and of the application for a licence to prepare a site, which will be the first of a series of licences required by the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and its regulations. The documents are available at www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca

Northwatch News, Spring 2008

 
 
 
 
 


No Environmental Assessment of Plan to Build $40 Billion of New Nukes

Two wrong moves don't make it right, and, regrettably, wrong moves seem to be the only ones the Ontario Ministries of Energy and Environment are making these days in terms of electricity planning.

On June 13, Minster of Energy sent a letter to the Ontario Power Authority giving them the green light to continue development of their nuclear-laden 20 year electricity supply plan.

The day before, cabinet had passed a regulation exempting the plan from environmental assessment. So much for the "full public debate" promised by Energy Minister Dwight Duncan just a year ago, or the full environmental assessment promised by Premier Dalton McGuinty.

Regulation 275/06 first designates and then exempts the Integrated Power System Plan (IPSP) to be developed by the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) from the requirements of Ontario's Environmental Assessment Act. Initially posted simply as an information item on the Environmental Bill of Rights electronic registry, it was then re-posted to allow a 30 day comment period. Northwatch's comments outlined a rationale for why the regulation should be revoked, and why the Ontario Power Authority's Integrated Supply Power Plan should be subject to a full environmental assessment, including a hearing before a tribunal.

A day after the regulation was passed, Energy Minister Dwight Duncan released his letter to the Ontario Power Authority, directing them to proceed with planning based on the 20-year electricity supply mix  the OPA had recommended to the Minister in December 2005, with some revisions. The OPA's December 2005 "Supply Mix Advice Report" was deeply flawed, underestimating the savings available through conservation and efficiency measures, overestimating the increase in electricity that is likely over the next 25 years, shortchanging renewable energy  as a new  source of electricity, and promoting a myth that new nuclear power could actually solve Ontario's electricity problems.

According to Ministry of Energy, the OPA plan "achieves a healthy balance by moving away from coal in favour of new nuclear power and renewable energy". But the June 13th directive also announced that the phase-out of coal would be delayed indefinitely beyond the promised 2007 shutdown.

Minister of Energy Dwight Duncan also directed Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to undertake feasibility studies for refurbishing units at the Pickering and Darlington sites and to begin work for the construction of new units "at an existing nuclear facility". The Minister's letter of direction to the Ontario Power Authority stipulates that nuclear power is to increase installed in-service capacity to 14,000 mw, with nuclear power expected to be the single-largest source for Ontario's electricity in 2025

On June 29th the Ontario Power Authority released its "launch document", titled "Ontario's Integrated Power System Plan: Scope and Overview". The document outlines eight priority areas and challenges of the planning process and the first steps of the stakeholder engagement process that the OPA initiated on the same day.

The stakeholder engagement process will be structured around six "streams", focused on: Load Forecast; Conservation and Demand  Management; Supply and Transmission Integration; Local Area Reliability; Procurement Options; and the  IPSP Draft Plan

Each consultation "stream" will be kicked off by a summary presentation by webcast, followed by in-person workshop(s), and then wrapped up with a concluding presentation by the Ontario Power Authority, again by webcast. Each stream will be "informed by separate issue documents and supporting technical papers", presumably provided by the Ontario Power Authority.

In early 2007, the Ontario Power Authority intends to release a draft integrated system plan, and the public will be invited to comment, including through a series of information centres held around the province. Details are scarce on both the current "stakeholder engagement" process being used by the OPA to develop the plan, and on the eventual public consultation on the draft plan early next year, but the OPA has emphasized that it will build on "other processes (that) have addressed, or are addressing, specific aspects of electricity infrastructure" and the OPA does not want to "duplicate" these other processed, including the "Nuclear Waste Management Organization's four year process of public consultations on disposal options". Never mind that it was a three year process and that it largely consisted of focus groups selected for their lack of previous knowledge about nuclear power or nuclear waste (and just as well if the OPA doesn'tduplicate the NWMO approach!).

While the Integrated Power System Plan is now exempt from the Environmental Assessment Act, it will be subject to a more limited review by the Ontario  Energy Board. The OPA's evidence, supporting the IPSP, is expected to be submitted to the OEB in March 2007.

Northwatch has been an intervenor in the web-based sessions, including the June 29th launch session and those held since, and is seeking status as a funded participant, which would allow participation in the workshops over the summer and fall of 2007. A regional advisory group is currently being formed to provide direction for Northwatch's work in the OPA and OEB processes.
 

For more information or to become involved, email nukes@onlink.net. To learn more about the OPA plan, visit www.powerauthority.on.ca/ipsp

Summer 2006


Ontario's Nulcear Follies: McGuinty Considering Building More Reactors

As if sixteen ailing nuclear reactors and 45,000 tonnes of highly radioactive nuclear fuel waste was not enough atomic trouble, Premier Dalton McGunity is thinking of raising the nuclear stakes. Doubling them, in fact.

In a whirl-wind of last minute community "consultations" the Ministry of Energy set up show in the basement of a Sudbury hotel one mid-February evening to hear from the people of northeastern Ontario on recommendations they have received from the Ontario Power Authority on how to meet Ontario's electricity needs over the next 20 years.

"These consultations provide opportunities for Ontarians to ...share with us their views on the (Ontario Power Authority)  report," said Energy Minister Donna Cansfield in a government news release. "It's important that we hear from all Ontarians on the energy choices that are available to address the province's long-term electricity needs."

Cansfield sat quietly at the back of the room through the two hour session in Sudbury on February 17, never introduced and not even acknowledged by the professional facilitator hired to keep the show running smoothly.

And quite a show it was. The sixty or so people who managed to make it to the meeting, despite short notice and a severe winter storm, took turns lining up at two microphones to voice their concerns about the OPA recommendations to build more nuclear reactors while ignoring huge potential for energy alternatives and efficiency. Speaking to a series of slides summarizing the OPA report's world-view on a short list of pre-selected topics (including natural gas, coal, nuclear, renewables, conservation)  the group was intelligent, passionate, and impressively well informed. Environmentalists, students, farmers, renewable energy suppliers, municipal politicians and other members of the public voiced strong support for renewable energy and conservation, and harsh criticisms of the shoddy consultation process that left most people outside of the conversation. And one message was clear: no more nukes!

In December 2005 the Ontario Power Authority released its recommendations to the provincial government on Ontario's electricity mix. Asked to prepare a report providing advice to the government on how Ontario's could meet its electricity needs in the future,  the Ontario Power Authority came out with its nuclear guns blazing, recommending a $40 billion dollar investment to double Ontario's fleet of nuclear reactors.

The OPA report greatly underestimates the amount of electricity that can be saved through conservation and efficiency, and the amount that can be generated using renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. It then compounds those failings by over-estimating the amount of electricity that will be needed over the next twenty years, estimating growth in demand at almost 1%. That's twice the rate of growth since 1990 and contradicts a trend of declining electricity growth rates over the last 50 years. By combining low estimates for conservation and renewables and inflated estimates for future electricity demand, the OPA manufactures an electricity supply crisis and then offers the magic solution: safe, clean, and affordable nuclear power. Of course, the nuclear option is not safe, and its certainly not clean, and it is absolutely not affordable, but those are just more details that didn't make it into the OPA report

The OPA estimates for electricity supply from renewable energy sources are pitiful. For example, the OPA target for solar photovoltaic power is 40 megawatts by 2025. Compare this to Germany, where 40 MW of solar power is currently being installed every 6 weeks. OPA estimates for wind power excluded 1,500 kilometres of shore line with great energy generating potential to arrive at an estimate of less than half the amount of wind generation potential that has been estimated by the Canadian Wind Energy Association (the Canadian Wind Energy Association estimates that 30% of Ontario's electricity needs could be met by wind by 2025). Similarly, the OPA ignores huge potential for energy savings through conservation and efficiency measures, and set a target of only 5% for conservation, even though their own reports show a potential for seven times as much.

On the nuclear front, the Ontario Power Authority went big, recommending a $40 billion investment to double Ontario's nuclear fleet. Defying logic and history, the Ontario Power Authority report predicts that a new suite of nuclear reactors will operate at an 85% capacity factor, compared to the 51% capacity factor which has been Ontario's experience with existing reactors.
The Ministry of Energy furthers the folly in its "fact sheets" summarizing the OPA report, saying that "once built, nuclear plants can provide a constant supply of energy at stable prices". The supply may be constant when the reactors are operative, but for much of the time a good number of them are shut down for maintenance, repair, or retubing. As for prices, the one thing that nuclear power can be relied upon is to deliver electricity at a high per unit cost, and at a cost that is consistently higher than has been projected before the reactor's construction or commencement of operations. Construction of the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station, Ontario's most recent reactor build, began in 1979 with a predicted price tag of $4 billion dollars. Completed more than a decade later, the final price tag was  $14.4 billion. So if the OPA's $40 billion nuclear spending spree is translated into Darlington dollars, Ontario's tax payers and rate payers will be on the hook for $144 billion. And that just gets the reactor to start-up. Costs keep adding up when you add in the inevitable but very expensive repairs, and then continue into perpetuity as the bills roll in for the cost of managing another 145,000 tonnes of highly radioactive nuclear fuel waste.
For northern Ontario, the bad news in the OPA report is not limited to the nuclear nonsense. The OPA also opens the door to electricity imports from Manitoba, which would catalyze the building mega-dams in northern Manitoba, but also require construction of a high voltage transmission corridor from the Ontario-Manitoba border to the power-hungry markets of southern Ontario. No detailed plans have been sketched out yet - or at least none that are publicly available - but it's safe to assume that it will follow the same model as the Ontario-Manitoba Interconnection Project that was kicked around in the early 1990's. That plan featured a 500 kilovolt high voltage transmission corridor which would serve as an electricity autobahn, shooting the electrons right past northern communities, and offering no opportunity for electrictiy to be stepped down to supplement or stabilize local electricity needs, and no opportunity for electricity to be stepped up, providing transmission services for new and emerging renewable energy projects across the north.
Nuclear Junkmail

After repeated promises last year to have a full public debate before any decisions were made in favour of nuclear power, the provincial government was poised to keep its review of the Ontario Power Authority report and recommendations internal.  Then in response to pressure from environmental groups, opposition parties and others it launched a whirlwind tour of 12 cities in three days, on less than two weeks notice. The format was an open house during the day, and a two hour town hall meeting in the evening. Tightly controlled and offering limited information, the sessions drew fire across the province from people concerned with the OPA's reckless recommendations and angered by the Province's slapshot means of soliciting public comment. And while those were underway, the printing presses were hard at work, churning out $1.1 million worth of pro-nuclear junk mail. Titled "Our Energy, Our Future", the 12 page large- print-lots-of-graphics booklet started landing in the mailboxes of 4.6 million households in Ontario 3 days after the public consultations closed.

Not only does the pamphlet parrot the Ontario Power Authority's myths and misinformation about the glories of nuclear power, it is misleading in what it doesn't say: that there is no evidence to support the Ontario Power Authority's (OPA's) projection that electricity demand will grow by 20% by 2020;  that Ontario is one of the biggest per-capita electricity consumers in the world; or that because of the poor performance of Ontario's nuclear reactors, Ontario Power Generation had to increase the output of its dirty coal plants by 120% between 1995 and 2003. Even more telling, the pamphlet which is supposed to be all about soliciting the public's views on Ontario's electricity options didn't provide an email address, a phone number or a fax number, and didn't provide any deadline for public comments

Northwatch News, Spring 2006



North Shore Threatened with Nuclear Expansion

Blind River Mayor Bob Gallagher is trying to revive a 30-year-old study to build a nuclear reactor somewhere along the North Shore of Lake Huron, and is soliciting support from communities along the Highway 17 corridor from Thessalon to  Spanish. According to Gallagher, Elliot Lake has said they'll support the reactor proposal if Blind River supports a connecting link between both communities.

The Mayor of the Township of Huron Shores disagrees with Mayor Gallagher's a view that the 30 year old study would only need updating, saying that " full new approach would need to be done."

Huron Shore's council was considering passing a resolution supportng Blind River's quest for a reactor, but did not,  in part due to a delegation of cottage owners who expressed opposition to the idea.

Reportedly, Ontario Power Generation is looking at two potential sites for a new reactor, one at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station, about 70 km east of Toronto and the other at Wesleyville, just outside Port Hope.

At the same time as Blind River's Mayor is promoting a nuclear reactor for the North Shore, two federal environmental assessments are underway for expansions at the uranium refinery in Blind River.

The CNSC announced a review of a proposed expansion to the incinerator at Cameco's refinery in November 2004, to increase the capacity of the incinerator to handle contaminated "combustible by- product" from Cameco's Blind River and Port Hope operations. The installation of an oil injection system would allow the incineration of contaminated waste oil, containing small amounts of uranium that is currently stored in drums at both the Port Hope and Blind River operations.

A review was announced in July 2005  of a proposed increase to the annual licensed production capacity of the Blind River Refinery from 18,000 tonnes uranium as uranium trioxide (UO3) to 24,000 tonnes uranium as UO3.

According to the review notice "the proposed increase in annual production would be achieved by making minor process modifications to the current circuits". Cameco's documents cite "market opportunity" as the rationale for the production increase.

Northwatch News, Spring 2006



Rio Algom and Denison Award Contract to SGS Lakefield; Elliot Lake Field Research Station Threatened

Rio Algom, a subsidiary of BHP-Billiton, and Denison Mines Limited have awarded a contract for laboratory analytical work to monitor their 14 decommissioned uranium mines and 130 million tonnes of residual radioactive tailings in the Serpent River basin area to a large commercial laboratory in Peterborough, Ontario.

This move is likely to force a closure of the Elliot Lake Field Research Station (ELFRS) that was set up in 1996 by a diverse group of stakeholders to ensure that the local community was involved in monitoring the environmental effects of the closed mines.

ELFRS grew out of a federal EA panel recommendation in 1993 that said "The tailings of the Elliot Lake uranium mines present a perpetual environmental hazard - community involvement is a fundamental part of the perpetual care system".

In 2001, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Denison Mines, Denison Environmental Services (DES), was awarded a five year contract to provide comprehensive services to monitor, treat and report on the closed uranium properties of Rio Algom on behalf of Rio Algom parent BHP-Billiton. DES already provides these services for Denison. Until now, DES samples have been analyzed by ELFRS in the community of Elliot Lake.

The mining companies had set up a competitive bidding process to determine the award of the  laboratory services contract. The tender pitted the small community-based - but accredited - lab, against large commercial laboratories outside the region.

The ELFRS bid was for a total amount of $135,000/year. Assuming the bid from SGS Lakefield was 10-15% less, the savings to the  companies would be in the order of $20,000/year. The cost difference is equal to about  15 cents per  thousand tonnes of tailings being monitored. Although ELFRS undertakes work for other clients, it is unlikely  it can survive without the mining company funds.

Northwatch News, Spring 2006


Nuclear Waste Management Organization Releases Final Report
 


Ontario Opens a Summer Debate on Electricity Options

The long-awaited debate on the future of nuclear power in Ontario may be hiding behind the summer call for submission on Ontario's electricity supply mix, issued by the Ontario Power Authority in early July.

The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) was established in December 2004, with responsibilities for long-term power system planning in Ontario. On July 4th, Minister of Energy Dwight Duncan wrote to the OPA asking for their advice on the future "supply mix". The Minister has the authority under Ontario's new Electricity Act to issue overall directives for energy planning.

The Minister's request for advice includes:

The Ontario Power Authority must provide their advice to the Minister by December 1, 2005, but has set a deadline of August 26th for submissions or comments. And on July 12th the OPA issued a limited invitation to a stakeholder consultations on the procurement processes for electricity resources. The deadline for response was July 15th, with by- invitation sessions held July 26th through July 29th.

In addition to the call for written submissions or comments from "all interested parties", the OPA also issued a request for proposals for consulting services "to supplement the resources of the OPA's staff in providing advice to the Minister of Energy" on the "supply mix" for Ontario. Contracts were awarded July 27th to four consulting firms for reports on planning approaches, conservation and demand options, supply technologies and associated risks, and methods to assess the impacts on the natural environment of different generation options. No decision has been made on the awarding of a contract for the "development and management of an effective stakeholder consultation".

Environmental groups have called for a meeting with Energy Minister Dwight Duncan, and have expressed "severe reservations" about the role of nuclear power in Ontario's future supply mix.  Concerns include the prohibitive cost and poor reliability and performance of nuclear power; the enormous risks, including risks of terrorist attacks or of catastrophic accidents; the routine and accidental emissions of radioactive substances from Ontario's reactors; the environmental legacy of uranium mining; and the problem of how to safely manage radioactive wastes for up to a million years. As an alternative, the groups are encouraging the ambitious development of renewable energies as well as conservation and efficiency.

Deadline for comments or submissions is August 26th.

Northwatch News, Summer 2005



NWMO Recommends Burying Nuclear Waste

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization wrapped up its summer-time tour in North Bay on July 19th where it held the last in its series of regional "dialogues" on recommendations to bury nuclear waste.

On May 24th the nuclear waste agency released its draft recommendation on the long term management of nuclear fuel waste. Charged by the federal government with evaluating three options  - continued storage at site, centralized storage, or geological disposal - the NWMO went for Option Four, which it calls "Adaptive Phased Management". Dubbed "Option More" by Northwatch critics, the new super duper Option 4 combines all three of the options identified in the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act (2002). Like the proposal by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited that failed to gain environmental approval in the 1990's (after decades of taxpayer subsidized research), the NWMO burial scheme could see the waste in either copper or titanium containers, in either boreholes in the cavern floor or room-sized containers, at 500 to 1000 feet below the surface.

But it ups the ante of uncertainty by expanding the search area from the Canadian Shield to include Ordovician sedimentary rock, and by adding the option of a centralized shallow grade storage facility at the same location as the eventual underground repository.

NWMO sessions following the release of the draft report included eight "dialogues", ten open houses, and three focus groups. The NWMO web site includes links to an online forum on the topic of NWMO's Draft Study Report, and an online survey. Reports from the "dialogue" sessions are to be posted on the web site by mid-August.

The NWMO is accepting comments on its 300 page draft report and its recommendation of "Adaptive Phased Management" until August 31. Its final report  will be submitted to the federal government by November 15, 2005.
 

Contact Northwatch for background & campaign information or visit www.nukewaste.ca

Northwatch News, Summer 2005



Nuclear Waste Campaign Gears Up for Federal Decision

Proposals to bury nuclear waste in northern Ontario were the focus of a day-long strategy session in late November, when activists from across northeastern Ontario met with some of their national and international counterparts to begin mapping out a campaign leading up to a federal decision point anticipated for November 2005.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) was mandated by legislation passed by the federal government in 2002 to spend three years looking at three "options" for the long term management of nuclear fuel waste: continued storage of present and future stock piles of nuclear fuel waste at the nuclear reactor sites where the waste is generated and is currently stored; movement to a centralized storage site, either above or below ground; or movement to an underground "geological repository" in the Canadian Shield, a long time favourite of both the nuclear industry and the nuclear boosters in the federal government. Comprised of the primary owners of nuclear fuel waste in Canada - Ontario Power Generation, Hydro Quebec and New Brunswick Power - the NWMO will make its final report to the federal Minister of Natural Resources next November, recommending its preferred option, of the three studied.
To date, the NWMO has released two discussion documents and conducted numerous public opinion polls and focus groups. Its next report, a draft of its final report and recommendations, is expected to be released in the very near future.

Northwatch is gearing up for a campaign launch immediately following its spring meeting on April 23. Campaign components will include local coordinating groups, activities aimed at the municipal, provincial and federal levels of government, and a communications strategy that includes campaign kits, a new web site and a popular education workshop.

Working with other regional and national groups from Saskatchewan to New Brunswick, Northwatch and its campaign partners will drive home the message to federal decision- makers that burying nuclear waste is not an acceptable option, and that the phase-out of nuclear power is the first and most essential step towards building a public consensus on any long-term management approach for nuclear fuel waste.

To stay current on the nuclear waste campaign, email nuke@onlink.net or call 1 877 553 0481 and ask to be added to the Action Alert list.

Link to Campaign Leaflet(pdf)

Northwatch News, Winter / Spring 2005



Nuclear Waste Agency Heading for Northern Ontario

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization is gearing up for its third and final year before submitting recommendations to the federal government on the long term management of nuclear fuel waste.

A flurry of reports have been released since late August, including  a report from "citizens dialogues" organized by the Canadian Policy Research Networks (CPRN) on behalf of NWMO, a second "discussion document" issued by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), and a report by a "multi-disciplinary Assessment Team of 9 individuals" selected by the NWMO to do a preliminary review of nuclear waste management options, and provide advice on how a more rigorous review could be conducted. The NWMO has also announced a 35 community tour for this autumn, including sessions in Sudbury, Timmins, Rouyn and Thunder Bay.

The NWMO was mandated by legislation passed by the federal government in 2002 to spend three years looking at three "options" for the long term management of nuclear fuel waste: continued storage of present and future stock piles of nuclear fuel waste at the nuclear reactor sites where the waste is generated and is currently stored; movement to a centralized storage site, either above or below ground; or movement to an underground "geological repository" in the Canadian Shield, a long time favourite of both the nuclear industry and the nuclear boosters in the federal government.

Citizens' Dialogue Rejects Nuclear Waste Burial

The Canadian Policy Research Network's report on their National Citizens Dialogue, released in late August, contains some timely messages: the Dialogue participants don't trust government, they don't want to see the nuclear waste buried and forgotten, and they want to see an independent monitoring body consisting of experts and citizens overseeing government and industry decision- making and actions around nuclear waste. That conclusion is an echo of recommendations made in the late 1990's by an environmental assessment review panel which had spent ten years reviewing a proposal by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited to bury nuclear waste in the Canadian Shield of northern Ontario. That EA panel's recommendation that an independent agency be created to oversee research and further evaluation of long term management options was rejected by the federal government, who opted instead to create the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, which is wholly funded and operated by the utilities who operate nuclear reactors in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.

News coverage following the Citizens' Dialogue report's release characterized the "overwhelming public rejection of geological disposal deep in the Canadian Shield" as "a striking rebuff for the federal government which has been pushing that approach for more than 30 years and financed costly studies at an underground lab in Manitoba". This is the same federal government that created a Nuclear Waste Management Organization that is run by the nuclear industry to do the job the public clearly sees as needing to be handled beyond the clutches of the nuclear industry.

The report was greeted with some satisfaction among nuclear waste watchers in environmental and public interest groups, who have been concerned by the selective approach being taken by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization to public consultation, and the carry-over of that approach into the Citizens' Dialogues managed by the Canadian Policy Research Networks. To participate in a session, members of the public had to be unaffiliated with any group who has an interest in nuclear waste and its management, which could potentially exclude any affiliated with women's organizations, environmental groups, First Nations, trade unions, or churches, all of whom have expressed strong concerns about nuclear waste in the past.

Second Discussion Document Released

The NWMO's second discussion document "Understanding the Choices", proposes a way of asssesing the options for the long-term management of Canada's used nuclear fuel. Described by the NWMO as being "rooted in values and ethical considerations identified by Canadians, and the advice of technical experts", the 112 page document includes a summary of what the NWMO has heard from the focus groups and "experts" they have assembled, describes what the various management options being studied might look like, ie on-site storage, centralized storage or burial in the Canadian Shield, outlines how the framework to assess them has evolved and, and presents a preliminary assessment of the approaches for public discussion. This second discussion document will be the focus of the NWMO's consultations and activities over the next several months, including the 35 city tour.

Assessment Team Opts for Burial

Also released in late summer was the June 2004 report of an "Assessment Team" assembled by the NWMO to develop a methodology for the assessment of the various management approaches being considered by the NWMO and to perform a preliminary assessment on a number of specific options for managing nuclear fuel waste.

The 9 person assessment team's report includes a preliminary description of the strengths and limitations of three management options for used nuclear fuel – extended storage at nuclear reactor sites, centralized storage, and deep geological disposal. Reportedly, the multi-disciplinary group of individuals, who comprised the Assessment Team, did not assess each of the management options on the objectives in precisely the same way, which resulted in a wide range in scores for each of the three options. The assessment found that each of the management options has specific, and quite different, strengths and weaknesses, and no method perfectly addresses all of the values and objectives important to Canadians. However, overall, the assessment found that the deep geological repository option (burial in the Canadian Shield") is "expected to perform significantly better than the other two options, especially in the light of the long term during which any management option must perform well". The centralized storage option was said to be expected to perform significantly better than the third option of extended storage in the wastes' present location at the nuclear reactor site.

Nuke Waste Agency Coming to Town

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization is planning to visit 35 communities across Canada this fall, including two in northeastern Ontario - Sudbury and Timmins - and neighboring communities in northwestern Quebec and northwestern Ontario - Rouyn and Thunder Bay.  Sessions will be open to the public, with two visits per community. The first will be an "information session", with the NWMO returning two or three weeks later "for a full day of discussion and dialogue". Information sessions will be in Sudbury November 15th  and 16thand in Timmins on November 17th and 18th. The "dialogue and discussion" sessions will in Timmins on December 13th and in Sudbury on December 14th .

To request a copy of any of the NWMO reports or for more information about the upcoming tour, call the Nuclear Waste Management Organization at 1 800 349-4859 or email info@nwmo.ca.
 

Northwatch News, Fall 2004
Nuclear Waste Dates to Note! November-December 2004

November 15 - Nuclear WasteManagement Organization "information session" on option for the longer management of nuclear waste, including the "option" of burying the waste in northern Ontario, 6-9 p.m, Holiday Inn, 50 Brady Street, Sudbury, visit www.nwmo.ca

November 16 - Nuclear WasteManagement Organization "information session" on long term  management of nuclear waste, including the "option" of burying the waste in northern Ontario, 2- 5 and 6-9 p.m, Holiday Inn, , 50 Brady Street, Sudbury visit www.nwmo.ca

November 17 - Nuclear WasteManagement Organization "information session" on long term  management of nuclear waste, including the "option" of burying the waste in northern Ontario, 6-9 p.m, Days Inn, 14 Mount Joy Street South, Timmins, visit www.nwmo.ca

November 18 - Nuclear WasteManagement Organization "information session" on long term  management of nuclear waste, including the "option" of burying the waste in northern Ontario, 2- 5 and 6-9 p.m, Days Inn, 14 Mount Joy Street South, Timmins, visit www.nwmo.ca

November 22 - Nuclear WasteManagement Organization "information session" on options for the longer management of nuclear waste, 6-9 p.m, Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, visit www.nwmo.ca

November 23 - Nuclear WasteManagement Organization "information session" on long management of nuclear waste, 2-5 and 6-9 p.m, Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, visit www.nwmo.ca

November 24 - Nuclear WasteManagement Organization "information session" on long term  management of nuclear waste, including the "option" of burying the waste in northern Ontario, 6-9 p.m, Ogden Community Centre, 600 McKenzie Street, Thunder Bay, visit www.nwmo.ca

November 25 - Nuclear WasteManagement Organization "information session" on long term  management of nuclear waste, including the "option" of burying the waste in northern Ontario, 2-5 and 6-9 p.m, Ogden Community Centre, 600 McKenzie Street, Thunder Bay, visit www.nwmo.ca

November 27 - Northwatch Fall Meeting Workshop and Strategy Session on Nuclear Waste and Northern Ontario,  Caldwell Ellen Centre, 398 Carruthers Street, North Bay,  www.northwatch.org

December 13 - Nuclear WasteManagement Organization "discussion session" on long term  management of nuclear waste, including the "option" of burying the waste in northern Ontario, 6-9:30 p.m, Days Inn, 14 Mount Joy Street South, Timmins, visit www.nwmo.ca 6-9:30 p.m.

December 13 - Nuclear WasteManagement Organization "discussion session" on long term  management of nuclear waste, 6-9:30 p.m, Rouyn- Noranda, Quebec, visit www.nwmo.ca

December 14 - Nuclear WasteManagement Organization "discussion session" on long term  management of nuclear waste, including the "option" of burying the waste in northern Ontario, 6-9:30 p.m, Holiday Inn, 50 Brady Street, Sudbury, visit www.nwmo.ca 6-9:30 p.m.

December 14 - Nuclear WasteManagement Organization "discussion session" on long term  management of nuclear waste, including the "option" of burying the waste in northern Ontario, 6-9:30 p.m, Ogden Community Centre, 600 McKenzie Street, Thunder Bay, visit www.nwmo.ca
 




McGuinty Goes Nuclear - Announces Negotiations for Bruce Restart

The Provincial goverment  announced September 8th that it was beginning discussions with Bruce Power to restart Reactors #1 and #2 at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station in Kincardine.

There are eight nuclear reactors at Bruce Power's facility.  Reactor #2 was shut down in October 1995 and reactors 1, 3 and 4 were shut down in March 1998 because of poor performance and technical and management deficiencies. Bruce A # 3 was returned to service after refurbishment in 2003, followed by # 4 in 2004. Restart costs for Units #3 and 4 were approximately $500 million. All four Bruce B units are in operation.

In May 2001, Ontario Power Generation closed a deal with Bruce Power to operate the Bruce nuclear complex. As part of the deal, Bruce Power has no long-term responsibility for radioactive waste management or decommissioning. On December 24, 2002, a new Canadian consortium announced the purchase of Bruce Power from British Energy. The group consists of Cameco Corporation, TransCanada Pipelines Ltd., and BPC Generation Income Trust, part of the OMERS pension fund.

The Ontario government has engaged David Santangeli, a managing director of Energy Fundamentals Group Inc. (EFG), to develop a team to advise them through negotiations with Bruce Power.

Northwatch News, Fall 2004



Nuclear Waste Debate Heats Up Across Northern Ontario

Coincident with the federal election campaign, an out-of-nowhere proposal from some Timmins municipal and business leaders to establish a nuclear waste "research facility" in the Timmins area has sparked afresh the debate over schemes to make northern Ontario a dumping ground for high level nuclear waste. Election candidates, northern Mayors, provincial politicians and local and regional citizens groups all joined the fray.

The firestorm was touched off when Timmins City Councillor Gary Scripnick invited the Nuclear Waste Management Organization to town in late May to petition the Nuclear Waste Management Organization to build a nuclear research facility in Timmins. The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) was created by the federal government in 2002 to evaluate options for the long term management or nuclear fuel waste, including "geological disposal" or burial in the Canadian Shield, a centralized storage facility, or continued management in current locations at nuclear generating stations.

Scripnick had first distinguished himself when he appeared as a private citizen before the federal environmental assessment  review panel in 1997 and declared that "they (Atomic Energy of Canada Limited) have decided that burying it in the ground is probably the safest way of (dealing with nuclear waste), I would like to say, yes, that's true and let's go on to siting".

Presumably on the basis of this enthusiasm, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization put Scripnick on the list for a by-invitation-only regional "dialogue" session in North Bay in March of this year, where Scripnick again sang the praises of the nuclear industry and bemoaned the public's lack of enthusiasm for all things nuclear.

An unadvertised meeting between the Nuclear Waste Management Organization and the Timmins area nuclear booster club was held on May 26. Scripnick and associates seized the opportunity to pitch the idea of a Timmins-based nuclear research facility to the NWMO, and the notion of hundreds of high-paid jobs and a fat federal budget to their townsfolk.  To their credit, the NWMO spokesperson attending the meeting clarified that the agency was not looking for a research facility, and that "Timmins or any place with an abandoned mine is not a preferred location for a nuclear waste storage facility". To their discredit, the NWMO agreed to a meeting that was by no means public, and has excluded any mention of it from their calendar of events. Not quite the "transparent and open" process they boast of.

In response to the developing controversy, Minister of Northern Development and Mines Rick Barolucci, MPP for Sudbury, declared that Northerners will "raise hell" if the federal government pursues a proposal to bury radioactive nuclear waste in the Canadian Shield.

"My plan for northern prosperity does not include storing Toronto's garbage or storing somebody else's radioactive material in Northern Ontario," Bartolucci said. "Northern Ontario is not the radioactive dumping ground for different jurisdictions."

Premier Dalton McGuinty is at least giving tacit support to his northern Minister's position, saying that "we (Ontario) intend to have our say when it comes to the federal government decision on that front."

"Obviously, if you start to transport the stuff out of existing communities, there are dangers connected with transportation and relocation, so we'll make sure we get our say when it comes to that," McGuinty said.

Mayors of the five largest centres in Northern Ontario have been more definite, expressing unanimous opposition to a nuclear waste dump in northern Ontario. At a recent meeting of Timmins City Council Mayor Vic Powers reiterated that position, saying the possibility of a nuclear research facility or storage site in Timmins is a dead issue.

"I think we can lay all your fears to rest. Even if the city wanted this, it's not going to happen," Power told local residents presenting to council.

"The risks are too great and the price tag is too high. There is no deal to strike here", says Councillor Yves Malette. "The nuclear waste project needs to be dumped immediately and forever."

Timmins council, however, remains divided. While the Mayor and Councillor Yves Mallette have both spoken out against any projects that would bring nuclear waste to the region, others say they are still undecided or, like Gary Scripnick, support creating a new nuclear waste industry in the area.
Federal Candidates Oppose Nuke Dump
Federal candidates surveyed about nuclear waste expressed strong opposition to any proposal to bury nuclear waste in northern Ontario and responded overwhelmingly in support of a full environmental assessment and parliamentary debate before any decisions are made.

The survey canvassed federal candidates' views on support for a full environmental assessment on each and any option being considered for the long term management of nuclear waste, on phasing out nuclear power to avoid continued waste production; community involvement in any future decisions about transportation routes or siting of waste repositories, and  support for  a full debate in Parliament prior to the Government of Canada making its final decision on a "preferred" option for the long-term management of nuclear fuel waste. Candidates with the Conservative, Green, Liberal and New Democratic parties in the 6 ridings in northeastern Ontario were canvassed. Seventeen of the 24 candidates responded, with fifteen candidates completing the survey. Responses were received from all 6 NDP candidates, 5 of the 6 Green candidates, 3 of the 6 Liberal candidates, and only one Conservative candidate. The responses have been summarized and posted at www.northwatch.org.

Of the successful candidates, new NDP members of parliament Charlie Angus of Timmins-James Bay and Tony Martin of Sault Ste. Marie both expressed strong opposition to the use of northern Ontario as a dumping ground for nuclear waste, as did Liberal rookie Anthony Rota, elected to represent Nipissing- Timiskaming and Liberal incumbent Ray Bonin, representing Nickel Belt.  Liberal incumbents Diane Marleau, representing Sudbury,  and Brent St. Denis, MP for Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, both refused to respond.
Nuclear Industry Carries On
The nuclear industry has continued to keep itself busy, with the Joint Waste Owners Group recently releasing "conceptual designs" as well as cost estimates for the 3 options the NWMO is required to consider. The Joint Waste Owners Group consists of Ontario Power Generation, Hydro-Quebec, New Brunswick Power, and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. Reportedly "anticipating their responsibilities under the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act" they got to work back in 2001 - a year before the Act was passed - to develop the conceptual designs and engineering cost estimates.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization - consisting of all of the same groups in the Joint Waste Owners Group, minus Atomic Energy of Canada Limited - launched a "third party review" of the designs and cost estimates, and released their review on June 4. The two month review was conducted by ADH Technologies Inc., who self-describe as being well known for their work in the nuclear industry and "experienced in the development and management of major nuclear projects up to the billion dollar range". Not surprisingly, ADH found that their colleagues in the JWO had done a fine job, concluding that "all of the conceptual designs are credible and technically feasible", and that "design details are consistent with the ‘conceptual' nature of the work" with "no reason to suspect that an appropriate ‘final design' could not be developed for an approach selected from the designs reviewed."

The NWMO's second discussion document, "Understanding the Choices", will be released later this summer. Its release, according to the NWMO, "will be followed by an intensive period of public examination and critique leading to development of draft recommend- ations in early 2005."

Northwatch News Summer 2004



ELECTION 2004: Northwatch's Candidate Survey on Nuclear Waste and Northern Ontario

Nuclear Waste Survey - Candidates' Responses

For Immediate Release
June 24, 2004 - Distributed at 12 noon

Candidates Opposed to Nuclear Waste Burial Scheme
North Bay - Federal candidates surveyed about nuclear waste and its possible import to northern Ontario for burial in the Canadian Shield have responded overwhelmingly in support of a full environmental assessment and parliamentary debate before any decisions are made. They expressed strong opposition to any proposal to bury the extremely radioactive material in northern Ontario, as has previously been proposed by the nuclear utilities, including Ontario Power Generation.

"Each and every respondent expressed concern about the prospects of nuclear waste being buried in northern Ontario, and that's a concern that voters share across the region", said Brennain Lloyd, survey coordinator for Northwatch.

The survey was conducted by Northwatch, a regional coalition of environmental and social development organizations in northeastern Ontario. The four questions canvassed federal candidates' views on support for a full environmental assessment on each and any option being considered for the long term management of nuclear waste prior to a final decision being made, on phasing out nuclear power to avoid continued waste production; community involvement in any future decisions about transportation routes or siting of waste repositories, and  support for  a full debate in Parliament prior to the Government of Canada making its final decision on a "preferred" option for the long-term management of nuclear fuel waste.

Northwatch surveyed candidates with the Conservative, Green, Liberal and New Democratic parties in the 6 ridings in northeastern Ontario. Seventeen of the 24 candidates canvassed responded, with fifteen candidates completing the survey. Responses were received from all 6 NDP candidates, 5 of the 6 Green candidates, 3 of the 6 Liberal candidates, and only one Conservative candidate.

"We're disappointed that all the candidates didn't see this as a priority issue for voters in Northern Ontario. The federal government is going to be making an important decision on this issue 18 months from now - a decision which could kick-start the search for a nuclear dump site in northern Ontario -  and people in this region deserve to know where candidates stand" commented Lloyd.

"It's not clear whether the Conservatives are disinterested or just disorganized, but in either case it doesn't bode well for northeastern Ontario if they should manage to seize the wheels of power, given they can't manage to steer their way through a straightforward set of questions about nuclear waste."

Candidates' responses have been summarized and posted on Northwatch's web site at www.northwatch.org.

- 30 -

For more information please contact:

                        Brennain Lloyd                           705 497 0373
 

Summary of Candidates' Responses

Liberal Party Response (Received June 24, 2004 - 2:28 p.m.) pdf

NDP Party Response (Received June 24, 2004 - 2:37 p.m.) word

Northwatch's Candidate Survey on Nuclear Waste and Northern Ontario (pdf)
 




Nuclear Waste Agency Using Web Site and Focus Groups to Hear from Canadians

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization is proceeding along its predictable path, generating positive reports summarizing initial feedback on their first discussion document "Asking the Right Questions", and launching a national advertising campaign of unspecified content.

Much of the NWMO focus continues to be on its web site, deemed by the agency to be its primary tool for "consulting with Canadians". New on-line are two "deliberative surveys", with two more to be available soon..

Also available on the web site is a new report by Navigator, a consulting firm used by the NWMO in its start up phase to solicit from Canadians expressions of their lack of knowledge about nuclear waste and preference that such matters be handled by "experts". The most recent Navigator product is a good news story for the NWMO: given two hours to read the 88 page document and respond in a discussion group, Canadians "from among the general population" had a positive response to the NWMO Discussion Document and the approach being taken by the NWMO and felt that the NWMO Framework  reflects their values. Navigator also reported that "knowledge and intensity on the issue of managing nuclear waste continues to be low" but that "some cynicism about waste management continues". No surprises there.

Northwatch News, Spring 2004



Nuclear Waste Agency Releases Discussion Paper, Holds Sessions in Northeast

Canada's newest nuclear agency, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, is taking its message to communities in Northern Ontario, as well as across the country. Determining what exactly the message is requires something of a judgement call. If the NWMO's November 2003 Discussion Document bold face titles are to be taken at face value, the message is "tell us what you think". But the counter message that runs through the report and various other NWMO efforts reads more as one of "but don't think too much".

Created under the federal Nuclear Fuel Waste Act, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization is a creature of the nuclear industry, charged with a 3 year task of examining and then recommending one of three options for the long term management of nuclear fuel waste. The options are: the same tired concept touted by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited for the last 30 years of burying the waste in the Canadian Shield; a centralized storage facility, either above of below ground; and what many consider the default option of leaving the waste at the reactor sites where it is now kept and continues to be generated.

Launched in November 2002, almost five years after a federal environmental assessment of Atomic Energy of Canada Limiteds's "geological concept" concluded with recommendations that an agency be created independent of the nuclear industry, the NWMO has the waste producers as its board of directors, including Ontario Power Generation's Richard Dicerni as chair, and OPG (formerly Ontario Hydro) bat boy for geological disposal Ken Nash as vice chair, with New Brunswick Power and Hydro Quebec also filling seats at the table.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization has only recently looked to northeastern Ontario as part of its "consensus building" exercise on the long term management of nuclear fuel waste. In December 2003, NWMO consultants slipped into North Bay for a quiet focus group with a "cross section of ... randomly selected Canadians as identified by independent public attitude research firm". Late February will see a similar effort in Sudbury with a "Citizens Dialogue" of the same "randomly selected Canadians as identified by independent public attitude research firm". And in March, a regional workshop will be held in North Bay - one of four across the country. The "regional dialogues will bring together representatives of organizations which have a record of participation in nuclear and other public policy discussions." A by-invitation-only event, according to the email invitation, "the Ontario dialogue will engage participants representing the environment, youth,science, education, energy, health, labour, business, as well as aboriginal, consumer, religious, and social/cultural interests. The task of the regional dialogues is to assist the NWMO in defining concerns, gathering knowledge and engaging in discussions on issues related to the NWMO's task, and described in the discussion document: Asking the Right Questions".

Current efforts of the NWMO are geared at getting feedback on their discussion document "Asking the Right Questions?", the first of 3 "milestone documents". A second discussion is expected in late summer. The November 2003 report provides a brief and very general summary of nuclear fuel waste, its source and current management, and is even briefer in recounting various reviews and policy spins that preceded the agency's existence.

While not expected to be a detailed account of all things nuclear, the report is often most disturbing in its simplification: the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended World War II, all of the nuclear fuel waste in Canada will fit in less than five hockey rinks, and a year out of the reactor and the bundles of nuclear fuel waste emanate the heat roughly equivalent to a 60 watt light bulb. And, of course, nuclear power has played an important part of Canada's electricity supply. Missing is any note of the absence of any national energy policy or national debate on the continued use of nuclear power, and notably absent is any acknowledgement that the NWMO itself, as an agency fully in control of the nuclear waste producers, runs directly counter to the recommendations of the Federal Environmental Assessment Review Panel.

The 10 year Federal EA concluded that the AECL concept had not been demonstrated to be safe and acceptable, had numerous serious technical deficiencies, and that an independent agency that is arms length from the nuclear industry should be created to support future examinations of nuclear waste management options. The Nuclear Fuel Waste Act, in contrast, created an industry-only agency to manage the debate in Canada and recommend a "preferred" option after 3 years.

The NWMO report directs readers to 10 "key questions", which have a parallel survey on-line at www.nwmo.org. Also on-line are 5 workshop reports and 35 background papers commissioned by various experts and academics, as well as forums for posting comments on the discussion document. Hard copies can be requested by calling 1 866 249 6966.




News Release NUCLEAR WASTE WATCH / ACTION DÉCHETS NUCLÉAIRES
For release Monday March 1, 2004

CITIZENS CHALLENGE RADIOACTIVE WASTE PLANS

Toronto — Leaders of Nuclear Waste Watch, a national coalition of 34 citizens groups, are meeting in Toronto for 2 days, and will meet with the President of the industry-dominated Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) on March 3rd.

Nuclear Waste Watch opposes the continued production of high-level radioactive waste, which remains deadly for millions of years. The safety and acceptability of the nuclear industry proposal for burial in the Canadian Shield has not been demonstrated. The current 40,000 metric tonnes of high-level radioactive waste in Canada will more than double unless nuclear power is phased out. In 1998, after a ten-year review, a federal environmental panel recommended the creation of an impartial radioactive waste agency. Instead, in 2002 the Chrétien cabinet gave control of the NWMO exclusively to the nuclear industry: Ontario Power Generation, Hydro-Québec, and New Brunswick Power.

“The nuclear industry cannot be trusted to make an objective recommendation on radioactive waste” said David H. Martin, Policy Advisor for the Sierra Club of Canada.

Dr. Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility stated, “The nuclear industry has been showered with federal subsidies, yet no industry has been less accountable to the Canadian public and their elected representatives.”

Brennain Lloyd, Coordinator of Northwatch, a coalition of groups in north-eastern Ontario said, “The nuclear industry spent over $600 million to make the case for burial of radioactive waste in the Canadian Shield, but citizens are being asked to critique these plans with no resources.”

The NWMO is mandated to recommend its preferred option for high-level radioactive waste management to Cabinet by November 2005. Nuclear Waste Watch is calling for a full-scope federal/provincial environmental assessment process, with wide-ranging public hearings, as well as a free vote in the House of Commons on radioactive waste management options and on the NWMO recommendation.

– 30 –

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
David H. Martin
Sierra Club of Canada
Tel: 905-852-0571
Gordon Edwards
Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility
Tel: 514-489-5118
Brennain Lloyd
Northwatch
Tel: 705-497-0373

Nuclear Waste Watch Position Paper

Vist Nuclear Waste Watch's web site



Nuclear Waste Management Organization says they are "on track" with Phase II
Discussion Paper to be Released this Fall

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization claims to be "on track" and in Phase II of their anticipated four phase program, with their end product being a report to Parliament in November 2005 recommending their preferred option for the long term management of nuclear fuel waste.

To date, Phase II has included web site postings  workshops on future scenarios in July and August with "multi-interest teams" of unknown identities (except for the one astronaut whose picture made it to the NWMO newsletter). A "dialogue" forum with what the NWMO refers to as nuclear host communities is in the planning stages, as is a traditional knowledge workshop, both with the now familiar NWMO traits of unknown dates, locations or participants.

In what the NWMO describes as a key milestone, the first major NWMO discussion document will be released some time later this year.

The release date is unavailable, as are details of the "number of specific topical meetings, workshops and sessions" which the NWMO says will follow its release.

According to the Nuclear Waste Management Organziation's web posting, the discussion document will "describe various management approaches being considered and outline the key questions that might be used to assess them."  A preliminary description of the approach being taken to develop the analytical framework has been posted on the NWMO website, as have the titles of 30 different discussion papers commissioned by the Organization as part of its Phase II activities (only six are available on-line as NW News goes to print, but only the most determined of web site visitors would plunge the four layers deep through the virtual paper pile to discover the "will be available for download soon" message attached to 80% of the commissioned papers).

To date, NWMO references exclude Northern Ontario, despite the prevailing expectation of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization member utilities that the nuclear fuel waste will be coming to the northern Ontario for burial. Even the passing references in NWMO materials belie those intentions, with cozy mentions chats of "with nuclear workers in Quebec or citizen representatives in New Brunswick" and announcements of good intentions to hold workshops in the nuclear reactor communities of southern Ontario.

Northwatch has written to the NWMO for clarification on several points of their work plan, including release date of the NWMO discussion document expected some time this year. In the interim, Northwatch continues to work with other public interest organizations in responding to nuclear initiatives, including those related to nuclear fuel waste and its long term management.

Northwatch News, Fall 2003


ITER ACTION ALERT!
TAKE ACTION TO SUPPORT GREEN POWER, NOT NEW NUCLEAR PLANTS:

Tell Prime Minister Chretien that we don't need to spend $19 million on the proposed 'ITER' fusion reactor when we have proven green solutions available today. For more information, go to: www.iter.ca
 


Nuke Waste Agency Releases Plan to Produce Final Report for November 2005

Shortly after releasing a report which describes Canadians as uniformed and even indifferent to nuclear waste and its long term management, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization outlined its plans to consult and engage Canadians on options for the long term management of nuclear fuel waste. The plan was first unveiled during a speech to the Canadian Nuclear Association, and through posting on the NWMO web site.

The NWMO's first report simply titled "Report on Discussion Group Findings" describes the Canadian public as holding "anti-nuclear attitudes largely shaped by shows like The Simpsons", and says that when Canadians in seven cities were asked about nuclear waste, they were so uninformed they couldn't discuss disposal options intelligently. The report concluded that Canadians  preferred to hand the waste decision over to "some sort of arm's-length agency, like the NWMO", rather than make any major effort to become informed on such a complex issue. The report claims that participants were "chosen for their news awareness or involvement with current issues" which suggests that the NWMO consultants used a fairly careful screening process to assemble the 14 different focus groups in 7 different cities. No focus groups were held in northeastern Ontario, the area most likely to be sited with a nuclear waste dump if the "geological disposal" option is selected.

Seemingly without missing a beat, NWMO president Elizabeth Dowdeswell then unveiled the NWMO's consultation plan at the annual meeting of the Canadian Nuclear Association, saying that the agency is planning an extensive citizen engagement process, relying heavily on its Web site. In a speech to the Canadian Nuclear Society in early June, Dowdeswell emphasized that all options are on the table, and that the NWMO's work will be "rigorously neutral."

"I am neither an advocate nor an apologist for the nuclear industry," she said. However, Dowdeswell is well known for her support of fusion research, and sits on the board of ITER Canada - a detail that does not appear in the bio provided by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization.

The NWMO "study plan" includes four phases, with the agency now in Phase 2 "Exploring the Fundamental Issues" (Phase I apparently consisted of a series of "informal conversations", including the focus groups and a series of private meetings). While the web site's presentation of the study plan is big on graphics and the presentation of study plan milestones, its short on the substance or explicit descriptions of what is to happen and how the public will be engaged. The NWMO "begins to explore" issues through "a number of activities"to "provide an information base for dialogue". A collection of background papers by "recognized experts" will be commissioned to present "factual information on the current status of nuclear fuel waste and the context for its long-term management" and the NWMO will "begin to develop a preliminary framework for analyzing and assessing the alternative management approaches".

The study plan describes activities leading to the release of a first "Discussion Document" as "designed to engage expert advice and assistance and to allow for in-depth citizen dialogue and deliberation", and lists an expert round table on ethics, a multi-interest workshop to develop scenarios, a workshop to draw on aboriginal wisdom (traditional knowledge), a dialogue forum for existing reactor site communities, a meeting of international experts, and, of course, the "views of all Canadians will be sought through the NWMO web-site". Web site plans are for a survey, background papers for review and comment, and an "e-dialogue".

No actual timeline is provided, although a graphic suggests that the first Discussion Document will be released in late 2003, towards the end of Phase 2.

The third phase of the "study plan" will consist of an "Evaluation of Management Approaches", and will include an assessment of the management approaches, to be presented in NWMO's Discussion Document 2, expected mid-year, 2004. A draft Study Report will be released in early 2005, and will provide for formal public comment and review NWMO's recommendation for a long-term management approach for nuclear fuel waste. The NWMO's final report and recommendations are required by November 15, 2005.

Nuclear Notes - July 2003
         PDF Version of Nuclear Notes - July 2003

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Releases Rad Waste Policy

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has issued a draft regulatory policy, on managing radioactive waste. A notice posted on the Commission's web site states that "the proposed policy describes the principles that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission will take into account when making regulatory decisions that concern the management of radioactive waste". The policy "expresses the CNSC's commitment to consulting and cooperating with other national and international agencies to promote consistent national and international standards for radioactive wastes and to achieve conformity with measures of control and international obligations to which Canada has agreed with respect to radioactive waste".

Comments are required by August 1, 2003. Copies of the draft policy are available at www.nuclearsafety.gc.ca or by calling 613 947 3981 and asking for a copy of "P-290 Managing Radioactive Waste.

Visit Posting on the CNSC Web Site

Nuclear Notes - July 2003

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Funds Nuke-Waste Storage Study

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is paying for the study of water in the depths of the Con Mine in Yellowknife, NWT, to "better understand the risks of storing nuclear waste underground". According to media reports, the CNSC considers the Con Mine to be an ideal laboratory to learn about "safe" nuclear-waste disposal because of the mine's age, depth and the amount of geological information available. But commission spokesperson Michel Cleroux says Con is not being considered for a nuclear-disposal site.

"Our only purpose is to ensure that we have the knowledge to make sure that when anyone comes to us with a plan or a proposal that we will have the scientific knowledge sufficient to make a good, sound judgement," Cleroux says.

Cleroux says the commission needs the information because it's responsible for licencing disposal sites for spent fuel from nuclear reactors.

Nuclear Notes - July 2003

Mismanagement at Yucca Mountain: Staff Reassigned to Cover Up Flaws in Project Procedure

In an apparent effort to stifle any criticism of the effort to establish Nevada's Yucca Mountain as the main American repository of high-level nuclear waste, Yucca project managers from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) reassigned three of four members of a "quality assurance" review team following their discovery of flaws in the project's work procedures. They were reassigned from their positions on the quality assurance review team for the Yucca contractor Navarro Research and Engineering after they uncovered faults in the Yucca project work procedures that were being revised by Bechtel SAIC, a top contractor for the proposed repository.

Another Yucca quality insurance auditor, Jim Mattimoe, was fired after he raised criticisms of the way in which project concerns were handled. A review by the U.S. Department of Labor ultimately determined that his firing had been unfair.

"I have seen many times when issues are put aside or dismissed," said Bill Belke, a recently-retired NRC oversight officer for the Yucca project, to the Las Vegas Sun. "This creates a chilling effect on the project," Belke added. "People are afraid of retaliation and retribution. It's unhealthy. And it's not good for the program." Belke had worked on the project for 15 years prior to his retirement.

Yucca Mountain, located 80 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada, is the only site under consideration for a proposed repository to store 77,000 tons of high-level radioactive waste from U.S. weapons sites and commercial nuclear reactors.  Although Congress capitulated to the nuclear industry's powerful pro-Yucca lobby and voted to overturn Nevada's veto of the dangerous dump, numerous scientific, economic and policy problems continue to plague the Yucca Mountain Project.

Nuclear Notes - July 2003
Full Story from Public Citizen

Ontario's electricity future in jeapordy? Report cites nuke phaseout as best response

Ontario will lose about 35 per cent of its electricity supply over the next 10 or 15 years as the province's nuclear-power plants reach the end of their lifespans, a report released mid-July says. That leaves the province with the options of spending billions to replace the plants or embarking on aggressive conservation and efficiency programs.

"The crisis is looming and it will make what we've been through this summer look like a Sunday school picnic if we don't start addressing it now," said Ralph Torrie, who wrote the report for the group Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout.

The report says the province could phase out both their nuclear and coal plants.Because Ontario is forced to rely on it five coal-fired plants whenever its nuclear reactors are out of service, it has been almost impossible for the province to get rid of its smog-spewing plants.

Critics argue nuclear plants are notoriously unreliable, potentially dangerous, and the radioactive waste they produce makes them anything but environmentally friendly.
The report says Ontario could reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 75 per cent from electricity production by 2020 through a program that phases out both coal and nuclear plants.

That would mean losing about 60 per cent of the current domestic production in Ontario.

However, savings of 50 per cent in consumption could be achieved with more energy efficient appliances, homes and buildings. New wind, solar and other environmentally friendly generation sources would ensure an adequate supply, the report says.

The report cites astronomical cost overruns at the province's nuclear plants and their poor performance as being at the core of Ontario's electricity problems. Eight of 20 reactors were laid up between 1995 and 1998 for safety reasons and getting them back online has proven costly and difficult.

Reprinted in part from July 16, 2003 Edmonton Journal.  Visit www.cnp.ca for a copy of the report.

Nuclear Notes - July 2003


Nuke Waste Agency Launches Web Site, Northwatch Launches Nuke Waste Watch

Almost three months after its creation through the Nuclear Waste Management Act, the nuclear industry's newest agency has sprung into virtual existence with the launching of its new web site at www.nwmo.org. With all the bells and whistles a well paid webmaster can provide, the web site includes a few dozen pages worth of printed material at the time of its January 31st launch, but few of the posted items differed from that already posted on the federal government's sister site, and none provided a reliable  indications of where the NWMO is going or how they intend to get there.

One new item is the statement of "Vision, Mission and Values", which assures us that the NWMO will operate with integrity, excellence, engagement and accountability. All well and good. Interestingly, the "mission" of the NWMO is to "develop collaboratively with Canadians a management approach for the long term care of Canada's nuclear fuel waste", which seems at odds with the dictates of the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act which directs a fast-tracked examination of 3 already selected options for nuclear waste management. A ten year federal environmental assessment concluded in its 1998 final report that the federal government and the nuclear industry's preferred option of geologic disposal was not  acceptable to the  Canadian public.

Northwatch has  launched its own  Nuclear Waste Watch  with a toll free hotline  at 1-877-553-0481.

February 2003

Nuclear Fuel Waste Act Comes into Force
Feds Launch Web Site, Canadian Nuclear Industry Creates Nuclear Waste Management Organizations

The federal government's  Nuclear Fuel Waste Act came into force on November 15th, signaling the start of a new era in nuclear fuel waste "management", and potentially the kick start of the search for a disposal site for a million bundles of highly radioactive nuclear fuel waste. The Nuclear Fuel Waste Act places the nuclear industry in the driver's seat, as controlling interest in the new Nuclear Waste Management Organization, reportedly launched on the same day.

It was a quiet start for the new multi-million dollar agency. In late October, a Natural Resources Canada news release announced the new organization to "manage" the highly radioactive nuclear fuel waste would be launched on November 15th, coincident with the enabling legislation coming into force. In announcing the new organization and a new Natural Resources Canada web site, the federal government weakly described the status of the new organization: "Efforts are being made to ensure that this entity is ready to take on these responsibilities upon the coming into force of the legislation."

Late in the day of November 15th, the Natural Resources Canada new web site, the "Nuclear Fuel Waste Bureau"came on-line, displaying some background information on the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act and describing the newly created Nuclear Fuel Waste Bureau's mandate in support of the Minister of Natural Resources in the Minister's discharging of his responsibilities under the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act. The opening page of the web site proclaims itself to be "dedicated to informing all stakeholders, particularly the public, on planned and current nuclear fuel waste management activities ... in accordance with the principles of openness and transparency". However, none of the actual programs are described, no description of planned activities provided, and no timeline included.

The newly created Nuclear Waste Management Organization is even more elusive. Aside from two news releases posted on a commercial news service - with links provided from the Nuclear Fuel Waste Bureau - the new organization has no discernable presence, in either the physical or virtual worlds. Internet searches yield nothing in terms of the new organization's intentions or planned activities, and to date they are operating with an unlisted number and an unidentified board of directors. The media contact phone number rings through to an office in Ontario Power Generation (formerly Ontario Hydro). Despite the current invisibility, the new Nuclear Waste Management Organization has managed to appoint a president, name members to an advisory council, recruit members to its board, and perhaps more.

According the NWMO news releases, "among the first activities for the organization will be a study of long-term management approaches for used nuclear fuel, including the design of an innovative and wide-ranging program of public consultation .... Within three years of the legislation coming into force, the NWMO is to submit to the Minister of Natural Resources proposed approaches for the management of used nuclear fuel." The Nuclear Fuel Waste Act allows the federal cabinet to decide on which approach will be adopted, and cabinet's choice will then be implemented by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization.

Northwatch's Nuclear Notes (November 2002) pdf

Natural Resources Canada's Nuclear Fuel Waste Bureau


Nuclear Waste and Northern Ontario - Coming Soon?

With the launching of the new Nuclear Waste Management Organization, Northwatch has publicly expressed concerns about what may lay ahead for communities across northern Ontario, and has cautioned municipalities and others to be wary of "nuclear waste salesmen" which Northwatch fears may soon be peddling nuclear waste disposal as a get-rich- quick scheme for cash strapped municipalities.

The new Nuclear Waste Management  Organization has three years to study  three options: continued storage of the  waste at each of the nuclear stations  where it was created, moving all of the  waste to some form of centralized storage, or a scheme called "geological disposal", ie burying the extremely hazardous materials in the rocky northern bush.

Since the 1970's, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited has been researching and promoting a "concept" of disposing of nuclear fuel waste by burying it in the Canadian Shield. In the late 1970's and early ‘80's they investigated a number of northern Ontario communities - Massey, Atikokan, Kirkland Lake, Bancroft - as possible disposal sites, and did "research" near Atikokan and Massey, drilling the rock formations, with uncertain results. What was certain was that AECL's efforts were not welcomed by local residents. In Massey, a referendum was held, and 88% expressed opposition to AECL's "research" efforts.

The AECL burial concept was the subject of an 10 year federal environmental assessment review and  a 13 month hearing. The review ended in March 1998 with the Panel concluding that the AECL concept had not been demonstrated to be safe, and that the Canadian public did not support the concept of  burying nuclear waste.

When the federal review began in 1988, AECL was undecided about many aspects of their proposal. The wastes will be buried in caverns 500 to 1,000 feet below the surface; in titanium or copper cylinders; in the containers used to transport the waste from the reactor to the site or in a specialized container; and with or without reprocessing before burial.
By the end of the eight year public process, they were still undecided. The most consistent description given has the waste put in titanium cylinders which are placed in drill holes in the floor of an underground chamber - there would be a series of underground chambers - with the chambers being backfilled before closure. AECL also produced a case study for putting the waste in copper cylinders placed directly in an underground chamber, with the backfill around the copper container.

The nuclear industry has consistently identified northern Ontario as their intended location for a nuclear waste disposal facility, including AECL and Ontario Hydro. Now known as Ontario Power Generation, Ontario's provincial power utility has generated more than 90% of the nuclear fuel waste in Canada, and did the research and presentations related to transportation and much of the research and presentation related to siting during the federal review, as well as funding parts of the AECL research program. In the opening days of the hearing, Ontario Hydro proposed that they become the "implementing organization" for the AECL concept. With Ontario Hydro now occupying four of the six seats in the new industry controlled nuclear waste management organization, it appears that their wishes have come true.

Northwatch's Nuclear Notes (November 2002) pdf

Nuclear Fuel Waste Act


Nuclear Fuel Waste Act Bill C-27 Becomes Law

On April 25, 2001, Bill C-27 " An Act respecting the long-term management of nuclear fuel waste" was introduced into the House of Commons, almost three years after the final report was issued by a federal environmental assessment hearing panel which had conducted a 10 year hearing on the subject matter. What had transpired in the intervening three years was no more than could have been predicted based on the interventions of Natural Resources Canada even during the hearing, or the leaked Cabinet documents in which the same bureaucrats provided advice to the elected government on how to respond to the Panel's pro-active report. With Bill C-27, Natural Resources Canada had crafted the legislative tool to move the debate on nuclear waste back almost a decade. In brief, the federal government transformed the Panel's recommended plan of action into a strategy which in some instances is the mirror opposite. The Bill's progress through the Parliamentary process itself was the antithesis of the Panel's vision of an open, transparent and public
process. Hearings on the Bill were short, with limited notice and very few witnesses - particularly from outside government and the nuclear industry - and the debate was controlled by both time and turf, as the Government members filled all available seats to maintain majority and eliminate all but one of the hundred-plus amendments that were proposed during either Parliamentary or Senate Committee reviews. C-27 made its final passage on June 13th, 2002,  the last day of the Senate before the summer break. Had the Senate Standing Committee not allowed the Bill to be rushed through the final session - a session for which the transcripts read like chaos was truly the order of the day - Bill C-27 would have died on the order table.

Bill C-27, the "Nuclear Fuel Waste Act" establishes a nuclear industry-controlled Waste Management Organization (WMO), with a mandate to review nuclear fuel waste management options. The WMO will have a three year schedule to select its preferred option for long-term management of nuclear fuel waste and recommend that option to the Federal Cabinet. Cabinet will then decide whether to approve the WMO's recommendation. The only amendment allowed during the Bill's review means that there will now be an annual report provided to Parliament, but with the exception of those annual reports - whose content is unknown, and for which there is no prescribed process for providing it to Parliament or making it known to the public - there is no opportunity for even Parliament to participate in the final decision, let alone members of the public.

The proposed Act fails to implement the many important recommendations of the Seaborn Panel, which undertook a 10 year environmental assessment of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited's (AECL's) concept for burial of nuclear fuel waste in the Canadian Shield. The EA Panel concluded that the AECL concept was not acceptable, and identified many technical problems with the proposal. The Panel recommended that an independent agency be formed at arms length from AECL and the nuclear utilities, in order to manage the programs related to long-term nuclear fuel waste management, including detailed comparison of waste management options, and that it be subject to "multiple oversights", meaning that there be a variety of means for the public and government to monitor and oversee the Agency's activities and programs. The Panel also concluded that there should be an Aboriginal participation process designed by Aboriginal people, and that a comprehensive public participation program and an ethical and social assessment framework each be developed.

Bill C-27 - now the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act - has been criticized by aboriginal, community, environmental and church groups, as well as by former members of the Seaborn Panel, parliamentarians and Senators. Key criticisms focus on the lack of transparency and accountability, the potentially secretive nature of the WMO's activities, the control by the nuclear industry of both the Waste Management Organization and its advisory council, the absence of any role for parliament or any assurance of public participation, and the failure to implement many of the Seaborn Panel findings.

Northwatch's Nuclear Notes (November 2002) pdf

Report of the Nuclear Fuel Waste Management and Disposal Concept Environmental Assessment Panel
February 1998

Parliamentary Committee Hearing Transcripts - November 2001
(see November 1, 6, 8, & 20)

Senate Committee Hearing Transcripts - April 2002
 


Background on Nuclear Waste in Canada

Northwatch's Final Submission the the Federal Enviromental Assessment Review Panel (1997)

Case Study of the Environmental Assessment of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited's Nuclear Fuel Waste Disposal Concept



Plutonium Overhead: Mox Fuel and Northeastern Ontario
 

Briefing Note on "Parallex Project" to Import Weapons Grade Plutonium

Atomic Energy of Canada Limited is proposing to bring 50 tons of weapons grade plutonium into Canada from an U.S. nuclear weapons program and another 50 tons from Russia over a period of 25 years. Since using the plutonium as part of the fuel load for a nuclear reactor would make the plutonium less usable for bombs, the proponents portray it as a "swords into ploughshares" initiative. However, other options, such as the "immobilization" alternative (see below) are a much preferred to the MOX option for handling plutonium extracted from bombs by environmental and peace groups in all three countries. Read full Briefing Note
 
 

Plutonium flown over Canada
Surprise shipment via helicopter sparks anger from environmentalists and community leaders

Saturday, January 15, 2000 -- A surprise shipment of U.S. plutonium flew over Northern Ontario yesterday, causing alarm among community leaders and environmentalists who had fought to keep the material off Canada's highways.   Read Full Story
 
 

Twenty-One Chiefs pass resolution condemning MOX fuel shipment

October 15, 1999 - In what marks the largest opposition yet to the impending shipment of MOX fuel, 21 First Nations Chiefs of the Robinson Huron Region collectively voiced their condemnation on the move during a meeting of the Chiefs yesterday.

"The chiefs are making themselves clear that they will not tolerate, or allow any shipment of this type to go through Anishinabek territory," said Anishinabek Nation Grand Chief Vernon Roote. "We have attempted to go about this diplomatically. We’ve sent our letters to the minister’s responsible but thus far we have yet to see any acceptable response from the Federal government to the demands that we have made so far." Full Statement



For More Information Visit:

Campaign For Nuclear Phaseout

Sierra Club of Canada

Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility

Nuclear Energy Information Service

Public Citizen
 


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