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Day of Action says ‘NO!’ to Near Surface Disposal Facility

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Added: Wed, 08/14/2019 - 11:28pm
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About 35 boats participated in a protest on the Ottawa River in front of Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ site in Chalk River to say ‘No!’ to projects they see as threats to public safety now, and for many years to come.

Peter L. Smith

SHEENBORO – The Old Fort William Cottagers’ Association (OFWCA), Petawawa Point Cottagers Association, and Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County (CCRC) organized their second annual Day of Action, July 27, toprotest Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ (CNL) proposed Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF) project in Chalk River and the entombment of an old reactor (NDP) in Rolphton.
About 35 boats departed from Hotel Pontiac in Sheenboro and travelled to Chalk River waving signs expressing their opposition. Claude Bertrand, federal Green party candidate, released balloons in the river symbolizing radioactive isotopes. “The balloons you can see, the isotopes you will not,” he stressed.
Prior to the flotilla departure, many speakers including Ole Hendrickson and Lyn Jones from the CCRA, Patrick Nadeau, Executive Director of Ottawa Riverkeeper, and Elssa Martinez, OFWCA spoke about why opposition must continue against the NSDF.
“We are not opposed to CNL cleaning up their site. It’s the manner in which they
propose to do so and the location they plan to build their facility that’s the
problem,” stressed the speakers. The NSDF will store low-level radioactive waste in an above-ground mound protected with a liner system about a kilometer away from the Ottawa River. “In the end, it’s our water system that will be contaminated; the effects will be far-reaching and will devastate future generations,” they added.
Handouts from the CCRC explained the facts and misconceptions about low-level waste. According to Hendrickson, low-level waste is labelled so because it can be handled without using robots or special equipment, but it can still contain very
hazardous and toxic materials like plutonium, neptunium, and americium that have extremely long half-lives that long outlive the NSDF's protective liner.
Transporting the radioactive waste along highways was also identified as a major
public risk.
Current status of the NSDF project?
CNL is currently in the process of responding to federal, provincial, public
and Indigenous group comments and updating the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that was submitted in March 2017. Six main themes were identified where more detailed information or changes are needed: waste inventory, protection of the Ottawa River, design and engineering, long-term accountability, alternative means, and environmental events (earthquakes, tornadoes, flooding, etc.).
Many municipalities and cities on both sides of the river, including the largest city in Québec, Montréal, have adopted resolutions opposing CNL’s proposals. A petition urging the government to protect the Ottawa and Winnipeg rivers by stopping three of CNL’s “irresponsible proposals that do not comply with International Atomic Energy Agency guidelines on the management of radioactive waste” has garnered 1,662 online signatures to date.