Grave concerns about the handling of Canada’s federally-owned radioactive waste by a private-sector consortium
Published January 27, 2020 in The Hill Times
To the Prime Minister, Parliament and the Federal Government:
The undersigned organizations have grave concerns about the handling of Canada’s federally-owned radioactive waste by a private-sector consortium that includes SNC-Lavalin and two Texas-based multinational corporations.*
- Canada has no adequate federal policies and strategies for the long-term management of radioactive wastes and the consortium has been given a free hand to advocate and implement proposals that, in our view, are unequal to the task of protecting people’s health and the environment.
- Under its federal contract with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited the consortium is receiving billions of our tax dollars to advance radioactive waste disposal and reactor “decommissioning” projects that fail to even meet existing international safety guidelines.
- The consortium’s current plans include entombing the radioactive remains of nuclear reactors in cement next to the Ottawa and Winnipeg Rivers, against the explicit advice of international bodies and independent nuclear scientists; these “entombed reactors” would leak radioactivity into the rivers for thousands of years and contaminate drinking water for millions of Canadians.
- The consortium also plans to erect a massive above-ground mound adjacent to a swampy area that drains into the nearby Ottawa River; the mound would hold more than one million tons of mixed radioactive waste including a multitude of long-lived, human-made radioactive materials such as plutonium-239 and hazardous non-radioactive materials such as PCBs, lead, arsenic and asbestos.
- The consortium is already transporting large quantities of radioactive waste along public roads from Pinawa, Manitoba, from Douglas Point, Ontario, and from Gentilly, Quebec, all the way to Chalk River, site of the proposed mound, located upstream from our nation’s Capital.
We request that the Federal Government terminate its contract with the consortium at the end of the first six-year term in 2021 or as soon as possible.
We also request formulation of exemplary policies and projects for Canada’s radioactive waste that meet or exceed international obligations. Such policies and projects would:
- be developed with meaningful consultation with First Nations and the broader Canadian public
- create many long-term, well-paying Canadian jobs while protecting health and property
- safely store radioactive waste in state-of-the-art facilities away from sources of drinking water
- re-establish Canadian leadership in the nuclear field with world-class science-based solutions to address the growing global radioactive waste problems
*Membership in the consortium, known as Canadian National Energy Alliance, has changed more than once since the consortium assumed control of Canada’s federally-owned nuclear waste in 2015, when it received all shares of Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, a wholly owned subsidiary of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. Current consortium members include SNC-Lavalin, which is debarred by the World Bank for 10 years and faced charges in Canada for fraud, bribery and corruption; Texas-based Fluor Corporation, which paid $4 million to resolve allegations of financial fraud related to nuclear waste cleanup work at a U.S. site; and Texas-based Jacobs Engineering, which recently acquired CH2M, an original consortium member that agreed to pay $18.5 million to settle federal criminal charges at a nuclear cleanup site in the U.S.
- Alliance of the Anishinabek Nation and the Iroquois Caucus
- Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility
- Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
- Sierra Club Canada Foundation
- Friends of the Earth Canada
- Ontario Clean Air Alliance
- Ecology Ottawa
- Ottawa River Institute
- FTQ – Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec
- Greenspace Alliance of Canada’s Capital
- National Council of Women of Canada
- Provincial Council of Women of Quebec
- Provincial Council of Women of Ontario
- Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area
- Les Artistes pour la Paix
- Concerned Citizens Committee of Manitoba
- Prevent Cancer Now
- Action Climat Outaouais
- Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive
- Bonnechere River Watershed Project
- Old Fort William Cottagers’ Association
- Pontiac Environmental Protection
- Petawawa Point Cottagers Association
- Coalition Against Nuclear Dumps on the Ottawa River
- Esprit Whitewater
- Durham Nuclear Awareness
- First United Church (Ottawa) Water Care Allies