News & Noteworthy

A special section to keep you up to date on events, research, and stories relevant to the NWMO’s proposal to site the Deep Geological Repository in South Bruce. It will be updated regularly. Sign up for updates here.

The world must stop creating nuclear garbage.

By Christina Macpherson

At last a journalist has tackled the issue of nuclear waste. Yet, even Austyn Gaffney , writing in Grist, , did not dare to suggest the obvious first move to control this monstrous problem. –

The nuclear lobby boasts that Finland has solved this problem.:

Great copper and cast iron casks up to two stories tall will be lowered deep into a bedrock tomb, to bury toxic nuclear wastes that will remain toxic for many thousands of years.

And Finland got that essential precious jewel – community consent. But did they, really?

Finland’s KBS-3 nuclear waste disposal system was designed by Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company, SKB., but rejected by Swedish Environmental Court. The foremost reason is that as the project was being discussed with the public, SKB’s research was found to be incomplete and, in certain cases, inaccurate.

Continue reading this article at Nuclear News →

  • The world must stop creating nuclear garbage.

    By Christina Macpherson

    At last a journalist has tackled the issue of nuclear waste. Yet, even Austyn Gaffney , writing in Grist, , did not dare to suggest the obvious first move to control this monstrous problem. –

    The nuclear lobby boasts that Finland has solved this problem.:

    Great copper and cast iron casks up to two stories tall will be lowered deep into a bedrock tomb, to bury toxic nuclear wastes that will remain toxic for many thousands of years.

    And Finland got that essential precious jewel – community consent. But did they, really?

    Finland’s KBS-3 nuclear waste disposal system was designed by Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company, SKB., but rejected by Swedish Environmental Court. The foremost reason is that as the project was being discussed with the public, SKB’s research was found to be incomplete and, in certain cases, inaccurate.

    Continue reading this article at Nuclear News →

  • 'That's not true': Canadian official takes on Bowen's claim that Ontario artificially drives down cost of nuclear energy with $6 billion in government subsidies

    By Annelise Nielsen

    A top Canadian nuclear official has corrected Energy Minister Chris Bowen's claim that energy bills in Ontario are cheap due to provincial government subsidies, as debate rages over Peter Dutton's landmark proposal for reactors in Australia.

  • Could the Lack of Fairness in the South Bruce `Willing Host’ Agreement Lead to a Legal Action in Court?

    Protect Our Waterways - No Nuclear Waste       FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 05/27/24

    Teeswater, Ontario: Protect Our Waterways - No Nuclear Waste (POW-NNW) hosted a webinar on Tuesday, May 21st titled “Where’s the Fairness in the NWMO’s `Willing Host’ Decision? to showcase two guest speakers, David Donnelly, a renowned Canadian environmental lawyer, and Ole Hendrickson (PhD) a veteran research scientist and current President of the Sierra Club Canada Foundation.

    The speakers, in turn, identified ethically questionable practices - Mr. Donnelly, in regard to the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s (NWMO) Willing Host Agreement recently signed by the Municipality of South Bruce, followed by Dr. Hendrickson’s examples which indicate the pro-nuclear pattern of bias by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

    This host agreement pertains to NWMO’s proposed deep geological repository (DGR) for high level radioactive waste in the form of used fuel bundles from across Canada, for which a referendum is scheduled by the Municipality of South Bruce in late October. In the site selection process, the Township of Ignace in northern Ontario has its own voting process, while Saugeen Ojibway Nation in Midwestern Ontario and Wabigoon Ojibway Lake First Nation in Northwestern Ontario have separate and independent arrangements with NWMO on their own future votes, yes or no, to accepting the NWMO DGR on their respective territories.

    As for South Bruce, Mr. Donnelly named the referendum rules blatantly as prejudicial to the concerns of residents, in naming a 50 per cent plus one threshold or, otherwise, if less than that, Council alone gets to decide upon the DGR’s acceptance. The lawyer elaborated on how the cards, therefore, are stacked against residents in a municipality where the electoral votes often do not even reach 50 per cent of the local electorate.

    What I find most extraordinary is, why would you [in reference to South Bruce Council] even sign a `willing host’ agreement before you had the referendum? Why wouldn’t the community have a stake, a huge stake in shaping the referendum? What kind of relationship is this?”

    In a repeated refrain through the evening, Mr. Donnelly called out the lack of fairness of the $418 million hosting agreement recently signed between South Bruce Council and the NWMO. The lawyer ultimately challenged the municipal council to show the evidence that this agreement is a genuine “Made in South Bruce” agreement by showing evidence to the public in “what we lawyers call `track changes,’ which shows you in red strike-outs and red additions how the contract was changed. Let’s see it. Don’t hide behind some agreement, or some secret in-camera meeting.”

    Before that volley to South Bruce Council though, Donnelly minced no words about “a ridiculous 140-year binding agreement that would essentially silence opposition and shut down our democratic process.” Indeed, he referred to specific passages in the hosting agreement such as Section 3.2.2 where it reads: “the Municipality shall (a) not engage in any action that could frustrate, delay or interfere with, or stop NWMO from proceeding with the Project in accordance with the Regulatory Approvals, including the construction and operation of the Facility and/or the Centre of Expertise; (b) use best efforts to attend but only at NWMO’s reasonable request and expense, non-regulatory forums…and support the Base Project Scope at such forums;…”.

    The language points squarely to full control by NWMO now and into the distant future. Meanwhile, South Bruce Council signed an Agreement in a community torn apart by this controversial project, while neither Council nor local citizens still have not been given scientific and technical information about safety until the site selection is completed, because NWMO is not obliged to carry out many important studies until the federal environmental assessment (EA) process begins.

    But whether democracy would kick in, if and when a DGR site is selected, which requires an EA process, cannot be guaranteed – aside from the NWMO control – in accordance with Dr. Ole Hendrikson’s long experience with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

    Tasked by POW-NNW to leave the webinar participants with the question: “Do the CNSC’s activities favour the nuclear industry or Canadian citizens?” Dr. Hendrikson provided a list of provocative examples of questionable decisions and lack of oversight to expose deficiencies in Canada’s nuclear safety framework. The examples thematically included health, transparency, conflicts of interest, and culminated in the most recent controversy about CNSC giving a licence to Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) for its Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF) in the Ottawa River region. Currently, the CNL NSDF is facing three judicial reviews from civil society groups and a group of Algonquin first nation communities whose multiple concerns include not being properly consulted.

    Dr. Hendrikson cited the CNL NSDF as an example illustrating how much the EA process has deteriorated through a number of years, steadily diminishing public participation. As well, two photographs showed a long scroll created by him with fellow concerned citizens, which visually showed the extensive deletions of text between a 2016 CNSC Licence Conditions Handbook and the current 2018-2028 licensing handbook. These deletions included EAs for construction of new facilities and decommissioning of old facilities.

    The factors pointing to CNSC’s international influence also are problematic, according to Dr. Hendrikson. Canada is unique among OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries in giving a regulatory body (CNSC) sole authority to approve radioactive waste disposal projects. While former CEO/President Rumina Velshi had a dual (and conflictual) role, she also was on the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) Safety Standards Committee. At the same time, the CNSC refused to comply with all of the IAEA’s safety principles as spelled out in a report based upon a 2019 mission by the IAEA’s Integrated Regulatory Review Service.

    Following the completion of a list of examples as evidence, Dr. Hendrickson cautioned POW-NNW that the CNSC has done everything it can to downgrade both the EA or, now,

    the Impact Assessment Act process. “It’ll be solely decided by the CNSC, and the CNSC has a reputation – and deserved in my view – as a `captured’ regulator.”

    In the question period, one participant asked whether the consultation process could be opened province-wide, to which Mr. Donnelly acknowledged the situation for the “downstream potentially-impacted people…It does beg the question, `what are the rights of neighbouring municipalities?’…What about the people on Lake Huron? What about the people in Michigan? So, I do think there is a reckoning coming.”

    Protect Our Waterways - No Nuclear Waste is a concerned group of South Bruce citizens united in a common cause to prevent the establishment of a high-level radioactive storage facility in our community known as a Deep Geological Repository (DGR).

    Our mission is to counter the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) and its surrogate supporters which in our opinion are not fully informing the citizens of South Bruce on the potential dangers, social stigma, and downside risks of hosting this DGR facility in our community.

    -30-

  • Government Response to Nuclear Waste Petition Tabled - Decried as a “non-response” to the Petitions Call on the Government of Canada

    MEDIA RELEASE

    June 20, 2024

    Ottawa –  The two groups that collected signatures on a petition calling on the Federal Government to require the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) to demonstrate that it has the consent of communities impacted by its proposed nuclear fuel waste burial project prior to selecting the site are reacting to the government response with frustration and disappointment. We the Nuclear Free North and Protect Our Waterways – No Nuclear Waste announced today that they will launch a paper petition for signature collection over the summer to deliver a clear message to the federal government: immediately direct the Nuclear Waste Management Organization to stop the siting process for its proposed deep geological repository for highly radioactive nuclear fuel waste.

    On May 9th, a petition with over 3,000 signatures was presented to the House of Commons, calling on the Government of Canada to “require the Nuclear Waste Management Organization to demonstrate that it has the consent of residents and communities, including First Nations and Treaty Organizations, along the transportation route and in the region of and downstream of the candidate repository site(s) before selecting a site.” The Government response, tabled on June 19th by Minister of Natural Resources and Energy Jonathan Wilkinson, does not address the petition’s request that the Government provide oversight of a controversial nuclear waste transportation and burial project.

    “The petition was a specific call to the Federal Government to direct the NWMO to demonstrate that it had the consent of the impacted communities – including those downstream and along the transportation route – prior to selecting a site. The Government response completely fails to speak to this central and pressing issue,” commented Brennain Lloyd, a volunteer with We the Nuclear Free North who created the online petition on the Federal Government’s web site.

    “The single mention of site selection in their response is to make the unsupported claim that the NWMO has been carrying out a “rigorous site selection” process. The response fails to address in any way the failures of the NWMO’s site selection process, including its very divisive nature, its use of large amounts of money to persuade communities to stay in the process, and the exclusion of the nearby, downstream and transportation route communities which will be impacted as much or more by the project than Ignace, the NWMO’s proxy “host” community”.

    The petition gained the signatures of 3,327 Canadians who joined the call on the Federal Government to require the Nuclear Waste Management Organization to demonstrate that it has the consent of residents and communities, including First Nations and Treaty Organizations, along the transportation route and in the region of and downstream of the candidate repository site(s) before selecting a site.

    “The Government response ignores – again – what Canadians are calling on them to do. Instead they return a collection of their tired promotional statements, sounding more like an ad agency for the nuclear industry than a responsible government,” commented Bill Noll, Vice-President of Protect Our Waterways – No Nuclear Waste, a citizens group in South Bruce that opposes the NWMO project.

    The NWMO has been engaged in a site search since 2010, and in 2020 short-listed to focus on two municipalities as potential "host communities": the municipality of South Bruce in Southwestern Ontario, and the Township of Ignace in Northwestern Ontario. The Township of Ignace is 43 km east of the NWMO's candidate site between Ignace and Dryden, and in a different watershed - factors which critics say disqualify Ignace from acting as a "host" community.

    The Township of Ignace is using an online poll and interviews by a consultant to gauge the “willingness” of its residents. The consultant’s report on results will be reviewed by an “Ad-Hoc Willingness Committee” appointed by the Township Council in February, and the Committee’s report is expected to be brought to the Ignace Council in June or July. However, it is unclear whether the actual poll results will be included in the report to Council. The Municipality of South Bruce has released a draft hosting agreement and has committed to a referendum on October 28th, but states that if voter turnout is less than 50%, then Council will make the decision on whether residents of South Bruce are “willing.”.

    The online petition was posted on a site operated by the Government of Canada and was open for signatures from citizens and residents of Canada until May 3rd. Signatures were then reviewed and certified by a Clerk of the House of Commons on May 6th, and on May 9th the petition was tabled by M.P. Anthony Rota. The Federal Government had 45 days to respond. The response was received on June 19th.

    -  30  -

    Contact:  

    Brennain Lloyd, Northwatch and We the Nuclear Free North

     

    Bill Noll, Protect Our Waterways – No Nuclear Waste

  • Two small communities are competing to receive Canada’s inventory of nuclear waste. They can’t be sure what they’ll get

    By Matthew McClearn

    Two Ontario municipalities are vying to become hosts for an underground disposal facility for Canada’s nuclear waste. Both must formally announce in the coming months whether they’ll accept the facility – but they cannot know exactly what wastes they’d be agreeing to receive.

    The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) designed its $26-billion facility, known as a deep geological repository, to receive spent fuel from Candu reactors located in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. This year, it plans to choose between the last two sites still in the running: the Municipality of South Bruce, Ont., located more than 120 kilometres north of London; or near Ignace, Ont., a town of 1,200 more than 200 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay.

    But since the project was conceived, two of NWMO’s three members (Ontario Power Generation and New Brunswick Power) proposed to build new reactors that would burn different fuels and produce novel wastes. The organization guarantees reactor developers that it will dispose of these wastes, even though their nature might not be understood for decades. And in the past few months, both candidate municipalities signed agreements that spell out how the project could be modified to receive such wastes, while limiting their ability to refuse.

    These provisions help reduce uncertainty for the nuclear industry. A roadmap produced last year by the Nuclear Energy Institute, a U.S. lobby group, noted that because most small modular reactors (SMRs) being developed would burn different fuels from those of existing reactors, “technology neutral” criteria for accepting spent fuel into repositories was needed as soon as this year in both Canada and the United States.

    But the provisions could make it harder to find willing hosts.

    Continue reading this article at The Globe and Mail →

  • South Bruce group opposing nuclear waste storage questions willing host agreement

    BY JANICE MACKAY

    The Protect Our Waterways - No Nuclear Waste organization in South Bruce continues to question the fairness in the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s (NWMO) Willing Host decision.

    The Municipality of South Bruce Council endorsed the Hosting Agreement between the municipality and the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) at its meeting May 1, 2024.

    South Bruce is one of two possible locations remaining in the site selection for a used nuclear fuel storage bunker, along with Ignace, Ontario.

    The No Nuclear Waste group shared what it learned during its recent webinar, which included Environmental Lawyer David Donnelly and researcher Ole Hendrikson.

    Donnelly told the group there were ethically questionable practices in the signing of that agreement to possibly host a Deep Geological Repository for Canada's used nuclear fuel in South Bruce.

    Continue reading this article at CKNX News Today →

  • Moving nuclear waste through traditional territories could face opposition, Ontario First Nation says

    By Colin Butler

    'Think about how many treaty territories that waste would have to go through,' chief says

    A First Nation in southwestern Ontario says even if the community votes yes on a proposed $26 billion dump for nuclear waste within their traditional territory, it would likely be opposed by other First Nations, through whose territories the more than 5.5 million spent fuel rods would have to pass. 

    Canada's nuclear industry has been on a decades-long quest to find a permanent home for tens of thousands of tonnes of highly radioactive waste. The search has narrowed to two Ontario communities — Ignace, northwest of Thunder Bay, and the Municipality of South Bruce, north of London. 

    Both will vote later this year on whether to build a deep geologic repository, a kind of nuclear crypt, where more than 50,000 tonnes of waste in copper casks will be lowered more than 500 metres underground to be kept for all time, behind layers of clay, concrete and the ancient bedrock itself. 

    But so will their Indigenous neighbours, whose traditional territories the towns are within, which gives each respective First Nation a veto.

    In the case of Saugeen Ojibway Nation in particular, it means the community again finds itself as the future arbiter of a potential nuclear waste site on their traditional lands for the second time in a few years. 

    Continue reading this article at CBC News →

  • Media watchdog finds CANDU reactor ads "inaccurate" and "unsupported"

    By Lake Ontario Waterkeeper

    Have you ever looked at advertisements for nuclear power and wondered how organizations such as the Power Workers' Union can call nuclear reactors "emission free?" We see similar phrases all the time in print media, on the web, and in statements by elected officials. The problem is, it just isn't accurate to say that nuclear power is "emission free." Nuclear reactors emit all kinds of foul things into the environment, and industry and government know it.

    Advertising Standards Canada has just posted a decision to its website declaring that it is inaccurate and unsupportable to call CANDU reactors “emission free.”

    Earlier this year, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper staff and a group of law students from Queen's University filed a complaint about this with Advertising Standards Canada. The national not-for-profit body self-regulates the advertising industry in Canada. If an ad is misleading, deceptive, or makes claims that are unsupportable, Advertising Standards Canada can request that the advertiser remove the ad.

    Continue reading this article at Lake Ontario Waterkeeper →

  • New Brunswick’s nuclear reactor emits high levels of radioactivity, increasing cancer risk

    by Ian Fairlie

    Expert report for the Passamaquoddy Recognition Group

    New Brunswick Power’s Point Lepreau nuclear reactor on the Bay of Fundy emits much higher levels of radioactive tritium than other nuclear reactors in Canada. Ingesting and breathing in tritium increases the risk of cancer in humans and other animals.

    Tritium is the radioactive isotope of hydrogen, and international agencies recognise it as an unusually hazardous radioactive substance. One of its properties is to bind with carbohydrates, proteins and lipids in cells to form organically-bound tritium (OBT) which sticks inside the body for years.

    These alarming findings will be tabled on May 10 by the Passamaquoddy Recognition Group in Saint John during Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) hearings on the application by NB Power for an unprecedented 25-year extension of its licence to operate its Lepreau reactor. The CNSC is the regulator of all nuclear activities in Canada.

    Although industry scientists in Canada claim tritium has low toxicity and does not bioaccumulate, official reports show tritium is twice to three times more radiotoxic compared to external gamma radiation. And many studies indicate OBT levels increase the longer people are exposed to tritiated water.

    Considerable evidence exists – from many epidemiology studies around the world, that children who live near nuclear plants emitting large amounts of tritium are more likely to get leukemia than those living further away. References to all these studies are included in the appendix to the CNSC submission by the Passamaquoddy Recognition Group.

    Continue reading this article at NB Media Co-op →

  • South Bruce residents digest dense $418 million hosting agreement

    By Greg Cowan

    The $418 million hosting agreement signed Wednesday by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization and South Bruce is a complex 50-plus page document.

    Perhaps it is fittingly dense for a first-of-its-kind project in Canada with a 100-plus year lifespan that will transform whichever municipality is chosen to host Canada’s high-level nuclear waste deep underground.

    Some of those in South Bruce who have followed Canada’s search for a suitable place to construct a deep geological repository (DGR) in their proverbial backyard are now trying to wrap their heads around what was agreed to in the hosting agreement before being asked to decide whether they are an informed and willing host this fall in a referendum.

    Michelle Stein has rallied against the project for years as part of Protect Our Waterways — No Nuclear Waste.

    She sounded defeated in a text message Thursday while aiming to plant grain at a field near the potential DGR site.

    “What difference does anyone’s thoughts make now?” Stein asked. “The council and NWMO have never sought our input and have completely ignored all of our concerns.”