November 23, 2023
Energy Minister Misses the Mark in Response to Proximity Principle Petition
Thunder Bay – A northern Ontario alliance has expressed disappointment but not surprise at Ontario Minister of Energy Todd Smith’s response to a recent petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
We the Nuclear Free North is joined by their counterparts in southwestern Ontario, Protect Our Waterways - No Nuclear Waste, in criticizing the Minister's response.
"None of the public's concerns with the Nuclear Waste Management Organization's way of doing business were addressed in Minister Smith's response", commented Bill Noll, vice-president of Protect Our Waterways.
The groups described the petition as having set out multiple issues related to the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO)’s current siting process and proposed approach. As a remedy, the petition asked the Government of Ontario to adopt a Proximity Principle with regards to nuclear fuel waste. If adopted by Ontario, such a principle would prevent the dangerous long-distance transportation of this waste.
In their reply to the Minister’s response, We the Nuclear Free North and Protect Our Waterways - No Nuclear Waste wrote that while the denial of the petition’s request did not surprise them, the nature of the Minister’s written response was a disappointment.
“In our petition, we set out a series of facts and observations on the NWMO’s proposed project and siting process, which your response completely overlooked,” the groups wrote.
In their critique of the government’s response, We the Nuclear Free North and Protect Our Waterways - No Nuclear Waste raised with the Minister the issue of the information sources the Minister and his staff rely upon.
“Representatives in all levels of government find the science and issues around nuclear power generation and nuclear waste management to be complex and challenging, as do members of the public. It is all too easy for people in responsible positions to rely on nuclear industry representatives as their major – and often only – source of information about nuclear technology, its risks and its benefits. Our assessment of your response is that you have done just that,” the groups wrote. The letter likened the government’s apparent sole-sourcing information from the nuclear industry to “leaving the fox in charge of the henhouse.”
The groups also dispute “several half-truths or misrepresentations” they assert that the Minister’s letter conveyed, including the notion that the NWMO’s proposal to bury and then abandon all of Canada’s high-level nuclear waste in a deep geological repository is based on “international best practice.” The group notes that there is not a single approved or operating deep geological repository for high-level nuclear waste anywhere in the world, despite more than fifty years of study and effort by the nuclear industry world-wide.
“The Minister’s response should be a wake-up call for residents of Northern Ontario – the government of Ontario is not paying attention”, commented Charles Faust of Nuclear Free Thunder Bay, part of the We the Nuclear Free North alliance.
“Ontario Power Generation holds the balance of power in the NWMO. While nuclear projects are in the federal government’s jurisdiction, it’s a provincial crown corporation that is driving the NWMO approach and paying the bills. Ontario’s Minister of Energy has a lot to answer for.”
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We the Nuclear Free North's Reply to Minister Todd Smith is HERE
Dodie LeGassick, Environment North, 807-630-8176
Charles Faust, We the Nuclear Free North, 807-633-0202
Bill Noll, Protect Our Waterways - No Nuclear Waste, 519-507 -9905
By Matthew McClearn
External experts looking into the unexpectedly rapid deterioration of key components in nuclear power reactors have concluded that the plants can operate safely, although they say it’s unclear what caused the problem in the first place.
The External Advisory Committee on Pressure Tubes was convened in the summer of 2021 to help the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission after the discovery of unexpectedly high levels of deuterium (an isotope of hydrogen) in pressure tubes at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, violating the terms of its operating license.
After two years, the committee agreed with all the conclusions previously arrived at by industry representatives and commission staff.
In a final report dated July 4 and published without fanfare last month, the committee declared that while “a great deal of work” remains to be done to understand the problem’s cause, “enough has been done by the licensees to definitively provide assurance that the plants can operate safely.”
The committee included Mark Daymond, a professor at Queen’s University’s engineering and physics departments, and Paul Spekkens, a former employee of Ontario Power Generation. (Its chair, John Luxat of McMaster University, withdrew for health reasons in January.) Their final report is a boon for Bruce Power, which has an application before the CNSC seeking to remove limits in its operating license that its pressure tubes violated more than two years ago.
Dr. Gordon Edwards, Media conference presentation,
New York State, August 23 2023,
Re: Plans to dump radioactive wastewater into the Hudson River
In 2017, I was invited to give a talk on the shores of the Hudson River. At that time, I began by saying “The age of nuclear power is winding down, but the age of nuclear waste is just beginning.”
Well, here we are. Welcome to the brave new world of human-made radioactive waste. It is a toxic legacy that will last for a hundred thousand years and more, because no one knows how to turn off radioactivity. The only thing we can do is keep it out of the environment. Keep it out of the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe.
Chronic exposure to radioactivity is harmful to all living things even in small amounts, causing cancers and other diseases. It also damages the reproductive abilities of all species.
BY RON JACOBS
Janice Haaken’s new film Atomic Bamboozle: The False Promise of a Nuclear Renaissance begins with a nuclear engineer stating that if he were “czar of the world,” he would ban nuclear weapons and all other uses with the possible exception of research. That comment is almost immediately followed by an overconfident and smiling former Texas governor and Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, introducing what he calls the millennial brain trust of nuclear energy. The haughty self-assuredness of the young people in this “brain trust” is apparent in their business suits and well-fed faces. This group, Perry tells us, will “make nuclear energy cool again.”
The film is about what nuclear energy and its supplicant media tell us is a nuclear renaissance. As Attorney Greg Kafoury makes clear, not even two minutes in, this so-called renaissance is nothing but the same old routine where the industry and government pretend they have come up with solutions to the problem of nuclear waste storage. This solution then turns out to be letting future generations deal with it, which is no solution. Like so many other ongoing issues related to climate change and capitalism, Atomic Bamboozle makes it very clear that the pursuit of the dollar trumps all other possibilities.
By Dr Jim Green
Bipartisan efforts by successive federal governments to impose a national nuclear waste dump on the land of Barngarla Aboriginal traditional owners in South Australia (SA) have been upended by a federal court decision in favour of the Barngarla people.
Australians will have their say in a referendum about whether to change their constitution to recognise the First Nations of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice later this year.
The Voice would be an independent and permanent advisory body giving advice to the Australian parliament and government on matters that affect the lives of first nations peoples.
Nuclear waste issue must be resolved before new facility can be explored, says Saugeen Ojibway Nation
By Kierstin Williams
The Bruce Nuclear Station was built in the 1960s without the consultation or consent of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation.
The Saugeen Ojibway Nation is not making any commitments on the proposed expansion of the Bruce Power nuclear plant until the issue of whether nuclear waste will be stored on its territory is resolved.
Last week, Todd Smith, Ontario’s minister of energy, announced preliminary studies with Bruce Power to explore the expansion of Canada’s largest nuclear plant. The expansion would see an additional 4,800 megawatts of nuclear generation at the site.
The Bruce Power Nuclear Generating Station is located on the eastern shore of Lake Huron, the traditional territory of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON), which is comprised of Saugeen First Nation and the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation.
“We have stated clearly that SON will not support any future projects until the history of the nuclear industry in our Territory is resolved and there is a solution to the nuclear waste problems that is acceptable to SON and its People,” said both chiefs in a letter on behalf of Saugeen and Nawash.
SON says the Bruce Nuclear Station was built in the 1960s without its consultation or consent.
The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), the federal agency responsible for the long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear waste, plans to select a host site for its proposed deep geological nuclear waste facility by the fall of 2024. The facility would hold used nuclear fuel in a vault approximately 500 metres underground.
The two possible sites are within Saugeen Ojibway’s traditional territory and Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation near Ignace, Ont.
“The long overdue resolution of the nuclear legacy issues must occur before any future project is approved,” said Chief Conrad Ritchie and Ogimaa Kwe Veronica Smith in the letter. “Similarly, we must also have a plan in place that has been agreed to by SON to deal with all current and future nuclear waste before any future projects could go ahead.
“In no way does this announcement commit the SON to new nuclear development on SON territory,” added the letter posted on the band’s Facebook page.
“We remain strong that SON is prepared to stop any project that does not align with our rights, interests, or vision for the future of our People.”
In its announcement, the Ontario government said planning for the new station “will involve engagement with Indigenous communities to ensure Indigenous perspectives are understood and considered at the early stage.”
Michael Dodsworth, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Energy, said the minister “was pleased to meet with Chief Veronica Smith from Nawash and Head Councillor Rory Henry from Saugeen ahead of last week’s announcement, and planning for new nuclear generation at Bruce will involve engagement with these communities to ensure Indigenous perspectives are understood and considered at this early stage.”
In response to SON’s letter, NWMO said the storage site plan “will only proceed in an area with informed and willing hosts, where the municipality, First Nation communities, and others in the area are working together to implement it.
“This means the proposed South Bruce site would only be selected to host a deep geological repository with Saugeen Ojibway Nation’s willingness,” said the NWMO.
By Oregon Department of Energy
In late June, the U.S. Department of Energy reported that radioactive contamination beneath a building at the Hanford Nuclear Site is worse than originally thought.
The Hanford 324 Building is located on the south end of Hanford – in what’s known as the 300 Area – just 1,000 feet from the Columbia River. The US DOE has known about one spill under the building for over a decade, and has been working on a plan for cleanup of the area while also making progress in other areas of Hanford since production turned to cleanup at the site in the 1980s.
The agency knew the contamination in the soil was serious, but sampling this spring found unexpected contamination deeper in the soil and outside the previously known spill area. So what does that mean? Oregon Department of Energy Assistant Director for Nuclear Safety and Emergency Preparedness Maxwell Woods and Hanford Hydrogeologist Tom Sicilia weigh in.
By Robert Alvarez
Over the past 40 years, Arjun Makhijani has provided clear, concise, and important scientific insights that have enriched our understanding of the nuclear age. In doing so, Makhijani—now president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research—has built a solid reputation as a scientist working in the public interest. His most recent contribution to public discourse, Exploring Tritium’s Dangers, adds to this fine tradition.
A radioactive isotope of hydrogen, tritium is one the most expensive, rare, and potentially harmful elements in the world. Its rarity is underscored by its price—$30,000 per gram—which is projected to rise from $100,000 to $200,000 per gram by mid-century.
Although its rarity and usefulness in some applications gives it a high monetary value, tritium is also a radioactive contaminant that has been released widely to the air and water from nuclear power and spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plants. Makhijani points out that “one teaspoon of tritiated water (as HTO) would contaminate about 100 billion gallons of water to the US drinking water limit; that is enough to supply about 1 million homes with water for a year.”
By WLEN News Staff
Lansing, MI – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, from Michigan, announced that the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works passed her provision requiring the Biden Administration to work with Canada on an alternative location to permanently store nuclear waste.
For years, Stabenow has opposed Canada’s plan to permanently store high-level nuclear waste in the Great Lakes Basin.
Stabenow’s provision, which passed as part of the Advance Act of 2023, requires the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to provide an update to Congress on engagement between the Commission and the Government of Canada regarding nuclear waste storage in the Great Lakes Basin.
Joint Media Release –
1 June 2023
In an act of international solidarity, British anti-nuclear campaigners have written to the Premier of Ontario in support of fellow Canadian activists who on 30 May presented a petition to the Legislative Assembly of that state opposing the transportation and dumping of nuclear waste.
The Chair of the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) English Forum, Cllr David Blackburn, was joined by co-signatories Marianne Birkby from Radiation Free Lakeland / Lakes against the Nuclear Dump; Jan Bridget from Millom against the Nuclear Dump / South Copeland against the Geological Disposal Facility; and Ken Smith from Guardians of the East Coast in making an appeal to Premier Doug Ford calling for Canadian nuclear waste to be retained at the sites at which it was generated and stored in purpose-built secure facilities coupled with constant monitoring and active stewardship, rather than trucked for thousands of miles and dumped underground.
In Canada, the Nuclear Waste Management Organisation (NWMO), established by that nation’s nuclear power plant operators, is seeking a site for a so-called Deep Geological Repository for all of Canada’s nuclear fuel waste. As 90% of the waste is held by Ontario Power Generation, a major shareholder in the NWMO, two sites in that state have been short-listed.
Campaigners here in the UK face a similar threat from a Geological Disposal Facility with government-funded Nuclear Waste Services currently investigating the possibility of locating an underground / undersea nuclear waste dump in West Cumbria or East Lincolnshire. As in Canada, many people bitterly object to the plans and have coalesced around local campaigns to oppose them. It is therefore natural that British campaigners should want to express support for Canadian colleagues facing a similar threat.
The petition was formally presented to the Assembly by three elected representatives, Lise Vaugeois, Sol Mamakwa and Mike Schreiner on behalf of the people of Ontario and ‘We the Nuclear Free North’ an alliance of people and groups opposing a nuclear waste dump, or in Canada a Deep Geological Repository, in Northern Ontario. Members of the Alliance include Indigenous Canadians from the First Nations.
Commenting Cllr David Blackburn, Chair of the NFLA English Forum, said: “Our Canadian counterparts are calling specifically for a ‘proximity principle’ to be adopted by the State of Ontario in the storage and stewardship of nuclear waste. This mirrors the position of the Nuclear Free Local Authorities and the Scottish Government that waste should be kept ‘near to the site where it was produced and on or near the surface’ so that it can be continually monitored and retrieved and repackaged in the event of an accident”.
The NWMO in Canada and Nuclear Waste Services in the UK have been liaising recently for the purposes of knowledge sharing, and anti-nuclear campaigners in both nations are now looking to set up an early meeting to discuss their own ideas for international collaboration.
For more information, please contact Richard Outram, Secretary, UK/Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities by email to [email protected], telephone +44 (0) 7583 097793
Notes to Editors – Our websites are:
UK / Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities https://www.nuclearpolicy.info/
Radiation Free Lakeland, Lakes Against Nuclear Dump Campaign
Millom against the Nuclear Dump / South Copeland against the GDF https://southcopelandagainstgdf.org.uk/
Guardians of the East Coast https://www.gotec.org.uk/
We the Nuclear Free North https://wethenuclearfreenorth.ca/
Protect Our Waterways - No Nuclear Waste https://www.protectourwaterways.org/
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