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Stop producing nuclear waste until we can dispose of it, critics urge Canada via The Province

OTTAWA — Environmental groups say Canada should stop producing nuclear energy until the federal government replaces its “pathetic” waste disposal policy with something more meaningful and scientific.

The groups, including the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility and the Canadian Environmental Law Association, intend to protest outside a meeting Wednesday where officials will discuss plans to decommission nuclear labs and reactors in Chalk River, Ont., and Pinawa, Man.

The groups are particularly concerned about the proposal to build a surface-level disposal site at Chalk River, about two hours northwest of Ottawa, that would house a million cubic metres of waste just a kilometre from the Ottawa River, and to bury underground nuclear reactors at the sites in concrete.

Neither proposal meets international guidelines for the handling of nuclear waste, they say.


The policy is entirely silent on science or agreed upon best-practices for how waste should be disposed, say opponents, who want Canada to immediately halt nuclear activities until such a policy is in place, developed in consultation with the public and interested parties.

Thus far, burying properly encased radioactive waste in tunnels in the ground is the best option, but no one is certain of the long-term consequences, critics say. Encasing facilities in concrete so that they can never be safely accessed later is short-sighted, they warn.

Atomic Energy Canada Ltd., a federal Crown corporation, contracted Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, a privately-owned consortium, to decommission nuclear sites.


The federal policy assigns clear roles and responsibilities to the federal government and nuclear waste owners, Natural Resources Canada said in a statement Tuesday. The proposals will not be approved unless they are safe for workers, the public and the environment, it added.

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