(Correction: The Green Party candidate said that Chalk River was accepting nuclear waste from the United States. In fact, the waste from the U.S. is from Canada and was sent south for processing.)
Chanting “no nuclear waste dump,” a small flotilla of canoes and kayaks provided the backdrop to a campaign-style press conference by three Green Party candidates in Ottawa.
Canadian Nuclear Laboratories plans to build what is called a near surface disposal facility for non-fuel nuclear waste.
The problem say the Greens is that it’s only a kilometre from the Ottawa River, the source of drinking water for about two million people.
“There’s no liability insurance in the world that would cover the type of disaster we would face if nuclear waste contaminated the Ottawa River,” said Lorraine Rekmans, Green Party candidate for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.
The facility would be near Chalk River, a community 180 kilometres northwest of Ottawa.
“This mound as they call it will cover the area of 70 NHL hockey rinks and be seven stories high,” said Angela Keller-Herzog, Green Party candidate for Ottawa Centre. “It would a hold a million cubic metres of radioactive waste.
“It will be a giant nuclear landfill.”
The facility will deal with waste already at Chalk River.
Rekmans agrees that waste should be dealt with on site, but with neutral, scientific oversite rather than a corporate one.
“Nuclear industry is usually a cut and run. It’s the quickest, cheapest solution to get it done and get out,” she said.
Rekmans admits the technology still needs to be developed for a long-term solution for nuclear waste.
“It’s not the end of the story. I think we can’t treat it like the end of the story, like wrap it up in a big bow and walk away,” she said. “That’s never going to happen.
“So as we go forward in the future, we’ll have solutions.”
In the meantime, protesters and candidates opposed making the problem even bigger by accepting waste from across North America.
“They are already transporting truckloads of that nuclear waste from Manitoba, from Quebec, from Ontario and even from the United States to Chalk River,” said Keller-Herzog.
According to the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, the waste coming from the United States is from Canada and was sent south of the border for processing to reduce its size.
Chalk River is run by a consortium of companies, headed by the one at the centre of the scandal involving Prime Minister Trudeau and former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, SNC Lavalin.
The proposed facility will take waste for 50 years. Canadian Nuclear Laboratories says it should last for 550 years.