Concerns about CNL nuclear waste mound project aired

The Hotel Pontiac at Fort William was packed Saturday morning with cottagers and residents concerned about Canadian Nuclear Laboratories plans to install a Near Surface Disposal Facility in Chalk River. They felt it would be located too close to the Ottawa River for comfort.

FORT WILLIAM, QC – Cottagers and residents alike packed the Hotel Pontiac Saturday morning to voice their concerns about Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ proposed Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF).

The meeting was organized by the Old Fort William Cottagers’ Association.

Despite assurances from CNL officials the NSDF design is a safe and proven technology which would be used to mainly store low and intermediate-level waste generated at the Chalk River site, few people seemed convinced it was a good idea in the first place to locate a waste facility anywhere near the Ottawa River.
Property owner Mark Jennings said it just makes sense one would want to avoid being near the water.
“It should be clear that being next to a fast moving river is the last place one would want to locate a nuclear dump,” he said.
Marvin Flood voiced the same question, wondering why, since Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. owned 10,000 acres on its Chalk River site, did CNL pick a handful of acres which were located so close to the river.
Algonquin elder Gilles Dupuis questioned the wisdom of locating the NSDF below the hydroelectric dams on the Ottawa River, which historically had flooded the area. He wasn’t assured by talk the site would be monitored regularly over the long term to ensure any potential problems would be detected quickly and fixed.
“We don’t want to monitor the bad event, we want to prevent it from happening in the first place,” he said.

Others said they were confused by the definitions of “low” and “intermediate” waste, and wanted an accounting of exactly what would be stored there, the amount of radiation it was emitting and how long would it remain that way. Some commented on wanting to know how the NSDF’s contents would impact their health and their family’s health over the long term.
Several brought up the question of liability in case the facility failed, and several times the design itself was criticized.

Kurt Kehler, CNL’s vice-president of decommissioning and waste management, said the design is sound and in use at facilities around the world. It is based on multiple layers of defence including waterproof liners to prevent it from leaking into the ground, plus having a water treatment plant on site to deal with any water which has worked through the engineered containment mound to reach that base liner.
He said what would be allowed into the mound would be strictly controlled and will not contain anything highly radioactive, such as spent fuel.
“That will not be going into the NSDF,” Kehler said, which is being built and operated specifically to protect people and the environment.
He said the project has gone through a risk analysis to ensure it can survive intact from anything – earthquake, tornadoes, floods and the like. The site itself is elevated well above the historic flood plain, and a lot of analysis and study has gone into the decision to locate it at the best possible site.
“This property is probably the most studied tract of land in Canada,” he said. “We believe if you look at all of the aspects of it, you will find this is the best site for the NSDF.”

Kehler said CNL is not making any money off of this disposal site; instead, they are spending money to take care of legacy wastes by cleaning up and disposing of them safely. He said that is in the employees best interest, too, that they do this to the best of their ability, as they also live and play and use the water of the Ottawa River.
As for liability, Kehler said the property and all issues related to it remains in the hands of AECL and the government of Canada. CNL – a consortium of four companies – is contracted to operate it. He said if something went wrong, the Canadian government would go after CNL for redress, but the main liability is owned by Canada.

Kehler said their proposal is so technically sound “there is no Plan B,” as they don’t think any would be necessary. The ultimate ruler on this would be the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), who will need to approve and licence the project. That agency will also monitor and ensure compliance with it.
Pat Quinn, CNL’s director of corporate communications, said a lot of the more detailed technical information people were seeking is spelled out in their Environmental Impact Statement, which details the project. It is submitted to the CNSC as part of the approval process, and is available online.
According to CNL, the NSDF is to be used for the disposal of mostly low-level waste and a small amount of intermediate-level waste, mainly contaminated soil and building debris resulting from the decommissioning and demolition of more than 100 buildings and structures at the Chalk River site – a necessary part of revitalizing the site – and to provide a safe and permanent disposal for waste from 65 years of science and technology and the laboratories’ continuing operations.

The majority of the NSDF’s contents, some 90 per cent, is already stored, or would be produced, out of activities at the Chalk River site. Of the remainder, about five per cent would be waste originating from the Whiteshell Laboratories, in Manitoba and other AECL sites, such as the prototype reactors Douglas Point and Gentilly-1; and less than five per cent would be commercial sourced inventories for example from Canadian hospitals and universities, a service that has been underway for decades.
It will be built to operate for 50 years, after which it will be capped and effectively sealed off. The site will continue to be monitored for at least the next 300 years after it has ceased operations, or longer if government regulators determine that time period needs to be extended.
Those objecting to the NSDF have stated they feel it is too risky, its design not proven to be safe over a long period of time, is located too close to the Ottawa River and is being rushed ahead unnecessarily to meet a 2020 completion deadline.

The public has until August 16 to comment on CNL’s draft environmental impact statement (EIS) regarding the disposal facility. If approved by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, construction would begin in 2018.
To date, no public hearing has been scheduled to deal with the application for approval, which is part of the process, but one is expected to be set up sometime in 2018.

By Stephen Uhler, The Pembroke Daily Observer, Monday, July 17, 2017 8:57:46 EDT AM as posted at

Plan to bury Whiteshell nuclear reactor faces questions

PINAWA — A single dental X-ray is 100 times more radioactive than the leakage would be from an entombed Whiteshell Reactor No. 1 (WR-1), the company charged with decommissioning the nuclear reactor said Wednesday night.

That’s the radioactive dosage to someone subsistence farming or harvesting fish, wildlife and berries downstream of the entombed reactor for a year, said Brian Wilcox, director of project delivery for Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL).

The dosage amounts to 1/10,000th the legal allowable level. CNL’s modelling “essentially concluded exposure level is extremely small,” Wilcox said.

CNL is proposing burying WR-1 here in a concrete grout. It wraps up its final round of public forums next week before it submits an Environmental Impact Statement to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission on Sept. 1.

That Environmental Impact Statement will then be posted online, and the public will have 75 days to respond. A round of public hearings will be held by the safety commission in 2018, likely in Winnipeg, with a final decision in December of the same year.

About 20 people attended the Pinawa meeting, including a large contingent of retired nuclear energy employees. Questions from the floor were sometimes technical, and there was a high level of familiarity with the scientific terminology.

CNL’s staff are virtually all former scientists from Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., which ran the nuclear research site up until three years ago.

The Whiteshell nuclear reactor is about 500 metres from the Winnipeg River. CNL estimates it will take about 100 years for groundwater to move from the entombed reactor to the river.

However, there will be little radioactivity then as the reactor will be entombed in a concrete grout. It is when modeling ground behaviour over thousands of years, and deterioration of the concrete encasement, that calculations become very advanced.

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories is a conglomerate of international interests charged with disposing of the nuclear reactor by the federal government. Members of the conglomerate have handled the decommissioning of other nuclear reactors around the world but this is the first case in Canada.

WR-1 operated near Pinawa, about from 1965-85 as a research tool to develop the Candu reactor.

The original plan was to dismantle the reactor and store it in a facility at the Chalk River nuclear research facility in Ontario.

However, CNL says moving the nuclear material is far more dangerous than simply burying it. It would be safer to simply fill in the five-story basement that currently houses the nuclear reactor.

Peter Baumgartner, a retired AECL scientist, insisted that encasing nuclear reactors above bedrock runs the risk that sometime in the next 10,000 years continental glaciers will dig up and distribute the nuclear materials.

“Sitting in soils it will be bulldozed (by glaciers). It’s that simple,” he said.

Canada has spent at least half a billion dollars researching embedded nuclear waste in bedrock, and that’s the direction CNL should go, Baumgartner said.

Another former AECL scientist argued the need for an independent assessment in addition to the ones by the applicant and the regulator. However, Canadian law does not require an outside assessment.

Pinawa Mayor Blair Skinner called CNL’s proposal “a safe option,” but stressed he was only giving his opinion. Skinner said the community is comfortable with nuclear energy and wants to lure nuclear industry to the community to fill the void once WR-1 is sealed. WR-1 is supposed to be sealed by 2024, which will cost the community about 300 jobs.

One industry being targeted is the manufacture of small modular reactors for remote off-grid communities and mining sites, Skinner said.

CNL’s next to last public meeting is being held in Lac du Bonnet next Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to allow cottagers to attend.

Bill Redekop By: Bill Redekop Posted: 07/13/2017 6:54 AM as posted by the Winnipeg Free press at

Nuclear disruption for North Coast 500 route

Scotland | A hugely-popular tourist driving route faces disruption while a stretch is used to transport nuclear waste.

With the UK terror threat remaining “severe,” police have been granted the power to close a nine-mile stretch of the lucrative North Coast 500 route for public safety reasons.

The move is to allow shipments to be transported along the A836 from the Dounreay atomic plant in Caithness to the port of Scrabster – then on to Sellafield in Cumbria.

The A836 closure will take effect from 8am next Monday (July 17) until June 22 next year.

Motorists will be diverted onto an unclassified alternative route taking them via Shebster and Westfield, to the south.

The interruption will take trippers away from the coastal route and close to the giant Baillie Windfarm and a string of huge pylons.

David Richardson, regional spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses which represents many tourism-related operations in the far north, said the impact needed to be carefully considered.

And he questioned whether road was the best method of transporting the convoys, whether they should happen during the summer season and why they had to happen during the day.

He said: “Closing the road might seem simple but if it leads to congestion or delays, that can damage the enjoyment of visitors especially if they’ve got a ferry to catch, for example.

“Tourism is on the up. Nevertheless, the future is uncertain and businesses know they can’t be taken for granted.

No-one was available for comment yesterday at either the NC500 offices or at VisitScotland.

Local councillors say the diversions should not undermine the appeal of the lucrative tourist draw.

Willie Mackay said: “The detour is much closer to the windfarm but it’s a good, open road and scenic – still offering beautiful views.”

His council colleague Matthew Reiss, a former area police commander, said: “The diversion route is safe and adds very little extra mileage. I don’t anticipate any significant problems.”

Until now such loads from Dounreay, which is being decommissioned, have not required such road closures on the NC500 route.

But in a period of unprecedented security, a decision was taken by the security sevices to close the road as deemed necessary.

A spokesman for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority said: “Dounreay is closing down and nuclear materials are being removed. Our priority at all times is to comply with regulations governing the safety and security of nuclear materials in storage and in transit.”

A spokeswoman for the police said: “We’ve requested a temporary traffic restriction in order to facilitate abnormal road movements. The request has been made as a contingency and if the road does require to be closed, signage will be in place. Officers will be on hand to allow local and emergency access.”

Thurso-based anti windfarm campaigner Brenda Herrick expressed concern about the impression on people who travel long distances to experience wild landscapes.

She said: “I think these convoys will prove quite off-putting.

“And with being diverted via the Baillie Windfarm, many people wanting to enjoy our beautiful countryside won’t want to see these overbearing machines destroying their view. It’s hardly a selling point.”

by IAIN RAMAGE July 10, 2017, 5:51 am, The Press and Journal, as posted at

Germany’s anti-nuclear movement: Still going strong after four decades of activism

Germany’s anti-nuclear movement has a long and colorful history of direct action, civil disobedience – and victories against the nuclear industry.

This week, anti-nuclear protestors blocked a boat to carrying nuclear waste to an interim storage site in Germany. Hanging from a bridge, the activists briefly lowered a banner reading “prevention not relocation.”

Police soon had the protestors out of their way, so the boat – the first to transport nuclear waste in Germany by river – could continue on its way.

But Germany’s anti-nuclear movement has won plenty of victories over more than four decades of direct action, civil disobedience, and creative protest.

Click through the gallery above to look at how grassroots activism gave rise to a nationwide political movement that influenced global atitudes towards energy.