Nuclear waste bunker decision not about ‘money or beads and trinkets’

TORONTO — Indigenous people in the shadow of one of the world’s largest nuclear reactors are adamant their values will underpin their decision on whether to approve a proposed multibillion-dollar storage bunker for radioactive waste — a process that could take at least another year to play out.

Armed with commitments from both the Canadian government and proponents of the Deep Geologic Repository to await their buy-in, the Saugeen Ojibway Nation say they will take their time to reach an informed opinion on a project already more than a decade in the planning.

“Our values and who we are as a people and our connection to the lands and the waters are in many ways more important than the technical aspects of this,” Randall Kahgee, a former chief and now lead adviser to the First Nations on nuclear issues, said in an interview.

“This is not just a simple project. This is a forever project. It requires our people to think beyond seven generations, which is typically how we plan and think about these things.”

The Ontario Power Generation project, currently estimated to cost $2.4 billion, would see a bunker built at the Bruce nuclear power plant near Kincardine, Ont., close to the Lake Huron shoreline. Hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of low and intermediate radioactive waste — now stored at the site above ground — would be buried 680 metres deep.

The Saugeen Ojibway Nation comprises about 5,000 members of the Saugeen First Nation and the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation, many of whom live elsewhere. They have long complained about being shut out of decisions related to the power plant.

“We were never part of shaping those decisions,” Kahgee said. “We certainly have not benefited in the same way that others have. It’s the kind of classic example we see historically, where our people are often left on the outside looking in on their own territory while others reap the benefits.”

The waste storage plan, pushed by OPG as perfectly safe but opposed by politicians and scores of communities in Canada and the United States as an eco disaster in the making, won tentative approval from an environmental review panel in May 2015. Since then, both the previous Conservative and current Liberal governments have repeatedly delayed making the politically fraught final decision.

Most recently, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna asked the giant utility in late August to come back yet again with more information — this time on how the project might affect area First Nations.

“OPG continues to be engaged in respectful dialogue with SON, as it has been since 2004, and is seeking further information on those effects as well as the timeline for the SON community process,” said Neal Kelly, with Ontario Power Generation. “Once OPG has that information, we will submit the updated analysis to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.”

Steps toward a consensus among affected First Nations are underway. Members turned out to a conference over four days in September and October that Kahgee dubbed “Nuclear 101.” The aim was to explain nuclear power basics: radiation, levels of waste toxicity, and the issues around how best to store the waste that remains dangerous for centuries. People, he said, have to understand enough to ask the right questions and hold a good dialogue.

“Your no has to be just as informed as your yes,” he said.

Various community sessions are being planned for 2018 but what’s critical, Kahgee said, is to come up with a robust consultation process that ultimately reflects the native voice.

“This is an historic moment in this country,” he said. “We are probably one of maybe one or two Indigenous communities in the world doing work on consent. It’s a tremendous burden, but it’s also a tremendous opportunity.”

Not lost on the Saugeen peoples in the ongoing discussion is the reality of the nearby power plant, a major employer in the area critical to Ontario’s electricity needs, and the hazardous waste stored on site for years.

“It’s not going away, it’s there, and if we take seriously our role as stewards of the land, implicit is the responsibility of stewardship to act,” Kahgee said. “These are complex issues that will take time for our people to address. If this was simply about money or beads and trinkets, that conversation would have happened long ago.”

© Copyright 2017 Thompson Citizen, COLIN PERKEL / THE CANADIAN PRESS, NOVEMBER 26, 2017 09:30 AM as posted at

First Nations fight nuclear waste

The Bawating Water Protectors (BWT) were on the march at Queen’s Park on November 9 to tell Ontario Liberals and Ontario Power Generation what they can do with their nuclear power waste. And it does not include storing it near the waterways of the Great Lakes, crossing indigenous lands and potentially harming everyone in the vicinity.

BWT is a coalition of Anishinabek and Iroquois Caucus First Nations, residing all the way from the Sault Ste. Marie area down to southern Ontario.

Radioactive colonialism

The nuclear industry wants to bury nuclear reactor waste on or near First Nations territories. Several corporations, hired by the Harper government, want to dump two million cubic metres of radioactive waste, which belong to the federal government, beside Lake Ontario and the Ottawa River.

Meanwhile Ontario Liberals are cancelling funding of green energy programs, running the Pickering nuclear station well beyond its design life, and spending tens of billions of dollars to rebuild the geriatric Darlington and Bruce nuclear stations.

The proposed dumping of nuclear waste on and near First Nations was done, of course, without consulting these Nations. Ontario has 20 nuclear plants and the government leaves it to the nuclear industry to dispose of the toxic waste.

This is the latest in a long history of corporations and governments using Indigenous land and labour for mining radioactive materials (poisoning Navajo and Dene miners), testing atomic weapons and disposing of toxic waste—a process that Indigenous scholars Ward Churchill and Winona LaDuke described 30 years ago as “radioactive colonialism.”

Indigenous resistance

Following an opening to the rally by the Smoke Trail Singers, a youth from the Anishinabek and Iroquois Caucus First Nations, acting as MC, described the damage to lands, animals and water caused by the Kincardine reactor, affecting the waters along Lake Huron and nearby waterways. “We need to speak for the water and for the seven generations ahead of us. As young people we understand our responsibilities. We demand the phase out of nuclear power and instead use renewable powers, or else we will be doing an injustice to future generations.”

Candace Day, Serpent River First Nation said “We need to hold the government accountable and think of how to live in harmony with nature. The indigenous worldview is critical. There is no word for ‘owning’ the earth. We wouldn’t poison our mother and Earth is our mother. The Canadian government is disgusting.”

Other speakers included Chief Don Maracle , Angela Bischoff (Ontario Clean Air Alliance), scientist Dr. Gordon Edwards, Katie an Anishinabek youth, Grand Chief Patrick Madahbee, and Deputy Chief Glen Hare.

Over 100 indigenous people and settler allies attended the rally. The indigenous youth tried to present a recreation of a barrel of toxic waste to Premier Wynne. When turned away by Queen’s Park security and Toronto police, the youth led the rest of the protesters to the nearby office building of Ontario Power Generation for a few more high-energy speeches of protest and a wonderful round dance.

For more information visit Bawating Water Protectors

November 20, 2017

Drilling for a potential nuclear waste repository near Ignace

Drilling for core samples will continue for three months

The agency responsible for selecting a preferred site for storing Canada’s used nuclear fuel has started test drilling in the Ignace area.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization is conducting borehole drilling and core sample testing in a rock formation known as the Revell Batholith, south of Highway 17 and about 35 kilometres west of Ignace.

The worksite is located between Ignace and the Wabigoon Lake Ojibway First Nation.

In a news release, the NWMO said the initial study of core samples is part of the evaluation of the geology around potential nuclear waste repositories.

Work at this location is expected to continue for at least three months.

“This first borehole marks an important milestone in Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel,” said Mahrez Ben Belfadhel, an NWMO vice-president.

“Reaching this level of study is the result of several years of hard work by everyone involved and extensive collaboration with residents in the area, including First Nation and Metis communities,” he said.

Once drilling and testing is complete, geoscience, environmental, engineering and repository safety specialists will take another year to review the data before sharing their findings.

Various studies are also underway near six other Ontario communities including Manitouwadge and Hornepayne.

The NWMO hopes to identify a preferred site by 2023, but says the host community must be “informed and willing.”

As posted 9 October 2017 by: Staff at, video produced by the NWMO at

Low-level waste only for Canadian repository (sic)

02 November 2017 | World Nuclear News

Only low-level radioactive waste will be disposed of in the planned Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF) at Chalk River, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) has announced. CNL made the decision not to include intermediate-level waste after reviewing comments and concerns expressed during a public comment period on the facility’s draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) completed its technical assessment of the draft EIS for the facility in August. A consolidated table of federal comments, including the CNSC’s assessment and those of other federal authorities participating in the review, was submitted back to CNL for action. This table included a number of comments and concerns related to the inclusion of intermediate-level waste in the facility, the CNSC said. Similar comments were also raised in submissions received during the public comment period on the EIS, it added.

CNL must address all federal and public comments received on the proposal before submitting its final EIS.
The NSDF has previously been described by CNL as a crucial step in the transformation of the Chalk River Laboratories site into a centre for world class science and technology innovation following the closure of the National Research Universal reactor next year after 60 years of operations. Revitalisation of the Chalk River Laboratories will involve the decommissioning of more than 100 buildings that have reached the end of their useful lives. CNL earlier this year published a long-term strategy for the Ontario site which includes infrastructure investments of more than CAD1.2 billion ($873 million) over 10 years for the development of a new small modular reactor at the site by 2026.

The facility, an engineered containment mound able to hold 1 million cubic metres of waste, was initially intended to safely dispose of solid, low-level radioactive waste and a small amount of intermediate-level waste from Chalk River, including waste from demolition activities and operational waste currently in interim storage. It would also contain small quantities of waste from decommissioning projects at other governmental sites and from Canadian hospitals, universities and industrial clients.

CNL announced that it had “re-evaluated” its proposal for the NSDF in a Community Information Bulletin dated 27 October, in which it said waste intended for disposal in the facility will meet International Atomic Energy Agency guidelines for low-level radioactive waste.

“Intermediate level waste will continue to be managed in interim storage at Chalk River Laboratories until a long-term disposal solution for this category of radioactive waste has been developed and approved,” it said.
The CNSC today said the environmental assessment process will continue, taking into account CNL’s revised proposal. The regulator said it is awaiting documentation from CNL that details the revised waste inventory being proposed. This, along with CNL’s responses to all federal, provincial and public comments, will be considered as part of the CNSC’s ongoing environmental assessment review of the proposed project, it said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

As posted at