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What to do with nuclear waste? The question dividing France

Bure, France | On 15 August, an anti-nuclear campaigner almost lost his foot during a demonstration in Bure, in the east of France. One month later, on 20 September, police conducted several raids on premises housing activists in the village, including the emblematic “Maison de la résistance”, (House of Resistance), the nerve centre of the fight against the nuclear dump.

The small village of Bure, in the Meuse department, has crystallised the anti-nuclear campaign in France in recent months. In 1998, it was selected as the site for an Industrial Geological Storage Centre (Cigéo), where the plan is to progressively bury 85,000 cubic metres of highly radioactive long-lived waste in a bed of clay, 500 metres below ground, by means of operations expected to last 150 years.

The ANDRA (National Agency for Radioactive Waste Management), which is managing the project, is expected to apply to the IRSN (French Institute for Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety) for authorisation to build in 2019. Its application has been deferred on several occasions due to legal and technical setbacks, which could explain the growing hostility towards the anti-Cigéo activists.

In an open letter, the residents of Bure and the surrounding area recently denounced the “systematic strategy of tension and asphyxiation” launched by the state several months ago, a strategy “aimed at wearing us down and isolating us, like hunted beasts”.

The closer the project comes to the completion phase, the stronger the opposition, and the more the noose of repression is tightened around the anti-nuclear campaigners.

A far from satisfactory solution

The 54 nuclear reactors in France, the second largest producer of nuclear energy in the world, behind the United States, produce 12,000 to 15,000 cubic metres of radioactive waste every year. This includes both low level short-lived radioactive waste and much more toxic long-lived waste.

“The uranium industry, presented as a “virtuous cycle” by the nuclear lobby, actually conceals a chain of dirty, polluting and unmanageable fuel, from the mine to the waste disposal phase,” denounces the French anti-nuclear network Sortir du Nucléaire.

This agency was given the task, in 1979, of answering the insoluble question of how to manage this waste, which can be destroyed by no known chemical or mechanical means, and is extremely toxic.

“We have the technical capacity to store this waste in such a way that it is harmful neither to man nor to the environment, nor the object of malicious acts,” ensures Matthieu Denis-Vienot. “Our priority is therefore focused on confining this waste, because we want to act responsibly and not to leave this burden with future generations.”

This option, although it has been written into French law since 1991 and is in line with the advice of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is far from satisfactory, according to some researchers.

“Whether the waste is thrown into the sea or buried in the ground, the principle behind it is the same: get rid of it, so we can forget about it, because we don’t know what to do with it,” argues Jean-Marie Brom, a physicist and researcher with the CNRS (National Centre for Scientific Research). “What I can tell you as a scientist, is that burying it is the only solution, but it is far from being a good one.”

At ANDRA, the response to this is: “It’s all well and good to say it’s a heresy, but now that it’s there, what can we do about it?”

And that is the final argument put forward to the anti-Cigéo movement by ANDRA. The waste to be buried in Bure is all that generated by 43 years of nuclear energy production.

For the time being, it is being kept at the storage and reprocessing plant in La Hague, in the Manche department of France, where it is vitrified and placed in containers. It is a valid precaution, given that although this waste only represents four per cent of the total, it accounts for 99 per cent of the radioactivity emitted. Moreover, it is the waste with the longest lifespan. It takes 24,440 years for plutonium, for example, to lose half of its radioactivity.

The other 96 per cent of the waste, which accounts for one per cent of radioactivity, is stored on the surface, in the main, at two other storage centres, a few dozen kilometres from Bure.

Anti-nuclear campaigners are outraged by the situation. “It is far too dangerous. Firstly, it means that for 100 years, two radioactive convoys will cross France every day to come to Bure. And secondly, the safety of the site cannot be guaranteed when such long lifespans are involved. What will happen if, one day, these 200,000 “parcels” resurface, whilst they are still radioactive?” asks Jean-Marc Fleury, president of Eodra, a group of elected officials from the Grand Est region who are opposed to the Cigéo project.

The response from ANDRA is that geologists have conducted research and have established that the clay subsoil in the Meuse department of France is a stable geological formation over time.

The IRSN (French Institute for Radiological Protection and Reactor Safety), in its report from July, pointed to a number of risks, such as fire, and whilst acknowledging that the project had reached “satisfactory technical maturity”, it concluded that ANDRA’s current waste disposal concept “did not provide sufficient safety guarantees”.

The anti-nuclear campaigners highlight the example of the United States’ WIPP facility, in New Mexico, where a fire led to the release of radioactive gas, or that of Asse, in Lower Saxony, Germany, where 126,000 barrels of radioactive waste have to be evacuated from an old salt mine being eroded by seepage.

All these countries, confronted with the same problem, are far from having found long-term solutions, and face the same criticisms from the anti-nuclear movement.

Future of nuclear industry at issue

For those opposed to the Cigéo project, it is an ethical issue. “Since we know that collective memory is relatively short, it is possible that in a thousand years, it might be forgotten that it there is radioactive waste in Bure and people will go through these areas, with all the risks that entails,” explains researcher Jean-Marie Brom. “How can we warn future generations that there is extremely dangerous waste here?”

The waste resulting from this decommissioning will have to be stored somewhere.

Beyond the unresolvable waste issue, the fight against the Cigéo project is part of a wider case against the nuclear industry in general. In a context where Germany has announced plans to close all of its nuclear power plants by 2022 and where Italy no longer has nuclear power, France stands out as an exception in the eyes of the activists.

“What is at stake in Bure, is the future of nuclear power,” says Jean-Marc Fleury. “If the Cigéo is not built here, the nuclear industry will come to an end in the next ten years, because a project like this could never be implemented anywhere else, everyone is conscious of that. That’s why we are fighting: if we manage to stop it, it will mean the end of the industry. Regardless of how you look at it, nuclear power is an industry with no future.”

Matthieu Denis-Viennot of ANDRA is not convinced by this line of reasoning. “The Cigéo has to be left out of the debate for or against nuclear power. We may not have chosen to launch the nuclear industry in France, but the fact is that, today, electricity comes mainly from this resource. Given the staggering lifespan of this radioactive waste, we can always question whether such or such a decision is legitimate, but that should not, nevertheless, reinforce indecision.”

So far, Nicolas Hulot, France’s new minister for the ecological transition, has not taken a stand.

The anti-Cigéo groups have, however, repeatedly reminded him of the positions he has taken in the past, including this photo from October 2016 of him posing, and smiling, with a placard against the Cigéo project.

But it seems that the new minister, who has taken off his environmental activist’s hat, has a short memory and is in no hurry to stop the project.

This story has been translated from French.
By Julia Beurq
17 October 2017
As posted at


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Ottawa police called after Eagle Staff seized during Congress meeting, dispute over CAP entanglement with NWMO

APTN National News | The former national chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) was detained by Ottawa police after he tried to seize the organization’s Eagle Staff during a meeting in Ottawa on Saturday.

Kevin Daniels, who was national chief of CAP in 2009, said he wanted to take the Eagle Staff back and “burn it” because it had been “tainted” by the current leadership of the organization.

Daniels made the move to take the Eagle Staff on Saturday during CAP’s morning annual general assembly session at the Marriott Hotel’s ballroom after he took the microphone to challenge CAP’s current National Chief Robert Bertrand over his claims to Indigenous ancestry and dealings with the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO).

“I began my questioning of national leader Robert Bertrand and I asked him a simple question of how much money the (NWMO) was giving this organization,” said Daniels, who originally brought the Eagle Staff to CAP. “I called for his genealogy, I called for his resignation…. I walked up and said, ‘I’m retrieving it, it’s tainted. I grabbed the Eagle Staff and was walking out and was cornered by about 50 people.”

Daniels managed to grab the staff and ended up in a backroom off the ballroom where he remained until Ottawa Police arrived. After Ottawa Police ran his name they discovered he had an outstanding warrant with police in Gatineau, Que., said Daniels.

Ottawa Police Const. Chuck Benoit confirmed Daniels was detained and handed over to Gatineau police on Saturday. He said the police reports from the incident included mention of an Eagle Staff.

“He was apprehended for that warrant and the rest of the information can only be given by Gatineau Police,” said Benoit.

Gatineau Police confirmed the arrest, but did not provide information on the warrant.

Daniels said the warrant was for an assault charge stemming from an incident near Indigenous Affairs’ Gatineau head-quarters when a woman accused him of knocking off her glasses. He said Gatineau police held him overnight and released him on Sunday on a promise to appear at this next court date in January 2018.

Former CAP national chiefs Sen. Patrick Brazeau and Kevin Daniels walk together in 2009. Photo courtesy of Mark Taylor.
Former CAP national chiefs Sen. Patrick Brazeau (left) and Kevin Daniels walk together in 2009. Photo courtesy of Mark Taylor.
Daniels said his battle with CAP is far from over.

“There has been a lot of lateral violence, a lot of greed and corruption within this organization that has been going on for a long, long time,” he said.

APTN contacted Brad Darch, executive assistant to Bertrand, seeking comment. Darch said Bertrand, a former Liberal MP, was in meetings and wouldn’t be available for an interview until Tuesday.

APTN followed up requesting a statement on the Eagle Staff incident and the organization’s dealings with NWMO, but received no response.

CAP says it represents off-reserve and non-status Indigenous peoples.

According to financial documents released by CAP during their annual general meeting, NWMO gave CAP $119,000 for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

NWMO also sponsored the meeting, according to a spokesperson for nuclear waste organization.

NWMO is currently trying to find a location to store used nuclear fuel and has whittled down potential sites to seven from an original list of 22.

“As part of our ongoing work to identify a single preferred location with informed and willing hosts, we frequently interact with Aboriginal people, communities, treaty and political organizations, such as the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples,” said NWMO spokesperson Bradly Hammond. “As we have done in previous years, we had the honour of being among the sponsors of the annual general assembly in Ottawa. This was an excellent opportunity to provide an update about our project, the site selection process and our ongoing engagement with Indigenous people.”

CAP also received about $4.5 million from several federal departments in the 2016-2017 fiscal year, including from Indigenous Affairs. Human Resources and Skills Development and Status of Women Canada.

Roger Fleury, a former Green Party federal candidate and chief of the off-reserve Algonquins of Fort-Coulonge, Que., was in attendance at the meeting when Daniels attempted to seize the Eagle Staff.

He said he is concerned with how Bertrand is running CAP and his dealings with NWMO.

“We have a major problem,” he said. “I agree with Kevin Daniels, who had the nerve to go up there and grab the staff. There is something wrong with this.”

Audrey Redman, a residential school survivor, stepped outside the ballroom when the Eagle Staff incident unfolded.

Redman said she was upset with how events were handled and believes Bertrand needs to be clear about his Indigenous ancestry.

“That is the big question. When he asked about genealogy, they just booed, there was a big row over that,” she said. “What was the problem with that? Don’t we, as Native people, have a right to know? Everybody else has a right to that. We want to know who is a First Nations person. We only know by your bloodline and where you come from.”

Bertrand’s biography on the CAP website is silent about his Indigenous ancestry.

Sen. Patrick Brazeau, who was national chief of CAP from 2006 until he left for his Senate appointment in 2009, attended the organization’s meetings last Friday. Brazeau said he heard many delegates questioning Bertrand’s Indigenous roots.

“I did have a lot of delegates approach me and asking me if I knew Bertrand personally and about his ancestry,” said Brazeau. “Delegates were requesting his ancestry and it poses some problems. I have no opinion on it. I am no longer part of the organization.”

Brazeau said he was “sad” to see the current state of CAP.

“I worked hard and I dedicated a lot of time to raise the profile of the organization and now it seems to be a ghost organization,” said Brazeau. “You don’t hear about it very often and I find it unfortunate for the constituency of CAP. Things could be fixed, but we’ll wait and see.”

National News | September 26, 2017 by Jorge Barrera Attributed to: jbarrera, as posted at

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CNSC completes review of CNL’s draft environmental impact statement; La CCSN termine l’examen de l ’ébauche de l’énoncé des incidences environnementales des LNC

News Release

From Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

August 31, 2017 – Ottawa, ON

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) staff recently completed their technical assessment of the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) from Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) for the proposed Near Surface Disposal Facility. The CNSC, as the responsible authority, is carrying out a federal environmental assessment (EA) pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012).

As the responsible authority, the CNSC has identified a number of areas where additional information will need to be included in the final EIS and other technical supporting documentation. CNSC staff’s assessment is reflected in a series of comments that have been consolidated with those of other federal authorities participating in the review, given their expert information or knowledge in relation to the project (Environment and Climate Change Canada, Health Canada and Natural Resources Canada). The consolidated table of federal comments, which lists almost 200 information requests and comments, has been submitted back to the project proponent, CNL, for action.

The French and English version of the federal comments table for the NSDF project have been posted on CEAR. The links are as follows:

· English Documents CEAR Page (Comments Received / Responses) – (Document Link – Doc #151)

Next steps

CNL must now address all federal and public comments received, and submit a final EIS to the CNSC. The CNSC will then make a determination on whether the information provided in CNL’s submissions is complete. Should further information be required, the proponent will be requested to submit the necessary information until CNSC staff are satisfied with a final EIS. CNL is expected to submit its final EIS in January 2018.

Following receipt of a complete licensing submission and final EIS, CNSC staff will document their assessment and conclusions on the project. CNSC staff’s assessment and the EA report will be available to the public and Indigenous groups at least 60 days prior to the Commission’s public hearing, expected to take place in July 2018. The public will be offered the opportunity to submit written and/or oral interventions.

Quick Facts

· The Near Surface Disposal Facility is a proposed engineered disposal facility for radioactive waste planned for the Chalk River Laboratories site.

· The facility is planned to have an operating life of at least 50 years; as proposed, it would be an engineered mound built at near-surface level on the Chalk River Laboratories site.

· The proposed project would also include a wastewater treatment plant and supporting infrastructure.

Associated Links

Nicole Frigault

Environmental Assessment Officer, Technical Support Branch
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission / Government of Canada

Nicole.Frigault / Tel. : 613-995-7948

Agente en évaluation environnementale, Direction générale du soutien technique

Commission canadienne de sûreté nucléaire / Gouvernement du Canada

Nicole.Frigault / Tél. : 613-995-7948

La CCSN termine l’examen de l’ébauche de l’énoncé des incidences environnementales des LNC

Communiqué de presse

De Commission canadienne de sûreté nucléaire

31 août 2017 – Ottawa (Ontario)

Le personnel de la Commission canadienne de sûreté nucléaire (CCSN) a récemment réalisé un examen technique de l’ébauche de l’énoncé des incidences environnementales (EIE) des Laboratoires Nucléaires Canadiens (LNC) concernant le projet d’installation de stockage des déchets près de la surface. La CCSN, autorité responsable dans cette affaire, effectue une évaluation environnementale (EE) fédérale, conformément à la Loi canadienne sur l’évaluation environnementale (2012) (LCEE 2012).

La CCSN a d’ailleurs cerné un certain nombre de secteurs où des renseignements supplémentaires devront être ajoutés à la version finale de l’EIE et à d’autres documents techniques à l’appui. L’évaluation réalisée par le personnel de la CCSN est reflétée dans une série de commentaires qui ont été regroupés avec ceux d’autres autorités fédérales participant à l’examen en raison de leur expertise ou de leur connaissance à l’égard du projet (Environnement et Changement climatique Canada, Santé Canada et Ressources naturelles Canada). Le tableau des commentaires d’autorités fédérales (en anglais seulement pour le moment), qui contient près de 200 demandes d’information et commentaires, a été remis au promoteur du projet, LNC, aux fins de suivi.

Prochaines étapes

Les LNC doivent maintenant donner suite à tous les commentaires reçus des autorités fédérales et du public, puis soumettre à la CCSN la version finale de l’EIE. La CCSN pourra ensuite juger de l’exhaustivité de l’information fournie par les LNC. S’il manque toujours des renseignements, le promoteur sera tenu de soumettre l’information requise jusqu’à ce que le personnel de la CCSN juge le tout suffisant. On s’attend à ce qui les LNC livrent la version finale de l’EIE en janvier 2018.

Lorsqu’il aura reçu une demande de permis complète et une version finale de l’EIE, le personnel de la CCSN consignera par écrit son évaluation et ses conclusions concernant le projet. L’évaluation et le rapport d’EE du personnel de la CCSN seront accessibles au public et aux groupes autochtones au moins 60 jours avant l’audience publique de la Commission sur la question, prévue pour juillet 2018. La participation du public sera rendue possible par la présentation de mémoires ou d’exposés oraux.

Faits en bref

· L’installation de gestion des déchets près de la surface est un projet d’aménagement visant la gestion des déchets radioactifs sur le site des Laboratoires de Chalk River (LCR).

· Il est prévu que l’installation de gestion des déchets près de la surface aura une durée de vie d’au moins 50 ans; selon la proposition, elle serait composée d’un monticule artificiel construit près de la surface sur le site des LCR.

· Le projet proposé comprendrait une usine de traitement des eaux usées et des infrastructures de soutien.

Liens connexes

Nicole Frigault

Environmental Assessment Officer, Technical Support Branch
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission / Government of Canada

Nicole.Frigault / Tel. : 613-995-7948

Agente en évaluation environnementale, Direction générale du soutien technique

Commission canadienne de sûreté nucléaire / Gouvernement du Canada

Nicole.Frigault / Tél. : 613-995-7948

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Flotilla protests nuclear waste site

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Unclear if local govts will host sites for N-waste disposal in Japan

The government on July 28 released a “scientific features map” of areas that could host a final disposal facility for high-level radioactive waste from spent nuclear fuel. The map displays areas’ suitability for a construction site using a four-grade scale, and was published with the aim of encouraging municipalities to host the facility. However, it remains unclear if any local governments will take on the project.

In 2000, the Japanese government established the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan (NUMO) to oversee final waste disposal. The government has been soliciting hosts for a disposal facility since 2002.

In 2007, the town of Toyo, Kochi Prefecture, applied to host a facility but withdrew its candidacy after residents opposed the move and the mayor was not reelected.

There have been no applications since. To encourage progress, the central government endeavored to chart scientifically appropriate sites for construction of a disposal facility, leading to the release of the map last month.

The government plans on holding explanatory meetings, starting this autumn, mainly in areas deemed suitable for construction. However, few anticipate municipalities to respond positively to government solicitations.


Excerpted from story August 7 2017 story in the Japan News as posted at

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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

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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

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