New proposal for the nuclear dump on Ontario's Ottawa River

Posted 6.23.17

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (non-government) announced a year ago their proposal to build a very large above-ground dump for nuclear wastes, near a fault-line, not far from the Ottawa River, up-stream from Aylmer, Gatineau and our nation's capital.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Our LCC home in Cobden, Ontario, is on Muskrat Lake, which feeds into the Ottawa River. We buy our daily drinking water from the Culligan plant in Pembroke, which is just down river from the proposed nuclear dump site at Chalk River.]

Apart from local newspapers, this project has received almost no attention, and even less from our political leaders. Isn't their silence unsettling?

As I understand, Le Droit had one longish article, the Citizen even less. According to my sources - - which are no more watertight than a plastic membrane protecting us from radioactive waste - - our region's federal and provincial reps have had next to no-comment (except the CAQ and the PQ members who represent the Outaouais in their caucuses).

CBC and the TV giants? The "national" newspapers? One MP, Will Amos for Pontiac, has written conciliatory letters to local media in which he, basically, expresses his faith in the good intentions, professionalism, and caution of the bureaucrats, engineers, and corporate leaders who are stick-handling this project.

This is our democratic checks-and-balances at work? Better question: what are these "leadership voices" afraid of? (Save us the baffle-gab, Your Honourables.)

Citizens groups and scientists have raised concerns. But it's easy to dismiss citizens' groups as responding semi-hysterically to any change.

As I read the CNL's material, this multiple-football-field size, membrane-enveloped, fully-above-ground dump will contain mostly construction waste, equipment, clothing, containers, etc., all radioactively contaminated to varying levels. Crucial to notice: the specs note that a small percentage of this waste will come from Gentilly in Quebec and from Manitoba and "may" contain higher-risk radioactive materials, with a life of thousands of years. Infinitely longer than the life of any corporation.

One might expect, dealing with radioactive materials with half-lives of thousands of years, that the Precautionary Principle be the number one guide - - better safe than sorry, in a word. But no. Question one: why not?

So here's my splendid proposal. Since this nuclear dump is much. much safer than it appears to be, according to officials and our deputies, the nuclear "repository" should actually be located in downtown Ottawa.

Benefits: shorter, better transportation links, access to more trained professionals, closer emergency, hospital and police services. Energy and communication sources more reliable, top-level decision makers nearby, all the rest. Downtown Ottawa, and there's an empty lot near the Supreme Court. Or behind the Parliament Buildings.

What an opportunity for scientific displays about the safety of nuclear energy!

Anyone who doesn't take this Ottawa proposal seriously must answer why it is OK to put this "harmless" depot, if not in Ottawa, then near thousands of rural people - - plus, eventually, Ottawa itself? Is it because rural people are timid? Are they bumpkins who can be bought off with some job offers and pats on the back? Humour us, Dear Honourables, and explain why "rural", and why not Ottawa?

And doesn't this proposal reveal that, yes, there are two classes of Canadians: the important folks (government) and rural "expendables"?

Any comments? Any at all?


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