The Chalk River Mound, or the Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF), is a proposed dumping ground for radioactive waste, to be located less than one kilometre from the Ottawa River on the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) site, formerly known as the Chalk River Laboratories. The facility will be operating over the course of the next fifty years and CNL claims the waste will be low-level radioactive. But, our Canadian Heritage River deserves better.
While promises are being made to closely monitor the impact of the facility, ensuring all disposed waste meets safety requirements, we can assume a corporation focused on nuclear power and waste management might not have the wellbeing of the environment in mind. The application for the NSDF is still under review with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). They will be conducting a public hearing on February 22, 2022 and another on May 31, 2022 to consider the application from CNL to authorize the construction of the NSDF (see letter page 5). This is likely the last opportunity for all those opposed to make themselves heard.
In a recent article in The Journal, Allyson Beauregard stated: “Over six million people depend on the Ottawa River for drinking water, and many claim the risk of contamination outweighs any benefits the untested and experimental fabric-enclosed stockpile offers.”
The mound would contain some of the most dangerous radioactive materials to inhale or consume. Low level radioactive waste can remain hazardous for tens of thousands of years and no level of exposure to these materials is safe. Not only is it a health risk we cannot afford to take, it’s a risk we will be paying for with our tax dollars. Parliament currently allocates over half a billion dollars per year to cleaning up nuclear waste. We have been funding operations in Chalk River for seventy years. Why are we not focused instead on water quality? Where is the concern for our natural resources?
The Assembly of First Nations, whose unceded traditional Algonquin territory is currently being discussed, are in opposition to this type of nuclear waste disposal. They state, “Rivers and lakes are the blood and the lungs of Mother Earth. When we contaminate our waterways, we are poisoning life itself.”
No storage or disposal of hazardous materials should take place on First Nation territory. No storage or disposal of hazardous materials should take place in or around our precious waterways. We want to make progress, to better the land we live on, not destroy it. As someone who grew up living on the Ottawa River, I spent my summer days swimming and my winter days skating. My hope for the future is that my son will be able to do the same.