The MRC Pontiac wishes to express its disappointment in not all at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s January 9th decision to authorize Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) in Chalk River to build a near-surface nuclear waste management facility. The facility, which will receive radioactive materials for at least 50 years, will be located near the Ottawa River.
Like many towns and municipalities located downstream of Chalk River on both sides of the Ottawa River, the Pontiac MRC unanimously adopted a resolution opposing the project in December 2021.
“I’m very concerned with the decision that has been made in this matter,” says Jane Toller, Warden for the MRC Pontiac. “The Council of Mayors took a clear stance against this project and asked that it be further located from the Ottawa River, which is a major water supply and tourist attraction for our communities, but also the many municipalities along the river’s shores.”
In June 2022, during public consultations on the project, the MRC Pontiac expressed its concerns to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission about the proximity of such a facility to the Ottawa River. The nature of the site, with streams flowing into the river, and the region’s vulnerability to earthquakes, tornadoes, and heavy rain, made the chosen site unacceptable to the MRC.
“Climate change is bringing us much more frequent spring flooding,” adds Warden Toller. “In the event of radionuclides and/or hazardous waste stored at the facility seeping into the Ottawa River, our population will suffer an irreparable impact on both their health and the health of the Ottawa River. We cannot take this risk for our present generation, but also for future generations.”
Finally, the MRC Pontiac joins the Algonquin peoples and Kitigan Zibi in deploring the Government of Canada’s failure to respect its commitments under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which states in Article 29 (2) that “States shall take effective measures to ensure that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent.“
“We have no choice but to monitor the work on this facility and ensure that LNC meets all the environmental commitments imposed on it,” concludes MRC Pontiac Warden Jane Toller.