Canada : Country Update : September 2018

There continues to be a healthy debate in Canada, for and against the geological disposal of waste.  There are two separate programmes which are the focus of the debate:

  • the national repository for higher-activity waste being developed by the National Waste Management Organisation (NWMO)
  • an underground repository being proposed by Ontario Power Generation (OPG) for the lower-level radioactive wastes not intended for disposal in NWMO’s repository.

The main news over the summer was the launch of a campaign by environmentalists (21 August) asking the Government to cease producing more radioactive waste until there was a plan for managing it.  They claim the current radioactive waste disposal policy is “pathetic” and needs replacing with something more meaningful and scientific. The Canadian Government references the NWMO’s work as a scientific and evidence-based plan with significant community involvement.

This campaign was followed up by protests against OPG’s repository plans (22 August).  Local media had reported on an earlier beach festival designed to raise public awareness of radioactive waste and plans for its disposal (8 August).  OPG announced that their discussions with indigenous peoples would probably take several years (11 September).

There were also community protests in Hornepayne, one of the communities under consideration by NWMO as a potential site for the GDF (3 & 14 August).  But the protests by some residents do not necessarily reflect wider local opinion.  A member of the local Community Liaison Committee expressed concern that misinformation from opponents to the planned geological repository was a greater risk than an explosion or terrorist attack (13 August).

NWMO’s approach to engaging with indigenous people is used as an exemplar of public engagement (27 September).  NWMO also published information about their youth education programme (9 August).

Finally, there was Canadian activity focused on their US neighbours.  A Canadian member of parliament expressed concern about rumoured shipments of US radioactive waste through Canada (3 August), while Vancouver media want the radioactive waste at the Hanford nuclear facility just across the border in Washington State moved as quickly as possible to the proposed US repository at Yucca Mountain (25 August).