The public will soon be able to see for itself what the fuss is all about regarding Chalk River's proposed disposal site.
Starting April 20 and wrapping up May 3, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories will be holding a total of seven public information sessions to cover the area on both sides of the Ottawa River from Stonecliffe to Pembroke, in which those in charge of designing, building and operating the Near Surface Disposal Facility will be available to answer questions and address concerns about the project.
The public information sessions and their locations are as follows:
Thursday, Apr. 20 - Deep River at the Deep River Arena – Mezzanine; 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Monday, Apr. 24 - Stonecliffe Township Hall, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Tuesday, Apr. 25 - Chalk River Lion’s Club Hall 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Wednesday, Apr. 26 Rapides-des-Joachims, QC Town Hall 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Monday, May 1 - Petawawa Civic Centre, Rotary Room 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Tuesday, May 2 - Sheenboro, QC Municipal Hall 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Wednesday, May 3 – Pembroke Best Western - Copeland Room 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
These will be in addition to the 14 public meetings which have already been held on the subject.
Speaking to Pembroke's operations committee Tuesday evening, Kurt Kehler, vice-president of decommissioning and waste management, said the company wants to get the support it needs to move on with the project, which is key to the renewal of Chalk River Labs.
This includes having a place to safely put the debris from the more than 100 buildings and structures at the Chalk River site which are to be demolished to make way for new facilities.
Once the site completed, the NSDF will have the capacity to hold up to one million cubic metres of low to medium level radioactive material, 90 per cent of it will be mainly demolition waste and contaminated soil generated right on site, legacy waste from 65 years of operation which is stored on site, and waste from future research and operations activities.
The rest will come from other AECL properties such as Whiteshell, Douglas Point and Gentilly-1 prototype reactors, and waste from ongoing commitments to health care institutions and universities.
Kehler said the whole facility will be lined and sealed, any water associated with it treated, and it will be engineered in a way to keep waste products contained.
If approved by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, which is expected to hold a public environmental assessment hearing in January 2018, construction would begin right away, with the facility ready to begin operations in 2020. It is designed to operate for 50 years,.and then to be monitored for at least 300 years after it is shut down.
Kehler said CNL released its draft environmental impact statement earlier in March, which outlines the entire project and its impact on the surrounding area, and the public has to May 17 to comment on it.
Mayor Michael LeMay said while most of the project makes sense to him, such as keeping waste created at Chalk River on site, he was concer4ned about how the remaining 10 per cent would be transported.
Kehler said CNL and AECL have been transporting waste and radioactive materials to Chalk River for years. He said they have the methods and the equipment to ensure it is done safely, with the materials properly contained.
He added these NSDFs are in operation in the United States, Europe, and two in Canada, saying it is a proven method of disposal.
Coun. Les Scott, operations committee chairman, said he appreciates the efforts of CNL to bring this information out and to stand before the public to explain it.
“Addressing rumors is one of the hardest things to do,” Scott said, noting the negative publicity the facility has attracted, and commended them for carrying on.
To comment on the draft environmental impact statement before May 17 of this year, contact the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission at email@example.com.