This Saturday, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories is reaching across the river to explain what its Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF) is all about.
On July 15, 9:30 a.m. the Hotel Pontiac in Fort William, Que will be the site of a public meeting in which the controversial project, plus details on the decommissioning of Rolphton's NPD (Nuclear Power Demonstration) reactor.
The meeting is being sponsored by The Old Fort William Cottagers’ Association, which along with the Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area (CCRCA) have expressed concerns about the NSDF project.
According to CNL, the NSDF is to be used for the disposal of mostly low-level waste and a small amount of intermediate-level waste, mainly building debris resulting from the decommissioning and demolition of more than 100 buildings and structures at the Chalk River site – a necessary part of revitalizing the site – and to provide a safe and permanent disposal for waste from 65 years of science and technology and the laboratories’ continuing operations.
The majority of the NSDF's contents, some 90 per cent, is already stored, or would be produced, out of activities at the Chalk River site. Of the remainder, about five per cent would be waste originating from the Whiteshell Laboratories, in Manitoba and other AECL sites, such as the prototype reactors (Douglas Point and Gentilly-1); and less than five per cent would be commercial sourced inventories for example from Canadian hospitals and universities, a service that has been underway for decades.
The NPD reactor and all fuel elements have been shut down and removed since 1988, leaving behind the building and other support structures. All this is to be leveled and pushed into the underground portion of the facility, which contains the reactor chamber, that will be sealed up with grouting, lined with an engineered barrier, then capped with concrete.
Those objecting to the NSDF have stated they feel it is too risky, its design not proven to be safe over a long period of time, is located too close to the Ottawa River and is being rushed ahead unnecessarily to meet a 2020 completion deadline.
What the CCRCA would like to see is the current process stopped, and a more elaborate geologic waste management facility constructed in its place, one which would take longer and be a lot more expensive to do, but in the end would be a lot more secure. The group would also like it relocated to a site further away from the river and significant wetlands to a more geologically stable site.
The public has until August 16 to comment on CNL’s draft environmental impact statement (EIS) regarding the disposal facility. If approved by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, construction would begin in 2018.
To date, no public hearing has been scheduled to deal with the application for approval, which is part of the process, but one is expected to be set up sometime in 2018.