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Nuclear problem bad, could get worse for Ottawa River

The Ottawa River Keeper is upset over nuclear waste being dumped into the tributary, as well as future plans for waste collection and storage at Chalk River Laboratories.
USED2018-03-20 Ottawa River MV
The Ottawa River from Cassels Street, March 20, 2018. Mike Vlasveld/OttawaMatters

Everyone living along the Ottawa River should be worried about nuclear waste being dumped into the waterway from the Chalk River nuclear site near Rolphton.

That is the message from Ottawa River Keeper Meredith Brown, who told The Rick Gibbons Show on 1310 NEWS, water which collects inside a non-functioning nuclear reactor is dumped into the river annually by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories. That water contains what she described as "beyond low-level waste." It eventually runs down stream and ends up in Ottawa's water supply.

And Brown said this is only a small part of a bigger issue: The CNL plans to fully decommission the site by putting a concrete cap on it.

"This, according to International Atomic Energy Agency, should only be considered in emergency or exceptional circumstances," she explained. "This waste will be radioactive for 10,000 years, and we know that concrete will not last for 10,000 years."

Brown said the problem is that Canada has no policy on long-term management of nuclear waste.

"We know that we need a deep geological repository, and until those appropriate management options are in place, I think they should wait on the [Rolphton] reactor," she exclaimed. "Capping it with concrete will seal the deal, it will make it very difficult to retrieve [the waste] in the future and it's not really going to solve our problem -- keeping waste from the environment."

And that is still not the end of the nuclear problem in the Rolphton area, according to the Ottawa River Keeper.

She said Chalk River Laboratories, located not far from the reactor, is accumulating and storing waste. The company is proposing to build Canada's first permanent nuclear disposal facility.

Brown believes it will be more like a hazardous waste dump, so the Ottawa River Keeper is doing all it can to fight the proposal.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is conducting environmental assessments in the area right now.

If residents would like to have a say in this issue, they are encouraged to contact the Ottawa River Keeper

Listen to the full conversation with Ottawa River Keeper Meredith Brown:

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