Radioactive waste dump to channel toxins into Lake Ontario
The low-level radioactive waste consolidation process slated for Port Hope, Ontario will create one of the largest nuclear waste sites in Canadian history. The planning process has been happening for a decade and the licencing process is coming to an end, yet many of the specific engineering details have yet to be confirmed.
When Lake Ontario Waterkeeper attended a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission hearing last month, we raised concerns about AECL’s proposal to partially treat contaminated water at the landfill. The wastewater would be discharged directly to Lake Ontario.
In some cases, proposed water quality targets are as much as 100,000 times less protective of the environment than the Province of Ontario’s water quality guidelines. Federal government proposals for many pollutants fail to meet the levels that Ontario considers safe for human and aquatic life, including:
The waste going into the Welcome Waste Management site is a mix of low-level radioactive waste and non-radioactive industrial waste from the Port Hope area. It is unusual for the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to regulate the management and disposal of non-nuclear related wastes, and Waterkeeper has raised concerns about the Commission’s expertise and jurisdiction to do so.
At the August hearing, Waterkeeper brought two motions for rulings that will answer important questions:
- Does the CNSC have the jurisdiction to regulate industrial waste disposal?
- Does the CNSC have the jurisdiction to regulate the discharge in the environment of non-nuclear substances such as PAHs, oil and grease?
The Commission will issue its rulings at some point in the future.
The Ontario government did not attend the hearing and did not make available to the Commission any witnesses or spokespersons who could address technical questions about the design of the low-level radioactive waste site.