The Ministry of the Environment announced last week that it will not investigate a broken pipe discharging wastewater into Lake Ontario from Cameco’s Welcome Waste Management Facility. The Ministry stated that the discharge from the pipe poses no immediate threat to aquatic or human life in the area. The MOE said that the effluent is not “acutely lethal” and is diluted after entering the lake. The Ministry also cites the decision by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to have Cameco undertake a “comprehensive technical assessment” of Welcome as a reason to deny the application.
The decision comes 3 months after Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and a Welcome-area resident submitted an Application for Investigation. The Application provides evidence that Welcome, a nuclear waste facility, has a broken pipeline emitting a constant stream of contaminated water onto a public beach near the Municipality of Port Hope. Water samples taken from Lake Ontario at the end of the pipe show elevated levels of arsenic and uranium that significantly exceed Provincial Water Quality Guidelines. Waterkeeper claims that Cameco’s effluent and the failure to report the abnormal discharge violate the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act.
Originally by the Crown Corporation Eldorado Nuclear, Cameco's Welcome Waste Management Facility is a 50-year fixture in the Port Hope community who installed the discharge pipe after a high number of livestock died after drinking from the nearby Brand Creek in the late 1950s. The pipe now carries the leachate from the nuclear waste facility directly to the Lake. The pipe was hidden from view until it broke in the winter of 2008, buried underground where it discharged 20 feet offshore. The broken pipe now empties onto the beach.
In its decision, the Ministry states that the CNSC will ask Cameco to fully restore the discharge pipe into the lake, as well as instruct Cameco to undertake a review of the effluent and find ways they may improve treatment options. Cameco will also be required to conduct an evaluation of the “level of risks to human health and the environment”. The Ministry will assist the CNSC by providing technical advice on Cameco’s submissions.
“We are disappointed that the Ministry has chosen not to look deeper at this ongoing problem,” says Waterkeeper and President Mark Mattson. “That said, we understand that the CNSC is taking action, and we hope that its oversight will finally result in protection for the Port Hope environment."
The decision handed back by the Ontario government on the Welcome site, and other such cases for protection of waterways impacted by the nuclear industry, is the subject of this week's Living at the Barricades.
Slippage: Welcome Waste and Nuclear Protection for Ontario's Waterways (Nov. 11, 2008)
Listen to Living at the Barricades.
This week on Living at the Barricades, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and our citizen co-applicant learned the Ministry of the Environment would not pursue our application for investigation on the broken pipe spewing toxic waste onto a Port Hope beach from the Welcome Nuclear Waste Management Facility.
This decision highlights the theme of this week's show: the role of the government in protecting Ontarians from radioactive waste pollution. Mark and Krystyn discuss the issue with Lynne Prower, and examine the government's declining willingness to investigate public claims. We end with a visit with Sanford Haskell, a Port Hope resident who has spent decades fighting the Welcome site, and his opinion on the recent decision.
Music on This Week's Episode:
Birds by Dave Clark & Dawn Blythe
One Dream all Heroes by Beautiful Senseless
Slow Boat by The Banjo Mechanics
Radio Formuless by The Barmitzvah Brothers
Desperate Oh by Jazzstory