The CNSC asked Lake Ontario Waterkeeper to review its 2016 Oversight Report for uranium and nuclear substances processing facilities, which goes over operating performance centred around health and safety of its facilities. Read Waterkeeper's findings here, including 11 recommendations and a focus on the Port Hope Conversion Facility.PortHope RadioactiveWaste CNSC, Port Hope, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Nuclear, our publications
Filtering by Category: PortHope RadioactiveWaste
Published on by Matt Flowers.
The Port Hope Area Initiative is the largest environmental cleanup effort in Canadian history. Ottawa is spending $1.28-billion to contain 1.7-million cubic metres (m³) of low-level radioactive waste in Port Hope and Port Granby. But why does the project cost so much money? Just how much waste is 1.7-million m³? Where did all this waste come from? Where is it going? The answers to those questions start back in 1932.PortHope RadioactiveWaste nuclear waste, nuclear
Published on by Krystyn Tully.
Today, I am sharing something I have never shared outside our office before. Why? Because events are unfolding this week that will affect millions of Canadians for years to come. And I thought you’d want to know.Canadian rollbacks, Toronto Sewage Bypasses, PortHope RadioactiveWaste Navigable Waters Protection Act, Environmental Bill of Rights, Navigation Protection Act, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CNSC, Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, Fisheries Act, Great Lakes Water Quality Board, IJC
Waterkeeper to participate in upcoming public hearings: Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI), Cameco conversion facility, and TransCanada Energy East pipeline
Published on by Posted by Lake Ontario Waterkeeper.
Through the Participant Funding Program, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper recently received funding to participate in three upcoming intervenor hearings later this year.PortHope RadioactiveWaste pipeline, Nuclear
Published on by Dylan Neild.
Question: When is a plan not a plan? Answer: When it is Atomic Energy of Canada Limited’s “cleanup” proposal for the town of Port Hope, Ontario.
At a packed hearing last week, Canada’s nuclear regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, listened to presentations on the proposal from its staff, AECL, private citizens, and volunteer organizations -- roughly 100 presentations in all, spanning 17 hours of hearing time.
AECL is asking for a licence for a low level radioactive waste site. The site will house approximately 1.5 million cubic metres of nuclear and industrial waste, collected from the community over the course of the next decade.
The proposal was approved in 2007, following a six-year environmental assessment. The ensuing licensing process should have been fairly straight forward -- hash out a few technical details and get shovels in the ground.
Instead, last week’s hearing revealed that the Port Hope Area Initiative is a project nowhere close to being shovel-ready and that the country’s nuclear regulator is over its head when it comes to the technical details of landfill design.
Worse yet, the residents of Port Hope are as divided as ever before. The problem, many presenters said, is not the low level radioactive waste scattered around the town; but the national media that fear-mongers and the neighbours who will not be quiet. Harsh criticisms are lobbed at any individual or organization who dares to raise concerns about human health or environmental impacts.
Local media reports about the hearing helped fan the flames of controversy, painting a black-and-white image of a town hopelessly divided. The Northumberland Today described a “tense atmosphere” in the gymnasium-cum-hearing room “as people on both sides … made their cases.”
In reality, the issue is far more nuanced than that. There are more than two sides to this story. And there is unanimous support for the concept behind the project: cleaning up the radioactive waste that plagues the Port Hope community.
There is not, however, full support for the specific project proposed by AECL. And for good reason. The project is full of holes, with key aspects of the landfill design that will not be released to the public until after the site is licenced and constructed. Members of the public and of regulatory agencies should be encouraged to identify the weaknesses in the plan, to bring them to light and to offer solutions. In a mature society, a citizen should be able to voice concerns about the details of a proposal - or the lack of details - without being accused of “opposing” the project entirely.
Without informed, rationale, and transparent discussion today, the stigma that Port Hope residents complain about will remain for the next generation. And everyone who lives there deserves better.
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Published on by Dylan Neild.
Cameco Corporation owns and operates a uranium conversion facility in Port Hope, Ontario. The plant is located at the heart of one of Lake Ontario’s most historic and environmentally vulnerable harbours. For decades, nuclear-related industrial pollution has affected water quality and the natural environment in and around Port Hope.
The company has applied for an amendment to the existing Permit To Take Water (PTTW) #6025-7BHRJH, issued in February 2008, which was itself issued as an amendment to the original PTTW #04-P-4012. The Ministry of the Environment [the Ministry] must decide whether it should renew this permit, and if so, what terms and conditions should be imposed on Cameco to protect the environment.
The facility consists of a uranium hexaﬂuoride (UF6) plant and a uranium dioxide (UO2) plant. Both have been shutdown for some part of the past two years. In July 2007, UF6 contamination was discovered in the soil and groundwater beneath a plant building. The contaminated groundwater was found to be migrating towards the southeast corner of the property and discharging into Lake Ontario.
The UF6 plant was shutdown for 14 months, between July 19, 2007 and September 30, 2008. During that time, Cameco applied to the Ministry of the Environment for a Category 3 amendment to PTTW #04-P-4012 in order to capture and divert groundwater on the site through the installation of pumping wells, excavations, and trenches. The amended PTTW 6025-7BHRJH was issued by the Ministry in February of 2008. In November 2008, the UF6 plant was again shutdown, this time due to a contractual dispute between Cameco and its sole supplier of hydroﬂuoric acid (HF), an essential component of UF6 production. It remained closed until June 17, 2009.
In May 2009, Cameco applied for a second amendment to its PTTW in order to install additional pumping wells, “to control the migration of contaminated groundwater”. The application states that water taken up through the pumps would be directed through the plant’s water treatment system, which consists of an evaporator. The evaporated water would be discharged as water vapour to the atmosphere. The total amount of water taken would not change, but more wells would be installed to allow for greater ﬂexibility in reducing contaminant ﬂow into the Lake. This represents an opportunity for Cameco to begin the important process of restoring the area around their Port Hope facility to a healthy, livable, and environmental sound condition.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper submits the following recommendations:
- If the permit is issued, the Ministry should make it contingent on zero direct emissions to surface water in order to be consistent with the Application.
- The Ministry should ensure that testing is undertaken to determine whether the release of a vapour plume increases the precipitation of airborne uranium and whether the vapour plume contains any contaminants that could be introduced into the water cycle.
- The MInistry should request detailed information from Cameco regarding the precipitated pollutants and the company’s plans to store and dispose of them in a way that protects the environment from further contamination.
- The Ministry should only issue the PTTW on a temporary basis, on the condition that Cameco address the source of contamination to prevent future groundwater contamination.
- An amended PTTW should only be issued on the condition that it be reviewed by the Ministry at the commencement of Vision 2010.
- A permit must be conditional on ongoing testing to conﬁrm that the taking has no impacts on surface water, the harbour, or air quality.
- A provincial PTTW should not outlast the federal facility license, which expires on February 29, 2012.
- The MInistry must ensure that licensing this consumptive use is not a violation of the province’s international commitments.
Published on by Dylan Neild.
Cameco Corporation operates a uranium conversion plant and uranium fuel manufacturing plant in the Town of Port Hope, on the shores of Lake Ontario. The company has applied for a renewal of “Permit to Take Water 89-P-3022” for industrial purposes, which would allow it to continue taking water from the lake to use as cooling water in its plants. This water would be discharged back into the lake after passing through the facility. The Ministry of the Environment (MOE) must decide whether it should renew this permit, and if so, what terms and conditions should be imposed on Cameco to protect the environment.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper submits that Cameco’s water taking causes environmental damage to ﬁsh and ﬁsh habitat that contravenes federal law. Fish impingement and entrainment occur when water is taken from the lake for industrial purposes, as it is taken into the Cameco plant in Port Hope. The plume of warmed water that is discharged from the plant constitutes the deposit of a deleterious substance and can have negative effects on ﬁsh, including cold-water shock and fungal infections. Terms and conditions must be imposed to ensure Cameco’s operation does not continue to contravene the federal Fisheries Act by destroying ﬁsh or ﬁsh habitat or by depositing a deleterious substance in
waters frequented by ﬁsh.
The project is located at the heart of one of Lake Ontario’s most historic and environmentally vulnerable harbours. For nearly a century, nuclear-related industrial pollution has affected water quality and the natural environment in and around Port Hope. Cameco’s facility is a source of ongoing pollution in this sensitive area, as evidenced by the recent discovery of contamination beneath both plants in Port Hope and reported incidents of non-compliance with provincial environmental standards. The MOE is required by law to consider the historic and ongoing pollution in Port Hope before making a decision that could affect the environment in this sensitive area.
In order to protect the environment and to comply with the law, the MOE must not renew Cameco’s permit without clear, independent scientiﬁc evidence showing that the operation does not harm ﬁsh or ﬁsh habitat, or contribute to historic or ongoing contamination in the area. If a renewal is granted, Cameco’s permit should expire on, or before, February 29, 2012, to ensure it does not outlast the expiry of the facility’s federal operating license.
Published on by Dylan Neild.
(Port Hope, Ontario March 11, 2008) Jim Harding, author of the recently published book, Canada's Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System, will speak at the Port Hope High School at 1 PM, Saturday, March 29, 2008. Dr. Harding's presentation Uranium: Anything But Clean and Green will discuss the nuclear industry in a local, national, and global context.
Dr. Harding is a founding member of the Regina Group for a Non-Nuclear Society and the International Uranium Congress. He served as director of research for Prairie Justice Research at the University of Regina where he headed up the Uranium Inquiries Project. Dr. Harding also acted as consultant to the award-winning National Film Board project Uranium.
Discussing Canada's Deadly Secret, author, physician and co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility Dr. Helen Caldicott says, Harding exposes the role the government played in perpetuating nuclear propaganda through the disinformation of campaigns of its covert Uranium Secretariat and penetration of the public education curriculum...He also explores the deadly corporate planning processes that reveal the growing partnership between the oil and nuclear industries.
Harding's work presents a crucial vision for the future that values human and ecological health and supports innovations coming from renewable energies.
The event is co-sponsored by Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and the Port Hope Community Health Concerns Committee. A fundraiser for the Port Hope Community Health Concerns Committee immediately follows the presentation.
Saturday March 29, 2008, 1:00pm Port Hope High School 130 Highland Drive
For further information contact:
Mark Mattson, President, or Krystyn Tully, Vice President Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, www.waterkeeper.ca Tel: (416) 861-1237 Email: Mark@waterkeeper.ca
Faye More Port Hope Community Health Concerns Committee, www.porthopehealthconcerns.com Tel: (905) 885-7991 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Published on by Dylan Neild.
Last Friday, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper submitted our official comment on the draft environmental assessment report for the radioactive waste site clean-up project in Port Hope.
Waterkeeper has been part of the environmental assessment process since it began four years ago. At every stage of the process, we have tried to convey the importance of the clean-up project: to area residents, to the Lake Ontario watershed, and to environmental justice in Canada. Because the draft environmental assessment report contains so many omissions, because it is so vague about details, and because so many different government departments still remain silent, Waterkeeper is very concerned that we have failed.
In a last-ditch attempt to describe the significance of the Port Hope Project from a grassroots perspective, Waterkeeper included this background in our submission:
Seventy-five years ago, the nuclear industry came to Port Hope. It came in the name of peace & war, technological progress, and later clean energy. Since the very earliest days, low-level radioactive waste has contaminated parts of the Port Hope community. When waste sites were formally created in the 1940s, they were not equipped with environmental control technologies and, as a result, contributed to the spread of waste throughout the community.
Small-scale construction and development projects also contributed to the spread of contamination. Each post, beam, or pile of dirt moved from a contaminated area to a clean area created a new threat. The slow, unintentional spread of potentially harmful substances created a perverse legacy of pollution in an otherwise ordinary Ontario town. With it came fear: that property values might fall, that public health might be in jeopardy, and that jobs might be lost. Now, after an entire generation has grown up with this fear, there are neighbours who do not speak to each other. There are citizens who are ostracized for raising concerns. There are residents who are afraid to admit where they work.
If you consider everything this community has lost “ security, pride, clean air and water “ it becomes clear that the Port Hope Project is about much more than simply an engineered facility for waste. The Port Hope Project is about healing a community, both literally and figuratively.
No one disputes that mistakes were made in Port Hope in the past. No one disputes that this clean-up program must happen as soon as possible. Now it is time to ask the most important question: How? As in, How will we remove all of the contamination from our yards, parks, and ravines? And, How will we dispose of it correctly this time? And, How will we ensure that, when we are done, our town will be free from this shadow of contamination forever? And finally, How will we be transparent, so that every citizen knows that he or she has been protected?
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper respectfully submits that the draft screening report does not do this. It fails to reflect the enormity of this undertaking, its uniqueness, and the extent of the problems it is seeking to solve. There are many, many outstanding issues. The public needs more information, more access to decision-makers, and more opportunities to share wisdom and insight than it has currently been granted.
We have a town full of uncontained hazardous waste, a town that has already lost much of its natural heritage and social cohesion. Under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Responsible Authorities must ensure that the Port Hope Project achieves and maintains a healthy environment and a healthy economy in this community for the first time in seventy-five years.
The past is defined by mistakes and losses. This era will be defined by the Authorities' decisions, now.
In light of this history, missing information, the need for greater scrutiny, and the role of provincial environmental laws, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper requested the following:
A. That key pieces of information currently missing from the draft screening report be fully canvassed and disclosed; and, B. That the responsible authorities request the Minister to refer the project to a review panel; and, C. That the LLRWMO apply for a certificate of approval for waste management, pursuant to the Ontario Environmental Protection Act.
Published on by Dylan Neild.
1. Waterkeeper would like to express its disappointment that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (hereafter, "the CNSC") turned down our request for a one business-day extension to the public comment period. We feel that the additional day would have provided us with the opportunity to be of greater assistance to the CNSC during this environmental assessment process.
2. Waterkeeper respectfully disagrees with the suggestion made by Ms. Heather Jarrett on June 23, 2005 that this public comment period has been ?considerably longer? than the usual 30-day comment period. The document was officially released for public comment on May 11, 2005 (per CNSC web site).
3. Waterkeeper respectfully disagrees with the CNSC's position that extending the public comment period would ?not be wise.?
4. Furthermore, Waterkeeper would like the record to reflect our concerns that the CNSC would imply that a project of this magnitude does not warrant a one-day extension to facilitate public input.
Scope of the project
5. The Cameco proposal can best be described as the intent to make, move, burn, and bury enriched uranium fuel in Ontario.
6. Despite the magnitude of the project, every stage of this proposal is being subjected to separate environmental assessments. Each individual environmental assessment ? all screening level assessments bears little resemblance to the principals of natural justice.
7. Waterkeeper submits that the public deserves a fair, transparent, thorough, and sober examination of the proposal. Our position is consistent with the CNSC's January 8th, 2004 CNSC decision on Cameco's SEU blending proposal. In that decision, the CNSC felt that the transport, manufacture, handling, and long-term disposal of SEU ought not to be scoped components of the Cameco SEU blending project because the subsequent facilities for the fabrication and use of SEU fuels may vary depending upon market conditions and thus [could] only be considered on a generic or non-site specific basis.
8. In response to intervener requests to expand the definition of the regional study area for the Cameco SEU project to include transportation routes and reactor sites, the CNSC decided that without being able to identify a specific reactor and the corresponding transportation route, assessment would be theoretical, conceptual, and generic only, and sufficiently addressed as an incremental effect through the scope of the assessment.
9. Now, all facts are known and the conditions of the January 8th decision are satisfied. With the Bruce A and B reactors identified, the SEU project is no longer theoretical. It is now known where SEU will be produced, by what routes it will be transported, who will be using it, and where it will be disposed. Accordingly, it is now necessary to scope the project as the use of SEU Ontario throughout Ontario.
The Review Panel
17. Waterkeeper requests that the CNSC rule in favour of referring the use of SEU and all activities performed in connection to the use of SEU throughout Ontario to the Minister of the Environment for a review panel because there is public concern.
18. The Responsible Authority's Guide has identified what sorts of events qualify as 'public concern' within the meaning of the CEAA. It indicates that public concerns can be expressed in many ways, including:
a. correspondence and telephone calls to the Minister, local MPs, the Agency, or the department;
b. media coverage of public concerns;
c. community events, such as demonstrations or meetings about the project;
d. formal interventions, and
e. informal communication.
19. Lake Ontario Waterkeeper has filed affidavit evidence in support of its position that there exists significant public concern about SEU. Evidence in support of public concern is as follows:
20. At least 8 different federal or provincial Ministers and MP's have been contacted by at least 4 different citizen's groups in regards to their concerns about SEU use in Ontario.
21. At least 27 presentations have been made to at least 3 different Town Councils by 4 different citizen's groups in regards to their concerns about SEU use in Ontario.
22. More than 30 informal communications have been delivered to Town Councils in regards to citizens? concerns about SEU use in Ontario.
23. Close to 300 media articles about SEU in local and regional newspapers throughout Ontario.
24. There have been at least 75 informal meetings and/or public events hosted by citizen groups throughout the province in regards to their concerns about SEU use in Ontario. Attendance at these meetings ranged from 3 to 300 people.
25. There have been at least 34 formal written or oral submissions made to the CNSC by concerned citizens in regards to SEU use.
26. There have been more than 50 informal communications to the CNSC by concerned citizens in regards to SEU.
27. At least 7 formal requests have been made to federal and provincial Environment Ministers, MP's and to the CNSC by citizens' groups for a review panel on SEU use throughout Ontario.
28. At least 431 individual citizens directly affected by the use of SEU in Ontario have declared that they believe that a review panel on SEU is necessary.
29. On the basis of the affidavit evidence, the Lake Ontario Waterkeeper submits that there is sufficient public concern as defined within the Responsible Authority's Guide to warrant a reference to the Minister of the Environment by the CNSC.
30. Waterkeeper understands that these arguments are familiar to the CNSC. As one Cameco Corporation spokesperson recently stated, 'They [citizens] don't provide new information.' (Northumberland Today, June 21, 2005).
31. Waterkeeper argues that it is time for the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and Cameco Corporation to finally hear the desperation behind the public's consistent pleas for an informed decision-making process.
32. The environmental impacts of generations of nuclear industry operations in the town of Port Hope are real. They have been severe. As the draft report indicates, air, water, and soil are all contaminated. The community of Port Hope deserves a fair interpretation of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act in order to provide the public with the best protection that Canadian environmental laws offer.
33. In keeping with the principles of natural justice, the purposes of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, CEAA-related policies of the Government of Canada, and the general public interest, Waterkeeper submits that the SEU proposal must be referred to a review panel.
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