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Controversial documents on radioactive waste: CNSC denied request by leading public interest organizations to comment

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OTTAWA – Canada’s nuclear regulatory agency is expected to rubber-stamp a suite of controversial “regulatory documents” on radioactive waste today. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has denied a request by leading public interest organizations to comment at the Commission’s virtual meeting. 

Groups are concerned this approval would pave the way for several controversial nuclear waste disposal projects to move forward, including a giant mound at Chalk River Ontario and two entombments of shut-down reactors which are all currently under review by the CNSC, and a proposed deep geological repository for the burial of high level nuclear fuel waste. In advance of the CNSC meeting, leading public interest organizations provided a one hour, bilingual briefing session for parliamentarians and the media on Tuesday.

Speakers from the Canadian Environmental Law Association and three other Canadian NGOs provided an analysis of how the five “Regulatory Documents” fail to meet international standards for nuclear waste regulation and could create unacceptable risks for Canadians and the environment. The groups are asking the Commission to not approve the draft documents until the Government has completed its pending review of radioactive waste policy and strategy in consultation with the public and Indigenous peoples. With no Parliamentary oversight, it is said these five documents will entrench weak rules for Canada’s future management of radioactive wastes.

The proposed regulatory documents are industry-friendly and largely leave decisions about risks in industry hands. The five documents deal with the management of radioactive wastes, the characterization of potential sites for a deep geological repository for [the burial of] radioactive wastes, safety assessments for the long term management of radioactive wastes, decommissioning of nuclear facilities, and financing for decommissioning.