An Important Message for Canadian organizations
PLEASE JOIN THE NATIONAL RADIOACTIVE WASTE NETWORK...
"NUCLEAR WASTE WATCH"
Please consider joining Nuclear Waste Watch / Action déchets nucléaires an important national network of Canadian organizations concerned about high level radioactive waste and nuclear power. Our Position Statement summarizes our position, and the Structure Document, explains how the organization operates. This web site contains additional background information. If you would like to join, please fill out and return the membership form below. There is no membership fee.
Nuclear Waste Watch / Action déchets nucléaires was founded in November 2003, to provide a public-interest response to the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO). The NWMO is controlled by the nuclear industry and was mandated by the federal government under the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act to make a recommendation on the long-term management of high level radioactive waste (irradiated fuel) by November 2005. (One response to the NWMO November 2005 recommendation can be read here.)
With your support, Nuclear Waste Watch / Action déchets nucléaires will act as a watchdog on nuclear waste issues for Canadians.
Read the NWW Report Card (pdf, September 2005)
For more information, please contact
Sierra Club of/du Canada
High Level Radioactive Waste
WHAT IS IT?
High level radioactive waste (also known as irradiated or spent fuel) is the used uranium fuel from nuclear power and research reactors. Each fuel bundle from a power reactor weighs about 24 kilograms, and at the end of 2002 there were 1.7 million fuel bundles at Canadian nuclear facilities (about 40,000 metric tonnes). Without an early nuclear phaseout, an additional 2 million fuel bundles (about 45,000 metric tonnes) will be produced. Thus total production could mount to 3.7 million fuel bundles weighing about 85,000 tonnes.
WHY IS IT DANGEROUS?
High level radioactive waste contains over 100 different radioactive isotopes. Even low doses of radiation emitted by the waste can cause cancer and other health problems. The waste is lethal and must be strictly isolated from the environment for hundreds of thousands of years. If the wastes leak into the environment, the radioactive elements will circulate through the soil, water and air, causing widespread contamination.
THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY POSITION
High level radioactive waste in Canada has been produced by Ontario Power Generation, Hydro Québec, New Brunswick Power, and Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL). The nuclear industry supports deep geological disposal of radioactive waste -- burial in the Canadian Shield.
WHAT HAS BEEN DONE?
A ten-year environmental assessment (the Seaborn Panel) reviewed a generic proposal from AECL for deep geological disposal of radioactive waste. In March 1998 Seaborn said the AECL concept was not acceptable and recommended that an independent agency be formed "at arm's length" from the nuclear industry to consider waste options. The Chrétien government ignored this advice and passed the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act giving complete control of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) to the nuclear industry. In 2002, the NWMO was given a three-year mandate to choose between (a) "deep geological disposal in the Canadian Shield"; (b) "storage at nuclear sites"; and (c) "centralized storage, either above or below ground".
WHAT DOES NUCLEAR WASTE WATCH SUPPORT?
For the foreseeable future, radioactive waste management should be based on surface and/or near-surface monitored and retrievable storage -- at least until a nuclear power phaseout has been achieved, the technical case for an alternative option (or options) has been thoroughly reviewed, and a social consensus has been achieved. Nuclear Waste Watch is also calling for a joint federal/provincial environmental assessment panel on the full range of waste options following the November 2005 NWMO recommendation. The federal government should also guarantee a full parliamentary debate and free vote on the recommendations of the NWMO and the environmental assessment panel.