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Nuclear tomb plan area at Blind River criticized

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The Cameco company, which owns, among other things, a uranium refinery in Blind River, is planning the creation of a site burying nuclear waste in this community. (Archive photo)

  • Francis Beaudry (View profile)Francis Beaudry

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Environmental organization Northwatch is sounding the alarm over a proposed nuclear waste landfill that could be installed near the community of Blind River, in northern Ontario, in the case of a dismantling of nuclear facilities in the south of the province.

Northwatch criticizes the actions of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and nuclear fuel producer Cameco, which allegedly agreed not to make public plans to dismantle its Port Hope facilities.

These plans, according to the organization, include the creation of an underground nuclear waste disposal site at Blind River.

Cameco operates three uranium fuel manufacturing plants for nuclear power plants in Ontario. Its production and conversion plants are in Port Hope, on the north shore of Lake Ontario, located about an hour east of Toronto.

The company also owns a uranium refinery, which is located in Blind River, on the north shore of Lake Huron.

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According to Brennain Lloyd, coordinator project for Northwatch, the preliminary plan for dismantling the Port Hope facilities, which was submitted by Cameco, does not contain enough details.

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Brennain Lloyd claims that Cameco neglects the need for consultation in the file of its preliminary decommissioning plan. (File photo)

They published a four-page summary, lots of photos, a very basic description of their dismantling plans for their three factories, she says.

What they are planning is to dismantle their facilities in Port Hope, and then send the material, which is radioactive, to a nuclear tomb that hasn't even been built yet. They say they are planning to build this site on the grounds of their Blind River facilities, she explains.

In addition to the proximity of this potential landfill site to the Great Lakes, Ms. Lloyd deplores that the summary does not provide for public consultations.

If the CNSC gives advance approval to this decommissioning plan and in 30 years they put this plan into action, will they tell the population who have fears that they missed their chance and that this plan was approved a long time ago, she questions.

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A Cameco spokesperson said by email that there was no timetable for 'a dismantling of the Port Hope facilities.

It is indicated that the plan which was submitted to the CCSN only aims to ensure that the company has a costed plan for disposing of nuclear waste and that taxpayers will not find themselves paying for the dismantling of the installations.

It is indicated that consultations with the population and indigenous communities will take place if dismantling is initiated.

We will determine the site of the nuclear tomb after the consultations, we can read.

It is indicated that the decommissioning plans are updated every five years.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Town of Blind River did not respond to our requests for interviews.

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