THUNDER BAY – ENVIRONMENT – Approximately 75 walkers took to the streets of Thunder Bay on Saturday to oppose the proposed burial of all of Canada’s nuclear fuel waste in the bedrock of Northwestern Ontario.
The group walked from MP Patty Hajdu’s constituency office (Thunder Bay-Superior North and Minister of Indigenous Services) to MPP Lise Vaugeois’ constituency office (Thunder Bay-Superior North).
The federal government oversees Canada’s nuclear operations including nuclear waste management in Canada, while Ontario’s government makes decisions about the province’s energy sources, and can issue directives to Ontario Power Generation. Ontario Power Generation is the largest shareholder in the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, owns more than 90% of the high-level nuclear waste in Canada, and contributes more than 90% of the NWMO’s operating budget.
The Walk was organized by the local group Nuclear Free Thunder Bay, in solidarity with a similar event earlier in September: Ojibway Nation of Saugeen member Darlene Necan’s “Peaceful Walk Against Nuclear Waste on Treaty 3 Lands”, in which walkers left Ignace on September 1 and walked from Ignace to Dryden and then from Dryden to Sioux Lookout.
“Darlene Necan has done her Walk three years in a row,” said Charles Faust, a member of Nuclear Free Thunder Bay. “The idea of this nuclear waste burial project going forward deeply disturbs our group. Northwestern Ontario is not an empty land – it is home to many people, and is the traditional territory of our Anishinaabe friends and neighbours. It is also one of the least spoiled natural areas in the world. Radioactive contamination of the extensive watersheds there would be disastrous.”
Lise Vaugeois MPP was present at her constituency office and had supportive words for those gathered.
Nuclear Free Thunder Bay, part of the We the Nuclear Free North alliance, opposes the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s (NWMO’s) proposed plan to bury all of Canada’s nuclear fuel waste – more than 3 million fuel bundles – in a deep geological repository (DGR) between Ignace and Dryden. There is no operating DGR for nuclear fuel waste anywhere in the world.
The group prefers the alternative of maintaining the waste in hardened and more secure facilities close to the nuclear reactors where it was produced. Such an approach would eliminate the dangers of transporting the waste up to 2,400 km by road or rail into Northwestern Ontario and would allow ongoing monitoring of the waste in the event of future problems.
The group believes that burying the waste would mean forgetting the deadliest, most long-lived toxic substance a society has ever produced.