Thunder Bay – A northern Ontario alliance has expressed disappointment but not surprise at Ontario Minister of Energy Todd Smith’s response to a recent petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
We the Nuclear Free North is joined by their counterparts in southwestern Ontario, Protect Our Waterways - No Nuclear Waste, in criticizing the Minister's response.
"None of the public's concerns with the Nuclear Waste Management Organization's way of doing business were addressed in Minister Smith's response", commented Bill Noll, vice-president of Protect Our Waterways.
The groups described the petition as having set out multiple issues related to the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO)’s current siting process and proposed approach. As a remedy, the petition asked the Government of Ontario to adopt a Proximity Principle with regards to nuclear fuel waste. If adopted by Ontario, such a principle would prevent the dangerous long-distance transportation of this waste.
In their reply to the Minister’s response, We the Nuclear Free North and Protect Our Waterways - No Nuclear Waste wrote that while the denial of the petition’s request did not surprise them, the nature of the Minister’s written response was a disappointment.
“In our petition, we set out a series of facts and observations on the NWMO’s proposed project and siting process, which your response completely overlooked,” the groups wrote.
In their critique of the government’s response, We the Nuclear Free North and Protect Our Waterways - No Nuclear Waste raised with the Minister the issue of the information sources the Minister and his staff rely upon.
“Representatives in all levels of government find the science and issues around nuclear power generation and nuclear waste management to be complex and challenging, as do members of the public. It is all too easy for people in responsible positions to rely on nuclear industry representatives as their major – and often only – source of information about nuclear technology, its risks and its benefits. Our assessment of your response is that you have done just that,” the groups wrote. The letter likened the government’s apparent sole-sourcing information from the nuclear industry to “leaving the fox in charge of the henhouse.”
The groups also dispute “several half-truths or misrepresentations” they assert that the Minister’s letter conveyed, including the notion that the NWMO’s proposal to bury and then abandon all of Canada’s high-level nuclear waste in a deep geological repository is based on “international best practice.” The group notes that there is not a single approved or operating deep geological repository for high-level nuclear waste anywhere in the world, despite more than fifty years of study and effort by the nuclear industry world-wide.
“The Minister’s response should be a wake-up call for residents of Northern Ontario – the government of Ontario is not paying attention”, commented Charles Faust of Nuclear Free Thunder Bay, part of the We the Nuclear Free North alliance.
“Ontario Power Generation holds the balance of power in the NWMO. While nuclear projects are in the federal government’s jurisdiction, it’s a provincial crown corporation that is driving the NWMO approach and paying the bills. Ontario’s Minister of Energy has a lot to answer for.”