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Groups demand broader consent for nuclear waste storage

A petition demands that Ottawa require the Nuclear Waste Management Organization to get consent from other communities, including those along the transportation route.
Ignace nuclear waste drilling
The Nuclear Waste Management Organization drilled test bore holes in the Canadian Shield near Ignace (NWMO photo)

THUNDER BAY — An alliance of Northern Ontario citizen groups wants the federal government to ensure an underground storage site for used nuclear fuel isn't built without the consent of all impacted communities.

We The Nuclear Free North has launched an online petition asking Ottawa to require the Nuclear Waste Management Organization to demonstrate it has the permission not just of its designated "host community" but also of residents and communities in the region, along the transportation route, and downstream of the proposed repository.

NWMO has narrowed its search to the Ignace area in Northwestern Ontario and South Bruce in Southwestern Ontario, and plans to announce its preferred site before the end of this year.

In a news release Wednesday, North Bay-based Northwatch spokesperson Brennain Lloyd said NWMO has repeatedly stated it will only proceed with "an informed and willing host," and argued that "the communities along the transportation route are 'hosts' to the same risks as Ignace," but are shut out of the selection process.

"Residents living closer to the site and downstream live with the short-term and long-term risks of nuclear contamination but are not being asked if they are willing," he added.

The alliance is also wary about five members of Ignace council having the ultimate power to decide if NWMO can label the community as an agreeable host.

"Now is the time for all of us to speak up," said Dodie LeGassick, nuclear lead for Thunder Bay-based Environment North. "The federal government must intervene to bring some fairness and facts into the siting process. That's what this petition is all about."

The petition will be open to all residents of Canada until May 3.

Among other things, it notes that the federal government has affirmed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which requires that no hazardous materials shall be stored on the territories of Indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent.

Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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