Counties council gave unanimous consent during its May 8 committee of the whole session to have administration prepare a resolution for the United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) to join the growing protest against plans for Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) to develop a nuclear waste disposal operation at its Chalk River facility in Deep River in Renfrew County, about 180 kilometres northwest of Ottawa.
The previous Harper Conservative government restructured Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. in 2015, creating the CNL subsidiary managed by a multinational consortium, which includes SNC Lavelin among its members. The CNL contract calls on the consortium to find “the fastest, most cost-effective means” for disposal of the nuclear waste at the Chalk River facility. The CNL plan would also handle waste disposal from other federal nuclear sites.
CNL wants to build a “near-surface disposal site” that includes a containment mound covering an area 27 acres in size with an elevation of 65 to 80 feet. The mound would contain about a million cubic metres of low-level nuclear waste that could also include some mid- and high-level waste, depending on whether CNL was successful at separating the materials.
The proposed site for the containment mound is over an active earthquake fault where the sub-surface rock is fractured and could allow any leachate to leak below ground into Perch Lake, which drains into the Ottawa River. CNL’s containment plan calls for putting the waste in a geomembrane and then covering that with layers of sand, stone, gravel, and top soil.
The City of Clarence-Rockland and the townships of Champlain, Alfred-Plantagenet and East Hawkesbury have already passed resolutions opposing CNL’s proposal.