Four Pontiac candidates oppose plan for Chalk River holding facility, fifth proposes to monitor the project

According to a survey of federal election candidates in 13 Ottawa Valley ridings, the plan to dispose of radioactive waste in an above-ground facility at Chalk River is opposed by four Pontiac candidates, and a fifth would monitor the project ‘extremely closely’ if elected.

The questionnaire was issued on behalf of a collection of community organizations opposed to the proposed project: The Council of Canadians (Ottawa Chapter), the Coalition Against Nuclear Dumps on the Ottawa River (CANDOR) and the Old Fort William Cottagers’ Association.

 Of the 16 candidates who replied, almost three-quarters (11) said they oppose the current plans or had serious concerns.

 A press release issued by CANDOR on behalf of the community groups summarized responses, including five running for election in Pontiac, a federal riding on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River across from the proposed dump site:  

·         NDP candidate Denise Giroux pledged to work tirelessly to oppose these “irresponsible” waste management plans and added she would “refuse to stand idly by, as the former MP did, while these projects forge ahead. Nearly 40 Indigenous groups, along with 6 million people downstream from these projects. . .have tried to voice their opposition to these plans.”

·         Bloc Québécois candidate Gabrielle Desjardins said her party is opposed to “any risk for Quebec of contamination with nuclear waste from projects such as the Chalk River dump, along the Ottawa River. . . .The option as proposed at Chalk River is not acceptable and is not sufficiently safe.” [Translated from French]

· “It’s time to rethink the plan to build Canada’s first permanent nuclear waste dump less than one kilometre from the Ottawa River,” said Shaughn McArthur of the Green Party. “The near surface waste mound uses geomembranes and a cover that will disintegrate over time, whereas the waste can be dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years.”

·         Conservative candidate Michel Gauthier, said he is opposed to the nuclear waste facility at Chalk River: “This project is far from achieving the standard of social acceptability and should not go ahead until a serious study of alternative sites, far from populated regions, has been made and the population has been clearly informed.” [Translated from French]

·         Liberal candidate Sophie Chatel did not oppose the waste dump but said she would monitor the project “extremely closely” if elected, and called for it to be “rigorously monitored to ensure that no radioactive materials leach into the Ottawa River.”

The proposal for the radioactive waste facility was brought forward by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), which is owned by a private-sector consortium of SNC-Lavalin and two Texas corporations under contract to the federal government. 

The Equity asked candidates about their stance on the proposed Chalk River radioactive waste disposal facility in our weekly candidate question series. See their answers here

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