Protesters take to the water against Chalk River nuclear disposal site

Opponents of the Chalk River nuclear waste disposal project fear that a leak could pollute the Ottawa River, and ultimately the St. Lawrence River. They took to the water Saturday.

People are concerned that Ottawa River water will be contaminated with toxins, including tritium

People from both sides of the Ottawa River took to the water to protest the construction of a nuclear waste disposal site at the Chalk River power plant.

More than a dozen boats took part in the demonstration to say the federal government should heed their warnings about the potential dangers the dump presents for the health of the water.

The site, which has been described as a “near surface disposal facility,” is located less than one kilometre from the Ottawa River.

Since the project was first proposed, opponents have claimed the risks far outweigh the benefits, as a leak could contaminate the drinking water supply of thousands of people in the region.

Eva Schacherl with the Coalition Against Nuclear Dumps on the Ottawa River said she wants federal politicians to pay attention.

“This radioactive waste should be far from rivers, we should be protecting our Ottawa River Watershed and our ecosystem and the millions of people who depend on it for drinking water,” Schacherl said.

Concerns down river
The mayors of the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal declared their opposition to the project in Chalk River in the spring of 2018, as a breach of the dump could affect the St. Lawrence River into which the Ottawa River flows.

Indigenous communities, environmental groups and other concerned citizens who monitor toxic waste are increasingly concerned about the dumping of radioactive matter and other contaminants into the Ottawa River from an inactive nuclear reactor northwest of the capital.

Worries about contaminated water
Elssa Martinez with the Old Fort William Cottagers’ Association says the groups “worst nightmare” is that nuclear waste dump will eventually leak into the river and be irretrievable.

“This is the drinking water of millions of Canadians, so we’re afraid that if these projects go forward that it’s the water for generations and generations to come in Canada that will be at risk,” she said.

Since the beginning of the saga, the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, a federal agency responsible for Chalk River but administered by a private consortium, have ensured that the danger is minimal, since only low-level radioactive waste will be stored in the future landfill.

Martinez said she’s concerned about the long-term impact.

“Some of the waste that they’re proposing to dump will remain radioactive for thousands and hundreds of thousands of years,” Martinez said.

“So the location where they’re proposing to build this radioactive dump is unacceptable.”

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