The alliance We the Nuclear Free North is reaching out to residents from Ignace to Wabigoon, raising questions about Ignace’s “Willingness Project” and encouraging residents to speak out about the prospect of all of Canada’s highly radioactive nuclear fuel waste being shipped to Northwestern Ontario for burial in a site between Ignace and Dryden in the Revell Lake area, near Borups Corners.
An Open Letter to the residents of Ignace, Dyment, Dinorwic and Wabigoon areas is being delivered this week, raising questions about who should decide about nuclear waste burial in Northwestern Ontario and how that decision should be made.
In August the Township of Ignace, the Ignace Citizens Nuclear Liaison Committee (ICNLC) and the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) released an information package and short survey to the residents of the Township of Ignace, outlining their approach to determining whether Ignace is “willing” to host the NWMO’s deep geological repository.
The Open Letter points to what the alliance We the Nuclear Free North has flagged as key failures in the Township of Ignace and NWMO’s proposed approach. The alliance’s primary concern is that only the residents of the Township of Ignace are included in the decision-making process, despite the potential site being more than 40 km west of the Township of Ignace and in a different watershed
“It is not up to Ignace to decide whether this project comes to Northwestern Ontario” said Wendy O’Connor, a volunteer with We the Nuclear Free North.
“Ignace is not in the watershed of the candidate site in the Revell Lake area. Downstream communities and those along the transportation route must be included in the decision making – they are just as much or even more at risk than the residents of Ignace”
The proposal is that the Ignace Citizens Nuclear Liaison Committee will collect input from the residents of Ignace and submit a recommendation to Ignace Council; the Ignace Township Council will make the decision on whether Ignace is “willing” or not, but the options for collecting input are open to interpretation. The July information package describes activities such as coffee chats and newsletters, but does not include a referendum or vote or any other quantifiable way of measuring community acceptance.
“The NWMO still can’t – or won’t – fully describe many parts of the project, such as the used fuel packaging plant. The level of risk and of radioactive releases could change with different decisions the NWMO might make during the final project design, after “willingness” has been declared”, explained Brennain Lloyd, a spokesperson for Northwatch, one of the Alliance’s group members.
“No community should be asked if it is “willing” to accept a project before they know fully and in detail what the project will include.”