Not at all reassured by NWMO plans

Dear editor, 

Recent advertisements would suggest we should all feel confident the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has the solutions to safely burying highly toxic radioactive waste at Revel Lake, west of Ignace. 

Joanne Jacyk, who has had a career in environmental remediation, has in the past been shown in large expensive ads on the water, sifting water through her hands stating: “Through our environmental monitoring program, I listen to and learn from water, to find ways to protect it for generations to come.” 

Now that she has moved on to site director for NWMO in Ignace, these ads feature Dr. Bob Hanner, a professor of integrative biology at the University of Guelph. 

It does not make me feel more at ease having these two people tell us they are here to protect our watersheds for thousands of years to come. Dr. Hanner is not a geologist, so how his name in these ads is relevant I don’t know. The science and technical issues at the heart of burying nuclear waste are a geological problem, not a biological problem. The ads state Dr. Hanner’s work and life are dedicated to protecting our freshwater ecosystems so that begs the question why work for an organization that wants to bury an extremely toxic waste here in the north and abandon it. 

The NWMO talks about its long-term plan for managing this highly radioactive waste. But anyone who has taken time to read the nitty gritty details understands its plan is to bury the waste in a site that will eventually be abandoned, not managed. The simple fact is the vertical shaft repository they propose does not allow for any type of management or retrieval of the waste should it migrate into our ecosystems. The waste simply will be abandoned. 

So Joanne Jacyk and Dr. Bob Hanner can tell us anything they want and the reason they can do that is their time on this earth is limited and they will be long dead and gone before they have to answer for any environmental disasters that can occur. 

In a related matter, in May of 2021, I asked the NWMO’s office in Ignace how much money has been given to Wabigoon Ojibway Nation since they were first approached regarding establishing a nuke dump in their traditional territories. I was told that information is confidential. Three weeks ago I sent Vince Ponka, NWMO’s Ignace public relations spokesperson, the same request. I have not received an answer. 

Why is the amount of public money being doled out to any community confidential? NWMO is a group funded by the nuclear industry and the nuclear industry is funded via rate payers who pay their electric bills. That is public money. If Joanne Jacyk is there to help answer questions and be transparent as to where our money as rate payers goes, now is her time to step up and let the public know. 

James Kimberley