Mayor asks for support for CNL Near Surface Disposal Facility

·3 min read

Pembroke -- Deep River Mayor Suzanne D’Eon took her opportunity to address Renfrew County council in the warden’s inaugural session as a chance to appeal for municipal support of the Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF).

“Without NSDF, much of the renewal work planned cannot proceed,” she told the assembled mayors and reeves at the Dcember session of council. “The design and licensing process for the NDSF is now at a pivotal point. CNL needs the support of all of you and your municipalities at the CNC licensing hearings next spring so we can demonstrate strong local confidence and support for this important environmental project.

“By doing so we all help to sustain and grow the environmental, economic and scientific benefits that the Chalk River labs bring to this county and our country,” she said.

The mayor was among many mayors in the county invited to give greetings and congratulate Warden Debbie Robinson on her appointment. The hybrid session had both members of council present and others via ZOOM. Joining them were dignitaries including Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MPP John Yakabuski and the commander of Garrison Petawawa.

“This Christmas we are once again reminded of the importance of science in all our lives,” Mayor D’Eon noted in her opening comments, stating she wanted to address one of the largest science-based institutions, Chalk River Labs. “As you know Deep River is a community founded on science.”

She addressed the importance of the facility to the community, pointing out it impacts county residents and businesses.

“What you might not know is that 75 percent of CNL’s current 2,700 employees live in your towns,” she said. “You may also not be aware CNL’s collective payroll is $380 million and the labs purchase $115 million in goods and services in Eastern Ontario, much of it being in Renfrew County.”

There are also lots of retired pensioners in the county and many construction jobs, she said.

“There is a lot happening with renewal at the lab, one of Canada’s top science laboratories right in our neighbourhood,” she said.

New buildings and a new science lab is being built in collaboration with a lot of local engineering and construction firms, the mayor noted. As well by 2026, Canada’s first micro modular reactor could be built at the site, she said.

“There is strong potential for CNL to enter construction contracts worth millions to local firms,” she said. “However, we must not take this economic engine for granted.”

AECL/CNL and the CNSC all put a very high priority on science and environmental responsibility and set the bar very high on what they demand for protection of the environment, she stressed.

“I personally believe CNL is the most studied and carefully monitored property in Canada,” Mayor D’Eon said. “CNL have initiated a major cleanup of historic low-level waste at the site. The Near Surface Disposal Facility as you may have heard is essential to that cleanup, protecting the Ottawa River and essential to the long term sustainable and viability of the Chalk River site.”

The mayor said up to 95 percent of electricity generated in Ontario comes from clean non-carbon emitting sources and 70 percent of that comes from nuclear power.

“And the history of that comes from our county,” she pointed out. “Our country needs more nuclear not less to reach net zero and to keep both people and our environment healthy. Really what is good for Chalk River is generally good for all Canadians and particularly good for us who live and play in Renfrew County.”

CNL needs support for the NDSF project, she said, asking for the municipalities to join with Deep River in providing support.

Warden Robinson said she understood Mayor D’Eon taking the opportunity to speak on the issue.

“You do remind me of myself actually,” she said. “Anytime I get an opportunity to speak I advocate for VTAC. You are advocating for CNL, so good on you.”

CNL will be a delegation at county council in January, she said.

Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader

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