It's been yet another very full year! In our year-end letter the last few years we've reflected on what a busy year it has been, and 2016 has been another one!
Some of the challenges carry over year after year - continued environmental de-regulation, and a weakened system for environmental assessments, but 2016 had a new element - multiple review processes at the federal level, with potential to renew, restore or even improve environmental assessment processes and protection of fisheries and navigable water. And that's all good! But it has demanded time and effort, which we have willingly expended. And there is much more to do.
And through this time of potential positive change, the nuclear industry continues to press forward in efforts to do what has never been done before - to bury high level nuclear waste.
In 2016 we remained engaged with others in followup to the Joint Review Panel Report on OPG's proposal to bury radioactive wastes from all of Ontario's nuclear reactors on the shore of Lake Huron. In February we were very pleased with the federal Minister of the Environment and Climate Change's announcement that OPG would be required to do additional studies, including of cumulative effects and alternate locations. Since then we have been pressing the federal government for a full and open evaluation of OPG's additional studies, and preparing for their release and our review and response. To that end, we have two experts engaged and are poised to take action at the time of the report's release (OPG's deadline is the end of 2016 - we're in the final countdown!)
We continue to work with residents in, around and en route to the nine municipalities who are still engaged with the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, allowing their areas to be "studied" as potential burial sites for high level nuclear fuel waste, and this fall we held a series of community roundtables to involve those in the path of the NWMO's burial scheme in developing Northwatch's critique of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission's "oversight report" on nuclear waste management.
Another continued challenge is responding to the proposal by TransCanada to convert a natural gas pipeline to make it a carrier for diluted bitumen from Alberta's tar sands, carrying it to Eastern Canada. An aging pipeline and a nasty new product being pumped under high pressure combine to spell high risk with no reward. The National Energy Board review panel resigned amidst scandal last fall, but the "clock" for the review process continues, and our next big deadline is early in the new year, despite there being no review panel in place. While 2016 saw massive resistance to pipelines and pipeline approvals, this issue is expected to loom large throughout 2017.
And then there's all our "day to day" work! There are three mine projects under development which Northwatch will review for core environmental issues (are they acid generating? will there be community benefits? is there a sound closure plan?) and we're back to the start-up stage in several forest management plans, entering a period when public involvement is crucial in setting directions and developing objectives.
Can you help?
Our friends, members and donors are our most important source of funding for ongoing work. We not only appreciate your support, we absolutely rely on it.
Through CanadaHelps.org you can make a donation to Northwatch right up until midnight December 31st and receive a charitable tax receipt for 2016! We’ve set up a "Giving Page" on CanadaHelps.org which makes it easier for you to support Northwatch’s work with either a one-time donation or monthly contributions. We're also set up to accept donations - one time or monthly - through Paypal. And, of course, we very much welcome cheques and money orders coming by mail!
Thanks for considering this request. All the best for this holiday season and the coming year from your friends and colleagues at Northwatch.