In the rest of Canada, there’s a nasty little rumour going on about New Brunswick.
Apparently, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization thinks we want to be Canada’s nuclear waste dumping ground.
Let me set the record straight once and for all.
We don’t want your nuclear waste. We don’t want a nuclear waste dump here. Go away and leave us alone!
When I read this nonsense about New Brunswickers being receptive to having nuclear waste buried here in The Star and The Globe and Mail earlier this week, you could have knocked me over with a feather.
Apparently, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization is under the impression that there is little opposition to the dumping of nuclear waste in New Brunswick.
You see, when the Nuclear Waste Management Organization came to New Brunswick, ostensibly to consult with New Brunswickers about plans to build a massive underground nuclear waste dump, there were relatively few articles of outrage and protest in Irving-owned and other newspapers and media here.
(In New Brunswick, an Irving-owned business owns almost all the newspapers in this province, including the major English-language dailies while other Irving-owned businesses are major players in the province’s energy sector.)
When the Nuclear Waste Management Organization began its poorly-publicized tour through New Brunswick, many people were clearly unaware they were even here, let alone hoping to maybe build a multi-billion dollar nuclear waste facility here.
And so the Nuclear Waste Management Organization took the lack of long articles about opposition to their project in the province’s newspapers as a sign of receptivity to nuclear waste by New Brunswickers.
Nothing, though, could be further from the truth.
Given the Irving family`s interest in energy projects, it is utter foolishness on the part of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization to automatically suppose that New Brunswickers support having a giant nuclear dump in their backyard simply because the Irving-owned newspapers have failed to report much opposition to the project.
The fact is that despite the relative lack of information about the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s tour through New Brunswick, there was opposition.
In Bathurst, almost everyone I met who attended the information session was opposed to this project. As a former mayoralty candidate for the northern New Brunswick City of Bathurst, I myself decided to draft a formal submission and handed it in to the Nuclear Waste Management Organization during its tour. Should you go to the website, you will find a copy of my submission to the NWMO.
In that submission to the Nuclear Waste Management Organization on June 18, 2009, I wrote: “It would be a mistake of unprecedented proportions for the people of the Chaleur region to a host a nuclear waste management facility here in the Bathurst area.”
Later, I printed off a petition and left it in small communities in northern New Brunswick. Although I had no team to back me up or organization to distribute this petition more widely or even bring it to the big population centres of New Brunswick, I easily gathered about 1,000 signatures of people opposed to this project in these small towns alone and, in July 2010, sent that petition to the then-premier of New Brunswick.
The Conservation Council of New Brunswick, a leading environmental group in this province, is opposed to nuclear activity here and there is an on-going campaign for a nuclear-free New Brunswick. There are many people here opposed to the dumping of nuclear waste in New Brunswick.
The notion that there is no opposition to this project of building a nuclear waste management facility in New Brunswick is simply untrue.
New Brunswick is not – and should never become – a nuclear waste dump for the rest of Canada.
James Risdon is a resident of Bathurst.