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AFN National Chief Cindy Woodhouse Nepinak Urges Consultation with First Nations on Chalk River Radioactive Waste Facility

Press Release

Jan 29, 2024

(January 29, 2024 – Unceded Algonquin Territory, Ottawa, Ontario) – Today, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief, Cindy Woodhouse Nepinak, is expressing concern following the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s (CNSC) recent approval of a landfill site for nuclear waste at the Chalk River Laboratories (CNL), near the Ottawa River.

“The CNSC decision to approve the proposed Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF) at the CNL is a step back in the progress that has been made towards reconciliation,” said AFN National Chief Cindy Woodhouse Nepinak. “It is essential that the Government of Canada fully and directly consult with the Chiefs of the Algonquin Nations before making any further decisions that could adversely affect their lives, livelihood, or way of life.”

On January 9, 2024, CNSC determined the proposal “is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects” and that CNL had adequately consulted and accommodated Indigenous groups. However, some First Nations indicated that they were not adequately consulted by the CNSC, and its decision violates Canadian environmental assessment law, international agreements, and Indigenous law.

“The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), Article 29(2), clearly states that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent. The CNSC decision falls short of these standards, infringes on First Nations inherent rights and jurisdiction, and raises concerns regarding the Government of Canada’s commitment to uphold and adhere to the standards of UNDRIP. Consistent with direction from AFN Resolution 52/2023, Securing Accountability of Nuclear Technology, Waste, Transport and Storage, we urge federal, provincial, and territorial governments to ensure that no testing, development, expansion, or deployment of nuclear activities, including small modular reactors, occur on or near First Nations territories without the free, prior, and informed consent of all First Nations who may be affected.”

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Contact information:

Ayman Hammamieh
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
343-573-1771 (mobile)
ahammamieh@afn.ca

Nicole Robertson
Senior Communications Advisor
AFN National Chief’s Office
(403) 616-4999
Nicole.robertson@telus.net

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