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Pinehouse and English River removed from nuclear waste dump shortlist

Anti-nuclear waste activists in the northern Saskatchewan communities of Pinehouse and English River First Nation today scored a major victory when the two communities were dropped from the site selection process being conducted by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization.

“In November 2013 the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) completed the first phase of preliminary assessment in collaboration with eight of the 21 communities,” reads the NWMO page on the first phase of the site selection process. “Creighton in Saskatchewan, and Ignace, Hornepayne and Schreiber in Ontario, were assessed as having strong potential to meet site selection requirements and have been identified for further study. The communities of English River First Nation and Pinehouse in Saskatchewan, and Ear Falls and Wawa in Ontario, were not selected for more detailed study.

The grassroots fight against a nuclear waste in Northern Saskatchewan has been led since 2011 by The Committee for Future Generations, which was the recipient of the Activist of the Year award at the Council of Canadians’ recent AGM in Saskatoon for their work on the nuclear waste issue.

While not referring specifically to the work of the Committee, the NWMO’s assessment of Pinehouse reveals that sustained community resistance in northern Saskatchewan did influence the NWMO’s decision to drop the community from the process. The assessment documents refer to “ongoing debate and division about the amount and type of growth desired over the long term, and the project has the potential to reinforce these divisions” and state that “Where community reflection and discussion has suggested there is potential for fundamental conflict between the project and these aspects of community well-being, or where alignment is uncertain, the NWMO judges that the potential to foster the overall well-being of the community is lessened.”

The assessment for English River First Nation similarly refers to the fact that “Some residents have noted the division already resulting in the community over the project.”

Despite the victory, the Committee For Future Generations will continue its campaign against nuclear waste in northern Saskatchewan. As CFFG member Debbie MIhalicz put it, “Creighton and three Ontario communities are still in the running. We need to make a strong push at Creighton now. We’ve won this battle; the war, however, will be over the day no more nuclear waste is created anywhere in the world.”

In addition to the communities of Creighton, Ignace, Hornepayne, and Schreiber, which the NWMO has moved on to Phase 2 of the process, an additional 13 communities are still awaiting their preliminary assessments.