Q1. What are your views on waste minimization? Should Canada continue to use the concept of the waste hierarchy?
A 1. The first principle in waste management is waste avoidance – no more production. The waste hierarchy developed for other waste materials does not transfer onto management of radioactive wastes, given the radiological risk and the radiological contamination that occurs if radioactively contaminated materials were mixed with non-contaminated materials (for example, if radioactive contaminated steel were allowed to enter the commercial steel recycling waste stream)
Q2. What should be the role of government, regulator and waste owners with respect to minimizing radioactive waste?
A2. To achieve the first policy goal of waste avoidance the Government should adopt an energy policy that drives the phaseout of nuclear power and radioactive waste production. Energy companies, such as provincial utilities that currently operate nuclear reactors (i.e. radioactive waste generators) should shift in their supply options to clean energy sources that produce no wastes while generating electricity, i.e. renewables. In the interim, regulators should ensure that waste generators are carefully isolating and containing any radioactive waste generated, avoiding cross contamination and release to the environment.
Q3. Are there other principles, beyond those identified by the International Atomic Energy Agency, that you feel are important to consider when designing and implementing a waste minimization program?
A3. Additional IAEA principles include protection of human health and the environment, protection of future generations, avoiding burdens on future generations, and safety and control. The IAEA has also identified relevant objectives, including transparency, security, non-proliferation, continual improvement, and long-term commitment. As with all nuclear operations, the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples must be applied.