Mayor Jim Watson

Dear Mayor Watson:

Thank you for your letter of May 3, 2021, in which you requested a regional assessment under the Impact Assessment Act (the IAA) of radioactive disposal projects and related activities in the Ottawa Valley.

Under the IAA, a regional assessment may be conducted of the effects of existing or future physical activities in a region. Upon receipt of your request, the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (the Agency) undertook a detailed review, taking into account considerations laid out in applicable guidance related to regional assessment requests, to inform my decision.

Following careful consideration and analysis of your request, I have decided not to conduct a regional assessment of radioactive disposal projects in this area, for the reasons described below.

While the importance of addressing the environmental, health, social and economic effects of radioactive disposal projects, and associated public interest in these matters, is certainly recognized, I am of the view that existing legislative and regulatory frameworks and policy initiatives are well placed to do so. This includes federal legislation such as the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act, the federal government's Radioactive Waste Policy, which is in the process of being updated, and the associated regulatory, licensing and monitoring requirements of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. These existing initiatives address concerns related to human health and environmental protection from radioactive waste and related activities, and include provisions for public information and engagement.

Project-specific impact assessments and permitting requirements are also important and effective means of identifying and addressing the potential effects of such activities. Each of the currently proposed projects in the Ottawa Valley referenced in your regional assessment request, including the Near Surface Disposal Facility and the Nuclear Power Closure Demonstration Project, are currently undergoing detailed environmental assessments under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012). These assessments are required to consider both project-specific and cumulative effects, and include considerable opportunities for public involvement. Based on the status and timing of these ongoing assessments, a regional assessment is unlikely to inform or influence them, and the Government of Canada is not aware of other proposed or imminent radioactive disposal projects in this region.

I encourage you to engage with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission on the environmental assessments for the Nuclear Surface Disposal Facility and the Nuclear Power Demonstration Closure project, and with Natural Resources Canada on its ongoing review of Canada's Radioactive Waste Policy. These initiatives fall under the Portfolio of my colleague, the Honourable Seamus O'Regan, Minister of Natural Resources. For your convenience, I am copying him on this correspondence for his information.

Thank you again for taking the time to prepare and submit this regional assessment request, and in advance for your participation in the various existing initiatives referenced above.


<Original signed by>

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, P.C., M.P.

c.c.: The Honourable Seamus O'Regan, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Natural Resources

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