City Steps Up Radioactive Water Pollution Testing


This is an open letter from community activist J.P. Unger to councillors concerning water releases from the Chalk River nuclear facility:

Dear Councillors Shawn Menard and Theresa Kavanaugh:

It’s my understanding that the City of Ottawa is now doing daily water intake quality testing instead of twice weekly, including testing for radioactive pollutants, and that the results are being shared with the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories consortium operating upstream at the Chalk River nuclear facilities.

Councillor Kavanagh, you made possible the motion that called on the city to request timely notice on discharges from CNL in April 2021, I wanted to ask you please for the following:

1) I have not been able to find on the city’s website this year’s or the previous year’s water test results, so I would like to request from you a copy of these, or at least this year’s to date.

I imagine it would probably be easier, particularly to make unnecessary any future requests and have a better informed citizenry, to simply have the results posted on a website page as they are produced, as there is no good reason why such results should be kept from the public, so I would like to take the opportunity to propose that perhaps the City should start posting them.

2) I also wanted to ask if you know the reason why CNL may have asked the City to provide such daily testing. Specifically, I’m concerned about what they may have begun discharging (CNL and the CNSC usually calls radioactive contaminant discharges “controlled releases”); perhaps they want to see how much is showing in our city’s water testing?

3) My understanding is that as a result of the resolutions adopted by your committee and then council on April 14, 2021, CNL was going to be asked to provide the city with prompt notification of any radioactive releases, so it would be highly appreciated if you could please let me know what releases have been noted during the last year and/or this year to date or alternatively, whether any such have actually been notified, promptly or not, to the city.

Related to the latter points, I would like to ask that the city please NOT share with CNL (or with anyone besides those actually doing the testing) the time of day when testing is done, particularly if testing is usually done within a same time window and that if done usually within the same time window, that the test times be changed randomly throughout the day. Otherwise, let’s just say that polluters – any polluters – that become aware of the testing schedules might time their discharges to have them flow past the Ottawa intake plants during a time window when there is no testing.


Many thanks, and best wishes,

Juan Pedro (J. P.) Unger


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