Local Angle: It made no sense for nuclear-waste debate to last as long as it did

When Creighton was crossed off the list of potential nuclear-waste storage sites last year, many well-meaning residents were disappointed.

For them, the underground nuclear-waste repository proposed by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) represented an incredible job-creation opportunity for our region.

But as The Reminder explored the nuclear-waste saga in a retrospective piece last week, it became more apparent than ever that if unsuitable geology had not quashed the proposal, then opposition would have.

There was so much opposition at such high levels, and so early on, that in hindsight one wonders why NWMO spent any money considering Creighton for the repository, let alone the $1.15-million-plus that was doled out over time.

One would imagine that an organization with as much expertise as NWMO would have consulted with the Saskatchewan government before contemplating something as controversial as a nuclear-waste repository for the province.

While it’s true that Saskatchewan, unlike Manitoba, has no law forbidding non-domestic nuclear waste storage, then- and current premier Brad Wall openly told people where he stood.

In April 2011, Wall told The StarPhoenix that Saskatchewanians were not supportive of nuclear waste storage in their province and that it was highly unlikely his government would ever allow a repository.

Wall reiterated his position six months later. One of the headlines from that interview read “No nuclear waste storage site for Saskatchewan: Brad Wall.”

The premier of Saskatchewan had announced NWMO’s project was not wanted in his province. Okay, what if he’s defeated? Well, the opposition NDP that would replace him was and is also against the repository.

In light of this, why would NWMO keep on to study anything in Saskatchewan? Why continue playing hockey as if the final buzzer had not just sounded?

The best guess is that NWMO believed it could somehow sway Wall, or perhaps hoped his successor years down the road would be open to a repository despite vocal public opposition. But that’s a lot to hope for, isn’t it?

The Saskatchewan government certainly had the power to keep nuclear waste out of the province. And so, by virtue of NWMO’s own guidelines, did First Nations. NWMO clearly said the repository would not proceed in an area that lacked First Nations support.

And so came another strike against NWMO. In May 2014, Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation (PBCN) came out against locating the repository on land under consideration near Creighton.

PBCN passed a band council resolution opposing the repository. Another First Nation with a claim on the proposed site also vocalized its opposition.

Just like that, NWMO had failed to meet its own criteria for a repository.

Let’s take all of this in for a moment. The concept of a nuclear-waste repository near Creighton was now opposed by the premier of Saskatchewan, the official opposition leader, two First Nations and Creighton MLA Doyle Vermette.

Perhaps NWMO clung to hope that if it just completed enough studies and held enough meetings, somehow the powerful opponents to its repository would come around.

Of course it never got that far. In March 2015, NWMO pulled out of Creighton after a study found the site being examined for a repository was geologically unsound.

It’s not that the idea of bolstering the Flin Flon-Creighton economy with a multibillion-dollar repository was a bizarre one; it’s that the whole thing was so obviously doomed from the start that it’s astounding NWMO carried on for more than four years.

Even if Creighton’s geology had been fine, the notion that a nuclear-waste repository could have still somehow proceeded defies all rational belief.

Local Angle is published on Fridays.


DECEMBER 3, 2016 09:00 PM

© Copyright 2016 Flin Flon Reminder
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Northern Ontario School of Medicine conducting research on radiation and the environment

CBC Sudbury – The world’s largest operating nuclear generating facility is investing $5 million in health research at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine.

Bruce Power specifically wants to continue studies into radiation and the environment.

The $1 million in annual funding for five years will be used to continue research that began over the last few years.

“Our research looks at what happens to the body when we’re exposed to low doses of radiation,” said Dr. Doug Boreham, Bruce Power chair in radiation and health at NOSM and manager of integration at Bruce Power.

The $1 million in annual funding for five years will be used to continue research that began over the last few years.

“Our research looks at what happens to the body when we’re exposed to low doses of radiation,” said Dr. Doug Boreham, Bruce Power chair in radiation and health at NOSM and manager of integration at Bruce Power.

NOSM researchers are expected to look at:

  • The impact of low-dose radiation on health.
  • The environmental impacts of radiation and how they impact health.
  • The effects of radiation and diagnostic imaging on fetal programming.
  • The effect of radiation on specific species of fish.
  • The impact of radiation on Indigenous communities.

“We have found that, contrary to popular belief, low-dose radiation has a net positive effect on an organism’s health, leading to less cancer and longer life expectancy,” Boreham continued.

“Essentially, low doses of radiation stimulate repair systems and make organisms healthier, stimulating a similar effect on the body as exercise.”

Bruce Power’s contributions to NOSM will consist of:

  • A $5 million investment over the next five years to support the NOSM/Bruce Power Research Centre for Health, Environment, and Radiation.
  • The renewal of the Bruce Power Chair in Radiation and Health at NOSM, which was established in 2013.
  • A free, clean energy electric car charging station that is open and available to the public, as well as an electric car for conducting research.

CBC News Posted: Nov 11, 2016 8:07 PM ET Last Updated: Nov 11, 2016 8:07 PM ET


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Is this northern Ontario township (Ignace) a good spot to bury nuclear waste?

Ignace, Ont. is 1 of 9 communities still in the running to serve as a nuclear waste storage centre

CBC News Posted: Nov 04, 2016 2:54 PM ET Last Updated: Nov 04, 2016 2:54 PM ET

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization is searching for a suitable location to bury nuclear waste. Ignace, Ont. is one of nine communities still in the running.
The Nuclear Waste Management Organization is searching for a suitable location to bury nuclear waste. Ignace, Ont. is one of nine communities still in the running. (John Flesher/The Associated Press)

The group that’s examining the feasibility of burying nuclear waste in the Canadian Shield will start a drilling program in 2017 near Ignace, Ont.

It’s part of work being done by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) to find a suitable site for the disposal of spent uranium pellets. The group has been narrowing down its scope of possible sites to store the waste.

“We’ve done airborne high resolution surveys, the geologists have been out walking the land [and] we’ve done some initial environmental mapping,” said Patrick Dolcetti, a spokesperson for the organization.

“But this will be the first time going in and getting some core samples to further understand the geology in the region.”

The NWMO will examine four areas, comprised of 14 specific sites, all within 50 kilometres of Ignace and in virtually all directions. One of the four main sites is partially within the township boundaries.

Study of all these areas will eventually lead to a decision on where to drill a borehole in 2017 to take core samples for study, Dolcetti said.

“So, we haven’t determined where that will be,” he said.

“We have areas that we have identified, so we are asking local people and people in the region to give their input on what they think, why a certain area may be suitable or may not be suitable, or whatever concerns they have.”

Ignace is one of nine communities still in the running to potentially serve as the final choice to bury the spent fuel.

Dolcetti said a final community will get picked in 2023, with the construction for the waste repository site to be completed by 2040.

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Northwestern Ontario Towns still considered for nuclear waste storage facility

Several municipalities in Northwestern Ontario are being considered for a nuclear waste storage facility.

THUNDER BAY — Several municipalities in Northwestern Ontario are still being considered as nuclear waste storage facility sites.

Town councils in Manitouwadge, White River, Homepayne and Ignace are weighing the cost and benefits of playing host to an underground nuclear storage facility.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization held an open house for residents in Ignace on Wednesday afternoon. NWMO geoscience division director Ben Belfadhel said Ignace residents have been in a flurry of discussion over the potential for the site.

Diana Baril lives near one of the possible locations and said she has no problem if the facility were to be built in her backyard.

NWMO communications manager Patrick Dolcetti said there are nine locations across the province being looked at. Only a single site will eventually be selected.

In order for the project to go ahead anywhere, there needs to be suitable geology and the community has to be a willing host community.

Dolcetti added this is a $22-billion infrastructure project and will create thousands of jobs, which has raised questions from Ignace residents.

Until then the town of 1,300 will have to wait until 2023 to see if they are the one municipality selected.

TBay Newswatch, 27 10 2016, as posted at https://www.tbnewswatch.com/local-news/towns-still-considered-for-nuclear-waste-storage-facility-448848

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Community liaison committee hosts nuclear regulator

Elliot Lake Standard | October 26 | The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) was in the city last week hosting an open house, and on the following evening made a special presentation at the October meeting of Elliot Lake’s community liaison committee (CLC).

The CLC is a committee of council mandated to inform the public about nuclear-related issues and the prospects surrounding any potential local applications for hosting a deep geological repository (DGR). A DGR is a nuclear waste repository excavated deep within a stable geologic environment (typically below 300 m). It is expected to provide a high-level of long-term isolation and containment without future maintenance.

With nine members of the committee present, the eight member CNSC technical team led by senior project officer, Julie Mecke, presented a commission overview. And the team’s Aboriginal and Métis coordinator, Kim Noble, talked about the recently revised Aboriginal engagement process.

The regulatory presentation was similar to the previous day’s open house at the White Mountain building, hosted by the CNSC. It basically outlined the mandate and operational responsibilities of the commission.

The other agenda item, presented by Kim Noble, was the revised Aboriginal engagement regulation.

“The implementation of REGDOC-3.2.2 is expected to lead to more effective and efficient Aboriginal engagement practices,” said Noble. “It is designed to strengthen relationships with Aboriginal communities, assist the CNSC in meeting its ‘duty to consult’ obligations, and reduce the risk of delays in the regulatory review processes.”

During the question and answer session, committee queries ranged from security concerns to time lines for the finalization of a site location for a DGR.

Mecke was clear in her response to the latter.

“We (CNSC) are not the group that deals with time lines…. That question is better directed to the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO).”

In response, CLC chair Ed Pearce asserted that both the CNSC and NWMO are “both basically arms-length agencies of the federal government. So what’s the problem?”

Mecke told Pearce that the NWMO was not a federal agency.

The NWMO is a not-for-profit organization established through the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act 2002 (NFWA), and funded by Canada’s nuclear electricity producers. And according to published NWMO documents, the organization “is responsible for designing and implementing Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel.”

“The plan requires used fuel to be contained and isolated in a deep geological repository.”

A locally relevant item in the organization’s mandate is the call for a “comprehensive process to select an informed and willing host for the project.”

As with the previous day’s open house presentation, the majority of people talked to were in favour of a DGR in or around Elliot Lake. However, according to Pearce, the mandate of the group is to inform the public.

Being a committee of council, “We are neither in favour of, or against a DGR,” Pearce remarked after the CNSC presentation. “Our job is to inform the public, to disseminate information.”

The 25 interested citizens in attendance sat quietly through the hour-long presentation. About 15 people stayed for the entire meeting.

Aside from one individual in the audience, committee members dominated the question and answer session.

By RICK SMIT For The Elliot Lake Standard, Wednesday, October 26, 2016 10:21:00 EDT PM, as posted at http://www.elliotlakestandard.ca/2016/10/26/community-liaison-committee-hosts-nuclear-regulator

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Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission hosts local open house in Elliot Lake

Elliot Lake Standard | It appeared to be a nuclear friendly crowd of about 100 citizens who showed up last Monday, Oct. 18 at the White Mountain Building on the invitation of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

The nuclear regulator was in the city with a technical team of engineering and environmental professionals to explain the CNSC’s role in the Canadian nuclear industry, with a particular view of clarifying the difference between their monitoring and inspection activity, as well as the entirely separate mandate of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO).

According to CNSC senior project officer, Julie Mecke, the commission regulates uranium mines and mills, nuclear processing and research, nuclear power generation, nuclear medicine, nuclear substances and transportation, waste management, the environment, national security and international commitments.

“The CNSC is the regulator and we do inspections at mines, mills, storage facilities, nuclear power plants and decommissioned mines,” said Mecke. “As far as nuclear waste is concerned, we manage it, we monitor it. When an application does come forward from the NWMO we will review the feasibility of the proposal.”

Listening to the questions being asked, it became clear that many of the citizens who attended the open house were eager to learn if a time line for the selection of a disposal site was looming in the near future. All members of the CNSC technical team present were clear about distancing the commission from any speculation.

“That (time lines) is the responsibility of the community and the NWMO,” Mecke remarked. “Once the community reaches a clear acceptance, a broad-based declared desire to host a site, they can go to the NWMO. If that organization sees merit in the community proposal they can present it to us. To date, that hasn’t happened.”

The CNSC has not received an application (to host) a (nuclear waste) disposal site from the NWMO.

A table stacked with CNSC informational and promotional material, coupled with another filled with refreshments, assisted the technical team in successfully developing a welcoming and friendly atmosphere.

At the 1:30 p.m. presentation, there were no overt displays of what could be characterized as anti-nuclear protest. Rather, a pervasive attitude of acceptance and industry promotion stood out.

Menke was also to be in the city as a guest speaker at the October meeting of the Elliot Lake Community Liaison Committee.

By RICK SMIT, For The Elliot Lake Standard, Wednesday, October 19, 2016 9:51:35 EDT PM as posted at http://www.elliotlakestandard.ca/2016/10/19/canadian-nuclear-safety-commission-hosts-local-open-house

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NWMO Drilling For Information In South Bruce, Huron-Kinloss

Blackburn News | Oct 20 | A series of upcoming Open Houses in Lucknow and Mildmay are aimed at educating the public on the next steps toward site selection for a Deep Geologic Repository for used nuclear fuel.

Both the Municipalities of Huron-Kinloss and South Bruce have been voluntarily working separately with the NWMO throughout the site selection process and now, all parties are moving forward with the next step of the Phase 2 Preliminary Assessment.

This next step would involve the drilling, on municipally owned land, of a borehole to gather geologic material for research purposes only and data gathering.

“It is not expected to be a repository site,” says Marie Wilson, Regional Communications Manager for the Nuclear Waste Management Organization.

There are three proposed locations in Huron-Kinloss (for initial borehole drilling) and four proposed locations within South Bruce. They will eventually be narrowed down to just one drill site.

“Comments from citizens on the proposed locations for this work are very valuable and will help the community and the NWMO plan the work together,” says Wilson.

The NWMO currently has Learn More Centres in Ripley, Teeswater and Clinton that are open to the public three days a week.

A series of open houses, aimed at public input on the initial borehole drilling, will take place on the following dates:

NWMO Open House (Huron-Kinloss):

Lucknow Community Centre (694 Willoughby St.)
Tuesday, November 1 2016 from 1pm – 8pm
Wednesday, November 2 2016 from 9am – 3pm

NWMO Open House (South Bruce):

Mildmay-Carrick Recreation Complex (24 Vincent St.)
Thursday, November 3 from 1pm – 8pm
Friday, November 4 from 9am – 3pm

BY CRAIG POWEROCTOBER 20, 2016 11:49AM, as posted at http://blackburnnews.com/midwestern-ontario/midwestern-ontario-news/2016/10/20/drilling-information-south-bruce-huron-kinloss/

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