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

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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

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Critics accuse nuclear safety official of acting as industry cheerleader

G&M | Oct 12 | Opposition politicians and environmentalists are questioning the priorities of the man responsible for nuclear safety in Canada after a string of incidents in which he publicly defended the industry and was dismissive of concerns about potential hazards – a stance that runs contrary to his mandate at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

The CNSC was established by the federal government to protect the health and safety of Canadians and to regulate the use, possession and storage of all nuclear substances in Canada. No part of its mission entails promotion of the country’s reactors. But, in the more than eight years that Michael Binder has served as president of the CNSC, he has repeatedly extolled the merits of the nuclear industry and chastised critics who voiced concerns about potential hazards.

The Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stands behind Dr. Binder despite recently uncovered lapses in the CNSC’s inspection regime and an anonymous letter that accused the CNSC of skipping important safety oversights. Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said: “We think that the regulator has done and continues to do a good job.”

But an audit released last week by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development found the CNSC was not inspecting reactors often or thoroughly enough. Julie Gelfand, the Environment Commissioner, said CNSC inspectors have been scrutinizing the country’s nuclear facilities without the guides that list what criteria must be met, as required by the regulator.

“The fact that it’s allowed and that that data is then used to tell us that everything is all good, tells me that there is something in the way that they are managing that is not precise enough, that is not systematic enough, that is not rigorous enough,” she said.

Tom Mulcair, the Leader of the federal New Democrats, said Wednesday that the government is shirking its responsibilities by ignoring what is happening at the CNSC, an agency that reports to Parliament.

“Instead of being someone there to defend the public in an important area like nuclear safety, [Dr. Binder] acts like someone who is there to defend the industry that he is supposed to be regulating,” Mr. Mulcair said in a telephone interview, “and he even goes on to attack those people who express concerns.”

Shawn-Patrick Stensil, a senior energy analyst with Greenpeace Canada, said this week Dr. Binder has “shown a disturbing pattern of cheerleading for an industry he’s supposed to keep in check. Trudeau needs to clean up the CNSC.”

The release of the audit followed an anonymous letter sent last spring to Dr. Binder that was purportedly written by specialists inside CNSC. It pointed to five separate cases in which the commission’s staff sat on relevant material about risk or non-compliance that might have called the safety of a plant into question.

Rather than conduct an independent investigation into the allegations, Dr. Binder asked one of his own staff to determine whether the letter had merit, a review that concluded the concerns were exaggerated. At a subsequent meeting of the CNSC, Dr. Binder questioned the letter’s authenticity and suggested its contents were a part of a “conspiracy theory.”

Elizabeth May, the Green Party leader, said this week she is “very concerned” about what is happening at the CNSC and the fact that no one was called in from outside the regulator to look at the concerns of the letter writers. “People to tend to sit upright,” she said, “when you tell them about a nuclear reactor that is not getting properly inspected.”

Dr. Binder refused an interview request this week. But Aurèle Gervais, a CNSC spokesman, said allegations that Dr. Binder is too close to the industry “have been raised by serial intervenors many times in the past and dealt with publicly. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission stands by its safety record.”

A career civil servant with a PhD in physics, Dr. Binder was appointed by the previous Conservative government in 2008 when his predecessor, Linda Keen, refused to back down on safety standards. One of his first acts was to reinstate a fast-track process for approving reactors – and there have been many times since then when he has been a promoter of the industry.

  • In September, 2009, Dr. Binder attended one of several secret meetings of the Bruce County Council to discuss preparations for the upcoming approval hearings of a low and intermediate-level deep geologic repository (L&IL DGR) for nuclear waste that is being proposed for Kincardine, Ont., on the shores of Lake Huron. Dr. Binder, who heads one of the bodies that had to approve the project, is recorded in notes taken by Ontario Power Generation as having “said he hoped their next meeting with him would be at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the L&IL DGR.”
  • In 2009, when the environmental group Sierra Club Canada issued a warning against what it said were dangerous levels of radioactive tritium in drinking water, the CNSC issued a statement assuring the public that tritium releases from the nuclear power industry posed no risk to health. It went on to lambaste the Sierra Club for choosing “to ignore the important benefits of nuclear technology.”
  • In March, 2011, at a Commons committee, Dr. Binder took issue with critics who opposed shipping radioactive steam generators through the Great Lakes saying “this is not about safety – this is anti-nuclear.” He went on to say a number of environmental activists had made a career of “scaring the hell out of people with doomsday sentiments” and that he was fed up with the misinformation they were circulating.
  • In 2013, Ontario Provincial Police officers showed up at the doors of people who opposed a proposed nuclear waste dump on the shores of Lake Huron asking if they planned any demonstrations at a hearing for an environmental assessment of the project. A spokesman for Ontario Power Generation said the OPP’s “engagement” came at the request of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and local municipalities.
  • In 2015, Dr. Binder defended uranium mining in Quebec after Quebec’s Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement said it would be premature to develop the industry in that province. In a letter to Quebec Environment Minister David Heurtel, he said it “is very troubling to have the [provincial agency] present your government with conclusions and recommendations that lack scientific basis and rigour.”
  • In January, 2015, the CNSC sent out a mass e-mail to point out that international academics were asking environmental groups to sign a letter in support of nuclear energy for its role in combatting climate change. Environmental groups called it “as an egregious indication of bias on the part of the regulator in favour of nuclear energy production and its expansion, rather than acting as a neutral objective safety regulator.”

Gloria Galloway, OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail, Published Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016 7:47PM EDT
as posted at

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Nuclear Waste in Northern Ontario – Nine Communities in Site Selection Process

On September 29, the Manitouwadge Nuclear Waste Community Liaison Committee held their monthly meeting at the Manitouwadge Council Chambers, About 20 people attended. The Committee’s roles is to help ensure residents’ concerns are addressed, provide input for information sessions to meet local needs in order to involve the entire community in learning about the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) and Canada’s plan for safely managing Canada`s used nuclear fuel over the long term.

Manitouwadge is one of nine communities/areas currently involved in the site selection process. The others include; White River, Hornepayne, Ignace, Elliot Lake, Blind River As well there are three communities in Southwestern Ontario. They include South Bruce, Central Huron and Huron-Kinloss. According to the NWMO, the earliest a site is likely to be built and operational is 2040. Although for planning purposes, the NWMO would like to be down to one community and area of study by the year 2023.

An update on NWMO engagement activities over the last few months was presented by John Fraser, NWMO Relationship Manager.

This was followed by a presentation on what a possible Centre of Expertise might involve. The presentation was given by DPRA consultant, Peter Homenuck who is working with the NWMO.

According to information on the NWMO website “A Centre of Expertise will be established at, or near, the site. Its initial purpose is to support the multi-year testing and assessment of the site with a focus on safety and community well-being.

The centre will be home to a technical and social research program, and a technology demonstration program, involving scientists and experts from a wide variety of disciplines. An engineering test facility will develop materials and equipment to be used in the repository. The centre will also house demonstration equipment that displays the entire packaging and container placement process. In later phases of the project, it will become a hub for knowledge-sharing across Canada and internationally.

The design and use of the centre will be developed collaboratively with those living in the area. It could, for example, be a focal point for the community to learn about the project. It could also become a destination that welcomes visitors from the region and beyond. Should the First Nation and Métis communities in the area desire, it could feature a learning area focused on how Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge is being applied to the project. Opportunities to work with the community to sustain and enhance the natural environment will also be explored.’
After the presentation from Peter Homenuck, the Indigenous leaders, Chief Wayne Sabourin from Pic Mobert and Chief Duncan Michano from Biigtigong Nishnaabeg, formerly Pic River First Nation each made a statement to the committee about the reasons they are against this project. They said that the nuclear waste in the ground will poison the earth. They said they were ready to do everything they can in order to bring the project to a stop. They mentioned that they would be ready to be arrested and go to jail in order to protect nature. Chief Sabourin told the committee and people in attendance that if their interest is was to help their local economies, this is not the best solution. Chief Michano told the audience about his concerns of the mess that their children and grandchildren will have to endure if ever there were problems with the underground nuclear waste storage. They also said they had made similar remarks at the monthly nuclear waste community committee meetings in Hornepayne and White River held during the same week.

Interviewed following the meeting, Patrick Dolcetti, NWMO Regional Communications Manager, said that “the NWMO is always available to meet and begin collaborating together on engagement with anyone. For this project to work in any potential siting area, it will require regional partnerships and that obviously will include Aboriginal and Metis organizations and communities. We respect all points of view and comments”.” Dolcetti added, the “NWMO are not here to convince people that this project is right for any one particular area.” Dolcetti says. “We encourage all those who are interested to come, engage, and learn together. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misunderstandings around this important national infrastructure project.

“With that in mind, certainly the long time lines before any potential site would be selected, can be seen as a positive factor. As it gives all potentially interested and impacted parties the advantage of time to collaborate before any potential decisions would be required.”

Dolcetti encourages people to visit the recently launched new NWMO website.

Lynn Cregheur, The Algoma News, As posted October 4, 2016 at

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Glimpse Into Changing NWMO Plans at Conference Attended by Regional Representatives (September 2016)

OTTAWA, ON – For north of Superior communities involved in the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s “Learn More” program, revisions to the design and layout of the NWMO’s nuclear waste burial plans might mean it’s more a case of “learn again” as the NWMO rolls out a substantially revised version of their “reference plan” for nuclear waste burial.

Edited [There are 6 Northern Ontario municipalities, in the
vicinity of areas being considered by the NWMO’s site selection
process, at various stages of the NWMO’s “Learn More” program.
As part of the “Learn More” program.]
Participating municipalities were invited by the NWMO to send three delegates to the Canadian Nuclear Society’s conference on nuclear waste management and decommissioning this week (Sept.11-14) in Ottawa.

Members of municipal councils and Community Liaison Committees were among the approximately 300 people attending the national conference, including several delegates from White River, Hornepayne and Manitouwadge. There were also a number of delegates from communities no longer in, or not having participated in, the site selection “Learn More” process including city councilors from North Bay, Dryden and Kincardine as well as representatives from a few First Nation communities.

Though Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Mike Mantha had been scheduled to speak a conflict was said to make that impossible, subsequently, Mr.Mantha provided taped answers to questions from the NWMO. Photo B.Lloyd
Though Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Mike Mantha had been scheduled to speak a conflict was said to make that impossible, subsequently, Mr.Mantha provided taped answers to questions from the NWMO. Photo B.Lloyd
A series of presentations by NWMO staff or consultants outlined some fundamental changes to the NWMO project design, including significantly different radioactive waste containers and underground layout.

The “Adaptive Phased Management” plan, crafted to meet a 2005 reporting deadline to the federal government, was detailed in a 594 page report in 2012 describing a “reference plan” for a deep geological repository in the crystalline rock of the Canadian shield (this was followed by a report in 2013 covering the same subjects for a hypothetical repository in the sedimentary rocks found in the area surrounding the Bruce nuclear generating station in southwestern Ontario).

Project descriptions from 2005 to 2015 for a potential repository in the Canadian Shield depicted a flat-topped cylindrically shaped used fuel container that would be placed either vertically in the floor of a room carved out of rock deep underground or horizontally in the room itself. In late 2015, project descriptions began to replace the images of the waste container with one of a sphere-topped container placed in a large box filled with buffering materials. Dubbed “Mark II” by the NWMO technical staff, the revised fuel container design features a steel vessel that is copper coated and welded shut.

Northwatch spokesperson Kathleen Brosemer acknowledges that project evolution is not unexpected, given both the thirty year timeline between the 2005 plan’s release and the earliest possible construction dates, plus the very conceptual nature of the NWMO’s “Adaptive Phased Management Plan”.

“We’ve no problem with continued research on ways to isolate nuclear waste over very long periods of time, given all the uncertainties associated with geological disposal concepts. And at first introduction the revised fuel container designer looks like it might have some actual advantages over the 2005 version of the NWMO’s used fuel container,” commented Brosemer from her office in Sault Ste. Marie.

“What we do take issue with is the way the NWMO presents their ideas. For the last ten years the NWMO has been touting the safety of their plan, with project descriptions that depicted a fuel container of a certain design and a message that said ‘we know how to do this’. Now they say they know how to do it, but it’s different than the way they knew how to do it a few years ago. Especially for people living with the prospect of a nuclear waste burial facility, this makes the story harder to follow than it needs to be”.

A second and potentially even more significant shift in the NWMO plan is in the potential layout of the underground repository. For ten years, all NWMO project descriptions have been based on a single “compact” block layout, estimated to result in an underground footprint that is two kilometres by three kilometers. The NWMO’s predecessor plan by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited had a similar layout.

In the last day of technical sessions at the Ottawa conference, a new approach was outlined, generically titled by the consultant who developed it for the Nuclear Waste Management Organization as “Adaptive Deep Geologic Repository Layout”.

It signifies a huge shift: instead of situating the underground repository in a single rock formation, the notion of “adaptive layout” introduces the idea that a repository design could “bridge across fractures”.

As the workshop abstract explains, “Canadian layouts to date have assumed that a large enough homogeneous and isotropic domain (block) of rock will be available to host the repository”, but decades of research has yet to identify such a rock formation.

Perhaps in light of the NWMO’s current geological research or possibly just hedging their bets against an ongoing failure to find that elusive rock formation, the NWMO now appears to be on the brink of giving up the fundamental concept of geological repositories, i.e. that a single rock formation can be engineered to provide a barrier to the release of radioactive waste.

Asked about the changed designs for both the containers and underground layout, and how such major project design shifts get communicated through the NWMO’s “Learn More” program to residents in North Shore communities, Hornepayne Mayor Morley Forster responded that “the communication we have is that it’s a multi-discipline and international program and there’s a lot of peer review.”

Mayor Forster sees the value in his attending conferences like the one in Ottawa this week is in being able to report to his constituents that “Canada is not doing this alone”. Forester elaborated “If we were to say that we were doing it all by ourselves and nobody else was looking at it we wouldn’t be able to say with confidence that we were doing it right”.

September 16, 2016, as posted at

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Nuclear waste transportation flagged as a possible issue for North Bay

Bay Today | September 16 | It is a controversial proposal that has been debated in several countries over a period of decades, including in Canada, where a previous proposal to bury the wastes in the Canadian Shield failed to gain approval after a lengthy review in the 1990s.

It’s always a controversial topic and it’s headed our way.

But North Bay City Councillor Mac Bain is confident that safety is top of mind as far as the transportation of nuclear material through North Bay is concerned.

Bain was one of 300 participants at a national conference on nuclear waste management this week in Ottawa. He represents the City on the board of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities, and as a FONOM representative, he has been on the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s (NWMO) “Municipal Forum” for the past several years.

There are plans to construct a burial facility for Canada’s nuclear fuel waste after a site has been decided.

“Of the nine communities that have put their name forward and have still not been eliminated as the location for the deep geological repository, most of them are in northern Ontario,” Bain told BayToday. “NWMO hasn’t determined which route they are going to go until they’ve narrowed down the location.”

Asked what about the NWMO’s program he would flag as being an issue of particular potential interest to his colleagues on North Bay’s City Council, Bain said it would be transportation.

“As this project moves along they are going to have to transport the spent nuclear fuel from one community to another. If it is to a location in northern Ontario there is going to be the possibility of nuclear waste going through the City of North Bay. We are going to have to possibly find a way of informing our public”, Bain explained.

Transportation could be by boat, rail or road, depending on the location and at that time talks will take place with first responders and the municipalities that might be affected by the route so that in the event of an accident people would know what to do, according to Bain.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization is an association of the provincial utilities from Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick who have generated over 62,000 tonnes of high-level radioactive waste through the operation of nuclear reactors for electricity production. Established in 2002, the NWMO proposed to the federal government in 2005 that they be mandated to proceed in the development of a burial facility for Canada’s nuclear fuel waste. Under their 2005 plan, the NWMO would conduct a siting process, and then complete designs, construct, operate and close the facility over a period of up to 300 years.

“The containers are quite safe,” says Bain. “They are recognized internationally as being the safest and the transport truck that has been designed to carry the spent nuclear fuel has been to all the host communities and even North Bay, and is quite robust and secure.”

The equipment will be on display in North Bay during a FONOM conference being held here next May.

Brennain Lloyd, a project coordinator with the regional environmental group Northwatch, also attended the conference, and has a different take on Mac Bain’s transportation message.

“For communities like North Bay and Sudbury transportation would certainly be a concern, not only because of the potential for accidents, but also because of the exposure during normal transportation for people along the route”, Lloyd explained.

“The NWMO had a transportation package designed by Ontario Hydro back in the 1980’s re-certified a few years ago by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, but that’s not much of an assurance. Towing around a mock-up of the truck is also pretty limited in terms of what it can tell us about the real risks associated with transportation, or how willing we should be to accept those risks.”

“North Bay at this time doesn’t need to be making any determination about what we need to be doing,” added Bain. “There may be nuclear materials being transported weekly through North Bay now and the emergency responders are aware of that.

“North Bay already is a nuclear community because we do have nuclear medicine at the hospital so we’re not a nuclear free zone.”

Lloyd noted that comparing medical isotopes to radioactive waste is “a game of comparing apples to arrows”.

“Nuclear medicine uses single and short-lived isotopes. Nuclear fuel waste includes hundreds of different radioactive isotopes, some of them very short-lived but others persist for tens of thousands of years, and some of them for millions of years and beyond. That’s the key issue in the controversy – how can these wastes be contained into eternity?”

The burying of nuclear waste is a controversial proposal that has been debated in several countries over a period of decades, including in Canada, where a previous proposal to bury the wastes in the Canadian Shield failed to gain approval after a lengthy review in the 1990s. Several countries have research programs underway with a “deep geological repository’ as their end goal, but others have shelved that approach and opted for long term storage.

Bain has toured many nuclear facilities in Canada.

“I’m quite confident the nuclear industry in Canada is very robust as to security and safety and if and when the spent nuclear fuel is transported from one community to another and I’m positive NWMO will have everyone’s safety taken care of.”

Lloyd has also toured reactor stations and nuclear waste storage and research sites in Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba.

“When you tour a nuclear waste facility you’re given a badge to monitor the dose you receive while you are on the site, even if it’s for just a brief visit. If you’re parked beside a truck carrying nuclear waste because the highway has just closed there’ll be no badge and there will be no monitoring, but there will be a dose.”

Sep 16, 2016 7:00 AM by: Staff, as posted at

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Anishinabek won’t change position on nuclear waste repositories: Madahbee

UOI OFFICES (February 23, 2016) – Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee says the Anishinabek Nation continues to support the 2010/30 Chiefs-in-Assembly resolution which states that the Anishinabek Nation stands united and opposes any deep geological nuclear waste repositories within the Anishinabek Nation Territory.

“We respect Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna in requesting additional studies before she can make an environmental decision,” says Madahbee. “However, it still does not change our position.”

Ontario Power Generation was planning to bury low to intermediate level radioactive waste beside Lake Huron, within Saugeen Ojibway Nations territory.

Lake Huron supplies drinking water to millions of people in Canada and the U.S., it is also a significant ecosystem that supports the livelihoods of the Anishinabek Nation. Ontario Power Generation is facing international opposition as 184 municipalities have passed resolutions opposing Ontario Power Generation’s proposal and proposed waste repository.

According to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – to which Canada is signatory – States shall take effective measures to ensure that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent.

As posted at

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