Northern Saskatchewan community divided over nuclear waste question (June 2012)

By Richard McGuire, Meadow Lake Progress

Posted 22 June 2012

The Northern Village of Pinehouse is located in an idyllic setting on the shores of Pinehouse Lake, amid the boreal forest of northern Saskatchewan. Behind its apparent tranquility however, the issue of nuclear waste is dividing the community.

Pinehouse, along with English River First Nation and Creighton, is one of three Saskatchewan communities currently being considered for the site of a centralized deep geological repository for all of Canada’s nuclear waste.

The aboriginal and Métis community of more than 1,000 people is located roughly halfway between Meadow Lake, about 250 km to the south, and Key Lake, the site of the world’s largest high-grade uranium mine, about 225 km to the north.

The village first came to the attention of Canadians in the late 1970s when the CBC program The Fifth Estate profiled it in a scathing documentary about its alcoholism problem, calling Pinehouse “the drinking capital of northern Saskatchewan.”

Since then, the community has worked hard to overcome that image, and despite continued poverty, there are also signs of more recent prosperity.

Big changes came to Pinehouse with the opening of the Key Lake mine in the early 1980s, and later other uranium mines in places like McArthur River. The mining was controversial at the time, and some residents still oppose it, but uranium mining has already made Pinehouse part of the nuclear economy.

“People are very used to that,” says Vince Natomagan, one of the community leaders now urging the village to take a close look at nuclear waste. “If it wasn’t for Cameco, or the mining in general, we’d be absolutely impoverished.”

Cameco Corporation, the main owner of Key Lake, brings millions of dollars annually into Pinehouse, says Natomagan, executive director of Kineepik Métis Local.

But Natomagan’s views aren’t universally shared in the community, with some opposing the mining, and many wanting no part of Pinehouse becoming the site of a nuclear waste repository.

Throughout the village, many houses are plastered with hand-made signs reading: “Say no to nuclear waste.”

Village resident Fred Pederson, 70, says he’s the one who made the signs and stirred up opposition to the nuclear waste proposal.

“I’m maybe 500 per cent against it,” says Pederson. “I’ve been fighting since day one.”

Pederson says he and other members of the Committee for Future Generations have collected names on a petition opposing the plan from about 60 per cent of the community.

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Support for Kincardine DGR from Saugeen Shores, SOS Plans Protest of NWMO burial scheme (June 2012)

Sunday, June 24, 2012
by John Divinski, Bayshore Broadcasting

Saugeen Shores council is going on record as supporting the low and intermediate nuclear waste Deep Geologic Repository in Kincardine.

Mayor Mike Smith says Council is sending a letter of support to the Joint Review Panel which is reviewing the Environmental Assessment of such a project. Smith says Saugeen Shores has been part of the process since the initial filing and he doesn’t believe anything has changed since then. Smith says he’s comfortable with the filing before the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and he believes the CNSC will make the proper decision in the long run.

In 2004, Kincardine and Ontario Power Generation signed a Host Community Agreement. Saugeen Shores was named as an adjacent municipality in that agreement and has benefited financially ever since.

Meanwhile the group Save Our Saugeen Shores has planned a peaceful protest walk to oppose a proposed used nuclear fuel dump in the community. Saugeen Shores is one of several communities that has expressed an interest in the multi million dollar project.

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The protest will be held next Saturday June 30th at 11 AM in Southampton.

Central Huron delegation tours spent nuclear fuel storage site (June 2012)

23 June 2012

Bullet News CLINTON –  Councillors who toured a site where used nuclear fuel is temporarily stored will now need to decide if they want to start the process for the Municipality of Central Huron to host a site for long-term underground storage.

Seven council members, three administrators and two community members toured the Western Waste Management Facility at the Bruce Nuclear Site on Tiverton today. After the tour, staff from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization gave them an overview of Adaptive Phased Management, a plan to build a deep geological repository and manage it over the long-term.

“It isn’t something that’s going to be shoved down the municipality’s throat. There will be lots of opportunity for public input,” said Jim Ginn, who is the mayor of the Municipality of Central Huron. The possibility of hosting a site will come back to the council table soon, although he said the final decision is many years down the road, sealed by a community consensus that will probably involve a referendum.

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Northern SK communities hear more about nuclear waste plans (June 2012)

By Richard McGuire, Meadow Lake Progress

June 22, 2012

Two communities in northwestern Saskatchewan will, this week, be hearing more about how they could be affected if one of them is chosen as the permanent storage site for Canada’s nuclear waste.

Officials from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) are holding open houses Tuesday in Patuanak and Thursday in Pinehouse to inform residents about the project to build a deep geological repository for Canada’s nuclear waste.

Thousands of jobs would be created over the life of the project, many of them highly skilled. But the project would also require the shipment, most likely by truck, of thousands of containers carrying highly radioactive spent fuel through northwestern Saskatchewan to one of these communities north of Beauval.

The proposal has divided local residents and officials between those who believe it will provide economic benefits, and those concerned about the risks of bringing such hazardous substances for permanent storage deep underground near their communities.

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Huron-Kinloss resident questions used fuel selection process (June 2012)

By Sarah Boychuk, Kincardine News

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 12:42:25 EDT PM

The Township of Huron-Kinloss fielded questions about the used nuclear fuel site selection process from a concerned citizen during a meeting of council on June 4.

Identifying herself as a full-time farmer since 1993, Jutta Splettstoesser asked councillors to consider her three-point action plan before making a final decision to host used fuel.

“I do deeply care for our community,” Splettstoesser said. “I ask you, when and how are you planning to engage the community?”

Splettstoesser suggested the township involve the community in the process through education, engage with the larger community, and provide residents with other sources of information.

“NWMO has a conflict of interest,” Splettstoesser said. “Citizens deserve balanced information.” She listed four websites to provide other views on the issue.

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Communities interested in waste repositories (Sudbury Star)


June 16, 2012

Radioactivity is everywhere.

In comic books, its properties are magical, turning simple spider bites into transfers of superhuman abilities.

In cartoons, it makes things ooze and drip and glow an eerie green.

And in real life, it evokes just as much fear. Especially when coupled with nuclear waste.

“(Nuclear waste storage) isn’t a hole in the ground where leaky drums are sitting,” said Jo-Ann Facella, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s director of social research and dialogue.

“When we go into communities for the first time, often times, people have pictures of nuclear fuel in their minds. It’s important to help people understand what (nuclear waste is.)”

The NWMO is not only responsible for nuclear waste awareness, it’s also creating a plan to dispose of it. Or, at the very least, bury it deep in the ground where it can sit for up to one million years. Right now, the organization is looking for suitable sites, a search that has brought it to Northern Ontario several times. Of the 18 communities currently interested in hosting a nuclear waste repository — a 500- metre-deep structure that would hold used fuel bundles for hundreds of thousands of years — 11 are in Northern Ontario. They include Elliot Lake, Blind River, the North Shore and Spanish.

“We wait for communities to approach us,” Facella said at a two-day media conference, which took place in Toronto and Ottawa. “It’s going to affect people. Not just communities that are (chosen), but (those) on the transportation route.”

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Nuclear Waste Burial: Workshop Tour June 18-26

Northwatch is offering workshops on nuclear waste, its hazards and long term management in several communities being studied as potential burial locations for all of Canada’s nuclear fuel waste. Workshops will be in Spanish, White River, Manitouwadge, Blind River and Elliot Lake between June 18th and 26th. See “Upcoming Events” on the KnowNuclearWaste blog, or visit for details.