Willing host sought to take nuclear waste – ‘We want someone who wants it” (October 2007)

Thu Oct 25, 2007

By Keith Gilligan

PICKERING — With the storage method selected, now the focus shifts to where to put spent nuclear fuel.

Cynthia Summers, the manager of community engagement and research for the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), said a willing host is being sought to take the used fuel.

“We want someone who wants it,” Ms. Summers told the Pickering nuclear station Community Advisory Council on Tuesday.

In June, the federal government approved the ‘Adaptive Phased Management’ method for storing the fuel. APM will see spent fuel kept at the nuclear station, where it was used, for about 30 years. Then it will be shipped to a central site and placed in a deep geological repository.

“Where we are now is at the very beginning,” Ms. Summers said.

“In the next few years, we’ll develop the site-selection process. We’re not ready yet to select a site,” she noted. “We know where we’re going and we have a plan. We want to listen to society. Things may change.”

Developing the site-selection process could take two years and then another 10 years or more to pick a site, she noted.

If a community stepped forward and said it would be a willing host, “things would move along a lot quicker,” she said.

Ms. Summers noted that at public forums, “We haven’t had anybody say ‘what about us.’ That’s why we’re doing a cost benefit analysis” to show a potential host community why it might want to have the site.

“This is what the mayors will need to have. We’re doing all the preparatory work we need to do to go forward,” she added.

Frank King, the NWMO’s director of science and technology, said a deep geological repository is the “end point.

“Right now, there are seven sites in Canada with fuel. Our first challenge is to find a central location,” he stated.

To judge a site for deep geological burial, geological bore holes will be drilled. That will “take many years to determine if a site is appropriate,” Mr. King said.� It will be “10 to 20 years to determine if that site is suitable. That’s how long it takes,” he added.

“Siting will be voluntary,” Mr. King said, adding, “No community will take on anything.”

The focus is on the four provinces with nuclear facilities — Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan.

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