But Nuclear Waste Community Advisory Committee chair assures still early in process

By Shirley Mills, Sault Star

July 19, 2012

In the months since the Nuclear Waste Community Advisory Committee first formed, it has been involved in looking at how the community would be affected should a deep geological repository be deemed feasible for Wawa, north of Sault Ste. Marie.

CAC chair Dave Jennings said he hasn’t seen much interest from the community in the committee’s activities, adding it’s still early in the process.

“I am looking forward to the positives and negatives, then to move forward to make a decision,” he said.

“We would be selling ourselves short if we don’t look at this opportunity.”

Two key issues to be addressed in the feasibility studies are safety, security and protection of people and the environment, as well as the long-term, well-being of the community, not only Wawa but its surrounding area.

Pic Mobert First Nation has expressed its opposition to the host site selection.

The Netamisakomik People of Mobert First Nation say they are “resolute” that no nuclear waste site be located within traditional territory, contending they must be consulted and involved in discussions pertaining to potential nuclear waste facilities in communities, from Wawa to Schreiber, specifically White River, Manitouwadge and Hornepayne.

PMFN also says despite NWMO’s indication in its 2011 annual report that First Nations in the vicinity of communities showing an interest in the citing process would be consulted, no communication has been received, although White River, Wawa, Manitouwadge and Hornepayne, are being studied for potential of the project.

But Ray Hatfield, senior adviser aboriginal community relations, told the Community Advisory Committee he has been “actively engaged” in meeting with First Nations communities that make up the Northeast Superior Regional Chiefs Forum.

Resident and former mayor Howard Whent presented the CAC with 23 pages of written enquiries relating to costs, time lines and related matters. Communication such as this fits the CAC’s mandate to engage, educate and listen to the community, gather technical and social research andprovide advice to council regarding the site selection process.

“This is one of the reasons why we’re here,” Jennings said.

There are now 20 communities showing interest in NWMO’s proposal for storing used nuclear fuel, with 15 actively engaged in the site selection process. There is a formal cutoff date of Sept. 30 for communities showing interest.

This could mean billions of dollars over the life of the project yielding up to 800 jobs for the 10-year construction phase and 300 to 400 jobs for hundreds of years for the area selected.

Current storage facilities in generating stations in Pickering, Darlington, and Bruce, have decades of remaining life expectancy, so an operational starting point is still more than 20 years away, 2035 at the earliest.

The NWMO has a presence in Wawa, with regular published reports for information on the site selection process and Adaptive Phase Management. It has opened an office at 3 Maple St., in Wawa.

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