Setback for Nuclear Waste Burial – Swedish Review Finds Major Shortcomings (October 2012)

October 31, 2012

North Bay – Canadian environmental groups concerned about a proposal to bury nuclear waste in Canada are calling recent statements by the Swedish nuclear regulator “very significant”. Earlier this week the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority released its finding that the Swedish nuclear industry’s application for a geological repository for nuclear waste was inadequate in several key areas.

In March 2011 the Swedish nuclear industry organization SKB submitted their license application for the construction of a spent nuclear fuel repository to be located in Forsmark, Sweden. The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority had estimated that their review would take two years. This week they released their initial findings as advice to the Swedish environmental court.

“The Swedish findings are very significant for the Canadian industry’s nuclear waste burial plans”, said Brennain Lloyd, spokesperson for the northern Ontario based environmental group Northwatch.

“The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has modeled their plan to bury Canada’s nuclear fuel waste on the Swedish proposal. This review by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority reveals some fundamental weaknesses in both of these burial schemes.”

The Swedish regulator has found that the Swedish industry’s nuclear waste burial plan is deficient in several key areas, and that it lacked the necessary information related to the long-term safety of the project and the protection of human health, and that further research may be required to address information gaps related to the long term integrity of the copper canisters that would be used to store the highly radioactive nuclear fuel waste.

“We also want to see more clear-cut plans for SKBs demonstration of how the technology for disposing of the canisters underground in the spent nuclear fuel repository will give the standard assumed by the company in its license application”, said  government specialist Bjorn Diverstorp.

“The NWMO likes to point to Sweden as an example of a country that has already decided to go ahead with nuclear waste burial and seems close to actually doing it. The Swedish Authority’s initial review findings make it clear that an approval is still some distance off  – and may be getting farther off rather than closer as the Swedish environmental review proceeds”, Lloyd commented.

In 2005, the Canadian Nuclear Waste Management Organization released its plan to bury nuclear waste 500 metres below the surface in a large rock formation in some yet-to-be-determined location. Twenty-one communities – including 12 in northern Ontario – are now being investigated as possible burial locations.

Visit of for background. 

Swedish Radiation Safety Authority statements on the SKB license application available at:

Letter: What “unique and unforeseeable” causes will happen? (October 2012)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 12:50:07 EDT PM


NWMO had an open house at the Plex in Port Elgin regarding the underground nuciear waste dump, also known as the Deep Geological Reserve, and I was there.

Once again their presentation was so perfect, right down to even allowing our local SOS No Nuke Dump booth to be there. Just what more could you ask for?

I took the guided tour and the hosts were once again trying to work their magic. A video of a large train, the front of which was a “coffin” holding the waste nuclear fuel, slams into a barrier. No damage was done to the “coffin”, but the train and barrier looked a little worse for wear. Good thing we’re not burying them. The charts and pictures reminded me of someone trying to show off their holiday pictures along with a perfect story of that holiday. Did you know we, the people of Canada, are responsible for the creation of this underground nuke dump site? Yes, it’s entirely our fault. We told our Government to inhume the stuff. By the way, there is no plan “B” to get rid of it. Why?

With what is referred to as “Incidences”, for examples, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima (and there are hundreds more) which have fried to death thousands of people like you and your children, are being explained away by the nuclear industry as “Unique and Unforeseeable causes”. Something just isn’t right here, people.

Just what “Unique and Unforeseeable causes”, are going to happen to the lucky winner of this underground site?

Charley Urbanek
Port Elgin

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Some Red Flags in Hornepayne (October 2012)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Some Red Flags

The Nuclear Waste topic has been hot the last few days on the “Let’s Rebuild Hornepayne” Facebook Group.I’ve always claimed to be on the fence concerning this issue. These past few days have been a real eye opener. I don’t believe we’re being told the full truth and for that reason I’m not for this anymore. Where there’s lies and secrets there’s stuff being concealed and hidden. I don’t think this is good for Hornepayne or the North.We’re being forced into this because it’s the only visible option we’re being given for a better economy. There is no other choice being presented to the People of Hornepayne. We’re made to think that if we want jobs, population increases, businesses, ground studies, scientist, paved roads, traffic lights, this is the answer and we’ll never have those things without Nuclear Waste. It’s the only answer to everything we want. When it comes to our future our choice is Nuclear Waste or what we have now (Nothing), and many rather have nothing than have Nuclear Waste buried in our back yard. I said right off the bat, I want options. If Hornepayne can have everything we desire without choosing Nuclear Waste who would consider it? Other communities grow by developing and following a strategic economic plan. They create a vision and they take steps to get there. We’re not doing this because we have one thing in our site- Nuclear Waste. It’s easy. It’s free. Our leader can reap without lifting a finger. We’re already seeing the $$$ flow into our Community. 

Another thing is the community was told that the liaison committee would be made up of people who are both for and against this. We were told that both sides would be represented. I know from applying that each applicant had to state if they were for it or against it in their application letter. Was anyone selected that stated they were not for this? Are both sides evenly represented? It doesn’t seem to be and that’s a BIG RED FLAG for me. I would have liked to see a Councillor for and against, but instead the two most zealous men on Town Council sit on the committee.
Not much info is being released about the committee’s activities. To know anything we’re told to attend meetings and no questions are answered unless we send in specific questions. I asked the other day what the worse case scenario is. That’s a question that I would have expected the committee to have already asked and the truthful answer made public. I would have expected our Town Council to have asked that question before they even chose to explore this option.

The website is there but it’s a skeleton IMO. It doesn’t give me much information about the committee’s activities. If I have to attend meetings to obtain information, I’ll go without. I thought the liaison committee was appointed to find stuff out and release the info into the community. I’ve sent an email to the office asking what questions the committee has forwarded to NWMO so far. I await that reply. Surely the committee has asked a lot of questions in the last year and yet our computer screens are not flooded with answers.

Some would like us to pull out now because they know the longer we stay in this process the longer NWMO has to sway people away from what they believe. We’re being promised the world and it’s going to get harder and harder to stay “no” to all of it.

SKB launches new nuclear fuel vessel (October 2012)

 30 Oct 2012

Swedish nuclear fuel and waste management company, SKB, has launched its new vessel, the  “M/S Sigrid”, at Galati shipyard, Romania.

The M/S Sigrid has been designed and built by Dutch owned Damen Shipyards which owns the Galati shipyard, for the transportation of nuclear fuel and radioactive waste from SKB’s nuclear power facilities in Oskarshamn and Forsmark.

The new vessel is somewhat larger than its predecessor, M/S Sigyn, measuring LOA 99.5m, with a top speed of 12 knots, allowing it to transport up to 12 nuclear waste containers and 20% more cargo than its predecessor.

Bo Sundman, director of operations, SKB, said: “The launch marks an important milestone in the project. 20 months ago, this vessel was nothing more than a drawing. Now she is a reality. The vessel is the result of hard work and good project management.”

SKB’s newest vessel includes a double hull, radiation protection, four engines and other multiple systems and is designed to operate more efficiently.

The M/S Sigrid is expected to arrive at the Port of Oskarshamn in summer 2013.

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MP Bruce Hyer to Launch Nuclear Waste Route Tour (October 2012)

Independent MP to consult communities that could see 50,000 tonnes of radioactive waste

October 26, 2012

OTTAWA – Independent Member of Parliament Bruce Hyer (Thunder Bay-Superior North) is launching a series of town hall style meetings in communities along likely transportation corridors for much of Canada’s nuclear wastes, mostly accumulated radioactive fuel bundles used to generate electricity.

“Many people won’t know it, but there is a stockpile of approximately 50,000 metric tonnes of nuclear wastes waiting to be stored in an interim or permanent nuclear waste repository,” said Hyer, a former Ontario environmental adjudicator.

“Canada’s nuclear industry is getting closer to picking a permanent site for that nuclear waste, but regardless of the location that’s chosen people in a number of communities are likely to see trucks or trains loaded with nuclear waste passing near, or through, their town someday. The communities on the transportation route will bear some risk on any potential nuclear waste spill or accident, so they should have a say sooner rather than later.”

“It’s one of the biggest decisions that these community residents will ever have to make,” continued Hyer. “Some of the wastes have half-lives of tens of thousands of years. I feel it is my job as an MP to help to make sure that they are aware of the options, and have early opportunity to learn and comment.”

The first leg of the tour, to take place in November 2012, will see public meetings held Parry Sound, Sudbury, and Sault Ste. Marie, and near the Pickering Nuclear Power Plant. Further details, and details of future legs of the tour, will be announced soon.

Says Hyer: “I don’t yet have a personal or professional opinion on the best long-term storage solution for nuclear wastes. However, I have been requesting for years that the Nuclear Waste Management Organization consult more widely, including along likely or possible transportation routes. NWMO has chosen so far to only consult the 21 communities that have expressed interest in hosting a long term nuclear waste repository. So I will be giving other citizens and groups – including NWMO – an opportunity to share information at my MP meetings”.

“I’m inviting all residents to come out to a meeting,” said Hyer “I’d like to hear their questions and concerns, and I hope to learn about their thoughts on the nuclear waste issue in their community.”

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Brockton Takes Next Step in DGR Process (October 2012)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 by Robyn Garvey

The municipality is entering Step 3 of the process to be a possible host site to store high level nuclear waste.

Brockton is moving forward to the next phase of the Deep Geological Repository sitting process.

The municipality is entering Step 3 of the “Learn More” process of becoming a possible host site to store Canada’s high level nuclear waste.

Chris Peabody was the lone Councillor to oppose the move.

While Peabody was unable to convince his fellow councillors to abandon this process completely, he did manage to persuade them to take a few extra steps.

The first is to request the Source Water Protection Committee to investigate the safety of placing a DGR under the aquifers that supply drinking water to Walkerton, Hanover, Lake Rosalind and Chepstow.

The second concession involves seeking clarification from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization on the size of the site.

The last condition involves making a funding request to the NWMO to host a town hall style meeting featuring a guest speaker who will provide an alternative point of view on the issue.

To date, Peabody says all information presented to Brockton has been prepared by the NWMO.

He says citizens and councillors need to hear from divergent opinions in order make an informed decision.

Mayor David Inglis has no problem with Peabody’s concessions, saying the more we know the better.

He says that’s the reason Brockton is moving forward to Step 3 — to learn as much about as possible in order to be in a better position to determine if becoming a possible DGR site is in Brockton’s best interest.

Step 3 of the NWMO selection process includes the creation of a feasibility study that may take two to three years to complete.

Peabody says there are currently five Bruce County municipalities in a race to become a possible DGR host site.

Owen Sound , 97.9 The Beach, Port Elgin

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Hornepayne, Ontario wants to be Canada’s nuclear waste capital (October 2012)

by Madison E. Rowe – October 20, 2012

In Canada, a multi-billion dollar government project is up for grabs. With it comes the promise of long-term jobs and stable, economic gains for a million years. But the catch? The material the government wants to send your way is radioactive nuclear waste.

There are several communities willing to forego the environmental risk and potential health hazards, for the chance to secure a stable economy in their region. And Hornepayne, Ontario is just one of the 21 communities bidding for the project.

The current mayor of Hornepayne, Morley Forster, told CBC News that he is a supporter of the project because his town is “in the middle of nowhere”. The town’s isolation is a plus: “What better place to put a deep geological repository for Canada’s spent nuclear fuel?”

Hornepayne has a population of about 1,050. It is located in the far northern reaches of Ontario – 300 kilometres north of Sault Ste. Marie.

Meanwhile, former mayor Art Swanson tells CBC News that he foresees a poisoned inheritance for all who come after: “The risk of ruining that [fresh air, fresh water] to me, it’s something. The problem with this is, this is permanent.”

However, there are observers who say Forster’s support for the nuclear waste project is grounded. Hornepayne’s economy has been dwindling for years. There are reports that fewer and fewer people are living there and the town’s young residents are moving away.

“Economic opportunities that exist, usually exist in the bright lights of the big city. So they go there and don’t come back,” explains Forster to CBC News. Forster went on to explain that the chance to host Canada’s deep geological repository for nuclear waste is an opportunity that can’t be ignored.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is the group in charge of managing Canada’s spent nuclear fuel. So far, 21 communities have reportedly approached the agency  expressing interest in hosting an underground storage site. There is a nine-step process involved for a region to be considered. CBC News reports that Hornepayne and seven other communities are the furthest along in that process.

However, there is a debate brewing between the benefits and dangers of hosting underground storage sites.

So what are those benefits? For one, CBC News reports that the project will cost anywhere from $16 billion to $24 billion. It will take 10 years to build the repository and that will mean 800 construction jobs. Then, there will be spin-offs from that: cafes, groceries, maybe even a McDonald’s, hopes Forster.

Once the repository is in place, Forster says, there will be the people who manage and operate the facility – perhaps even PhDs.

That’s the way Forster sees things playing out. But according to CBC News, former mayor Art Swanson doesn’t buy it.

“I see that as a used car salesman trying to sell you a car and he will tell you anything,: Swanson says. “What kind of nuclear scientist is going to be in Hornepayne watching it [nuclear waste] go into the ground?”

Swanson points out to the news outlet that CN Rail runs a train through town but all their managers are in Montreal.

“This nuclear scientist isn’t going to live in Hornepayne. I can almost guarantee you. Why would he?”

Swanson reportedly has supporters for his doubts. And one of his biggest supporters is an influential one.

“What they [nuclear power generators] really want to do is bury their biggest public relations problem,” says Shawn-Patrick Stensil of Greenpeace to CBC News. Stensil says he is not convinced by the science that an underground facility will be safe for the environment and the people living near it.

“For the betterment of that community, I think it’s best that they be very skeptical. Ask hard questions. And also think of what the political motivations of the industry are in offering them these sites,” he advises.

CBC News reports that the NWMO is still long way’s off from building its nuclear waste repository. It will take another seven to 10 years to find a host community, followed by about three years of regulatory approvals. Then, there’s 10 years of construction on top of that.

The earliest that Canada’s deep geological repository can be up and running is 2035.

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Turnout low for NWMO open house in Arran Elderslie (October 2012)

Arran Elderslie

By Mary Golem

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 3:33:03 EDT PM

CHESLEY – About 40 Arran Elderslie and area residents, including a class of Grades 6-7 students from Kinghurst Community School, attended a two-day open house in Chesley last week to learn more about the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s (NWMO) process for selecting a site for Canada;s deep geological repository for used nuclear fuel.

Arran Elderslie is one of 21 communities involved in the NWMO site selection process and is now in Step 3 of that process, after an initial screening failed to show any reason why the municipality could not continue in the process. The next step in the process, called Adaptive Phased Management, will include a feasibility study, designed to assess the suitability of a community to host such a project.

That means both local officials (municipal council) and the community need to show a continued interest in learning more about the project and to work with surrounding communities and Aboriginal peoples to learn about and explore the project. Such a feasibility study is expected to take a year or more to complete.

Last week’s two-day open house was an opportunity for local residents to learn more about the project through display boards, videos and talking one-on-one with NWMO staff to have their questions and concerns answered.
Mike Krizanc, communications manager for NWMO, said there were a number of questions and concerns brought forth by those in attendance, including questions regarding property values and rights, and possible acquisition of private lands for the project.

If a site is chosen in Bruce County, it would involve private land, Krizanc said, unlike in some others areas where more public/Crown land would be used.

“As we move forward, those are concerns and questions that will need to be discussed and addressed,” he said, “and there is lots of time in which to do that.”

Those attending the open houses also had questions regarding the safety of storing used nuclear fuel, as well as transportation concerns and impacts on the local environment.

“A lot of the questions about environmental impacts came from the class of grade 6-7 students,” he said, adding NWMO staff  “were very impressed with the childrens  interest, questions and exceptionally good behavior.”

NWMO staff did admit there appears to be some public confusion regarding the NWMO process for choosing a site for the Deep Geological Repository and the current regulatory approval process now underway by OPG  for the storage of low and intermediate level waste. The two projects are separate and distinct.

A similar open house was held in Brockton earlier this summer.

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How to put Canada’s nuclear waste to bed (October 2012)

Plan would bury spent nuclear fuel rods deep underground

By Max Paris, CBC News

Last Updated: Oct 17, 2012 8:35 AM ET

(Note:CBC does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of external links.)

Canada’s nuclear industry has a problem. And, by extension, so do all Canadians.

Sitting in seven locations across Eastern and Central Canada are more than two million fire-log-sized used nuclear fuel-rod bundles. That’s enough to fill six hockey rinks up to the top of the boards.

Even though the bundles are used, they are still radioactive – dangerously, fatally so. And they are going to be that way for the next few hundred thousand years.

If you want to put that in perspective, think about Homo sapiens.Humans have only existed in our present form for about the last 200,000 years. Most of that time was spent running around hunting other animals and gathering nuts and plants in an effort to keep from starving.

Nuclear power is brand new by comparison – about 70 years old. And yet, the detritus of our quest for electricity with the help of broken atoms will be with us, in our terms, forever.

So what do you do with more than two million bundles of used nuclear fuel that once powered the country’s Candu reactors?

Canada has a plan.

In 2002, the federal government passed the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act. The law mandated that Canada’s nuclear energy companies – Ontario Power Generation, New Brunswick Power and Hydro-Quebec – create something called the Nuclear Waste Management Organization.

NWMO’s job is “to study possible approaches, recommend and then implement a plan for the long-term management of used nuclear fuel in Canada,” according to the organization’s May 2010 document Moving Forward Together.

Warning future generations

Once you get the nuclear waste in the ground, how do you make sure people thousands of years in the future know enough not to dig them up too soon? Some people have done some thinking about that.

The agency considered several options, but the 2002 law specifically required the organization to study three different methods:

  • Deep geological disposal in the Canadian Shield.
  • Storage at nuclear reactor sites.
  • Centralized storage, either above or below ground.

The NWMO liked elements of each method and eventually came up with what it called “adaptive phased management.”

Essentially, this means finding a willing town in or near the Canadian Shield, sink a 500-metre shaft and at the bottom build a network of tunnels where the nuclear fuel bundles – which the NWMO estimates will total about four million by the time Canada’s nuclear reactors are retired, in about 40 years – will live. Forever.

Dangerous bundles will need to be moved

The other wrinkle is getting the waste from reactors and research facilities where it’s resting now, to a deep geological repository hundreds, possibly thousands, of kilometres away. The NWMO says that if the waste is moved by road, there will be at least 53 truck shipments a month to the repository over a period of 30 years or more. Trains and ships might also be used.

The agency admits the odds are there will be some sort of an accident. But even if there is, it is confident there will be no leak of radiation.

The containers for the bundles will be made of 30-centimetre-thick steel, with an even thicker slab for a top that acts as a shock absorber and is secured in place by 32 bolts the length and width of a man’s arm. Each box carries four tonnes of used nuclear fuel and, fully loaded, weighs about 35 tonnes.

In 1984, the U.K.’s Central Electricity Generating Board put on a little demonstration to demonstrate how tough these boxes are. They put one in the middle of a railroad track and ran a locomotive at it. The train exploded into bits. The shipping container needed a new coat of paint.

The NWMO says other countries’ nuclear trash will not be put in our repository. And the only thing that will end up down there is used nuclear fuel – the dirtiest and most dangerous of Canada’s nuclear waste.

That’s the plan. Now all they have to do is find a suitable host town and convince Canadians they can get the bundles there safely

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Nuclear waste bid poses risks and rewards for Ontario town (October 2012)

Hornepayne one of 21 communities considering storing radioactive fuel rods underground

By Max Paris, CBC News
Posted: Oct 16, 2012 5:06 PM ET

The current and former mayors of Hornepayne, Ont., agree on one thing when it comes to the idea of storing nuclear waste in their community: Their town’s location is remote.

“We’ve got fresh air, fresh water. We’re kind of on the edge of the wilderness,” says Art Swanson, who headed up the town council from 2000 to 2003.

“We’re in the middle of nowhere,” says Morley Forster, the current mayor of this town of 1,050 people, located about 300 kilometres north of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont,

Those few words aside, there is a wide gulf between the two men ­ one is pitching hard for his town to become the site of Canada’s first nuclear waste facility, and the other is warning just as strenuously against it.

For Mayor Forster, his town’s isolation is a plus. “What better place place to put a deep geological repository for Canada’s spent nuclear fuel.”

But former mayor Swanson foresees a poisoned inheritance for all who come after. “The risk of ruining that [fresh air, fresh water] to me, it’s something. The problem with this is, this is permanent.”

Hornepayne has another problem, though. Its economy is dying a slow death. Fewer and fewer people are living there and the town’s young residents are moving away.

“Economic opportunities that exist, usually exist in the bright lights of the big city. So they go there and don’t come back,” explains Forster. The chance to host Canada’s deep geological repository for nuclear waste is an opportunity that can’t be ignored, as far as he is concerned.

Choosing a waste site

Hornepayne is one of 21 communities that has approached the Nuclear Waste Management Organization ­ the group charged with managing Canada’s spent nuclear fuel ­ and expressed an interest in hosting an underground storage site known as a deep geological repository. That got Hornepayne started on the NWMO’s nine-step process.

Hornpayne and seven other communities are the furthest along that process ­ at step three, essentially the learning phase. The NWMO is adamant about getting buy-in from the entire community that will eventually be the home of 4 million CANDU nuclear fuel bundles.

“Our approach is to provide information because we are looking for an informed and willing host community,” says Mahrez Ben Belfadhel, NWMO’s director of geoscientific evaluations.

He explains that the NWMO will provide funds for the towns to hire consultants to examine and explain NWMO’s proposal. The organization holds information seminars and open houses in the communities, all in an effort to ensure NWMO eventually finds a willing town.

“We want to make sure that this project will have positive impacts on the communities. And it is up to the communities to decide that for themselves,” explains Belfadhel.

Debate over benefits and dangers

So what are those benefits? For one, the project will cost anywhere from $16 billion to $24 billion. It will take 10 years to build the repository and that will mean 800 construction jobs. There will be spin-offs from that: cafes, groceries, maybe even a McDonald’s, hopes Forster.

“Schools will be built. Houses will be built. Not an endless supply of things, but everything would be increased,” says Forster.

Once the repository is in place, he says, there will be the people who manage and operate the facility: PhDs.

Forster could imagine a theatre troupe setting up shop in Hornepayne because of them.

Art Swanson doesn’t buy it.

“I see that as a used car salesman trying to sell you a car and he will tell you anything,” Swanson says. “What kind of nuclear scientist is going to be in Hornepayne watching it [nuclear waste] go into the ground?”

Swanson points out that CN Rail runs a train through town but all their managers are in Montreal.

“This nuclear scientist isn’t going to live in Hornepayne. I can almost guarantee you. Why would he?”

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