Wednesday, October 3, 2012 9:59:22 EDT AM

Editor:

This community needs some strong leadership.

This became more urgent on September 24 when the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) announced at a meeting of council that Saugeen Shores passed the initial screening for a deep geological repository (DGR) for high-level nuclear waste – exhausted but still highly dangerous fuel rods from nuclear reactors.  If council gives NWMO the green light to proceed to the next step (Step 3 in a 9 step process leading up to actual  construction) NWMO will then begin �preliminary assessments� in �collaboration with the community� to determine whether Saugeen Shores is a suitable host for the repository.  It is important to remember that NWMO (a private-sector organization funded by nuclear energy producers in Canada) has both an agenda and a goal.  The agenda is a detailed process about how to achieve their goal.  Their goal is to build a national (i.e centralized) repository for high-level nuclear waste.  NWMO expects to spend billions of dollars on the project.  In addition to the money, NWMO has large numbers of specialists in technology and the natural sciences at their disposal, as well as skilled public relations experts, to achieve their objective.

NWMO is not impartial.  This is why the people of Saugeen Shores need strong leadership to create a process of its own that will expose for private thought and public debate both the merits and the risks of a buried, national repository.  Following that defined period of public education and debate we need a referendum to indicate the will of the majority.

Without a balanced process, clearly indicating the pros and cons of a buried national repository, there will be only one game plan; that of NWMO, their agenda and their goal, and theirs alone.  The people of Saugeen Shores need to assert some control over a process that otherwise has been worked out for us by NWMO.  And to take a measure of control we need leadership.  We need a community-driven process, not one that is driven solely by NWMO, as it will be if we follow only their agenda.  This community-driven process should include presentations by knowledgeable specialists, environmentalists and other informed people.  It should also include town hall meetings, with all members of council present, to allow for an exchange of views and an opportunity for the public to actively participate (and vent), rather than just listen.  All of this should lead to an unambiguously worded, community-wide, ballot-type referendum, open to all eligible voters (whether permanent or seasonal residents), with an objective measure of what constitutes a No vote or a Yes vote.  Perhaps we should be looking for neutral, third-party professional expertise to manage the entire process on behalf of the people and municipal government.  However it is done, we need to make the process our process, not simply leave it to NWMO.  But for this to happen we need strong leadership.  Is it there?

Peter Storck
Southampton

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