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.