Flood of concern over nuclear dump (November 2012)

By Paul Morden, Sarnia Observer 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 5:10:07 EST PM  

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley is asking his fellow Great Lakes mayors to join him in raising concerns about plans to bury nuclear waste near Lake Huron.

Bradley said he met recently with members of the Inverhuron Committee, a Huron County citizens’group opposed to the Ontario Power Generation (OPG) plan to build a deep geologic repository on the Bruce nuclear site near Kincardine.

It would manage about 200,000 cubic metres of low and intermediate waste from nuclear generating stations in Ontario.

Bradley has written to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, a group representing communities on both sides of the border, urging it to ask for “a full public process that would allow an international debate on this initiative.”

Bradley said there appears to be little public awareness about the plan to build the facility near Lake Huron.

“If this has to exist, it would make more sense away from the Great Lakes’ where 40 million people get their drinking water, he said.

OPG is seeking federal approval for the site and a public hearing is expected in 2013. Construction would take five to seven years and the earliest the site could begin receiving waste is 2019, according to OPG.

It says the facility would be about 680 metres below ground in limestone, beneath a 200-metre thick layer of shale, and would be isolated from surface and drinking water.

“These sedimentary bedrock formations, that provide multiple natural barriers, will safely isolate and contain the low and intermediate level nuclear waste for many thousands of years and beyond,” OPG says.

Low level waste includes mop heads, paper towels and protective clothing contaminated during maintenance work at the power stations. Intermediate waste includes reactor components, resins and filters.

Used nuclear fuel will not be stored at the site.

A brief the Inverhuron Committee prepared for the cities initiative says OPG’s facility will be built about 850 metres from the lake.

“That is close enough so that any leakage of nuclear waste would quickly find its way into the lake,” it says.

Bradley said he’s concerned the federal government has been seen recently “scoping down and eliminating environmental assessments on a significant number of issues.”

Environmental groups and communities along the lakes recently raised the alarm about a plan to ship nuclear waste through the lakes and on to Europe for recycling.

“We continue, on an annual basis, to fight off attempts to put the Great Lakes in jeopardy,”Bradley said.

“Every year there’s something new.”

Bradley said his request is expected to go before the board of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative before the end of the year.

“With 80 to 90 communities and mayors on both sides of the border, from Chicago all the way through, it has impact,” he said.


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Environmental archaeologist has a lot of questions about DGR site in Bruce County (November 2012)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 9:20:02 EST AM

Dear Editor,

In recent months, several municipal and town councils in Bruce County – the Town of South Bruce, the Town of Saugeen Shores, the Municipality of Arran-Elderslie, the Township of Huron-Kinloss and the Municipality of Brockton – have expressed an interest in learning more about the so-called “nuclear waste dump” that might be constructed in Canada. In effect, councils are willing to consider having the “dump” built in Bruce County. It would be built by Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), a private corporation run by the producers of nuclear energy in Canada.

What I refer to as a nuclear dump is technically known as a high-level, deep geological repository (HL-DGR). In essence, it is a permanent disposal facility, deep underground, for exhausted but still highly radioactive fuel rods from nuclear reactors. Another underground repository, this one for low- and medium-level waste (LM-DGR), is in the planning stage at the Bruce generating station (and currently under environmental assessment by the federal government). This repository would be for the disposal of such things as protective clothing, tools, reactor components and resins and filters used to clean reactor water circuits, some of these items dangerously radioactive. Both repositories raise important issues that the public should be giving some serious thought about.

I”m writing from Southampton in Saugeen Shores to tell you why I am opposed to a HL-DGR in Bruce County. I hasten to point out that I’m not anti-nuclear and I believe that Ontario Power Generation, the operator of the Bruce generating station, contributes much to the regional economy and has generously supported community programs and events and charities. Nevertheless, I’m strongly opposed to the building of a HL-DGR in Bruce County. Many of my arguments apply also to the low- and medium-level repository so when I mention one, think both.

Because the issues surrounding a nuclear waste dump are so complex, and there are so many reasons for opposing a dump in Bruce County, I will have to discuss them in a 5-part letter. Part 1 begins with the most general, and obvious, criticism …

Inappropriate location

For me, the most important reason for opposing a high-level DGR in Bruce County is because it is simply the wrong place. Bruce County is in the midst of an agricultural and recreation/tourist region, a completely inappropriate location to dispose of exhausted fuel rods. Indeed, Huron County to the south advertises itself as the “West Coast of Ontario”, alluding perhaps to California and British Columbia and implying the county may be as appealing to tourism and retirement as the west coast of North America. I think this analogy could easily be extended to Bruce County.

A high-level DGR for exhausted fuel rods from nuclear reactors in an agricultural and recreation/tourist region could create a stigma in the public mind, negatively affecting the county’s economy and also land values.

The economic impact of a stigma associated with a nuclear waste facility was examined by the State of Nevada, which was concerned about what the proposed Yucca Mountain HL-DGR might do to its economy, based heavily on tourism and the casino industry. An independent socioeconomic study commissioned by the state predicted a serious loss of revenue and the state went to court to force the U.S. federal government to cancel plans for the facility. The federal government subsequently terminated funding of the project in 2009 for its own economic and political reasons.

In Bruce County, a potential reduction in land values because of proximity to a nuclear waste repository has already been acknowledged by Ontario Power Generation (OPG) in an agreement with the Municipality of Kincardine and surrounding municipalities for the low- and medium-level waste facility (LM-DGR) being planned at the Bruce generating station. Compensation to landowners for demonstrated loss of market value because of proximity to the LM-DGR is discussed Section 7 of the hosting agreement between OPG, Kincardine and neighboring municipalities (dated October, 2004). A drop in land values is also likely to occur should a repository for exhausted fuel rods be built in Bruce County. In the view of some realtors, the controversy has already affected the resale and rental markets.

One must ask: would a high-level nuclear waste dump in Bruce County affect the selling price of farm products, discourage new industries from re-locating here, deter people from vacationing or retiring in the region … or even drive people away?

Lots to think about.

In Part 2 of my five-part letter explaining why I oppose a HL-DGR in Bruce County I will discuss other economic issues and potential risks to the environment and human health.

Peter L. Storck (PhD, environmental archaeology)


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Nuclear waste is a hot issue in Creighton (February 2012)

By: Jonathon Naylor, The Reminder, Flin Flon MB

Posted: 02/9/2012 1:00 AM

FLIN FLON — Cynthia Fedak is speaking out, not so much for herself but for her grandkids.

A longtime resident of Creighton, the sleepy sister town to Flin Flon just over the Saskatchewan border, she vehemently opposes plans to potentially store Canada’s nuclear waste in her community.

“To me, nuclear waste is iffy and there’s no absolute answers,” says the 65-year-old retiree. “It could be dangerous if something happened and it wouldn’t be just a minor disaster; it would be something probably major.”

Creighton is one of at least 10 Canadian communities expressing an interest in hosting a subterranean storage facility to be built by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization.

Though it will take up to nine years to select a host community, debate already is raging over whether storing spent nuclear fuel rods represents the secondary industry this mining area has long craved.

While it tentatively won’t open until 2035, the repository is expected to represent a multibillion-dollar investment and spawn more than 4,000 jobs before, during and after construction.

Creighton has a long history of exploring new, sometimes unusual means of growth. Economic development workers have contemplated selling liver oil from burbot fish as a health supplement, and at one time hoped to use an abandoned mine shaft for zero-gravity experiments.

For Bruce Fidler, the straight-talking mayor of Creighton, the nuclear waste repository is “a heck of an economic development opportunity.”

Yet Creighton is not at the point where it has formally applied to host the repository. A geological screening of the area has found no obvious conditions to preclude the town, but there are numerous other steps ahead before Creighton might put in an official bid.

A key part of the process will be determining whether the public — in Creighton, Flin Flon and the surrounding area — is on side.

“This isn’t going to go in a community that doesn’t want it,” Joanne Facella, the NWMO’s director of social research, told the Flin Flon and District Chamber of Commerce last year.

Fedak felt strong enough in her resistance to write a letter to the editor to Flin Flon’s newspaper, The Reminder. It’s a stand she sees as unpopular.

She says people complained for years about the air pollution from Flin Flon’s copper smelter — closed since mid-2010 — and she can’t see why they now would be eager to welcome radioactive materials to the neighbourhood.

Neither Mayor Fidler nor the NWMO begrudge opponents of nuclear storage, but they ask that people take the time to learn the facts.

Presenting the facts was the goal of a public exhibit held at the Creighton community hall last summer.

Models were used to illustrate how the nuclear waste “bundles,” as they are known, would be sheathed in carbon steel tubes.

The tubes would then be inserted into 2.5-centimetre-thick copper containers and lowered into boreholes drilled into rock some 500 metres below the surface and surrounded with rings of bentonite clay, which acts as a natural sealant. The boreholes would be capped and sealed with concrete.

It was all enough to win over Creighton resident Rod Gourlay, a former co-owner of the town’s motel. He went to the exhibit undecided, if not a little fearful, but left convinced it is the right thing to do.

“We don’t know a whole lot about it (uranium),” Gourlay told The Reminder. “But after seeing the work they’ve done and the research they’ve done for the storage facility, and the process that it goes through, I think it’s just really opened my eyes. I feel a hundred per cent better than before I went there.”

In the end, which side wins the debate might be irrelevant.

In remarks to the media, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has said he does not think Saskatchewanians want radioactive waste kept in their province and unless there is a major shift in opinion, it is not in the cards.

The opposition NDP is more forthright in its disagreement.

Meanwhile, environmentalists are lobbying Saskatchewan for an outright legislative ban on nuclear waste, something already in place in Manitoba.

No matter where the country’s nuclear waste is eventually stored, a permanent solution is required.

The waste is presently kept at several locations, mostly in Ontario, in temporary containers projected to last 50 to 100 years.

For decades, the Flin Flon area has existed thanks to what people extract from the ground. The big question now is, could part of its economic future lie in putting something back into it?

Jonathon Naylor is editor of The Reminder in Flin Flon.


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Central Huron finds out in 2013 if it’s in the running (October 2012)


GODERICH – The Municipality of Central Huron will know early in the new year whether it’s in the running to host the nation’s high-level nuclear waste.

An initial screening is currently under way by a consulting firm hired by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization to see if there’s any reason the municipality’s 450 square km of land aren’t suitable for development of a 250-acre site where the spent nuclear fuel cells from reactors across the country could be stored underground.

“The reason for it is to see if there are any show-stoppers, any reason the community shouldn’t continue in the process,” said Michael Kritanc, who is NWMO’s communications manager. A trio of representatives from NWMO made a one-hour presentation to the municipality’s council last night.

He expects the initial screening will be complete by year end, with a report to council early in 2013. A community open house will be held shortly after.

The municipality can withdraw from the process at any time.

The five high-level criteria include: sufficient land to host the facility, land that’s outside of protected areas, such as heritage sites; land that doesn’t contain known groundwater resources used for drinking, agriculture or industrial uses; land that doesn’t contain natural resources; and land that doesn’t have geological or hydrogeological features that would make development of a facility unsafe.

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First Nations of the North Shore Tribal Council Reject NWMO Proposal

Windspeaker, Volume: 29, Issue: 10, Year: 2012
Compiled by Debora Steel

The First Nations of the North Shore Tribal Council in Cutler, Ont. say they strongly reject the prospect of the North Shore of Lake Huron becoming a site for the long-term storage of nuclear waste for the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO).

The City of Elliot Lake has publicly expressed interest in possibly becoming one of the sites for the long-term disposal of nuclear waste for Canada’s nuclear industry. Elliot Lake has a long history of uranium mining, resulting in significant and lasting environmental damage to the local watershed and nearby ceremonial grounds, the tribal council says.

There are also dozens of tailings ponds surrounding Elliot Lake currently waiting for a solution for their safe disposal.

“We cannot idly stand by and watch as they inject Mother Earth with this cancer,” said Chief Lyle Sayers, chair of the tribal council. “We must ensure that the future natural resources of this area are there for our children, generations to come, and businesses alike.”

The half-life of this material is hundreds of thousands of years and could impact generation after generation, reads a press statement from the tribal council.

No site, says the release, can ever be totally safe for nuclear waste storage.

“Natural disasters sometimes happen, such as we’ve seen in Japan. It could make this whole area a nuclear wasteland suitable for only that industry,” said Sayers.

Our statement to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and to the Nuclear Waste Management Organization is: Do not waste your financial resources if you plan to conduct a study in this area because a nuclear waste dump is not going to happen here.

The North Shore Tribal Council represents seven First Nation communities across the North Shore of Lake Huron. –

See more at: http://www.ammsa.com/publications/windspeaker/first-nations-north-shore-tribal-council#sthash.u3sIxSdl.dpuf

Nuclear Waste: Safe by What Standard? Workshops in White River and Hornepayne

An Overview of How Nuclear Facilities are Regulated in Canada

Wednesday, November 21 , 7 – 9 pm
Join us for light refreshments at 6:30 pm
White River Seniors Harmony Club

Thursday, November 22 , 7 – 9 pm
Join us for light refreshments at 6:30 pm
Hornepayne Royal Canadian Legion Branch 194

A presentation by Theresa McClenaghan
Executive Direction and Senior Counsel, Canadian Environmental Law Association

A brief overview by Northwatch of the current effort by the nuclear industry’s site selection process underway for a burial location all of Canada’s high level nuclear fuel waste will be followed by a presentation by Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director and Senior Counsel, Canadian Environmental Law Association on how nuclear facilities are regulated. The presentation and following discussion will address how nuclear projects are reviewed, how standards are set, and how regulations relate to the protection of human health and the environment.

Presented by Northwatch and the Canadian Environmental Law Association.

What it’s like to live in Hornepayne (October 2012)

October 31, 2012

I remember a popular saying when I was young, “What happens behind closed doors stays behind closed doors.” I think we all grew up with this deeply rooted into our being. Yesterday the “Let’s Rebuild Hornepayne” Facebook Group was changed to a closed group. The reason behind it is not being disclosed but my hunch is that the admin wants to keep what is happening in our town behind closed doors.

Here’s a peak of what it’s like to live in Hornepayne.

A new subdivision was built in the 1970s. Our “Mall”, which was boarded up 2 years ago was built in the late 70s and opened in 1980. For 30 years people went about their business. Our population decreased by almost half from then to now. A few years ago, being forced by the Government, we built a new water treatment plant which has turned out to be a money pit. We used to pay $400.00 a year for water and we now pay $1200.00 a year. The closure of our “Mall” left a huge tax deficit and it left the town without many services. In 2010 after the new Council was elected they passed a resolution to stop all donations from the Township because their money problems were that desperate. It’s so bad that they can’t afford to pay for an interact machine for the office. Many have asked about applying for grants so we can rebuild our community, but again we’re told that we need money to apply and we don’t have any.

In comes NWMO.

Hornepayne was one of the first communities to enter into the Nuclear Waste process. We are currently in a learning process so we can learn all about this before we make a decision. The NWMO has set up a Committee that was supposed to release information so we could be educated, but as it was seen in yesterday’s post, they don’t have much freedom in what they can share.We have been told repeatedly that we will have the option to choose if we want this or not. So far we don’t have any other choice and I don’t see that changing any time soon. Those who are for Nuclear Waste can’t see that we will have a future without it and those who are against it can’t see that we will have a future with it.

It’s been 2 years of yearning to rebuild our town but we can’t seem to move forward. People continue to move and just this week another business has closed. After 5 or 10 years of this I’m sure we’ll all be ready to sell out to Nuclear Waste. They say we’ll have a choice.

A Message to Hornepayne

To move forward we have to let NWMO go. As long as they are here we will NEVER move forward. It’s 10 or 15 years away and we’re going to be kept in this state so we finally choose Nuclear Waste. It’s just like being lost at sea; you know drinking the salt water isn’t good but when you’re thirsty who can resist? Well, after 10 years of this kind of Hornepayne living will you be able to resist? Rebuilding is going to take A LOT of work. Jody and I have been trying to build a business and the amount of hours has been crazy, so I know it’s a lot of work. We’re not going to find the desire to do this hard work within our community if a much easier option is perceived to be in our future. Our vision is being blocked by Nuclear Waste. It’s a hindrance to our progress. It’s deceptive in the fact that all their promises make you think we’re getting somewhere, but we’re not.