Archive for December, 2012
Friday, December 28, 2012 11:33:14 EST AM
It is critically important that Saugeen Shores establish a fair open and democratic process in order to make an informed decision about whether it is willing or unwilling to host a Deep Geological Repository.
I am one of the many people who are strongly opposed to the location of a Deep Geological Repository (DGR) in Saugeen Shores or anywhere else near the Great Lakes. I remain un-convinced that a DGR anywhere is the best solution to the growing problem of safely storing Canada’s nuclear waste but even if a DGR is the answer, it would be a terrible mistake to locate such a massive underground nuclear waste storage structure in the vicinity of the world’s largest supply of fresh water.
So, I am happy to be part of the growing movement opposed to the selection of Saugeen Shores as the DGR site.
However, the purpose of my letter today is not to argue about the pros and cons of theDGR. Rather, I want to make a plea for conducting the study and debate of this issue, likely the most important ever to face our community, in a fair, open and democratic manner that reflects the values and traditions of our community. If we fail to do so, Saugeen Shores is likely to come out of the DGR process, whatever the final decision, as an uninformed and bitterly divided community, and to suffer for it in the long run.
When I came to Southampton last summer, I felt a bit like I had just entered a war zone: on one side were the pro-DGR forces and on the other side were the many, myself included, who opposed DGR. The two sides fired letters at each other through the pages of the local paper but otherwise never came together as friends and neighbours to study and debate the most important issue ever to face the people of Saugeen Shores. When those opposed to the DGR organized a public meeting, nobody from the other side participated or spoke up. Only one member of council even bothered to attend. Throughout the summer, the mayor and councillors behaved as if they were under orders to say nothing other than repeat over and over again that they were just interested in learning more.
When people put up lawn signs opposing the DGR, some of the signs disappeared in the night, as if we lived in a different kind of country. I’m not sure what is going on here but clearly it is not good for democracy or the health of the community.
Like it or not, Saugeen Shores has now entered step 3 of the DGR site selection process, making it critically important to establish a fair, open and democratic process for studying and deciding the DGR issue. I see the following as three basic requirements: confidence building measures, to develop trust, learning and civility in handling this highly complex and contentious issue on which people of good will disagree.
1. Saugeen Shores should establish its own local learning and decision-making process independent of NWMO. Whether one trusts the NWMO or regards it with suspicion, I think we can all agree it is not a neutral party to the debate. It is an organization created by and representing the nuclear operators and therefore has a large stake in finding a willing community to serve as a DGR site. It follows that NWMO information and activities largely favor the pro-DGR position when what is now needed in Saugeen Shores (and the other communities being considered as the DGR site) is a fair, balanced and thorough examination of all sides of the issue.
Accordingly, Saugeen Shores should establish its own strong local learning and decision making process independent of NWMO. The process should draw upon a wide range of resources, including but not limited to NWMO, to ensure that all sides of the issue are fairly and carefully considered.
2. Council should adopt a resolution committing the municipality to respect recognized democratic standards and procedures in the DGR discussion and decision making. The 2005 Kincardine Poll regarding the DGR for low and intermediate waste fell far short of recognized democratic standards and procedures in its design and execution. It left the clear impression that the main purpose of the poll was not to determine the wishes of the community but rather to ratify the DGR hosting agreement already signed by Kincardine Municipality and OPG several months earlier. It did nothing to reassure us that democratic means will be used to determine whether Saugeen Shores is a willing or unwilling community.
To ensure that nothing like the Kincardine poll will happen here, Saugeen Shores council should adopt a resolution committing the municipality to respect recognized democratic standards and procedures in determining the wishes of the community.
At a minimum, such a resolution would include the following commitments: (i) all residents, both year round and seasonal, will be treated in a fair and equitable manner when it comes to participation in the study and decision making around the DGR; (ii) council will operate in a transparent and open fashion when it comes to the DGR and respond positively and promptly to citizens’ requests for information, including discussions with NWMO; (iii) council will not agree to or put in place any kind of “gag order” that would restrict the ability of councillors to express their views on the DGR or participate in community study and debate of the issues; (iv) a secret ballot in a referendum will be the means to determine whether the people of Saugeen Shores support or oppose a DGR in the municipality. A secret ballot will ensure that all residents feel comfortable in exercising their democratic preferences on this important question.
3. All of us should act as engaged, responsible and civil democratic citizens. It is important that the mayor and council show leadership and set a good example in establishing a fair open and democratic the DGR process. Of equal importance, all of us should take seriously our responsibilities as democratic citizens. That means taking the time and trouble to inform ourselves on all sides of the issue. It means sitting down with our friends and neighbours to discuss the DGR, regardless of where we stand on the issue, and it means participating in public information meetings whether they are organized by “our side” or “the other side.”
In discussing the issue of the DGR so far, Saugeen Shores has behaved more like two warring camps than a community of citizens trying to arrive at the best decision on a hugely important issue. As someone born and raised in Bruce County who has come to Southampton for the past 70 years, I remain hopeful that our community will rise to the challenge of learning together and making well informed decisions despite the deep divisions over the DGR.
The stakes are very high. If we fail we will end up with an uninformed and bitterly divided community.
By Mary Golem, The Post
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 2:29:22 EST PM
CHESLEY – Arran Elderslie has entered the next stage in the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s (NWMO) site selection process for a community willing to host a deep geological repository for the long-term management of used nuclear fuel.
Council agreed last Monday to enter Step Three in the NWMO process to find a suitable location. Other local municipalities – Brockton, Huron-Kinloss, South Bruce, and Saugeen Shores – have also agreed to enter step three of a nine step process that will take ten or more years to complete.
Twenty-two Canadian communities initially expressed interest in the process. One did not meet the screening criteria due to geology characteristics, two initial screenings are still underway and 19 communities passed the initial screening stage. Of those 19, 13 are “continuing to learn more about the project by entering step three,” NWMO spokesperson Joanne Facella told Arran Elderslie council.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 2:20:30 EST PM
This is the fourth of my five-part letter explaining why I am opposed to the building of a high-level, deep geological repository (HL-DGR) in Bruce County for the disposal of exhausted fuel rods from nuclear reactors.
In parts 1, 2 and 3 I argued that Bruce County is a completely inappropriate location for a HL-DGR because (1) it is in the midst of an agricultural and recreation/tourist region, (2) the stigma associated with nuclear waste might depress the county’s economy and also reduce land values, (3) a HL-DGR would create an imbalanced and boom-bust economy, (4) deeply buried nuclear waste has the potential for contaminating the environment and endangering human health through construction activities of the repository and because of unexpected failures in the underground storage system, (5) the potential for accidents in transporting nuclear waste (by road, rail and ship) to Bruce County from central and eastern Canada, and possibly the United States as well, would create additional risk to the environment and human health, (6) payments made by Ontario Power Generation to several municipalities in Bruce County for their
“… cooperation in support …” of the low- and medium-level DGR (at the Bruce generating station) may be influencing municipal/town council interest in the high-level DGR.
In this, Part 4, I discuss the possibility that corporate convenience may be influencing the site selection process for a HL-DGR and, secondly, that the scientific basis of a deep geological repository may be severely limited, creating other levels of risk.
Corporate convenience. I am concerned that Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) may be tempted to locate a HL-DGR in Bruce County because: (1) roughly 42 per cent of Canada’s exhausted fuel bundles is stored at the Bruce generating station, (2) the results of initial screening for a high-level repository in municipalities adjacent to the Bruce generating station did not exclude those municipalities from further consideration, suggesting that the regional geology is potentially as suitable for a high-level DGR as for a low- and medium-level repository, (3) technical services in southern Ontario and the adjacent United States are readily accessible and the infrastructure (transportation network, housing, schools etc.) is well developed or could be expanded. My greatest concern is that, for all of the reasons mentioned above, work on the LM-DGR planned for the Bruce generating station may be developing into a trial run, geologically and politically, for a high-level repository in Bruce County.
This is disturbing because it would give momentum to a HL-DGR in Bruce County independent of the “partnership approach” with the general public developed by NWMO; and probably also be very much of a surprise to the 60 per cent of the Kincardine voters and municipal/town councils in neighboring jurisdictions who in 2004 approved a much different DGR.
Scientific issues. After reading a number of scientific studies on the NWMO website and technical reviews by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), I would be skeptical of any assurances that the geology at the Bruce generating station may be suitable for a DGR, whether for low- and medium or high-level waste. Scientific knowledge of the geology underlying the Bruce facility, where one or both of the DGRs may be built, is based less on local site data (project-dedicated boreholes) than regional information obtained from distant petroleum/gas/water wells and surface outcrops. In addition, many geoscience studies concerning the properties of the different bedrock formations (mineralogy, porosity and permeability – all affecting the mechanical strength of the rock and deep groundwater movements) and the presence of faults and fractures (affecting the vertical movement of fluids) – to mention just two categories of information required – are often based on inferences from small diameter cores (eight centimeters or less) taken from boreholes, computer predictive modeling based on the laboratory study of those samples and analogue studies of rocks from distant outcrops – a very narrow base of information. In addition, some studies may be unknowingly flawed. Other kinds of information (or higher levels of confidence in the information that is available) may simply be beyond the current capabilities of geoscience. Scientific knowledge is never complete, always subject to improvement or change.
No high-level, deep geological repositories are operating in the world today, although three are in an exploratory, near-construction or construction phase: Onkalo in Finland (in granite; currently under construction and scheduled to begin operation in 2020), at Bure in France (in clay; currently being researched at an underground laboratory and scheduled to open in 2025) and at Psthammar in Sweden (in “wet” granite; construction to begin in 2012 and operations in 2023). NWMO’s proposed HL-DGR would be buried in limestone, not granite or clay but, like the European repositories, would use engineered and natural containment systems (steel caskets encased with copper and placed in shafts sealed with bentonite clay). Considered together, the geological context and barrier system will be unique in world experience; untested in practice.
Lots to think about.
In the last part of my five-part letter explaining why I oppose a HL-DGR in Bruce County, I will discuss my concerns about whether NWMO will be able to avoid overselling the project and provide a balanced assessment of the risks of a high-level nuclear waste disposal facility.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 2:15:38 EST PM
Our Town Council voted on November 26, 2012 to move Saugeen Shores to Step 3 of the NWMO process towards accepting a Deep Geological Repository or “nuclear dump” for all of the highly radioactive nuclear spent fuel from all of the nuclear power plants across Canada.
The process that the NWMO has created in order to locate this dump is fatally flawed. It is undeniably undemocratic. Locating the most toxic poison humans have ever created – beside our Great Lakes – defies common sense. Allowing this decision to be made by the residents of a small Ontario town completely ignores the rights of 40 million people who use the fresh water of the Great Lakes for their drinking water.
This issue is about far more than jobs and money for our town. It is about protection of our precious natural resource – the water of the Great Lakes – from potential contamination from lethal nuclear waste from a nuclear waste dump located anywhere in the Great Lakes Basin.
Our Mayor, our Town Council, and many of our citizens have failed to recognize that this is not an issue that is even remotely appropriate for Saugeen Shores residents to decide.
It is very important for all of us to put this issue in perspective. This is not a Saugeen Shores issue. Nor is it a Bruce County issue. It is not even an Ontario issue. This is a national issue. In fact, this is an international issue, with serious ramifications. The crux of this issue is about the protection of our Great Lakes.
As this issue gains national exposure, we will come to see that the process of potentially allowing the people who live in this town to decide the location of a DGR for all of Canada’s high level nuclear waste, and to make the decision for 40 million people who use the Great Lakes for their fresh drinking water, will be unacceptable to the Canadian and American people. All of the acrimony, destruction of friendships, and division amongst family members that has taken place in our town are extremely regrettable, and will be for naught. It is unlikely that the Canadian and American public will permit the location of a nuclear waste dump close to the Great Lakes.
The question that remains is this: What actions should we, the people of Saugeen Shores, take – as honorable, trustworthy, caring Canadians – to provide a shining example of responsible leadership, and responsible stewardship for the Great Lakes? We can and must think beyond our own interests – of profit, of jobs and money – and make our children, our grandchildren, our families, our neighbours, and our fellow Canadians proud.
As our Canadian National anthem heralds, we pledge to “stand on guard for thee”, Canada. Standing up and for that which is our duty to protect – the Great Lakes – is within our reach.
According to a December notice distributed by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, the Canadian Standards Association – the folks that set standards to make sure your toasters don’t catch fire and the threads on the bolt will match the threads on the nut – are now the lead agency for developing a standard for dry storage for the highly radioactive nuclear fuel waste generated by nuclear power reactors.
The notice from the CNSC states:
The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) is a membership association serving industry, government, consumers and other interested parties in Canada and the global marketplace. Many CSA energy standards are national standards of Canada and are cited in both federal and provincial regulations. In addition to providing energy standards, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) also helps to promote a safe and reliable nuclear power industry in Canada through the creation of specific nuclear industry standards.
The CSA is currently seeking your input on a new draft standard relating to the nuclear industry on interim dry storage systems for irradiated fuel.
If you would like to consult and provide comments on this proposed standard, please go to: http://publicreview.csa.ca/Home/Details/513
According to the current draft, the standard will specify “requirements for the site selection, design, construction, commissioning, operation, and planning for decommissioning of dry storage systems. Dry storage systems include facilities, structures, support services, and equipment required for
(a) transferring irradiated fuel
(i) from wet storage to dry storage containers; and
(ii) to a dry storage facility;
(c) storage of irradiated fuel;
(e) retrieval of irradiated fuel from dry storage; and
(f) decommissioning planning.
If you are interested in working with other public interest groups participating in this review, please contact email@example.com.
December 13, 2012
WALKERTON – Why have six municipal councils in this region voted in the past year to be considered as the site for all of Canada’s high-level radioactive waste, when such a move could have tragic environmental consequences for the Great Lakes and could negatively stigmatize the region’s strengths as agricultural land and as a vacation and retirement destination? And why have they done so with little public discussion and almost unanimously?
In pursuit of answers, the Bluewater Coalition Against the DGRs will file eight Municipal Freedom of Information Act (FOI) requests immediately to obtain any discussions between Bruce County mayors and the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) regarding compensation to lure these communities into such deals, the Coalition announced at its inaugural press conference Thursday.
The FOI requests are to obtain details of correspondence or meetings between the NWMO and the mayors of the region’s municipalities in the running to become a ‘willing host’ for a deep geological repository (DGR) for all of Canada’s high-level radioactive waste — Saugeen Shores,
Arran-Elderslie, Brockton, Huron-Kinloss and South Bruce in Bruce County and Central Huron in Huron County, as well as between the NWMO and Bruce County Council.
An FOI request is also being filed concerning the agreement Kincardine already has with Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to construct a deep geological repository (DGR 1) for all of Ontario’s low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste at a site less than one kilometre from Lake Huron. A
joint panel is now reviewing the environmental and public impacts of that plan.
“We’re questioning why so many councils have been enticed to invite a nuclear-waste dump into their communities, and we’re wondering if the core of that, why they have done so, was the hosting agreement that was signed with Kincardine in 2005 over the low and intermediate
nuclear waste [DGR 1],” said Brockton councillor Chris Peabody, a Coalition member and one of only two councillors across the region who voted against such proposals. “Kincardine is being given millions in compensation to host that DGR, and payments are being made to four
surrounding communities (Huron Kinloss, Brockton, Arran-Elderslie and Saugeen Shores) for being supportive.”
In terms of the high-level nuclear waste DGR, “All the politicians in Bruce County made the assumption that there would be a hosting agreement coming that would be significantly more than [Kincardine’s] for the low- and intermediate-level waste,’ said Peabody. “Now we’re at
Stage 3 [of the NWMO process in Brockton, Saugeen Shores, Huron-Kinloss, Arran-Elderslie and Central Huron] and we haven’t see any such an agreement. How much money did these mayors negotiate in private to invite a nuclear-waste dump into their communities? The public
needs to know.”
Kincardine’s agreement to host DGR 1 was signed in 2004 and an OPG ‘hosting agreement’ will pay out $35.7-million (inflation-protected) over the next 22 years to these communities– Kincardine receives $650,000 this year, and the surrounding municipalities of Saugeen Shores,
Huron-Kinloss, Arran-Elderslie and Brockton receive amounts ranging from $40,000 to $250,000. There are also special bonus payments — $80,000 to $1.3-million in 2005 and the same amounts in 2013, with Arran-Elderslie and Brockton receiving the smaller amounts and Kincardine and Saugeen Shores receiving $1.3-million and $500,000 respectively. Cheryl Grace of Save Our Saugeen Shores, one of the groups making up the Bluewater Coalition, says money may be complicating the issue.
“We [Saugeen Shores] now get about $280,000 a year. Kincardine gets over $650,000 a year to be the host of this facility, and the way the hosting agreement reads, as long as our communities exercise their best efforts to ‘support’ the DGR 1 project, they will keep getting the money until
2034. In addition, in our case, we get two one-time payments of half a million dollars. So, one of our concerns is that our community, Saugeen Shores, and all these communities, may have difficulty being critical of the concept of either DGR being so close or even being built here
because that would not be exercising their best efforts to support this Kincardine project and then the money would end,” Grace says.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT
Cheryl Grace, 519 483-5537
AND Chris Peabody, 519 506-0648
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Dec. 13, 2012, WALKERTON
Growing concerns about the targeting of the eastern shore of Lake Huron for the burial of radioactive waste, and the lack of transparency in that process, have prompted the formation of a new regional umbrella group to oppose the nuclear industry’s plans.
The Bluewater Coalition Against the DGRs brings together several citizens’ groups in the three counties to share information and strategy, it was announced in Walkerton on Dec. 13, 2012.
“We feel that people throughout our region aren’t getting the truth,” said Cheryl Grace, a spokesperson for Save Our Saugeen Shores (SOS).
“A regional body is needed because there are now numerous groups in Bruce County upset about this,” said Brockton councillor Chris Peabody. “The information being provided is all from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) and it’s all one-sided. For example, people have been led to believe getting your farm picked for this [as a site expropriated for a deep geological repository] will be like winning the lottery. It won’t be like that at all. And, they are saying different things to different communities about the size of the site.”
There are two radioactive-waste-burial plans under consideration in the region.
Ontario Power Generation (OPG) proposes to construct a deep geological repository (DGR 1) for all of Ontario’s low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste near Tiverton, Ont., at a site less than one kilometre from Lake Huron. A joint panel is now reviewing environmental and public impacts of the project.
Meanwhile, the NWMO, an agency created by federal legislation but funded by the nuclear industry, is searching for a municipality that will agree to become a ‘willing host’ for a DGR for all of Canada’s high-level radioactive waste. The councils of six communities in this region — Saugeen Shores, Arran-Elderslie, Brockton, Huron-Kinloss and South Bruce in Bruce County and Central Huron in Huron County — have expressed interest in their municipalities becoming the site for such a DGR. If one of these communities ‘won,’ radioactive used fuel would be trucked to them from reactors in Tiverton, Darlington, Pickering, Chalk River, Gentilly in Quebec and Point Lepreau in New Brunswick.
The organizers of the new coalition say it’s the downplaying of the extreme risk in the projects proposed that have prompted them to join forces.
“We need to get the whole area aware of what’s happening on Lake Huron,” said Ruth MacLean, a Presbyterian minister in the Kincardine area. “One-fifth of the world’s fresh water is in the Great Lakes. We need everybody who’s concerned about fresh water to learn about this.”
“It’s not just ‘not in my backyard’ in this case. It’s ‘not in our bread basket,’ said Tony McQuail, an organic farmer in Huron County, a member of the Ecological Farmers of Ontario and president of the Huron National Farmers Union. “Southwestern Ontario is a hugely important food-producing area, and we are talking about the risk of contamination with an unproven system beside our Great Lakes. We need to share information, so the NWMO can’t play one community off against the other.”
Members of the group also mention concerns about the OPG and the NWMO ‘stage-managing two processes, and a lack of transparency in the actions of their local municipal councils
‘My council [Kincardine] really doesn’t want to have a debate [on DGR 1]. All they say about the DGR is how much they had learned from the OPG and the OPG had answered all their questions,” said Jutta Splettstoesser, who farms in Huron-Kinloss.
Adds Marti McFadzean, chairperson of the Inverhuron Committee, “Kincardine signed their hosting agreement [for DGR 1] before they consulted the community. Then they did a survey we feel is questionable. And this, when the decision to bury nuclear waste right next to the Great Lakes could be the biggest environmental mistake of our generation.”
Only two councillors, Peabody of Brockton and David Wood of South Bruce have voted against their municipalities continuing in the NWMO process for the high-level DGR.
The regional group also notes their councils’ apparent lack of interest in seeking out any but the nuclear industry’s point of view.
“When the Canadian dean of nuclear critics, Gordon Edwards, spoke in Saugeen Shores in August, we know of only two councillors from the region attending, said Grace of SOS, which organized Edwards’ lecture.
“It’s clear the mayors have been given talking points by the NWMO. They just say they want to learn more [in explaining why they entered the NWMO process],” said Peabody. “It’s a difficult corner to be painted into. So it’s very important that groups share information and develop a common front.”
Peabody said the new group will focus on coordinating activities to disseminate information more widely throughout the region, in the rural areas particularly. Grace added that the group wants to reach out to all the municipalities that may be affected. “Don’t forget that the waste has to travel through towns like Harriston, Clifford, and the Greater Toronto Area.”
Despite the challenges, the newly formed group, the Bluewater Coalition says opposition to the DGRs is gaining momentum. “SOS realized early on that this is a regional issue affecting the whole Great Lakes Basin,” said Grace.
“We’re now hearing from people not just in Walkerton, Lion’s Head, Stayner, Dundalk, Orangeville, Harriston, Mount Forest and Wiarton, but farther afield in Caledon, Windsor, Sarnia and Michigan.”
Recently, for example, Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley has urged the Chicago-based Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Cities Initiative to oppose DGR 1.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT Cheryl Grace, 519 483-5537 or AND Chris Peabody, 519 506-0648