Published on February 22, 2013 – Prince Albert Herald
Aboriginal leaders and community members met with representatives from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) for a session Friday at the Prince Albert Inn to learn more about a plan to potentially store nuclear waste in northern Saskatchewan.
Sessions were held in Saskatoon and Regina earlier this week to discuss the same topic. The NWMO provided the FSIN with $1 million over three years to fund the nuclear waste sessions.
While Friday’s session was open to First Nations people but closed to the media, participants spoke with the Daily Herald during a break in the day’s agenda.
Bobby Cameron, vice chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN), said the purpose of the meetings has always been the same.
“That’s to inform and educate our First Nations people on nuclear waste management, the storage and transportation,” he said. “We have nothing to hide. We invite our First Nation folks to come out and raise their concerns.”
Twenty-one communities in Saskatchewan and Ontario have expressed interest in accepting the NWMO’s plan to build a nuclear waste repository, with those in Saskatchewan currently in the first phase of step three an 18-month to two-year process.
Cameron clarified that there are far more communities in Ontario that are interested, with only three out of the 21 being in Saskatchewan.
“As I said in my opening comments this morning, there are far more communities interested in Ontario than there are in Saskatchewan. It’s not set in stone that waste is going to be stored here in Saskatchewan,” Cameron added.
The NWMO is in the midst of searching for a site to store millions of used nuclear fuel bundles, which are currently being stored on an interim basis at various facilities around the country.
While Pinehouse, Creighton and English River First Nation are being considered, there has been opposition shown toward the proposal by residents of those communities.
Citing environmental concerns, Cameron said he is aware of the opposition that exists.
“To tell you the truth, I represent 74 communities, and the consistent message out there is the majority of them don’t agree with nuclear waste management and the safety of it and I speak on behalf of them,” he said.
Used nuclear fuel is created from the generation of electricity in nuclear power plants. One nuclear fuel bundle, which is roughly the shape and size of a fireplace log, can power up to 100 homes a year.
While Cameron conceded that the deep geological repository would bring jobs, he said one must assess the pros and cons of the plan.
“The pros being the jobs, the revenue it’s going to generate and the cons being nothing’s more important than our land (and) nothing is more important than our water,” Cameron said.