On Jan. 30, headlines in United Kingdom read, “County of Cumbria rejects, underground nuclear storage dump.” But, in our community you won’t hear about this from NWMO or any of the champions of the DGR.
Cumbria County, a rural area with six or seven districts, is similar to Bruce County, with municipalities like Saugeen Shores, Huron Kinloss, and others.
Similarly, Cumbria hosts a large nuclear facility employing 10,000 people. This facility in a coastal community opposite the Isle of Man is known as the “nuclear coast.”
Like Saugeen Shores, Cumbria is a major tourist destination, with its Lake District National Park; and 36,000 people dependent on tourism for employment. They have unique and world-renowned landscapes which needs to be cherished and protected, not unlike the pristine beaches and world-renowned sunsets in our special community.
In recent years, a proposed underground nuclear storage dump for their nation’s spent nuclear fuel has brought controversy and divisiveness, which sounds like an echo of our experience in Saugeen Shores.
On one side, strong support from unions, their families and the labour party who championed an opportunity to bring 1,000 new jobs with this $20 billion dollar project. Yes, and like here, there was strong opposition from local groups, and environmentalists, including the Lake District National Park authority.
Unfortunately that is where the similarities end.
Unlike Saugeen Shores there was significant apprehension and dialogue about the problems and risks associated with bringing all of their nation’s spent nuclear fuel to a seaside community.
Specifics included concerns about the stigma effect of a nuclear waste dump. Conservative leader Eddie Martin stated “While Sellafield (the nuclear site) and the Lake District have co-existed side by side successfully for decades, we fear that if the area becomes known in the national conscience as a place where nuclear waste is stored underground, the Lake District’s reputation may not be so resilient.” He warned of radioactivity risks and the huge potential blight on tourism, Cumbria’s biggest earner.
Their councils listened to concerns of professor Stuart Haszeldine, a geologist from the University of Edinburgh, who said, “This has been a very short sighted policy, run by driving local councils into volunteering for the wrong reasons: financial inducements. A lot of information is being suppressed in the process to entice councils into accepting technically flawed sites.”
In the end it appears the seven to three county council rejection of the nuclear dump was a result of numerous concerns, including the safety of burying nuclear waste in unproven geology.
Ed Martin is quoted, “Cumbria is not the best place geologically in the United Kingdom — the government’s efforts need to be focused on disposing of waste underground in the safest place, not the easiest.”
Years of research has shown granite rock in Canada’s north as the safest place for underground storage; yet the local champions of the DGR want to bring all of Canada’s nuclear waste to Saugeen Shores, because its easier and more cost effective for OPG.