Nuclear waste meetings move to Prince Albert (February 2013)

The debate over whether Saskatchewan should store nuclear waste moves to Prince Albert on Friday.

Saskatchewan is a world leader in the production of uranium, but doesn’t have any nuclear power plants or store nuclear waste.

However, the industry is looking for a region to store power plant waste deep underground and some communities in the province have expressed some interest.

CBC News – Posted: Feb 22, 2013 11:12 AM CST

 The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nation has been given $1 million by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization to hold a series of sessions about the concept in order to gauge First Nations interest. On Thursday, Saskatoon was the venue.

The meetings were criticized by Owen Swiderski, deputy leader of the Saskatchewan Green Party, who says the FSIN appears to be one side of the issue.

“Honestly, to me it seems like they’re promoting a nuclear waste dump in Saskatchewan,” he said. “They’re saying the money will help them, but the money and jobs is not worth the destruction to the environment.”

Protesters are expected at today’s meeting in Prince Albert.

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Long-term nuclear waste repository ‘not worth it’: FSIN vice chief (February 2013)

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.

Published on February 22, 2013 – Prince Albert Herald

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.

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Fears over nuclear-waste trains: Scotland (February 2013)

A meeting will be held at Dingwall next month to gather public views about the journeys, which started in December last year.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) plans to take 44 tonnes of spent fuel from the Caithness site for reprocessing at Sellafield.

For the full story, pick up a copy of today’s Press and Journal or read our digital edition now

By jane candlish

Published: 22/02/2013

Nuclear waste, a major problem for Germany (February 2013)

After Fukushima, many governments decided to reconsider their dealings with nuclear stuff.

It seems that nuclear waste has turned into a major problem for Germany. The news magazine Der Spiegel released on 21 February a report about Asse II an old mine in the German state of Lower Saxony, claiming that its condition and the works being done there have turned not only into a technical, but also into ecological and political problem.

According to the article, some 126,000 barrels of nuclear waste have been dumped in the salt mine to rot over the last 50 years.


Article |February 22, 2013 – 3:26pm| By NEOnline 

Currently, a project to remove the drums from the 100-year-old maze of tunnels has been going on in the mine since the exploratory drilling was launched in June last year. However, according to the magazine, the project is not only technically ambitious and bold, but also foolhardy and, most importantly, costly. It is expected to consume at least €4 billion ($5.3 billion), but more likely somewhere between €5 billion and €10 billion.

The decision to retrieve the barrels also caused a major environmental scandal: not only was the public initially informed that Asse was merely being used to “research” how radioactive waste reacts in a final repository, but it turned out that the mine has been used also as a dump for all manner of contaminated waste.

Der Spiegel also informed about the political side of the matter, saying that German politicians have agreed to enshrine the retrieval of the Asse nuclear waste in Germany’s Atomic Energy Act. According to the magazine, this was intended to speed up the highly demanding and arduous licensing process currently required by this legislation.

Moreover, as reported, the Bundestag plans to pass the bill into law before Easter, while the new law will perhaps give politicians some breathing room, and remove the issue of Asse from all the campaigning leading up to the general election scheduled for September.

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Abyss of Uncertainty: Germany’s Homemade Nuclear Waste Disaster (February 2013)

Some 126,000 barrels of nuclear waste have been dumped in the Asse II salt mine over the last 50 years. German politicians are pushing for a law promising their removal. But the safety, technical and financial hurdles are enormous, and experts warn that removal is more dangerous than leaving them put.


By Michael Fröhlingsdorf, Udo Ludwig and Alfred Weinzierl

DER SPIEGEL, February 21, 2013

It’s hot and sticky 750 meters (2,500 feet) underground, and the air smells salty. Five men are standing in front of an oversized drill. They have donned orange overalls and are wearing bulky special shoes, yellow hard hats and safety glasses. They turn on the machine, and the rod assembly slowly eats its way into a gray wall.

For over seven months now, the team has been trying to drill a hole with a diameter of eight centimeters (three inches). They are attempting to reach one of the former excavation chambers of Asse II, an old salt and potash mine near the northern German town of Remlingen, in the northwestern German state of Lower Saxony. Behind a barrier 20 meters thick, thousands of drums filled with nuclear waste have been rotting away for over three decades.

It’s dangerous work. Over the years, experts warn, explosive gases may have collected in underground cavities — and one spark could trigger a disaster. Consequently, the drill head is only allowed to turn extremely slowly. After the machine has barely advanced another 10 centimeters, the men pull the drill pipe out of the hole and insert a probe. They thus manage to inch their way forward about 20 centimeters per shift.

The drilling ultimately aims to provide a glimpse of the first of 13 chambers filled with barrels of waste, and to provide information on the condition of these containers — and on what measures need to be taken to remove them from the 100-year-old maze of tunnels.

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NWMO:No showstoppers to exclude Central Huron as potential host for nuclear waste (February 2013)

HEATHER BOA Bullet News CLINTON – There are no red flags to exclude Central Huron as a possible location for long-term underground storage of the country’s high-level nuclear from spent fuel cells, according to an initial screening review.

A desktop review of readily available information available from resources like the Ontario Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Library, provincial ministries of the environment, natural resources and culture and information from the low- and medium-level nuclear waste repository licensed by Ontario Power Generation (OPG) at the Bruce Power site (its Environmental Assessment and Preliminary Safety Report is currently in public comment period) were used to determine whether there were showstoppers that would make the community unsuitable for a deep geological repository, said Bob Leech, a geologist from AECOM, a consulting firm hired by Nuclear Waste Management Organization. He delivered his findings to Central Huron Council during a meeting held at the Central Huron Community Complex to accommodate local residents who wanted to hear the presentation. Public meetings are scheduled for March 26 and 27.

Leech said it’s a “layer cake geology” of about 32 layers in this eastern flank of the Michigan Basin, with the Precambrian Canadian Shield at its base. More than 1,000 water wells, spent oil and gas pools now used to store natural gas, sand and gravel pits, and fingers of salt that extend inland from Lake Huron all occur in rock layers above the 450-million-year-old shale, dolostone and limestone layers where the underground storage facility will be built. The facility, with shafts and buildings, will require about 100 hectares – or nearly 250 acres – of surface land, with the large caverns built at least 500 metres below ground would require anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 square kilometres of rock.

Mahrez Ben Belfadhel, who is the director of NWMO’s APM Geoscience, said abandoned mines and areas where resources like gold exist in the rock formation aren’t considered for the underground storage site.

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Cumbria rejects proposed underground storage for Nuclear Waste (February 2013)

Opinion Letters

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 2:31:12 EST PM


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. 

Ken Robertson
Residents Association 

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