Speaker cautions about dangers of nuclear waste deep geological repository (February 2013)

About 50 people came out to a public meeting on Feb. 9, to hear why Central Huron should reconsider hosting a deep geological repository to house nuclear waste.

By Melissa Murray, QMI Agency

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 10:49:59 EST AM

Brennain Lloyd, project coordinator of Northwatch, a regional group that has looked into the issue of housing nuclear waste in the Canadian Shield for over 25 years, came to the REACH centre to explain that housing nuclear waste has both economic and health risks.

“When you opt into a DGR (deep geological repository) you are quite potentially opting out of other economic activities,” said Lloyd.

Lloyd explained there is uncertainty as to how the nuclear waste will interact with the barriers and how radioactive material will react in a closed environment. She also fears there will be corrosion of the barriers, the releasing of gases, seismic or glacial activity or that human error could cause someone to unknowingly affect the site over its 300 year lifespan.

Twenty-one communities, largely concentrated in western Ontario, have indicated their interest for being potential host sites for a nuclear waste repository, since the Nuclear Waste Management Organization asked communities to indicate their support in 2010. Central Huron indicated their interest in learning more and learned the results of a desktop study of the municipality during a session of council on Feb. 19.

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Nuclear waste: too hot to handle? (February 2013)

Cumbria’s decision to veto an underground repository for the UK shows how hard it is to find a long-term solution

New Scientist  – Magazine issue 2904.

18 February 2013 byWilliam M. Alleyand Rosemarie Alley

THERE are 437 nuclear power reactors in 31 countries around the world. The number of repositories for high-level radioactive waste? Zero. The typical lifespan of a nuclear power plant is 60 years. The waste from nuclear power is dangerous for up to one million years. Clearly, the waste problem is not going to go away any time soon.

In fact, it is going to get a lot worse. The World Nuclear Association says that 45 countries without nuclear power are giving it serious consideration. Several others, including China, South Korea and India, are planning to massively expand their existing programmes. Meanwhile, dealing with the waste from nuclear energy can be put off for another day, decade or century.

It’s not that we haven’t tried. By the 1970s, countries that produced nuclear power were promising that repositories would be built hundreds of metres underground to permanently isolate the waste. Small groups of technical experts and government officials laboured behind closed doors to identify potential sites. The results – produced with almost no public consultation – were disastrous.

In 1976, West German politicians unilaterally selected a site near the village of Gorleben on the East German border for a repository, fuelling a boisterous anti-nuclear movement that seems to have no end in sight.

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

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.

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Bruce Power CEO concerned about DGRs

February 13, 2013, Saugeen Times

On Tuesday night (Feb. 12) an open house was held at the Bruce Power Visitors’ Centre in Tiverton.

Duncan Hawthorne, President and CEO of Bruce Power, spoke on several subjects, including his views on the proposed Deep Geological Repository (DGR) and Adaptive Phase Management (APM) being put forward by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO).

The issue was raised by local Saugeen Shores resident, John Mann, who was in the audience. “If Hawthorne was running the DGR process,” said Mann, “we would not have two (DGRs) to begin with and he would not have allowed billions to be spent on two DGRs.”

“Firstly,” said Hawthorne in reply, “I’m not even at the table but, I am more than just an interested bystander. We enjoy the support of the community but there many who do not differentiate between ‘nuclear’ and ‘nuclear’. My reflection is that, if this is not handled well then it impacts us in a negative way.”

Hawthorne then went on to explain the recent situation of shipping steam generators to Sweden.

“Secondly, steam generators are low level waste … we have16 of them, each the size of a school bus. The rules or principles of environmental stewardship are reduce, recycle and reuse. I tried mindfully to do what the rest of the world does and tried to send those steam generators to Sweden to be reduced, recycled and reused.

I met with a massive, ill-informed, panic stricken opposition and I did not want to take on all the First Nations from here to Sweden and all along the St. Lawrence Seaway. As a result, those 16 low-level steam generators are sitting at this site and may well end up going into a DGR … and that is a travesty in my mind.

We had all the approvals required and I may still pursue this as it has not been taken off the table, but my point is, if we were able to do that, which is sound in so many ways, then why are we building a DGR. If we follow the principles of reduce, recycle and reuse, then what am I doing?”

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Nuclear waste: too hot to handle? (New Scientist)

18 February 2013 byWilliam M. Alleyand Rosemarie Alley, New Scientist

Cumbria’s decision to veto an underground repository for the UK shows how hard it is to find a long-term solution

THERE are 437 nuclear power reactors in 31 countries around the world. The number of repositories for high-level radioactive waste? Zero. The typical lifespan of a nuclear power plant is 60 years. The waste from nuclear power is dangerous for up to one million years. Clearly, the waste problem is not going to go away any time soon.

In fact, it is going to get a lot worse. The World Nuclear Association says that 45 countries without nuclear power are giving it serious consideration. Several others, including China, South Korea and India, are planning to massively expand their existing programmes. Meanwhile, dealing with the waste from nuclear energy can be put off for another day, decade or century.

It’s not that we haven’t tried. By the 1970s, countries that produced nuclear power were promising that repositories would be built hundreds of metres underground to permanently isolate the waste. Small groups of technical experts and government officials laboured behind closed doors to identify potential sites. The results – produced with almost no public consultation – were disastrous.

In 1976, West German politicians unilaterally selected a site near the village of Gorleben on the East German border for a repository, fuelling a boisterous anti-nuclear movement that seems to have no end in sight.

In the UK, the practice of choosing candidate sites with little public input was lampooned as “decide, announce, defend”. In the US, backroom political manoeuvring led to the 1987 selection of Yucca Mountain in Nevada, at the time an under-populated gambling Mecca with no political muscle. Nevadans have been fighting what they call the “Screw Nevada Bill” ever since. The Obama administration pulled funding from Yucca Mountain to appease Senate majority leader Harry Reid, who is from Nevada, but the decision is still being battled in the courts and Congress, and the site is not completely off the table.

It took a while, but governments began to catch on that the top-down approach wasn’t working. Time for a new strategy: look for a community willing to host a repository, using lots of touchy-feely language such as consent-based, transparent, adaptive, phased and terminable. On paper, it is win-win. Sweden and Finland, those paragons of Nordic cooperation and efficiency, are now in the home stretch for opening the world’s first nuclear waste repositories, and are held up as proof-positive that the new policy can work.

Yet finding a volunteer community is the relatively easy part, because nuclear waste repositories bring jobs and money. But this doesn’t mean their neighbours, or the regional powers that be, are going to go along with it.

This unfortunate aspect of policymaking became readily apparent in the UK last month. Everything seemed a sure shot for taking the next exploratory steps toward a nuclear waste repository in west Cumbria. Located next door to Sellafield, the granddaddy of the UK’s nuclear facilities, two local communities comfortable with nuclear matters were in favour. The bugles and bunting were practically being unfurled when Cumbria County Council, concerned about tourism in the Lake District and possible future leaks, vetoed the plan. No other volunteers are in line as a backup.

The US recently announced its own volunteer-based policy, including promises to have an interim storage site up and running within eight years and a repository by 2048. It should know better. Is it forgetting its own track record, even with interim storage facilities?

In the 1980s, the community of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, agreed to host an interim facility. Statewide opposition shut it down. In the 1990s, the Skull Valley Band Of The Goshute Nation, a recognised Native American sovereign nation, volunteered to host an interim facility on its reservation in Utah. Last December, after more than 15 years of legal sparring with the state, the utilities working with the Goshute finally gave up.

The most recent volunteer community to be snubbed is Nye County, where Yucca Mountain is situated. After a commission chartered by the Obama administration recommended a new “consent-based” approach to break the deadlock over the site, Nye County officials wrote to US energy secretary Steven Chu giving their consent to host the repository at Yucca Mountain. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval subsequently informed Chu that the state of Nevada will never consent to a repository.

It’s now over half a century since the dawn of nuclear energy and dangerous and long-lived waste continues to pile up all over the globe. Something needs to be done. Although touted as the solution, finding a consenting community is merely the first step. The harder part is getting everyone else to sign on.

And then comes the real challenge – to determine if the ground beneath a volunteer community is geologically suitable for a repository. This daunting endeavour requires a decades-long process that is both politically sensitive and technically complex. Inevitably, surprises occur as studies go underground. Here, the public needs an independent, technically savvy group whom they trust to address their concerns and interpret the scientific results.

The difficulties of finding a happily-ever-after triad of volunteer community, consenting neighbours and geologically suitable site cannot be lightly dismissed. Replacing a top-down approach with a consent-based one is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t fundamentally solve the problem.

This article appeared in print under the headline “Down in the dumps”

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Bruce Power’s Hawthorne critical of NWMO project (February 2013)

Bruce Power president and chief executive officer Duncan Hawthorne addressed an audience during a community open house at the Bruce Power Visitors’ Centre on Feb. 12, 2013. Hawthorne, who reported on a banner year for Bruce Power, offered criticism of the National Waste Management Organization’s handling of the adaptive phased management project for used nuclear fuel.

By Sarah Sutter, Kincardine News

Wednesday, February 13, 20132:55:36 EST PM

Bruce Power president and chief executive officer Duncan Hawthorne had critical words for the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s (NWMO) handling of the proposed deep geological repository (DGR).

Speaking in response to a citizen’s question about why two DGRs are needed, Hawthorne said people are getting confused with the difference between Ontario Power Generation’s project for low and intermediate level nuclear waste at the Bruce site and the adaptive phased management project for used nuclear fuel being evaluated in other Bruce County communities.

John Mann, a Saugeen Shores resident who had questioned local government on why low and intermediate level waste would be housed separately from spent nuclear fuel, asked Hawthorne for his opinion on the plans during an open house at the Bruce Power Vistors’ Centre on Feb. 12.

“I wouldn’t do it that way if it was me,” Hawthorne replied. “If this isn’t handled well, it impacts us in a negative way.”

Hawthorne added he had been in touch with NWMO officials and sent them a letter outlining his concerns. Among them was his belief residents of potential host communities are unable to differentiate between the plans for two DGRs.

“You’ve confused the whole community,” Hawthorne said he had written to the NWMO. “We’re looking at something that’s 125 years from now. Go away for a decade.”

Hawthorne also said he believed the NWMO has been in talks with willing host communities who have no chance of being a real candidate to host the spent nuclear fuel.

“The NWMO want to demonstrate they can find willing host communities,” he said, adding the organization is “making everyone nervous.”

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Chalk River’s spent fuel rods to be shipped to U.S. (February 2013)

Move comes on heels of plan to transport toxic brew to South Carolina site

By IAN MACLEOD, Ottawa CitizenFebruary 13, 2013 8:09 AM

Highly radioactive nuclear reactor fuel rods are to be clandestinely shipped by road from Chalk River to the United States under a non-proliferation effort to rid the Upper Ottawa Valley site of bomb-grade uranium.

News of the spent fuel shipment follows a Citizen report Monday about separate preparations to transport a lethal brew of liquid weapons-grade uranium by armed convoy through Eastern Ontario to a South Carolina reprocessing site. It will be converted at the Savannah River Site into a form unusable for bomb-making.

Federal law prohibits officials from releasing details of the plans, including routing, timing and the number of transport truck trips planned.

As well, a 2011 federal government memo says the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) considers it unnecessary to hold public sessions that would allow citizens to ask questions and comment on the highly enriched uranium (HEU) repatriations to the U.S. The CNSC declined to comment on the memo Tuesday.

Documents from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission say an “expedited” approval is being sought for transport of the liquid HEU. It is believed to be the first time such a highly radioactive solution has been transported by road in North America and, according to U.S. commission documents, could happen as early as August.

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