The Chronicle-Journal – Wednesday, March 4, 2015 – 08:00
The mayor of Schreiber says he was shocked to hear his town was ruled out as a candidate to house nuclear fuel.
The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) announced Tuesday it had concluded a study looking at the geological conditions of Creighton, Sask., and Schreiber. The study found that both areas have geological complexities that make housing nuclear fuel unlikely.
In a letter, Kathryn Shaver, vice-president public engagement and site selection with NWMO, wrote that given the results of the study they will stop studies in the area and stressed that safety, security and protecting people and the environment are central to selecting a future site.
Schreiber Mayor Mark Figliomeni said after being involved in the process for four years, he was a little shocked by the news.
“There was one way into the process and I guess two ways out,” he said. “I’m a little shocked, but you knew you could get that news at anytime. The town is going to be buzzing for the next few days. You are going to have people saying ‘this is a great thing that Schreiber has been eliminated’ and you are going to have the folks who say ‘good job staying in the process and too bad you were eliminated.'”
He said when the town got involved, the main reasons were to learn more about the process and get some financial gain. He believes losing the financial boost will have a negative impact on the already struggling Northern community.
“As a township we’re certainly going to feel the shortfall of the NWMO cash, there’s no doubt about it,” he said. “Schreiber is a small, struggling Northern Ontario community and it is going to impact our budget. Our budget process and our finances for the town will be impacted greatly.”
Although Schreiber was ruled out, there are still nine of possible sites with six of them located in Northern Ontario including Elliot Lake, Hornepayne and Ignace.
Mike Krizanc, spokesman for NWMO, said all the municipalities involved asked to be a part of the process as they wouldn’t impose being the home site. He explained the study helped them understand the geology better and allowed them to narrow down the search for the best site possible.
He said they found fractures, which could have had an impact on the safety of the repository. But ultimately, the main reason was the size.
“You want some flexibility in case you run into fractures or whatever that could impact safety,” he said. “You would want to work around them. The areas around were even more complex and that’s really where the issue is. Safety comes first. We’re looking for an informed and willing community and this will not be imposed on any community.
The community at the end of the day has to demonstrate they are willing to host the repository and they will have to do so in a compelling way.”
He explained that they will be conducting more studies over the next couple years. He added that the studies will become more detailed as they move forward.