Search for nuclear-waste depository continues (March 2015)

By: Dave Taylor, Winnipeg Free Press, March 8, 2015

Nuclear waste will not be disposed of next to Flin Flon on the Manitoba border. The organization that has been given the responsibility of finding a hole for Canadas, and possibly the worlds, nuclear waste has decided that the community of Creighton, Sask., is not worthy.

Of course the public is told the geological conditions are not suitable, but thats not the only reason the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is dropping Creighton from its list of 11 finalists.

The NWMO represents all the Canadian companies that presently have in their possession high level radioactive waste that will be toxic to life on Earth for hundreds of thousands of years. The federal government, which handed off the task of finding a dump, has left it to these owners because after several attempts at trying to convince Canadians to host it, they realized nuclear waste was not politically sexy, and a federal crown corporation could not make it happen.

So the dirty work has been outsourced and arranged in a long boring process that started with 22 host communities and has been now trimmed to nine, mostly in southern Ontario. Each of these communities received $400,000 for throwing their hats in the ring. The big players and funders of this process are the nuclear [waste producing] corporations from Ontario, New Brunswick and Quebec.

It is true they are several decades away from actually filling the Canadian Shield with this toxic material, but slowly and insidiously they are moving towards convincing a community to become the site. They also make it clear that the dump will be for Canadas waste only. The world, however, is watching and there is money to be made by dealing with other countries’ problems. The promise of money and jobs in perpetuity is the bait the NWMO fishes with.

The science of nuclear waste disposal is based upon Atomic Energy of Canadas scheme using long-range computer modelling. The scientists make it clear the disposal sites will eventually leak, but so far into the future that the radioactivity will be reduced to an insignificant amount. They have based their projections on the fact that the granite of the Canadian Shield has been stable for hundreds of thousands [millions] of years and will continue to be into the future.

The Underground Research Laboratory at Lac Du Bonnet was recently shut down and closed, but when it was being used, it was riddled with cracks and fissures through which flowed groundwater. George Ylonen, a hard rock miner who criticized the idea because of his knowledge about the flow of water through rock, passed away this year.

Significantly, the lab itself constantly filled with water, and pumps were regularly used to attempt to keep it dry. Water is the biggest threat to a repository because its water that carries the radioactivity into the environment.

The official line was that Creighton was scratched for scientific reasons. In reality, a well-organized opposition, Saskatchewans Committee for Future Generations, and the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, were pivotal in preventing this repository from being built on traditional territory.

They only had to consult with their elders the rock of the Canadian Shield is considered the grandfather according to cultural traditions, and you dont put poison in your grandfather.

Dave Taylor is a freelance writer and anti-nuclear activist.

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