Central Huron at third step in the process to become a nuclear waste site (April 2015)

Central Huron is currently in step three of nine in the plan to determine whether it is a suitable site for Canada’s nuclear waste.

The steps are part of a plan called Adaptive Phased Management (APM) set out by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO). The APM was adopted in June 2007 by the Government of Canada to select a community to host a deep geological repository for the countrys used nuclear fuel.

Step one started in May 2010 with a campaign by the NWMO to educate and promote the idea.

The second step of the selection consisted of an initial screening process to determine whether or not the interested communities met basic criteria. The area must have the right geology to be a feasible host.

Step three is when interested communities request a preliminary assessment by the NWMO to determine further whether it is suitable.

This step has two phases. Phase one is when the NWMO, authorities, key stakeholders and surrounding communities engage with each other and decide how the next steps will proceed. Studies are conducted to determine whether the surrounding geology can handle the repository. The social impacts of hosting will also be assessed in phase one. Central Huron is the last of the remaining interested communities to still be in phase one but the NWMO predicts it will be completed by the end of the year.

If Central Huron makes it into the second phase, field studies will be conducted that may include airborne geophysical surveys, field mapping and the drilling of boreholes. Among the field studies, community well-being assessments, land rights discussions, Aboriginal and surrounding community engagement and a third-party review of the geology will be conducted. By the time phase two is complete it is estimated only one or two communities will be left.

The NWMO hosted an open house at the Holmesville Community Centre last week, where officials were quick to stress that the repository will not go to a community that does not want it.

The NWMO predicts it will take another 10 years to pick a site (pending regulatory approval) and its not asking communities to confirm, just yet, whether it will host. When one is chosen it will have to show a compelling demonstration of willingness as another criteria of the APM, said Patrick Dolcetti, regional communications manager for NWMO. That could mean a vote, interviews and/or presentations but it is ultimately up to the community to decide how to show its willingness.

If Central Huron does move forward with the NWMO it will have to consider the social and economic impacts of hosting the repository. According to Dolcetti, not every community is right for this type of change and thousands of jobs will be created, drastically changing the dynamic of a municipality as small as Central Huron.

Agreeing to host the repository with the corresponding centre of expertise will mean agreeing to hold approximately four million fuel bundles. Fuel bundles contain fuel elements made up of solid ceramic pellets of compressed uranium dioxide.

Dolcetti said anyone calling the project a nuclear waste dump is being irresponsible, adding that its not some green ooze out of The Simpsons …

As a function of the APM the NWMO wants to hear concerns, questions, comments and feedback. The NWMO office is open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

By Laura Broadley, Clinton News Record Wednesday, April 15, 2015
As posted at http://www.clintonnewsrecord.com/2015/04/15/central-huron-at-third-step-in-the-process-to-become-a-nuclear-waste-site

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