Premier Kathleen Wynne says better to be safe than sorry on proposed Southwestern Ontario nuclear waste dump (February 2016)

Premier Kathleen Wynne says Ontario will look closer at the science of burying nuclear waste near Lake Huron, after a federal move threw up new roadblocks to a bid by the province’s power producer to sink the waste in a Southwestern Ontario shaft deeper than the CN Tower is tall.

But while Wynne said it’s better to be safe than sorry, “to do it (the work) right on the front end,” environmental groups are pushing for the controversial project to be killed — not delayed.

Speaking in London on Friday, Wynne said she wants to make sure the burial of nuclear waste is safe for the environment and for residents near the proposed underground vault in the Kincardine area of the Bruce Peninsula, in the shadow of the world’s largest operating nuclear plant.

“I have heard from people who want to see this go ahead, but I’ve also heard from people who say the science hasn’t been completely landed, so we need to take the time necessary to ensure safety to the community and the environment,” she said.

“We can’t undo these things, we can’t under the damage, so we need to do it right on the front end.”

Groups opposed to the burial are calling on the federal government to kill the proposal by Ontario Power Generation (OPG), rather than delay and ask for more information on the project, as federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna did Thursday in a surprise move that neither killed nor endorsed the project, already green-lighted by a federal review panel.

OPG, from whose nuclear plants the low- and medium-level waste that would fill the vault comes, has until April 18 to come up with a time line to get the extra information that Ottawa has requested. That includes details about the cumulative effects of storing that waste 680 metres underground, so near to another proposed waste-management site for high-level waste — spent nuclear fuel — from OPG’s nuclear plants.

Scores of communities, along with environmental groups and outspoken politicians on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border, have come out swinging against the so-called deep geologic repository (DGR), which would be built 1.2 kilometres from the Lake Huron shore in ancient rock.

Opponents worry that if something went awry, the Great Lakes drinking water on which 40 million North Americans rely could be put at risk.

OPG has said no better location can be found for the burial vault, which would be about the size of a big-box store and would be located in dense limestone unchanged for 450 million years.

By Kate Dubinski, The London Free Press, as posted at

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