Ontario Power Generation commits to DGR studies (April 2016)

ONTARIO—While Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has committed to completing further studies on its proposed deep geological repository (DGR) for low and intermediate level nuclear waste, the president of Northwatch says that while this is a good step, the group would have rather have seen OPG drop their proposal altogether.

“They (OPG) will now do what the minister has told them they have to do,” stated Brennain Lloyd, in an interview with the Recorder this past Sunday. “They had the option of doing this work, or not continuing. They could have dropped their application, which would have been our preferred option.”

“We will just have to see what comes of it,” said Ms. Lloyd. “We are very pleased the minister ordered OPG to do additional work. But basically, what is now in place is that they have another chance to redo their proposal.”

The OPG’s new proposal, “will still be very generic and conceptional for two types of sites, and we’ll have to see the quality and detail of the work they come out with,” said Ms. Lloyd, noting the two types of sites includes granite sites in Northern Ontario and crystallization of rock versus sedimentary rock in southern Ontario.”

Ms. Lloyd feels that OPG, “got into a tight spot in the hearings. And when they propose the benefits of storing the waste in granite in Northern Ontario their experts basically revealed the weakness of storing nuclear waste in this type of material. Even their expert said storing nuclear waste in granite is harder to predict than in sedimentary rock.”

OPG Is still looking through a total of 18 possible sites for taking the waste, including Elliot Lake, Blind River, Hornepayne, Whitefish River, Manitouwadge and others, said Ms. Lloyd. “OPG has gone through the study process three times so far, and it still doesn’t address the gaps there are in the proposal. For instance, they say six drill holes in the Bruce Nuclear plan, but they provide no explanation of the different pressure gaps and how much gas was generated-this information is still unknown.”

“It is great the minister has said OPG has to do further studies on at least three components of the report, but this is out of eight gaps in the proposal; we think they should have been required to complete work on all major areas-gaps in the study,” said Ms. Llloyd.

“But yes, we are pleased that they at least have been required to do more work,” continued Ms. Lloyd, “but we are disappointed they are not required to do work on all eight gaps in the proposal. And after bringing forward studies-plans three different times we were hoping the ministry would have said just give it up. They’ve had three goes at it—if this were a baseball game they (OPG) would have struck out and would be sitting on the bench; which is where they should be.”

OPG announced plans last week to complete some further studies on its proposed deep geological repository for low and intermediate level nuclear waste.

After receiving a request in February from federal minister of the environment and climate change Catherine McKenna to conduct three further studies on the DGR, OPG confirmed last Friday that those studies will be completed by the end of 2016, the Owen Sound Times reported.

“OPG maintains that a DGR is the right answer for Ontario’s low and intermediate level waste and that the Bruce site is the right location. An independent federal JRP has recommended moving forward with the project,” it said in a news release from the company. “OPG is confident further studies will confirm this.”

Minister McKenna has requested the additional studies prior to making a decision on the environmental assessment for the site. The studies are: OPG will assess the environmental effectiveness of two “technically and economically feasible” locations in Ontario for a DGR: one in a sedimentary rock formation located in southern Ontario and a second in a granite rock formation located in central to Northern Ontario. Specific locations will not be identified; an updated analysis of the cumulative environmental effects of the project considering the results from preliminary assessments undertaken by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization for used fuel. OPG will further study the cumulative effects assuming a used fuel repository is sited within the DGR study area.

OPG will undertake a review of its mitigation commitments and all integrating actions. Any outdated, additional or redundant commitments previously brought forward to the Joint Review Panel will be identified.

OPG has claimed its plan to store nuclear waste underground near Kincardine is safe and reiterated that again in Friday’s news release. “The DGR would permanently and safely isolate and contain the waste 680 metres underground, ensuring protection of the water and the environment,” the release says.

If built, the DGR would extend underground into rock that’s 450 million years old and hold everything from mop heads, rags and clothing to used reactor components from the Bruce, Darlington and Pickering generation plants.

Construction, which could start as early as 2018, is expected to take seven years. OPG would then need to apply to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for a licence to operate it.

The Saugeen Ojibway Nation has authority to veto the plan. In Friday’s news release from OPG it said the company was “committed to ongoing work with the Saugeen Ojibway Nation.”

“The OPG has also said they will have this work done by December 31, (2016) but we’ll see if this actually happens,” said Ms. Lloyd. “A lot remains to be seen, but the quality of work that has been carried out so far has been low.”

Manitoulin Expositor, By Expositor Staff, Apr 22, 2016, as posted at http://www.manitoulin.ca/2016/04/22/ontario-power-generation-commits-dgr-studies/

Turns out that transport that crashed yesterday was carrying uranium (April 2016)

Nuclear safety authority says there was no impact to the public or environment

A transport involved in a collision on Highway 17 on Sunday was carrying uranium concentrate, says the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

The collision, just west of Massey, reduced traffic to one lane for part of Sunday morning.

The CNSC says the truck was transporting the uranium from Cameco’s Blind River refinery to its Port Hope conversion facility.

“There was no damage to the transport packages and therefore no impact to members of the public or the environment,” said CNSC.

Cameco’s website says its Blind River facility is the largest commercial uranium refinery in the world, producing uranium trioxide powder which is then transported to the company’s conversion facility in Port Hope for further processing.

18 April 2016, as posted at


Permanent storage solution a must, nuclear officials argue (April 2016)

KINCARDINE – Don’t touch the canisters.

As you navigate through row after gleaming row of huge white containers — 1,200 of them, so far — the guide’s instruction is unequivocal: Look, don’t touch.

These containers harbour the most hazardous byproducts of nuclear power production in Canada, more than three decades worth of spent nuclear fuel.

Each one safeguards 384 spent fuel bundles inside 50-centimetre-thick, reinforced concrete walls sandwiched between two liners of thick, rolled steel. Welding them shut takes upwards of 16 hours. They weigh 73 tonnes each.

The guide repeatedly describes them as “robust,” designed to last.

But not forever.

Forever is a long time.

Officials from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) argue that a permanent storage solution, a vault at least 500 metres underground, eventually must replace facilities never intended to last many thousands of years.

And that’s why NWMO offered a rare tour of the dry used-fuel storage buildings at Ontario’s giant Bruce Power nuclear plant, a facility along the shore of Lake Huron in Southwestern Ontario where few among the 4,000 staffers are even allowed to venture.

In the post-9/11 world of super-strict security measures, only federal background checks and pre-authorized approval will allow you deeper into the facility than the public information centre.

The rules inside are clear and inviolable. Hard hats always on, always facing forward.

No candy, gum or lip balm, through which radiation would be ingested if an “incident” were to happen.

Don’t photograph any of the array of security measures.

And don’t touch the canisters.

The fuel bundles that spent their useful life powering entire cities, then needed to cool down for a decade at the bottom of deep water pools, still radiate enough warmth to make heavy coats unnecessary here even on a sub-zero, Bruce County day.

Spokesperson Mike Krizanc explains the outside of the tanks is only slightly warmer than ambient air. Touching one probably — probably — would not be an issue.

But when security includes regular inspections by specialized staff and monitoring by provincial, federal and international nuclear safety specialists, you don’t want to mess with protocols.

This is an other-worldly place.

It is spotless, fanatically so.

Not a mop is out of place. Shoes literally squeak on the shiny, grey-painted floors.

You’re tempted to whisper in the cavernous rooms, where the only other sound is a barely perceptible hum from fluorescent lights.

And all around you, these giant space-age canisters with their deadly innards.

One guide likens a canister to “a big cocoon,” but the metaphor is instantly jarring — a cocoon breaks forth with new life. This must never be allowed to break open, not for a thousand lifetimes.

And there, in a nutshell, is the dilemma for NWMO officials.

Nuclear power must be safe and be seen to be safe.

But nuclear waste, even encapsulated like this, isn’t forever-safe. And they know it and you know it, and what’s left is to make the best of that uncomfortable reality while humankind figures out how to seal near-eternity in a box.

And, illogical as it is, after a three-hour tour, you exhale a breath you didn’t realize you were holding as the radiation detection scanner declares you “clean” and you turn in your hard hat and visitor’s pass.

By Debora Van Brenk, The London Free Press, Friday, April 15, 2016 10:18:26 EDT PM, as posted at http://www.lfpress.com/2016/04/15/permanent-storage-solution-a-must-nuclear-officials-argue

Decades of highly radioactive spent fuel is piling up at Ontario’s nuclear plants (April 2016)

KINCARDINE – It generates virtually no carbon emissions, is fuelled by an abundant resource and powers half of Ontario.

And its waste products emit radiation for a million years.

Nuclear power held out the promise 50 years ago of being clean, cheap and efficient.

But none of that’s true “until they find a suitable place for the nuclear waste; says environmentalist Mark Mattson, head of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper. “It’s sort of the untalked-about part of the industry.;

Now, it’s more than talk.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is looking both for an ideal site and an “informed and willing host” where it can store all of Canada’s highly radioactive fuel bundles, permanently, in one underground vault.

It intends to start drilling test bore holes next year near several of the nine potential sites: Three just east of the Lake Huron shoreline in Southwestern Ontario, and six in northern Ontario.

They’re determined to avoid missteps that doomed the strategy of its predecessor body, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., whose proposal was panned by a 1998 federal review panel as technically sound but lacking public support or First Nations input.

“If it’s not socially acceptable, it’s not going to happen,” says OWMA spokesperson Michael Krizanc. “You’re never going to get unanimity . . . but the potential exists to get broad public consensus.”

Even communities voluntarily part of the process approach the issue warily.

“This is going to be quite contentious” once planning starts to ramp up, says South Bruce Mayor Robert Buckle.

His community is used to having nuclear power on its doorstep — the nearby Bruce Power complex is the world’s largest operating nuclear plant — and contributing to the local economy. But Buckle personally would be more comfortable with the safety of underground storage than above-ground management. It’s also a matter of showing responsibility, he believes.

“If two years from now, if I re-run for mayor and if I get in, I will insist that we have a referendum. Something as important as this I’m not going to let six people (on council) make that decision.”

What’s incontrovertible is that nuclear waste isn’t going away — there are 2.6 million spent fuel bundles today, and 90,000 more each year — and current facilities weren’t designed to last hundreds of years, much less hundreds of millennia.

And though, for some, the debate over a deep repository amounts to a debate about continued use of nuclear power — with Mattson and many others firmly opposed — officials argue that’s not the point of the talks.

“We’re not here to promote or penalize nuclear power . . . We’re here because nuclear power is here and the waste has to be managed,” Krizanc says.

In that case, it should be managed near where it’s produced and far from northern Ontario, says Brennain Lloyd of Northwatch, which has kept a critical eye on the process since the 1970s.

She said the NWMO’s plan amounts to little more than “pack it in, pack it up, walk away.”

She favours bulked-up storage facilities at nuclear power plants to allow continuous monitoring, reduce potential for accidents during transportation and make it easier to reopen if technology were ever developed to use residual energy in the fuel bundles.

Andre Vorauer, senior technical specialist with NWMO, said most countries with nuclear power generation have concluded underground burial in a so-called deep geologic repository, or DGR, is the best option.

Finland is farthest along in the process, having received a construction permit late last year.

But Northwatch’s Lloyd says, “I don’t think anybody needs to be first. I think we can aspire to be the last . . .

“The industry worldwide has not been able to demonstrate safety. None have been able to do what they say — isolate the waste into eternity.”

She’s sharply critical of NWMO’s process including, she says, “cash prizes” already going to communities interested in becoming host sites.

Krizanc says NWMO has provided resource people to municipalities and funnelled $400,000 to each to set up community improvement funds — all intended to recognize that interested places also will be investing their energies in learning more about this, he said.

It has set up community liaison committees, held open house sessions and published reams of printed, graphic, video and electronic information (some of which can be found at nwmo.ca).

“We’re not in a hurry to do this,” he said. “We’re going to take time to do it right.”

Even so, selling the idea of an underground repository will be, figuratively, an uphill battle.

“It takes probably about one million years before the uranium in the fuel bundles has the same level of radiation as the uranium in the ground,” Krizanc notes during a technical briefing.

Just beyond the Bruce plant’s tessellation of tower lines lives one of its biggest critics: Eugene Bourgeois, a director of the local group SOS Great Lakes who once pursued a doctorate in mystical philosophy.

He says creating nuclear power with no plan for its waste “was an incredible, incredible mistake.”

Bourgeois also actively opposes a separate plan — by Ontario Power Generation, not NWMO — for a different deep vault to house Ontario nuclear plants’ mid- and low-level nuclear waste, such as mops and filters, at the Bruce site.

OPG was to provide more information Monday to the environment minister as it seeks federal approval for that plan, but on Friday said it will do so by Dec. 31 and also will consider another site in southern Ontario and one in northern Ontario.

Bourgeois believes all underground vaults will leak, sooner or later leak, and all material should be stored in a high-and-dry place.

“Am I concerned? No. Life is temporary. What matters is not how long you live, but what you do while you’re alive . . . I just don’t see that we need to be foolish in addressing this scourge.”

But, says Krizanc, many Canadians already have weighed in to say this generation is ethically bound to do more than simply store it all temporarily.

“Even if we Canadians have made it clear we have a responsibility to do something, even if we stopped making nuclear waste tomorrow, the waste is here,” he says.


By Debora Van Brenk, London Free Press, Friday, April 15, 2016 9:35:34 EDT PM, as posted at www.lfpress.com/2016/04/15/decades-of-highly-radioactive-spent-fuel-is-piling-up-at-ontarios-nuclear-plants

OPG Commits to Completing Further DGR Studies by Year-End (April 2016)

April 15, 2016, Toronto – Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has informed the federal government that it will complete further studies on its proposed deep geologic repository (DGR) by Dec. 31, 2016.

In February, the Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change requested that OPG conduct three further studies into OPG’s low and intermediate level waste (L&ILW) DGR before making a decision on the environmental assessment. These studies are:

  1. OPG will assess the environmental effects of two technically and economically feasible locations in Ontario for a new nuclear waste disposal facility. One assessment will consider a similar DGR in a sedimentary rock formation located in southern Ontario. The second will consider a similar DGR in a granite rock formation located in central to northern Ontario. Specific locations will not be identified.
  2. An updated analysis of the cumulative environmental effects of the project considering the results from preliminary assessments undertaken by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization for used fuel. OPG will further study the cumulative effects assuming a used fuel repository is sited within the DGR study area.
  3. OPG will undertake a review of its mitigation commitments and all mitigating actions. Any outdated or redundant commitments previously brought forward to the Joint Review Panel (JRP) will be identified.

OPG maintains that a DGR is the right answer for Ontario’s low and intermediate level waste, and that the Bruce site is the right location. An independent Federal JRP has recommended moving forward with the project. OPG is confident further studies will confirm this.

The proposed DGR would be located at the Bruce nuclear facility in Kincardine. It would safely store about 200,000 cubic metres of low and intermediate level waste from operating Ontario’s reliable, GHG-free nuclear stations. The DGR would permanently and safely isolate and contain the waste 680 meters underground, ensuring protection of the water and the environment.

The local communities remain supportive of the project, and OPG is committed to ongoing work with the Saugeen Ojibway Nation.
OPG provides about half the power Ontario relies on. The electricity OPG produces is 99.7 per cent free of greenhouse gas and smog causing emissions.

– 30 –
For further information, please contact:
Media Relations
416-592-4008 or 1-877-592-4008
Follow us @opg

As posted at http://www.opg.com/news-and-media/news-releases/Documents/160415FurtherDRGStudies.pdf

Nuclear waste dump ‘spruiking’ with taxpayers’ money stopped by Greens (April 2016)

An attempt to change the law in South Australia to allow public money to be spent on promoting a nuclear waste dump has been stopped with the Greens claiming a victory.

A law passed in 2000 to stop public funds from being used in any activity associated with a nuclear waste facility.

The State Government had tried to amend the law to allow consultation with the community on the results of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission.

Greens MLC Mark Parnell said the proposed change was too wide ranging and the Upper House had stepped in to protect taxpayers.

“The Greens do accept that we do need to have a public debate,” he said.

“We’re confident we know what the result will be but nevertheless the Government says they only want to consult, they don’t want to spruik and they don’t want to plan for a nuclear waste dump.”

He said the Government had attempted to “overreach”.

“The law now says that the Government can use public money to consult the community but they’re not to use public money for promoting or designing or even buying land for a nuclear waste dump.”

As posted 13 April 2016 at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-14/nuclear-waste-dump-‘spruiking’-with-taxpayers’-money-stopped/7325076

Huron Kinloss Residents Can Learn More About Hosting a Nuclear Waste Storage Site (April 2016)

Huron Kinloss Residents who want to learn more about a plan to store nuclear waste underground in their municipality can attend an open house on Thursday in Ripley.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization is hosting an open house at the Ripley Huron Community Centre from 1pm to 8pm Thursday, and from 9am to 3pm, on Friday.

It’s a chance to learn more about the site selection process underway for a deep geological repository to store used nuclear fuel.

Current work such as planning, economic potential, and geotechnical studies will be explained.

Central Huron, and South Bruce are also part of the Phase 2 Preliminary Assessment Studies.

By Janice MacKay, Blackburn News, April 13, 2016 2:39pm, as posted at https://blackburnnews.com/midwestern-ontario/midwestern-ontario-news/2016/04/13/huron-kinloss-residents-can-learn-more-about-hosting-a-nuclear-waste-storage-site/