Northwestern Ontario Towns still considered for nuclear waste storage facility

Several municipalities in Northwestern Ontario are being considered for a nuclear waste storage facility.

THUNDER BAY — Several municipalities in Northwestern Ontario are still being considered as nuclear waste storage facility sites.

Town councils in Manitouwadge, White River, Homepayne and Ignace are weighing the cost and benefits of playing host to an underground nuclear storage facility.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization held an open house for residents in Ignace on Wednesday afternoon. NWMO geoscience division director Ben Belfadhel said Ignace residents have been in a flurry of discussion over the potential for the site.

Diana Baril lives near one of the possible locations and said she has no problem if the facility were to be built in her backyard.

NWMO communications manager Patrick Dolcetti said there are nine locations across the province being looked at. Only a single site will eventually be selected.

In order for the project to go ahead anywhere, there needs to be suitable geology and the community has to be a willing host community.

Dolcetti added this is a $22-billion infrastructure project and will create thousands of jobs, which has raised questions from Ignace residents.

Until then the town of 1,300 will have to wait until 2023 to see if they are the one municipality selected.

TBay Newswatch, 27 10 2016, as posted at

Community liaison committee hosts nuclear regulator

Elliot Lake Standard | October 26 | The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) was in the city last week hosting an open house, and on the following evening made a special presentation at the October meeting of Elliot Lake’s community liaison committee (CLC).

The CLC is a committee of council mandated to inform the public about nuclear-related issues and the prospects surrounding any potential local applications for hosting a deep geological repository (DGR). A DGR is a nuclear waste repository excavated deep within a stable geologic environment (typically below 300 m). It is expected to provide a high-level of long-term isolation and containment without future maintenance.

With nine members of the committee present, the eight member CNSC technical team led by senior project officer, Julie Mecke, presented a commission overview. And the team’s Aboriginal and Métis coordinator, Kim Noble, talked about the recently revised Aboriginal engagement process.

The regulatory presentation was similar to the previous day’s open house at the White Mountain building, hosted by the CNSC. It basically outlined the mandate and operational responsibilities of the commission.

The other agenda item, presented by Kim Noble, was the revised Aboriginal engagement regulation.

“The implementation of REGDOC-3.2.2 is expected to lead to more effective and efficient Aboriginal engagement practices,” said Noble. “It is designed to strengthen relationships with Aboriginal communities, assist the CNSC in meeting its ‘duty to consult’ obligations, and reduce the risk of delays in the regulatory review processes.”

During the question and answer session, committee queries ranged from security concerns to time lines for the finalization of a site location for a DGR.

Mecke was clear in her response to the latter.

“We (CNSC) are not the group that deals with time lines…. That question is better directed to the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO).”

In response, CLC chair Ed Pearce asserted that both the CNSC and NWMO are “both basically arms-length agencies of the federal government. So what’s the problem?”

Mecke told Pearce that the NWMO was not a federal agency.

The NWMO is a not-for-profit organization established through the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act 2002 (NFWA), and funded by Canada’s nuclear electricity producers. And according to published NWMO documents, the organization “is responsible for designing and implementing Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel.”

“The plan requires used fuel to be contained and isolated in a deep geological repository.”

A locally relevant item in the organization’s mandate is the call for a “comprehensive process to select an informed and willing host for the project.”

As with the previous day’s open house presentation, the majority of people talked to were in favour of a DGR in or around Elliot Lake. However, according to Pearce, the mandate of the group is to inform the public.

Being a committee of council, “We are neither in favour of, or against a DGR,” Pearce remarked after the CNSC presentation. “Our job is to inform the public, to disseminate information.”

The 25 interested citizens in attendance sat quietly through the hour-long presentation. About 15 people stayed for the entire meeting.

Aside from one individual in the audience, committee members dominated the question and answer session.

By RICK SMIT For The Elliot Lake Standard, Wednesday, October 26, 2016 10:21:00 EDT PM, as posted at

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission hosts local open house in Elliot Lake

Elliot Lake Standard | It appeared to be a nuclear friendly crowd of about 100 citizens who showed up last Monday, Oct. 18 at the White Mountain Building on the invitation of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

The nuclear regulator was in the city with a technical team of engineering and environmental professionals to explain the CNSC’s role in the Canadian nuclear industry, with a particular view of clarifying the difference between their monitoring and inspection activity, as well as the entirely separate mandate of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO).

According to CNSC senior project officer, Julie Mecke, the commission regulates uranium mines and mills, nuclear processing and research, nuclear power generation, nuclear medicine, nuclear substances and transportation, waste management, the environment, national security and international commitments.

“The CNSC is the regulator and we do inspections at mines, mills, storage facilities, nuclear power plants and decommissioned mines,” said Mecke. “As far as nuclear waste is concerned, we manage it, we monitor it. When an application does come forward from the NWMO we will review the feasibility of the proposal.”

Listening to the questions being asked, it became clear that many of the citizens who attended the open house were eager to learn if a time line for the selection of a disposal site was looming in the near future. All members of the CNSC technical team present were clear about distancing the commission from any speculation.

“That (time lines) is the responsibility of the community and the NWMO,” Mecke remarked. “Once the community reaches a clear acceptance, a broad-based declared desire to host a site, they can go to the NWMO. If that organization sees merit in the community proposal they can present it to us. To date, that hasn’t happened.”

The CNSC has not received an application (to host) a (nuclear waste) disposal site from the NWMO.

A table stacked with CNSC informational and promotional material, coupled with another filled with refreshments, assisted the technical team in successfully developing a welcoming and friendly atmosphere.

At the 1:30 p.m. presentation, there were no overt displays of what could be characterized as anti-nuclear protest. Rather, a pervasive attitude of acceptance and industry promotion stood out.

Menke was also to be in the city as a guest speaker at the October meeting of the Elliot Lake Community Liaison Committee.

By RICK SMIT, For The Elliot Lake Standard, Wednesday, October 19, 2016 9:51:35 EDT PM as posted at

NWMO Drilling For Information In South Bruce, Huron-Kinloss

Blackburn News | Oct 20 | A series of upcoming Open Houses in Lucknow and Mildmay are aimed at educating the public on the next steps toward site selection for a Deep Geologic Repository for used nuclear fuel.

Both the Municipalities of Huron-Kinloss and South Bruce have been voluntarily working separately with the NWMO throughout the site selection process and now, all parties are moving forward with the next step of the Phase 2 Preliminary Assessment.

This next step would involve the drilling, on municipally owned land, of a borehole to gather geologic material for research purposes only and data gathering.

“It is not expected to be a repository site,” says Marie Wilson, Regional Communications Manager for the Nuclear Waste Management Organization.

There are three proposed locations in Huron-Kinloss (for initial borehole drilling) and four proposed locations within South Bruce. They will eventually be narrowed down to just one drill site.

“Comments from citizens on the proposed locations for this work are very valuable and will help the community and the NWMO plan the work together,” says Wilson.

The NWMO currently has Learn More Centres in Ripley, Teeswater and Clinton that are open to the public three days a week.

A series of open houses, aimed at public input on the initial borehole drilling, will take place on the following dates:

NWMO Open House (Huron-Kinloss):

Lucknow Community Centre (694 Willoughby St.)
Tuesday, November 1 2016 from 1pm – 8pm
Wednesday, November 2 2016 from 9am – 3pm

NWMO Open House (South Bruce):

Mildmay-Carrick Recreation Complex (24 Vincent St.)
Thursday, November 3 from 1pm – 8pm
Friday, November 4 from 9am – 3pm

BY CRAIG POWEROCTOBER 20, 2016 11:49AM, as posted at

Critics accuse nuclear safety official of acting as industry cheerleader

G&M | Oct 12 | Opposition politicians and environmentalists are questioning the priorities of the man responsible for nuclear safety in Canada after a string of incidents in which he publicly defended the industry and was dismissive of concerns about potential hazards – a stance that runs contrary to his mandate at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

The CNSC was established by the federal government to protect the health and safety of Canadians and to regulate the use, possession and storage of all nuclear substances in Canada. No part of its mission entails promotion of the country’s reactors. But, in the more than eight years that Michael Binder has served as president of the CNSC, he has repeatedly extolled the merits of the nuclear industry and chastised critics who voiced concerns about potential hazards.

The Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stands behind Dr. Binder despite recently uncovered lapses in the CNSC’s inspection regime and an anonymous letter that accused the CNSC of skipping important safety oversights. Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said: “We think that the regulator has done and continues to do a good job.”

But an audit released last week by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development found the CNSC was not inspecting reactors often or thoroughly enough. Julie Gelfand, the Environment Commissioner, said CNSC inspectors have been scrutinizing the country’s nuclear facilities without the guides that list what criteria must be met, as required by the regulator.

“The fact that it’s allowed and that that data is then used to tell us that everything is all good, tells me that there is something in the way that they are managing that is not precise enough, that is not systematic enough, that is not rigorous enough,” she said.

Tom Mulcair, the Leader of the federal New Democrats, said Wednesday that the government is shirking its responsibilities by ignoring what is happening at the CNSC, an agency that reports to Parliament.

“Instead of being someone there to defend the public in an important area like nuclear safety, [Dr. Binder] acts like someone who is there to defend the industry that he is supposed to be regulating,” Mr. Mulcair said in a telephone interview, “and he even goes on to attack those people who express concerns.”

Shawn-Patrick Stensil, a senior energy analyst with Greenpeace Canada, said this week Dr. Binder has “shown a disturbing pattern of cheerleading for an industry he’s supposed to keep in check. Trudeau needs to clean up the CNSC.”

The release of the audit followed an anonymous letter sent last spring to Dr. Binder that was purportedly written by specialists inside CNSC. It pointed to five separate cases in which the commission’s staff sat on relevant material about risk or non-compliance that might have called the safety of a plant into question.

Rather than conduct an independent investigation into the allegations, Dr. Binder asked one of his own staff to determine whether the letter had merit, a review that concluded the concerns were exaggerated. At a subsequent meeting of the CNSC, Dr. Binder questioned the letter’s authenticity and suggested its contents were a part of a “conspiracy theory.”

Elizabeth May, the Green Party leader, said this week she is “very concerned” about what is happening at the CNSC and the fact that no one was called in from outside the regulator to look at the concerns of the letter writers. “People to tend to sit upright,” she said, “when you tell them about a nuclear reactor that is not getting properly inspected.”

Dr. Binder refused an interview request this week. But Aurèle Gervais, a CNSC spokesman, said allegations that Dr. Binder is too close to the industry “have been raised by serial intervenors many times in the past and dealt with publicly. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission stands by its safety record.”

A career civil servant with a PhD in physics, Dr. Binder was appointed by the previous Conservative government in 2008 when his predecessor, Linda Keen, refused to back down on safety standards. One of his first acts was to reinstate a fast-track process for approving reactors – and there have been many times since then when he has been a promoter of the industry.

  • In September, 2009, Dr. Binder attended one of several secret meetings of the Bruce County Council to discuss preparations for the upcoming approval hearings of a low and intermediate-level deep geologic repository (L&IL DGR) for nuclear waste that is being proposed for Kincardine, Ont., on the shores of Lake Huron. Dr. Binder, who heads one of the bodies that had to approve the project, is recorded in notes taken by Ontario Power Generation as having “said he hoped their next meeting with him would be at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the L&IL DGR.”
  • In 2009, when the environmental group Sierra Club Canada issued a warning against what it said were dangerous levels of radioactive tritium in drinking water, the CNSC issued a statement assuring the public that tritium releases from the nuclear power industry posed no risk to health. It went on to lambaste the Sierra Club for choosing “to ignore the important benefits of nuclear technology.”
  • In March, 2011, at a Commons committee, Dr. Binder took issue with critics who opposed shipping radioactive steam generators through the Great Lakes saying “this is not about safety – this is anti-nuclear.” He went on to say a number of environmental activists had made a career of “scaring the hell out of people with doomsday sentiments” and that he was fed up with the misinformation they were circulating.
  • In 2013, Ontario Provincial Police officers showed up at the doors of people who opposed a proposed nuclear waste dump on the shores of Lake Huron asking if they planned any demonstrations at a hearing for an environmental assessment of the project. A spokesman for Ontario Power Generation said the OPP’s “engagement” came at the request of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and local municipalities.
  • In 2015, Dr. Binder defended uranium mining in Quebec after Quebec’s Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement said it would be premature to develop the industry in that province. In a letter to Quebec Environment Minister David Heurtel, he said it “is very troubling to have the [provincial agency] present your government with conclusions and recommendations that lack scientific basis and rigour.”
  • In January, 2015, the CNSC sent out a mass e-mail to point out that international academics were asking environmental groups to sign a letter in support of nuclear energy for its role in combatting climate change. Environmental groups called it “as an egregious indication of bias on the part of the regulator in favour of nuclear energy production and its expansion, rather than acting as a neutral objective safety regulator.”

Gloria Galloway, OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail, Published Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016 7:47PM EDT
as posted at

Nuclear Waste in Northern Ontario – Nine Communities in Site Selection Process

On September 29, the Manitouwadge Nuclear Waste Community Liaison Committee held their monthly meeting at the Manitouwadge Council Chambers, About 20 people attended. The Committee’s roles is to help ensure residents’ concerns are addressed, provide input for information sessions to meet local needs in order to involve the entire community in learning about the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) and Canada’s plan for safely managing Canada`s used nuclear fuel over the long term.

Manitouwadge is one of nine communities/areas currently involved in the site selection process. The others include; White River, Hornepayne, Ignace, Elliot Lake, Blind River As well there are three communities in Southwestern Ontario. They include South Bruce, Central Huron and Huron-Kinloss. According to the NWMO, the earliest a site is likely to be built and operational is 2040. Although for planning purposes, the NWMO would like to be down to one community and area of study by the year 2023.

An update on NWMO engagement activities over the last few months was presented by John Fraser, NWMO Relationship Manager.

This was followed by a presentation on what a possible Centre of Expertise might involve. The presentation was given by DPRA consultant, Peter Homenuck who is working with the NWMO.

According to information on the NWMO website “A Centre of Expertise will be established at, or near, the site. Its initial purpose is to support the multi-year testing and assessment of the site with a focus on safety and community well-being.

The centre will be home to a technical and social research program, and a technology demonstration program, involving scientists and experts from a wide variety of disciplines. An engineering test facility will develop materials and equipment to be used in the repository. The centre will also house demonstration equipment that displays the entire packaging and container placement process. In later phases of the project, it will become a hub for knowledge-sharing across Canada and internationally.

The design and use of the centre will be developed collaboratively with those living in the area. It could, for example, be a focal point for the community to learn about the project. It could also become a destination that welcomes visitors from the region and beyond. Should the First Nation and Métis communities in the area desire, it could feature a learning area focused on how Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge is being applied to the project. Opportunities to work with the community to sustain and enhance the natural environment will also be explored.’
After the presentation from Peter Homenuck, the Indigenous leaders, Chief Wayne Sabourin from Pic Mobert and Chief Duncan Michano from Biigtigong Nishnaabeg, formerly Pic River First Nation each made a statement to the committee about the reasons they are against this project. They said that the nuclear waste in the ground will poison the earth. They said they were ready to do everything they can in order to bring the project to a stop. They mentioned that they would be ready to be arrested and go to jail in order to protect nature. Chief Sabourin told the committee and people in attendance that if their interest is was to help their local economies, this is not the best solution. Chief Michano told the audience about his concerns of the mess that their children and grandchildren will have to endure if ever there were problems with the underground nuclear waste storage. They also said they had made similar remarks at the monthly nuclear waste community committee meetings in Hornepayne and White River held during the same week.

Interviewed following the meeting, Patrick Dolcetti, NWMO Regional Communications Manager, said that “the NWMO is always available to meet and begin collaborating together on engagement with anyone. For this project to work in any potential siting area, it will require regional partnerships and that obviously will include Aboriginal and Metis organizations and communities. We respect all points of view and comments”.” Dolcetti added, the “NWMO are not here to convince people that this project is right for any one particular area.” Dolcetti says. “We encourage all those who are interested to come, engage, and learn together. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misunderstandings around this important national infrastructure project.

“With that in mind, certainly the long time lines before any potential site would be selected, can be seen as a positive factor. As it gives all potentially interested and impacted parties the advantage of time to collaborate before any potential decisions would be required.”

Dolcetti encourages people to visit the recently launched new NWMO website.

Lynn Cregheur, The Algoma News, As posted October 4, 2016 at