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 nwmo.ca. “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. nwmo.ca

Lynn Cregheur, The Algoma News, As posted October 4, 2016 at http://www.thealgomanews.ca/nuclear-waste-in-northern-ontario-nine-communities-in-site-selection-process?id=868