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 http://www.elliotlakestandard.ca/2016/10/26/community-liaison-committee-hosts-nuclear-regulator