OPG appears to sidestep Canada’s request for more details
By Jim Bloch | For The Voice | The 40-acre Western Waste Management Facility site is the proposed future home of an underground nuclear waste dump. The site is hemmed in by four nuclear reactors at Bruce A and four at Bruce B, operated by Bruce Power.
Nuclear waste is handled by Ontario Power Generation’s Nuclear Waste Management Division.
Ontario Power Generation’s latest submission to the Canadian government about its proposed nuclear waste dump on the shores of Lake Huron continues to be evasive and overly broad, according to critics of the project.
In OPG’s Dec. 28, 2016, response to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the power company did not pinpoint specific alternative sites for the dump, as the agency requested. Instead, OPG chose two enormous geological formations comprising about 75 percent of the entire province: The crystalline rock of the Canadian Shield, which is about a billion years old, and the sedimentary rock formations of southern Ontario, which are 354 million to 543 million years old.
On May 26, the company did basically the same thing in answering the CEAA’s follow-up request for a more detailed consideration of alternate sites for the dump. The CEAA also requested further analysis of the cumulative effects that the dump could have on the environment, especially if a high level waste dump is built nearby, which OPG has proposed; and an updated list of OPG’s commitments to reduce “each identified adverse impact” of the deep geological repository on the environment.
Despite its 144 pages, OPG’s new report did not satisfy opponents.
“OPG’s failure to develop a ‘Plan B’ and its unwillingness to investigate actual alternate sites outside of the Great Lakes Basin has left it with no option but to continue to defend the indefensible,” said Beverly Fernandez, founder of Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump, in a press release.
Congressional delegation responds
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, of Michigan’s 12th District, and Rep. Dave Trott, of Michigan’s 11th District, wrote a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on June 7, urging him to enter the fray against the dump.
“We write to urge you to do everything in your power — through both diplomatic and legal channels — to protect our Great Lakes and to convince the Canadian government to require OPG to select an alternative site that will not place the health, safety, and economic security of Americans at risk,” said Dingell and Trott in the letter.
Thirty-two bipartisan Congressional representatives from the Great Lakes states co-signed the letter, including Paul Mitchell, the Republican representing the 10th District, covering Michigan’s Thumb — all of St. Clair, Huron, Lapeer and Sanilac counties and most of Macomb County. The only member of Michigan’s Congressional delegation who did not endorse the letter was Justin Amash, the Cascade Township Republican.
The lawmakers said that OPG had “doubled down” on the dump “for two inconvenient facts for the company: that they believe an alternative site would be more expensive and take longer to construct.”
In its report, OPG pegged the baseline cost of a Deep Geological Repository at the proposed site in Kincardine, Ontario, Canada, or the alternative sites in the Canadian Shield or in southern Ontario, Canada, at $2.4 billion. The company said that transporting low and intermediate nuclear waste from the province’s 20 reactors to a location in Southern Ontario would add $381 million to $493 million to cost of the project; transportation of waste to a location in the Canadian Shield would add $452 billion to $1.424 billion. Incidental costs would grow by $832 million in southern Ontario and $2.056 billion in the Canadian Shield. OPG labeled the additional transportation and incidental costs as “unacceptable.”
On April 13, Fred Kuntz, manager of corporate relations and communications for OPG in Bruce County, told Bruce County stakeholders that a shift to a new location could add 15 years to the construction timeline.
“We cannot let cost be the sole driving factor in this critical decision, as storing nuclear waste in the Great Lakes basin bears far too great a risk that would be fundamentally devastating to an entire region,” the Congressional representatives said in their letter to Tillerson.
The CEAA announced that it was in the process of reviewing the OPG submission to assess its completeness.
“As part of the next steps, the Agency will prepare a Draft Report on the additional information and the potential environmental assessment conditions, which will be required if the project proceeds,” said the CEAA in a statement on May 29. “A public comment period on the Draft Report and potential conditions will be announced at a later date.”
OPG’s proposal calls for excavating a repository 2,200 feet deep in a layer of Cobourg limestone that the company says has been stable for 4.5 million years.
The location of the proposed dump is slightly more than a half-mile inland from Lake Huron in the Kincardine, Ontario, Canada. The site is just over 100 miles uplake of Port Huron.
OPG wants to bury and abandon 200,000 cubic meters of low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste, some of which will give off dangerous radioactivity ten times longer than the Great Lakes have been in existence.
By Jim Bloch | For The Voice Jun 12, 2017