Archive for category Letters to the Editor

Cumbria rejects proposed underground storage for Nuclear Waste (February 2013)

Opinion Letters

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 2:31:12 EST PM

Editor:

On Jan. 30, headlines in United Kingdom read, “County of Cumbria rejects, underground nuclear storage dump.” But, in our community you won’t hear about this from NWMO or any of the champions of the DGR.

Cumbria County, a rural area with six or seven districts, is similar to Bruce County, with municipalities like Saugeen Shores, Huron Kinloss, and others.

Similarly, Cumbria hosts a large nuclear facility employing 10,000 people. This facility in a coastal community opposite the Isle of Man is known as the “nuclear coast.”

Like Saugeen Shores, Cumbria is a major tourist destination, with its Lake District National Park; and 36,000 people dependent on tourism for employment. They have unique and world-renowned landscapes which needs to be cherished and protected, not unlike the pristine beaches and world-renowned sunsets in our special community.

In recent years, a proposed underground nuclear storage dump for their nation’s spent nuclear fuel has brought controversy and divisiveness, which sounds like an echo of our experience in Saugeen Shores.

On one side, strong support from unions, their families and the labour party who championed an opportunity to bring 1,000 new jobs with this $20 billion dollar project. Yes, and like here, there was strong opposition from local groups, and environmentalists, including the Lake District National Park authority.

Unfortunately that is where the similarities end.

Unlike Saugeen Shores there was significant apprehension and dialogue about the problems and risks associated with bringing all of their nation’s spent nuclear fuel to a seaside community.

Specifics included concerns about the stigma effect of a nuclear waste dump. Conservative leader Eddie Martin stated “While Sellafield (the nuclear site) and the Lake District have co-existed side by side successfully for decades, we fear that if the area becomes known in the national conscience as a place where nuclear waste is stored underground, the Lake District’s reputation may not be so resilient.” He warned of radioactivity risks and the huge potential blight on tourism, Cumbria’s biggest earner.

Their councils listened to concerns of professor Stuart Haszeldine, a geologist from the University of Edinburgh, who said, “This has been a very short sighted policy, run by driving local councils into volunteering for the wrong reasons: financial inducements. A lot of information is being suppressed in the process to entice councils into accepting technically flawed sites.”

In the end it appears the seven to three county council rejection of the nuclear dump was a result of numerous concerns, including the safety of burying nuclear waste in unproven geology.

Ed Martin is quoted, “Cumbria is not the best place geologically in the United Kingdom — the government’s efforts need to be focused on disposing of waste underground in the safest place, not the easiest.”

Years of research has shown granite rock in Canada’s north as the safest place for underground storage; yet the local champions of the DGR want to bring all of Canada’s nuclear waste to Saugeen Shores, because its easier and more cost effective for OPG. 

Ken Robertson
President
Southampton
Residents Association 

Read online

Leave a comment

Public safety or cost savings? DGR Design Questions (January 2013)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 11:12:55 EST AM

Editor:

I feel that the Nuclear Waste Management Organization has been reluctant in exposing some of the dangers associated with their design for their proposed deep geological repository. After reading many articles from the NWMO website, in an effort to learn more and become informed, some alarming facts have come to light that I will briefly describe.

Since 2008 the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has commissioned an  Independent Technical Review Group (ITRG)  consisting of nuclear experts from Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Canada. The role of the ITRG is to respond to the NWMO’s technical program and make recommendations for improvement and change.

Unfortunately, since 2008, the ITRG reports have been buried deep in the NWMO’s website along with documents about risks and dangers involving a DGR.

The current NWMO DGR design includes an underground cavern with an area of 930 acres at a depth of 500 metres below the surface.  The NWMO plan has always been to create a major shaft using a hoist system to bring people, tonnes of explosives, massive mining machinery and the  hundreds of thousands of tonnes of highly radioactive waste to cavern depth as well as to bring  excavated rock from the cavern to the surface.  And up to one hundred years after burial of radioactive used fuel containers, NWMO would rely on the hoist system to raise the dangerous used fuel for possible repackaging or reprocessing.

In its 2011 report, the Independent Technical Review Group stated that “a payload of 75 metric tons would be required to be lowered down the shaft.  There is no precedent for handling a payload of this magnitude in a vertical shaft.”

They go on to say that radiological safety could be compromised in the event of a dropped container for which “the programme risk is considerable given the likely requirements for clean-up of dispersed materials and retrieval of a damaged container and its contents. Therefore very high reliability of handling at least 10,000 heavy payloads in a vertical shaft would have to be ensured, which may be beyond conventional mining practice.”

Given the concerns of these highly recognized experts, NWMO should not be exposing citizens of our town to decades of known health and safety risks.

“The ITRG further recommends that NWMO should give careful consideration to the option of using an inclined ramp to transfer used fuel to the repository horizon…” in order to avoid a dropped load accident.

While these recommendations are in line with the standard ramp design planned for the Sweden and Finland DGR’s, it would substantially increase the area  of land required to carry out the project and greatly increase the construction and operational cost of a DGR.

Because of the above information,  I believe that the NWMO and possibly our town council have some questions to answer before further agreements can be made between the town and NWMO.

Would an inclined ramp design through several layers of sedimentary rock be sufficiently stable or would it risk a collapse during and post construction?

Would an inclined ramp system increase the surface water flow into the DGR jeopardizing the presumably dry limestone at the repository level during and post-construction?

Will NWMO follow the ITRG recommendation and change its design before asking municipalities to continue with there siting process? As of yet, they have not done so.

Should smaller communities such as Saugeen Shores be eliminated from the siting process based on the additional land requirements for an inclined ramp system?

Will the Mayor and town council members hold NWMO accountable for yet another failure to be open and honest with the citizens of this town?

When will NWMO be honest, transparent and clear when communicating with all communities about the risks and costs involved with their proposed DGR project?


Patrick Gibbons
Saugeen Shores  

Read story

Leave a comment

Things to consider in step 3 (December 2012)

Friday, December 28, 2012 11:33:14 EST AM 

Shoreline Beacon

Editor: 


It is critically important that Saugeen Shores establish a fair open and democratic process in order to make an informed decision about whether it is willing or unwilling to host a Deep Geological Repository.

I am one of the many people who are strongly opposed to the location of a Deep Geological Repository (DGR) in Saugeen Shores or anywhere else near the Great Lakes. I remain un-convinced that a DGR anywhere is the best solution to the growing problem of safely storing Canada’s nuclear waste but even if a DGR is the answer, it would be a terrible mistake to locate such a massive underground nuclear waste storage structure in the vicinity of the world’s largest supply of fresh water.

So, I am happy to be part of the growing movement opposed to the selection of Saugeen Shores as the DGR site.

However, the purpose of my letter today is not to argue about the pros and cons of theDGR. Rather, I want to make a plea for conducting the study and debate of this issue, likely the most important ever to face our community, in a fair, open and democratic manner that reflects the values and traditions of our community. If we fail to do so, Saugeen Shores is likely to come out of the DGR process, whatever the final decision, as an uninformed and bitterly divided community, and to suffer for it in the long run.

When I came to Southampton last summer, I felt a bit like I had just entered a war zone: on one side were the pro-DGR forces and on the other side were the many, myself included, who opposed DGR.  The two sides fired letters at each other through the pages of the local paper but otherwise never came together as friends and neighbours to study and debate the most important issue ever to face the people of Saugeen Shores. When those opposed to the DGR organized a public meeting, nobody from the other side participated or spoke up. Only one member of council even bothered to attend. Throughout the summer, the mayor and councillors behaved as if they were under orders to say nothing other than repeat over and over again that they were just interested in learning more.

When people put up lawn signs opposing the DGR, some of the signs disappeared in the night, as if we lived in a different kind of country. I’m not sure what is going on here but clearly it is not good for democracy or the health of the community.

Like it or not, Saugeen Shores has now entered step 3 of the DGR site selection process, making it critically important to establish a fair, open and democratic process for studying and deciding the DGR issue.  I see the following as three basic requirements: confidence building measures, to develop trust, learning and civility in handling this highly complex and contentious issue on which people of good will disagree.

1. Saugeen Shores should establish its own local learning and decision-making process independent of NWMO. Whether one trusts the NWMO or regards it with suspicion, I think we can all agree it is not a neutral party to the debate. It is an organization created by and representing the nuclear operators and therefore has a large stake in finding a willing community to serve as a DGR site. It follows that NWMO information and activities largely favor the pro-DGR position when what is now needed in Saugeen Shores (and the other communities being considered as the DGR site) is a fair, balanced and thorough examination of all sides of the issue.

Accordingly, Saugeen Shores should establish its own strong local learning and decision making process independent of NWMO. The process should draw upon a wide range of resources, including but not limited to NWMO, to ensure that all sides of the issue are fairly and carefully considered.

2.  Council should adopt a resolution committing the municipality to respect recognized democratic standards and procedures in the DGR discussion and decision making. The 2005 Kincardine Poll regarding the DGR for low and intermediate waste fell far short of recognized democratic standards and procedures in its design and execution. It left the clear impression that the main purpose of the poll was not to determine the wishes of the community but rather to ratify the DGR hosting agreement already signed by Kincardine Municipality and OPG several months earlier. It did nothing to reassure us that democratic means will be used to determine whether Saugeen Shores is a willing or unwilling community.

To ensure that nothing like the Kincardine poll will happen here, Saugeen Shores council should adopt a resolution committing the municipality to respect recognized democratic standards and procedures in determining the wishes of the community.

At a minimum, such a resolution would include the following commitments: (i) all residents, both year round and seasonal, will be treated in a fair and equitable manner when it comes to participation in the study and decision making around the DGR; (ii) council will operate in a transparent and open fashion when it comes to the DGR and respond positively and promptly to citizens’ requests for information, including discussions with NWMO; (iii) council will not agree to or put in place any kind of “gag order” that would restrict the ability of councillors to express their views on the DGR or participate in community study and debate of the issues; (iv) a secret ballot in a referendum will be the means to determine whether the people of Saugeen Shores support or oppose a DGR in the municipality.  A secret ballot will ensure that all residents feel comfortable in exercising their democratic preferences on this important question.

3. All of us should act as  engaged, responsible and civil democratic citizens. It is important that the mayor and council show leadership and set a good example in establishing a fair open and democratic the DGR process. Of equal importance, all of us should take seriously our responsibilities as democratic citizens. That means taking the time and trouble to inform ourselves on all sides of the issue. It means sitting down with our friends and neighbours to discuss the DGR, regardless of where we stand on the issue, and it means participating in public information meetings whether they are organized by “our side” or “the other side.”

In discussing the issue of the DGR so far, Saugeen Shores has behaved more like two warring camps than a community of citizens trying to arrive at the best decision on a hugely important issue. As someone born and raised in Bruce County who has come to Southampton for the past 70 years, I remain hopeful that our community will rise to the challenge of learning together and making well informed decisions despite the deep divisions over the DGR.

The stakes are very high. If we fail we will end up with an uninformed and bitterly divided community.

Robert Miller
Director, Southampton
Residents Association 

 

Read story

Leave a comment

Environmental archaeologist has a lot of questions about DGR site in Bruce County (November 2012)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 9:20:02 EST AM


Dear Editor,

In recent months, several municipal and town councils in Bruce County – the Town of South Bruce, the Town of Saugeen Shores, the Municipality of Arran-Elderslie, the Township of Huron-Kinloss and the Municipality of Brockton – have expressed an interest in learning more about the so-called “nuclear waste dump” that might be constructed in Canada. In effect, councils are willing to consider having the “dump” built in Bruce County. It would be built by Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), a private corporation run by the producers of nuclear energy in Canada.

What I refer to as a nuclear dump is technically known as a high-level, deep geological repository (HL-DGR). In essence, it is a permanent disposal facility, deep underground, for exhausted but still highly radioactive fuel rods from nuclear reactors. Another underground repository, this one for low- and medium-level waste (LM-DGR), is in the planning stage at the Bruce generating station (and currently under environmental assessment by the federal government). This repository would be for the disposal of such things as protective clothing, tools, reactor components and resins and filters used to clean reactor water circuits, some of these items dangerously radioactive. Both repositories raise important issues that the public should be giving some serious thought about.

I”m writing from Southampton in Saugeen Shores to tell you why I am opposed to a HL-DGR in Bruce County. I hasten to point out that I’m not anti-nuclear and I believe that Ontario Power Generation, the operator of the Bruce generating station, contributes much to the regional economy and has generously supported community programs and events and charities. Nevertheless, I’m strongly opposed to the building of a HL-DGR in Bruce County. Many of my arguments apply also to the low- and medium-level repository so when I mention one, think both.


Because the issues surrounding a nuclear waste dump are so complex, and there are so many reasons for opposing a dump in Bruce County, I will have to discuss them in a 5-part letter. Part 1 begins with the most general, and obvious, criticism …

Inappropriate location

For me, the most important reason for opposing a high-level DGR in Bruce County is because it is simply the wrong place. Bruce County is in the midst of an agricultural and recreation/tourist region, a completely inappropriate location to dispose of exhausted fuel rods. Indeed, Huron County to the south advertises itself as the “West Coast of Ontario”, alluding perhaps to California and British Columbia and implying the county may be as appealing to tourism and retirement as the west coast of North America. I think this analogy could easily be extended to Bruce County.

A high-level DGR for exhausted fuel rods from nuclear reactors in an agricultural and recreation/tourist region could create a stigma in the public mind, negatively affecting the county’s economy and also land values.

The economic impact of a stigma associated with a nuclear waste facility was examined by the State of Nevada, which was concerned about what the proposed Yucca Mountain HL-DGR might do to its economy, based heavily on tourism and the casino industry. An independent socioeconomic study commissioned by the state predicted a serious loss of revenue and the state went to court to force the U.S. federal government to cancel plans for the facility. The federal government subsequently terminated funding of the project in 2009 for its own economic and political reasons.

In Bruce County, a potential reduction in land values because of proximity to a nuclear waste repository has already been acknowledged by Ontario Power Generation (OPG) in an agreement with the Municipality of Kincardine and surrounding municipalities for the low- and medium-level waste facility (LM-DGR) being planned at the Bruce generating station. Compensation to landowners for demonstrated loss of market value because of proximity to the LM-DGR is discussed Section 7 of the hosting agreement between OPG, Kincardine and neighboring municipalities (dated October, 2004). A drop in land values is also likely to occur should a repository for exhausted fuel rods be built in Bruce County. In the view of some realtors, the controversy has already affected the resale and rental markets.

One must ask: would a high-level nuclear waste dump in Bruce County affect the selling price of farm products, discourage new industries from re-locating here, deter people from vacationing or retiring in the region … or even drive people away?

Lots to think about.

In Part 2 of my five-part letter explaining why I oppose a HL-DGR in Bruce County I will discuss other economic issues and potential risks to the environment and human health.

Peter L. Storck (PhD, environmental archaeology)

Southampton

Read story

, , ,

Leave a comment

Letter: What “unique and unforeseeable” causes will happen? (October 2012)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 12:50:07 EDT PM


Editor:

NWMO had an open house at the Plex in Port Elgin regarding the underground nuciear waste dump, also known as the Deep Geological Reserve, and I was there.

Once again their presentation was so perfect, right down to even allowing our local SOS No Nuke Dump booth to be there. Just what more could you ask for?

I took the guided tour and the hosts were once again trying to work their magic. A video of a large train, the front of which was a “coffin” holding the waste nuclear fuel, slams into a barrier. No damage was done to the “coffin”, but the train and barrier looked a little worse for wear. Good thing we’re not burying them. The charts and pictures reminded me of someone trying to show off their holiday pictures along with a perfect story of that holiday. Did you know we, the people of Canada, are responsible for the creation of this underground nuke dump site? Yes, it’s entirely our fault. We told our Government to inhume the stuff. By the way, there is no plan “B” to get rid of it. Why?

With what is referred to as “Incidences”, for examples, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima (and there are hundreds more) which have fried to death thousands of people like you and your children, are being explained away by the nuclear industry as “Unique and Unforeseeable causes”. Something just isn’t right here, people.

Just what “Unique and Unforeseeable causes”, are going to happen to the lucky winner of this underground site?

Charley Urbanek
Port Elgin

Read Letter online

, ,

Leave a comment

Letter: What I learned at the open house – Saugeen Shores (October 2012)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 10:38:29 EDT AM

I spent 4 hours asking questions at the NWMO open houses.

The NWMO cannot tell me how many radioactive nuclear fuel bundles will be put in the DGR. In the five months I have been studying this, the NWMO has indicated 2 million, or 4.6 or 7.2 million fuel bundles. The six NWMO experts around the table were unable to give me a number. That is because of a possible new reactor at Darlington, they said. It could be 2 million, could be 4.6 million; could be more; this is up to the host community to negotiate. How does that work? I understood there was only one DGR for high level nuclear spent fuel; if we negotiate 2 million, where would the rest go? They didn’t have an answer. How is it that between six NWMO experts no one can tell me how many radioactive fuel bundles the DGR will need to hold? I asked how large the DGR would need to be, to accommodate these various numbers. Again, no answer. The NWMO is building the DGR for high level nuclear spent fuel, they have been studying this for 10 years, and they do not have concrete answers to these simple questions? Something is wrong here.

I asked the NWMO geologists about the limestone this DGR would be drilled and blasted into, in Saugeen Shores. They told me limestone has been studied for 10 years, and research and testing is still ongoing. Can they be certain that this limestone and the barriers in the DGR will hold this lethal waste safely for 100,000 years? No, they cannot say this with certainty. But they are not concerned. They are still doing research and testing with governments and professors across the world. “Adaptive Phase Management,” they say. This gives me great concern. The rock is safe and the containers and barriers will hold this lethal waste for 100,000 years, but they are still researching and testing this “fact.” Why?

The NWMO doesn’t answer difficult questions. They talk around them. They use the term “Adaptive Phase Management”; this means their answers are constantly changing. I now know what Adaptive Phase Management is: a slippery shield behind which the NWMO hides. It is like nailing jelly to the wall. This is very concerning; we are talking about the most dangerous thing humans have ever produced, and that it must stay completely isolated for 100,000 years. This DGR must protect us, and the 40 million people who drink the water from the Great Lakes from leaking radioactivity. The NWMO cannot say with certainty that it will.

A DGR for high level nuclear spent fuel has never been built anywhere in the world. The US cancelled their Yucca Mountain DGR for nuclear spent fuel, after spending $10 – 20 billion on it. The NWMO is trying to pull the wool over our eyes. Is Saugeen Shores willing to be the DGR experiment? At what risk? Our lives, and those of 40 million people?

Beverly Fernandez
Southampton

, , ,

Leave a comment

Letter: DGR: three lethal consequences to date? – Saugeen Shores (October 2012)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 10:02:19 EDT AM

Editor:

Has the DGR already produced three lethal consequences?

1) While the NWMO gets busy with a Saugeen Shores locally focused information delivery initiative, what are the people in London, Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph, and Toronto thinking? Even if we convince each other that the DGR is acceptable we will still suffer fatal effects caused by a catastrophic reduction in retirement and resort property values. Ask a real estate agent. Are we already on the way? Now ask the NWMO; what will you do to calm fears and educate the millions we are counting on to retire and vacation here?

2) When so many residents oppose the DGR, yet won’t even pick up a pen and write a letter or attend a meeting can we really blame council for concluding that resistance is very low? Every resident against the DGR who does nothing to oppose the DGR is asking council to proceed to Phase 3 with their blessing. Make no mistake about it. Ask yourself; if I have done nothing to oppose the DGR can I blame council for counting me as a supporter for the DGR? No. Council must conclude you are ok with it all.

3) It is a shame that this issue has strained relationships. I have had very pleasant and productive debates with folks who hold an opposing view to mine. Why not? Opposition or support for the DGR is a matter of perspective. In life, we remain friends with political differences, religious differences, parenting and relationship differences and even Justin Bieber – fan or not – challenges. That’s huge, right?

I would ask readers to ponder each of these points very carefully. (Ok, maybe not the Bieber thing.) We rarely face challenges as momentous as this one. Let�s ask ourselves individually: How have we contributed to this issue and what have we produced for the future of our community?

Doing “nothing” just might produce “something” you will regret forever. Council is facing Phase 3 right now. What are you going to about that right now?

Bob Lauer
Southampton

Read story

, , ,

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: