Some supporters of OPG’s Lake Huron radioactive waste dump are having second thoughts

Councillor On The Fence Over Proposed DGR
Neil Menage having second thoughts over DGR for low & intermediate level nuclear waste.

Saugeen Shores | by John Divinski, Bayshore Broadcasting, January 10, 2018

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is still on record as supporting a Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) to store low and intermediate nuclear waste.

The subject came up at Monday’s (JAN 8) Saugeen Shores Committee of the Whole meeting as OPG’s vice-president of Nuclear Waste Management Lise Morton brought council up to date on what the company is doing.

But it was Councillor Neil Menage who threw a curve-ball into the conversation.

Menage, who has supported the DGR in the past, says he’s having second-thoughts about whether or not low and intermediate nuclear waste, needs to be stored in a planned repository at the company’s Western Waste Management Facility near Bruce Power.

He says he’d like to see OPG hold another Open House meeting to explain again why we need to spend over one-billion-dollars to have the low and intermediate waste go underground.

Morton, reacting to Menage, says “It’s important to have a repository for low and intermediate level waste to really protect the environment because these wastes do remain radioactive for many years to come. We maintain the DGR is the right solution for those wastes.”

She says though that they will take under advisement about possibly setting up future Open Houses, to explain the company’s thinking about a DGR.

The repository plans call for the wastes to be buried 680-metres below ground.

OPG continues to wait for approval to move ahead with construction of the DGR and that isn’t expected for at least a year.


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Rig carrying uranium strikes flatbed trailer

A transport carrying drums of uranium concentrate became lodged against a second rig in Montreal River on Highway 17 on Sunday morning.

A northbound flatbed trailer, hauling steel, lost traction on the Montreal River Hill at about 9:50 a.m. A southbound tractor-trailer, carrying uranium concentrate or yellow cake, tried to go around the jack-knifed flatbed, said Ministry of Environment spokesperson Gary Wheeler in an email.

“However the trucks became lodged against each other, causing a small puncture (30 centimetres) to the cargo box of the trailer carrying the uranium concentrate,” Wheeler told The Sault Star.

MOE’s Spills Action Centre was contacted shortly after noon.

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission advised MOE yellow cake is a very low risk material with low radioactivity. The uranium concentrate was headed to Cameco’s uranium refinery in Blind River, approximately 260 kilometres southeast of Montreal River.

Cameco dispatched its hazardous materials team to the site in Rix Township about 100 kilometres south of Wawa. The team found all drums were intact.

“There was no radioactive hazard,” said Wheeler. “The team repaired the trailer.”

MOE staff also went to the scene and confirmed there was no spill of uranium concentrate or fuel due to the collision.

No one was hurt.

Highway 17 was completely closed until about 8:45 p.m.

The collision was weather related, said Const. Levis Brousseau of Ontario Provincial Police.

By Brian Kelly, Sault Star, Monday, January 8, 2018 3:54:31 EST PM, as posted at

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Nuclear waste bunker decision not about ‘money or beads and trinkets’

TORONTO — Indigenous people in the shadow of one of the world’s largest nuclear reactors are adamant their values will underpin their decision on whether to approve a proposed multibillion-dollar storage bunker for radioactive waste — a process that could take at least another year to play out.

Armed with commitments from both the Canadian government and proponents of the Deep Geologic Repository to await their buy-in, the Saugeen Ojibway Nation say they will take their time to reach an informed opinion on a project already more than a decade in the planning.

“Our values and who we are as a people and our connection to the lands and the waters are in many ways more important than the technical aspects of this,” Randall Kahgee, a former chief and now lead adviser to the First Nations on nuclear issues, said in an interview.

“This is not just a simple project. This is a forever project. It requires our people to think beyond seven generations, which is typically how we plan and think about these things.”

The Ontario Power Generation project, currently estimated to cost $2.4 billion, would see a bunker built at the Bruce nuclear power plant near Kincardine, Ont., close to the Lake Huron shoreline. Hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of low and intermediate radioactive waste — now stored at the site above ground — would be buried 680 metres deep.

The Saugeen Ojibway Nation comprises about 5,000 members of the Saugeen First Nation and the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation, many of whom live elsewhere. They have long complained about being shut out of decisions related to the power plant.

“We were never part of shaping those decisions,” Kahgee said. “We certainly have not benefited in the same way that others have. It’s the kind of classic example we see historically, where our people are often left on the outside looking in on their own territory while others reap the benefits.”

The waste storage plan, pushed by OPG as perfectly safe but opposed by politicians and scores of communities in Canada and the United States as an eco disaster in the making, won tentative approval from an environmental review panel in May 2015. Since then, both the previous Conservative and current Liberal governments have repeatedly delayed making the politically fraught final decision.

Most recently, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna asked the giant utility in late August to come back yet again with more information — this time on how the project might affect area First Nations.

“OPG continues to be engaged in respectful dialogue with SON, as it has been since 2004, and is seeking further information on those effects as well as the timeline for the SON community process,” said Neal Kelly, with Ontario Power Generation. “Once OPG has that information, we will submit the updated analysis to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.”

Steps toward a consensus among affected First Nations are underway. Members turned out to a conference over four days in September and October that Kahgee dubbed “Nuclear 101.” The aim was to explain nuclear power basics: radiation, levels of waste toxicity, and the issues around how best to store the waste that remains dangerous for centuries. People, he said, have to understand enough to ask the right questions and hold a good dialogue.

“Your no has to be just as informed as your yes,” he said.

Various community sessions are being planned for 2018 but what’s critical, Kahgee said, is to come up with a robust consultation process that ultimately reflects the native voice.

“This is an historic moment in this country,” he said. “We are probably one of maybe one or two Indigenous communities in the world doing work on consent. It’s a tremendous burden, but it’s also a tremendous opportunity.”

Not lost on the Saugeen peoples in the ongoing discussion is the reality of the nearby power plant, a major employer in the area critical to Ontario’s electricity needs, and the hazardous waste stored on site for years.

“It’s not going away, it’s there, and if we take seriously our role as stewards of the land, implicit is the responsibility of stewardship to act,” Kahgee said. “These are complex issues that will take time for our people to address. If this was simply about money or beads and trinkets, that conversation would have happened long ago.”

© Copyright 2017 Thompson Citizen, COLIN PERKEL / THE CANADIAN PRESS, NOVEMBER 26, 2017 09:30 AM as posted at

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First Nations fight nuclear waste

The Bawating Water Protectors (BWT) were on the march at Queen’s Park on November 9 to tell Ontario Liberals and Ontario Power Generation what they can do with their nuclear power waste. And it does not include storing it near the waterways of the Great Lakes, crossing indigenous lands and potentially harming everyone in the vicinity.

BWT is a coalition of Anishinabek and Iroquois Caucus First Nations, residing all the way from the Sault Ste. Marie area down to southern Ontario.

Radioactive colonialism

The nuclear industry wants to bury nuclear reactor waste on or near First Nations territories. Several corporations, hired by the Harper government, want to dump two million cubic metres of radioactive waste, which belong to the federal government, beside Lake Ontario and the Ottawa River.

Meanwhile Ontario Liberals are cancelling funding of green energy programs, running the Pickering nuclear station well beyond its design life, and spending tens of billions of dollars to rebuild the geriatric Darlington and Bruce nuclear stations.

The proposed dumping of nuclear waste on and near First Nations was done, of course, without consulting these Nations. Ontario has 20 nuclear plants and the government leaves it to the nuclear industry to dispose of the toxic waste.

This is the latest in a long history of corporations and governments using Indigenous land and labour for mining radioactive materials (poisoning Navajo and Dene miners), testing atomic weapons and disposing of toxic waste—a process that Indigenous scholars Ward Churchill and Winona LaDuke described 30 years ago as “radioactive colonialism.”

Indigenous resistance

Following an opening to the rally by the Smoke Trail Singers, a youth from the Anishinabek and Iroquois Caucus First Nations, acting as MC, described the damage to lands, animals and water caused by the Kincardine reactor, affecting the waters along Lake Huron and nearby waterways. “We need to speak for the water and for the seven generations ahead of us. As young people we understand our responsibilities. We demand the phase out of nuclear power and instead use renewable powers, or else we will be doing an injustice to future generations.”

Candace Day, Serpent River First Nation said “We need to hold the government accountable and think of how to live in harmony with nature. The indigenous worldview is critical. There is no word for ‘owning’ the earth. We wouldn’t poison our mother and Earth is our mother. The Canadian government is disgusting.”

Other speakers included Chief Don Maracle , Angela Bischoff (Ontario Clean Air Alliance), scientist Dr. Gordon Edwards, Katie an Anishinabek youth, Grand Chief Patrick Madahbee, and Deputy Chief Glen Hare.

Over 100 indigenous people and settler allies attended the rally. The indigenous youth tried to present a recreation of a barrel of toxic waste to Premier Wynne. When turned away by Queen’s Park security and Toronto police, the youth led the rest of the protesters to the nearby office building of Ontario Power Generation for a few more high-energy speeches of protest and a wonderful round dance.

For more information visit Bawating Water Protectors

November 20, 2017

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Drilling for a potential nuclear waste repository near Ignace

Drilling for core samples will continue for three months

The agency responsible for selecting a preferred site for storing Canada’s used nuclear fuel has started test drilling in the Ignace area.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization is conducting borehole drilling and core sample testing in a rock formation known as the Revell Batholith, south of Highway 17 and about 35 kilometres west of Ignace.

The worksite is located between Ignace and the Wabigoon Lake Ojibway First Nation.

In a news release, the NWMO said the initial study of core samples is part of the evaluation of the geology around potential nuclear waste repositories.

Work at this location is expected to continue for at least three months.

“This first borehole marks an important milestone in Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel,” said Mahrez Ben Belfadhel, an NWMO vice-president.

“Reaching this level of study is the result of several years of hard work by everyone involved and extensive collaboration with residents in the area, including First Nation and Metis communities,” he said.

Once drilling and testing is complete, geoscience, environmental, engineering and repository safety specialists will take another year to review the data before sharing their findings.

Various studies are also underway near six other Ontario communities including Manitouwadge and Hornepayne.

The NWMO hopes to identify a preferred site by 2023, but says the host community must be “informed and willing.”

As posted 9 October 2017 by: Staff at, video produced by the NWMO at

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Low-level waste only for Canadian repository (sic)

02 November 2017 | World Nuclear News

Only low-level radioactive waste will be disposed of in the planned Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF) at Chalk River, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) has announced. CNL made the decision not to include intermediate-level waste after reviewing comments and concerns expressed during a public comment period on the facility’s draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) completed its technical assessment of the draft EIS for the facility in August. A consolidated table of federal comments, including the CNSC’s assessment and those of other federal authorities participating in the review, was submitted back to CNL for action. This table included a number of comments and concerns related to the inclusion of intermediate-level waste in the facility, the CNSC said. Similar comments were also raised in submissions received during the public comment period on the EIS, it added.

CNL must address all federal and public comments received on the proposal before submitting its final EIS.
The NSDF has previously been described by CNL as a crucial step in the transformation of the Chalk River Laboratories site into a centre for world class science and technology innovation following the closure of the National Research Universal reactor next year after 60 years of operations. Revitalisation of the Chalk River Laboratories will involve the decommissioning of more than 100 buildings that have reached the end of their useful lives. CNL earlier this year published a long-term strategy for the Ontario site which includes infrastructure investments of more than CAD1.2 billion ($873 million) over 10 years for the development of a new small modular reactor at the site by 2026.

The facility, an engineered containment mound able to hold 1 million cubic metres of waste, was initially intended to safely dispose of solid, low-level radioactive waste and a small amount of intermediate-level waste from Chalk River, including waste from demolition activities and operational waste currently in interim storage. It would also contain small quantities of waste from decommissioning projects at other governmental sites and from Canadian hospitals, universities and industrial clients.

CNL announced that it had “re-evaluated” its proposal for the NSDF in a Community Information Bulletin dated 27 October, in which it said waste intended for disposal in the facility will meet International Atomic Energy Agency guidelines for low-level radioactive waste.

“Intermediate level waste will continue to be managed in interim storage at Chalk River Laboratories until a long-term disposal solution for this category of radioactive waste has been developed and approved,” it said.
The CNSC today said the environmental assessment process will continue, taking into account CNL’s revised proposal. The regulator said it is awaiting documentation from CNL that details the revised waste inventory being proposed. This, along with CNL’s responses to all federal, provincial and public comments, will be considered as part of the CNSC’s ongoing environmental assessment review of the proposed project, it said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

As posted at

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What to do with nuclear waste? The question dividing France

Bure, France | On 15 August, an anti-nuclear campaigner almost lost his foot during a demonstration in Bure, in the east of France. One month later, on 20 September, police conducted several raids on premises housing activists in the village, including the emblematic “Maison de la résistance”, (House of Resistance), the nerve centre of the fight against the nuclear dump.

The small village of Bure, in the Meuse department, has crystallised the anti-nuclear campaign in France in recent months. In 1998, it was selected as the site for an Industrial Geological Storage Centre (Cigéo), where the plan is to progressively bury 85,000 cubic metres of highly radioactive long-lived waste in a bed of clay, 500 metres below ground, by means of operations expected to last 150 years.

The ANDRA (National Agency for Radioactive Waste Management), which is managing the project, is expected to apply to the IRSN (French Institute for Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety) for authorisation to build in 2019. Its application has been deferred on several occasions due to legal and technical setbacks, which could explain the growing hostility towards the anti-Cigéo activists.

In an open letter, the residents of Bure and the surrounding area recently denounced the “systematic strategy of tension and asphyxiation” launched by the state several months ago, a strategy “aimed at wearing us down and isolating us, like hunted beasts”.

The closer the project comes to the completion phase, the stronger the opposition, and the more the noose of repression is tightened around the anti-nuclear campaigners.

A far from satisfactory solution

The 54 nuclear reactors in France, the second largest producer of nuclear energy in the world, behind the United States, produce 12,000 to 15,000 cubic metres of radioactive waste every year. This includes both low level short-lived radioactive waste and much more toxic long-lived waste.

“The uranium industry, presented as a “virtuous cycle” by the nuclear lobby, actually conceals a chain of dirty, polluting and unmanageable fuel, from the mine to the waste disposal phase,” denounces the French anti-nuclear network Sortir du Nucléaire.

This agency was given the task, in 1979, of answering the insoluble question of how to manage this waste, which can be destroyed by no known chemical or mechanical means, and is extremely toxic.

“We have the technical capacity to store this waste in such a way that it is harmful neither to man nor to the environment, nor the object of malicious acts,” ensures Matthieu Denis-Vienot. “Our priority is therefore focused on confining this waste, because we want to act responsibly and not to leave this burden with future generations.”

This option, although it has been written into French law since 1991 and is in line with the advice of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is far from satisfactory, according to some researchers.

“Whether the waste is thrown into the sea or buried in the ground, the principle behind it is the same: get rid of it, so we can forget about it, because we don’t know what to do with it,” argues Jean-Marie Brom, a physicist and researcher with the CNRS (National Centre for Scientific Research). “What I can tell you as a scientist, is that burying it is the only solution, but it is far from being a good one.”

At ANDRA, the response to this is: “It’s all well and good to say it’s a heresy, but now that it’s there, what can we do about it?”

And that is the final argument put forward to the anti-Cigéo movement by ANDRA. The waste to be buried in Bure is all that generated by 43 years of nuclear energy production.

For the time being, it is being kept at the storage and reprocessing plant in La Hague, in the Manche department of France, where it is vitrified and placed in containers. It is a valid precaution, given that although this waste only represents four per cent of the total, it accounts for 99 per cent of the radioactivity emitted. Moreover, it is the waste with the longest lifespan. It takes 24,440 years for plutonium, for example, to lose half of its radioactivity.

The other 96 per cent of the waste, which accounts for one per cent of radioactivity, is stored on the surface, in the main, at two other storage centres, a few dozen kilometres from Bure.

Anti-nuclear campaigners are outraged by the situation. “It is far too dangerous. Firstly, it means that for 100 years, two radioactive convoys will cross France every day to come to Bure. And secondly, the safety of the site cannot be guaranteed when such long lifespans are involved. What will happen if, one day, these 200,000 “parcels” resurface, whilst they are still radioactive?” asks Jean-Marc Fleury, president of Eodra, a group of elected officials from the Grand Est region who are opposed to the Cigéo project.

The response from ANDRA is that geologists have conducted research and have established that the clay subsoil in the Meuse department of France is a stable geological formation over time.

The IRSN (French Institute for Radiological Protection and Reactor Safety), in its report from July, pointed to a number of risks, such as fire, and whilst acknowledging that the project had reached “satisfactory technical maturity”, it concluded that ANDRA’s current waste disposal concept “did not provide sufficient safety guarantees”.

The anti-nuclear campaigners highlight the example of the United States’ WIPP facility, in New Mexico, where a fire led to the release of radioactive gas, or that of Asse, in Lower Saxony, Germany, where 126,000 barrels of radioactive waste have to be evacuated from an old salt mine being eroded by seepage.

All these countries, confronted with the same problem, are far from having found long-term solutions, and face the same criticisms from the anti-nuclear movement.

Future of nuclear industry at issue

For those opposed to the Cigéo project, it is an ethical issue. “Since we know that collective memory is relatively short, it is possible that in a thousand years, it might be forgotten that it there is radioactive waste in Bure and people will go through these areas, with all the risks that entails,” explains researcher Jean-Marie Brom. “How can we warn future generations that there is extremely dangerous waste here?”

The waste resulting from this decommissioning will have to be stored somewhere.

Beyond the unresolvable waste issue, the fight against the Cigéo project is part of a wider case against the nuclear industry in general. In a context where Germany has announced plans to close all of its nuclear power plants by 2022 and where Italy no longer has nuclear power, France stands out as an exception in the eyes of the activists.

“What is at stake in Bure, is the future of nuclear power,” says Jean-Marc Fleury. “If the Cigéo is not built here, the nuclear industry will come to an end in the next ten years, because a project like this could never be implemented anywhere else, everyone is conscious of that. That’s why we are fighting: if we manage to stop it, it will mean the end of the industry. Regardless of how you look at it, nuclear power is an industry with no future.”

Matthieu Denis-Viennot of ANDRA is not convinced by this line of reasoning. “The Cigéo has to be left out of the debate for or against nuclear power. We may not have chosen to launch the nuclear industry in France, but the fact is that, today, electricity comes mainly from this resource. Given the staggering lifespan of this radioactive waste, we can always question whether such or such a decision is legitimate, but that should not, nevertheless, reinforce indecision.”

So far, Nicolas Hulot, France’s new minister for the ecological transition, has not taken a stand.

The anti-Cigéo groups have, however, repeatedly reminded him of the positions he has taken in the past, including this photo from October 2016 of him posing, and smiling, with a placard against the Cigéo project.

But it seems that the new minister, who has taken off his environmental activist’s hat, has a short memory and is in no hurry to stop the project.

This story has been translated from French.
By Julia Beurq
17 October 2017
As posted at

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