Township of the North Shore “resolves” to “invite” Serpent River First Nation in NWMO project (December 2012)

In its meeting of  December 12th, 2012 the Township of the North Shore “RESOLVED THAT Council invite the Township’s immediate neighbouring community of the  Serpent River First Nation to engage in a conversation regarding the Nuclear Waste Management Organization project. “

Minutes of Regular Meeting 
December 12, 2012 

Nuclear waste meetings move to Prince Albert (February 2013)

The debate over whether Saskatchewan should store nuclear waste moves to Prince Albert on Friday.

Saskatchewan is a world leader in the production of uranium, but doesn’t have any nuclear power plants or store nuclear waste.

However, the industry is looking for a region to store power plant waste deep underground and some communities in the province have expressed some interest.

CBC News – Posted: Feb 22, 2013 11:12 AM CST

 The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nation has been given $1 million by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization to hold a series of sessions about the concept in order to gauge First Nations interest. On Thursday, Saskatoon was the venue.

The meetings were criticized by Owen Swiderski, deputy leader of the Saskatchewan Green Party, who says the FSIN appears to be one side of the issue.

“Honestly, to me it seems like they’re promoting a nuclear waste dump in Saskatchewan,” he said. “They’re saying the money will help them, but the money and jobs is not worth the destruction to the environment.”

Protesters are expected at today’s meeting in Prince Albert.

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Long-term nuclear waste repository ‘not worth it’: FSIN vice chief (February 2013)

Aboriginal leaders and community members met with representatives from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) for a session Friday at the Prince Albert Inn to learn more about a plan to potentially store nuclear waste in northern Saskatchewan.

Published on February 22, 2013 – Prince Albert Herald

Sessions were held in Saskatoon and Regina earlier this week to discuss the same topic. The NWMO provided the FSIN with $1 million over three years to fund the nuclear waste sessions.

While Friday’s session was open to First Nations people but closed to the media, participants spoke with the Daily Herald during a break in the day’s agenda.

Bobby Cameron, vice chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN), said the purpose of the meetings has always been the same.

“That’s to inform and educate our First Nations people on nuclear waste management, the storage and transportation,” he said. “We have nothing to hide. We invite our First Nation folks to come out and raise their concerns.”

Twenty-one communities in Saskatchewan and Ontario have expressed interest in accepting the NWMO’s plan to build a nuclear waste repository, with those in Saskatchewan currently in the first phase of step three — an 18-month to two-year process.

Cameron clarified that there are far more communities in Ontario that are interested, with only three out of the 21 being in Saskatchewan.

“As I said in my opening comments this morning, there are far more communities interested in Ontario than there are in Saskatchewan. It’s not set in stone that waste is going to be stored here in Saskatchewan,” Cameron added.

The NWMO is in the midst of searching for a site to store millions of used nuclear fuel bundles, which are currently being stored on an interim basis at various facilities around the country.

While Pinehouse, Creighton and English River First Nation are being considered, there has been opposition shown toward the proposal by residents of those communities.

Citing environmental concerns, Cameron said he is aware of the opposition that exists.

“To tell you the truth, I represent 74 communities, and the consistent message out there is the majority of them don’t agree with nuclear waste management and the safety of it — and I speak on behalf of them,” he said.

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Bruce Power’s Hawthorne critical of NWMO project (February 2013)

Bruce Power president and chief executive officer Duncan Hawthorne addressed an audience during a community open house at the Bruce Power Visitors’ Centre on Feb. 12, 2013. Hawthorne, who reported on a banner year for Bruce Power, offered criticism of the National Waste Management Organization’s handling of the adaptive phased management project for used nuclear fuel.

By Sarah Sutter, Kincardine News

Wednesday, February 13, 20132:55:36 EST PM

Bruce Power president and chief executive officer Duncan Hawthorne had critical words for the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s (NWMO) handling of the proposed deep geological repository (DGR).

Speaking in response to a citizen’s question about why two DGRs are needed, Hawthorne said people are getting confused with the difference between Ontario Power Generation’s project for low and intermediate level nuclear waste at the Bruce site and the adaptive phased management project for used nuclear fuel being evaluated in other Bruce County communities.

John Mann, a Saugeen Shores resident who had questioned local government on why low and intermediate level waste would be housed separately from spent nuclear fuel, asked Hawthorne for his opinion on the plans during an open house at the Bruce Power Vistors’ Centre on Feb. 12.

“I wouldn’t do it that way if it was me,” Hawthorne replied. “If this isn’t handled well, it impacts us in a negative way.”

Hawthorne added he had been in touch with NWMO officials and sent them a letter outlining his concerns. Among them was his belief residents of potential host communities are unable to differentiate between the plans for two DGRs.

“You’ve confused the whole community,” Hawthorne said he had written to the NWMO. “We’re looking at something that’s 125 years from now. Go away for a decade.”

Hawthorne also said he believed the NWMO has been in talks with willing host communities who have no chance of being a real candidate to host the spent nuclear fuel.

“The NWMO want to demonstrate they can find willing host communities,” he said, adding the organization is “making everyone nervous.”

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Arran Elderslie enters Step Three of NWMO process (December 2012)

By Mary Golem, The Post

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 2:29:22 EST PM

CHESLEY – Arran Elderslie has entered the next stage in the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s (NWMO) site selection process for a community willing to host a deep geological repository for the long-term management of used nuclear fuel.

Council agreed last Monday to enter Step Three in the NWMO process to find a suitable location. Other local municipalities – Brockton, Huron-Kinloss, South Bruce, and Saugeen Shores – have also agreed to enter step three of a nine step process that will take ten or more years to complete.

Twenty-two Canadian communities initially expressed interest in the process. One did not meet the screening criteria due to geology characteristics, two initial screenings are still underway and 19 communities passed the initial screening stage. Of those 19, 13 are “continuing to learn more about the project by entering step three,” NWMO spokesperson Joanne Facella told Arran Elderslie council.

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Part 4: Nuclear “Dump” in Bruce? – Reasons to Oppose (December 2012)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 2:20:30 EST PM

Shoreline Beacon

This is the fourth of my five-part letter explaining why I am opposed to the building of a high-level, deep geological repository (HL-DGR) in Bruce County for the disposal of exhausted fuel rods from nuclear reactors.

In parts 1, 2 and 3 I argued that Bruce County is a completely inappropriate location for a HL-DGR because (1) it is in the midst of an agricultural and recreation/tourist region, (2) the stigma associated with nuclear waste might depress the county’s economy and also reduce land values, (3) a HL-DGR would create an imbalanced and boom-bust economy, (4) deeply buried nuclear waste has the potential for contaminating the environment and endangering human health through construction activities of the repository and because of unexpected failures in the underground storage system, (5) the potential for accidents in transporting nuclear waste (by road, rail and ship) to Bruce County from central and eastern Canada, and possibly the United States as well, would create additional risk to the environment and human health, (6) payments made by Ontario Power Generation to several municipalities in Bruce County for their
“… cooperation in support …” of the low- and medium-level DGR (at the Bruce generating station) may be influencing municipal/town council interest in the high-level DGR.

In this, Part 4, I discuss the possibility that corporate convenience may be influencing the site selection process for a HL-DGR and, secondly, that the scientific basis of a deep geological repository may be severely limited, creating other levels of risk.

Corporate convenience.  I am concerned that Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) may be tempted to locate a HL-DGR in Bruce County because: (1) roughly 42 per cent of Canada’s exhausted fuel bundles is stored at the Bruce generating station, (2) the results of initial screening for a high-level repository in municipalities adjacent to the Bruce generating station did not exclude those municipalities from further consideration, suggesting that the regional geology is potentially as suitable for a high-level DGR as for a low- and medium-level repository, (3) technical services in southern Ontario and the adjacent United States are readily accessible and the infrastructure (transportation network, housing, schools etc.) is well developed or could be expanded.  My greatest concern is that, for all of the reasons mentioned above, work on the LM-DGR planned for the Bruce generating station may be developing into a trial run, geologically and politically, for a high-level repository in Bruce County.

This is disturbing because it would give momentum to a HL-DGR in Bruce County independent of the “partnership approach” with the general public developed by NWMO; and probably also be very much of a surprise to the 60 per cent of the Kincardine voters and municipal/town councils in neighboring jurisdictions who in 2004 approved a much different DGR.

Scientific issues.  After reading a number of scientific studies on the NWMO website and technical reviews by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), I would be skeptical of any assurances that the geology at the Bruce generating station may be suitable for a DGR, whether for low- and medium or high-level waste.  Scientific knowledge of the geology underlying the Bruce facility, where one or both of the DGRs may be built, is based less on local site data (project-dedicated boreholes) than regional information obtained from distant petroleum/gas/water wells and surface outcrops.  In addition, many geoscience studies concerning the properties of the different bedrock formations (mineralogy, porosity and permeability – all affecting the mechanical strength of the rock and deep groundwater movements) and the presence of faults and fractures (affecting the vertical movement of fluids) – to mention just two categories of information required – are often based on inferences from small diameter cores (eight centimeters or less) taken from boreholes, computer predictive modeling based on the laboratory study of those samples and analogue studies of rocks from distant outcrops –  a very narrow base of information.  In addition, some studies may be unknowingly flawed.  Other kinds of information (or higher levels of confidence in the information that is available) may simply be beyond the current capabilities of geoscience.  Scientific knowledge is never complete, always subject to improvement or change.

No high-level, deep geological repositories are operating in the world today, although three are in an exploratory, near-construction or construction phase: Onkalo in Finland (in granite; currently under construction and scheduled to begin operation in 2020), at Bure in France (in clay; currently being researched at an underground laboratory and scheduled to open in 2025) and at Psthammar in Sweden (in “wet” granite; construction to begin in 2012 and operations in 2023).  NWMO’s proposed HL-DGR would be buried in limestone, not granite or clay but, like the European repositories, would use engineered and natural containment systems (steel caskets encased with copper and placed in shafts sealed with bentonite clay).  Considered together, the geological context and barrier system will be unique in world experience; untested in practice.

Lots to think about.

In the last part of my five-part letter explaining why I oppose a HL-DGR in Bruce County, I will discuss my concerns about whether NWMO will be able to avoid overselling the project and provide a balanced assessment of the risks of a high-level nuclear waste disposal facility.

Peter Storck

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