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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New Regional Coalition is Formed to Oppose the Burial of Radioactive Waste (December 2012)


Dec. 13, 2012, WALKERTON

Growing concerns about the targeting of the eastern shore of Lake Huron for the burial of radioactive waste, and the lack of transparency in that process, have prompted the formation of a new regional umbrella group to oppose the nuclear industry’s plans.

The Bluewater Coalition Against the DGRs brings together several citizens’ groups in the three counties to share information and strategy, it was announced in Walkerton on Dec. 13, 2012.

“We feel that people throughout our region aren’t getting the truth,” said Cheryl Grace, a spokesperson for Save Our Saugeen Shores (SOS).

“A regional body is needed because there are now numerous groups in Bruce County upset about this,” said Brockton councillor Chris Peabody. “The information being provided is all from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) and it’s all one-sided. For example, people have been led to believe getting your farm picked for this [as a site expropriated for a deep geological repository] will be like winning the lottery. It won’t be like that at all. And, they are saying different things to different communities about the size of the site.”

There are two radioactive-waste-burial plans under consideration in the region.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) proposes to construct a deep geological repository (DGR 1) for all of Ontario’s low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste near Tiverton, Ont., at a site less than one kilometre from Lake Huron. A joint panel is now reviewing environmental and public impacts of the project.

Meanwhile, the NWMO, an agency created by federal legislation but funded by the nuclear industry, is searching for a municipality that will agree to become a ‘willing host’ for a DGR for all of Canada’s high-level radioactive waste. The councils of six communities in this region — Saugeen Shores, Arran-Elderslie, Brockton, Huron-Kinloss and South Bruce in Bruce County and Central Huron in Huron County — have expressed interest in their municipalities becoming the site for such a DGR. If one of these communities ‘won,’ radioactive used fuel would be trucked to them from reactors in Tiverton, Darlington, Pickering, Chalk River, Gentilly in Quebec and Point Lepreau in New Brunswick.

The organizers of the new coalition say it’s the downplaying of the extreme risk in the projects proposed that have prompted them to join forces.

“We need to get the whole area aware of what’s happening on Lake Huron,” said Ruth MacLean, a Presbyterian minister in the Kincardine area. “One-fifth of the world’s fresh water is in the Great Lakes. We need everybody who’s concerned about fresh water to learn about this.”

“It’s not just ‘not in my backyard’ in this case. It’s ‘not in our bread basket,’ said Tony McQuail, an organic farmer in Huron County, a member of the Ecological Farmers of Ontario and president of the Huron National Farmers Union. “Southwestern Ontario is a hugely important food-producing area, and we are talking about the risk of contamination with an unproven system beside our Great Lakes. We need to share information, so the NWMO can’t play one community off against the other.”

Members of the group also mention concerns about the OPG and the NWMO ‘stage-managing two processes, and a lack of transparency in the actions of  their local municipal councils

‘My council [Kincardine] really doesn’t want to have a debate [on DGR 1]. All they say about the DGR is how much they had learned from the OPG and the OPG had answered all their questions,” said Jutta Splettstoesser, who farms in Huron-Kinloss.

Adds Marti McFadzean, chairperson of the Inverhuron Committee,  “Kincardine signed their hosting agreement [for DGR 1] before they consulted the community. Then they did a survey we feel is questionable. And this, when the decision to bury nuclear waste right next to the Great Lakes could be the biggest environmental mistake of our generation.”

Only two councillors, Peabody of Brockton and David Wood of South Bruce have voted against their municipalities continuing in the NWMO process for the high-level DGR.

The regional group also notes their councils’ apparent lack of interest in seeking out any but the nuclear industry’s point of view.

“When the Canadian dean of nuclear critics, Gordon Edwards, spoke in Saugeen Shores in August, we know of only two councillors from the region attending, said Grace of SOS, which organized Edwards’ lecture.

“It’s clear the mayors have been given talking points by the NWMO. They just say they want to learn more [in explaining why they entered the NWMO process],” said Peabody. “It’s a difficult corner to be painted into.  So it’s very important that groups share information and develop a common front.”

Peabody said the new group will focus on coordinating activities to disseminate information more widely throughout the region, in the rural areas particularly. Grace added that the group wants to reach out to all the municipalities that may be affected. “Don’t forget that the waste has to travel through towns like Harriston, Clifford, and the Greater Toronto Area.”

Despite the challenges, the newly formed group, the Bluewater Coalition says opposition to the DGRs is gaining momentum. “SOS realized early on that this is a regional issue affecting the whole Great Lakes Basin,” said Grace.

“We’re now hearing from people not just in Walkerton, Lion’s Head, Stayner, Dundalk, Orangeville, Harriston, Mount Forest and Wiarton, but farther afield in Caledon, Windsor, Sarnia and Michigan.”

Recently, for example, Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley has urged the Chicago-based Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Cities Initiative to oppose DGR 1.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT  Cheryl Grace, 519 483-5537 or AND Chris Peabody, 519 506-0648

Media coverage : Owen Sound Sun Times    923 The Dock    AM920 CKNX    The Post    Bayshore Broadcasting    104.9 The Beach   94.5 The Bull

CNSC battling confusion over DGR projects (November 2012)

Monday, November 19, 2012 3:11:36 EST PM

Aurele Gervais, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
(As posted on the Lucknow Sentinel)

The topic of what to do for the long-term management of radioactive waste in Canada has generated much discussion.

But at the same time, there is a lot of confusion about two very different projects that are currently underway: the Ontario Power Generation (OPG) Deep Geologic Repository Project and the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) Adaptive Phased Management (APM) Project.

Both of these projects consider the use of a geological repository for long-term management of radioactive waste.

Geological repositories are constructed underground, usually at a depth of several hundred metres or more below ground surface to isolate waste in a stable rock formation.

Projects like these go through a rigorous regulatory review process which includes an environmental assessment and licensing. This process will involve the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), Canada’s independent nuclear regulator. The public will have several opportunities to input into the process before any licence is considered.

Different nuclear waste – different regulatory stages

The OPG DGR Project

The OPG Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) Project will only be for low- and intermediate- level radioactive waste (L&ILW) from OPG-owned or operated nuclear generating stations in Ontario.

The waste will be from things like tools, mop heads, rags, paper towels, filters, resins, refurbishment waste and other radioactive contaminated materials from nuclear generating stations. The proposed location for this repository is close to OPG’s Western Waste Management Facility at the Bruce nuclear site in Kincardine, Ontario.

The DGR Project does not include used nuclear fuel.

The regulatory process for the DGR Project started in December 2005 when OPG submitted a project description to the CNSC outlining its intent to construct a geological repository for L&ILW. Since then, the CNSC’s technical experts and an independent Joint Review Panel (JRP), appointed in January 2012, have been reviewing the DGR Project’s environmental assessment and licence application. JRP public hearings for the DGR Project will be held in the Municipality of Kincardine, dates for the hearings have not yet been set.

The APM Project

The other initiative, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) Adaptive Phased Management (APM) Project is for the safe long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel. The NWMO was established in 2002 in accordance with Canada’s Nuclear Fuel Waste Act (NFWA) and is responsible to implement this project.

The process for the APM Project is still in its very early stages. In May 2010, the NWMO launched its site selection process to identify a willing and informed community to host a geological repository for the long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel. As of September 30, 2012, a total of 21 communities have formally expressed interest in learning more about the APM Project.

It’s important to note no licence application has been submitted to the CNSC for the APM Project. However, it is an international best practice for the regulator – the CNSC in this case – to be involved early in these types of projects. The CNSC is providing regulatory guidance and is conducting pre-project design reviews of geological repository concepts.

The CNSC also makes presentations to various communities who have expressed an interest to know how the nuclear sector is regulated in Canada, as well as the CNSC’s early role in the APM Project.

Canada’s Nuclear Regulator
The CNSC mandate is to ensure that nuclear activities are done in a manner that protects the environment, as well as the health, safety and security of workers and the public, and to implement Canada’s international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Nuclear safety is the CNSC’s focus.


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Huron-Kinloss moves forward in DGR process (November2012)

By Sarah Sutter, Kincardine News

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 3:01:35 EST PM

The Township of Huron-Kinloss voted in favour of moving forward with the site selection process to determine a willing host community for the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s proposed deep geological repository (DGR).

The decision was reached at a Nov. 19 meeting of council.

“The NWMO site selection process encourages communities in the process to engage its neighbours in learning and decision making,” read mayor Mitch Twolan before the resolution was carried.

A report on the initial screening process of Huron-Kinloss released to the public at a special meeting on Aug. 14, 2012 concluded the community could be a suitable host to the DGR. The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) held an open house at Ripley Community Centre Sept. 11-12, during which locals were invited to learn about the project and pose questions to NWMO representatives and participating geoscientists.

The Township of Huron-Kinloss retains the right to cease participation in the process at any time

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Let U.S. comment on Canada’s nuclear waste plans, says Sarnia mayor (November 2012)

Published on Thursday November 15, 2012

John Spears
Business Reporter, Toronto Star

The Canadian mayor who helped stall transport of radioactive equipment on the Great Lakes is pushing for an “international debate” on Canada’s plan for storing nuclear waste.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley has asked fellow mayors on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border to take a “strong position” on Canadian proposals for nuclear waste.

He has written to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative to get the ball rolling.

The group has more than 90 member cities and towns including Toronto, Chicago, Montreal, Milwaukee and Rochester.

Twenty Canadian communities – 10 of them near Lake Huron, and 17 of them in the Great Lakes basin –  have expressed interest in being the site for a deep, underground depository for high-level nuclear waste.

A separate process is also under way to evaluate a proposed low and mid-level waste sitedeep in the rock at the site of the Bruce nuclear station near Kincardine. It would be operated by Ontario Power Generation. (OPG)

Bradley has forwarded a motion from a Kincardine area group, asking for no low-level waste site to be approved until it’s been debated by “all government bodies including federal, provincial and municipal, and representatives from the United States.”

In an interview, Bradley says he has “great concern” about any depository being located close to other Great Lakes.

“It just amazes me,” he said. “Forty million Canadians and Americans take their water from there, and we continue to treat it like it’s a toilet bowl.”

“I wasn’t asking for anything outlandish,” in writing to the Great Lakes body, Bradley said. “It was simply saying: Let’s make sure there’s a full public process, and an international debate on this initiative.”

“I do not believe on the American side that there’s very much knowledge what’s going on, on this side of the border.”

His letter asks his fellow mayors to support “a full public process that would allow an international debate on this initiative.”

He encloses a motion drafted by the Inverhuron Committee requesting a debate on both side of the border. Inverhuron is a small community, technically part of Kincardine, that is the Bruce nuclear plant’s closest neighbour.

Bradley was one of those who protested Bruce Power’s plans to ship old, radioactive steam generators to Sweden for recycling through the Great Lakes. The shipment was put on hold.

The Kincardine area site would contain slightly radioactive material such as clothing and mop, plus items such as metal parts from the reactor core that have become irradiated over years of use.

Public hearings on the Kincardine site are expected to open next year. It will be several years before a site for the high level waste is selected.

Kincardine hasn’t volunteered for the high level waste, but a number of nearby towns and townships have done so.

Currently, used nuclear fuel is stored on the sites of the reactors that produced it. Low and intermediate waste from all Ontario’s reactors is stored in buildings on the Bruce nuclear site.

OPG spokesman Neal Kelly said there has already been an extensive public process on the company’s plans for its waste depository, which will culminate with federal hearings starting next year.

Kelly said OPG has already spoken with some members of the Great Lakes mayors group.

“We welcome Mayor Bradley’s views, and all views,” he said.

“We encourage public comment on this project at any time during the process, including international comment,” Kelly said.

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