By Tiffany Wilson, Shoreline Beacon
Tuesday, November 13, 2012 4:29:08 EST PM
Despite the latest efforts of John Mann, Saugeen Township resident and Cheryl Grace, spokesperson for Save our Saugeen Shores (SOS), Saugeen Shores councillors unanimously voted all-in-favour to move forward with Step 3 of the site selection process for a high-level nuclear waste deep geological repository (DGR) at last night’s committee-of-the-whole meeting. The town will not officially be entered into the process until council approves the recommendation,at it’s Nov. 26 meeting.
Prior to the 9-0 vote, Mann asked councillors to not proceed with Step 3 of the DGR without looking at the possibility of just one DGR to hold all three levels; low, intermediate and high nuclear waste.
“The reason there is two processes is because Kincardine didn’t want high-level waste,” he said. “Kincardine is controlling the whole process, but only one DGR is necessary.”
Seeing how council has not been convinced of his beliefs to date, Mann recommended that they take a look into the low and intermediate level process.
“It would be the lesser of two evils in the town,” he said.
However, for Mann, the bottom line rests on there being only the need for one DGR.
Councillor Taun Frosst commented on the reason why there are two DGRs.
“With the two DGRs, you have high-level waste, which is the spent fuel sitting there now, is a federal mandate,” said Frosst. “So that being the case, OPG running Bruce Power, or running Pickering and Darlington would take care of their own, low and intermediate level stuff and I believe that’s why there are two DGRs.”
Regarding the process, Frosst said he continues to be behind it and believes it has been an open process since the beginning.
“The only way to do this is not hold your head under the sand and wait for this to go away because it’s not going to go away,” concluded Frosst.
Up next to the podium in hopes in persuading council was Grace.
She stated that council’s motivation for moving forward with Step 3 in the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) site selection process has been about learning and gaining more information.
She asked council to take into consider six points before deliberating about moving forward.
1. NWMO has been using a DGR size that is unacceptably small based upon the most recent estimate of the number of radioactive fuel bundles that will require disposal during the life of the DGR.
2. The number of years of transportation of used radioactive fuel bundles for burial in the DGR is 50 per cent to 100 per cent greater than what the Town was told. Instead of taking 30 years of transporting, packaging and burying the used fuel, it will now require close to 60 years.
3. NWMO documents state that prospective communities should understand the benefits and risks involved with the siting, constructing, operating, decommissioning, post-decommissioning and abandonment of a DGR for up to 7.2 million highly radioactive used fuel bundles. However, NWMO has failed to bring their own risk documents to six open houses and three kiosks in Saugeen Shores since March, 2012.
4. NWMO, both on website and in literature, use Sweden’s high-level DGR plans as a model. In saying this, the Swedish regulator has found that the Swedish plan lacked the necessary information related to long-term safety of the project and the protection of human health.
5. SOS has collected 2200 signatures in a petition asking council to withdraw from the process. A total of 1,062 signatures were from residents of Saugeen Shores and 1,919 were signatures from people from Ontario.
6. Since NWMO has claimed that they will be down to one or two communities by the end of Step 3,which is within three years time, Step 3 is therefore much more than just community information gathering.
“SOS is appalled that an issue of this gravity and permanent impact has not met the standard of transparency and representation our citizens deserve,” said Grace.
She than asked council to withdraw from the process.
However, if council was to decide to move forward, Grace asked them to remember the promise made by Frosst at an April 7, 2012 town hall meeting regarding what will occur before future steps.
He said, according to Grace’s report, “If we pass the screening process, we won’t have open houses- it will be open meetings.”
This is exactly what Grace hopes to happen and has felt passionate about throughout the whole process.
“Our group finds one of the most disturbing aspects of this process this far to be the NWMO refusal to participate in an open meeting,” said Grace.
Deputy mayor Luke Charbonneau took part in the International Conference on Geological Repositories in Toronto and thought Grace’s fourth point about Sweden was interesting and wanted to put a positive twist to it.
“I view it positively because it shows that the regulator in Sweden isn’t just going to get a rubber stamp on this thing,” he explained.
“Just like NWMO won’t get a rubber stamp on it. They are going to go through the process just like the Swiss did.”
He concluded his comment by stating that he is confident in the entire process.
NWMO representatives Jo-Ann Facella, director of social research and dialogue at NWMO, Ben Belfadhel, director of geoscience for NWMO and Paul Austin, primary contact for Saugeen Shores, took to the podium after the deputations to present what Step 3 of the site selection process entails.
Facella explained Step 3 focuses on feasibility studies which gives an opportunity for both the community and NWMO to answer four key questions.
1. Is there the potential to find a safe site?
2. Is there the potential to foster the well-being of the community through the implementation of the project, and what might need to be put in place to ensure this outcome?
3. Is there the potential for citizens in the community to continue to be interested in exploring this project through subsequent steps in the site selection process?
4. Is there the potential to foster the well-being of the surrounding area and to establish the foundation to move forward with the project?
From there, Facella explained that the feasibility studies will be conducted in two phases.
During the presentation, Facella said phase one activities are expected to take a year or more to complete, will focus on desktop studies and engagement of the community, begin formal engagement with surrounding communities and build on work from previous results that have been completed.
She continued, phase two activities are expected to take a year or more to complete, will focus on field studies in the community, expand to a regional study and build on the work completed during phase one.
She explained that by the end of phase one, communities with low potential to be suitable for the project may be screened out of the selection process and by the end of phase two, one or two communities will be chosen to move forward onto Step 4.
For more detailed information on Step 3 of the siting process see www.saugeenshores.ca