Nuclear waste disposal up for debate in northern Ontario (November 2012)

MP hosting meetings across region to shed more light on plans to store nuclear waste in north

CBC News Posted: Nov 12, 2012 8:25 AM ET 

A northern Ontario MP is holding a series of town hall meetings about the possible transportation and disposal of nuclear waste in northern Ontario to make sure everybody knows what the project entails.

Blind River, Elliot Lake, Spanish and the Township of the North Shore have all passed initial screenings in the search to find a home for Canada’s first nuclear waste disposal site. But Thunder Bay-Superior North MP Bruce Hyer said he’s concerned the project hasn’t been discussed enough in communities that might be close to the transportation corridors used to move the waste.

“While I feel the Nuclear Waste Management Organization has done a pretty good job of consulting with the towns that actually think they might like the repository, they have not done an adequate job at all of consulting with the wider community,” Hyer said.

He’s looking to move that discussion further along through a series of town hall meetings.

“Deferring the discussion with the communities along the likely transportation routes is not a good idea. It’s my contention that not just a few small towns [should] decide whether this waste comes to northern Ontario.”

If it’s approved, more than 600 shipments of nuclear waste would be transported annually to the new long-term disposal site.

A spokesperson with the NWMO said communities on the transportation routes will be consulted, but that won’t happen for another five years, when the current assessment stage is over.

Michael Krizanc said it will still be at least another decade before the location for the nuclear disposal site is chosen.

On Monday night, Hyer will hold a town hall meeting in Sudbury at St. Andrew’s Place on Larch Street from 7-9 p.m. Another meeting will take place in Sault Ste. Marie on Nov. 13.

Hyer said he will hold a number of other town hall meetings in northwestern Ontario over the next few weeks. So far, Hyer has held townhall meetings in Oshawa and Parry Sound.

 

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MP hopes of better understand feelings toward nuclear waste transportation (November 2012)

2012-11-12 at NOON

By Jeff Labine, tbnewswatch.com

Bruce Hyer has gone on tour to see how people feel about possibly transporting 50,000 tonnes of nuclear waste through their community.

The independent MP for Thunder Bay – Superior North started his tour of northeastern Ontario with a stop in Oshawa on Thursday then moved to Parry Sound. Hyer then continued to Sudbury on Monday where he will hold a town hall meeting.

His final destination will be in Sault Ste Marie on Tuesday.

Hyer picked Parry Sound, Sudbury and Sault Saint Marie because of the potential impact a nuclear disposal site could have on them.

He said the Nuclear Waste Management Organization hasn’t had discussions with communities about a transportation route.

“It doesn’t matter where it is because we’re talking about 600 more trucks a year or 60 trains a year for decades to transport all of these materials and its high level nuclear waste,” Hyer said.

“That’s a lot of waste. Many people are surprised by the amount and the frequency of the trucks.”

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization is looking to finding a suitable spot for a nuclear storage facility. The multibillion-dollar infrastructure project will require a surface area of 250 acres for the buildings and a depth of 500 metres.

Hyer said he’s doing this tour on the transportation route because the NWMO has so far refused to do it.

The organization only held meetings in towns that were interested in being a host community and not in neighbouring communities that would be affected by the route, he said.

“What I am doing is not an adequate substitute by any means for the MWNO doing this in a more complete way,” he said. “I’m getting a sense of the general public’s feelings and what their concerns are and I’m also raising awareness.

“I’m hopeful that what it will do is to broaden the discussion and start a different kind of discussion. You can read a lot of reports but a first hand, live interaction I think is important. I’m listening more than saying. I’m not saying much other than the very basic facts.”

Hyer plans to head back to Thunder Bay once he finishes his town hall meeting in Wawa.

Hyer then plans to hold another town hall meeting in Thunder Bay over the weekend, but likely on a different issue — bringing Via rail back to the North.

That meeting is scheduled for Saturday at the 55 Plus Centre on River Street at 2 p.m.

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Saugeen Shores Council goes in favour of Step 3 (November 2012)

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

 

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North needs say about nuke waste (November 2012)

By Elaine Della-Mattia, Sault Star

Thursday, November 15, 2012 6:38:58 EST AM

Communities need to have more say about the transportation and storage of nuclear waste that could travel through their cities to their final storage place, says Thunder Bay-Superior North MP Bruce Hyer.

Hyer, an independent MP, is touring Northern Ontario and holding town hall meetings in communities likely to be along the transportation corridor for much of Canada’s nuclear waste.

Hyer said there is currently a stockpile of about 50,000 metric tonnes of nuclear waste that needs to be stored in temporary or permanent nuclear waste repositories.

“Canada’s nuclear industry is getting closer to picking a permanent site for that nuclear waste, but regardless of the location that’s chosen, people in a number of communities are likely to see trucks or trains loaded with nuclear waste passing near, or throught their town someday.”

He says those communities on the transportation route – which could include Sault Ste. Marie and the Algoma District with its proximity to the Trans Canada Highway – will bear some risk on any potential nuclear waste spill or accident.

“They should have a say sooner rather than later,” he said.

Almost 20 people attended the Sault Ste. Marie town hall meeting, held Tuesday at Sault College.

Hyer said his tour is designed to educate communities on the issue so that they can be informed and decide as a community what is best for them.

Some of the nuclear waste has a half-life of tens of thousands of years, he said.

Hyer himself said he doesn’t have a personal or professional opinion on the best long-term storage solution for the nuclear waste, but believes that the Nuclear Waste Management Organization needs to better inform communities along the transportation corridor about its plans.

To date, he said, their consultation has focused on the 21 communities which have expressed interest in hosting a long term nuclear waste repository, such as Wawa and Hornpayne.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization has a step-by-step process on how interested communities apply and get approved to serve as a host for a “deep geological repository,” or underground storage site.

Under the process, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization provides funding for the municipalities to hire consultants to examine and explain the proposal. Open houses are also held to provide information for community members.

Sault Ste. Marie CAO Joe Fratesi said the Nuclear Waste Management Organization has not contacted the city with any information about either nuclear storage or transportation.

Fratesi said he’s not sure how much say a municipality would have if any shipments of the waste travelled along the Trans Canada Highway. That would require government approvals and permits, he said.

Some of the communities that have expressed interest in storing the waste are mining communities that have spent mines that could be used as secure vaults for the waste, Fratesi said.

“I’m not sure we’ve ever been asked and I’m not sure what the community reaction would be,” Fratesi said.

Sault Ste. Marie has been able to diversity its economy over the past two decades and has not had the need to look at nuclear storage, he said.

Experts say that the 10-year project could cost up to $24 billion, provide 800 direct construction jobs as well as numerous other spin offs.

Long-term jobs requiring scientists will be needed to manage the repository once it is operational.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization is still a long way from building a facility to house the nuclear waste.

It believes it will take another decade to find a successful host community and regulatory approval by various government and ministries will be needed after that.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization was established in 2002. It was designed to investigate approaches for managing Canada’s used nuclear fuel.

Nuclear power plants operate in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.

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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

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Nuclear waste is a hot issue in Creighton (February 2012)

By: Jonathon Naylor, The Reminder, Flin Flon MB

Posted: 02/9/2012 1:00 AM

FLIN FLON — Cynthia Fedak is speaking out, not so much for herself but for her grandkids.

A longtime resident of Creighton, the sleepy sister town to Flin Flon just over the Saskatchewan border, she vehemently opposes plans to potentially store Canada’s nuclear waste in her community.

“To me, nuclear waste is iffy and there’s no absolute answers,” says the 65-year-old retiree. “It could be dangerous if something happened and it wouldn’t be just a minor disaster; it would be something probably major.”

Creighton is one of at least 10 Canadian communities expressing an interest in hosting a subterranean storage facility to be built by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization.

Though it will take up to nine years to select a host community, debate already is raging over whether storing spent nuclear fuel rods represents the secondary industry this mining area has long craved.

While it tentatively won’t open until 2035, the repository is expected to represent a multibillion-dollar investment and spawn more than 4,000 jobs before, during and after construction.

Creighton has a long history of exploring new, sometimes unusual means of growth. Economic development workers have contemplated selling liver oil from burbot fish as a health supplement, and at one time hoped to use an abandoned mine shaft for zero-gravity experiments.

For Bruce Fidler, the straight-talking mayor of Creighton, the nuclear waste repository is “a heck of an economic development opportunity.”

Yet Creighton is not at the point where it has formally applied to host the repository. A geological screening of the area has found no obvious conditions to preclude the town, but there are numerous other steps ahead before Creighton might put in an official bid.

A key part of the process will be determining whether the public — in Creighton, Flin Flon and the surrounding area — is on side.

“This isn’t going to go in a community that doesn’t want it,” Joanne Facella, the NWMO’s director of social research, told the Flin Flon and District Chamber of Commerce last year.

Fedak felt strong enough in her resistance to write a letter to the editor to Flin Flon’s newspaper, The Reminder. It’s a stand she sees as unpopular.

She says people complained for years about the air pollution from Flin Flon’s copper smelter — closed since mid-2010 — and she can’t see why they now would be eager to welcome radioactive materials to the neighbourhood.

Neither Mayor Fidler nor the NWMO begrudge opponents of nuclear storage, but they ask that people take the time to learn the facts.

Presenting the facts was the goal of a public exhibit held at the Creighton community hall last summer.

Models were used to illustrate how the nuclear waste “bundles,” as they are known, would be sheathed in carbon steel tubes.

The tubes would then be inserted into 2.5-centimetre-thick copper containers and lowered into boreholes drilled into rock some 500 metres below the surface and surrounded with rings of bentonite clay, which acts as a natural sealant. The boreholes would be capped and sealed with concrete.

It was all enough to win over Creighton resident Rod Gourlay, a former co-owner of the town’s motel. He went to the exhibit undecided, if not a little fearful, but left convinced it is the right thing to do.

“We don’t know a whole lot about it (uranium),” Gourlay told The Reminder. “But after seeing the work they’ve done and the research they’ve done for the storage facility, and the process that it goes through, I think it’s just really opened my eyes. I feel a hundred per cent better than before I went there.”

In the end, which side wins the debate might be irrelevant.

In remarks to the media, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has said he does not think Saskatchewanians want radioactive waste kept in their province and unless there is a major shift in opinion, it is not in the cards.

The opposition NDP is more forthright in its disagreement.

Meanwhile, environmentalists are lobbying Saskatchewan for an outright legislative ban on nuclear waste, something already in place in Manitoba.

No matter where the country’s nuclear waste is eventually stored, a permanent solution is required.

The waste is presently kept at several locations, mostly in Ontario, in temporary containers projected to last 50 to 100 years.

For decades, the Flin Flon area has existed thanks to what people extract from the ground. The big question now is, could part of its economic future lie in putting something back into it?

Jonathon Naylor is editor of The Reminder in Flin Flon.

jonathon_naylor@hotmail.com

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Nuclear Waste: Safe by What Standard? Workshops in White River and Hornepayne

An Overview of How Nuclear Facilities are Regulated in Canada

Wednesday, November 21 , 7 – 9 pm
Join us for light refreshments at 6:30 pm
White River Seniors Harmony Club

Thursday, November 22 , 7 – 9 pm
Join us for light refreshments at 6:30 pm
Hornepayne Royal Canadian Legion Branch 194

A presentation by Theresa McClenaghan
Executive Direction and Senior Counsel, Canadian Environmental Law Association

A brief overview by Northwatch of the current effort by the nuclear industry’s site selection process underway for a burial location all of Canada’s high level nuclear fuel waste will be followed by a presentation by Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director and Senior Counsel, Canadian Environmental Law Association on how nuclear facilities are regulated. The presentation and following discussion will address how nuclear projects are reviewed, how standards are set, and how regulations relate to the protection of human health and the environment.

Presented by Northwatch and the Canadian Environmental Law Association.