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About four years ago, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) held public hearings about their plan to store nuclear waste underground near the Bruce Nuclear plant in Kincardine about a kilometer from Lake Huron.  The project appears to be getting closer to approval but the opposition is also growing.   On August 26, 2015, County Council approved a motion by Gil Brocanier to oppose Ontario Power Generation's proposed Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) anywhere in the Great Lakes Basin. In a follow up letter on August 23, 2017, the County re-affirmed their opposition (“our position remains steadfast”) and sent a copy of the letter to the Town of Cobourg to be made public at the Council meeting on Sept 18, 2017.

The OPG position is that the waste to be stored is low to intermediate level waste with a life of more than 100,000 years and the storage facility proposed will be safe for millions of years.

The opposition position is that accidents have happened at comparable facilities and this is a risk that is unacceptable anywhere near the Great Lakes basin – possible pollution of the vast amount of fresh water is unacceptable and alternative locations should be found.

The Town of Kincardine which is host to the large OPG facility at Bruce is supportive as is Clarington which is host to the Darlington nuclear plant. However, other locations both in Canada and the U.S. are strongly against the idea.  A total of 66 "Great Lakes Mayors" signed a letter to Catherine McKenna, Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change objecting strongly to the proposal (see copy in Links below). This in addition to individual letters in opposition by municipalities such as Northumberland County and Toronto (227 municiplaities oppose the project).  A decision by the Federal Government is now expected by the end of 2017.

Wikipedia says:

Low-level waste … consists of materials such as mop heads, rags, paper towels, floor sweepings, and protective clothing used in nuclear stations during routine operation and maintenance.

Intermediate level waste consists of non-fuel waste containing significant quantities of long-lived radionuclides. This includes materials such as used reactor core components, refurbishment wastes, ion-exchange resins and filters used to purify reactor water systems, and used reactor components such as pressure tubes…. The DGR would not house used nuclear fuel.

The proposed facility (DGR) would be located 2,230 feet below ground, constructed in low-permeability limestone.  Geologists say that this is as good as it gets and would be stable for millions of years.  Government agencies such as the US EPA support the project and most opposition is from non-scientific bodies such as other municipalities and the Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump citizen’s organization.

OPG has not seriously considered other locations citing the hazard of transportation and the suitability of the chosen site. They also have refused to consider other locations.

Critics cite accidents that have happened.  In 2014, a comparable facility in New Mexico leaked a small amount of radiation after a storage container was packed improperly. Although most of the waste material was contained within the facility, the resulting cleanup closed the plant for nearly three years, and cost hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.
The lesson from that incident is that human factors are not predictable.

As a town that uses Lake Ontario as its source of water, Cobourg is concerned about this issue.

Download the County’s letter here.

You might want to support or oppose this with Kim Rudd This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Lou Rinaldi This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Video (from Motherboard - link below) that explains the project.

Links

 

 

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