DGR The Backyard Gets Bigger


Opinion written for Canadian Community News by Mike Sterling

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The local group Save Our Saugeen Shores (SOS) is now officially international in scope.  Not in my Backyard (NIMBY) is no longer valid for them.  Their 'Backyard' has grown.  It encompasses the vast Great Lakes Basin.

According to a recent release, they are in the process of 'rebranding' themselves to carry the message of "No Nuclear Waste in the Great Lakes Basin"  See column two for the area. 

This is not surprising, but it was unsaid over the past few years.  There is really only one step further and it too is well known. 

SOS is anti-nuclear, but has had difficulty saying so.  It has not fit their effort to influence local residents especially those who work in the industry or have retired from it.

After all, many active and former nuclear workers live in the area of the world's largest nuclear power plant.  It employs thousands living in the surrounding communities. This industry supports the economy of the region, not to mention those retired from the industry. 

Many of the SOS adherents have summered here, but not worked in the industry.

Because of the number of power workers and engineering people there is a lot of local expertise that SOS has to convince to be influential.  It is easier to appeal to people far away who don't have deep knowledge of the care and processes involved. 

SOS does not seem compelled to join other international groups.  They might believe that their message is unique and they will get support of many kinds from the much larger and older groups such as Greenpeace.

Their solution to waste management is to invest in above ground storage. They call it "The Gold Standard". That is, 'beef up' the existing means and the process involved.

How these structures would withstand the test of time measured in hundreds of thousands of years is not stated.  Since they do not have the same goals or time line for safe storage as CNSC, OPG and NWMO, above ground storage is ok for them.

SOS rejects the the Canadian 15 year study of the storage of nuclear waste and the Joint Review Panel's (JRP) report of 238 pages (Click Here). The report is backed by thousands of pages of testimony and videos both for and against a Deep Geologic Depository (DGR). One local anti person contributed 3000 pages himself to the record.  None of the ideas contained in the voluminous emails made it to the 238 page summary.

What are their reasons for SOS's rejection of the long and intense study?  They don't accept that we can use the word 'report' for the JRPs summary nor can we use science for the method.  You could fool me.  It sure looks like a scientific report and reads like one too.

In their letter to the Minister they state that evidenced based science was not used. This is a hard case for them to make and they don't make it.  

They try to do it by rejecting the three person panel consisting of Dr. Stella Swanson, Dr. Gunter Muecke and Dr. James Archibald along with the staff of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. (CNSC)

One aspect of their new thrust that is puzzling involves the panel itself and, in particular the Chair Dr. Swanson. 

They say she was in some way not professional in dealing with the anti-side. They used the words "arrogantly dismissive".  I watched every segment of the JRP hearings.  I've never seen such polite even-minded and patient people as the three panel members and in particular Dr. Swanson.

Even in the face of endless repetition of deputation after like deputation and questions that had been answered, the Chair was polite to a fault. 

Even in the basic misreading of scientific facts shown on geologic charts by SOS members, the panel was polite in pointing out the facts.  Dr. Muecke asked the SOS member if he had a better way to represent Geologic data.  He did not have one.

Dr. Swanson went out of her way to make sure that difficult and complex issues were explained over and over again to a non-science based audience which included many SOS members.  It was a hard task.  We could not hope for more even-minded and patient people as the three panel members.

Click the orange arrow to read the second column

Great Lakes  Basin (Wikapedia)

The panel got great support conveying complex information to the audience by the regulatory body Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and the staff of Ontario Power Generation and the Northern Waste Management Organization (NWMO).

SOS says that the JRP members have made money as panel members and in the past for consulting in the industry.  This is true.  They are recognized experts and called upon often for facts.

One would expect that having PhDs leading to deep knowledge in radiation effects on streams and lakes, geology and mining engineering would allow the three panel members to be compensated for their time and expertise.

We can't forget .... the mammoth job of the JRP was two-fold.  First they needed to hear, understand and integrate all the science and process presented to them by real expersts. 

Secondly, they strove to make all these complex issues understandable to the general public or any others attending the hearings while at the same time they were gathering their own evidence for their final report and recommendation.

Dr. Swanson was gracious and polite to a fault even in the face of having to answer the same questions over and over again. 

Sometimes she had to move the hearings forward by saying that they had noted the testimony and did not need more on that particular subject. This repetition of questions extended the hearings, but was necessary.

One of the most difficult of her tasks was to make clear to many on the anti-side that the JRP had gotten the evidence they needed on a particular issue and they must move on to other complex subjects. 

This was done sparingly, but when an issue had been gone over and over again, the Chair moved forward graciously.

It would be better for SOS to step forward and just deal with the entire subject of Nuclear Power not just the storage of the spent fuel and low and intermediate waste. 

SOS arguments  might make more sense if they paid attention to the entire cycle from mining to final storage.  Their backyard has grown ...  might as well include the front yard too. 

The JRP report was all about safety.  

Do you feel safer with the SOS Great Lakes Basin policy?  Read from the links below.

For SOS statement on their rebranding  Click Here

For their recent open letter Click Here


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Monday, May 16, 2016