OPG Response

January 11, 2016


Written for Canadian Community News by Mike Sterling

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DGR Location Analysis


Recently Ontario Power Generation  submitted answers to questions posed by the Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change regarding the long studied and debated DGR at the Bruce Nuclear Power site near Kincardine Ontario.

One of the points made by detractors for the placement of a DGR near Kincardine stems from their belief that no alternative locations were considered.

This allegation is untrue.  Others were considered, but not in depth in the Joint Review Panel's findings. 

What is true is that OPG did not run a full analysis of all the possible locations.  Having an outstanding site near a Nuclear Community was part of OPG's decision making.

Much is known about the Geology of Ontario.  There is a lot of limestone and in the north the Canadian Shield of granite.  In southwestern Ontario there are hundreds of core studies that have been done for other purposes over time.  So the broad geology is known.

A geologic map shows the detail of the underlying soil and bedrock.  It is true, however, that any final study of a site requires more focused and controlled core samples.  The chosen site has  outstanding characteristics that have been peer reviewed world-wide.

OPG knows the facts and the study they did for the minister does not hinge on core samples in remote areas.  It is based on their best scientific estimate of the viability of the underlying rock, cost and distance criteria.  The scientists and engineers deem the Kincardine site excellent.  OPG presents a compelling argument.

The NO argument is best looked at from two types of distractors.

The Hopeful Thinkers:

Some of the the public and environmental groups don't believe that a DGR is necessary.  Without acknowledging need, no amount of argument will sway them.  The detractors say:  'If I don't need it why should I study it?'

Many detractors would not do anything.  A trip to the site and an open mind will dispel this.  Minds are difficult to unlock, especially when these minds do not understand the base science. 

The people who hold this view and gingerly accept some sort of need either hope for a scientific breakthrough that they can understand or just say "don't do a thing". They recommend patching the above ground storage. They would do this generation after generation until technology catches up.  This they call rolling stewardship or some like phrase.

So this argument is caught on the horns of a dilemma.  Taken to its conclusion the detractors say that they don't trust the present advice of the scientists and the Joint Review Panel, but they might trust an as yet undiscovered solution done by scientists who can convince them. 

In the meantime they advise just patching up the existing means of storage and handing it over to the next generation.  It's an above ground status quo approach.  As you will see from the Joint Review Panel's conclusion, this is not the advice of a cautionary scientific study by world renowned experts.

The Not in My Back Yard People:

These folks hold their views because of fear of loss of property value, diminished quality of life and harm to the environment, namely Lake Huron.  They are against change, but have not noticed somehow that the world's largest nuclear power plant is at the Bruce.

OPG counters this with an analysis of cost, risks, quality of life and environmental effects.  It is well explained in the figures at the head of this article.  Three major issues are looked at in the OPG analysis:  Risk, Cost and Effects on the Environment.  Please study the illustrations at the top of this article.  They explain the reasons .

Click the orange arrow to read the second column

This material is added information to the 238 page long Joint Review Panel summary of the years of study.

  The panel conclusion was:

"The Panel is of the view that the sooner the waste is isolated from the surface environment the better. The Panel notes the importance of reducing and, if appropriate, reusing and recycling the waste. However, it recognizes that current technologies to alter the waste to render it no longer hazardous are limited, particularly for intermediate level waste that contains radionuclides with longer half-lives. The Panel concludes that the likelihood and consequences of an event resulting in the release of radionuclides from surface storage are greater than they would be for a DGR. The Panel is of the view that the risk of waiting until technologies are available to eliminate the hazards associated with longer-lived radionuclides outweighs the benefits."

The Joint Review Panel and the experts clearly come down on SAFETY as being the ultimate goal.  So they have to reject the Not in My Backyard and Hopeful Thinkers.

Some YouTube Resources:

Scientists from around the World

Geologic Features

Standing the Test of Time


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