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Joint Review Panel in Kincardine - Day 3 a day of science

September 18, 2013

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Today, Wednesday (September 18, 2013) was day three of the Joint Panel Review in Kincardine regarding the proposed Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) deep geologic repository (DGR),

For the most part, it was a day filled with technology, geology, hydrogeology and geoscience.

The first presentation by OPG focused on site characterization and the suitability of the proposed location according to geoscience, geology, hydrogeology (water) characteristics, seismicity (earthquakes), geomechanics and natural resources.

Geoscience has said that the rock formation of horizontally layered, undeformed sedimentary shale and limestone formation at the proposed site are predictable and range from 540 million to 390 million years old.  Lateral traceability is continuous across the entire DGR footprint and consistent with boreholes that have been drilled kilometres away across the area. 

There are no salt deposits (as in Goderich) at the Bruce site.  Shale gas potential is low as evidence shows that heat generation was not great enough to produce gas.

There are three general groundwater systems: Shallow, transitional and deep.  With the proposed DGR to be 680 metres below surface, the key element is that there is a deep seated ancient saline groundwater system that has remained diffusion dominant and stable over geologic time and has remained isolated from surface water. Potable water is shallow and at the surface while water below 170 metres is saline at eight times that of seawater.

There has also been no evidence of seismic events (earthquakes) at the DGR site and it is anticipated that it would be unaffected by future earthquakes as there have been no extreme earthquakes following the last glacial event.  Additional work has also been done regarding seismicity and fracturing.  "There is a low-magnitude capacity seismic monitoring system installed at three locations 40 km north, south and east of the site," said Mark Jensen. It is maintained by the University of Western Ontario and monitoring results are done by the Canadian Hazard Information Services that provide annual reports of seismic activity." 

The potential for natural resources, such as base metals, is low.  Commercial hydrocarbon accumulations is also low, which would not encourage exploration in the future, and in addition to which, shale gas potential is low along with an absence of natural gas.

According to OPG the assessment of geologic suitability proves a safe and stable site for DGR implementation.

 

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Overall, according to OPG experts, the proposed site is thought to be very good.

Intervenor Joanne Martin raised the point of timelines. "We are told by Randy Roppell that, in 2004, OPG came to Kincardine Council and said that the DGR would be safe and, based on that, the hosting agreement was signed.  However, you said that the Geoscience started in 2005, so how could you say it was safe before the science started?"

"Actually," said Jensen, "the project began in 2002 and the Geoscience Plan was in 2003 with an independent study also completed."

"The evidence is overwhelming that site conditions are extremely low permeability many millions of times less than expected with oil and gas reservoirs," said OPG's Mark Jensen. "Evidence points to favourable conditions for long term containment and isolation as those pursued in France and Switzerland for long term storage."


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Wednesday, September 18, 2013