(continued)

Area politicians speak at Day 2
of DGR hearing in Kincardine

By Liz Dadson

DGR Page

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Area politicians and former politicians took centre stage at Day 2 of the Joint Review Panel hearing into Ontario Power Generation (OPG)'s proposed Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) for low-level and intermediate-level nuclear waste at the Bruce site.

Held at the Kincardine Legion, the hearing began Monday (Sept. 16) and continued Tuesday (Sept. 17) with OPG presenting documents to support the justification of the project, and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) providing supporting documents.

Just prior to area politicians making their submissions, the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative voiced its objection to the project.

Executive director David Ulrich said the primary concerns about the project are the proximity of the DGR to Lake Huron, and the failure to consider any other location for the facility. 

"Regardless of the suitability of the geology and the engineering of the DGR, it seems unwise to locate the radioactive waste that close to the largest source of fresh water in the world and the drinking water supply for over 40-million people in Canada and the United States," he said.

"This broader Great Lakes and St. Lawrence community has a legitimate concern about this project and about the proper long-term management of radioactive waste, and the outreach by OPG did not sufficiently factor in more extensive communication to this concerned community."

The Cities Initiative, which includes more than 100 cities from Canada and the United States representing more than 16-million people, works together for the protection, restoration, and long-term sustainability of the largest body of surface fresh water in the world, said Ulrich. 

A concern of the organization for many years has been the long-term management of low-level, medium-level and high-level radioactive waste, generated by nuclear power plants on the shores of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence basin in Canada and the United States, he said.

OPG's proposed DGR seeks to address that concern, and OPG asserts it is safer than above-ground storage, said Ulrich.

He noted that several individual members of the Cities Initiative have been involved in the project for a number of years, but the organization became involved only in December of 2012.

"The DGR proposal is a significant effort to address the issue of long-term management of low- and intermediate-level waste, but there are major concerns about whether the DGR in Kincardine is the right answer," said Ulrich.

There is concern, he said, that the DGR would set a precedent for how low-level and intermediate-level radioactive waste is handled from all the nuclear power plants in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence basin in Canada and the United States.

He said the Cities Initiative opposes the project at this time, even though several members of the organization support the project.

Ulrich said the Cities Initiative believes a better site is available other than Kincardine beside Lake Huron.

"OPG says that the limestone that would separate the DGR from Lake Huron has extremely low permeability such that any water is very unlikely to infiltrate and that any radioactivity that might leak would move at such a slow pace there would be no risk for millions of years," he said.

"Those who are concerned say that limestone is a permeable rock and that many parts of Ontario have less permeable rock, especially in the Canadian Shield.
Based on the above, the Cities Initiative opposes the DGR proposed by OPG in Kincardine at this time for management of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste."

To read the entire Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative presentation, click here.

Panel member Dr. Jamie Archibald told Ulrich that setting a precedent for the long-term storage of low-level and intermediate-level nuclear waste is good and bad.

"If this project shows good long-term safe storage of the waste, then it could be a benefit," he said.

"Our concern remains the proximity of the project to Lake Huron," said Ulrich.

Panel chairperson Dr. Stella Swanson asked Ulrich on what basis the Cities Initiative believes that limestone is permeable despite the science in OPG's safety case.

"We do not have the resources to bring in external experts on this," said Ulrich. "But the mayors used common sense. They don't want the nuclear waste site this close to the lake."

PRESENTATION BY NORMAN ANNETTS

Norman Annetts of Kincardine, former reeve of the Town of Kincardine, told the panel that he supports the DGR project.

A retired engineering technician and businessman, he moved to Kincardine and served seven years on municipal council, including four years as reeve, representing Kincardine on Bruce County council. He has also been an active volunteer in the community over the past 25 years.

"Low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste from Pickering, Darlington and the Bruce has been received at the Bruce site and has been processed safely and
effectively stored above ground for the last 40-plus years," said Annetts. 

"In my opinion, the Bruce site is the best site for permanent safe storage in a deep geological repository 2,300 feet below the surface in the limestone layer. This waste can be stored safely for many years into the future."

As a resident of Kincardine, he is aware of the detailed environmental and geological studies that have been done and is satisfied that the science is proven and safe.

The project will also keep jobs at the waste-receiving and waste-processing site at Bruce and there will be new jobs during the construction phase of the DGR, he said, as well as jobs in the operational phase once the facility is completed.

"To even think of moving thousands of cubic meters of low- and intermediate-level waste now to a different site away from the Bruce has no merit," said Annetts. "The Bruce site is the answer for long-term storage of this material.

"I fully support Ontario Power Generation's Deep Geological Repository project for the low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste at the Western Waste Management site at the Bruce."

PRESENTATION BY LAURA HAIGHT

Laura Haight, former deputy mayor of the Municipality of Kincardine, brought her support for the project to the panel.

During questioning, she said that Kincardine council at the time (in 2005) conducted a poll of the eligible voters in Kincardine, Tiverton and Inverhuron.

She said the DGR was not an election issue in 2006 or 2010. And council had already approved a resolution, stating it would not accept used nuclear fuel in the municipality.

"During my time on council, I never received a phone call or an E-mail about the DGR," she said. "There were other issues that excited people to the point that they called or E-mailed or stopped you in the grocery store to discuss it.

"But in this case, the information was out there, it was available. I did not receive one phone call about it, and I believe that's a reflection on the community's acceptance of making the situation safer (at the Bruce site)."

In response to a question about putting information in with municipal tax bills, Haight said that was not done because Kincardine was the host community not the proponent of the project.

When asked about the hosting agreement and payments from OPG, Haight said she was not on council at the time that the hosting agreement was completed; she was the clerk of Huron-Kinloss Township. However, she was aware that the payments were based on the old impact agreement with OPG (formerly Ontario Hydro).

 

PRESENTATION BY HURON-KINLOSS MAYOR MITCH TWOLAN

Next up was Huron-Kinloss mayor Mitch Twolan who also put forward his council's support for the DGR at the Bruce site.

He said this issue has not generated as much concern in the township as previous issues, such as the Nutrient Management Act (industrial livestock facilities) and the Green Energy Act (industrial wind turbine facilities).

"We've had full council chambers of angry residents over those issues," said Twolan, "but we have had no full council chamber related to nuclear issues, throughout my years on council."

He said an extensive effort has been made by OPG to inform the township residents, including the seasonal residents, through the beach associations, and special information sessions.

"Huron-Kinloss is fortunate to have employees of Bruce Power and OPG and their families living and working in our community," said Twolan. "They live here, they work here and they volunteer here."

In response to questions from the panel, Twolan said there was no poll done to gauge township support for the DGR project.

He said Huron-Kinloss was not involved in the hosting agreement. As for the payments to the township from OPG, he said that if people knew the members of township council, they would realize that the township does not need to be bribed or bought-off with regard to this project.

"We can independently think on our own," he said.

PRESENTATION BY GLENN SUTTON

Glenn Sutton, former mayor of the Town of Kincardine and the amalgamated Municipality of Kincardine, also made a presentation.

Sutton, an engineer with Ontario Hydro and later OPG, said when he served on the Municipality of Kincardine council as a councillor from 2000-03 and as mayor in 2003-06, council did its due diligence on this project.

Council researched other similar sites around the world, including in Switzerland, Sweden, South Carolina and New Mexico, said Sutton.

He also countered much of what was said by the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative by noting the comments by United States government organizations when they reviewed the studies and raw data sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

From the EPA: “In comparison to other international programs, the proposed DGR site at 2,230 feet beneath the Bruce Nuclear site, is the deepest planned facility in the world, is bounded by the thickest assemblage of low permeable cap rocks, and is isolated from surface and drinking water."

And from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality: “The Department of Environmental Quality reported that it studied the Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed project and related studies and ‘has no technical objections to the conclusions reached in the many various studies'."

"It makes one wonder if the Michigan Senators or Michigan Senate research staff ever contacted their own governmental agencies charged with the responsibility of reviewing the associated DGR documentation sent for their review," said Sutton.

He believes the Cities Initiative concerns are more about Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY) than any of the DGR material sent to the organization.

"Based on the May 24, 2013, submission from the Initiative, its concluding statement was: 'However, the limited time to review the record and prepare comments, the limited outreach to the broader Great Lakes and St. Lawrence community, and the consideration of only one site that is one kilometre from Lake Huron leads us to conclude that the project should not move forward at this time'.

"My own personal comment here is, 'Where were these people for the last four or five years?' It is hard to believe that the Initiative, which recently made comments on a proposed shipment of steam generators from the Bruce site to Sweden, would not have come across the proposed DGR project during its review of that proposed shipment."

The Cities Initiative states that "As good as the geology for the site and the engineering for the DGR may be, it is hard to believe that there might not be more appropriate site elsewhere.”

"From this text, it sounds like NIMBY at work," said Sutton. "However; from the first half of this statement, it appears that the Initiative recognizes that the geology and engineering are good. That, in itself, is a significant admission on the part of the Initiative.

"As far as their comment on only one site goes, only one site is considered for this application by the proponent, as the original impetus for the project came from the municipality in which the site is located."

Sutton said that a massive amount of research has been undertaken for this proposed DGR; the quality of this research is very high; international experts have been consulted; and extensive outreach and communications have taken place.

"I, as before, again concur with the conclusion that the DGR is not likely to result in any significant adverse residual effects to human health or the environment," he said. "I would again urge the Joint Review Panel to accept and approve OPG’s Environmental Impact Statement and the Preliminary Safety Report for the DGR.

"Further, that the Joint Review Panel allow the DGR project as proposed, to proceed onto the next step(s) in the process."

To read Sutton's complete presentation, click here, and to read his oral submission, click here.

Also making submissions Tuesday were former Kincardine councillor Barry Schmidt, Brockton mayor David Inglis, Saugeen Shores mayor Mike Smith, South Bruce mayor Bill Goetz, the Canadian Nuclear Society, and John Mann of Saugeen Shores.

The hearing continues Wednesday (Sept. 18), when site characterization will be discussed by OPG, Natural Resources Canada, and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, followed by presentations by the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, interventions by Sandy Greer, Charles Hazell, Northwatch, the Society of Professional Engineers, and oral statements by the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers, Jacques Boucher, and the Canadian Association of Nuclear Host Communities.



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Wednesday, September 18, 2013