(continued)

Quiet evening session at Day 5
of DGR hearing

By Liz Dadson

DGR Page

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Friday evening was a relatively quiet session during 

Day 5 of the Joint Review Panel hearing into Ontario Power Generation (OPG)'s proposal for a Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) for low-level and intermediate-level nuclear waste at the Bruce Nuclear site in the Municipality of Kincardine.

Presentations by Kincardine area residents supported the DGR proposal, while out-of-town presenters were opposed, with just a handful of people in the audience.

Stan Eby stepped to the microphone first, stating his support for the DGR.

A farmer for more than 40 years in Kincardine Township, he has two sons who continue to operate farms in the township. He served on municipal council, the local hospital board and as a 4-H leader.

He has seen his share of controversy, serving as president of the Ontario Cattlemen's Association in 2000, the year of the Walkerton contaminated drinking water crisis, and serving as president of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association from 2004-06, during the outbreak of BSE (commonly known as mad-cow disease).

"We are all responsible for our by-product or waste," he told the panel. "As a livestock farmer, my by-product (waste) is manure. We have guidelines on how best to store and apply this to our land so that it doesn't adversely affect the environment."

He said when the original Douglas Point project was built in the 1960s, there was a school of thought that scientific research would find a safe use for the by-product. In the same way, research and development have brought about excellent technologies for the agricultural industry.

"We must proceed with good peer-reviewed science and research," said Eby. "OPG has done this important research to ensure the ongoing safety of not only operations, but also the long-term safety of stored waste material.

"OPG has been very open and encouraged input from the community as it has planned this project. The nuclear power industry has been operating in our area for more than 50 years and it is important that it move from temporary to permanent storage for low- and intermediate-level waste. 

"I consider the Deep Geological Repository a responsible way to store the low and intermediate waste."

Panel member Dr. Gunter Muecke asked if Eby had an example from a committee that was incorporated into the planning of the DGR.

Eby said OPG was present at many farm functions, including fall fairs, and people were able to express their concern about the project.

"As a farmer, have you, yourself, experienced any adverse effects from the nearby Bruce Nuclear facility or the Western Waste Management Facility?" asked panel member Dr. Stella Swanson.

"I'm not aware of any adverse effects on our crops or livestock," said Eby. "We've seen better genetics, resulting in better crops and livestock - in fact, twice the gains of 40 years ago."

Panel member Dr. James Archibald asked if Eby had seen any stigma for selling products from his farm, due to the proximity to the nuclear plant.

"Absolutely not," said Eby. "I have never been questioned in any way by any of the agents we work with."

For Eby's presentation, click here.

PRESENTATION BY WOMEN in NUCLEAR (WiN)

Cheryl Cottrill and Nelly King of Women in Nuclear (WiN) Canada came forward in support of the DGR.

WiN-Canada represents more than 1,200 women and men across Canada, the majority are women who work in the generation of nuclear power at Bruce, Darlington and Pickering.

Cottrill said that WiN members devote a great deal of volunteer time working with young women and girls, introducing them to non-traditional, but rewarding, careers in science, technology and skilled trades.

"Our members come from a diverse background of work experience and education and are involved at every
level in the operation of generating electricity and waste management from maintenance workers, operators,
radiation technicians, to the role of vice-president," said Cottrill. 

"We work at nuclear generating stations and the Western Waste Management Facility by choice and live in the communities surrounding the station. We are highly- skilled workers who could work in any industry but choose to work in nuclear because we know that we are helping to produce a clean, safe, reliable, low-carbon baseload source of power that is an important part of Canada’s clean energyportfolio."

Safety is the number-one priority, said Cottrill. Workers at the Bruce site understand their responsibility to work safely, not only to protect the safety of fellow workers but to protect the safety of the communities in which their families and friends reside.

"This strong culture of safety also spills over to our activities outside of work, at home and in our volunteer activities in the community.

"Many of our members have raised their children within a close proximity to the Bruce Nuclear site. As moms,
we worry about many issues facing the safety and well- being of our children on a daily basis. The fact that
we live close to a nuclear generating station, that is also safely storing nuclear waste, is not an issue that keeps
us up at night."

She said Canada's nuclear plants have a proven track record of being among the safest in the world. "We would not work in this industry and live in these communities if we did not feel it was safe to do so. The safety of our families, friends and communities comes first before our chosen careers. We simply would never put them at risk."

Cottrill said she raised her children within eight kilometres of the Bruce site and she was never concerned about the safety of her family.

King moved to the Kincardine area in 2000 to work at the waste management facility and has never had any concerns about the health of her husband or her two young children.

She said much of OPG's low- and intermediate-level waste is already stored safely on the surface at the Bruce site. The industry has an obligation to find a long-term solution so this legacy is not left for future generations.

"A four-year program of geoscientific investigations, safety assessment, engineering and design and
environmental field studies in support of the Environmental Assessment process has concluded the DGR is unlikely to cause any significant adverse effects to the safety or workers, the environment or the public," said King.

"This documentation has been the subject of a very thorough and robust regulatory and public review process, held in an open and transparent manner, to ensure the proposed DGR is safe for the public and
environment."

She said OPG's commitment to public safety and environmental stewardship includes the safe, secure and responsible management of all nuclear waste.

"OPG has a successful history of safely storing its nuclear waste at all three of its waste management facilities
at the Bruce site for 40 years, Pickering site for 16 years, and Darlington site for five years," said King. "Many of our WiN members live in close proximity to these managed storage facilities with their families and have no concerns about safety.

"We are confident, given OPG’s long history in managing this nuclear waste that it is well equipped to manage the long-term storage of low- and intermediate-level waste.

"As of August 28, 2013, the Nuclear Waste
Management Division (for all three power plants) has worked 1,046,296 hours without a lost-time accident and their drivers are reaching three-million kilometres travelled without a preventable accident."

King said the DGR project will result in positive socio-economic effects, such as increased employment, income and business activity and municipal revenue. Pending licensing approval, site preparation and construction, the project is anticipated to take about five to seven years to complete. 

"The construction of the DGR will provide about 160 jobs on average over the duration of the project, with peaks in excess of 200 during the initial surface facility construction," said King. 

"About 40 permanent positions will be provided during operations. We would like to see our community’s young people remain in the Bruce area for employment. These highly-skilled jobs are also good-paying jobs, which will provide our families and friends with a good standard of
living, while working in a safe environment."

Cottrill said WiN-Canada supports the the approach of OPG in providing a long-term management plan for low- and intermediate-level waste.

"Because of our day-to-day interaction with the nuclear industry and our strong belief in the expertise of OPG’s employees and their proven history of responsible waste management, WiN-Canada supports OPG’s application before the Joint Review Panel," added King.

For the entire WiN-Canada presentation, click here.

 

PRESENTATION BY ALBERT KANTERS

Albert Kanters, an economic development and community planning professional, born and raised on Lake Huron and a summer resident of Southampton for 40 years, objects to the DGR project.

"I believe the strategy used by NWMO (Nuclear Waste Management Organization) and OPG to inform and engage the public on the DGR project has been counter-productive and divisive, creating unnecessary divisions and unrest in the affected communities," he said.

"From the outset, their approach has been secretive and exclusionary as is evidenced by the numerous private meetings held with local mayors without any public notice or involvement since 2005, as has been documented by Save Our Saugeen Shores through a public records request from NWMO."

Kanters said the enabling legislation to site a DGR requires an "informed and willing community," and to document the willingness of Kincardine to host the DGR, OPG presented a very unprofessional survey of a sampling of residents as its evidence.

"There is no evidence that the community, as a whole, was ever informed or educated as to the nature and extent of the DGR project and, as a result, there is NO credible evidence that Kincardine's residents are 'willing' to site a DGR in their community," he said.

"OPG's approach smacks of the outdated corporate baron approach to decision-making, where a few men, most with white hair, gathered at their private club, without benefit of complex studies, unconfused by hearings or referenda, and free of eavesdropping media, the gentlemen were able, somewhere between the appetizer and the Havanas, to decide how things were to be done and what resources would be used. The public got informed later."

He claimed OPG has made no realistic efforts to engage or educate the communities in question and has proceeded as if the location of the DGR at the Bruce site is a "fait accompli" with the so-called selection process being primarily a smoke screen to appease the concerns of government agencies and the public in general.

Kanters said OPG's approach appears solely based on a business plan to continue to maximize profits for the Bruce facility and not find the best alternative for the community and the corporation for the storage and disposal of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste.

"Since OPG has not attempted any relevant or effective community engagement for the siting of a DGR in Bruce County, in my opinion, their application should be rejected and they should be instructed to begin the process again," said Kanters.

"Are you familiar with the Kincardine hosting agreement and the payments to the surrounding municipalities?" asked Muecke.

"Yes," said Kanters. "Clearly, they are bribes."

Archibald asked what Kanters knew of the Centre for Excellence and related education resources.

"I am not familiar with any of that," said Kanters.

Swanson asked why Kanters believes there is no evidence of community engagement, considering there were public meetings and open houses held, and information mailings done.

"There was no realistic public engagement," said Kanters. "You can't provide that in a booth at a fall fair. You have to engage the community or you don't get the participation."

PRESENTATION BY GORDON ALBRIGHT

Professor R. Gordon Albright gave a lengthy diatribe against the DGR and nuclear energy, in general, saying nuclear generation and nuclear waste will eventually destroy the human race, no matter what we do now.

"To give ourselves any chance at all, we have to stop producing it, and do everything we can to keep all the radioactive waste that we can still control, completely and securely contained."

He said the nuclear industry has already released an enormous number of radioactive atoms into the biosphere and it can't operate without doing this.

"Unfortunately, we can't rely on our nuclear 'experts' to protect us, because history shows that they haven't even been able to protect themselves," said Albright, citing the pioneers of nuclear physics, including Marie Curie, Robert Oppenheimer and many Los Alamos scientists who lost their lives by exposing themselves to dangerous doses of nuclear radiation before they knew what they were doing.

PRESENTATION BY PROVINCIAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN OF ONTARIO

Gracia Janes of the Provincial Council of Women of Ontario continued the objection to the DGR project.

Speaking via telephone conference call, she said the council's concerns stem from the DGR being sited next to the much-needed and treasured Lake Huron and in the midst of a heavily-populated area whose more than 40-million residents on both sides of the border - Canada and the United States - rely on the health of the Great Lakes for a multitude of uses, such as fresh drinking water, environmental eco-systems, recreation, and the fishing industry.

"We feel it will be an extremely important challenge for the panel to somehow piece together the many complicated strands of information to determine if it is any less inconsistent, contradictory or inaccurate than the original identified problems," said Janes.

"Given the potential impacts on a treasured Great Lakes resource ... it is critical that the panel take an extremely precautionary view and make a protective decision to recommend refusal of OPG's application for a DGR for low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste."

PRESENTATION BY JENNIFER WEBB

And finally, Jennifer Webb, a real estate sales representative in Kincardine, put forward her support of the DGR.

She and her husband have lived in Kincardine since 1975 and have raised two daughters here..

"We love the community and we are confident in the safety of the Bruce Power station," she said. "They have a first-class safety record at the Bruce site and they provide good employment and good infrastructure.

"I have read the material and attended open houses and I have no reason to doubt that this safety record will continue with the DGR."

Webb said she is confident the project is safe and well-planned and it should proceed as soon as possible.

"As a realtor, this project is not impacting our market," she said. "We saw a surge of demand years ago when Bruce Power was undertaking a major refurbishment. Now, the market has returned to its normal level."

She said OPG is a good corporate citizen, participating and assisting with many groups and organizations.

"We, in Bruce County, have reaped the benefits of having the nuclear industry in our community," said Webb. "Now, we should be prepared to deal with the long-term storage of the nuclear waste for the benefit of our children and grandchildren."

Swanson asked Webb if there is a stigma that negatively affects tourism in the area.

"Absolutely not," said Webb. "People know there is a nuclear power station here. We have good real estate values and that's a benefit of the skilled and high-paid workforce in the area."

The hearing continues tomorrow beginning at 10 a.m. at the Kincardine Legion.



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