DGR project offers economic opportunities for region,
PREDC tells panel

By Liz Dadson

DGR Page/Video

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Ontario Power Generation (OPG)'s proposed Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) for low-level and intermediate-level nuclear waste offers economic opportunities for Kincardine and the surrounding region.

That's the word from Gerry Taylor, executive director of the Penetangore Regional Economic Development Corporation (PREDC).

Taylor spoke to the Joint Review Panel Saturday afternoon during Day 6 of the hearing into the project, held at the Kincardine Legion. The DGR is slated to be built at the Bruce Nuclear site in the Municipality of Kincardine.

In his presentation, Taylor noted that PREDC was incorporated in June, 2011, and is committed to improving the sustainable well-being of Kincardine and the surrounding area.

Led by seven board directors and two staff, with a notable diversity of backgrounds, the team's goal is to attract new community investment and establish partnerships to strengthen business retention and identify new economic growth opportunities.

Taylor said that nuclear power generation has been a key component of the Kincardine community for many years, since the construction of Douglas Point in the 1960s.

"Nuclear is an important aspect as to who we are as a community," he said. "There is a high level of acceptance and understanding. The community is not ignorant of what goes on at the site, but employees live in the community, volunteer, raise families, contribute, and talk about the site. People are proud of their work and the work of the industry."

He said in 2010, there was a campaign to lobby the provincial government for a new generating station, 
Bruce C, which drew more than 10,000 signatures locally.

Taylor said the nuclear industry is highly-regulated by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and residents trust the industry, trust the expertise of those who work there, and have confidence in the regulatory process.

"Low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste has already been safely managed at the Bruce site for more than 40 years," he said. "Much of the waste destined for the DGR is already safely managed there. The DGR project will simply provide a safer place for the waste."

He said Kincardine council indicated its preference for the DGR option after reviewing several different technologies. "It was an informed decision based on both technical and social knowledge."

The municipality conducted a polling of residents, 18 years of age and older, said Taylor, and 71 per cent of eligible households participated, with 60 per cent in favour of a DGR.

"PREDC is aware that Kincardine preferred the DGR because it reflects best international practice for the long-term management of low- and intermediate-level waste, provides the greatest safety margin and will provide additional economic benefits to the community," he said.

"Our community deserves the best option available for the long-term management of the low- and intermediate-level waste, and PREDC supports this decision."

Taylor said that PREDC believes the DGR project should go forward because of the following:

  • The Bruce Nuclear site is the right location
  • The Environmental Impact Statement, to be verified and publicly vetted through the regulatory approvals process, concludes that it is unlikely there will be any adverse effects from the DGR on the environment or human health
  • There will be additional economic benefits from the DGR project in terms of employment and spending
  • The public has been made aware of the DGR project with many opportunities over the years to become informed and provide comment
  • The community supports the project
  • The DGR is the ethical thing to do on behalf of the present and future generations

"We respectfully ask the Joint Review Panel to recommend to the federal minister of the environment acceptance of the conclusions of the DGR's Environmental Impact Statement so the project can be considered for a site preparation/construction licence."

Panel member Dr. James Archibald asked Taylor if there are any training initiatives being developed in Kincardine if the DGR project were to go ahead.

Taylor said PREDC is located in the Lake Huron Learning Centre in Kincardine where a budding post-secondary learning program is growing. This could bring added value to various training programs, such as nuclear training through OPG and other community-type training offerings.

Participant Peter Storck asked Taylor how having a DGR would contribute to the sustainability of a community already heavily weighted on the nuclear industry.

"We are looking at economic diversity for the entire community of Kincardine and area," said Taylor. "I came here from Sault Ste. Marie, a single-industry town. There are some risks to being a single-industry town. We need to look at other opportunities and attract new business to the area."


Gerry Taylor, executive director of the Penetangore Regional Economic Development Corporation, responds to questions from the media at Day 6 of the DGR hearing in Kincardine
Video by Sandy Lindsay, Saugeen Times

Also addressing the panel Saturday afternoon were Emily Weber of Manitoulin Island, speaking via conference call, and Charles Rhodes of Xylene Power Ltd.

Weber urged the panel to remember the importance of life-giving water and how important the Great Lakes are in providing this valuable resource.

"We have an intimate relationship with water," she said. "We have to have a deep concern, and respect for, water."

She objects to the DGR project and recommends a new approach to the use of nuclear energy.

Meanwhile, Rhodes urged OPG to abandon the concept of a low, wet and expensive DGR in favour of a high, dry, above-ground and inexpensive DGR, such as is available at the Jersey Emerald property in British Columbia.

This property is an area of about 4,000 hectares between the Salmo River on the west and the top of Nevada Mountain on the east, and is bounded by Sheep Creek on the north and Lost Creek on the south.

A former mining location, it is available for purchase and would be cheaper than the Bruce Nuclear DGR, said Rhodes.

He said that estimates by Sultan Minerals Inc. indicate that reopening the Jersey Emerald facility for mining requires an investment of about $100-million in addition to the Jersey Emerald purchase price. 

Sultan Minerals Inc. believes that it can contribute $70-million by way of a bank loan toward this investment in return for exclusive mineral extraction rights at Jersey Emerald. These rights would not reduce the net available area suitable for storage of nuclear waste. Sultan Minerals seeks $30-million from others toward the cost of reopening Jersey Emerald.

Rhodes was presenting the Sultan Minerals Inc. information through Arthur G. Troup, the company's chief executive officer.

To read Rhodes' entire presentation, click here.

Archibald asked OPG if it would consider this alternate site.

Dr. Mark Jensen of OPG said there would be significant transportation issues between the Bruce site and B.C., so this site is not a practical option for the DGR.

The hearing continues Monday, Sept. 23 at 9 a.m., at the Kincardine Legion.

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Saturday, September 21, 2013