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Packed auditorium for opening day of Joint Panel Review hearing into proposed DGR in Kincardine
By Liz Dadson

DGR Page

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The Joint Review Panel into OPG's proposed DGR for low-level and intermediate-level nuclear waste, opened its hearing in Kincardine at the Legion Hall Monday afternoon (Sept. 16); panel members and staff include, Dr. Gunter Muecke (L), legal counsel Denis Saumure, chairperson Dr. Stella Swanson, co-manager Kelly McGee, and Dr. Jamie Archibald

It was a packed auditorium at the Kincardine Legion yesterday afternoon (Sept. 16), as the Joint Review Panel public hearing began.

The three-member panel is reviewing Ontario Power Generation (OPG)'s proposed Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) for low-level and intermediate-level nuclear waste at the Bruce Nuclear site in the Municipality of Kincardine, along Lake Huron.

Chairing the panel is Dr. Stella Swanson whose 30-year career included management of the Aquatic Biologic Group at the Saskatchewan Research Council. Her experience includes assessing the impact of the nuclear fuel cycle on human health and the environment, including uranium mining and milling, nuclear power plants, and nuclear waste storage.

Joining her on the panel is Dr. James (Jamie) F. Archibald whose current research interests include assessment of innovative forms of backfill media, development of rapidly deployable spray-on lining supports for underground hard rock mines and the use of similar spray liner agents for acid mine drainage control. He has knowledge and direct experience of both the federal and provincial Environmental Assessment processes, having been an appointed member of the federal-provincial review panel for new uranium mine developments in Saskatchewan.

Also on the panel is Dr. Gunter Muecke who began his career as a field geologist for Shell Canada and became a lecturer in mineralogy at Oxford University, followed by a teaching career at Dalhousie University in the department of geology and earth sciences. He has knowledge and direct experience of both the federal and provincial Environmental Assessment processes, having been an appointed member of the federal-provincial review panel for the Whites Point Quarry and Marine Terminal Project and as a member of the review panel for the Kelly's Mountain Coastal Superquarry Project.

The hearing began with opening statements by the Saugeen Ojibway Nations (SON), OPG and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

Chief Randall Kahgee of Saugeen First Nation gave a passionate speech about the need to consult with SON on this project because it has direct impacts on the people and their homeland.

"OPG has proposed to build a Deep Geologic Repository for the permanent disposal of low and intermediate level nuclear wastes at the Bruce Nuclear site, in the heart of SON’s traditional territory," he said. "SON has consistently expressed a fundamental and abiding concern that the DGR project poses a grave threat to its people's rights, interests and way of life.

"Concerns arise from the untested nature of the technology being used and the permanent—and irreversible— changes the project will bring to SON traditional territory."

Kahgee said another principal concern remains that the DGR project has not been understood in the context of existing nuclear issues at the Bruce Nuclear site, including its connection to the long-term management plan for spent nuclear fuel. These concerns have resulted in a significant lack of confidence in the development process for the project and an overall anxiety about the threat it poses to the SON people.

"OPG has failed to adequately identify, understand and address these concerns," said Kahgee. "Consequently, the evidentiary record before the panel is incomplete and provides an insufficient basis on which to recommend
approval of the project at this time."

However, he noted that OPG has now recognized the need for SON's support and has committed to SON that it will not proceed with construction of the DGR project until such time as the SON community is supportive of the project. This commitment was made by letter, dated 
Aug. 7, from OPG president Tom Mitchell to the SON chiefs.

"SON commends OPG for taking this positive and necessary step," Kahgee said. "Only through the fulfillment of this commitment and the implementation of a process between SON and OPG to fully identify and address SON community concerns, leading to a clear demonstration of support by the SON communities, can the DGR project be approved and proceed to licensing, and ultimatelyconstruction."

He said that SON was not consulted when the Douglas Point nuclear generating station was built at the Bruce site in the 1960s, nor was it consulted when the Western Waste Management Facility was built in the 1970s.

"The old ways of doing business are over," said Kahgee. "We don't believe that OPG, the CNSC or the Joint Review Panel know the full story on whether this is a safe project."

To read SON's entire submission to the review panel, click here.

PRESENTATION BY OPG

OPG's Laurie Swami was next up, outlining the DGR project.

She said the Municipality of Kincardine approached OPG about being a willing host community for the DGR, and it made sense since the Western Waste Management Facility, which accepts all low-level and intermediate-level nuclear waste from OPG's reactors, is already located at the Bruce site.

Swami said that OPG is not seeking a waste solution beyond 2020. However, she noted that safe expansion of the DGR in Kincardine is possible.

Following the Memorandum of Understanding with Kincardine in 2004, and the community consultation poll in 2005, a hosting agreement was struck and the process was under way.

Swami also outlined the Environment Assessment (EA) undertaken by OPG for this project. NWMO has been brought on to provide expertise through the regulatory approvals process, she added.

The EA results showed the DGR is not likely to have any adverse effects on the health or the environment in the project area.

 

OPG's presentation states that the company is qualified to prepare the site for, and to construct, the DGR safely, with no unreasonable risks to the environment or to the health and safety of persons, and respectfully requests that a site preparation and construction licence be granted for a duration of 10 years.

For OPG's entire presentation, click here.

OPG was questioned at length about the project.

Archibald wondered how the geology could be ascertained from only six boreholes.

Frank King of NWMO and Mark Jensen of OPG explained that the results from those boreholes were predictable and repetitive, providing consistent data.

Swanson asked about public engagement outside the regional area.

King said that in the early days, there was no concern beyond the actual DGR site, so there was no suggestion of expanding the public engagement beyond the regional
study area.

OPG did hold extensive community engagement, including open houses, newsletters and a website, he said.

During a number of questions about long-term storage of nuclear fuel, Swanson had to remind the audience that the Joint Review Panel was not considering long-term management of used nuclear fuel within its terms of reference for this hearing.

A question was raised about whether OPG looked at any other location besides Kincardine.

"We considered that the Bruce Nuclear site was under our control," said Swami. "It was available to OPG, and it was a safe site within our control."

"So, the answer is no," said Swanson.

PRESENTATION BY CNSC

The CNSC made its presentation, noting that consultation with the SON has been ongoing since 2006.

In reviewing OPG's submission, the CNSC has concluded that the DGR project would have no impacts on any potential or established Aboriginal treaty rights.

The CNSC supports the project submission by OPG.

"Our assessment concludes that there would likely be no significant adverse effects," said Patsy Thompson, CNSC staff.

Under questioning, Swami said that one of the reactors at the Pickering nuclear station is to be shut down at the end of 2020. The decommissioned waste from that reactor could be placed in OPG's DGR, provided it met the requirements.

"CNSC requires characterization and volume of the waste," added Peter Elder, CNSC staff. "OPG would have to prove that the decommissioned waste fit within that criteria. Otherwise, it could trigger another EA."

The hearing continues Tuesday (Sept. 17), with presentations by OPG and the CNSC, as well as the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, Kincardine resident Norman Annetts, Brockton mayor David Inglis, Huron-Kinloss mayor Mitch Twolan, Saugeen Shores mayor Mike Smith, South Bruce mayor Bill Goetz, former Kincardine deputy mayor Laura Haight, the Canadian Nuclear Society's Colin Hunt, Saugeen Shores resident John Mann, former Kincardine mayor Glenn Sutton, and former Kincardine councillor Barry Schmidt.

On weekdays, the morning sessions begin at 9 a.m., afternoon sessions at 2 p.m., and evening sessions at 7 p.m. Each session continues for about three to four hours. Session breaks are 1.5-two hours long.

All hearing documents will be made available on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Registry through the Hearing Documents link.

The hearing proceedings will be webcast live by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Go to www.nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng to access the webcast.

A daily agenda will be available before the start of each hearing day. The daily agenda will reflect any changes that have been made to the hearing schedule.

Written transcripts of the proceedings will be available as soon as possible following each hearing day.

Time permitting, members of the public who have not already done so, may have the opportunity to register at the hearing to make an oral statement to the panel.

Simultaneous translation of the oral proceedings will be available in French and English.

Public access to the Internet will not be provided by the panel in the hearing room.

All individuals must be prepared to have their bags and briefcases searched by police or security personnel before entering the hearing room.

Upon arrival, Registered Participants are asked to identify themselves to a member of the Joint Review Panel Secretariat (members of the Secretariat will be wearing name tags).

Registered Participants must ensure that the Secretariat has their local contact information so that they can be reached in case of changes to the schedule.

Registered Participants should arrive before the start of the session(s) in which they are scheduled to present to the panel, in case of a change in scheduling.

Presentation equipment (laptop & projector) is provided by the panel. Presentation material will be loaded in advance of each session.



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Monday, September 16, 2013