Bluewater Coalition spokesperson presents submission at DGR hearing
October 1, 2013
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"We are asking the Joint Panel Review to deny the proponent's (OPG) license application for the Low and Intermediate Level Waste (L&ILW) Deep Geological Repository (DGR) in Kincardine," said Cheryl Grace, spokesperson for the Bluewater Coalition Against the DGRs and a Director on the Boards of Save Our Saugeen Shores (SOS) and the Southampton Residents Association (SRA).
Grace presented a submission on behalf of the Coalition group at the month-long Joint Panel Review (JPR) hearings being held in Kincardine, Ontario.
The JPR has been listening to various groups and individuals who are opposed to the proposed DGR and who have been raising their concerns on the location of the DGR at the Bruce Nuclear site.
The proposed DGR is for the burial of low and intermediate waste generated by nuclear faclities in Ontario, including Darlington, Pickering and Bruce Nuclear.
In addition, the proponent, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission along with field specific experts have been presenting their side of the proposed application, the process of which has now been on-going for 13 years.
The Bluewater Coalition was formed in 2012 by citizens from Bruce, Grey and Huron Counties, some of whom also belong to other anti-DGR groups, including Save our Saugeen Shores (SOS), the Inverhuron Committee and the Huron-Grey-Bruce Citizens Committee on Nuclear Waste.
According to Grace, the main thrust of the organization is a focus on public engagement and the perceived lack of transparency by the proponent, Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) and municipal officials in five communities throughout the Counties.
In the group's submission, Grace asked that the JRP consider three questions:
Referring to Grace's first question, she pointed out that, in 2012, Bruce Power donated over $1.4 million to "... dozens of local community organizations and non-profit groups for projects that benefit health and wellness, community, youth development, events, Aboriginal programs, military veterans and first responders."
In addition, she pointed out that NWMO has also dispersed over 99 per cent (99%) of the DGR Community Partnership program's $100,000 budget with one third going toward environmental initiatives, such as stream rehabilitation, tree planting, dune restoration and trail development programs. The balance of two thirds went toward the Chesley Medical Clinic, Teeswater Streetscape improvement, the Historic Saugeen Métis Rendezvous, Walkerton Community Centre Renovation, Bluewater Park Splash Pad and other community projects.
Grace also said that Bruce Nuclear Power is a large employer in the county and region, employing some 3,500 while alluding to the fact that some of its employees or retirees, such as Glenn Sutton (former Mayor of Kincardine) and current Mayor of Saugeen Shores, Mike Smith, sit on local municipal governments.
While Bruce and surrounding counties "... have benefitted economically, the fact remains that a significant portion of the population feels a sense of indebtedness, comfort and loyalty to the nuclear industry. With lucrative salaries and benefits, living in close proximity to nuclear operations without a catastrophic accident, the generous nuclear industry support of 'well-publicized' community projects such as medical, public parks & recreation facilities, academic scholarships, beach parties, fairs and fests, golf tournaments, etc. ... what unease is produced if someone starts to question the safety of one of the central industries in their community?"
According to Grace, Bruce County municipalities, including Saugeen Shores have been influenced by the money received as a result of the hosting agreement signed by OPG and Kincardine in 2004.
In her submission, she also accused OPG/NWMO of being "... guilty of either incompetence or deception. With this shoddy standard (no formal minutes at some meetings), what hope does the public have going forard that the circumstances surrounding this project will be transparent?"
In a strong subsequent statement, Grace stated that "... the failure to insist minutes be taken is either a spectacularly incompetent oversight or it was an intentional action designed to keep the activities of this group hidden from public scrutiny and oversight."
Bluewater Coalition Spokesperson and Director on Boards of Save our Saugeen Shores (SOS) and Southampton Residents Association (SRA)
In conclusion, Grace said that "...workforce and economic dependence and obligation, large and well-publicized industry contributions to the community, as well as the population's comfort with nuclear operations have contributed to the regional governments' and populations' acceptance of the DGR project ... it is not uncommon for local municipal mayors annd councilors to have personal professional ties to the nuclear industry, through their own employment of a family member's."
According to Grace, the Coalition submission "reveals serious flaws in OPG's public consultation practices regarding the proposed DGR project."
The Coalition has gone back to 2004 searching through Town Council and County Council minutes to support its view that the municipal and county officials have allegedly passed resolutions in support of the DGR.
"We have been working on this campaign for nine months," she said, "and it has been like pulling teeth to get information."
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