SRA holds annual general meeting
by Sandy Lindsay
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Audience listens to various speakers at AGM
Approximately 200 people turned out for the 2012 Southampton Residents' Association (SRA) annual general meeting (AGM) held at Southampton's Town Hall on Saturday, July 14.
Although the agenda touched on a variety of topics, including water quality testing, the Town's Official Plan, gateway signage refurbishment and the upcoming annual golf tournament, funds from which will be used for community projects by the SRA, the majority of the two-hour meeting was taken up with discussion on the proposed deep geologic depository (DGR).
Saugeen Shores Town Council voted on May 14 to move to Step 2 in the learning process of a DGR site location being conducted by Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), a Federal Government body created to examine waste management possibilities for nuclear spent fuel. The town is one of several that have now put their communities forward to learn more information on the possibility of being a host for a DGR.
SRA President, Ken Robertson, presented his report that focused primarily on the DGR. He said that the SRA Board surveyed its membership and according to Robertson, the majority was against a "nuclear dump" coming to Saugeen Shores. "Let me be clear," said Robertson, "... we are not anti-nuclear , we do not want to see support for a reduction in services ongoing , we acknowledge their ongoing contributions to our community, we support a long-term strategy to deal with the spent nuclear fuel but .... our position is simple, there must be a better place for all of Canada's high-level nuclear waste than here in Saugeen Shores. We are concerned about the stigma affects of a 'nuclear dump' .... on property values and tourism." [At this point, Robertson held up a framed photo of an article on Southampton's sunset that was in the Toronto Star some 10 years ago.] "We don't want to be branded, or re-branded as home of Canada's national 'nuclear dump' site."
Despite the fact that four newly elected SRA Board members are also with the SOS, Robertson said, "While we have shared funding with the SOS on the long-time campaign and household flyers, we have not joined with the SOS. We are not in partnership with them, although we do partner with them on some of the campaign on the waste management process. We do also share with them a focus against the nuclear dump."
The keynote speaker at the AGM was, once again, John Jackson of Great Lakes United, who spoke at the spring 'town hall' meeting held in April, that was organized by Save our Saugeen Shores (SOS) and the SRA in Southampton. His talk at the AGM touched on the many points that he raised in his previous presentation.
Jackson travels extensively talking to various community groups on issues that are related to the Great Lakes and/or the environment. "One of the big threats to the Great Lakes is the nuclear activity around the basin [Great Lakes] on both sides of the border [Canada-U.S. and nuclear related facilities .. and one that we really have to keep an eye on."
He also referred to the proposed shipments of radioactive materials that were to have been shipped to Europe [Sweden] for recyclng and that has been put on hold, and went on to hypothesize about nuclear waste management in the future, drawing similarities to a hazardous waste facility built in Alberta [Swan Hills] several years ago.
With all spent fuel now being stored above ground, Jackson said that he felt it was a better solution as it would be easier to 'monitor'. "We cannot make predictions into the future." He also touched on transportation, both by land and via shipping. " I am saying I don't think we are in a situation to have a centralized storage but to have each site where there is nuclear activity to have its own storage site."
He admitted however, that the spent fuel cannot remain in an open water pool as they are now. He referred to the keg/casks that now hold the fuel after it is removed from the pool and how the U.S. is "worried about them given homeland security and the possibility of terrorism."
"NWMO are promoters and not a neutral body that brings the pros and cons but present a PR exercise," said Jackson. "You do not want to become a single industry community."
SOS and new SRA Board member, Pat Gibbons, also spoke on the proposed DGR and what he referred to as 'myths'. Among the myths that he said the Town is putting forward are:
- The Mayor and council want to hear from you.
- It will be the community's decision
- We produce the waste here, so we should store it here
- We are just part of the NIMBY [mentality]
- It can be done safely
- There are huge sums of money promised with no
- It will create a large number of jobs
- Bruce County jobs are all energy sector
He encouraged those in the audience to send emails to town council, sign petitions, join the SRA and put up signs.
Following Gibbons, a question and answer period followed.
Among the questioners was Maria Wilson, a former diplomat from Mexico and a permanent resident of Southampton. "In my view," she said, "the matter is a national one and not one for a small community to decide." She also asked why the Mayor and/or councilors were not in attendance.
Robertson replied that Council had not been specifically invited but that all advertising said 'everyone welcome'.
Summer resident, 'Marueen', wanted to know why there isn't more publicity regarding the 'dump, "especially in Toronto". Board Members, Wayne MacDonald replied that various media had been contact but, "if it doesn't happen in Toronto, it doesn't happen ... they aren't ready yet to spring the money to send people here to do good stories."
Resident Pat Bowers, asked if the present system of cooling and storing could be continue to negate the proposed DGR. Jackson answered saying that "The big advantage of above ground is we can see it, we can monitor it, we can get new casks ... in the thing deep in the ground, we don't know what's happening. We can keep on top of it and if they like to use adaptive management then above ground is adaptive management."
"Then would you say it [above ground] is a win-win situation," asked Bowers. To which Jackson replied, "Yes."
Robertson added that "No one here is a nuclear expert. It may well be safe to store it in the ground but we don't want to be part of a process to bring it to Saugeen Shores and if they can find a place where it's safe then we are not trying to challenge the process ... we are challenging the process of bringing a 'nuclear dump' site here."
Archie Gillies, a former Chair of Economic Development and President of the Chamber of Commerce, said, "I have made my position about the repository ... it should be down at the Bruce - the devil you have is the devil you know. But I do take extreme issue with is the destructive method of marketing your position with the billboards and other issues and the damage to the economic of this community and for the future. Derogatory billboards on Hwy 21 and signs all over the place and you are doing irreparable damage to the future of business in this community."
"We are not the problem here, we are the symptom," said Robertson. "Leadership, and leaders like Council, should know if they create a problem there are symptoms. We did not decide to bring a nuclear dump here. We are just exercising our democratic right."
Member, Andy Skrypniak, whose wife Lorisa is a Board member, said that they are looking forward to retiring in Southampton one day who "...don't want the stigma of a DGR in the neighbourhood". "We (SRA) have $14,000 - $15,000 set aside for a fight. It's going to be an expensive fight if we need to hire lawyers and we need to take on council but I think that's the route we're going to have to take. Council stopped listening and the courts are probably the simplest for us." He encouraged those in attendance to contribute $100 toward the build-up of a 'war chest' to get the job done.
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Sunday, July 15, 2012