Kincardine Mayor gives supporting testimonial at JRP hearing

by Sandy Lindsay of Saugeen Times


September 11, 2014


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Kincardine Mayor, Larry Kraemer, presented on Thursday (Sept. 11/14) before the Joint Review Panel (JRP) hearing, regarding the proposed deep geologic repository (DGR) at the Bruce Nuclear site in Tiverton, Bruce County (Ontario), and came out in support of the project.

According to Kraemer, the Municipality believes the methodology approach is reasonable and the outcomes are appropriate.  The anticipated affects, Kraemer said, are also consistent with the Municipality's own experience with large infrastructure projects regarding noise and dust which are further supported by an independent peer review undertaken by town consultants.

Kraemer said that the town was satisfied that the project would not have adverse affects and that Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) commitment to place burms and vegetation around the perimeter of the DGR project site are similar to effective. measures that the town asks of developers seeking building permits, to control dust and noise.

"OPG has a very effective environmental management program," said Kraemer, "and it is anticipated that should any environmental issues arise during construction, they would be identified and resolved through this management system. Additional detailed information provided on the four alternative means analyzed are consistent with Kincardine's similar research and experience conducted over a decade ago."

"It was the Municipality of Kincardine that, in 2001, first approached OPG about the long-term management of low and intermediate level waste (L&ILW) at the Bruce Nuclear site and, in 2002, a joint memorandum of understanding was signed between OPG and Kincardine to study options and alternative means for the long-term management of the waste."

Kraemer said that a consultant's report was prepared in 2004, titled an 'Independent Assessment of Long-Term Management Options for Low and Intermediate Level Waste' at the Western Waste Management Facility (WWMF). 

The study, as presented to the JRP at earlier hearings, examined the costs, impacts and benefits of constructing and operating long-term waste management concepts at the WWMF.

Sustained surface storage, which is the status quo today, enhanced processing and storage, surface concrete vaults and shallow vaults and a deep rock repository are the four alternatives being considered.

Kincardine did not look at alternative sites but looked at options for the Bruce. "Before doing that however," Kraemer pointed out. "the Municipality looked at other communities in the world and studied their siting experiences.  The community of Port Hope (ON) was studied and it was found that, after 20 years and polling every municipality in Ontario, there was only one expression of interest and that was from the existing nuclear host community, Chalk River." 

The Municipality also studied the U.S. 'co-op system' where co-ops would be formed between various states for low and intermediate level waste and, at the time of Kincardine's decision, they (U.S.) had been doing that for 25 years with no successful siting.

"These, along with the creation of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), a federally incorporated entity with a specific duty/mandate of finding a host site somewhere in Canada," said Kraemer, "did not give us a lot of faith that a community would step forward and, since 2001, when we started down this road, no other community has expressed an interest in being the host for this obligation.  So, we believe as a community, it is unlikely that any others will step forward."

"We also believe we have a responsibility," added Kraemer, "that, as a community, we should work collaboratively with the nuclear industry to arrive at a solution in our own 'home'."

The deep geologic repository (DGR) or deep rock vault, according to Kraemer, provides the best long-term safety for the waste.  "Kincardine has also found that studies and work performed by the municipality and OPG and the most recent effort by the Independent Energy Group (IEG) sets out why a deep geologic repository is the best option for disposal of the waste."

He pointed out that while all options met the safety and economic, visits and studies show that the Kincardine area was the most suitable and would provide the highest option for safety.

Kraemer went on to say that the community knew that the storage being used was always considered as temporary or interim and it was on that basis that the Municipality endorsed the option that the Nuclear Waste Steering Committee support the deep rock vault as the preferred course of study.

Although all four options were equal in that they provided no likelihood that the public would accept any of them, the Municipality made the best effort possible to become fully informed prior to making a decision.

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"Our community's personal experience with the nuclear industry, coupled with travels to various international sites," explained Kraemer, "also helped to form our decision to support a deep geological repository site.  As an existing nuclear community, we are aware of the risks that come with a nuclear facility.  This awareness makes the community more receptive to hosting nuclear facilities based on residents' knowledge through direct and indirect involvement in the ongoing safe operation of nuclear facilities."

He added that residents know the people in the community who, on a daily basis, work in the nuclear industry and that many years of hard work has resulted in an open and transparent communication. 

"This community knows and understands nuclear," said Kraemer, "and it has been part of our community for almost 50 years.  It is this understanding of nuclear and those responsible for its safe management that is the foundation for the acceptance and trust that has been created.   This is the basis of our continued support for the deep geologic repository and is continually reinforced through our ability to participate in decisions and to continuously monitor progress."

Kraemer also referred to the two incidents at the WIPP and said that they were of concern to Kincardine and that he and several municipal councilors had visited the site first-hand.  He said that he was confident that many of the contributing factors in the two incidents were related to human factors and did not undermine the safety case of the repository.

Fire safety and protection was also considered by the municipality to be a primary concern and that OPG was working within a reciprocal agreement to provide fire and mine rescue workers.

"The combined decades of experience in operating a nuclear power plant and managing waste gives us confidence in OPG to bring the same rigorous approach to the long-term management of waste in the DGR."

When the question was asked about possible expansion of the proposed DGR that would result in a larger facility than first anticipated, Kraemer said that future expansion is viewed in two ways.

"Down the road, we know there will be a day when these facilities will be decommissioned an dismantled," said Kraemer.  "I visited a facility in Spain that is going through the process and a repository or storage for end waste from decommissioning was essential so that the plants could be safely dismantled at some point in the future. So, we are quite aware of the issue and some day it will be an issue here."

The other side however, according to Kraemer, is that it would be the subject of another hearing and it would be a whole other generation of people who would have to examine the relative desirability of a DGR.

"Should this project go forward, which I believe it should," added Kraemer, "there will be an awful lot less theory and an awful lot more practical experience available to the people who will make that decision at that time.  One of the issues locally, as it stands right now, a DGR is theoretical in Canada, where most people have not seen them in operation in other places in the world, such as Sweden and the U.S., Finland and France.  Should this project go forward, it will mean a breadth of experience in order to make decisions from first-hand knowledge of operation and results."

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Thursday, September 11, 2014