Recent DGR News
an overview

April 18, 2015


Written for Canadian Community News by Mike Sterling

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The Nuclear Waste Management Organization ( NWMO ) harvests world news on the nuclear industry with special attention paid to DGRs and the storage and transportation of nuclear material. Everything important is included from ardent anti-DGR/Nuclear views to science related information and regulatory news world-wide.  A pattern has emerged over time. 

It is very difficult to sustain the idea that many hold which is:

I'm for nuclear power production at the Bruce (or other sites), but I'm against long term storage in a DGR of radioactive waste anywhere nearby. 

That tightrope is hard to walk especially with a straight face.  The distance criteria fails to have an impact because the well organized protesters go far north and for that matter world-wide.

The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) testifying at the licensing proposal for an extension for Bruce Power that took place in Kincardine recently made themselves clear.

Executive Director Theresa McClenaghan of CELA said that their organization opposes at this time any extension of the license because of safety considerations.

I never mind this type of argument because it is not disguised in rhetoric or catch phrases. 

She also said that they are for the long term replacement of Nuclear Power by renewable energy.  That is their root postion and they are honest about it.

I like the fact that CELA does not hide their motives.  They were plain spoken at the long lasting DGR hearings too unlike the minions who adopted talking points of international activists.

I can repect CELA's position on renewable energy.  Anyone opposing long term use of renewable energy is mistaken.  It is a laudable goal.   The question is of course when and how?

No matter their position, what about the nuclear waste?  Why do so many oppose the storage methods studied by so many?

On other subjects ... 

Recently there was a confluence of events that made the scan even more meaningful.  

Included was the possible deal between Canada and India for uranium.  Also, there was information about Bruce Power's License  hearings with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) dealing with Bruce Power.  They made national news. These hearings have been reported in the Saugeen Times.

Also, in the general news from other sources there was chatter about transportation safety of hazardous materials.

Cleverly the nuclear anti-activists, did not direct it toward transportation of nuclear waste, nor to any one incident.  It was about toxic material spills during transportation of general waste.  These take place all the time.

Think about whizzing down the 401 behind a gas tanker truck. Think about being stopped at rail crossing.  I don't feel all that safe.  How about you?

If it was a cargo certified by CNSC containing nuclear waste, I would feel safe. I've looked at the transportation container design and seen the crash tests with speeding trains and the drop tests. The specifications are strict and the safety case is made.


Crash Test at Sandia Labs with 360,000 pounds of thrust

You see, the anti-activists plain and simple use train or cargo accidents to point at the nuclear industry without regard to all the transportation tests that have taken place and the millions and more shipments going on in North America each year. 

It's a clever transfer of focus, much like a magician does in an act.

Look here, not there! 

The implications are attractive.  If you are worried about a highway oil spill, just think about radioactive waste! But, there is a vast difference in the care taken.

Does the petroleum industry adhere to strict transportation guidelines?  Yes, but nowhere near the Nuclear Power Industry standards in Canada supervised by CNSC.

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With regard to the safety issue the anti-folks rarely, if ever mention the continued increase in drones.  They don't connect with some guy landing on the US Capital lawn in a one man 'copter'.  That happened this week.  Why don't they jump on these things?

The reason is that such events  point to the need for DGRs.

There was a report recently on a  DGR proposal from the United Kingdom.  It was interesting. 

Instead of a large DGR, a few scientists propose deep bore holes in which high level waste can, in their opinion, be stored by lowering it into the bore holes. 

Let's go over that again.  Instead of one big shaft reaching a terminus and then spreading out to storage chambers, they propose many very deep bore holes in which the high level fuel bundles can be lowered.  They point to cost for making this attractive.  They talk about sealing it as they go.

Ok, that's just another promising proposal that will take years, if not decades to study and test. 

What is interesting in the proposal is the statement that deep storage is the obvious and best means of disposal with a capping of the bore holes.

Sounds like deep deposit as recommended in Canada, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the USA and others.

Let's go back to the India-Canada deal on uranium.  Canada had a contract to supply India Uranium in the past.  They had deals on the CANDU reactor too, so the connection is strong and the waste similar.

Of course everyone knows that India used some of the uranium to build a bomb.  This was not allowed by the agreement.  That's water under the bridge.  How about now?  Shouldn't India sign on to the non-proliferation agreements?

Canada and India share some technology and India is thought to be expanding their nuclear industry.  Why the expansion?

The reason is cost and exponential economic growth not bombs. Renewable energy will not do for now because of demand.

They have huge needs for power that coal, solar, natural gas, hydro and wind cannot support in the time frame desired.  They don't reject these energy forms.  Also, they do not wish to depend upon Russia totally for uranium, so they turn to Canada.

I don't know what a deal with India  entails, but we have learned that long term inspection by international organizations over the use of uranium would be in order. 

 What else?

I think that India should be required to follow Canada's  lead on DGR disposal of the waste up front before a final deal is consummated. 

India should follow Canada's path with Adaptive Phased Management of the waste as proposed by NWMO.  

They should look at NWMO's process in detail. There is little gained and a lot to lose by allowing India to store spent fuel and low and intermediate waste above ground.

India has a poor environmental record.  The world is not blind to it, nor is it dumb. 

Next time you take your e-waste to the landfill, think about India's terrible record for e-waste disposal. 

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Much of e-waste ends up in the far east as components are systimatically broken down for salvage of copper, gold and other  materials. What can't be used is not cared for with the environment in mind

I'm sure that Canada's negotiators have thought of all that I've mentioned here.  Let's hope so.


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Saturday, April 18, 2015