JRP Report

The Panel Qualifications

May 14, 2015


Written for Canadian Community News by Mike Sterling

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The backlash concerning the Joint Review Panel's recommendation on the proposed DGR takes many forms.  It comes from the same sources that have been waving from the sidelines and putting up signs since they became aware of the 14 year long project. They ignored it for many years and now claim lack of outreach on the part of OPG, which is nonsense.

One thing that seems to be missing from the anti-side is direct attacks on the panel members themselves.  Did I miss something?  Why no biting comments about them?  They are the ones that made the recommendation based upon the facts.

There is the proponent Ontario Power Generation and the regulator CNSC too.  Then there is the NWMO who have been taking care of the waste for years. The panel wrote the report, however.

Many of the anti-activists lead off with a statement that they are NOT anti-nuclear, but then proceed to tear away at the fabric of the organizations involved.  Every deputation from them before councils has the same structure.

The JRP rarely is subject to scorn other than the implied inclusion of the JRP in the phrases that begin with THEY .... meaning OPG, NWMO, SNSC and the JRP.

Let's look first at the responsibility of the panel.  What is it?  In one word it is SAFETY.  The JRP had an awesome responsibility and they knew it.  They could easily have 'punted' and said that more study is needed after 14 years and millions upon millions of dollars invested in the project and running into the millions for outreach of information to the public, other agencies and the United States agencies too.  They did not punt.  Why? 

The reason is that they considered all the alternatives including do nothing and came out clearly that the DGR at the Bruce is the safest alternative. 

There they are -- three people of impeccable backgrounds reviewing thousands of pages of information and hundreds of individual testimonies and reports.  They say yes to the safest solution proposed including all the anti-people's meanderings.

Sometimes they had to act as teacher to some anti-representatives as their questions were so far off base that there was no place to direct them.  In those cases, they just asked a question as a substitute much to the bewilderment of the anti-faction.  Dr. Swanson was very diplomatic.  Read the record and you'll see.

In the future we will examine each chapter of the JRP's conclusion document, but now let's just look at the panel.  Who are they?  Are they qualified?  See bios in the second column.

It's an all-star threesome with very quick and incisive minds. Yet, they never get any direct respect from the anti-side.  Their considered decision does not even get read before a condemnation hits the press.  That's silly, don't you think?

And oh, by the way their final report was 432 pages long. Immediately the anti groups reacted to it.  Did they carefully study it?  Not a chance.

Take a look at the bios of Swanson, Archibald and Muecke.  They engender trust.

The anti-side must address the safety case, the JRP did. Let's say that again.  The anti-side must address the safety case. They have not done so.  But, what they advocate or don't is not important.  It's what the JRP said that should be studied not the convoluted arguments of the anti-side both local and international.

Read the report.  I'll try to unpack some of it in future articles.  For now study the bios.  What do you think?  The skill set is geology, mining and the impact of radiation on the biosphere and the drainage of lakes and rivers.  Just right for the task they undertook.

So here we have it.  The JRP was very qualified.  The proponent was too.  The regulator knows the science and wants a safe solution.  At the beginning of all this I had an open mind.  As the JRP hearings went forward and I listened to the sign people, I knew they were all wet, but again they are not important.  Safety is.

The entire argument rests on safety.  The JRP found the answer.  I've followed every word and witness.  The JRP is correct.  They selected the safest of all alternatives.

So the anti-side must make a case for a safer solution with their limited knowledge and background.  We all are wishing for such an alternative.  Where is it? 

Final Report on the JRP hearings Read More

Click the orange arrow to read the second column



Stella Swanson - Panel Chair

Dr. Stella Swanson was born and raised on a farm near Rockglen, Saskatchewan. She received her BSc (Hons) in Biology from the University of Regina and her PhD in Limnology at the University of Saskatchewan.

  1. (MY Comment) Limnology is the study of inland waters - lakes (both freshwater and saline), reservoirs, rivers, streams, wetlands, and groundwater - as ecological systems interacting with their drainage basins and the atmosphere.

She completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Radiation Ecology at the Saskatchewan Research Council.

Dr. Swanson's 30-year career has included management of the Aquatic Biology Group at the Saskatchewan Research Council, and consulting positions with SENTAR Consultants (now Stantec) and Golder Associates Ltd. She now owns and operates Swanson Environmental Strategies Ltd. in Calgary, Alberta.

Dr. Swanson's experience spans work for a wide range of industries as well as federal, provincial and territorial governments and non-governmental organizations. She has assessed the impacts of the nuclear fuel cycle on human health and the environment, including uranium mining and milling, nuclear power plants, and nuclear waste storage. She has conducted human health and ecological risk assessments of contaminated sites, operating industrial facilities and proposed future developments. Her recent projects focus on strategic environmental planning, public consultation, and expert review.

Dr. Swanson has maintained her connection with the research community through supervision of graduate students, participation in academic research projects and membership on review committees for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Toxic Substances Research Initiative. She served on the Scientific Review Group advising the federal review panel on High Level Nuclear Waste Disposal in Canada (Seaborn Panel).

Dr. Swanson's recent experience has included serving as Chair of the Strategic Advisory Panel on Selenium Management; this independent Panel has published a strategic plan for the management of selenium discharges from Teck Coal operations. Dr. Swanson is a member of the Alberta Society of Professional Biologists, the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, and the Canadian Association on Water Quality.

James F. Archibald - Panel Member

Dr. James F. Archibald is a professor in the Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining, Queen's University at Kingston. 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 the Province of Saskatchewan. Dr. Archibald was also a technical advisor to the federal review panel that assessed nuclear fuel waste disposal concepts.

Dr. Archibald's 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 is a member of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM), Chairman of the Rock Engineering Society of CIM, Past Chairman of the Canadian Rock Mechanics Association, a member of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, and pursues an active career as a Professional Engineer in the Province of Ontario

Gunter Muecke - Panel Member

Dr. Muecke graduated from the University of Alberta with a B.Sc. in Geology in 1963 and a Masters Degree in Structural Geology in 1964. In 1969, he received a D.Phil. in Geochemistry from Oxford University. Dr. Muecke started his career as a field geologist for Shell Canada (1960-1963) and became a lecturer in Mineralogy at Oxford University (1968-1970). He then pursued a teaching career at Dalhousie University, in the Department of Geology and Earth Sciences (1970-1985) and at the School of Resource and Environmental Studies (1985-1998). From 1998 to 2006, he assumed post-retirement appointments as Associate Research Professor at the School of Resource and Environmental Studies and at the Faculty of Science (Geographic Information Systems).

Dr. Muecke holds additional professional experience as a consultant both at the international level (Hahn-Meitner Institute of Nuclear Studies, Berlin, Germany) and at the national level (underground thermal energy storage, Environment Canada). 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 (2004) and as a member of the review panel for the Kelly's Mountain Coastal Superquarry Project (1991).

Dr. Muecke is the author or co-author of research papers on geology, geochemistry, petrogenesis, geochronology and stratigraphic and magmatic evolution. He was an active member of departmental and faculty committees, such as the Postdoctoral Fellowship Committee, Department of Earth Sciences Curriculum Committee (chair) and Dalhousie Northern Studies Committee (chair). He was a member of international interdisciplinary technical journals, such as the Editorial Board of Lanthanide and Actinide Research.

Dr. Muecke has received numerous awards throughout his career, such as the University of Alberta Gold Medal in Geology (1963), Woodrow Wilson Fellowship (1964), Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Fellowship (1977, 1978, 1983), and the University of Alberta Endowment Fund for the Future (1982).


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