DGR Process is at the heart of safety. 

DGR Process Safety

Written for Canadian Community News by Mike Sterling

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The 'All Candidates' meetings elicited some responses to questions from the audience concerning the proposed DGR in Kincardine. Going forward with the DGR was unanimously recommended by the all-star Joint Review Panel (JRP) study after years of fact finding.

One question has been asked over and over again by the same individual at the JRP hearings and at the Town and County Council meetings and now at the candidates meeting.  It does not resonate, but comes up persistently.

John Mann repeats again and again his view against the DGR and if it was needed, there is no need for two.  That is, a single DGR can be constructed to take care of high level waste, intermediate level waste and low level waste.

Mann dismisses what process engineers and scientists recommend. Complexity is the enemy and their opinion can be summarized in a single sentence:

'Simplify for Safety'

Yes, of course it possible to build a single DGR for low, intermediate and high level waste?  It is much safer and probably less expensive to have two. 

So, it is clear that Mann continues to  misunderstand how process dictates safety in the nuclear industry and other industries too.  Safety is all about a controlled process.

Every aspect of the world's largest nuclear power plant run by Bruce Power near Lake Huron and Kincardine runs on process.  Process is at the heart of safety.  Even if no DGR was completed, waste management still runs on process.

It is abundantly clear that the ways different types of waste must be handled dictates that at least two DGRs are better for safety.  One could make a case for three each with their own unique source.

The process for handling high level waste is totally and dramatically different than that used for steam boilers, valves. So too for clothing, rags and mops that have been used to clean contaminated surfaces.

The engineering is different for high level waste and the process is vastly different.  Even the shapes and sizes are radically different.

Let's use a current example.

High level radioactive waste is handled by different people at the Bruce.  The training is different and the process is totally different. E.g. Spent fuel storing for 10 years in water and then moved to giant casks. The buildings and safety measures are different too.

It is done that way because of safety.  A worker that monitors the incinerator at the NWMO site (for low level waste) is trained differently than those who are spent fuel handlers.  One cannot 'pinch hit' for the other without experience and many months of training.

Why can't Mann understand how process and volumes of documentation drive everything at the Bruce Power site?

A couple of years ago I explained in person to Mann the differences in the radioactive levels and the process of handling the waste.  He never has understood, but he persists in his views. 

Doctors are trained in specialties and they are not interchangeable. Mann is a criminal lawyer.  I would expect he would not consider himself an expert on international law and would defer to another expert.  He is clearly not an expert on radioactive waste.  Why does he believe he knows what safety is all about?

Although some of the details of waste disposal are difficult to understand for the general public, it is easy to understand how detailed process management dictates how safe radioactive waste handling is carried out.  Even those closely tied to the anti-nuclear power movement understand how safety must be paramount.

Sorting, compaction, if possible, and then safe storage is part of the process.

It was interesting to see how the candidates responded to Mann's call for a single DGR.  Two of them did not dodge the question and told Mann that the review process has offered a recommendation. 

The Liberal Candidate Allan Thompson summarized it best.

"Government needs to abide by this two-track program and evidence-based policy making."

Conservative Ben Lobb said:

"The project was approved by Canadian Environmental Assessment. The community has spoken.  The scientists have spoken."

Gerard Creces, NDP candidate did not seem to have a fixed position and appeared not prepared on this issue.

He called for a vote from an audience he could not select at this time.  " ... is it Bruce County, the Great Lakes Basin or even wider? ...", he asked.  Wow, international vote on a complex subject. 

He should read the summary JRP report or at least the executive summary in column two and educate himself on the issues at hand. 

Click the orange arrow to read the second column

Again, Mann seems to not take seriously low level waste.  It is a curious position to take. He totally ignores process safety or does not understand it.  I suspect the latter.  He ignores the radioactive issue of low and intermediate waste left above the surface.

Would he wear a coat of many colours patched together from low level waste rags that had not been incinerated?  Would he be surprised that he could not pass the entry scanning test at Bruce Power wearing such a garment?

Does he understand the process, training and execution difficulties of his proposal?

Does he understand that he is recommending a process that is less safe than that approved by the JRP?

So, what's the big deal about what Mann thinks or does not think?  He is not an influential policy maker and his views have not added to the base information needed for decision making.  He claims he is not part of an organized anti-group.

What he thinks is not vital, but it is a symptom of the way too many people approach complex issues.  They do not have the training to understand the science, so they attack the policy makers and the science of a more than 10 year study.  Sometimes they delve into conspiracy theories too. 

Let's see what the JRP thinks.

Shown in below is the Joint Review Panel's executive summary after many months of study and more than a decade of investigation.  You will note the clarion call for action and safety

The Joint Review Panel Conclusion in their own words

"The DGR should be built now rather than later"

"The Panel is of the view that the sooner the waste is isolated from the surface environment the better. The Panel notes the importance of reducing and, if appropriate, reusing and recycling the waste. However, it recognizes that current technologies to alter the waste to render it no longer hazardous are limited, particularly for intermediate level waste that contains radionuclides with longer half-lives. The Panel concludes that the likelihood and consequences of an event resulting in the release of radionuclides from surface storage are greater than they would be for a DGR. The Panel is of the view that the risk of waiting until technologies are available to eliminate the hazards associated with longer-lived radionuclides outweighs the benefits."

For the full Joint Review Panel final report.  Click Here For candidates views Click Here

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Sunday, October 18, 2015