Hearing on Kincardine nuclear waste burial plan announced for September

MINDEMOYA—A federal hearing on a proposal to bury a mix of radioactive waste near the shore of Lake Huron has been announced, with only 17 days for members of the public to register their interest in participating, says an official with Northwatch. A workshop will be held in the Mindemoya community centre on Tuesday, July 2 at 7 pm to share information about the project and the review process and to assist members of the public in determining if they would like to register for the hearing.

Ontario Power Generation’s proposal is to bury 200,000 cubic metres of radioactive waste from reactor operations and refurbishment in caverns it proposes to carve in the limestone rock approximately 600 metres below the surface of the Bruce nuclear generating station in Kincardine, on the eastern shore of Lake Huron. The project was referred to a hearing in 2008 and OPG submitted their environmental assessment study in 2011 for review by a three person panel that was named in early 2012.

“Ontario Power Generation has taken five years to provide the information, and now the public has 17 days to register for the public hearings that will be held in Kincardine this fall,” explained Brennain Lloyd, a workshop organizer with Northwatch.

“This project is important to everyone around Lake Huron because of its potential impacts on the lake. The review is also very important to the 21 communities that are being studied as possible burial sites for high level nuclear fuel waste, because if this nuclear waste burial site is approved the nuclear industry will certainly use it as a precedent in arguing that the next burial site, or sites, be approved,” said Ms. Lloyd.

There are 12 communities in Northern Ontario being studied by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization as burial locations for highly radioactive nuclear fuel waste, including Spanish, the township of the North Shore, Elliot Lake and Blind River on the North Shore of Lake Huron, further to the Kincardine site

“The hearing is set to start September 16 in Kincardine and they have booked the hall there for three weeks, with another week of hearings to be held in Port Elgin,” Ms. Lloyd told the Recorder. “And they are not only making the timelines difficult, they are also imposing a tough registration process. There will certainly be enough interest to hold hearings over four weeks.” She pointed out the hearing dates were announced June 18, “and the registration deadline (to make submissions at the hearing) is July 5. They are also saying you have to register to participate, even if it is only a written submission.”

“It is startling that they are only allowing 17 days to register,” stated Ms. Lloyd. “I’ve talked to two lawyers who are working on a review of this that also say the short notice is startling.”

“We have been scrambling a bit, last week I met with some of the groups that are intervening and making submissions at the hearing,” said Ms. Lloyd. “So, we made a decision to go with a workshop for Tuesday, July 2 in Mindemoya, Wednesday in Kincardine and Thursday in Toronto to help provide information and support and answer questions of people who might be interested in participating in the hearings. We will open the meeting up with a discussion and presentation on what the project is, and then provide a lot of opportunity for people to ask questions. Then we will talk about the fact that this project is not the same as the one in which they are looking at 21 communities for places to bury nuclear waste.”

“Our main concern with this project to bury radioactive waste at Kincardine is that its unprecedented,” stated Ms. Lloyd. “The choice made was made at the highest political level and not a technical decision.”

“There were a couple of areas they were looking at, and their design and choice site was a political decision, OPG does not have a solid case. And the bigger issue is that they are proposing to bury highly radioactive waste presenting it as low intermediate waste, but intermediate is high level waste,” continued Ms. Lloyd. “And it appears they are engaging in project splitting. OPG is presenting only half of the project at a time; at a separate hearing in May they acknowledged they are looking at a licence amendment application to decommission nuclear waste at all Ontario reactors. They are looking to be the poster child for ecological nuclear waste repositories.”

“The OPG and Nuclear Waste Management Ontario are cut out of the same cloth,” said Ms. Lloyd. “They want to establish a precedent to bury nuclear waste all over Canada, and in Northern Ontario 12 communities have been put on a list of possible places for high level nuclear waste to be buried, which is obviously a pretty big concern.”

The workshops will be held in Mindemoya, Kincardine and Toronto, and an online version will also be offered. The public can visit www.nuclearwaste.ca or call 1-877-553 0481 for more information.

Tom Sasvari