President of SOS presents deputation on DGR to Town Council
by Sandy Lindsay

May 15, 2015

Town Council

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Jill Taylor, President of Save our Saugeen Shores (SOS), presented a deputation to Saugeen Shores Town Council at Monday's meeting on May 11th (2015) on the subject of the proposed deep geologic repository (DGR).

SOS was formed in February, 2012, when a number of residents came together in opposition to a plan for a proposed DGR to store low and intermediate level nuclear waste (L&ILW).

Jill Taylor

According to Taylor, "many residents learned for the first time in 2012 of OPG's plan to site the proposed DGR next to the Western Waste Management Facility (WWMF)", located at the Bruce Nuclear site on Lake Huron.

In 2009, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) began holding open houses and forums throughout the region in order to explain the scientific research that had been undertaken surrounding the proposed DGR and answer questions from the public.  At that time, no decision had been made regarding a location for the proposed DGR but several communities, including Saugeen Shores, were being considered.  There were several aspects that had to be determined for the location of the proposed DGR, which included, importantly, transportation safety issues and the suitability of the geology to house such a facility in the areas under consideration.

Following two years of formal hearings headed up by a Federally appointed Joint Review Panel (JRP) of three world acclaimed experts in their fields, a report was issued on May 6th that supported the Bruce site as a geologically suitable location for the proposed DGR.

In her deputation, Taylor noted several concerns that the SOS holds regarding the site of the DGR, including what the group feels is the "unsuitability of the Bruce site" given its proximity to Lake Huron and the presence of the First Nations people.

To read the entire deputation: Read Here

She also questioned whether or not Council or town staff had "...calculated the possible effect of the recent report and conditional approval on the decisions of our residents and tourist in the coming years ... and that this be done as a matter of our economic projects and a function of our property value assessment and taxation rates ...".

Taylor also questioned Council's reaction to a deputation at the last Council meeting given by Scott Berry, Manager of Corporate Relations for OPG. "There was very little questioning by our Council of Mr. Berry about the facts presented in is presentation, or call for clarification on the nature of the impact of the proposed DGR on our community.  It is time our Council took the time to seriously consider the risks of this venture on our community and to respect the views of the community that reflect the negative impact that the project will have on our town."

At the previous meeting referred to by Taylor, Berry presented Ontario Power Generation' s (OPG) annual update to Council. He pointed out that, after more than a decade, the site selection for a proposed DGR has been "... the most comprehensive science-based review ever undertaken in Canadian history.  The process has been very open and transparent and over 200 interveners have been heard throughout the process. Those voices are still involved in those conversations.  We continue with extensive outreach measure both here in Ontario and in the U.S. and all those who have voices can share and we want those voices around the table.  In terms of the Federal review process, this is the critical job that the Joint Review Panel has before it to examine all the facts and the sciences put forward by us (OPG) as proponent, the government agencies and all the interveners and participants who have shared their thoughts.  Everything has been put before the panel."

According to Berry, the previous participants also have the opportunity to review the report now before the Minister and make their concerns known.

At the previous meeting, Councilor Cheryl Grace did, in fact, ask Berry several questions which he answered in detail.  She began by asking how long before construction would begin if the Minister approved the report.  Berry explained that internal reviews would have to be done and that engineering had only partially been done and it could take up to two years to complete it.   "Actual construction and drilling of underground chambers could take six to eight years.  So, before it's operational, it could be up to 15 years."

Grace also asked about the hosting agreement time-line. "In the original agreement, a license to operate could begin in 2017?" she asked.  Berry explained that when the process first started there were a couple of anticipated milestones.  "Back then, it was expected that an operational license would be issued in 2013 but those were 'best guesses'.  The hosting agreement payments to communities have been suspended. Once the  milestones in the hosting agreement are triggered or reached, then the hosting agreement will move forward."

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Grace then pointed out that a clause in the agreement sets out that, if the license approval of the DGR operation is not reached in 2017, for any other reason besides the failure of Kincardine or adjacent municipalities to exercise best efforts, then at that point, both parties will address an amended agreement about whether the annual payments to Kincardine and adjacent municipalities should continue to be required or whether some reduced sum should be substituted.  "My question is," said Grace, "given that we probably will not reach the milestone, do you anticipate approaching the municipalities with talks about this?"

Berry said that the process has to be allowed to be worked through. "It's all in the hands of the Federal government now and we really have no control over the timelines.  Again, those things were really best estimates at the time ... clearly this has been a project that has been more extensive with more work involved in ensuring that all the checks and balances are met.  As milestones are met, discussions can be entered into between the 'signators'.  It was prudent at the time."

Grace continue to question Berry about the hearings held in 2013 where the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission was asked by the JRP about recycling as an option.  "What are OPG's plans in terms of looking at that as an option?"

Berry said that he felt the JRP was reflecting on all the public input and wanted assurances that, if the DGR was operational and waste was transferred from above-ground storage and, when it is ready for permanent disposal, that all has been done with that waste.

 "OPG has looked at opportunities to minimize the volume of waste and radionuclides to ensure packages are as small as possible.  We rely on employees to safely segregate the waste and, if we can do even better at segregating the waste then we can achieve better efficiencies in incineration and compaction to minimize the non-processable waste which means that nothing more can be done with it.  When it comes to things like clothing, incineration reduces the volume by 95 per cent."

He also went on to say that OPG had begun pilot projects to reduce and recycle waste even further.  "Some of the waste is 'aged' waste from more than three decades ago when we started this and processes weren't as refined then.  We are now going into some of those old bins and taking things out such as the 22,000 pounds of metal that has now been cleaned and recycled.  We have taken 80 bins and reduced that number to 14.  That's an example of the steps we are taking to satisfy not only ourselves but the public and the regulator.  So not only are we doing the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) but we have added a fourth ... retrieve."

Grace's last question again focused on the hosting agreement.  "If it is re-opened, would OPG consider having adjacent municipalities as signators where the first agreement was just Kincardine?"

Berry said he thought it premature at this point but that OPG does recognize that adjacent municipalities, including Saugeen Shores, are keenly interested in the operation given the geographic proximity. "Those are open and transparent discussions that we would want to have with all those parties involved."


Jill Taylor

In addition to site location, Taylor also said that SOS thought the entire process [that ran for 10 years from 2004 to 2014/15] was flawed.

In closing, she said to Council that SOS believes "in the strongest terms, that the OPG justification for site of a DGR for radioactive nuclear waste at the Bruce Site is unsupportable, is based on flawed process and logic, has relied on contrived and unlawful means of support and should be rejected."

©Saugeen Times

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Thursday, May 14, 2015