DGR decision delayed … again

Canada’s newly elected Liberal government’s Minister of the Environment, Catherine McKenna, has again delayed her decision surrounding the proposed deep geologic repository (DGR) at the Bruce Nuclear site.

Despite more than a decade of scientific and engineering studies and the recommendation of experts, the Minister has requested more studies to be completed before making her decision on April 16th.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) proposed the DGR to house low and intermediate level nuclear waste some 680 metres (2,231 ft.) almost a half mile below ground level.

There has been considerable objection to the proposed project by groups who undoubtedly have an agenda. The argument most put forward by several groups is that there may be possible leakage into the waters of Lake Huron.  The average depth of Lake Huron is 59 metres (195ft.) with the deepest point at 229m (750 ft.). Therefore, if the project goes ahead, the repository will be almost 1,500 ft. below the deepest level of the lake.

Over the course of the past few years and, in 2015, there have been months of lengthy public meetings, including open hearings before a Joint Review Panel (JRP) where scientists, geologists and engineers of the highest world caliber presented completed studies in support of the safety case for the DGR.

OPG, through 15 years of study, maintains that the proposed DGR would ‘permanently and safely isolate and contain the waste …. ensuring projection of the water and the environment’, a view that was supported by the Joint Review Panel of experts and that continues to be supported by surrounding communities in the region where it would be located.

The outlet for the waters of Lake Huron is the St. Clair River into Lake Erie, a great lake that has had several problems including invasive species of plants, contaminated sediments and often the closure of beaches due to sewage contamination.

Many of the groups, or their spokespeople, against the Canadian DGR are from south of the 49th parallel.  In fact, the Michigan senate passed a resolution objecting to the project, this in a state where children have been poisoned by lead in the drinking water.

According to a study, there have been more than half a million water pollution violations in the United States where officials have ignored illegal dumping of toxins by chemical factories and manufacturing plants.

Perhaps, those who are so adamantly against the DGR, and who appear to be anti-nuclear in general, should look closer to home when it comes to water and try to be more proactive when it comes to preventing water pollution causes.

As with most cases where there is opposition, the ‘squeaky wheel gets the grease’, while the silent majority sits by … in silence.

Although there are groups who loudly voice their opposition, often with animosity, it is unfortunate that they present no positive alternative solution other than to leave things as the ‘status quo’ … which is basically, do nothing about the nuclear waste that currently exists, and that which will be created, or leave it for future generations to deal with.  
What a terribly unscientific stand.  Leave it where it is, leave it above ground … and hope for the best. But then what do they really care? They and most of us are going to be long gone anyway.

If they really cared about the future, they would listen to the science … hmmm, what a novel idea!

According to the JRP …”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