As most readers will know by now, South Bruce is in the process of possibly becoming the host site for Canada’s Deep Geological Repository for spent nuclear fuel. It’s generally accepted that this multi-billion dollar project could bring significant economic benefits for South Bruce and the surrounding area. The project will directly provide hundreds of high-paying, high-tech jobs, and this is likely to lead to hundreds more secondary jobs, as much of that money gets spent in our local economy.
In that context, residents must consider a range of issues, including the likely impact on roads, traffic, local housing, etc. It seems likely to me that these things will mostly affect our neighbours in the immediate vicinity of the DGR site, and the rest of us likely won’t see much impact. In my experience, things that get built on my road tend to affect me, but what goes on a few roads over doesn’t make much difference.
The one thing I don’t think should worry us at all, is nuclear pollution – the release of radiation or radioactive substances into the environment. I’ve worked in the nuclear industry for a couple of decades, and in my informed opinion, that’s just not going to happen. Ever. Here are seven good reasons I feel that way:
1. The nuclear industry is passionate about protecting people from radiation. It is their highest and most strongly held value.
2. We have a tough regulator (the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission) that will be breathing down the necks of DGR operators.
3. We have 50 years’ experience of safely handling spent fuel right here in Bruce County. That includes fuel fresh out of the reactor, hundreds of times more dangerous than the aged fuel that will go into the DGR.
4. We have 50 years’ experience transporting all sorts of radioactive material, and have mature, tried-and-proven methods to do so safely. That includes containers that will survive a high-speed collision without damage.
5. The fuel is a hard, ceramic pellet, inside a hard, metal lattice. It’s really robust. It doesn’t dissolve in water, and water that runs over it does NOT become radioactive.
6. If the DGR is built, it will be under 600 metres of solid bedrock, sealed in secondary containers, and packed in impervious bentonite clay. Nothing is going to get in or out of there.
7. We have monitoring technology to detect even the very smallest amounts of radiation. If there’s even a hint of something going wrong, it will be detected and corrected.
In summary, there are lots of things for South Bruce residents to think about and worry about, but in my opinion, we should not be worried about radiation from the DGR.
Tony Zettel, RR5 Mildmay