Lake Huron bunker is best: OPG

On­tario Power Gen­er­a­tion sticks by its be­lief that site near lake is best for nu­clear-waste fa­cil­ity

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - COLIN PERKEL

A new re­port from On­tario Power Gen­er­a­tion af­firms the util­ity’s long-held po­si­tion that the best place for a nu­clear-waste bunker is on the Lake Huron shore­line.

One of the big­gest prob­lems with bury­ing the haz­ardous waste some­where else would come from hav­ing to truck it up to 2,000 kilo­me­tres, in­creas­ing the risk of ac­ci­dents and pol­lu­tion, the anal­y­sis con­cludes. The only mi­nor ad­van­tage to lo­cat­ing a bunker else­where might be less dis­tur­bance of in­dige­nous her­itage sites, such as burial grounds, the re­port finds.

The im­pact on abo­rig­i­nal peo­ples is likely to be lower if the deep ge­o­logic repos­i­tory is built, as pro­posed, at the Bruce nu­clear plant near Kin­car­dine, the re­port states.

“There is the po­ten­tial that the to­tal risk may be in­creased on in­dige­nous peo­ples if the (fa­cil­ity) is con­structed at an al­ter­nate lo­ca­tion,” the re­port states. “This (is) due to the in­tro­duc­tion of a new fa­cil­ity in an area pre­vi­ously with­out a nu­clear fa­cil­ity, as well as the trans­porta­tion of wastes to that fa­cil­ity.”

Al­ter­na­tive sites would be cost­pro­hibitive, adding any­where from $381 mil­lion to more than $2 bil­lion to the cur­rent cost pro­jec­tion of $2.4 bil­lion, the re­port states.

The new study comes in re­sponse to a re­quest from the Cana­dian En­vi­ron­men­tal As­sess­ment Agency, which has yet to make a fi­nal rec­om­men­da­tion to En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Cather­ine McKenna on whether to ap­prove the project. The agency, along with crit­ics of the pro­posal, had slammed OPG’s pre­vi­ous re­port on fea­si­ble al­ter­na­tive lo­ca­tions as in­ad­e­quate. The new study did not ac­tu­ally pin­point any spe­cific al­ter­nate sites. In­stead, the anal­y­sis takes in large ar­eas of the prov­ince that meet the min­i­mal re­quire­ments for rock that would be ge­o­log­i­cally sta­ble for cen­turies.

Scores of groups and com­mu­ni­ties in both Canada and the U.S., have de­cried the cur­rent plan to store the waste un­der­ground about 1.2 kilo­me­tres from Lake Huron. OPG’s new re­port did lit­tle to as­suage their con­cerns about the po­ten­tial for cat­a­strophic pol­lu­tion of a ma­jor drink­ing-wa­ter source.

“OPG has not changed its po­si­tion: prox­im­ity of the nu­clear waste burial site to a Great Lake is not rel­e­vant, there is no need to in­ves­ti­gate any other ac­tual sites and OPG has a so­cial li­cence to pro­ceed,” the group Stop The Great Lakes Nu­clear Dump said in a state­ment.

The new OPG re­port coun­ters that con­cern, main­tain­ing the sta­ble bedrock at the Bruce plant would be the per­fect stor­age site.

“Ideal ge­ol­ogy ex­ists for safely iso­lat­ing nu­clear waste 680 me­tres be­low ground in sta­ble, dry rock,” OPG said in the re­port. “Al­ter­nate lo­ca­tions in the Cana­dian Shield or south­west On­tario, while tech­ni­cally fea­si­ble, would re­sult in greater en­vi­ron­men­tal ef­fects and higher costs, as well as a project de­lay of 15 years or more, while of­fer­ing no ad­di­tional ben­e­fits in safety.”

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