Nuclear waste dump saga continues in Canada
5 February 2017
Last February, the Canadian government asked Ontario Power Generation to study the feasibility of alternative locations for the nuclear waste dump it is proposing for the shoreline of Lake Huron.
Given the request, the average citizen might have expected OPG to pinpoint specific sites and compare them – environmentally and economically – to the deep geological repository for low and intermediate nuclear waste proposed for Kincardine, Ontario, Canada, about 110 miles up-lake from Port Huron.
The average citizen would be wrong.
In OPG’s response to the government, there was no pinpointing. Instead, OPG outlined – in the broadest fashion imaginable – two massive geological formations comprising about 75 percent of the entire province.
The firm chose the crystalline rock of the Canadian Shield, which is about a billion years old, and the sedimentary rock formations of southern Ontario, which are 354 million to 543 million years old. Both formations are at least 200 meters deep.
“The crystalline alternate location is in the Canadian Shield and extends through central and northern Ontario,” OPG said in its 90-page report on alternate locations.
It covers more than half of the entire province.
“The sedimentary alternate location extends through the western portion of southern Ontario,” said OPG.
It covers the entire southwestern tip of Ontario, everything west of imaginary line running southeast from Georgian Bay to the Western Basin of Lake Erie.
The failure of OPG to consider sites other than its own property on Lake Huron for the nuclear waste dump has long been criticized by opponents of the repository.
The company’s recent consideration of vast geological locations did go over any better.
“The proponent has confirmed that it won’t look at actual alternate locations,” Beverly Fernandez wrote in a letter to Catherine McKenna, minister of the Environment and Climate Change. Fernandez is the founder of Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump. “It has provided merely a generic description of what two alternate geologic regions might be like with no actual site identification or testing done or considered. It didn’t want to start over again. As a result of this failure to conduct any meaningful alternate site studies, it is obviously impossible for anyone to objectively conclude on any basis that Kincardine should be the site for the burial of this nuclear waste.”
Kevin Kamps, a nuclear waste specialist with the Maryland-based Beyond Nuclear, agreed.
“As U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, (D-Flint Township), has stated, ‘Surely in the vast land mass that comprises Canada, there must be a better place to permanently store nuclear waste than on the shores of Lake Huron,’” Kamps said in a Jan. 4 statement.
Canada has the second largest land mass of any country, after Russia, said Kamps.
“OPG has refused to name the specific sites it has so hurriedly studied as alternative dumpsites to the Great Lakes shore, despite Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna’s explicit instructions in her request for additional information,” said Kamps. “For this reason alone, OPG must be given a failing grade and its coveted Great Lakes shore DUD (deep underground dump) rejected outright.”
More time for public comment
The general public now has an extra 16 days to comment on the 350 pages of additional information submitted by Ontario Power Generation to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency in support of its bid to excavate a 2,230-foot deep repository for nuclear waste.
The new deadline is March 6, the agency announced on Jan. 27.
The previous deadline, announced Jan. 18, was Feb. 17.
“The additional time was requested by the public to provide more time to comment on the information,” said the CEAA.
In addition to the section on alternate locations, the second part of OPG’s submission, its “Updated Analysis of Cumulative Environmental Effects,” is 76 pages long. The third part is the firm’s “Mitigation Measures Report” at 184 pages.
OPG’s submissions can be found online at ceaa-acee.gc.ca.
Trump gets letter
Thirteen U.S. Congressional representatives sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Feb. 1 asking him to press Ottawa to deny OPG the license to build the dump.
“The Great Lakes make up one-fifth of the world’s fresh surface water supply and are a source of drinking water for 40 million people,” read the letter in part. “This plan poses a danger to a crucial water source and a failure at the site would disrupt both Michigan and Canadian tourism and commerce.”
Eight of bipartisan signees were from Michigan: Republicans Paul Mitchell, who replaced Candice Miller, Jack Bergman, Mike Bishop, Bill Huizenga and Dan Trott, and Democrats Dan Kilbee, Debbie Dingell and Sander Levin.
Jim Bloch is a freelance writer.
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