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OPG: Lake Huron site is best for nuclear waste dump

From The Voice

The best site for a proposed underground nuclear waste dump is near Kincardine, Ontario, Canada, on the lip of Lake Huron.

That’s the word from Ontario Power Generation, the company wholly owned by the Canadian government that is proposing a Deep Geologic Repository for low and intermediate nuclear waste next to the Bruce Nuclear Station.

“OPG ... concludes that the DGR Project at the Bruce Nuclear site remains the preferred location based on a relative consideration of environmental effects, transportation risks, transportation and other project-related costs and uncertainties; and the absence of any guarantee of improved safety or environmental quality at an alternate location,” said Lise Morton, vice president of nuclear waste management, in a letter to Heather Smith, vice president of operations for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency on Dec. 28.

The letter provided an introduction to the additional information requested from OPG by the CEAA concerning its application for a permit to build a nuclear waste dump on the shores of Lake Huron.

The site sits about 110 miles up-lake from Port Huron.

Doug Martz, St. Clair Channel Keeper and longtime opponent of the dump, appears to be losing hope of derailing the project.

“There’s no stopping it,” said Martz, noting that Macomb County was one of the first governmental bodies to pass a resolution against the project a decade ago.

As of Jan. 12, 186 cities and counties in both countries had passed resolutions against the dump, according to Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump, a Canadian opposition group.

“I think they’ve made up their minds that they want it there,” said Martz. “How many downstream cities and counties have to oppose it before something happens?”

Background

Last February, two weeks before she was supposed to rule on OPG’s application, Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, requested additional information from the company.

In a letter to Ms. Laurie Swami, vice president of nuclear services for OPG, McKenna requested the following:

1) “A study that details the environmental effects of technically and economically feasible alternate locations for the project.”

2) “An updated analysis of the cumulative environmental effects” of OPG’s dump and a possible nearby dump for high-level nuclear waste, per the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s ongoing search.

3) An updated list of OPG’s commitments to reduce “each identified adverse impact” of the DRG.

“The agency is reviewing the additional information, assisted by the federal departments, including the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, from Jan. 3 and Jan. 16,” the CEAA said in its Jan. 3 announcement. “The objective of the review is to assist the agency in determining whether OPG’s information is complete and that it conforms to the minister’s information request.”

OPG’s reports

The first part of OPG’s submission, its “Report on Alternate Locations,” is 90 pages long and includes three sections: Description of Alternate Locations; Environmental Effects of Alternate Locations, and Cost and Risk Estimates for Packaging and Transporting Waste to Alternate Locations.

OPG concluded “that relocating the DGR to an alternate location will likely result in greater environmental effects as compared to the DGR Project at the Bruce Nuclear site.”

The Bruce site contains all of the low and intermediate nuclear waste generated in the province over the last 40 years, in addition to the high-level waste generated by the eight reactors at the Bruce.

“In addition, an estimated 22,000 to 24,000 road shipments over a 30-year period will occur at an estimated incremental cost ranging from $400 million to $1.4 billion,” Morton said in her letter. “There will be incremental radiological and conventional transportation risks which are estimated to be between three and 69 road collisions.”

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 viewed online at ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/document-eng.cfm?document=116741.

Timeline

“Once OPG’s information is deemed to be complete, the agency will seek public comments on the additional information submitted by OPG,” said the CEAA.

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