Island resident voices concern of nuclear waste near L. Huron

SPRING BAY—A Manitoulin Island resident was one of many people and groups who spoke at a joint review panel in Kincardine last week. The panel heard from groups and individuals opposed to the Ontario Power Generation (OPG) plan to build a deep geologic repository near the Bruce Power site in Tiverton, near Lake Huron.

Mike Wilton, representing Algonquin Eco-Watch, told the Recorder, “I made a presentation to the joint review panel on September 15. I’m against the proposal in principle as they want something in place that will be safe for the next 10,000 years. I don’t think they can guarantee this.”

“There was an earthquake in 2010 in Ottawa that reached 5.4 reading on the Richter scale and the area it was felt encompassed the Bruce Nuclear site as far west as Chicago,” said Mr. Wilton. He also explained that as a result of glacial melting thousands of years ago, the earth’s crust is rising in response to all the weight of ice being removed. This is known as post glacial rebound, crustal movement or crustal tilting. “You can see this in at least one area on Highway 6 towards Espanola. It is estimated that because of this glacial uplifting, the Bruce nuclear site is rising by as much as nine centimetres per century. This could cause damage to the proposed installation of the repositories which OPG estimates will remain intact for up to 10,000 years.”

“What I can’t understand is why they can’t put these repositories on the surface so they can be monitored and repaired if necessary,” said Mr. Wilton. “But I think what they (OPG) would like to see is based on the theory out of site out of mind, seal it and forget it. By storing these things in ground they are still putting put people and the environment at risk. If there is a breach in one of the repositories and radioactive waste leaks, what happens then? Especially when the plant is one kilometre from Lake Huron. So it definitely the worst place to have these underground repositories.”

The Northwatch (Northern Ontario Environmental Watch) group made a presentation to the panel last week as well. They had made a presentation one year ago at the first sitting of the panel and says the OPG proposal has not improved and in fact, in some respects, is now worse, they said.

Northwatch say the uncertainties in regards to the waste inventory appears to have increased rather than decreased. They say there are many uncertainties associated with the expectation that the addition of decommissioning wastes will increase the amount of gas generated within the repository.

Northwatch also feels there could be serious repercussions for the safe operations of the facility, particularly the shaft seal. Representatives said that OPG has not provided the joint review panel with a basis for approving the environmental assessment to build a deep geologic repository.

Mr. Wilton said the panel makes its final recommendation to Ontario and the federal government on what should take place.

The Associated Press and Canadian Press reported on September 21 that US Senator Carl Levin has introduced a resolution urging the Obama administration to oppose a proposal to bury radioactive waste less than two kilometres from Lake Huron in Ontario.

The federal panel heard the testimony last week on the plan to store low and intermediate level waste from nuclear power plants in rock chambers more than 600 metres below the earth’s surface.

OPG says the lake would be protected. However, opponents say that can’t be guaranteed when the material would remain radioactive for thousands of years.

The resolution from US Sen. Carl Levin urges the US president and secretary of state to work with their counterparts to prevent a permanent nuclear waste repository from being built within the Great Lakes basin.