Ontario Power Generation Re-Asserts Case for Underground Repository

Ontario Power Generation told a federal advisory panel that the deep geologic repository (DGR) for nuclear waste under the shores of Lake Huron is not a significant risk to the environment and will not violate the rights of native Canadians.

Bruce PowerIn a summary report for the Joint Review Panel, – the closing remarks for the hearing on the planned repository -- the company said the permanent disposal of 200,000 cubic meters of low and intermediate level waste “can be implemented safely and without significant adverse environmental effects.” OPG said waste stored in the limestone shelf under the Bruce – one of the world's largest nuclear facilities – would be safely isolated from the environment “over the hundreds and thousands of years that the waste remains hazardous.”

The waste would be stored in the Cobourg Formation, a limestone layer nearly a half mile deep. OPG also has plans to double the size of the repository in the future, to allow it to serve as a storage site for waste from decommissioned plants, TheStar.com reported.

The proposal has support from local government and labor groups, but is opposed by various other lakeside communities in both the United States and Canada, including Toronto and Cook County, which includes the city of Chicago.

OPG is seeking a 10-year license to prepare the site and construct the DGR, which will include two panels of waste emplacement rooms “nominally 680 meters below ground surface … within low permeability limestone in the Cobourg Formation … overlain by 200 meters of low permeability shale and a further 50 meters of other rock formations.”

After construction, the plan calls for an operational phase of 40 years, at which point the repository itself will be decommissioned and sealed.

OPG said deep rock vaults are in use for radioactive waste in Sweden, Finland, Germany and the United States.

There is no plan for waste retrieval. OPG says, “the intent of the DGR proposal is to safely isolate L&ILW from the biosphere for all time.”

OPG also said it would not begin construction without the support of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, the native tribe on whose territory the Bruce is located.

Of note, OPG said there is “no evidence that there would be an adverse impact on whitefish,” which is of particular concern to the native community.

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