Deep Geologic Repository (DGR)
| Community concerns
(Sept 20 2011)
| Differences between the EIS and its source document
(Sept 20 2011)
| Standard Issues
(Sept 20 2011)
| Property values and the DGR
(Sept 27 2011)
| Joint Review Panel Established
for the Deep Geologic Repository
for Low and Intermediate Level Radioactive Waste Project
(Jan 24 2012)
| Deep Geologic Repository review panel appointed
(Feb 15 2012)
| Burying Nuclear Waste at the Bruce: OPG's Proposed Deep Geological Repository - Home
(Aug 2 2012)
| MPP Lisa Thompson regarding proposed DGR
(Aug 6 2012)
| Property Values Letter of Support for John Morand
(Sept 22 2012)
Deep Geologic Repository review panel appointed
By TROY PATTERSON
Close to a year from now, public hearings in the Municipality of Kincardine could be the focus of national and international attention if Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) approvals process remains on schedule.
The federal government recently appointed a three-member Joint Review Panel (JRP) to review the documents put forward for OPG's proposed DGR for low and intermediate-level nuclear waste. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) posted information on the JRP on its website, after Minister of Environment Peter Kent made the announcement with Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) president Michael Binder on Jan. 24, 2012.
On Friday, Feb. 3, 2012, the the JRP announced in a media release the beginning of the "maximum" six-month public review on the "adequacy" of OPG's DGR Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). An initial Panel orientation session for the review was also announced for Feb. 21 in Ottawa.
"It's well laid out in the (EA) agreement," said CEAA communications officer Lucille Jamault. "The timelines are very clear in terms of what the panel must do and when."
The JRP's mandate is to conduct an examination of the environmental effects of the proposed project to meet the requirements of the CEAA. It will also obtain information necessary for the consideration of the licence application under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA) to prepare a site and to construct the DGR.
The first-in-Canada project, planned at the Bruce nuclear site in the Municipality of Kincardine has been in the works since 2001. The project is owned by OPG, with work contracted to Canada's Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) to provide technical and other services through the approval process.
As the proponent, OPG has been awaiting the JRP appointments since it submitted its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Preliminary Safety Report and Technical Support Documents the JRP in April 2011.
The proposed facility is a 650-metre (2,230ft.) deep 'nuclear waste repository' in close proximity to OPG's Western Waste Management Facility (WWMF) that stores the waste planned for the facility, at the Bruce nuclear site. The entrance to the DGR to be located about 1km from Lake Huron. The repository is to be built under a 200-metre, 450-million-year-old cap of multi-layer shale and sedimentary limestone to protect and store and seal up to 200,000 cubic metres of low and intermediate level waste indefinitely.
"What we have are ideal geologic conditions for this repository," said NWMO's Marie Wilson after the EIS was submitted in April, 2011. "The formations are predictable."
OPG/NWMO Geologic studies have outlined how only minute traces of prehistoric moisture is found at these depths; highly salinated from ancient oceans with concentrations eight to 10 times that of sea water as found on their geologic core samples from the site. The site is also isolated, with no risk to groundwater sources, which exist only within the first 100 metres of geology, according to the OPG document.
"Our case is very solid about our ability to protect the lake," Wilson said.
Regarding the Jan. 24 announcement, Jamault said the three-member JRP was selected "based on their experience and absence of bias, or conflict of interest, as well as being qualified in these areas."
The panel reviewing the EIS will be chaired by Dr. Stella Swanson, who holds a PhD in Limnology (study of inland waters), as well as a Bachelor of Science (Hon.) in Biology, and is accredited with a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Radiation Ecology, according to a biography on the CEAA website. With 30 years in the field, Swanson has previously worked on assessing the impacts of the nuclear fuel cycle on human health and the environment from uranium mining and milling, nuclear power plants and nuclear waste storage.
Two panel members were also named. The first is Dr. James F. Archibald, a mining expert that has previously sat on federal-provincial review panel for new uranium mine developments in Saskatchewan and was a technical advisor to the federal review panel that assessed nuclear fuel waste disposal concepts. The second is Dr. Gunter Muecke, an award-winning geology expert with over 40 years of experience, who has worked as a field geologist in the oil and gas industry, as a lecturer, professor and has sat on environmental assessments and review panels overseeing quarry proposals in Nova Scotia.
During the six-month review, OPG and the Municipality of Kincardine anticipate that a significant number of interested parties, supporting and opposed to the project, will be involved in the review. These groups will include members of the public, Aboriginal groups and other stakeholders, who are all encouraged to review the lengthy 10,000-page EIS, or the 60-page summary.
OPG's conclusion, based on its findings within the EIS, are that the DGR project is not expected to have "any adverse effects on the public or the environment," Wilson said after its April 2011 submission.
Comments for the review period are invited until August 3, 2012, at which time the JRP will review comments, questions and submissions collected during the review period and will present them to OPG.
The August 3 date could be extended by the JRP if the panel requires additional information from OPG.
"The Joint Review Panel could decide the EIS is sufficient, if not, if more information is requested, the proponent can take the time it needs to answer the additional questions," Jamault said.
According to Jamault the JRP will determine if OPG has adequately responded to the EIS guidelines. Once the JRP is satisfied with any additional information provided to it, and all questions have been "adequately answered and accepted, the panel will close the public review period." The panel is then obligated to give 90 days notice of a date for the JRP public hearing, to address the information brought forward by the proponent, and address further presentations and submissions by stakeholders as a result of the public review. Based on the timeline, the hearings could take place in late 2012 or early 2013.
According to Jamault, it's "common practice" to hold JRP public hearings in the host community, the Municipality of Kincardine. Hearings could take place in late fall 2012, or early 2013. Public hearings can range from 30 to 45 days. An exact date and location will be determined by the JRP once the review process begins.
Upon closure of the public hearings, the JRP has 90 days to provide a report on its recommendations to the federal Minister of Environment. Jamault said once the federal minister receives the report, it signals the end to the Environmental Assessment (EA) process and the project heads to the Cabinet, where a decision will be made.
If the Cabinet decides the project may proceed, the JRP could then issue a 'License to Prepare the Site and Construct' to OPG, possibly in late 2012 or early 2013. The JRP would then have to decide, in a manner consistent with the federal government’s response, whether to approve the licence applications, Jamault said.
OPG expects the construction phase to take between five to seven years to complete, when it would then need to apply to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for a 'License to Operate', possibly in 2015. Pending completion of the DGR, the CNSC must hold another round of public hearings, expected in 2017, on OPG's application for a 'License to Operate' the facility. If approved, the DGR could begin accepting low and intermediate level nuclear waste from the Bruce site, as well as Darlington and Pickering nuclear stations by 2018-2019.
Used nuclear fuel storage is not a part of the DGR project.
The EIS agreement, along with more information on the DGR project, is available on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Registry at www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca , reference # 06-05-17520 as well as on the Web site of the CNSC at www.nuclearsafety.gc.ca
MPP Lisa Thompson regarding proposed DGR
In a recent interview with Lisa Thompson, MPP Huron- Bruce, regarding the Nuclear Waste Management Organization's proposed deep geologic repository (DGR) for spent nuclear fuel, she said that she encourages people throughout the region to work with their municipalities toward understanding the process. "I agree that people have to exercise their voices," she said, "but they should also work with their municipal councils." She also added that it is important for people to "...separate fact from emotion, become educated and become engaged." "There is a federally regulated process when it comes to nuclear energy," she said, "and you have to trust the process."
revised 2012 Aug 6