Ont. mayor calls nuclear waste location 'a bone-headed move'
Published Thursday, May 7, 2015 12:24PM EDT Last Updated Thursday, May 7, 2015 12:32PM EDT
Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs has a problem with a plan to bury nuclear waste underground given the locations proximity to a water source.
A panel of experts concluded Wednesday that it is safe to bury the hazardous nuclear waste in a deep underground bunker at the site near Lake Huron.
The 430-page environmental assessment report found that the project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects, though it would require strict attention and regulation.
The proposal put forth by Ontario Power Generation calls for hazardous waste to be buried 680 metres underground in a deep geological repository or DGR, a distance that would comfortably fit the CN Tower.
The DGR will be at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, which stands on the shores of Lake Huron, Southwest of Owen Sound, Ont.
Hobbs was also the past-chair of the Great Lakesand St. Lawrence Cities Initiative. The initiative represents 114 mayors in the area who believe there are places better suited for the site.
“I think it’s a bone-headed move,” Hobbs told CTV News Channel. “You could see the lake almost a stone’s throw away.”
But proponents of the site say that the bedrock is stable for a DGR, and that all waste would be hermetically sealed, or airtight, to prevent any radioactivity escaping for tens of thousands of years. Burying the waste would be the best option rather than keeping it above ground, which is what OPG does now.
The nuclear waste at the station should be buried as soon as possible, the report said. This would make it less susceptible to natural and human-caused disasters.
After taking a tour of the proposed site, Hobbs wasn’t convinced that there aren’t other places that would serve the repository better.
“One of our main concerns was that no other sites were looked at,” he said. “And when we’re looking at high-level nuclear waste…I think they really missed the boat here in looking at other sites.”
Hobbs believes locations like Ignace in Northern Ontario or Saskatchewan would handle the nuclear waste better, and are away from a water source.
The federal environment minister has four months to decide whether to approve the plan. The goal is to start construction by 2018, and have the site running by 2025. Before that can happen, there will have to be further approvals and consultations with local First Nations.
The report says that communication with citizens will be a priority while moving forward with this plan to help prevent any anxiety. But accidents happen, Hobbs said, and he doesn't want one to happen near Lake Huron.
“I think it’s just the wrong location,” he said.