NUKE WASTE: Hornepayne residents rally against nuclear was

NUKE WASTE: Hornepayne residents rally against nuclear was

Postby Oscar » Wed Aug 15, 2018 8:53 pm

Hornepayne residents rally against nuclear waste storage

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Tuesday's rally includes march, guest speakers

CBC News · Posted: Aug 14, 2018 7:00 AM ET | Last Updated: August 14

Fuel bundles, such as the one pictured here, would be stored at a nuclear waste repository near Hornepayne, if the site is selected by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization. A group of Hornepayne residents opposed to the idea plans to hold a rally on Tuesday. (Supplied by Nuclear Waste Management Organization)

People in Hornepayne will show their opposition to the possibility that the town will be chosen as a site to store nuclear waste.

Hornepayne is one of five Ontario communities being considered by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) to host an underground storage facility for nuclear waste.

But rally organizer Alison Morrison doesn't think the benefits outweigh the risks.

Morrison said the three potential sites around Hornepayne are well outside of the community, and wouldn't contribute to the tax base. She also has concerns over the project's impact on tourism, and notes there isn't any housing available in Hornepayne for those working at a nuclear waste storage site.

"I'm not seeing how we're going to get economic benefit from this industry coming here," she said. "There might be a little bit, but is it worth the risks of nuclear, and all the negative connotations?"

No decision about whether or not Hornepayne will host a storage site has been made.

The NWMO website states preliminary site assessments are taking place in the Hornepayne area. The agency's current plans say those assessments could be complete by about 2022, but the project will only move forward if the communities themselves are interested.

Tuesday's rally begins at 3 p.m. at Rock's Hunt Camp, at Highway 631 South and Airport Road.

After that, a march will take place, ending at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 194, where an address by Gordon Edwards, president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility will take place.

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Hornepayne, Manitouwadge and Ignace are three of the five remaining candidate sites in Canada to become a “willing host community” to receive all of Canada’s high-level radioactive waste. These towns are all north of Lake Superior, each with a population of about 1000 people. Each town gets about $300,000 per year for staying the course and allowing “boreholes” to be drilled in the near future to “characterize” the rock.

Canada began producing high-level radioactive waste (irradiated nuclear fuel) in September 1945. For the first 30 years of the nuclear age, neither the public nor their elected representatives were even aware that such highly toxic waste existed. Nuclear power was misrepresented as an absolutely clean technology.

In the mid-1970s, reports from Britain, USA, and Canada made it clear that high-level waste (HLW) from reactors is the most dangerous industrial waste ever produced, and that the future use of nuclear power depends on finding at least one method for safely isolating this waste from the environment of living things forever.

For example, the 1978 Report on Nuclear Power in Ontario by the Royal Commission on Electrical Power Planning (the Porter Commission) pointed out:

(1) that a single irradiated fuel bundle, like the one pictured below, freshly discharged from a CANDU reactor, is so radioactive that it will kill any unshielded human being within one metre in less than a minute;

(2) that a catastrophic reactor accident involves the dissemination of a portion of the nuclear waste inside the reactor core into the environment, contaminating large land areas for an indeterminate length of time;

(3) that just one year’s worth of nuclear waste from a single CANDU reactor would require a volume of water about equal to the volume of Lake Superior to dilute the radioactive contents of that waste to the maximum allowable contamination levels for radioactivity in drinking water;

(4) that the waste will remain extraordinarily radiotoxic for more than 10 million years;

(5) that if the nuclear waste problem is not well on its way to solution by 1985, no more nuclear reactors should be built.

The nuclear industry responded, in all these countries, by saying that yes, high-level waste is inescapable and indestructible and will remain dangerous for hundreds of thousands, even millions of years, but it is nothing to worry about — it is very well looked after and the “disposal poses no great difficulties". Nuclear proponents say it can and will be safely buried in an undisturbed geological formation that has been stable for millions of years.

Of course, you cannot get into an undisturbed geological formation without disturbing it. And the word “disposal” has no scientific definition; the industry wants to abandon the waste and hope for the best. Indeed, nuclear proponents repeatedly stated in public that radioactive waste is not a technical problem, but only a public relations problem. As far as we can tell, this is what many of them still believe.

!n 1998, after conducting a 15-year, $750 million research effort involving an Underground Research Laboratory in Manitoba, accompanied by a 10-year Environmental Assessment Process with pubic hearings in five provinces, the Assessment Panel concluded (among other things) that “The concept in its current form does not have the level of acceptability to be adopted as Canada’s approach for managing nuclear waste” and that "the search for a specific site should not proceed” until there is a Nuclear Fuel Waste Agency that is independent of the nuclear industry, with key stakeholders on the Board of Directors, and subject to multiple oversight mechanisms and frequent public reviews.

Such an independent Agency was never created. Instead, the Government of Canada put the nuclear waste producers in charge through the utility-owned Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO). Under the terms of the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act, NWMO has been tasked with finding a “willing host community” to receive all of Canada’s irradiated nuclear fuel, for deep burial and ultimate abandonment in a "Deep Geological Repository” (DGR).

Due to the dramatic failure of two DGRs in Germany, and the startling 2015 explosion of a plutonium-bearing drum inside a DGR near Carlsberg, New Mexico, there is more attention being paid to the need for ongoing monitoring and retrievability of the nuclear wastes in a DGR. This was the principal message of a May 2018 Report of the US Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board.

The failed repositories cited above were not designed for high-level waste but for radioactive wastes of much lesser radioactivity; there is still no operational underground waste repository for high-level wastes anywhere in the world. Indeed, in January 2018 a Swedish Court ruled against the licensing of a High-Level Waste DGR in that country because the industry’s safety case contained significant uncertainties, five of them related to the long-term integrity of the copper canisters.

High Level Nuclear Waste remains an unsolved problem. Although NWMO claims to have a $22 billion solution, this is not so. It is at best a work in progress. In the United States there have been eight different attempts to site a final underground repository for high-level wastes, and all eight have ended in failure. The latest failure was the Yucca Mountain proposal, which was plagued with technical problems as well as powerful political opposition.

Despite the warnings voiced in 1978, Ontario is now extending the life-time of its aging fleet of nuclear reactors so as to double the existing amount of high-level waste, without having any proven safe disposal method. No such intractable toxic legacies are produced by energy efficiency measures, wind power, solar energy, geothermal energy, nor by many other green energy technologies.

Gordon Edwards, President
Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR)
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