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NEWS: Lake Huron-area town council set to vote on high-level nuclear waste site, May 14

The Owen Sound Sun Times reports, “A group of concerned residents wants Saugeen Shores council to wait until next fall before making a formal decision about inviting the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) to take an initial look at the community’s suitability as a site for an underground, used nuclear fuel storage facility.” Saugeen Shores is located on Lake Huron. “Council currently expects to make a formal decision at its May 14 meeting regarding a committee of the whole motion it passed last December. Deferring the decision to after Labour Day would give all seasonal as well as year-round property owners and residents the opportunity to participate in a public education process, Cheryl Grace, spokesperson for the Save Our Saugeen Shores group, told members of Saugeen Shores council Monday evening. …’How can we do that without allowing maximum public participation?’ Grace asked.”

“There was sustained applause from most of the people in the crowded chambers after Grace finished her presentation.”

“Mayor Mike Smith, Deputymayor Luke Charbonneau and Coun. Tawn Frosst said the questions the group raised were premature. …The right time according to those members of council would be after the NWMO does an initial survey to see if Saugeen Shores even meets the criteria for a host site. Then public consultation would begin in earnest, they said. …Grace said later she didn’t see any good reason why there shouldn’t be a public meeting before the May 14 decision.”

“Saugeen Shores council made international headlines last December when, sitting as committee of the whole, it passed a motion inviting the NWMO to conduct an ‘initial screening’ of the community’s suitability as a site for the high-level DGR. But that motion has yet to be finally and formally approved by council in regular session. The decision was postponed in January after members of council received a lot of negative public reaction, mostly based on ‘inaccurate information’, say the minutes of the Jan. 9 meeting. Municipal and NWMO officials have since met to develop a public education program. But the concerned residents’ group said it doesn’t go far enough to give people an opportunity to question and discuss all aspects of the development and its potential impact on the community. ‘The open houses suggested by the NWMO are not public meetings, but merely propaganda displays designed to sell their message,’ Grace told council. ‘Don’t let the NWMO organization manipulate this community by controlling the message.'”

“The NWMO is looking for a ‘willing host community’ where a Deep Geological Repository (DGR) would be developed for the long-term storage of Canada’s growing stockpile of used nuclear fuel rods from Canadian nuclear plants, most of them in Ontario. …The NWMO was set up by the federal government in 2002 to look into the long-standing question of where and how to store the highly-radioactive used fuel in a safe, permanent location. The organization includes representatives from the owners of nuclear plants in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. With most of Canada’s nuclear plants in Ontario, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has the most seats on the nine-member NWMO board.”

“OPG is (also) currently planning to start construction of a DGR for low and intermediate-level nuclear waste at its Western Waste Management Facility (WWMF) at the Bruce Nuclear site near Kincardine. The NWMO is helping OPG get final approval from federal nuclear regulators to get that project underway. Under the NWMO’s federally-approved Adaptive Phased Management approach, a DGR for high-level nuclear waste would take many years to site, plan and build before it became operational.”

Great Lakes tour
The Council of Canadians will be in nearby Owen Sound (about 45 kilometres from Saugeen Shores) for its ‘Great Lakes speaking tour’ on May 23. For more details on that, please see http://canadians.org/greatlakes.

For more information
“The Save Our Saugeen Shores groups has set up a website to spread its message.” That website is http://saveoursaugeenshores.org/hello-world/. A past Council of Canadians blog from when this story first emerged in December 2011 can be read at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=12708.