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Planned Ontario nuclear waste dump hits heavy weather: Walkom via The Star

It won’t be just irradiated mops that are buried in Ontario Power Generation’s proposed Lake Huron nuclear waste dump.

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Over three days of federal environmental assessment hearings, the scheme to build an underground storage dump capable of holding 200,000 cubic metres of radioactive waste has received three sharp hits.

First, as my colleague John Spears reported last week, a consultant hired by the federal panel slammed the way in which OPG had calculated the dump’s environmental impact.

Peter Duinker didn’t comment on the merits of burying nuclear waste next to the Great Lakes. But he said the utility’s analysis of why it should be allowed to do so was neither credible nor reliable. (An OPG spokesman said the utility stands by its analysis.)

Then, representatives of local First Nations dispelled any suggestion that their support could be taken for granted. Chief Randall Kahgee of the Saugeen Ojibway Nations said it might take a very, very long time to satisfy his people.

But the real problem OPG faces is that Ontario reactors are now expected to produce nuclear waste more quickly than had been anticipated when the utility first suggested the Kincardine project.

In particular, OPG’s Pickering nuclear plant is now scheduled to be shut down and decommissioned by 2020. That means that something will have to be done with the pressure tubes, resins and other reactor parts that are considered intermediate level radioactive waste.

Where to put it? At a public meeting of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in August, OPG vice-president Laurie Swami gave the answer: Any low and intermediate level waste “generated during decommissioning” would, after a “regulatory approvals process” be stored in the Kincardine dump.

Which is another way of saying that OPG is already planning to expand the Lake Huron site.

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