Ontario Power Generation's Western Waste Management Facility at the Bruce nuclear site. Photo by Jordan McKinnon

Underground Nuclear Waste Storage Site In Bruce Closer To Reality

The path is nearly clear for Ontario Power Generation to construct a deep geologic repository at the Bruce nuclear site.

The project is being recommended for approval by the Joint Review Panel, which released a 400-page report on OPG’s environmental assessment of the DGR project.

It concluded that it is unlikely to cause significant adverse environmental effects on Lake Huron or the surrounding area.

OPG’s Director of Media, Information and Issues Management Neal Kelly says it’s a validation of nearly 15 years of scientific work on the proposal, which seeks to permanently store more than 200,000 cubic meters of low-and-intermediate level nuclear waste nearly 700 meters below the surface.

“We’ve been working on this project for about 14 years and we really believe that the safety case is strong and the panel concluded that the project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects,” says Kelly.

The Joint Review Panel also concluded the geology beneath the Bruce nuclear site is highly suitable for the project, adding the waste currently being stored on the surface at OPG’s Western Waste Management Facility should be isolated from the environment as soon as possible.

Those findings are not being universally supported, as longtime DGR opponent Beverly Fernandez of ‘Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump’ says it’s the wrong project in the wrong location, just over a kilometer from the shore of Lake Huron.

“It is a decision that will affect the Great Lakes for the next¬†100,000 years. The last place to bury and abandon radioactive nuclear waste is beside the largest supply of drinking water on the planet,” says Fernandez.

Despite the setback, Fernandez says her group and others will continue to fight the DGR project.

The panel report is now in the hands of federal Minister of the Environment Leona Aglukkaq, who has 120 days to accept or reject the environmental assessment.

Approval of the project would allow OPG to apply for a license to construct a DGR, though actual construction is at least three years away, with the company aiming to have the DGR in operation by 2025.

In the meantime, Kelly says registered intervenors will be able to comment on the recommendations suggested by the panel, adding that process will play out over the next few months.