Government To Rule On Kincardine Nuclear Waste Burial Site Next Summer

The federal government will wait another eight months to make a decision regarding Ontario Power Generation’s Deep Geologic Repository for nuclear waste in Kincardine.

The governor in council email issued Monday says they extended the time limit for a decision by 243 more days.

OPG’s Fred Kuntz says they will soon deliver a report in response the the Environment Minister’s order to study alternative sites to store low and medium level nuclear waste.

“We could build a safe DGR in either a crystalline granite location which we think of as the Canadian Shield, or in a sedimentary location, which we think of as southwestern Ontario, but the environmental effects would be larger at alternate locations, and then there’s the question of the additional trucking that would be required to move the waste from the current location to those sites,” says Kuntz.

Kuntz says residents will have to wait for their report to learn exactly what kind of geological studies they conducted at alternate sites.

Opponents worry burying low and medium level nuclear waste on the shore of Lake Huron puts the worlds largest source of fresh water at risk of contamination.

However, OPG’s Fred Kuntz says the rock formation at Bruce Power is the best, adding trucking the waste to other sites comes with costs and risks.

The OPG site wants to bury 200,000 cubic metres of low and medium level nuclear waste 680 metres below ground at Bruce Power while the Nuclear Waste Management Organization is still studying locations for a site to bury the spent nuclear fuel, including Central Huron, Huron Kinloss, and South Bruce.

Kuntz says the waste can’t be buried in the same site.

“There are different thermal conditions produced by the high level waste, and you need different engineering approaches, and so those are two different DGRs,” he says. “If you’re going to cross a lake, you need a boat, if you’re going to drive down the highway you need a car.”

Critics question the need to bury low level radioactive waste like incinerated clothes and mops, but Kuntz says it would be the safest practice.

Kuntz says the government’s announcement that the time limit for a decision be extended by to next summer was expected

“The minister asked us additional questions in February, and we said we would reply by the end of the year, and we’re on track to do that. And then, as we’ve always understood it, there’s a process after that, where the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency will have a period of public comment, and then they’ll provide a report an analysis to the federal minister,” he says.

He says Environment Minister Katherine McKenna will then make a decision.