UPDATE: OPG Continues Talks About Nuclear Waste Site

Talks between Ontario Power Generation and the Saugeen Ojibway First Nation on a planned permanent nuclear waste storage site in Kincardine could take two years.

Once a deal is worked out, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change will make a final decision on approval on the $1 billion project. [CORRECTION: the cost of the current project and cost of any other proposed site were reported incorrectly Friday, and the change is now correct.]

OPG’s Fred Kuntz says 200,000 cubic metres of low and medium level nuclear waste from all of Ontario would be stored 680 metres underground.

The OPG has determined that moving the project to a different site would increase levels of danger due to transporting the waste and alternate locations could add costs up to $3.5-billion .

The low and medium nuclear waste from Ontario’s other nuclear sites is currently shipped to the OPG Western Waste Management Facility at Bruce Power.

Kuntz explained OPG decided decades ago to store that waste at the Kincardine site because waste was already there from Douglas Point, which was Ontario’s first nuclear reactor.

“There’s a potential, if approvals are granted in the distant future, to expand that because there’s enough good rock here to expand it for future levels of waste, but right now it’s designed to last a few decades,” he explains.

After that, OPG will seal off the shaft with multiple layers of clay and concrete. The rock itself is so solid, a drop of water would take millions of years to move just a few feet.

Kuntz adds OPG will stand by its commitment not to store high-level nuclear waste in the DGR. He says the low-level waste is incinerated into ash that workers can handle easily.

“You don’t need special shielding to handle it. Our workers do wear gloves and protective equipment when they handle it, but basically, the radioactivity has decayed in 200 or 300 years, so it’s a relatively low level,” says Kuntz.

A Joint Review Panel recommends approval of the project, but participant John Mann of Saugeen Shores says the low-level waste doesn’t need to be buried at all.