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

Talks continue regarding the OPG Underground Nuclear Waste Facility

Residents with The Saugeen Ojibway Nation could vote at the end of this year on the proposed a Deep Geological Repository to store low and medium level nuclear waste at Bruce Power in the municipality of Kincardine.

Ontario Power Generation Spokesman Fred Kuntz says the talks continue to fulfill an order from the Environment Minister before the project can go ahead.

He says they need to determine the “impact of the DGR on the physical and cultural heritage of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, and that includes their spiritual connection to the land, and once we answer that information request, we think we will have satisfied all of the requests we’ve received,” he explained.

He says not only are they seeking a mutual understanding of the planned storage of low and medium nuclear waste, but they are also looking at mitigating the historic impact of the Kincardine nuclear site.

He says financial payments are one possible mitigation, but there are other ways to address those issues such as planting trees or reintroducing species.

Kuntz says the hope is that OPG can apply for a site preparation construction license before the end of 2020. That would require public hearings, as would the future operating license.

“We believe the interim storage site is safe and appropriate. We manage those things carefully. They’re fully regulated by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and the Minister of Environment monitors what we do. So interim storage solutions are good for the time being, but they’re not feasible in the very long run, so obviously we need a lasting solution for nuclear waste,” he explained.

The facility will encase the waste deep underground at the Bruce Power site, near the current above-ground nuclear waste storage facility. It’s expected to cost $2.4 billion to build and operate it for 50 years.

Meantime, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization continues to seek a site for a second Deep Geological Repository for high-level nuclear fuel waste, with Huron Kinloss, and South Bruce among 5 communities still in the running to host that facility.