Letters: Stop the ‘neverendum’ on nuclear waste in South Bruce

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Dear editor,

I want to start by giving credit to Mr. Tony Zettel (a member of the South Bruce DGR-Willing to Listen organization). He is an eloquent writer and indeed seems very passionate about what he describes as a DGR (Deep Geological Reserve).

He has argued in many letters that the DGR is an “opportunity” for South Bruce. Perhaps, but as we all know in life, for every opportunity that presents itself, there is a cost. Some opportunities may look good on the surface, but bring a cost and burden that may be too much to bear….now and for future generations.

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For me this DGR is one such “opportunity” where this logic applies. I have researched this project and looked critically at sources both from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) and research that is opposed. I have decided from my own research that I have a low tolerance to the risks associated with burying nuclear waste. A person’s tolerance for risk is something each individual must decide on their own. The very real environmental risks to groundwater, the land and people, for me are not worth the risks.

Despite claims of this grand opportunity, nowhere does Mr. Zettel speak of the need for a referendum. Only the need to “learn more”… a neverendum that keeps us all guessing….

There needs to be a finality to all of this. NWMO has us dancing like puppets and squabbling with each other as we move through their so-called Adaptive Phase Management process. Tap dancing to their timelines and their rules. We need to take back some power as citizens in this process. If we had a referendum we would know where the community stood and either choose collectively to move forward with NWMO or part ways.

Why spend millions on studies before knowing if the community even wants this DGR? There is no license from the community to do this until there is a vote. Why are the powers that be so afraid of going to their constituents and asking for a mandate after nearly a decade of NWMO’s “learn more” process? This is madness and all designed to wear us down by playing a long game that will lull us into accepting a nuclear dump.

Pro DGR proponents continually ignore NWMO’s own reports about corrosion of canisters and groundwater ingress into the storage areas. I have stood in awe watching Pro DGR supporters dismiss the findings within the NWMO Technical Methods paper on storage of nuclear waste as hogwash, while doubling down on support for the DGR.

The full report can be found on homepage of protectsouthbruce-nodgr.org.

Why are so many South Bruce residents willing to contribute their own money to take on a billion-dollar special interest group with one mandate, to store nuclear waste?

Because many of us do not want to be steamrolled into burying the world’s most dangerous waste beneath our feet. Remember that report I referenced? On page 21 under section 4.1 here’s what NWMO says about the inevitable storage failure of the DGR: “When the containers eventually fail by corrosion as a result of ground water ingress into the repository, waste constituents can migrate out of the disposal facility and enter the biosphere”.

The report then goes on to list all the ways in which the repository will eventually fail. Wow!

I believe there is time to discover better ways of handling this waste. Why not spend the proposed $23 billion earmarked for this dump on investing in real solutions. Is burying waste really our best option?

When I attended the March 5, 2020 CLC meeting in Mildmay I had a chance to speak with Dr. Ben Belfadhel, lead site selector for NWMO about storage. He indicated to me that the current above ground storage is very safe and could continue for many decades. So I ask why the rush to bury this waste? Why do we feel we can’t innovate and find better solutions in that time? Burying waste is a dinosaur of an idea.

Your job is a tough one Mr. Zettel and I don’t envy it. Selling your own community on the “opportunity” of burying the world’s most dangerous waste right under our feet for eternity…. and making us feel good about it.

Jason Wall
South Bruce

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