The Dark Cloud over Bruce County by Bob Weimeir

Published September 1, 2020

I imagine everyone has heard of the Deep Geological Repository (DGR) that was planned to be dug on the Bruce Nuclear site north of Kincardine. The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) had been planning this site for years for low and intermediate level waste from nuclear sites (mops, coveralls, etc.). The final say was left to the Indigenous peoples of the Saugeen Ojibwe First Nations. Despite being offered millions for a yes vote, a definite no vote came back, killing the proposed DGR on the Bruce nuclear site.

What I hadn’t realized until recently is that very few people knew about the second DGR, which was for the high-level waste (radioactive nuclear fuel rods). The consultation process for both DGR’s had been running concurrently. With the cancellation of the low-level waste DGR, very little information was heard on the high-level waste proposal. The consultation for this had been going on for years, starting with a multitude of municipalities signing up to be in the application process. Each municipality was given just under a half million dollars each year that their names stayed in the proposal. Some municipalities were disqualified, others eventually withdrew. Once out of the running, the free money also dried up. Quite a cash cow for municipalities as long as they knew when to get out. It was a little like musical chairs; one after the other was gone until there were only two municipalities left, the municipality of Ignance in Northern Ontario, and the Municipality of South Bruce.

This is going to be a big project. There will be a cavern dug approximately 600 meters below ground. The size is staggering.  NWMO is busy acquiring land for this project as 1500 acres is needed. There will be very little visible at ground level and the land above can still be used.

Now comes the staggering facts of this whole project.

1/ the site picked in South Bruce is only a couple of miles from the town of Teeswater and the Teeswater river. This river joins the Saugeen river, which flows into Lake Huron.

2/ There has never been a DGR built anywhere in the world that has worked!

According to the World Nuclear Waste Report 2019, “There are no high level DGR’s operating in the world at this time, there is a lack of information on the risks associated with nuclear waste and the current state of research and science is NOT adequate for this challenge”.

In a nutshell this is what we have got. Various levels of government are ok with digging a 1500-acre cavern, filling it with spent nuclear rods (which have only 5% of their potential used), seal it up and watch it for 500 years. The radiation left in these rods I have heard has a half life of 500,000 years. With all this risk involved, the South Bruce site is by a river leading to one of the great lakes, the largest reserve of fresh water in the world. Nearly 40 million people get their drinking water directly from the great lakes, not to mention potential ground water contamination. The land above is some of the best agricultural land in Ontario.

We are being told to trust the science; they know what they are doing. Will they know what to do when a problem occurs, like every other DGR tried? Will they know in 10 years? In 50 years? In 150 years? We have already left a national debt that our children and grandchildren can never repay. Do we also leave them with the threat of annihilation due to radioactivity? The one small word you never want nuclear scientists to say is “oops”. All of a sudden, the depopulation of the world as described in the United Nations document Agenda 21, now called Agenda 2030, looks very attainable.

One large question looms out of this. Where is the Environment Minister, the Conservation Authorities, the Nature Conservatories etc.  If cleaning out an existing pond can do irreparable damage to the ecosystem, what does a 1500-acre radioactive cave do? Technology is advancing at a rapid pace. Would it not be wise to use some of the estimated 25-Billion-dollar cost of a DGR to find a way to use these “spent rods”?

To the councils of the two Municipalities still in the running: you are not only gambling your lives that this DGR might work, you are also gambling countless future generations of lives in Midwestern Ontario and the whole Great Lakes Basin.

Think before you dig. Remember “OOPS”.

Bob Weirmeir is Mid-Western Ontario Vice-President for the Ontario Landowners Association and President – Saugeen/Grey-Bruce Landowners Associations

SUBSCRIBE TO THE OLA NEWSLETTER