The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.
Nuclear is in the news, making some residents of Northern Ontario nervous. The Nuclear Waste Management Organization is scouting for a permanent storage solution for the waste produced by Ontario Power Generation Inc., Hydro-Quebec and the New Brunswick Power Corporation reactors.
Blind River and Elliot Lake are in the running to host a deep geologic repository (DGR), a storage facility that plunges more than 500 metres underground, in which nuclear waste will be buried. White River, Ignace, Hornepayne and Manitouwadge are also under consideration.
Robert Beaudoin sees red flags. A regular contributor to the Facebook group, Citizens Concerned about Nuclear Waste in Elliot Lake, which currently has 274 members, he believes there is “a lot of business potential” in the city and the presence of a DGR would be a deterrent.
“This is just going to put the big red letter on us,” he says. “Who’s going to want to live here? I can’t. I’ll take a loss on my house just to get away. I don’t want to raise my son around this.” He says he would rather lose his house and declare bankruptcy than jeopardize the safety of his seven-year-old. If the DGR is built in Elliot Lake, Beaudoin plans to relocate his family to the East Coast.
“At least he’ll be safe. I can always get another house,” the concerned father says.
Waste from the power plants in Pickering, Darlington (located east of Bowmanville) and the Bruce peninsula would most likely pass through Sudbury along Highway 17.
Ed Burt, 85, has been challenging the nuclear industry since the 1950s as a member of NorthWatch, the Ontario Environment Network and Algoma-Manitoulin Nuclear Awareness. He believes waste could also be shipped by barge across Lake Huron, in the vicinity of Manitoulin Island.
But Michael Krizanc, a communications manager with the NWMO, insists transportation is foolproof.
“It’s not a liquid, it can’t leak. It’s not a gas, it can’t explode,” he explains. “It’s a solid material that will be placed in a steel container that weighs six times what the payload weighs. Nuclear fuel has been moved all over the world over the last 50 years and there has never been an accident involving the release of radiation that affected people or the environment.”
According to the 2011 Ontario road report, there were 4,946 collisions in the Algoma, Manitoulin and Sudbury districts, 3,695 of which involved property damage. Across Ontario, tractors and semi-trailers were involved in 6,720 collisions in 2011.
“This is a highly regulated activity and the vehicles are monitored as they travel. They don’t travel during inclement weather,” Krizanc says. “They would only transport when it is safe to do so. The container will not be breached, even under the most extreme accident conditions.”
In the case of an accident, Krizanc is certain there would be no danger.
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