Bruce Hyer Nuclear Road Show Part 3

On March 21, 2014 Bruce Hyer had a public (45 attendees) to discuss his concerns with the current nuclear waste repository site selection here in NW Ontario. A number of great questions were asked and this is a continuation of the question/answers as provided by the NWMO representative as well as my own observations/opinions in italics.

Some of the other questions brought up by meeting attendees were specifics to the implementation and operation of a nuclear waste repository. Most of the answers to these questions and more are found on the NWMO website (www.nwmo.ca) as well as the community liaison websites (www.clcinfo.ca). These are some of the specific questions asked (beyond ones associated with the precious parts of this article).

Bruce Hyer asked the generalized question of what is a “willing” host community. Although there is no specific answer to this question from NWMO, it can be inferred that a willing host community would be one which has the technical requirements of a nuclear waste repository, but must also have community wide acceptance of hosting such a facility. NWMO has made it abundantly clear that at any phase of the site selection process, the community as a whole must agree to it. Some communities originally in the site selection process have already been taken out of the process as communities were deemed to divisive on the idea by the CLC’s and NWMO. Others have been removed due to failing basic technical requirements (or uncertainty over some of those requirements like geology).

This decision is not being run by the government, NWMO or the nuclear industry, it is being run by the communities and people in the region.

Another good question was about the development of new technologies in the future that may help or utilize the waste. The answer to this was simple, the entire procedure for site selection is adaptive and long term, as new technologies may become available, so to will the process and the actual parameters of site selection. This adaptive process leaves room for and is open to any viable technologies going forward.

So how many potential jobs could this repository provide?

Here is a chart provided by NWMO and gives a timeline and jobs outlook as per individual phase of the process. Keep in mind the process is years from the construction phase.

 

Phase Years Direct jobs Job Areas
Construction 10 400-1200 Mining, engineering, Geoscience, safety, manufacturing, construction, management, communication, social sciences, transportation, trades
Operation 30+ 700-800
Extended Monitoring 50+ 100-150 Geoscience, safety assessment, mining
Closure 30 200-300 Mining, construction, trades, Geoscience, safety, regulatory
Long term monitoring 100+ 25-50 Environmental, safety/health monitoring

 

220 years lifespan (open at long term monitoring phase) with hundreds of long term well paying jobs. This project from the start is a multi-generational project.

On the jobs front it was also noted that potential impacts of that many workers would be incredibly difficult on any community however the site selection process has allotted for these potential issues at later phases.

Training for these jobs also came up and although the process is no where near construction phase there will most definitely be training locally as it is such a long term project. These will not just be contract workers brought in from out of the area.

Why isn’t the nuclear waste being reprocessed to get as much out of them as possible?

Canada has long ago made a decision not to develop or proliferate fuel necessary for nuclear weapons. The more you reprocess nuclear fuel, the more radioactive it gets and the “purer” the fuel becomes. Reprocessing would involve a concentrating of plutonium to such levels as to make it viable for nuclear weapons – this goes against basic Canadian values. As it stands now, our reactors and nuclear fuel (spent) are some of the cleanest in the world and cannot be used to make weapons.

What about American nuclear waste?

Well the Americans who do¬† produce nuclear weapons and actively do not allow for proliferation of nuclear material will not allow a foreign country to have control over its “strategic” nuclear material in any form. Right now the USA will go so far as repatriate its nuclear waste even if small amounts are loaned to other countries for scientific study.

In addition, their waste differs from ours and would require a full on change in the permitting and environmental phase as well as major design changes for the repository.

Security?

Security of a repository for nuclear waste would be similar to what is present at nuclear reactors in Canada today – gated, high security with visitors being required to take full background checks as well as onsite escorts.

Nuclear waste also has a built in deterrent from terrorism – it requires allot of specialized equipment, highly specialized scientists and lots of time and protection to make into a weapon. One can simply not open a container and use nuclear waste for massive damage/effects.

 

For More information:

www.nwmo.ca: All the technical information you could want

Visit the local community CLC offices (funded by NWMO, operated by the towns) and websites for more questions and answers.

www.clcinfo.ca

 

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