Toxic waste plan shortsighted
Submitted by OCAA on Tue, 03/27/2007 - 23:30.
The Welland Tribune
There are about nine million reasons to abandon a suggestion to store nuclear waste in the sedimentary rock of southern Ontario.
A report from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization suggests several Ontario locations for subterranean storage of waste from the country's 22 nuclear reactors.
The Hamilton-Niagara area is among those identified in general terms (specific locations won't be named unless the federal government approves this method of nuclear waste storage).
Also named as potential locations for underground "mausoleums" for toxic waste are Toronto, London, Ottawa, Kingston, Windsor-Sarnia and a huge area between Waterloo Region and Barrie.
The report concludes the sedimentary rock upon which these communities are built is low-risk for fractures and water seepage, raising the possibility of the region as "potentially suitable" for underground repositories for radioactive nuclear waste.
The idea of burying toxic waste up to a kilometre underground in sedimentary rock is an alternative to using underground caverns in the granite of the Canadian Shield.
In all honesty, neither is a pleasing option. But the communities named as potential locations for the storage of nuclear waste are home to 8.977 million people.
All told, they represent 73 per cent of Ontario's population, and almost a quarter of Canada's population. The idea of burying radioactive waste in the midst of Canada's most populous region is incredibly shortsighted. But the fact this is even being discussed should bring to light the side-effects of nuclear power and raise new questions about Ontario's move to rely more on nuclear energy for our power needs.
While the provincial government touts nuclear power as a clean source of energy, it is anything but. There may not be any emissions adding to our growing greenhouse gas problem, but nuclear reactors create a significant amount of radioactive waste.
There are about 1.9 million bundles of waste uranium fuel being stored on site at Canada's nuclear reactors. Most of that is stored at Ontario's Pickering, Darlington and Bruce power stations.
The waste can remain volatile and dangerous for a millennia - that's 1,000 years.
This alternative will be a tough sell for any government. No MP or MPP wants to be remembered as the one who brought a toxic waste dump to his or her riding. Surely, such an item on one's resume will be a vote killer.
A consortium of groups in the nuclear industry, led by Atomic Energy of Canada and Ontario Power Generation, have invested $800 million since 1978 in storing waste in the shield. But research efforts in recent years have focused on using the sedimentary rock in southern Ontario.
One can only wonder what advances could have been made had that money and time been invested in developing true clean energy sources for this country.