Central Huron wants to hear more about hosting a facility for used nuclear fuel

Bullet News CLINTON – A central storage facility for used nuclear fuel located in Central Huron could provide jobs for the future, says a local councillor.

“At some point, the whole county is going to have to look at what will sustain it,” said Brian Barnim, a councillor from Central Huron, during a strategic planning session recently. Some discussion during the session centered around the loss of about 200 jobs as a result of the closure of Bluewater Youth Centre and the uncertainty of jobs at Clinton Racetrack Slots and Clinton Raceway as a result of recent provincial government announcements.

Council agreed to ask the Nuclear Waste Management Organization to make a presentation to the community on what it would mean to host the $16- to $24-billion facility for storage of irradiated fuel bundles from reactors. Currently, the spent bundles are placed in dry storage after seven to 10 years of cooling and lowering radioactivity levels in pools of water.  In Ontario, the bundles are stored on an interim basis in silos. They will all be moved to this single underground facility.

The nearest storage facility to Huron County is located at the Douglas Point Waste Management Facility, adjacent to Bruce Power. It provides dry storage for 22,256 used fuel bundles in concrete silos.

“It’s 40 years of good-paying jobs. It’s a 200-year maintenance program. Unfortunately the first word in it is nuclear and the second word in it is waste, but you have to really find out what it is first before you shrug it off,” said Barnim, who attended an information seminar.

Mike Krizanc, who is communications manager for NWMO, said the organization has made presentations in the past, but it typically starts the process by hosting a delegation of council and community members at its Toronto office, and takes them on a tour of a nuclear facility to demonstrate how used fuel is currently stored. Councils that want to proceed then pass a motion to start the screening process.

This project requires about 250 acres for the surface buildings and associated facilities. As well, there may be a need to limit activities in the immediate area surrounding the surface facilities.

The underground repository requires a subsurface area of about 930 acres at a depth of approximately 500 metres. The NWMO would maintain rights to the land above the underground repository, although it may be possible to continue current use of the land.

According to information on the website, used nuclear fuel will be loaded into specially designed and certified containers at the reactor sites and transported to the repository site where it will be repackaged in corrosion-resistant containers for placement in the repository. The containers will be lowered through a shaft and transported underground to one of many placement rooms. The containers will be placed in vertical or horizontal boreholes drilled into the rock. They will then be sealed using bentonite clay.

The project is funded by Ontario Power Generation, NB Power, Hydro-Québec and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization was established in 2002 under the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act to investigate the management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel, which is a by-product of the generation of electricity in a nuclear power plant. The NWMO conducted a three-year study and presented its report and recommended approach to the Minister of Natural Resources Canada in November 2005. In June 2007, the government selected Adaptive Phased Management, the approach recommended by the NWMO. The organization is now responsible for implementing APM, subject to all the necessary regulatory approvals.

The site selection process was initiated in May 2010. About 15 communities have expressed an interest in hosting the facilities, while others have asked for more information. NWMO expects to suspend expressions of interest from communities on Sept. 30, 2012.

More information is available on its website.

Written by on April 2, 2012 in Communities - No comments

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