Community Liaison Committee hosts president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility

·3 min read

SOUTH BRUCE – The president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility made a presentation to the Community Liaison Committee (CLC) on Nov. 5.

Gordon Edwards, Ph.D., was brought in at South Bruce community members’ request earlier in the year. He has been active on radioactive waste issues for over 45 years.

Edwards has given workshops, as well as expert testimony around the world on this subject.

He was making a presentation to share the knowledge he has about the ongoing process by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), who are in the process of identifying a willing host for a proposed deep geological repository (DGR) that will house Canada’s high-level nuclear fuel waste.

The NWMO has narrowed their search to two locations: Teeswater and Ignace, a township in the Kenora District in Northern Ontario.

The CLC is a group of local people who believe that South Bruce’s citizens can only decide something this important when all of the facts are made available.

Each month, the CLC welcomes educational presentations at their meetings. They discuss particular subject matter and offer their knowledge concerning the NWMO’s Adaptive Phased Management site selection process.

Over 120 people participated in the virtual meeting, which usually sees about 50.

“It was great to see the CLC invite someone to speak who was not from the NWMO,” Michelle Stein, president of POW-NNW, told Midwestern Newspapers.

“Edwards presented some excellent information, including explaining how radioactive elements can affect human health, the dangers of airborne radionuclides, and the risks associated with transporting the waste. He used language that people could understand and had great visuals,” added Stein.

Edwards began his presentation, which included a slideshow, by giving an overview of several components in relation to nuclear waste before it is stored. He defined elements of radioactivity and used fuel bundles, discussed transportation of used fuel and the repackaging process, and the functioning of a CANDU reactor.

He also spoke to the impact of various radioactive materials on humans, plutonium in particular. Edwards explained that with the danger of plutonium – being used in atomic bombs – there is also an opportunity that it may be used as a nuclear fuel and could be reprocessed in the future.

Edwards also highlighted problems and concerns with the storage of nuclear waste in a DGR and suggested that nuclear waste should not be buried or reprocessed without considering the consequences.

One community member asked if Edwards considered it safer to place the spent fuel in a repository, where it does not need to be actively managed, in a question and answer period.

Edwards stated that his concern is with the abandonment of nuclear waste in a DGR. He believes burying the waste is convenient for the industry and society but doesn’t solve any problems.

“If we were to come up with technology to use spent fuel in the future that would be untried and untested at the time, whether that would be better than dealing with it presently?” asked CLC member Alli Meyer.

Edwards stressed that his main point is considering how the project would impact the community it is in.

“If we say yes to the NWMO’s plan, will we have control over the plans afterward, or is it a blank cheque?” he wondered.

The slideshow used during Edwards’s presentation can be found online in the CLC’s November agenda package at http://clcinfo.ca/southbruce/meetings/.

The CLC will forward a complete list of questions and answers to Edwards for his response, which will be published on the “Community Questions and Answers” page of the CLC website.

Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times