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Writers offer support for DGR process in South Bruce

April 16, 2021

To the Editor:

It’s time for the residents of South Bruce to get real.

Recently, Protect Our Waterways – No Nuclear Waste (POW) drew attention to a reservoir of water in Florida, near Tampa, that was, and still is, on the verge of breaking through its dam and releasing water contaminated with, potentially, a number of materials, including some that are radioactive.

The news was presented as both an indictment of nuclear waste management, and of making South Bruce into a “mining town” by hosting a Deep Geological Repository (DGR) for Canada’s spent nuclear fuel.

It’s time POW realized that it does not exist in a bubble. Its members happily sneer at any industry that isn’t agriculture, such as power generation, industrial laundry, or mining, on their heavily-moderated Facebook page, without acknowledging how intimately interwoven seemingly-separate industries really are.

The agricultural industry relies on lots of other industries – transportation and distribution, retail, chemical manufacturing, heavy equipment manufacturing, and even mining.

Which brings us back to the reservoir in Florida. It is a tailing pond for a mining operation that extracts phosphorus ore for production into phosphoric acid, a major component in agricultural fertilizers. The byproduct of that refinement is phosphogypsum, notable in this case and to POW, in particular, as it is radioactive.

Agriculture, mining, and nuclear waste management are intertwined - one can’t exist as we know it today without the other. Abdicating responsibility for that waste is dangerous. We see right now the potential for harm by adhering to the status quo, hoping the next generation will deal with it.

So, this is the reality check: we owe it to everyone to dispose of the waste permanently, safely, and responsibly.

Eric Coleman

To the Editor:

What is Adaptive Phased Management (APM)?

If you are familiar with the proposed DGR in South Bruce, you have likely heard of APM. After all, it is what the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has named Canada’s plan for spent nuclear fuel.

But what does it mean!? Let me help break it down for you while debunking many of the fictional tales being told in regards to the plan.

Firstly, it is important to know that the federal government selected APM as Canada’s plan in June, 2007. The NWMO is now responsible for implementing APM, subject to all necessary regulatory approvals. Our government, representatives of the people, chose this approach. This is not the NWMO forcing a DGR onto an unwilling community. Nor is this the nuclear industry trying to bury and abandon its waste. There was a consultation process with Canadians, and APM was developed based on that participation and feedback.

Secondly, let’s talk about the term “adaptive.” I have seen it said many times by those opposed to the project, that the NWMO uses “adaptive” so “it can keep surprising South Bruce even after the offer is accepted.” This is so incredibly incorrect and attempts to sow doubt among community members.

The term “adaptive” is used because the NWMO is continually reviewing and adjusting the plan in the face of new information, direction and guidance from communities, advances in science and technology, input from the public, insight from indigenous knowledge, changes in societal values, and evolving public policy.

Adaptive, in reference to this specific project, is not the NWMO changing the requirements for willingness, what will be stored in the DGR, where the fuel comes from (no foreign fuel allowed!), what classifies as suitable geology, etc. Rumours implying collusion, dishonesty, “changing the goal posts,” etc. are conspiracy theories and nothing more.

The very people complaining about the term “adaptive” are also the ones declaring that “Science isn’t settled.” You can’t have it both ways; either you want the plan to be adaptive OR you believe the science is settled. Personally, I am reassured knowing that the plan is adaptive. Much more concerning would be an organization trying to implement a specific plan with no regard for changing standards, science or opinions.

Lastly, let’s talk about the word “phased.” This term is chosen because the project will be implemented over, quite literally, decades and there are several literal phases that need to be completed: site selection, environmental assessments, community acceptance, transportation approvals, construction, operations, extended monitoring, decommissioning, etc.

That list is by no means exhaustive; I am sure I have left some out. Each step, or phase, in the process relies on the one before it being completed or ongoing. What does that mean? The NWMO cannot just skip ahead to construction without having completed all the applicable steps before that.

Is South Bruce an appropriate site for a DGR? I honestly have no idea right now as all the information is not available to me yet. I can promise you that I plan to keep researching, keep listening and keep learning, to ensure I know the truth behind this project. I also promise to keep correcting misinformation from both residents and media, as we all have the right to be informed with relevant, accurate information.

Sheila Whytock
Willing to Listen – South Bruce Proud

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