A sign damaged by chainsaw belonging to the Protect Our Waterways-No Nuclear Waste group, who are opposed to the DGR project coming to South Bruce. (Photo provided by the Protect Our Waterways group.)A sign damaged by chainsaw belonging to the Protect Our Waterways-No Nuclear Waste group, who are opposed to the DGR project coming to South Bruce. (Photo provided by the Protect Our Waterways group.)

South Bruce group opposing nuclear waste storage questions willing host agreement

The Protect Our Waterways - No Nuclear Waste organization in South Bruce continues to question the fairness in the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s (NWMO) Willing Host decision.

The Municipality of South Bruce Council endorsed the Hosting Agreement between the municipality and the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) at its meeting May 1, 2024.

South Bruce is one of two possible locations remaining in the site selection for a used nuclear fuel storage bunker, along with Ignace, Ontario.

The No Nuclear Waste group shared what it learned during its recent webinar, which included Environmental Lawyer David Donnelly and researcher Ole Hendrikson.

Donnelly told the group there were ethically questionable practices in the signing of that agreement to possibly host a Deep Geological Repository for Canada's used nuclear fuel in South Bruce.

A referendum is scheduled by the Municipality of South Bruce in late October.

“What I find most extraordinary is, why would you [in reference to South Bruce Council] even sign a `willing host’ agreement before you had the referendum? Why wouldn’t the community have a stake, a huge stake in shaping the referendum? What kind of relationship is this?” he said.

Donnelly stated the referendum rules are blatantly prejudicial to the concerns of residents, in naming a 50 per cent plus one threshold or, otherwise, if less than that, Council alone gets to decide upon the DGR’s acceptance. The lawyer claimed the cards are stacked against residents in a municipality where the number of cast votes often do not even reach 50 per cent of the local electorate.

Donnelly also said the "ridiculous 140-year binding agreement would essentially silence opposition and shut down our democratic process"

He cited Section 3.2.2 of the agreement, which says “the Municipality shall (a) not engage in any action that could frustrate, delay or interfere with, or stop NWMO from proceeding with the Project in accordance with the Regulatory Approvals, including the construction and operation of the Facility and/or the Centre of Expertise; (b) use best efforts to attend but only at NWMO’s reasonable request and expense, non-regulatory forums…and support the Base Project Scope at such forums;…”

Donnelly claimed the language points squarely to full control by NWMO now and into the distant future.

Donnelly added Council and local citizens still have not been given enough scientific and technical information about safety, because the because NWMO is not obliged to carry out many important studies until the federal environmental assessment (EA) process begins, which will not take place until after a site is selected.

Meantime, the President of the Sierra Club Canada Foundation, Scientist Ole Hendrickson (PhD), said there is a list of examples of questionable decisions and lack of oversight to expose deficiencies in Canada’s nuclear safety framework.

He pointed to the most recent controversy about Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) giving a license to Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) for its Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF) in the Ottawa River region. He said the project is facing three judicial reviews from civil society groups and a group of Algonquin First Nation communities whose multiple concerns include not being properly consulted.

Hendrikson said Canada is unique among OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries in giving a regulatory body (CNSC) sole authority to approve radioactive waste disposal projects.

Hendrickson claimed the CNSC has done everything it can to downgrade both the Environmental Assessment or, now, the Impact Assessment Act process.

“It’ll be solely decided by the CNSC, and the CNSC has a reputation – and deserved in my view – as a `captured’ regulator," he concluded.

See also: New information revealed about proposed South Bruce used nuclear fuel repository

South Bruce signs Hosting Agreement with NWMO

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