Nuclear energy has been utilized in Canada for several decades, providing energy to hundreds of thousands of citizens from plants spread throughout Ontario, New Brunswick and Quebec. Over these years we’ve accumulated quite the collection of highly radioactive nuclear waste, with no place to put it all.
The Ontario Power Generation, in collaboration with other nuclear power suppliers, created a committee in 2002 called the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) tasked with planning and implementing long-term management of all nuclear waste. As far as nuclear waste management goes, the creation of a deep geological repository - a storage facility lined with impermeable material created hundreds of metres underground - is the leading technique used to store waste. Designed to isolate radioactive material from human interaction, a repository has been in the process of creation by the NWMO to store our nuclear waste, which is otherwise stored in temporary concrete silos at nuclear power plants.
Among the initial stages of constructing such a facility, the NWMO has to find a suitable location for the repository, which requires finding a community willing to consent to having 2 million bundles of nuclear waste stored underneath their houses. The newest of these communities the NWMO has set its sights on: the shores of Lake Huron.
Lets think about this for a second. Storing our nations radioactive waste next to one of the largest freshwater reserves on the planet doesn’t seem like such a hot idea. A nuclear presence, however, has been in the area for many years at the Bruce nuclear plant, and it is at this site that the proposed deep geological repository be built.
Public opinion is split on the matter - opposition doesn't favour the idea for obvious environmental concerns, while others are in favour of spurring job growth and a stable economy in the area for years to come. The real question comes down to a simple risk assessment: 40% of Canada’s nuclear waste is already held at the Bruce nuclear plant; is it safer to transport our waste further north out of harms way, risking contamination the entire journey? Or should we develop a “stable” infrastructure right smack dab in the middle of the nuclear action in Canada and hope we can control it?
Between what the nuclear industry reports and the public’s biased opinion on the cleanliness of the nuclear industry, its hard for anyone let alone politicians to make an informed decision on the matter.