Further Joint Review Panel hearings scheduled for OPG DGR


By Barb McKay


Additional Joint Review Panel (JRP) hearings will be held in Kincardine in September for OPG’s proposed plan to store low and intermediate level nuclear waste underground at the Bruce Power site.


The JRP, appointed by the federal Ministry of the Environment and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to review the project, held hearings last fall in Kincardine and Port Elgin to go over details of the project, including geology, site characteristics, management of nuclear waste and protection of the environment and human health.


OPG proposes to store low and intermediate level waste in a deep geologic repository buried 680 metres underground. The low-level waste consists mainly of mop heads, clothing and gloves, while intermediate-level waste is made up of used reactor components, used filters and resins.


Following last year’s hearings, the JRP directed OPG to provide additional information related to the project, some of which stemmed from questions from the panel and some from members of the public who participated in the hearings. Earlier this month, the JRP announced that it had received the information requested from OPG and would hold additional hearings to present the information.

The hearings are scheduled to begin Sept. 9 at the Kincardine Legion and will focus on the methodology used to determine the significance of adverse environmental effects; updates to the geoscientific verification plan; expansion plans for the DGR project; relative risk analysis of alternative means of carrying out the project; and implications of revisions to the reference waste inventory. OPG will also answer questions about how recent incidents at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico apply to the safety case for the DGR project.


Last Monday during Huron-Kinloss Township’s council meeting, Scott Berry of OPG said he is confident about the responses to the information requests from the JRP.


“We believe we have adequately addressed all of those and the safety case for the DGR remains strong,” he said.


Berry spoke to the incident at WIPP in February where a fire underground led to a radiation leak. Berry said the source of the fire was a vehicle that had not been properly maintained. He said the incident speaks to the importance of rigorous oversite and proper management. For its part, WIPP is placing a renewed emphasis on verifying that preventative maintanence is completed on equipment and that workers wear proper protective equipment.


The JRP is welcoming individuals who participated in last year’s hearings to take part again. Anyone who would like to make an oral presentation on the hearing subjects must submit a hearing participation form to the panel by June 23. Written submissions by members of the public are due by July 21 and presentation materials must be submitted by Aug. 25.


Anyone with questions about the hearings or would like to participate is asked to contact Debra Myles, Panel co-manager, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, 160 Elgin Street, 22nd Floor, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0H3. Phone 613-957-0626 or 1-866-582-1884 or email DGR.Review@ceaa-acee.gc.ca.


Alternatively, contact Kelly McGee, Panel co-managerCanadian Nuclear Safety Commission,PO Box 1046, Station B – 280 Slater Street, Ottawa, ON, K1P 5S9. Phone 613-947-3710, fax 613-995-5086 or email OPG-DGR@cnsc-ccsn.gc.ca.


The hearings are expected to be held over two weeks and will be webcast live through the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission website at www.nuclearsafety.gc.ca