Government requests additional information on DGR’s potential impacts to SaugeenOjibway Nation


By Barb McKay

The federal government is looking for additional information from Ontario Power Generation (OPG) on the potential impacts of its proposed project to bury low- and intermediate-level waste underground on the SaugeenOjibway Nation (SON).

The request for information came early last week from Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna. She has asked OPG to update its analysis of potential cumulative effects of the proposed deep geologic repository (DGR) on physical and cultural heritage, through its ongoing process with SON. This new request comes just two months after the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) announced that it was satisfiedthat OPG adequately addressed 23 requests for information regarding its environmental assessment for a proposed DGR for waste that is currently being stored in containers above ground at the Bruce Power site.

Fred Kuntz, manager of corporate relations and communications for OPG – Bruce County, said the request for new information from the federal government did not come as a surprise.

“Our job at OPG is to comply with government expectations and regulations,” he said. “SON has its own direct relations with the government and made this request in July so we expected some kind of response from the government.”

Kuntz said OPG committed in 2013 that the DGR project would not go ahead without the support of SON, whose traditional territory includes the proposed location at the Bruce Power site.

“We believe that commitment was the right thing to do,” he said.

Kuntz said OPG has been engaged in open and respectful dialogue with SON and that will continue.

McKenna did not attach a specific deadline to the information request and Kuntz said OPG is currently reviewing the request. The new request could delay the approval deadline – McKenna had been expected to make a decision by the end of the year.

Kuntz said it has been a long road to get to this point from when the proposed project was first introduced in 2005, and there is still a long way to go. Even if OPG’s environmental assessment is approved, it will need to obtain a licence to construct and a licence to operate.