Schenkel, Walter

I participated in the June 5-6 Dialogue in Saint John and had to leave too early to raise the following concerns regarding the ultimate disposal of nuclear waste:

Our discussion was too narrowly focused on projecting what we know today into a future 350 to 500 years hence. There are, however, things that we know we don't know:

1. Political jurisdiction over disposal site: Implicit in our discussion was the assumption that the liberal democratic nation state as we know it today will still exist 350-500 years hence. However, after barely more than a century and a half as a political reality, the concept of the nation state is already under attack and may not exist any longer 350-500 years hence. Its successor may be a political entity narrowly focused on the interests of a small group, or what we might broadly define as anarchy with no large-scale political entity guaranteeing certain checks and balances may then be the order of the day.

2. Climate change: This will no doubt have a major impact on population distribution. Will the disposal site be far removed from population centres and the infrastructure which would make the retrieval of spent nuclear fuel possible, or will population centres move north and be closer to the disposal site?

3. Demographic changes: The increasing frequency of serious epidemics, major natural catastrophies, and/or the ever present possibility of war may substantially reduce the North American population within the 350-500 year time frame.

4. Future energy needs: Will the future generations inhabiting what is today Canada be able to meet their energy needs with the resources at their disposal, or will they be short of such resources?

While these are not present-day concerns, they nevertheless need to inform the discussion as to whether or not the nuclear waste material should or should not evnetually be retrievable.

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