Submissions library: 2002 to 2005
A separate section shows submissions received following the completion of the study.
Note that we also received submissions through regular mail and personal correspondence, which are included here only with the permission of the author. All submissions are posted in the language received.
Curry, N.RoyceSubmitted: January 2, 2005
Note: Light Green Color background of the Executive Summary. (green background with green headings making it very difficult to print and to read) Note also the headings on questionaire panels no disadvantages. Also the two additional paragraphs on this submission are added to look as if the comment was made by NWMO. These are all signs that this web site is not to be trusted. Example: Nuclear waste must be stored for a 1000 years before it becomes safe to handle. Actually, nuclear waste will never become safe to handle since each subsequent bundle adds another 1000 years to the storage site!
Grand Council of the CreesPublished here with the permission of the author.
Bradford, LoriI am thoroughly impressed with the dialogue and community-level involvement you are seeking in the creation of the nuclear waste management plans, however, I believe that although your organization is effectively researching and creating the management plans, it is the next generation (my generation) who are going to be implementing them. What worries me is our lack of education on the issues,and the finding that Canadians don't regularly think about nuclear waste management (according to your survey results). How is NWMO going to ensure that the next generation of managers are educated enough to accurately and adaptively implement the management plan?
The Regional Municipality of DurhamThis report is published here with the permission of the Regional Municipality of Durham.
Curry, N. RoyceSubmitted: January 2, 2005
The standards set by the mandated study are too low. Anyone would think this had to do with garbage being shipped to Michigan. The nuclear issue must be held to a higher level requiring thousands of years of safe storage. Every person now considering the issue will be dead before this issue is properly solved. If indeed a solution can be found in the next 100 years.
Mroueh YoussefThis report is published here with the permission of the author.
Rao, MohanUsed fuel management is a long-term issue and any solution should not only be acceptable to our generation but should also be so for future generations.
Reviewing the approaches taken by several countries, it appears to me that an important consideration for Canada may be that we should take care not to foreclose options for the future generations and take precaution at the same time not to saddle them with undue burden in the management of used fuel.
On these two considerations alone, one could see that :
(i) reactor site storage, although easily retrievable may not be a good long term option since it leaves many sites to be managed adding to the future burden and is not configurable for disposal, and
(ii) disposal may not be a good option since it makes used fuel resource inaccessible (or extremely difficult to access).
The only suitable option for the long term appears to be one that is essentially designed in a way that (i) used fuel can be easily managed and retrieved if and when required, and (ii) the facility can easily transition to disposal if and when the future generations so decide. This provides future generations the ability to exercise whatever options they may have at their disposal (including technologies that we might not have seriously considered so far).
Throw into this mix other considerations such as terrorism, security, economics and the all the rest, a long-term storage option that is centralized, located deep underground (thereby less prone to surface hazards and terrorism), manageable with a minimum of effort (i.e. passive) and easily configurable for disposal may be the optimum solution for the long-term management of used fuel.
Such a system can succeed current storage at an appropriate time perhaps following plant closuresat the earliest or at the end of the service life of reactor site storage at the latest. Given that there is no urgency to implement a solution, the program can benefit from considerable leadtime avaliable for selecting a site for centralized storage/disposal and developing a suitable long-term technology.
Mohan Rao, PhD., PEng. Vice-President Hardy Stevenson and Associates
Franta, JaroThe current issue of the periodical Physics in Canada briefly mentions, on page 354, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), including how it came into being.
The article ("The Evolutionary CANDU Reactor - Past, Present, and Future") states flatly that "robust technical solutions exist for both long-term storage and permanent, passive disposal of waste fuel."
On page 353 the article explains that, " The concepts for permanent geologic disposal of waste have analogues in nature. For example, the Cigar Lake uranium ore deposit in Saskatchewan contains about the same amount of uranium as the spent fuel that will arise from almost 100 years of operating all the CANDU reactors in Canada.
The Cigar Lake deposit has existed for about 1.3 billion years under conditions that are far less resistive to the release of radioactivity than an engineered repository.
Just 5 meters away from the deposit, one of the richest in the world, the water easily meets drinking water standards for radioactivity content. "
It is unfortunate that the NWMO itself does not provide the relevant information required for citizens to make an informed judgment.
The new report Responsible Action highlights an important element of the problem of managing used nuclear fuel.
Lack of trust, by citizens who have taken the time to understand the problem and to hear the voices of other citizens.
Although the method use in the study may well have chosen a representative set of Canadian citizens, the process of information and deliberation is not representative of how choices are made in a large society -- even one dedicated to openness and participation, as Canada seems to an outsider to be. The time and effort needed to learn about an unfamiliar subject, and then to deliberate on its implications for oneself, one's family, and the communities for which one feels responsible is a considerable one.
The surprise and consequent distrust felt by participants seems to be a result, in part, of their realization of how little they knew. Yet their low state of knowledge is only partly due to reluctance to share information by the nuclear industry or government. Most of it is due to the information overload all citizens face in postindustrial circumstances.
This matters because of the remedy recommended in the "fifth" scenario. An independent oversight board faces a daunting task: to sustain the engagement of enough citizens that the nation will continue to feel involved going forward in the management of nuclear fuel. This is hard because used fuel is not newsworthy or interesting unless it is in one's backyard in some relevant way.
Hence, the independent board faces the high probability of disappearing into the anonymity of "the government," and of becoming the de facto captive of those who are well enough organized to stay interested — environmental groups, opponents of nuclear energy per se, the industry, and other arms of government.
Did your thoughtful and good-hearted citizen participants have an answer for this challenge? I don't see one in the executive summary.
I wish I had constructive advice to offer. These findings reaffirm my sense of the decency, sound judgement, and sense of responsibility of Canadians. (Would that I could be so confident of my own countrymen.) Nonetheless, the challenge I've outlined is, I believe, of great importance to NWMO going forward.
Rawlingson, Malcolm StewartI would like to lend support to Joyce Achesons submission related to lack of logic in storing nuclear materials in deep underground sites.
While I do not question whether this method ofstorage is "safe" or not it seems to me to be very much in the category of "out of sight out of mind".
As I understand it the process involves vitrification (a fancy term for encapsulating in a glass or ceramic type material)which will prevent the nuclear material from being affected by water - hopefully.
Having processed the material in this way and drilled a big hole into the earth's crust to put it in we presumably consider that the problem has gone away. The difficulty I have with adopting this solution is that it denies future generations the ability to utilise the large amount of energy still vailable in that fuel. To consider it as waste is such a tragic misconception. (see Cuttler and Associates excellent submissions on this topic).
Burying it deep in the earth seems to me to be making access to it very difficult and I do not think the real radiological risks associated with this material make such disposal necessary. I would much rather adopt above ground storageat nuclear sites for the medium term until we have developed the technology to recover the useful materials in the fuel and to render harmless the other materials that are a risk to the public. Our nuclear processes MUST employ the principles of REDUCING the amount of the waste produced (better nuclear fuel cycle management) RE-USING fuel bundles to extract more energy from those that we have already irradiated and RECYCLING the fuel bundles that we cannot RE-USE.
Burying it is glass blocks in a large hole in the Canadian shield makes it very difficult to do ANY of these things. There is no reason at all why the nuclear industry cannot develop the technologies to do all of the above. Burying the problem does not make it go away and I agree with Joyce 100%.
Brain SteveLiving in Oshawa, I have been deeply concerned my entire life living so close to such massive reactors such as darlington and pickering. The only reason for which i know anything about the situation is because of my close proximity to these power plants. NO eduation or public information is adequately provided or communicated to the public. Most individuals have NO idea what a mess our province and country are in with the state of these reactors and their spent fuel. The public must be fully involved and aware of the decisions that need to be made for the health and safety of all living things. I do hope that this organization makes the necessary impact required to rectify a very terrifying situation.
Baird, JimThis note "Factual errors or disinformation" is published here with the permission of the author.
Armitage, StephenThis letter is printed with the permission of the author.
Harley, Mary Lou
This submission is published with the permission of the author.Submission on the topic: Discussion Document: Asking the Right Questions?
Harley, Mary Lou
Response to Comments by J.A.L. Robertson relating to the Submission by the United Church of Canada (UCC) to the Seaborn Panel.
Rawlingson, MalcolmThank you for an excellent document "Understanding the Choices". The NWMO has done a good job of distilling it down to the three possible choices Canadian Society has available to deal with this problem. NWMO is quite correct in that there is no single solution that resolves all of the problem entirely. This is the case in many aspects of life and it is something we as human beings are accustomed to. We will have to make compromises based upon our ethical values and this is where the two branches of the NWMO strategy must come together. That is pick the best TECHNICAL solution that fits our ETHICAL VALUES. To determine which of these is the best fit we need to look at the limitations of each of the options and decide whether these limitations can be overcome (now or in the future)and how best to approach each limitation. For example. If we made the decision to leave the waste at the location where it was produced (by large and important bodies of water)long term geological changes may perhaps cause the fuel to be submerged at some point in the future. If we expect that to occur then we should identify how long we expect that change to occur...whether we would have any advance warning of such a change and put in place a plan to deal with that IF it does happen. I am not proposing this as a way forward necessarily but if you take each limitation of each scenario and identify strategies to minimise the impact then you will have developed a course of action for future generations to manage this waste. Could it be moved to higher ground if flooding is a problem? Could we transfer the fuel to other containers that last longer some way down the road or can remain submerged if flooding occurs? It seems clear to me that long term storage deep underground ethically is very difficult to deal with since it all but excludes future generations from safely accessing the waste. It is an "out of sight - out of mind approach that personally I don't find ethically correct. While I agree with the experts that it is probably the best TECHNICAL solution I do not think it is the best ETHICALLY. As I have said in earlier submissions the concept of this material being considered as "waste" is quite wrong. Future gennerations will likely not view it as such. It still contains significant quantities of fissile materials that future generations will (I am sure) be able to utilise with technolgy far superior to ours currently. So on ethical (not technical) grounds I believe deep underground storage is not the best solution. That means we need to work on reducing or mitigating the limitations of the other two options. In short we need to use ETHICAL considerations to rule in or rule out the three available options then use our current TECHNOLOGY to resolve as best we can at the moment the limitations presently foreseen. That will not be the easy way but it is the right way. Malcolm Rawlingson
Williams, MartinThe issue of nuclear waste disposal seems to be one of a few questions: what should be done? Should we do something now? And/or how do we deal with the sociological ramifications of doing something about the nuclear waste?
From a philosophical perspective, if we care about the survival of: first, the continued existence of life as cultivated by the evolution of earth; and secondly, just the continuation of the existence of humans, the solution to the waste management question, is that we must rid some of it now, and we must rid some of it later.
What is the best way to do that? This is not a question of this way or that way is the best (black or white). This is a question of what is the lessor of three evils (a gray solution). Do we shoot it to space, do we bury it in the ocean (internationally illegal and ultimately impractical), or do we bury it in the mountains. The answer seems to be, we should bury the waste in the mountains. This is the lessor of three evils. But we must not bury all of it here. Because with current technology and knowledge, epistemologically and phenomenonologically speaking, we can only know the PROBABILITY, that burying nuclear waste in the mountains will be be the best solution. But we can't know, in a FINITE way, that this is the best solution. This is the rationale for why we must both, bury some of it, and leave some unburied (for future scientific explorative testing of proper disposal). By doing this, we solve the problem of ridding some of this stuff (to the best of our current technological capabilities)
From a sociological perspective, we must have a reduction in the use of nuclear energy over a period of years (because it's waste is too difficult to get rid of). We must replace it, simultaneously, with partly wind, solar, geothermal, and other energies, to compensate for the loss of the power that would have been generated by nuclear. As we are slowly decreasing the reduction in our use of nuclear power over years, government must help businesses retool their companies and work forces to learn to manufacture new energy technologies to compensate for their losses in the marketplace.
In conclusion, we should get rid of some of it now, in the mountains. We should save some of it for future generations to learn from and try to dispose of (to preserve technological and educational resources generationally). And governments should help the businesses involved in nuclear industries now, make the transition into other energy sectors.
Eno, RobertThe one item that seems to be missing from this equation is the need for more research into the re-processing of waste nuclear fuel and improving nuclear reactor efficiency.
My understanding is that only a fraction of the energy potential of nuclear fuel is extracted in a nuclear reactor; that, in the course of the nuclear reactions which generate that energy, impurities (neutron absorbers) are produced within the fuel which eventually shut the whole process down. For this reason, the fuel bundles must be changed out and disposed of, yet they still have tremendous energy potential if a means could be found to remove these impurities.
It is also my understanding the re-processing of nuclear fuel is expensive, "dirty", and produces a significant amount of liquid radioactive waste which is even more problematic to deal with than the solid waste from which it came.
I believe that the safest and most expedient means to deal with radioactive waste is to place it in deep, underground, geologically stable formations, however, this should be looked upon not as disposal but as temporary storage.
Concurrently, there should be a lot more money and effort devoted to: 1) designing more efficient nuclear reactors and 2) developing an efficient and clean method for reprocessing used nuclear fuel so that most, or all of its energy potential can be realized.
Perhaps, in my capacity as a woefully ignorant member of the general public, I am oversimplifying matters, however, to repeat an ancient chestnut: "where there is a will, there is a way". We have a lot of very bright people in this country. Let's invest in them and in our future by devoting more research dollars into nuclear energy research.
Marczak, JohnLong term disposal of nuclear waste is important to our future security. While storage of spent nuclear fuel at a nuclear power station is acceptable for the short term, I feel that the long term disposal solution must be in a centralized deep geologic storage location. This allows for economies of scale and minimizes the impact for future generations. We have the technology and we should put it into place.
Cullimore, D. RoyThe following comment is printed with the permission of the author.
Farrugia-Uhaide, Ann MarieAbstract of author's recently completed Masters' thesis which focussed on nuclear fuel waste and native issues and concerns.
Coxworth, AnnI'm impressed with the way this task is being tackled. It seems that the options are being approached honestly without the pressure of a presumed "right answer". It has been important that you have spent a lot of time and energy on ensuring that the right questions are being asked, and that the values on which decisions will be based have been defined in a broad, participatory process.
As a participant in the Scenarios project, I am pleased to note the way in which the assessment team used our work. Their analysis (Sec. 6.3) of the impact of differing futures on the effectiveness of different management options seems sound. I would suggest that the message here is that the responsible thing is to assume the worst in terms of future scenarios. This leads me toward a variation of the DGR approach - i.e. one in which the final closure of the repository is not projected to take place within the predictable future. This would permit on-going monitoring, flexibility and a higher degree of security than would above-ground or shallow storage. My main concern with the original, AECL deep-disposal concept was the inability to monitor for leakage once the vault is closed. I assume it would be possible to create a temporary closure system, very resistant to intrusion but still allowing for monitoring, a system which could at some future, undefined stage be replaced with permanent closure if this were deemed appropriate. The big issue in all such strategies that involve action by future generations will be the perpetuation of knowledge through extremely long time periods. A process for "remembering" will be a big challenge.
Best wishes for your on-going work,
Saint John Citizens Coalition for Clean Air
This submission is published with the permission of the author.
Baird, JimThis letter is printed with the permission of the author.
Jones, DeborahLetter published with permission of author.
Threndyle, GeneI do not trust the nuclear industry to do the right thing with nuclear waste. These dangerous materials should not be stored in the Great Lake Basin. The potential for disaster no matter how unlikely it might seem is not worth the risk. And yet we have these poisons right beside Lake Huron and Lake Ontario. What a mistake. However these materials should be stored it should not be beside the largest fresh water system in North America. Not only would millions of peoples lives be potentially affected by a disaster now or in the future, but also ecosystems and wildlife habitat.
Harley, Mary Lou
Clarification on "Response to Comments by J.A.L. Robertson relating to the Submission by the UCC to the Seaborn Panel" by Mary Lou Harley
Sabourin, GillesBonjour !
Je viens de lire le document "Les options et leurs implications" et j'ai quelques commentaires:
1. À la page 28, on dit "...les rayonnements posent des risques importants à court terme, sans pouvoir affirmer avec certitude que ces risques s'atténuent avec le temps" La fin de cette phrase est fausse. Nous savons avec certitude que les risques s'atténuent avec le temps, comme il est dit à plusieurs endroits dans le même document, par exemple p. 59, "La radioactivité des déchets de combustible nucléaire continuera de diminuer, mais les isotopes ... seront toujours radioactifs et continueront de présenter un danger, même s'il est moindre." Je trouve regrettable que la SGDN ne fasse pas plus attention pour informer correctement le public canadien en particulier sur un fait qui est central dans la gestion des déchets nucléaires: plus le temps passe, moins ils sont radioactifs, donc moins ils sont dangereux.
2. À la page 31, on dit: "Le retraitement présente un risque supplémentaire: la possibilité que des individus sans scrupules mettent la main sur l'uranium enrichi". Peut-être l'auteur a voulu dire l'uranium appauvri, ou le plutonium ? Comme les réacteurs canadiens n'utilisent au départ que de l'uranium naturel, ce qui sortirait d'un éventuel retraitement ne peut être de l'uranium enrichi.
3.La note 1 sous la figure 4-1 dit: "la surveillance et la remise à neuf/reconditionnement sont appelés à se répéter à perpétuité, selon un cycle de 300 ans". C'est faux de dire à perpétuité. Éventuellement, la radioactivité du combustible irradié baissera sous la radioactivité naturelle de la roche environnante. Il ne sera alors pas plus nécessaire de stocker ce combutible que la roche environnante. Il serait plus juste de dire "pour une durée indéterminée" comme il est dit ailleurs dans le document.
4. De façon plus générale, je trouve qu'il y a une lacune majeure dans l'évaluation des options, celle de ne considérer que le combustible irradié qui sera produit par les réacteurs actuels pendant leur durée de vie prévue. Si le Canada continue d'utiliser l'énergie nucléaire pendant le moyen à long terme, comme il est problable, les options de gestion du combustible irradié seront évalué différemment de ce qui est fait dans le document. À mon avis, la SGDN doit considérer la possibilité que l'énergie nucléaire continuera d'être utilisé pour longtemps au Canada, et évaluer l'impact de ce choix sur la gestion à long terme du combustible irradié. Par exemple, la valeur attribué au retraitement pourrait augmenter.
Burns, TerryAlthough my method of disposing of nuclear waste is not cost effective it is most likely the best enviromentally friendly method. Why not collect the waste and place it on a rocket which would then be shot to the sun. The radioactive material would then be engulfed within the extreme heat of the sun and should not affect any of the earth's terra firma.
United Church of CanadaSubmission 1: United Church of Canada General Comments on Nuclear Wastes and the Work of the Nuclear Waste Management Organisation (NWMO)
Brenciaglia, GiovanniI'd like first to commend your outreach effort and express my disappointment with the response you got in my community.
In reviewing your presentations and documents I found the assessment framework very comprehensive. The ranges of the team's assessment included my judgements of the performance of the alternatives in meeting the specific objectives. The weighting factors used by the teams covered the range that I would have used. Therefore, I find the conclusion on the preferred long-term option (deep geological disposal) balanced and persuasive.
Implementing the management plan will necessarily include the storage options and the transport need. In selecting the timing and location of the storage, I would give priority to the following elements:
1. Minimum handling of used fuel through dry storage and transport in the same containers.
2. Select central storage and geological disposal sites as close as possible to each other, using sites that have already been geologically characterized and communally accepted through previous mining activities.
3. Minimize the front end capital expenditures, in order to preserve the funds collected from the users for maximum flexibility in the implementation of the program during the learning period. The period could extend to the seven generations of the aboriginal wisdom!
Brady-MacAulay, LaurenI am in total disagreement with generating nuclear power of any kind. As for what to do with the nuclear waste, my suggestion is for your employees and the big businesses and politicians who support such practice to keep it on their own personal property.
Craik, NeilUsed nuclear fuel should be retrievable because its potential energy is 70 times the energy obtained from the fuel before discharged from a CANDU reactor.
Wright,James R.I have been employed in the nuclear industry since 1946. It is becoming increasingly obvious that safe supply of nuclear sourced energy is an absolute necessity for for future development the world economy. There has been much resistance to development and application of the fission source by ill-informed groups or movements, often based on the problem of spent fuel management. Now that there is clearer acknowledgment of the problems of restricted supply of fossil fuels and the atmospheric problems from combustion of fossil fuels the governments of the USA and Great Britain are both moving to a more positive stance on nuclear plant investment. This brings forward the need to establish a well considered route to spent fuel and fission product handling, disposal and storage.
I would very much like to be informed on the plans, progress and the attitudes of individuals to development of the necessary technologies.
Sincerely, J. R. Wright.
Franta, JaroThis submission is the English version of an earlier post to the NWMO by Gilles Sabourin -- see http://www.nwmo.ca/default.aspx?DN=875,352,86,21,1,Documents
Having read your document "Understanding the Choices," I have the following comments :
1. On page 26, it says that "....radiation exposure risk would be significant initially, with no certainty that the risk reduces over time."
The last part of this sentence is patently false. We know with complete certainty that the risk reduces over time, as is in fact stated in several instances within the document, for example p. 59, "The radioactivity of nuclear fuel wastes will continue to decay, but isotopes.... will remain radioactive and pose potential, although declining, risks."
It is regrettable, in my opinion, that the NWMO neglects to devote adequate attention to providing accurate information to the Canadian public, particularly on the uniquely distinguishing feature of nuclear waste management : that the passage of time reduces radiation levels and consequently danger levels.
2. On page 29, it says that "Reprocessing poses an additional risk, in that enriched uranium could fall into the wrong hands and could be used for the development of weapons." Perhaps the author intended to say depleted uranium or plutonium ? Since Canadian reactors use only natural uranium, there is no possibility whatsoever of obtaining enriched uranium from an eventual reprocessing of spent fuel.
3. Note 1 below Figure 4-1 states that "Extended monitoring and building refurbishment/ repackaging activities continue in perpetuity, based on a 300-year cycle," which is wrong. It is not required in perpetuity. Eventually the level of penetrating radiation of spent fuel decreases below the level emitted by natural rock. At that point it shall be no more necessary to safeguard spent nuclear fuel, than it is to safeguard rocks today. It would be more accurate to say "for an indeterminate period," as stated elsewhere in the document.
4. In a more general sense, I find that the evaluation of options is grossly deficient, in that it only considers management of spent fuel produced by existing reactors during their expected lifetimes. If Canada continues to exploit nuclear energy in the medium-to-long term, as is likely, then the evaluation of spent fuel management options will be very different from that in the document. In my opinion, the NWMO must consider the likelihood that nuclear energy will be exploited in Canada long into the future, and evaluate its recommendation for long-term spent fuel management accordingly. For instance, as the reserves of uranium ore gradually become depleted through mining, the incentives for spent fuel reprocessing will grow.
Doherty MichaelIt would be morally wrong for us to dispose of nuclear waste by any means that does not allow for continuous monitoring for the millions of years it will take for this waste to become harmless, and for possible remedial action if that becomes feasible in the future. "Burial" by any other name would simply be wrong.
Norman, JasonI am pleased that you have chosen the term "used fuel" to refer fuel bundles discharged from our neclear reactors, rather than the more common terms "spent fuel" or "nuclear waste". These fuel bundles still contain nearly 99% of the uranium they did when they were manufactured, along with a small but significant amount of plutonium, and to consider them "spent" and permanently bury them as "waste" would be a tremendous waste of a potentially valuable energy resource. It is very possible that fission energy will be an increasingly important energy source in the future. There are computer validated designs for modular, factory assembled, passively safe fast neutron reactors that could revolutionize the nuclear power industry. These reactors would be capable of efficiently using natural, depleted or recovered uranium fuel over the long term, but would require significant amounts of plutonium for their initial commissioning. This would transform this element from liability that nobody wants into a valuable commodity in short supply, and to render 100 tons of plutonium inaccessable knowing this possibility would be highly irresponsible. On the other hand, it is also possible that the future will bring other, environmentally superior energy sources that will replace nuclear power. Given this uncertainty about the future of nuclear energy, I would suggest that the current practice of storing used fuel at reactor sites is the simplest, lowest risk way to keep all of our options open and should be continued until we are in a position to make a better informed decision about it's ultimate fate.
Joe, MendlesonThis letter is published here with the permission of the author.
Clyde, TomI believe an approximate measure of the first 30 years of nuclear waste in Canada is in the vicinity of 10K cubic Metres. This is an equivalance of one day's garbage from the City of Toronto. If we were to double our waste rate in the next 30 years we would still have a volume of less than a half week supply of Toronto garbage.
There is no rush to find a solution for this problem. Lte's continue doing what we're doing and make sure that our solution is proper and effective when we do make it.
Who knows? Maybe in another 50 or 60 years we might have a use for it and will want it back.
Lekivetz, BobI teach a number of adult students from European, Eastern and Middle East countries. Some of these students have expressed great fear over the use and handling of nuclear waste. They state that there have been numerous "accidents" that have not been reported or there have been problems with "missing" inventories of used fuel rods. My question is: "In Canada, who is watching the watchers?" What I mean is, "Is the federal government capable of putting politics aside and ensuring the safe storage of nuclear waste?" Are the important decisions going to be made by Canadians or left to the boardrooms of the Utility Companies (likely those who contribute generously to the party in power)?
Draak, MarcellaCanada should manage it's used nuclear fuel in the future by looking into alternative means of energy, wind, sun, etc - it is not logical to continue using nuclear as a sole means of energy when there is absolutely no means of safely storing the used fuel - this was an issue 30 years ago and still is - there is no safe way to store the spent fuel -
Wright, JimWith respect to the storage of nuclear waste, I believe that if it is not safe enough to store 100 feet below the parliament building, or in the middle of a major city, then it is not safe enough to store anywhere.
The time has come when we can no longer expect the isolated citizens of Canada's remote places to bear the risk of our pollutants.
Darnley, ArthurPlease consider the following contribution to the discussion.
Interminable public debate over the question of nuclear waste disposal has been going on for 25 years, seemingly with very little progress. The public at large remains apprehensive about anything to do with radioactivity despite the fact that this phenomenon surrounds us and has always been present in the natural environment since the world began. Unfortunately a large segment of the population seems to believe that radioactivity did not exist prior to the atom bomb and nuclear power. What percentae of the population is aware that potassium is an essential part of living cells and is naturally radioactive? Or realises that when they eat any food containing potassium, such as bananas, they are consuming radioactivity?
Nuclear waste disposal, compared with many other industrial activities that impinge upon the enivronment, is not a major problem from a scientific or engineering point of view. Nuclear waste disposal can be managed as a reverse deep-mining process. In cost or complexity or volume of effluent it does not compare with trying to withdraw excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere!
There is solid evidence for the above statement. This is provided by the Athabasca basin in northern Sastkatchewan (centred 250 km NE of Fort McMurray). Beneath its surface it has several of the largest and highest grade natural uranium deposits known anywhere in the world containing hundreds of thousands of tons of highly radioactive ore, some deposits averaging more than 10% uranium. Too "hot" to mine by conventional methods - they can be thought of as nature's own waste disposal sites! These deposits contain enough ore to fuel hundreds of nuclear reactors. The uranium in these deposits has been there for more than 1 billion (repeat, 1 billion) years, long before life as we know it existed on the earth, during which time the continents have moved thousands of miles, repeated faulting has occurred (i.e. there have been many earthquakes), the land surface has been up and down relative to sea level many times, there have been several ice ages. The rocks have been saturated with water. Yet despite this long sequence of potentially disruptive events these uranium depoisits are extremely difficult to discover. Why? Because there has been no leakage of radioactivity beyond the immediate vicinity of the ore. This is depite the fact that, theoretically, because the mineralization is assoiated with rock fractures, the location of the mineralization is not ideal from a containment point of view. However, the deposits have been effectively sealed in place because they are surrounded by a clay envelope produced by the mineralizing process.
In order to confirm these observations, please refer to the Radioactivity Map of Canada published by the Geological Survey of Canada in 1986. This shows that the radioactivity of the Athabasca Basin's land surface is significantly below the Canadian average. A more recent North American digital map of surface radioactivity, is about to be published by the IAEA, and this emphasizes the unusually low radiation level of the Athabasca Basin in relation to the continent as a whole.
The conclusion to be drawn from these facts is that it would be quite feasible to insert radioactive wastes back into the same type of geological situation from which uranium ore has been extracted, with considerable confidence that the waste would be safely contained for at least a few hundred million years.
Radioactive waste disposal is not a major problem, not least because the volume of material involved is small compared with many other toxic products which are much more widely dispersed by industry and commerce. A disproportionate amount of time and energy has been devoted to discussing the manageable problems of nuclear waste disposal, meanwhile more intractable problems are being ignored.
I wish this information could be placed in front of the public as frequently as are the statements about the hazardous nature of radioactivity and nuclear energy. A more balanced public debate might then be forthcoming. Having had experience in many countries of the search for radioactive materials, and devices for measuring raioactivity, I am not unaware of the risks.
Arthur G. Darnley, Ph.D
(Geologist; retired Division Director, Geological Survey of Canada; Chair 1976/84 of Joint IAEA/NEA Research Group on Uranium Exploration Methods; Founder, currently Hon. Chair, International Working Group on Global Geotechnical Baselines)
Cuttler & Associates Inc.
This submission is published with the permission of the author.Submission on the topic: Discussion Document 2 - Understanding the Choices
As I cannot attend the October 2004 information sessions in Pickering Ontario, I will provide my opinion here. I am strongly in favour of the option of safe central monitored deep geologic disposal of used nuclear fuel in a stable geologic formation. I am strongly NOT in favour of storage of used nuclear fuel at the current nuclear reactor sites beyond their generating lifetimes. I believe that the deep burial option can be accomplished safely and in fact that it is the most safe option in the long term. I think it is important to note that used nuclear fuel will decay to radioactivity levels similar to natural rock ores in time. On the other hand, toxins like mercury and lead never decay, and so remain just as toxic to humans now as a million years from now. I wish that as much time and money were spent on worrying about how society casually puts these truly persistent toxins into the air, water and shallow landfill sites as is spent on surveying and debating about used nuclear fuel. The volumes of used nuclear fuel to be disposed of are miniscule in comparison to these other persistent toxins. I am confident that deep geologic disposal can be accomplished safely.
Cuttler & Associates Inc.
This submission is published with the permission of the author.
Earley, JohnI have read "Understanding Your Choices" and compliment you on the presentation and lucid discussion of the several available options.
My initial thinking for waste disposal was burying deep in the earth. However, I am persuaded that "centralised storage" is a better option since it permits access at a future time for a variety of unforseen reasons such as changes in scientific knowledge or the availability of new disosal choices (eg space, satellite, etc), or uses for the material. I believe the potential offered by centralised storageoutweighs such negatives as cost. I discount "on-site" storage as simply being similar to "centralised storage" but incurring much more risk and expense because of the many locations involved.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to offer my thoughts on this important matter.
This submission is published with the permission of the author.
Klein, RuthI commend the NWMO for the comprehensiveness and clarity of its presentations and documents. I noted with surprise, however, that I was one of only four individuals attending the community and information session October 6 in London. Does this indicate public complacency and indifference -- or a need for NWMO to consider a different venue for such sessions or more effective publicity (or both)? Perhaps a closer liaison with secondary and post-secondary education institutes would inject more vitality into the NWMO's program and raise its profile in the general public.
Thank you for the valuable information, and for the opportunity to respond.
Dykyj, JerrySuggestion:(unlike the America 'Yukka Mnt.Pepository', which took forever to select & extremely expensive, limiting in size and once ,sealed' making future unseen problems difficut to UNDO!) Since, temporary storage (now over 30 years) have proven easy to monitor and cost effective. I suggest, a continuation of above ground storage using 'designer CUBES'.Once, a standard is set for these 'cubes' as containers (made of steel plates/wire meshing/cooling tubes and poured contrete at the time the 'waste filled drums' are placed into them (2-10 ton blocks-not easily stolen)then these ,interlocking cubes (like LEGO blocks) can be assembled into huge grid units in remote sites in the NWTerritores for longer storage (100-years)
Rennie, RichardPerhaps it is too simple, but I think the spent uranium should be returned to the place where it was mined, at the same or less degree of activity as the original yellow cake.
This could be achieved by mixing the spent uranium with sufficient sand and melting this mixture into glass beads. In this way it would be no more dangerous to store or transport than the original yellow cake
R.T. Rennie (Retd. medical doctor)
This submission is published with the permission of the author.Commentaires SGDN
Fernandes AntonioDear Madam/Sir,
I attended the NWMO information session held in Edmonton on September 30, 2004 regarding the options to manage Canada's Used Nuclear Fuel. My comments are attached. Thank you for the opportunity to participate.
P. Eng. Alberta Environment
Steed, Roger G.I should like to comment that I completely agree with Colin Allan and Paul Fehrenbach's paper on the concept of using the term "Safe-keeping" rather than disposal. I believe that in the future, many years from now, it may be highly desirable to retrieve used nuclear fuel, to reprocess it to produce more nuclear reactor fuel. Further, I believe we Canadians could be deemed to be most thoughtless if found to have permanently buried and made impossible to retrieve such a future source of energy
Roger G. Steed,
formerly Technical Supervisor, Point Lepreau G.S.
This submission is published with the permission of the author.