To the Editor:
Like many persons I too am deeply concerned about the long term management of nuclear waste.
In Ontario we have been making most of our electricity from nuclear power for decades and plan to continue to do so for decades more to come. Our nuclear fuel waste is currently stored above ground directly on the shores of Lake Huron and Ontario at the Bruce, Pickering and Darlington reactor sites. This was intended to be short term storage (decades) and there is unanimous consensus that this is not acceptable for the long term (millenniums).
To protect our lakes and lands the long term storage facility needs to be much more robust and able to passively contain the waste, without oversight, long into the unforeseeable future.
The good news is that the issue of how to store nuclear waste has been studied around the world for decades and there is broad scientific consensus that the best option is to put it into a Deep Geological Repository (DGR).
In Canada the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has the essential and very challenging mandate to select a site, design, build and operate a DGR on our behalf.
I have followed and studied NWMO’s progress and in my opinion it has been well developed, open, highly reviewed and credible. We are also fortunate to have our interests protected by the independent Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) regulator that will be required to rigorously review and approve or reject a DGR.
There are dissenting opinions and legitimate local objections to a DGR and we must listen to such concerns and do our best to address them. We must also accept that a DGR will never obtain unanimous support and that we have an obligation to find a path forward to avoid leaving a dark legacy to the planet and future generations. As a society we need to own our waste and deal with it. The sooner our nuclear fuel waste is in a DGR the better.