Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Then There Were Five: Search Narrowed for Place to Store Used Nuclear Fuel

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Then There Were Five: Search Narrowed for Place to Store Used Nuclear Fuel

Article excerpt

Search narrowed for used nuclear fuel storage


TORONTO - Waste management authorities have ruled out one part of northern Ontario as a suitable site for a bunker to store used, but highly radioactive, nuclear-reactor fuel rods.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization said the Elliot Lake and Blind River area between the cities of Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie are out of the running.

"Technical studies and engagement with people in the area identified a number of factors that would pose challenges in siting a repository," the organization said. "These include complexities associated with the geology, limited access and rugged terrain, and low potential to develop the breadth of partnerships needed to implement the project."

Three other communities in northern Ontario remain as potential sites: Ignace about 250 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay, Manitouwadge, about 395 kilometres east of Thunder Bay, and Hornepayne, about 480 kilometres east of Thunder Bay.

The other two remaining potential sites -- South Bruce and Huron-Kinloss -- are close to the Bruce nuclear reactor on the Lake Huron shoreline near Kincardine, Ont., site of a long and ongoing battle by Ontario Power Generation to win approval for a deep geologic repository for low and intermediate level radioactive waste.

Dan Marchisella, mayor of Elliot Lake, expressed disappointment at the exclusion of his community after five years, calling it a "huge potential loss" for the entire district.

The former mining town, once known as the uranium capital of the world, felt that putting itself forward was the responsible thing to do given the vexing question of how best to safely store waste that remains toxic for thousands of years, he said.

"The footprint of that geology they were looking for is not large enough," Marchisella said in an interview. "It's very difficult to access that area."

The hunt for a place to permanently store used nuclear fuel rods -- about 2.7 million bundles currently exist -- began in earnest in 2010, with 22 communities expressing interest. The dangerous material is currently stored in pools of water or in vaults on site at reactors in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Manitoba. …

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