London city hall: Council won’t join battle against nuclear-waste bunker planned near Kincardine

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London council is bucking the trend of cities opposing a nuclear waste bunker proposed near the world’s largest operating nuclear plant.

Councillors voted not to take up the call from a lobby group to sign an open letter urging federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna to reject Ontario Power Generation’s plans for a deep geological repository near Kincardine.

Coun. Stephen Turner said misinformation often has swirled around the project.

“This isn’t high-level radioactive waste, this is low to intermediate waste. This is rags and gloves and contaminated equipment,” he said. “The distance beneath the Great Lakes and away from the Great Lakes is significant.”

But the move leaves politicians in a sticky situation, because London already signed a resolution opposing the nuke bunker — not just in southwestern Ontario, but anywhere in the Great Lakes basin — back in 2013.

“We’ve already done this. This is not something new. This resolution was passed a while back,” Coun. Harold Usher said of London’s previous opposition.

Coun. Josh Morgan tried to send the topic back for more committee debate, but that bid was defeated.

He said it’s clear council is ready to discuss the project, however.

“If colleagues want to change our current position on the nuclear waste repository, they’re going to have to bring a motion,” Morgan said. “I expect Londoners would want to weigh in on that.”

Coun. Jesse Helmer echoed calls to consider the repository.

“There is nuclear waste beside Lake Huron now, it’s just above ground,” he said of the low and intermediate-level waste stored at the Bruce nuclear complex. “This is the best solution that’s possible, it’s also the most responsible. You can’t just kick it down the road forever.”

Fred Kuntz, communications manager for OPG, praised London council, saying politicians “did their homework.”

“Those who oppose the (deep geological repository) tend not to have looked at the research,” he said.

“OPG is confident that . . . the regulators will base their decision, ultimately, on the process, on the evidence, and not on non-binding resolutions from municipalities.”

Hundreds of communities in Canada and the United States have signed such resolutions opposing the bunker, but Kuntz pointed out that others, including Kincardine, Saugeen Shores and Bruce County, support the project. 

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