BRUCE COUNTY, ONT. -- In a somewhat surprising move, Bruce County council decided against endorsing the nuclear industry’s plans to bury radioactive waste in the area. 

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction. We’re thankful the motion wasn’t passed today,” says Michelle Stein, who’s leading a group opposed to burying Canada’s used nuclear fuel near Teeswater, Ont. 

Bruce County council voted overwhelmingly to defer the motion supporting the science behind deep geological repositories (DGRs), for at least a year.

It's music to the ears of those opposing plans to bury radioactive waste near Teeswater, but disappointing to the man who brought the motion, Luke Charbonneau. 

“We have to think about the used nuclear materials that we have on the shore of Lake Huron, and the future of our communities. We have to make sure it’s safely stored. The great thing is, we know how to do it. There’s international consensus on how to do it, deep geological repositories,” says Charbonneau, the mayor of Saugeen Shores, which is located just north of the Bruce Power nuclear facility. 

Plans for a DGR to store Ontario’s low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste under part of the Bruce Power site, was voted down by the Saugeen Ojibway Nation earlier this year.

Another project to house Canada’s high-level nuclear waste is being proposed under 1,500 acres of farmland north of Teeswater, in southern Bruce County. 

“At the end of the day, the science isn’t settled. If you look, there are scientists and geologists around the world who are asking lots of questions about the risks involved in this plan,” says Stein, leader of Protect our Waterways-No Nuclear Waste. 

Deferring the motion is somewhat surprising.

Bruce County, which is home to the Bruce Power, the world’s largest nuclear facility, is generally a very vocal advocate of the nuclear industry, but it appears the radioactive waste left over isn’t receiving the same level of support. 

“The area is supportive of nuclear power and what Bruce Power has done for the area. There’s no question of that. But, the Achilles heel of the nuclear industry is the nuclear waste. It’s been the Achilles heel since the 60s,” says Bruce County council member and Brockton Mayor Chris Peabody. 

Charbonneau is undeterred, however. He says DGRs are the answer to Canada’s growing collection of nuclear waste. 

“I want to say loud and clear that we should get those built in this country, and as soon as possible. And I’m hopeful that other leaders in our community will join me, but I’m going to keep saying it,” says Charbonneau. 

Bruce County council’s motion to endorse DGRs will return to the council chambers in a year’s time.