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Indigenous protesters expect 'no' vote on nuclear waste site planned for Lake Huron
SOUTHAMPTON, ONT -- On the eve of an historic vote by the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, on whether they support a plan to bury nuclear waste in their territory, a group of Indigenous protesters say they expect the community to vote “no.”
About 50 members of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON), located north of Southampton, Ont. marched through their community Wednesday night, demonstrating their objection to a project that would see nuclear waste buried within 1.2 kilometres of Lake Huron.
Ontario Power Generation wants to take all of its low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste, currently stored above ground, and bury it in an underground facility 650 metres under part of the Bruce Power site near Kincardine, Ont.
The majority of the waste would lose its radioactivity after 300 years, but some of the waste would remain dangerously radioactive for over 100,000 years.
In 2013, Ontario Power Generation committed to not building their Deep Geological Repository (DGR) without support of the local band. Approximately 5,000 SON members will vote on the project on Friday.
March organizer Kim George syas she’ll be voting "no" on the question of whether she supports the plan to bury 200,000 cubic metres of nuclear waste in SON territory.
“I’ve heard mostly no’s so far. If I’ve talked to 100 people about it, I’ve heard 98 no’s,” she says.
Vernon Roote is a past Chief of the Saugeen First Nation. He too is against the nuclear waste project.
“There should be other ideas than just burying it, and just hiding the nuclear waste,” Roote says.
A federal review panel green-lighted the project in 2015, saying the project should be built “sooner, rather than later.”
The project also has the support of the Municipality of Kincardine, which houses the Bruce Power nuclear plant and the proposed site of the nuclear waste facility.
Kincardine’s Mayor Anne Eadie says, “I’ve asked tons of questions about the safety. So has everyone else. They’ve got scientists saying the safety is there for the permanent solution.”
If the $2.4 billion project is approved by members of the SON, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) would still require the blessing of the federal government. If all goes well, construction wouldn’t start until the mid-2020s.
If the nuclear waste plan is not approved by SON members, OPG says they’ll start looking for another host community, which could take 10 years or more.
Voting on the project runs from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday. SON voters over the age of 16 can vote in person, electronically, or my mail.
Results are expected by 10 p.m.