Nuclear waste questions as energy minister visits Bruce Power
Published Monday, October 7, 2013 6:29PM EDT
Ontario Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli made his first visit to the world's largest power facility on Monday, but it wasn’t all positive.
“All of Canada should be proud of what we have here in Bruce County…I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say when the history of Ontario is written, Bruce nuclear will be a very significant part of that history,” Chiarelli says.
He was there to celebrate Bruce Power's success over the past several years, but his visit was overshadowed by discussions about what to do with the nuclear waste.
Federal hearings into a plan to bury Ontario's low- and intermediate-level waste on the Bruce Power site are underway in Port Elgin this week.
And within the next two years a site could be selected for Canada's high-level waste. While nuclear waste isn't the minister's jurisdiction, it's a hot topic right now.
Chiarelli says "I think people are expressing some concerns, and they’re being dealt with at the Nuclear Safety Commission. And I think it’s better to take it one step at a time."
Nearly half of Ontario's nuclear waste is on the Bruce Power site, and CEO Duncan Hawthorne is not entirely in favour of burying it, especially the highly radioactive fuel rods, which he believes could be recycled.
"In my entire career in the U.K. we took our fuel out of the reactor, we put it in a fuel flask and we transported it...where it got re-processed and it was a very routine matter. Frankly it’s North America that’s out of step with the rest of the world."
Whether it the used fuel rods or rags and mopheads there will be more nuclear waste produced in Ontario.
Chiarelli all but guaranteed nuclear will make up at least 40 per cent of Ontario's energy into the future, "Nuclear is clean, it’s essentially renewable and it's cost effective and it’s base power. So it's the mother load."
It's here to stay worldwide as well, with 130 reactors currently under construction.
Duncan adds "Even the most pessimistic view, nuclear’s going to be 30 per cent more prevalent in a decade than it is today."
So what's decided on how to best deal with some of the world's nuclear waste at these hearings in Bruce County, may very well have international consequences.