NWMO's list of communities is narrowing - Creighton remains

Then there were 13

Creighton is among a dwindling number of communities potentially in the running to store Canada’s nuclear waste.

Earlier this month, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) removed the Ontario town of Brockton from further consideration.

“The project has the potential to be a divisive issue, which could exacerbate pre-existing tensions within [Brockton],” said NWMO spokesperson Mike Krizanc.

Krizanc said preliminary assessment studies found that while nuclear waste storage “has potential to foster well-being for many in the community, it does not fit the vision of some members.”

Stroked off

Brockton became the fourth community to be stroked off NWMO’s list in 2014, bringing the total number of communities still learning about the project to 13.

NWMO was initially in talks with 22 communities, including three in Saskatchewan and 19 in Ontario. Creighton is the only Saskatchewan community still participating.

Of the 13 communities left, six are in the second phase of the learning process, including Creighton and the Ontario communities of Ignace, Schreiber, Hornepayne, South Bruce and Huron-Kinloss.

Seven Ontario communities remain in the first phase of the process: Manitouwadge, White River, Blind River, Elliot Lake, The North Shore, Spanish and Central Huron.

Krizanc said NWMO expects to announce results of preliminary assessments for six of those seven communities – the exception being Central Huron – in early 2015.

Central Huron advanced to its current phase this past fall, so work is just getting underway, he said.

Previously removed from consideration were Red Rock, Ear Falls, Wawa, Arran-Elderslie, Saugeen Shores and Nipigon in Ontario, and English River First Nation and Pinehouse in Saskatchewan.

Along with Brockton, Arran-Elderslie, Saugeen Shores and Nipigon have been taken out of consideration in 2014.

Neither Creighton nor any of the other remaining communities have applied to host NWMO’s planned underground repository to store spent – but still radioactive – nuclear fuel rods.

Supporters of the repository concept point to promised economic benefits and research suggesting the project poses no legitimate danger to human health.

Opponents counter that money isn’t everything and that the science is not settled on whether the repository is a safe proposal.

Civic leaders have urged residents to research the issue and decide for themselves whether a repository makes sense for the region.

A committee of volunteers, known as the Community Liaison Committee, oversees Creighton’s involvement with NWMO with regular meetings open to the public.

At the committee’s most recent meeting, held last month, NWMO engineer Chris Hatton said the movement of nuclear waste to the repository will be governed by international regulations.

Stressing safety as top priority, Hatton said that in the decades such material has been transported on earth, not once has an accident resulted in a breached container.

But a tense moment came when NWMO officials were asked why Creighton is still being considered given opposition from two of three First Nations with traditional claims on the territory being looked at.

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