To the Editor:
We’re entering the second week of the stay at home order, and our Christmas celebrations, such as they were, seem far behind us. It’s cold and dark, and the worst of the winter weather is still ahead of us. Given the circumstances, one could be forgiven for feeling fearful and uneasy about what lies ahead for us in Bruce County. I’m reminded, however, of many reasons to take heart.
We are all very fortunate to live in this beautiful part of the world, with many open spaces to enjoy. Our farmers have been blessed with an excellent crop year, with sufficient heat and moisture in the summer, and sufficient dry, autumn weather for a good harvest. Best of all, while some businesses are struggling, and some of us are definitely feeling the pinch, our little micro-economy is one of the strongest in Canada. This is thanks to the billions of dollars that Bruce Power’s Canadian owners continue to pour into its refurbishment projects, along with the usual costs of running the world’s largest nuclear generating facility.
Many of our neighbours are directly employed by the nuclear industry and, when they spend their salaries in the local economy, it creates employment and profits for many others in the area.
No doubt the pandemic has been devastating to many people and their businesses, but we are strong, resilient and resourceful people. If we stick together and support each other by buying local, with a large employer pouring money into our local economy, I’m confident we can rebound. When we do, we can expect the local economy to continue to thrive until about 2033, when the last of the Bruce Power refurbishment projects finishes up.
That timeline just happens to line up to the NWMO’s tentative plan to begin the ambitious construction project to build a DGR in South Bruce, a project expected to employ 700-800 workers directly, and create some 2,800 jobs in total. That’s why we need to have an open mind, and see if this is the right opportunity for us. The global nuclear industry has tried various methods to store nuclear waste underground, with varying levels of success. For example, Germany started using an old salt mine (Asse II) to store nuclear waste, way back in 1967. They now have trouble with water leaking into the mine, and need to have machinery in place to keep the water away from the waste – not a good situation.
Thankfully, technology has advanced a lot since 1967, and a number of countries, including Sweden, Finland, France and Canada, are pursuing plans to build DGRs with modern methods and safeguards.
As we weather the current pandemic together, I invite my neighbours and fellow residents of South Bruce to look to the future. We can get through this, and we can do great things, if we stand together as a community. That may or may not include hosting Canada’s DGR for spent nuclear fuel, but in my opinion, we should all take the opportunity over the next couple of years to learn as much as we can. With the collective knowledge and intelligence of our people, with open-minded dialogue and a spirit of good will, I’m confident we can make the right decision for our future.