I was recently privileged to take part in an information session with French officials, to learn about that country’s ongoing project to build a Deep Geological Repository (DGR) for nuclear waste.
The meeting with Andra, France’s equivalent of Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), was organized by Willing to Listen, a local group of residents committed to the current process of research and education, regarding the proposed DGR in South Bruce. France has long been a leader in nuclear power, with 58 reactors, about three times as many as Canada. It turns out that France is approximately 10 years ahead of Canada in the DGR process, but after that, there are remarkable similarities.
First off, it’s not surprising to note that the project in France has drawn the interest of large national and international anti-nuclear groups, who have supported local protesters in opposition to the project. In spite of this though, the French project has gained the approval of two adjacent municipalities, who have become “willing host communities” for the project, which sits on the border between the two.
Like South Bruce, part of France’s DGR site is on, or adjacent to, agricultural land, and a small river runs very close to the site, just as the Teeswater River is close to the proposed South Bruce site. The design of the French DGR looks similar, but not identical, to that proposed by the NWMO for South Bruce.
There’s still so much to learn about the proposed South Bruce DGR before we need to make a decision, and after that, there will be many rounds of scrutiny and approval for the project to pass through, before actual construction is allowed to begin.
The current phase is to drill very deep boreholes (800 metres or more straight down), to retrieve samples of the rock at all levels for analysis. This alone is also an unprecedented opportunity to learn about the geology of our region, and to determine whether the nuclear waste can be safely isolated, hundreds of meters down, in a stable rock formation.
I encourage my fellow residents to learn more about the proposed South Bruce DGR, DGRs around the world, and the nuclear industry in general, by finding “South Bruce DGR – Willing to Listen” on Facebook.