To the Editor:
Suffice to say that the events in the Ukraine have rocked us all.
Just a few weeks ago, it was difficult to imagine that we would once again see open warfare in Europe, and now everything must be re-considered in light of this new, terrible reality.
One of the troubling articles I saw was the capture of the old Chernobyl nuclear power station by Russian forces. Not that this is much of a strategic target, being defunct for a number of years, but it made me think of our local debate around Canada’s Deep Geological Repository for spent fuel, which is proposed to be built here in my home municipality of South Bruce.
Opponents of the DGR concept favour “rolling stewardship,” the idea that we should just leave spent nuclear fuel where it is, and take care of it, much as we’ve been doing for the past 50 years. That idea makes a lot of sense as long as we have stable government, and a strong and vibrant economy. As long as we enjoy these things, we can expect there will be strong and responsible companies like Bruce Power and OPG around to take care of our nuclear waste.
Opponents argue that the DGR concept is unproven. Spent fuel will remain toxic for some 400,000 years. How can we be certain of the science that predicts the waste will be safe that long? What if the containers start to corrode after only a few thousand years?
The events in the Ukraine remind us how fragile is the fabric of peace, good government, and economic stability that we’ve enjoyed for so long in Canada. Never mind a few thousand years – can we be certain we’ll be free of war, terrorism or serious economic collapse even for the next few generations?
Proponents of the DGR (including most of the global nuclear power community) would argue that, if and when these things occur, it is much safer and more secure to have nuclear waste safely stored 600 metres down under hundreds of metres of solid bedrock, than to have it sitting in an above-ground warehouse, within a kilometre of the Great Lakes. Food for thought.
God willing, the crisis in the Ukraine will soon come to an end, and her poor, suffering citizens will once again have the luxury of worrying about COVID, or plans for long-term infrastructure projects, as we do here in Ontario.