As South Bruce voters head to the polls next week, a local activist group is running a full slate of candidates, in an attempt to control the Council. This is the group that has erected hundreds of yellow, anti-nuclear signs opposing the proposed Deep Geological Repository (DGR) project, and they call themselves “Protect Our Waterways”, or “POW” for short.
I have no quarrel with people organizing to support or oppose a project, and I certainly give these folks credit for the amount of energy and money they’ve invested in their cause. This is a democratic country, and activism is an important part of the democratic process. What I object to is the name, and the implied message that this is an environmental group trying to protect our land and our water from deadly pollution. Sorry, but I’m not buying it.
If you’re trying to kill the DGR project, getting people to be afraid of it is an effective strategy, and their simple message appeals to common sense: “if you put something toxic underground, it could eventually get into the water.” But most people who really understand the project know better. The fact is that the whole idea of a DGR is to protect our land and water, by putting the waste in a place where it will be isolated for ever, and even the most ardent anti-nuclear “experts” agree. Kevin Kamps, head of the American lobby group Beyond Nuclear said in one meeting, that he believes the waste would “probably be better in a DGR than where it is now”. And after a long-winded presentation to South Bruce Council about the dangers of nuclear waste, long-time anti-nuclear crusader Gordon Edwards said that the only aspect of the DGR he disagrees with is closing the repository and “abandoning” the waste. Under the current plan, the decision to finally close the DGR would not be made for over 100 years.
In my opinion, it would have been much more honest to call the opposition group “Protect the Status Quo”. No doubt the DGR project, if it goes ahead, will bring change to our community. Besides bringing hundreds of high-paying jobs and billions of dollars in local economic development over the coming decades, it will bring more people, more houses, more vehicles on some of our local roads. For sure there will be positive and negative aspects to all of this development. Maybe we want this for our community, and maybe we don’t – it’s up to us to decide.
It looks like the voters will eventually have a referendum to decide the issue, and the POW wants this as soon as possible. Why? Because the more people learn about the project, the more they will conclude that it’s safe, and doesn’t pose a serious environmental threat. The longer we wait, the less people will fear the DGR, and the more we will debate the real issues. Do we want to make such an important decision based on unfounded fears? Do we want this special interest group controlling our local government?
Tony Zettel, RR5 Mildmay