Undercurrents: beneath the obvious

March 27, 2007

No Plans for Nuke Waste in Southwestern Ontario – Yet!!

The Waterloo Record carried this article on potential locations for a huge Canadian nuclear waste storage facility:

The concept would house all of Canada’s spent nuclear fuel in a single, $24 billion repository, built between 500 and 1,000 metres below the surface. The fuel bundles would be housed in capsules stored in the main vault.

The deep geological repository option is the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s preferred choice.

From a technical point of view, there’s no reason such a facility couldn’t be built in southern Ontario, said Maurice Dusseault, a geological engineering professor at the University of Waterloo.

And Dusseault said sedimentary rock — especially rock with thicker sediments, like the type found in a line from Sarnia to Goderich — may actually be a better choice than the granite of the Canadian Shield for safety’s sake.

In the highly unlikely event that contaminants escaped into groundwater in sedimentary rock, they would flow through a porous medium that, in concert with surrounding clay, would act as a giant filter. Groundwater flows down in the thicker rock, not toward the surface, and if it eventually came up underneath the floor of one of the Great Lakes, any remaining contaminants would be diluted by the huge bodies of water, Dusseault explained.

Think this is unlikely to happen?? Work on an environmental assessment to store low and intermediate waste in an underground facility at the Bruce Power nuclear station began in 2006. Construction could start in 2012. A proposed 660-meter deep repository would hold non-fuel waste from Ontario’s nuclear reactors in vaults carved out of sedimentary limestone.

See prior post: Ontario nuclear waste site near Lake Huron

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