OPG in the Community – February, 2020

    Fred Kuntz

DGR update:  Ontario Power Generation is moving forward to develop alternate solutions for permanent disposal of low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste.

“OPG will explore other options and will engage with key stakeholders to develop an alternate site-selection process,” OPG CEO and President Ken Hartwick said.

Any new process would include engagement with Indigenous peoples as well as interested municipalities.

On January 31, members of Saugeen Ojibway Nation voted not to support OPG’s proposed Deep Geologic Repository at the Bruce site. OPG is upholding its 2013 commitment that it would not construct the DGR without the support of SON.

Currently, the relatively low volume of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste, from the past half-century of nuclear power generation in Ontario, is stored in warehouses and in-ground silos, mainly at the Western Waste Management Facility at the Bruce nuclear site. That is interim storage, safe and well-managed for the short and medium term, but it is not the solution for the very long term, given that buildings and containers would need to be maintained for thousands of years. The proposed DGR was designed to be a $1 billion lake-protection measure, isolating the waste in deep rock that has had no connection with the lake or groundwater for hundreds of millions of years. An independent federal review panel concluded it would protect people, the lake and the environment. Similarly, an alternate solution developed by OPG would be safe and protective of the environment.

“Nuclear energy – as a non-emitting source of electricity – is a vital tool in fighting climate change,” Hartwick said. “To enjoy the benefits of this low-carbon, low-cost and reliable source of energy with peace of mind, we must manage the waste responsibly. Permanent and safe disposal is the right thing to do for future generations.”

“Over the years, OPG and SON have been building a relationship based on mutual respect, collaboration and trust. We look forward to continuing this relationship,” said Lise Morton, Vice President of OPG’s Nuclear Waste Management Division

As OPG explores alternative solutions for permanent disposal, “a priority is our continuing efforts in waste minimization,” Morton said. This includes minimizing waste production at source, innovations in waste processing to reduce the volume, and recycling of clean materials.

Local accountability:  OPG is making delegations to municipal councils in March, to brief elected officials on its regular operations at the Western Waste Management Facility, and other company activities. Check your local municipal websites for council meeting locations and times. OPG’s visits are scheduled for Kincardine on March 2, Bruce County on March 5, Arran-Elderslie and Saugeen Shores on March 9, Brockton on March 10, and Huron-Kinloss on March 16.

Around Ontario and beyond:

  •        Driving clean: Owen Sound is among the planned locations for fast-charger stations for electric vehicles in the Ivy Charging Network – a partnership between OPG and Hydro One. By the end of 2021, an anticipated 160 Level 3 fast-chargers will be installed at 73 locations all around Ontario. With locations an average of less than 100 kilometres apart, Ivy will help ease “range anxiety” for EV drivers, providing confidence on the road while supporting further adoption of EVs.
  •        Happy Birthday! OPG’s Ear Falls Generating Station has turned 90 years old. Located on the English River, 200 kilometres northeast of Kenora, the 17-megawatt station entered service in 1930, powering a gold mine at Red Lake, and was expanded in the following decades. It survived a 1997 fire, with a new powerhouse built in 1998.  Today, it continues to produce clean, reliable electricity alongside a relatively new neighbour: OPG’s Lac Seul Generating Station, built in 2009 in partnership with Lac Seul First Nation.
  •        Stay safe, stay clear: This Family Day weekend, OPG reminds the public to stay away from ice near dams and hydroelectric stations. “Family Day weekend is always a great time to get outdoors with your family and friends to enjoy your favourite winter activity,” said Mike Martelli, OPG’s President of Renewable Generation. “However, water levels can change quickly and without warning during the winter months, making ice conditions unpredictable and potentially dangerous. Please respect the signs and barriers around OPG facilities.”