GLOBE-Net, April 2, 2012 - Hornepayne, Ontario,
may not be a finalist for the Kraft
Hockeyville title or in line for a new manufacturing plant, but
the northern Ontario township, population 1045, is competing for a
chance to become the burial ground for Canada's radioactive nuclear
The township has passed an initial screening and is preparing to
move forward with its application. If successful, it could land the
multi-billion dollar national infrastructure project that will
contain and isolate Canada's spent nuclear fuel. The construction
and operation of the facility could employ hundreds of people.
It's a similar story in 14 other communities in Ontario and
The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is
looking for a long-term location to safely bury up to 85,000
bundles of spent fuel annually. Each bundle is about the size of a
fireplace log. Currently the bundles are stored in interim
water-filled pools in Pickering and Darlington, Ontario for seven
to 10 years to allow for cooling and to lower radioactivity
The MWMO is looking for a permanent
repository that will be 100 hectares in size on the surface, 375
hectares underground and at a depth of 500 meters into the Canadian
Shield. The waste will remain dangerously radioactive for thousands
NWMO, which is responsible for long-term management of Canada's
used nuclear fuel, says 15 communities "are actively engaged in the
site selection process". The process of soliciting
"expressions of interest" from communities began almost two years
ago and will close down in September, 2012. The comprehensive
nine-step process will take more than 10 years to complete.
"Any community that reaches the final stages will be required to
demonstrate its willingness in a compelling way before it can be
identified as a potential host", says Hornepayne mayor Morley
Forster. "If Hornepayne reaches that step, any decision will
involve our entire community."
That community has been getting smaller in recent years. Both
the lumber and rail industry have failed, and the owner of the
town's main building, which contained most of Hornepayne's
businesses, declared bankruptcy recently. Many residents looking
for work have left for the West. The nuclear repository would be a
first in the world and would provide years of employment.
There are 20 nuclear reactors in Southern Ontario. The spent
fuel rods would come from these facilities, along with Quebec and
New Brunswick. The federal government decided in 2007 to take all
the waste and bury it deep underground. The burial method is
accepted by the international science community as the best way to
dispose of used nuclear waste. This also allows for monitoring and
retrieval if necessary.
The NWMO is spending $120 million to move the project forward.
The selection process will take 10 years to complete and it could
be years after that before a facility is complete.