Letter to the Editor:
RE: Intergenerational Source Water Protection – Underground Burial of Nuclear Waste
One of the risks of burying nuclear waste underground is the risk of earthquakes in the earthquake zone which the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is proposing to site their underground storage and possible nuclear waste re-processing facility. Many people don’t realize, and many industry lobbyists dispute the fact that there was a significant earthquake in the Sioux Lookout area in February 1984, which damaged properties and jolted residents awake in the middle of the night.
A February 14, 1984, Sioux Lookout Bulletin newspaper article reported the following:
“Early Saturday morning a minor earthquake shook the Sioux Lookout area. The Ministry of Energy, Mines and Resources in Ottawa were able to determine that the earthquake was centred in the area of Lac Seul Post. … It is presumed that the effects of the surface waves generated travelled along a major fault system that underlies this whole area. It was believed that this was a dead fault and geologists are amazed to find that it may be alive. The earthquake measured 3.9 on the Richer Scale. The seismograph at the Radar Base had its needle broken only twenty seconds into the quake and was not able to register the deep bounce waves through the crust.
Quite a few husbands were sent scurrying to the basement to check the furnace, others thought a heavy truck had passed by or that something had hit the house. One man thought an airplane must have gone down close to his house.
On Drayton Road, it sounded like heavy machinery moving in the distance, rattling windows as it passed the house and then faded into the distance.
Others reported a loud boom or bang before the rumbling.
This a very rare occurrence in the area, according to the geologist, although he said they believe that any part of Canada could have an earthquake This would be one of the areas least expected to have one.”
Natural Resources Canada has documented an earthquake zone between Thunder Bay and Kenora including the area around Ignace and the Wabigoon First Nation proposed for a national, possibly international, underground burial tomb for the most dangerous radioactive materials in the country.
Why would NWMO want to put a forever storage and possible nuclear fuel reprocessing facility in an Earthquake zone? It seems that they are hoping that their process seems legitimate even though they are really seeking a red-herring consent from local influencers.
The half-lives of the various radioisotopes should be considered essentially eternity in real human terms owing to the unimaginable timeframe for the degrading of that material. The tiny comparable design life of the NWMO radioactive waste containers reveals the NWMO’s plan would likely put a “best before date” on the human race.
There seems to be a toxic optimism within the industry lobby organization, the NWMO, which threatens the intergenerational source water supplies of hundreds of thousands of people downstream in the watershed which stretches from east of Ignace to the Manitoba border and through Manitoba to the Hudson’s Bay.
As an industry organization, seemingly the NWMO is seeking to prolong the unsustainable reliance on nuclear power, which has seen its day, while other energy options are cheaper, safer, more incremental and scalable and which do not carry the risks of uncertainty of continuing the reliance on nuclear power.
The NWMO is attempting to trade off the long-term intergenerational source water security for the profits of industry and the continuance of a dangerous legacy in defiance of the public interest.
I was one of those people who scrambled in the middle of the night in February 1984, to a loud boom I thought was an explosion at the airport and found my living room wall severely cracked from the earthquake.
Having spent 30 years working in a government engineering unit I have seen enough massive unexpected technological failures which no one had expected for me to know the fallibility of a technological fix to the nuclear industry. They have been unable, over many decades and trillions of dollars to solve the life cycle problem of radioactive waste.
How does the NWMO propose to stop any potential earthquake from occurring in the earthquake zone where they propose their massive underground burial site? Do they have some special powers over the Earth when she wants to move? Can they assure humans and other living things downstream that their proposals are safe for eternity?
In this case the precautionary principal should override any short-term economic priorities in order to protect the future intergenerational water supplies of downstream communities in northwestern Ontario and Manitoba.
Gregory Paul Hlady