7. Why do you claim past DGRs have failed to contain waste?

For more than 50 years countries around the world have attempted to build safe nuclear waste disposal sites underground. Every attempt has failed to prevent radiological waste from escaping into the surrounding environment.

Asse II and Morsleben were deep geologic repositories (DGR) for low and intermediate level radioactive waste, built in salt mines in Germany. 20 years after being established Asse II started leaking, resulting in contamination of the groundwater, and was decommissioned in 1995 [1]. Morsleben DGR was decommissioned in 1998 but ongoing issues with rock stability and water influx pose safety concerns [2].

This record of failure includes the most recent attempt by the United States to store nuclear waste underground in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, New Mexico, in a DGR riddled with accidents and malfunctions. WIPP was closed for three years (reopening January 2017) after it experienced two accidents in February of 2014: (1) a chemical fire [3] and (2) a radiation leak, resulting in 22 workers getting internal radiation contamination [4].

Sweden was experiencing success with their DGRs until the copper containers encasing the nuclear waste started to corrode and fail much sooner than anticipated, releasing long lived radionuclides [5].

In France, an underground research laboratory was built, in geology similar to that of the site of OPG's proposed DGR, however in 2016 it collapsed resulting in the death of a worker [6].

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  1. DW. 2009. Authorities find radioactive brine leak in German storage facility [online]. Retrieved from: http://www.dw.com/en/authorities-find-radioactive-brine-leak-in-german-storage-facility/a-4487831
  2. Watershed Sentinel. 2015. "Nuclear Dump Controversy" [online]. Retrieved from: https://watershedsentinel.ca/articles/nuclear-dump-controversy/ 
  3. U.S. Department of Energy: Office of Environmental Management. March 2014. Accident Investigation Report. Underground Salt Haul Truck Fire at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant February 5, 2014 [online]. Retrieved from: http://wipp.energy.gov/Special/AIB%20Report.pdf
  4. U.S. Department of Energy: Office of Environmental Management. April 2014. Accident Investigation Report. Phase 1 Radiological Release Event at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant on February 14, 2014 [online]. Retrieved from: http://www.wipp.energy.gov/Special/AIB_Final_WIPP_Rad_Release_Phase1_04_22_2014.pdf
  5. Bellona. 2016. "When haste makes risky waste:Public involvement in radioactive and nuclear waste management in Sweden and Finland" [online]. Retrieved from: http://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/radioactive-waste-and-spent-nuclear-fuel/2016-08-21710
  6. RT. 2016. "At least 1 killed in tunnel collapse at France's planned nuclear waste storage site" [online]. Retrieved from: https://www.rt.com/news/330201-france-nuclear-waste-collapse/