In January 2017, the Ontario Power Generation stated, "the public doesn’t really care about the proposal for the deep geologic repository (DGR)." This statement was made despite the fact that numerous organizations and individuals have spoken up against the proposed. DGR project.
Between 2012 and 2014, members of the public were allowed to submit comments on OPG’s DGR plan to the Joint Review Panel (JRP), the body tasked with assessing the project under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act which ultimately gave the project a stamp of approval in spring 2015.
From our experience working with the JRP, we know that the process was biased in favour of OPG from the start. As we have written elsewhere, the JRP allowed OPG to proceed with their plan despite huge problems and omissions in OPG’s case. Additionally, of the well over 500 comments submitted by individuals, environmental organizations, citizens’ groups, city councils of huge cities, and Indigenous organizations, among others, an astounding 98% were opposed to the project. Here are some examples from that 98%:
“The Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation strongly opposes the OPG-Deep Geological Repository Project. Water is our Mother Earth’s life blood. We are and always will fight to protect Water. To permit the burial of Radioactive Nuclear Waste right beside our Great Lakes goes against everything we believe in and is a crime against humanity.”
“It is our responsibility, as citizens of the “Great Lakes State,” to be vigilant in protecting our most valuable natural resource --- our clean water. With an economy, reputation and livelihood that are all dependent on the health of the Great Lakes, it would not be prudent or wise to construct this underground nuclear storage facility that puts radioactive waste less than a mile from Lake Huron.”
“In order to protect the Great Lakes and its tributaries, Toronto City Council urge that neither this proposed nuclear waste repository near Kincardine, Ontario, nor any other underground nuclear waste repository, be constructed in the Great Lakes Basin, in Canada, or in the United States.”
The results of public consultation undertaken by the JRP are a strong indication that OPG lacks “social license” for the DGR project. Given that the current government has committed to more transparent, accountable environmental regulation, we hope that Environment Minister Catherine McKenna considers the strong, negative response to OPG’s plan in her future decisions regarding the DGR.