EF moves closer to nuclear waste site

Jennifer Thurbide

Municipal councillors in Ear Falls confirmed last week that the community would be moving into the third stage of exploratory talks on a long-term nuclear waste storage facility. Putting the issue to a vote at their February 12, 2012 council meeting, the group passed a recommendation “in support of moving forward into Step 3” of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO)’s site selection process. With this move the organization will now conduct a series of feasibility studies with the town’s blessing, to determine whether the community meets the detailed requirements for a repository.

In a statement issued after the meeting Mayor Kevin Kahoot said of the decision “nothing has changed, we are continuing the process of gathering information and continuing to involve our residents and neighbouring communities.”

In 2010 the previous Mayor and Council began working with NWMO to determine whether surrounding land would be appropriate for the construction of an underground nuclear waste storage facility. Continuing to pursue the project, Kahoot and the new councillors have now committed the community to the third stage of the nine step process that will determine if the potential area is safe, if there is a potential to foster well-being in the community and surrounding areas and whether potential exists in the community to move through subsequent steps in the site selection process.

Kahoot reported in December that the issue would be discussed at one of the first meetings in 2012, however a lack of quorum at previous meetings pushed approval into mid-February when the Nuclear Waste Community Committee recommendations would be available. “We just wanted to make sure we followed the direction set by the committee as per our process,” said Kahoot. The vote passed by a margin of 4-1 with only Councillor Fred Melanson voting nay.

“The Ear Falls Nuclear Waste Community Committee recommended to Council to move into Step 3 in order to learn more about the impacts that a Deep Geologic Repository would have on the environment and the residents of this area,” said committee Chair Gerald Kleist last week.

With nine communities spread across Northern Ontario and Saskatchewan participating in the current process the Township of Ignace passed a motion this past November to also move to stage three. Speaking on behalf of the Muncipal council at the time Mayor Lee Kennard noted “any decision will not be made for several years and will involve the whole community if we get to that step.” Ignace also formally entered the process in 2010 and has been hosting public information sessions with NWMO and other interest groups. The Municipality of Saugeen Shores on Lake Huron became the first in Southern Ontario to enter into the process.

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