Kincardine council is set to vote Wednesday night (Feb. 14) on an amendment to the hosting agreement for Ontario Power Generation (OPG)'s proposed Deep Geological Repository (DGR) for low- and intermediate-level waste at the Bruce Nuclear site.
The amendment means a portion of the funds related to the project would be released to Kincardine and the surrounding municipalities, to the tune of more than $2-million this year.
Fred Kuntz, OPG's manager of corporation relations and communications, Bruce County, said in a press release that under the original 2004 DGR hosting agreement, payments were made to the host community and four adjacent communities, in recognition of their role in providing a lasting solution.
“Around the world, it is considered good practice for such facilities to result in local economic benefits and community investments,” stated Kuntz. “Since 2015, however, under the original terms of the agreement, payments have been held by OPG in trust due to a longer-than-anticipated approvals process. The original agreement calls for an amendment in 2018, to account for those funds in trust.”
The proposed amendment would release half of that money to the municipalities, including Kincardine, Saugeen Shores, Huron-Kinloss, Arran-Elderslie and Brockton, Kuntz stated. It would also resume annual payments by OPG to the municipalities at 50 per cent of the originally-agreed formula, until a decision is made on the DGR.
Up until 2015, OPG was making annual payments to the municipalities, to a total of about $1.32-million annually (in 2017 dollars), stated Kuntz. Three years of payments (2015-17) amounts to about $4-million currently held in trust, half of which would be paid on ratification of the amendment. There would be an additional 2018 payment, to be made by Dec. 31, 2018, at 50 per cent of the inflation-adjusted amount.
Payouts to be released upon ratification of the amending agreement, amount to $1,240,521 for Kincardine, $477,124 for Saugeen Shores, $133,595 for Huron-Kinloss, and $76,340 each for Arran-Elderslie and Brockton.
OPG would compensate Kincardine in the amount of $15,000 to off-set the municipality's expenses to obtain a legal review of the amending agreement. Fifty per cent of annual payments for 2018 and subsequent years would be released as of December 31st each year.
Other terms in the 2004 agreement still stand, including a lump sum of a total of $2.1-million in 2004 dollars (adjusted for inflation, about $2.6-million in 2017 dollars) payable on approval of the DGR construction licence, which would follow approval of the Environmental Assessment.
“The partial payments are intended to acknowledge the municipalities’ continuing and important role in working toward development of the DGR as a $1-billion lake-protection measure – a project that will benefit all residents of Ontario and the Great Lakes region,” stated Kuntz. “International experts agree that a DGR is best practice for the safe and permanent disposal of nuclear waste. A Joint Review Panel concluded in 2015, after record-long hearings, that the DGR will protect the lakes and environment for hundreds of thousands of years, and the Bruce site is appropriate due to its geology.”
The DGR facility – to be built 680 metres below the Bruce nuclear site in impermeable 450-million-year-old rock – would permanently and safely store low- and intermediate-level waste from OPG-owned nuclear generating stations, stated Kuntz in his project update. The waste is currently stored safely at the surface, on an interim basis, but this is not sustainable in the very long run.
The 2018 amending agreement would also create a joint OPG-Kincardine Working Group, to develop recommendations on the concept of a centre of energy excellence in Kincardine. This concept was outlined briefly in the 2004 agreement, connected to the idea of vocational trade schools to increase local educational opportunities.
Meanwhile, the DGR approvals process continues, stated Kuntz. OPG is engaged in respectful and meaningful dialogue with Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON). OPG had committed that the DGR would not be built without SON's support.
The federal environment minister asked OPG in 2017 to update its analysis of the DGR project, including its effects on the physical and cultural heritage of SON, and to inform that analysis with the results of SON’s community process. SON has indicated that its community process may take a year or more.