Saugeen Ojibway Nation votes no on deep geologic repository at Bruce Power

  • Saugeen Ojibway Nation votes no on deep geologic repository at Bruce Power

Saugeen Ojibway Nation votes no on deep geologic repository at Bruce Power

Numerous Michigan communities along Lake Huron passed resolutions against the proposed nuclear waste site.

After a year of consultations and days of voting, the 4,500-member Saugeen Ojibway Nation announced late Friday that 85 per cent of those casting ballots had said no to accepting a deep geologic repository at the Bruce nuclear power plant near Kincardine, Ont.

"We were not consulted when the nuclear industry was established in our territory", SON said in a statement.

OPG owns nuclear power plants in the province of Ontario.

Chippewas of Saugeen Chief Lester Anoquot called the vote - 170 for and 1,058 against - a "historic milestone and momentous victory" for the community.

"We respect the Saugeen Ojibway Nation's decision, and we will uphold our commitment not to proceed with the project at the Bruce site", says OPG's Fred Kuntz. "Any new process would include engagement with Indigenous peoples as well as interested municipalities". "(It) tells us that we must work diligently to find a new solution for the waste", he says.

"We know that the waste now held in above-ground storage at the Bruce site will not go away", he said.

Reached by The Sun Times Saturday, Nadjiwon said SON will not be commenting further on the DGR vote until at least Monday or Tuesday to provide it with "time to digest the vote".

Asked about the financial incentive SON reportedly was offered, Kuntz says: "We have equity agreements with First Nations on different projects in Ontario and those details tend to be confidential because it's commercially sensitive information". We have a responsibility to our Mother Earth to protect both her and our lands and waters.

In 2013, OPG committed to not build the DGR at the Bruce nuclear site in Kincardine without the support of SON.

For Ontario Power Generation, which spent three decades working on this plan, it's back to the drawing board. In August 2017, then-environment minister Catherine McKenna paused the process - the last in a string of delays for the project - to ensure buy-in from Indigenous people in the area.

The nuclear vault would have been built 680 metres below the Bruce site, in what the crown corporation describes as "strong, dry and impermeable rock" that has been isolated from Lake Huron or any groundwater for hundreds of millions of years.

After OPG committed to not proceeding with the project without securing Saugeen Ojibway Nation's approval, SON says it went through nearly two years of hearings and launched a community process to inform members about nuclear issues and the DGR project.

The nuclear waste storage project was originally submitted to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in 2005.

SON's vote did not concern a second DGR project, proposed to store highly radioactive used nuclear fuel rods. That project's one remaining potential location within the traditional territory is in South Bruce, in southern Bruce County.