Canadian nuclear fuel waste: Current contexts and future management prospects
Extensive planning for the long-term management of Canada's nuclear fuel waste began in the late 1970s. In 1998 a federal environmental assessment process of the technology for the proposed deep geologic disposal facility was completed. The Environmental Assessment Panel recommended that siting should not be undertaken until a number of long-term options are re-assessed (including storage) and a new waste management organization is established. The long-term facility will probably be located on the Ontario portion of the tectonically stable Canadian Shield since Ontario Power Generation is the owner of 90% of Canada's waste. Most First Nations and northern communities living on the Shield, as well as a plethora of NGOs are vehemently opposed to siting a facility in the north, particularly a deep geologic repository. The purpose of this research is to evaluate the current socio-geographical context of nuclear fuel waste management in Canada and to delineate future management strategies and siting approaches. Key aspects of the literature on risk and siting are reviewed and a theoretical framework and typology of power related to the management of modern risk are developed. The framework is based on the work of Ulrich Beck and his concept of the 'risk society'. It also incorporates insights from critical theory, post-modernism and feminism. This framework is used to guide the empirical phase of research. In depth interviews were conducted with 46 respondents representing seven stakeholder groups. The interview data were analysed with the assistance of the qualitative data analysis computer program NUD*IST. Results focus on the Canadian political and economic context, public participation and consultation with First Nations, the volunteer siting process and the environmental assessment for the proposed disposal facility. The key conclusions are (1) public participation should be initiated at the problem definition stage, (2) there is a need for a more appropriate First Nations consultation program, (3) the structure of the proposed waste management organisation may not improve the credibility and legitimacy of decision-makers, and (4) guidelines are presented for the siting of future facilities.