TEESWATER – Fred Kuntz, senior manager of corporate relations and projects at Ontario Power Generation (OPG), sat down with the South Bruce Community Liaison Committee (CLC) on April 7 to talk about nuclear sustainability and good stewardship.
Kuntz described OPG as Ontario’s largest clean power generator and clean technology innovator. OPG is 100 per cent owned by the province.
OPG has $5.9 billion in assets and more than 9,000 employees across Ontario, Kuntz told the CLC.
Kuntz said that OPG has one of the most diverse generating portfolios in North America, a generating capacity of 18,876 megawatts from 66 hydro stations situated on 24 river systems, two nuclear stations, two leased nuclear stations (Bruce Power), one bio-mass station, one dual-fueled oil and gas station, four gas stations (Atura Power), one solar facility and 85 US hydro stations.
“All of those earnings that we make from generating electricity? comes north into Ontario,” Kuntz said. “And into the general revenues of the Government of Ontario, to help fund schools and hospitals.”
Addressing the subject of climate change, Kuntz compared the Ontario carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by sector in 2005 and again in 2018, noting that electricity emissions dropped from 17 to two per cent of the total amount of greenhouse gases after the province closed all of the coal plants in Ontario.
Kuntz went on to talk about nuclear waste, describing OPG’s nuclear sustainability services. This division handles the materials classified as waste.
“But actually, it’s not really all waste at all,” he said. “In fact, some of it is very valuable – like tritium used to be considered waste? but it turns out that tritium is very valuable.”
Kuntz said that three pillars guide OPG to care for Ontario’s nuclear waste, stewardship, lasting solutions, and peace of mind.
A press release from South Bruce said, “These pillars speak to OPG’s focus on managing the waste safely and finding permanent solutions for low-, intermediate- and high-level waste. Kuntz reviewed the current handling of lower-level waste and said OPG is exploring long-term options for lower-level waste. The company also supports the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s (NWMO) process to establish a deep geological repository (DGR) for all of Canada’s high-level waste.”
Kuntz addressed the concept of “rolling stewardship” as an alternative, saying that this involves continuing to store the nuclear waste above ground for the “foreseeable future.” At the same time, they search for alternative options.
He noted that no country plans to use this method as a long-term solution.
“Nothing besides the passage of time allows radioactive materials to decay and lose their radioactivity,” said Kuntz, noting that scientific consensus is likely not a better solution to managing high-level waste than a DGR.
Kuntz added that above-ground storage poses more significant potential environmental risks in the long term, including extreme weather events and geopolitical instability.
In closing, Kuntz stressed that working towards a permanent solution for waste is a responsibility to deal with in our lifetime.
“We have good solutions today. We should do the right thing and be proud of doing the right thing,” he said.
Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, WINGHAM ADVANCE TIMES