The Fountain Pen, Guelph's On-Line News

Radioactive concerns abound near Teeswater

Web posted on March 02, 2020

The Ontario crisis associated with the protest of the B.C. gas pipeline appears to be ending. But another Ontario crisis appears to be peeking over the horizon in, of all places, Bruce County.

It seems the heart of central Ontario's dairy industry has been designated as one of two locations for the disposal of nuclear waste expended rods from the Bruce and Darlington nuclear power plants. The second location is near Ignace in Northern Ontario.

Farmers and residents are worried about the effect this will have on the area surrounding Teeswater. This is not simply a case of NIMBY. There are very real questions about dangers that can result from disposing of radioactive material in long-term storage.

For decades, Teeswater has been home to the Gay Lea Co-operative. It's processing plant for dairy products built the presence of a high concentration of dairy farmers in the community.

Now the threat viewed by the community is for contamination of groundwater caused by the leaching of the radioactive materials. And the damage that could occur will last generations.

Last year, writing in Forbes Magazine, writer David Bressan noted that 61 years after nuclear testing on the Bikini and Enewetak Atolls in the Marshall Islands by the U.S., radiation levels are 10 times greater than the radiation from Chernobyl.

It appears our politicians are playing not just with the possibility of killing a vibrant local industry but also removing some of the best farmland remaining in the province for many generations.

No doubt our politicians will rely upon expert opinion while making their decision on the location for disposal. But even experts can be wrong.

Just ask the people of Tacoma, Washington, where in 1937 a newly opened bridge began to sway like a playground swing causing cars to be destroyed and people running for their lives.

Or, closer to home a story I was involved in many years ago where settling ponds containing ferric solutions were created on a property.


When I spoke with the principals, I was assured that leaching of the liquid would not be a problem because the soil in the Guelph area is clay-based and it sealed the ponds.

Several months later residents in the surrounding area found their groundwater wells contaminated and had to truck in potable water.

Politicians sometimes have short memories. It's not that long ago that Walkerton, just a hop, skip and jump from Teeswater, suffered the calamity of its community water supply being contaminated by e-coli.

Several people died and many more came through the experience having lost faith in their political leaders.

Bruce County, nor Ontario, deserves to suffer through any man-made tragedy caused by convenience. That has to be the reason for the Teeswater selection, I'm certain.

It's cheaper for the government to truck the materials from Bruce Nuclear and Darlington power plants to Bruce County than to the far reaches of Ontario where the population is less dense and any concerns can be mitigated without undue constraints.

Ignace may seem a good alternate choice but it is a population centre and should not be singled out.  

That's it. Until next time.