Trudeau will decide within weeks on nuclear waste dump on Lake Huron

Maude Barlow Lake Huron
Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow walks on the shores of Lake Huron.

The Council of Canadians is calling on incoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reject a plan to bury 200,000 cubic metres of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste near Lake Huron.

A federal panel approved the nuclear waste dump on the shores of Lake Huron this past May, but, as the Globe and Mail reported in June, "Federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq has delayed until after the fall election a controversial decision on whether to approve a proposed nuclear-waste facility on the shores of Lake Huron – an issue that has bitterly divided communities in the region."

A decision on the nuclear waste dump is now required by early December.

It is expected that Trudeau will appoint his new minister of the environment on November 4.

If the Trudeau government approves the controversial project, nuclear waste that is considered hazardous for hundreds of thousands of years would be stored just hundreds of metres from the Great Lakes, the source of drinking water for about 40 million people in two countries.

Blackburn News has reported, "Radioactive waste specialist Kevin Kamps of the U.S. based group, Beyond Nuclear, says it makes no sense to bury the waste out of reach in hopes to keep the radiation isolated for hundreds of thousands of years. He claims the federal panel accepted Ontario Power Generation’s testimony that Lake Huron would be large enough to dilute radioactive wastes if they leaked from the repository." He says, "That a federal hearing panel would accept using the Great Lakes for the dilution of radioactive pollution as a solution to the industry’s waste management problems robs their report of any credibility."

The Council of Canadians has opposed the project for years.

We stand in solidarity with the Anishinabek Nation and the 39 First Nations in Ontario it represents. They oppose the nuclear waste dump. Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee says that according to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples any burial of hazardous materials requires the free, informed, prior consent of nearby First Nations. The proposed waste site would be located on the traditional territory of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation. Saugeen Chief Vernon Roote opposes the waste site and says, "If something were to happen with the disposal or the leakage of nuclear waste I wouldn’t want to be drinking the water downstream."

The Liberal platform this election promised "the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples", to "renew our commitment to protect the Great Lakes" and asserted that "government should base its policies on facts, not make up facts to suit a preferred policy."

The decision required in just a few weeks time is an excellent opportunity for the new Liberal majority government to uphold its election time promises.

Further reading
Council & allies call on Ontario to reject nuclear waste dump on Lake Huron (May 2015 blog)
Why placing nuke dumps by the Great Lakes is an act of insanity (August 2013 blog by Emma Lui)
Council of Canadians opposes nuclear waste dump on Lake Huron (June 2011 blog)