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NEWS: Great Lakes communities resist nuclear waste sites

Numerous local groups and First Nations are fighting against their lands and waters being threatened by a planned nuclear waste storage site. The Toronto Star reports, “Since the 1960s, nuclear power plants have generated more than two million bundles of highly radioactive used fuel. And they’re all still stored on the sites of the plants that produced them. …A fuel bundle for a Candu nuclear power reactor is about the size of a fireplace log. As of June 30, 2011, Canada had 2,273,873 used fuel bundles stored at its nuclear plants in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. Another 85,000 or so have been added since then. In total, they’d fill about six NHL hockey rinks, stacked up as high as the boards. …Twenty Canadian communities have said they’ll consider volunteering to host the storage site. …The Nuclear Waste Management Organization, whose job it is to find and build the site, will stop taking new names on Sept. 30. The impending cut-off is ratcheting up the pressure on the technocrats charged with selecting a site; on the boosters who want to snare the multi-billion-dollar repository for their community; on the activists who harbour deep suspicions about safety; and on the aboriginal leaders who say they’ve been cut out of the process. …The NWMO hopes to have narrowed the field to one or two communities by 2015, then spend until about 2020 deciding on a specific site within the chosen community.”

The Toronto Star article notes the Ontario communities of Saugeen Shores, Elliot Lake and Huron-Kinloss as ‘contenders’ for the storage site. “…In Saugeen Shores, a lively battle is under way as members of a citizens group dubbed save Save Our Saugeen Shores, or SOS, fights what they see as an attempt to impose the waste site on their community on the shore of the Great Lakes. …’To say that we would be siting this anywhere in the Great Lakes basin, which provides drinking water for up to 40 million people and is the world’s largest source of fresh water just seems crazy to us,’ says Cheryl Grace, a leader of SOS. …SOS also worries that U.S. power plants might be able to force Canada to take U.S. nuclear waste in a Canadian waste site, through terms of the free trade agreement between the countries. …Randall Kahgee, chief of the Chippewas of the Saugeen First Nation, is adamantly opposed to any high-level waste being stored on the lands of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation — of which his band is a member. …Aboriginals along the north shore of Lake Huron are also apprehensive about a waste site in the Elliot Lake area. The stand of Chief Lyle Sayers of the Garden River First Nation is uncompromising. …(And) U.S. residents have already peppered the website of a federal panel looking at a possible waste site with messages protesting the thought of putting the site near one of the Great Lakes.”

For more on the local group fighting the storage site in Saugeen Shores, Ontario go to and Other communities are also fighting against ‘hosting’ such a site – there is a petition opposing the site in Wawa, Ontario, see; to read about opposition in Walkerton, Ontario see; and in Pinehouse, Saskatchewan, The Council of Canadians rejects nuclear power because it poses an unacceptable risk to people and the environment. Our full statement, adopted in October 2008, can be read at